Smart phones and tablets now account for an increasing percentage of all internet traffic. Oh, you knew that. Do we agree that your site should be optimized for all devices? In this post, I will discuss one design response to this web access evolution.
You probably have a smartphone. You may have a tablet. I bought an iPod Touch three years ago and an iPad in November 2010. When clients and friends question my fascination, I ask, “Do you know anybody who says they regret getting one?” I have written about my adoration here. Top of the list: I prefer to read from my iPad than from my desktop or laptop. (Writing is the reverse.) I expect that we have all adapted to surfing the internet on mobile devices. My client’s websites are all accessible (no Flash here), they are just reduced in size. There could be designs for each device but that would increase the design costs. For the past three years, I don’t think one client has asked about this. When I bring it up, adding a mobile design has been nixed for budgetary reasons.
Now there is a solution and that solution is referred to in the web development community as Responsive Web Design (RWD). Much has been written about it lately. An excellent overview, The Ultimate Responsive Web Design Roundup from Wed Designer Depot, should get you started. I will update this post with pro and con links as I find them.
While there seems to be a huge upside, experience has taught us that there are rarely any Silver Bullets. Will it really be low cost once integrated into my design approach? Does it dictate design or branding solutions? The only way for me to judge this is to dig in. I am starting my first two sites with this approach. I will add updates here as we progress.
I have my prejudices. I like to use WordPress to build websites and I like to host those sites on Bluehost. WordPress uses a database to store most of the website information. I use a plugin to backup that database information once a week. This is a safety measure and it is important to backup the database whenever you upgrade WordPress. If something were to go wrong, like a digital hiccup, the database backup would be there to rebuild your pages and posts.
Now I should point out that in four years of building more than one hundred sites, this has never happened to me. (Thank you Deity of Your Choice! Mine is the Flying Spaghetti Monster.) But what if the hosting server were to malfunction in some horrible way? This has come up in discussions we have had at the New York WordPress MeetUp Group I belong to. Buried in the fine print (which I rarely read) of almost all the hosting plans for small sites, it says that they are not responsible. They, being most web hosts. Again, this has never happened to me, but when someone tells you about how it happened to them, it is very scary as you think of all the hours it would take to rebuild a site. It would be a nightmare on those sites where I have the design on my computer, the client has the photos on his/her computer and we have to use the database to retrieve the blog and page text.
Fear not! This Spring Bluehost remedied that by offering a site backup service called Site Backup Pro. It sounded very promising so I first searched to see what opinions others had with Site Backup and found this excellent article by Don Campbell: Backup and Restore Your Website with Bluehost. It even includes a video tutorial by Don.
I was convinced. I signed up and am recommending it to all my clients. Hopefully we will never need to use it, but $13/year is a bargain for this insurance.
For the most part, this blog is directed to my clients, current and future, as well as other designers and developers who share my interests. I began building websites about ten years ago and for the past three years constructing them with WordPress. When not building them, I am reading/watching tutorials and monitoring the uber developers to improve my knowledge and skillz. That would include not just software knowledge f or me but what is available on the web that aids my client’s self promotion. With that in mind, I want to share a couple of “articles” I found this past week that stood out.
Second, was a link from Swiss-Miss.com to a Tim Brown lecture, More Perfect Typography as Vimeo screencast and LogoTalks blogpost. Typography has been an obsession for the past thirty years and yet there were some new ideas here that, even if I don’t agree with them, they are certainly worth considering. I thank Tim for sharing his philosophy.
Third is Facebook. (I should probably do a post just on Facebook but until then….) Facebook has been getting more and more attention as destination that is driving the web. Could it be Web 3.0? I think it is too early to say, but it must be considered now and I am advising my clients to add it to their knowledge base if they want to promote themselves or some product. How Brands Can Make the Most of Facebook’s New Pages from Mashable is a great place to start.
UPDATE 021911: I got caught in my first Facebook spam today. A trusted friend posted a link where she got a free iPad for being an iPad tester. I clicked and started filling out my contact information. Soon it became suspicious as it went on and on. Later I saw a note from her apologizing to all her “friends.” Facebook’s reputation depends on excellent security. Negative publicity will tarnish it.
Margaret Roach Inc. is also a print publisher. Hot off the presses is the memoir manual Writing What You Know: Realia by Marion Roach Smith–Margaret’s sister, but no relation to me. Described as “the essential, eccentric guidebook for anyone telling their own story—in print or on a blog. Stop treading water in writing exercises or hiding behind ‘writer’s block,’ and learn to write memoir with intent, starting today. Marion Roach Smith’s disarmingly frank but wildly fun and unforgettable tactics, gleaned from the sold-out class she has been teaching for 13 years, will teach you how.”
I designed the cover and the interior, thoroughly enjoying being back in the realm of paper and ink. Of course, it is all done on the computer, but the process and results seem so different than web design.
Buy Writing What You Know: Realia, just $12.95 plus shipping, from:
The large lettering above is not a graphic but done with HTML CSS styling. Notice that you can select and copy it. This is very cool. I saw this on the design blog idsn.org. Check it out for a good review of the history, future and politics of website type. (My take: Open Source VS Microsoft, more or less)
This may seem like a topic for designers only but it is not. Google can read and rank HTML type more accurately than text that is displayed as a jpeg, png or gif image. Very important for your SEO (search engine optimization). Also, the fonts used give your site identity making it memorable. (Are you going to make me say the word “branding”?) My Delicious bookmarks on Type can be found here.
About six months ago I started receiving spam emails from kbs(at)kennethbsmith.com that I most certainly did not send. They appeared to originate in China because they were promoting an ecommerce site that had a lot of Chinese letters in the headlines and captions. Since then I have been receiving more and more emails from kbs(at)kennethbsmith.com. I am not using the “@” symbol because I believe that they (the bad guys) can get my email address from anyplace that has it listed publicly, like this blog post. A bot can harvest it, put it on a list and then that list is sold to whomever. You have probably noticed that many netizens disguise their email address in this way. This has also resulted in me relying more on Yahoo! and gmail for my email correspondence. So many email accounts. So little time.
Sadly, spam is part of internet life. And is seems to be getting worse. I recently read that 75-85% of all email is spam. (Net-Security Org spam stats) Geesh! Googling, I see there is even a Spam-o-meter! Curretly 88.5%
Yesterday I received an email from a client who had just received spam from herself. (I looked and I had also received spam promoting 1001 Postcards From: kbs(at)kennethbsmith.com.) She wanted to know what she could do. Continue reading →