10 Basic Tips for Improving WordPress Themes

A lot of people use WordPress as their blogging platform. After installing WordPress, newly christened WordPress users will usually try to find and download WordPress themes that they can use so that their site looks different from the default theme. Whether a WordPress theme is free or premium, there are plenty of ways to improve them. The following WordPress theme tips cover basic customization, styling and optimization.

1. Reduce the Size of Theme Images

Images are an important part of every WordPress theme, yet WordPress theme developers sometimes forget about optimizing them. Images in a WordPress theme include CSS background images, template logos, default stock images, icons, and so on.

Optimizing images can save you in bandwidth consumption and can improve page response times for your blog readers.

Photoshop, for example, offers a Save for Web feature that optimizes images for the web. What I usually do is lower the quality settings of the image until I start to see changes in color or quality.

Furthermore, you can use a lossless image optimization tool like Smush.it that will squeeze out excess file size without loss in image quality. You can find more image optimization tools here.


by Julius Kuhn-Regnier

http://sixrevisions.com/wordpress/improve-wordpress-themes-tips/

10 Tips for Improving WordPress ThemesA lot of people use WordPress as their blogging platform. After installing WordPress, newly christened WordPress users will usually try to find and download WordPress themes that they can use so that their site looks different from the default theme. Whether a WordPress theme is free or premium, there are plenty of ways to improve them. The following WordPress theme tips cover basic customization, styling and optimization.

 

1. Reduce the Size of Theme Images

Images are an important part of every WordPress theme, yet WordPress theme developers sometimes forget about optimizing them. Images in a WordPress theme include CSS background images, template logos, default stock images, icons, and so on.

Optimizing images can save you in bandwidth consumption and can improve page response times for your blog readers.

Photoshop, for example, offers a Save for Web feature that optimizes images for the web. What I usually do is lower the quality settings of the image until I start to see changes in color or quality.

Furthermore, you can use a lossless image optimization tool like Smush.it that will squeeze out excess file size without loss in image quality. You can find more image optimization tools here.

Reduce the Size of Theme ImagesYahoo! Smush.it is a lossless compression tool.

Learn all about web image optimization via this guide to saving images for the web. Leer más “10 Basic Tips for Improving WordPress Themes”

Important Features All Blogs Should Really Have

Blogging is more commonplace now than ever before. It’s estimated that there are at least 147 million blogs[1] covering topics from technology to Japanese theme restaurants.

But regardless of the vastness of the blogosphere and the diversity of blog topics, there are a handful of site features that you’ll likely find in most of them. In addition, readers have come to expect these site features to be available to them when they visit their favorite blogs.

This article covers the standard features that all blogs should have. These features are meant to improve the user experience by enhancing community engagement, content sharing, findability of posts, and more.
Blog Post Archive

Typically, when site visitors first land on a blog’s homepage, they’re greeted with the latest blog posts sorted from newest on top to oldest at the bottom. This is what blog readers expect to see, but that’s not to say it’s all they want to see.

Many visitors will enjoy going through your older posts once they decide that they like what you have to say. Having a post archive — a web page or section in your blog that lists previous blog posts, customarily sorted in a logical fashion such as by date or by category — is an excellent way to draw in more page views and improves the ability of readers to discover content on your site.

A post archive can serve as a way to increase the conversion of first-time visitors to steadfast readers because it shows them what to expect if they choose to follow your blog. For existing readers, a post archive gives quick access to posts they want to revisit.

It’s not difficult to construct an archive of past blog posts either; most blogging platforms and good content management systems have the capability to display and list your posts. Take for example, WordPress. WordPress has core functions, a core template, and API hooks specifically for dealing with archives (e.g., wp_get_archives and archives.php).


by Jake Rocheleau |http://sixrevisions.com/user-interface/important-features-all-blogs-should-really-have/

 

Important Features All Blogs Should Really Have

Blogging is more commonplace now than ever before. It’s estimated that there are at least 147 million blogs[1] covering topics from technology to Japanese theme restaurants.

But regardless of the vastness of the blogosphere and the diversity of blog topics, there are a handful of site features that you’ll likely find in most of them. In addition, readers have come to expect these site features to be available to them when they visit their favorite blogs.

