18 May

Web Dev: Project Specific Factors

Every project has different obstacles that need to be planned for and considered. When undertaking this website project for a dance school, it was important to be prepared for the complications surrounding using images of children online.

In this case, every parent whose child’s image is to be used in the project will have to sign a consent form. The project is (as of 20/05/2015) not currently online.

I created the branded consent form below based on this one used by Merton Council.

AnitaGunnConsentFormAlso, I made sure that the code was going to be easy to maintain in the future by adding comments. It was important to my client that she would be able to edit timetable dates at regular intervals, so comments to highlight sections, along with instructions on how to use an FTP client were a real benefit to her.

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 13.48.38

 

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04 Mar

Web Dev: CMS vs Hand Coding

Choosing how to create a website demands a fair amount of research and reasoned decision-making. This will ensure that I don’t waste time, energy and money further down the line.

Initially, there are two different ‘paths’ that spring to mind; some sort of Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress or to hand code the website. There are lots of interesting ideas about how to go about choosing the technology/language/framework on various blogs, but ultimately it varies from project to project.

The best way to decide is to research into some of the advantages and disadvantages of each method, and see how this particular project fits into this. This post on 7Host’s blog highlights some of them, which I based the following table on. It shows the reasons why I have decided hand coding will be better for this project.

CMS Hand coding
Benefits Easy programming, easy user management, templates, great for blogs and larger-scale projects. Complete control, greater understanding, quick, clean and efficient.
Disadvantages Customisation/modifying can be tedious, loading times/bigger websites. More work initially, knowledge required, debugging time.
Project specific notes Only necessary if client wanted to blog. Project is small-scale, not enough to warrant database backing. Made-to-fit code, efficient and a better method for a mainly static site.

Even after deciding on hand coding instead of CMS, there are a few different options I could chose to progress. Either begin coding from scratch, using a simple text editor, or start from a CSS framework such as Bootstrap, Foundation or Skeleton. I created my portfolio site from scratch, so I know roughly what I am  currently capable of coding (obviously, there is always more to learn!).

In comparison, this article on Mashable shows a list of some popular frameworks that I can begin to research, but aside from looking at some examples and reading about them, the best way I can determine what will be most suitable is to try them. Experimenting in this way will only improve my skill set and allow me to build up my own personal web designer’s toolkit.

toolkitThumb

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10 Apr

Making a portfolio website

I have been working on a new portfolio site to show my work and some of the skills I have learnt over the last six months.

With a good working knowledge of HTML5, CSS3 and JQuery, as well as an eye for design, amazing things can be made. Here is a collection of helpful blog posts, tutorials and code that can help make your website a little bit fantastic.

1. MEDIA QUERIES – CSS TRICKS

Responsive is key. We all need to be doing it. I spend a massive amount of my web browsing time on a smartphone. One train journey makes it apparent that phones and tablets are a huge portion of web traffic. Even on this blog, my analytics show that 27.76% of site views have been on a mobile or tablet.

analytics mobile usage

Basically, too much to ignore. So my portfolio site uses media queries to set up a specific mobile site (and less drastic changes for tablet) found here at CSS-Tricks.

Ashley Nye responsive design

2. JQUERY PLUGINS – UNHEAP

Everybody could use a bit of JQuery, not to rely on, but to enhance. It’s a very quick, easy way to make your website do cool stuff. And grab a load of cool at Unheap.

3. PRINCIPLES TO CODE BY – SMASHING MAGAZINE

This is a great little article on keeping it clean by Chris Coyier. Ok, so there is no rulebook (as much as I wish there was) but there are certain things you can do to make your code cleaner, more beautiful and crucially easier to read and edit. This is a must, in a world where time is money.

This can also help satisfy the perfectionist in you. Everybody wins.

4. BROWSER SUPPORT TABLES – CAN I USE

Can I use…? Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if the answer was always yes. Sadly, though, that is not the case. Worst case scenario is (and rather foolishly, but we’ve all done it…) after painstakingly perfecting your site on one browser, you nervously open it in another to find it looks like someone with a grudge against you hacked your server.

Save time and energy checking browser compatibility before you code.

5. VALIDATE, VALIDATE, VALIDATE – W3C VALIDATION

For HTML and for CSS, it is extremely important to make sure there are no errors in your code, and periodic checks will save lots of time later on. Mistakes are made by everyone, so whether you are a beginner or expert, validating code is crucial.

6. WHAT IS POSSIBLE WITH JAVASCRIPT

This isn’t really helping you to make a portfolio site, but it is inspiring. If you want a little motivation, take a look at this blog post on develop-a-website.com that showcases some amazing JavaScript experiments. So you’re not about to install a sheet of tearable cloth on your portfolio, but it’s still worth taking a look.

I’m impressed enough to say, I’m going to learn to be a better coder.

Tearable cloth

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10 Mar

Breaking Google

I didn’t really break Google, I just stumbled across a really awesome, completely unnecessary and very playful version of the famous search engine’s homepage. Check it out here.

Another JavaScript experiment that excites the geek in me, courtesy of Mr Doob.

The best bit is using the search bar. Well, I had fun with it.

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 21.50.39

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