Effective Web Design and Development – COMP-1363

Effective Web Design and Development

Starting February 4th, I’ll be teaching a five week (one session per week) course on effective web design at Fanshawe College’s continuing education program.

The course is called “Effective Web Design and Development – COMP-1363“.

I’m breaking the five weeks up by doing foundational work first, and building on that work weekly. My idea is to build a very simple HTML website, using the fundamentals that we learn weekly to build upon each week’s lesson. At the end, the attendees will have a very simple, semantically correct, SEO optimized, modern, responsive, and accessible website.

Here’s what Fanshawe’s course outline says:

Effective web design and development is about more than code, and pretty pictures. This course is designed to help you understand the things required to build an effective website for yourself, your business, and your clients. This course will review strategies, software, marketing, promotion, content creation, and modern website design techniques while not requiring coding in-class time.

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Ruby Newbies: My Ruby on Rails Recipe

Ruby on Rails
Ruby on Rails

I’ve been using Ruby on Rails for about five years now, and I can’t actually remember my life before it at this point.  As much as I love Ruby on Rails, I hate setting it up.  Okay, HATE is a pretty stiff word…let’s say “really, really, REALLY dislike”.

However, the last couple of times that I’ve had to configure machines, I’ve kept a really good running log of what I did, and I feel pretty confident that this little recipe will let me keep the rest of my hair.

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Anatomy of a Redesign – A List Apart

A List Apart – For people who make websites, is one of my favourite resources on the internerds for web usability stuff.  I own all of the A Book Apart books, and I’ve always loved their websites. They just did a total redesign, and posted a great summary of the process.  I always love reading … Read more

My DIG 2011 Web Stream Overview

Jeffery Zeldman at DIG
Jeffery Zeldman at DIG

The DIG (Digital Interactive Gaming) conference in London Ontario added a Web Development stream this year to compliment the gaming streams. With an opening keynote by Jeffery Zeldman’ and a closing one by Derek Featherstone, there was world class content being offered in my own home town. These are my slightly edited notes which I took during the talks. There’s some great insight in here, and some really cool links for reference later.

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Bad Usability: College of Nurses of Ontario

College of Nurses of Ontario
Not a bad looking site at all

My mom asked me to help her register with the College of Nurses of Ontario, it was a pretty clean website, and looked like a decent user experience, so I figured why not.  Well, after struggling through their website, I decided to whip off a letter to them to expresss my displeasure in the usability of some key areas of their site.

This is that letter.

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Customized or Scalable?

During my day job I’m confronted on an hourly basis with requests for small improvements that people want to make to the website in order to be more personal. Add “My Account Rep”, only show them content they own, put their name on the page, remember what they last searched, show them the most popular … Read more

Design Trends I Love – Pseudo 3D

Pseudo 3D
Pseudo 3D

There’s a new design meme that’s making the rounds. Websites that have some dimensionality to them. I first really noticed it on Jonathan Snook’s Snook.ca, but recently SlashFilm added some of this, and my new favourite site Mail Chimp has some too.

It adds much needed depth to the web, and is neat because it’s a whole new design trend which appears to have sprung up out of nowhere.

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Search Engine Optimization is Bunk

The Radical Hive Logo
The Radical Hive Logo

I get about 7 or 8 email spam a week to my domain accounts promising that so-and-so can make my search rankings much higher for only $xxxx.  Of course this stuff is so much snake oil it’s not even funny.  I can help you improve your Search Engine ranking with 10 easy tips.  Best of all, this is completely free!

So, for the robots out there, check this out:

Top 10 Free Search Engine Optimization Tips by Brian Garside

Consider that a preview tip right there.  That title not only improves the ranking for my name, but will also raise the profile of this article in search engines.

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Top 10 WordPress Plugins – Updated

Not available in stores...the WordPress Plugin Bar <tm>
Not available in stores...the WordPress Plugin Bar

For this week’s Web Design Wednesday segment, I’m going to revisit a post I wrote about back in August, but a lot of stuff has changed in the seven months since I first wrote it.  For one thing I’m about 100 times more comfortable in WordPress than I was seven months ago.  For another I’ve totally swapped out my old WordPress Plugins for newer better ones.

For another thing, I’ve learned how to build my own plugins.

So this is my latest and most updatedest listing of best plugins for WordPress.  These are all what I consider “manditory” for a new WordPress install.

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To hell with IE 6

IE 6 burns in the deepest darkest fires of hell
IE 6 burns in the deepest darkest fires of hell

On February 16th 2001 Jeffery Zeldman posted an article called “To Hell with Bad Browsers” on A List Apart.  It was an eye opening experience for me, and was the piece of the puzzle to why accessibility and standards compliant websites were a must have going forward.  The title was memorable enough that it’s stuck with me all this time.

At the time I had just finished up the launch of TSNMAX, and the CEO of Bell Globe Media, Lib Gibson, was giving me a list of all of the problems that TSNMAX had with Netscape 4.7, which was her sole browser of choice.  The browser was dead in the water at the time, and the “To Hell With Bad Browsers” article gave me a ton of ammunition.

Fast Forward seven years, and we’re in the same boat, except this time with IE 6.  I hope that this treatise can be used by other developers to convince their bosses that it’s time to kill IE 6 in the corporate world.

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