This article covers the standard features that all blogs should have. These features are meant to improve the user experience by enhancing community engagement, content sharing, findability of posts, and more.

Blog Post Archive

Typically, when site visitors first land on a blog’s homepage, they’re greeted with the latest blog posts sorted from newest on top to oldest at the bottom. This is what blog readers expect to see, but that’s not to say it’s all they want to see.

Many visitors will enjoy going through your older posts once they decide that they like what you have to say. Having a post archive — a web page or section in your blog that lists previous blog posts, customarily sorted in a logical fashion such as by date or by category — is an excellent way to draw in more page views and improves the ability of readers to discover content on your site.

A post archive can serve as a way to increase the conversion of first-time visitors to steadfast readers because it shows them what to expect if they choose to follow your blog. For existing readers, a post archive gives quick access to posts they want to revisit.

It’s not difficult to construct an archive of past blog posts either; most blogging platforms and good content management systems have the capability to display and list your posts. Take for example, WordPress. WordPress has core functions, a core template, and API hooks specifically for dealing with archives (e.g., wp_get_archives and archives.php).

Viget InspireAt Viget Inspire, a company blog, posts are listed and categorized per month in their archive page. Leer más “Important Features All Blogs Should Really Have”

Evolution of Websites: A Darwinian Tale

The web is constantly evolving. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how quickly new technologies are being adopted and how fragile design trends are. While the web is still an infant relative to other mediums such as print, TV and radio, and still has fair amount of growing up to do, it has already amassed a rich history. Let’s take a look at how the medium has evolved throughout the years.

A Matter of Carbon Dating

Evolution is inevitable. As British philosopher Herbert Spencer put it — inspired by Charles Darwin’s theory on natural selection — it’s “survival of the fittest.”

If we examine any aspect of web design, we can see that trends and technologies being discarded, improved on, or superseded by something better is common. Evolve or die, pick one of the two options. And if we delve deeper, we can see three core elements that dictate this natural selection and evolution.


by Alexander Dawson | http://sixrevisions.com/web-technology/evolution-of-websites-a-darwinian-tale/

 

Evolution of Websites: A Darwinian Tale

The web is constantly evolving. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how quickly new technologies are being adopted and how fragile design trends are. While the web is still an infant relative to other mediums such as print, TV and radio, and still has fair amount of growing up to do, it has already amassed a rich history. Let’s take a look at how the medium has evolved throughout the years.

 

A Matter of Carbon Dating

Evolution is inevitable. As British philosopher Herbert Spencer put it — inspired by Charles Darwin’s theory on natural selection — it’s “survival of the fittest.”

If we examine any aspect of web design, we can see that trends and technologies being discarded, improved on, or superseded by something better is common. Evolve or die, pick one of the two options. And if we delve deeper, we can see three core elements that dictate this natural selection and evolution.

A Matter of Carbon Dating

 

Certain web browsers tend to be more evolved than others!

Code

One of the core elements of the web is code. As web designers and web developers, the success of a particular language largely depends on how much value it brings to our work. I’m sure only a handful of you remember VRML with the fondness of the concept that we could soon be browsing the web using the same virtual reality as used in the movie Tron. Alas, virtual reality didn’t take off.

A Matter of Carbon Dating

 

The idea of virtual reality and 3D objects fascinated developers. Leer más “Evolution of Websites: A Darwinian Tale”

WordPress Custom Post Types Guide

One of the most anticipated features of WordPress 3.0 was the ability to add your own custom post types to WordPress, which allows you to display and categorize different types of content outside of the 5 native WordPress content types (i.e. Post, Page, Attachment, and so forth). The addition of this feature is a big step forward in making WordPress a full-fledged CMS, extending outside its normal use as a blogging platform.

In this guide, we’ll go through the process of creating and using your own custom post type. More specifically, we will create an “Event” post type for your special events and dates, sort of like a calendar.
What is a Custom Post Type?

If you’re familiar with WordPress, then I’m sure you’ve already had some exposure to the default WordPress post types used for content creation: Post and Page. Almost all of the content in any WordPress site prior to 3.0 is composed of some combination of posts and pages.

Posts are generally used for content that is updated frequently (blog posts, for example), and pages are generally used for static content (such as the About page of a site).

Often, however, you may have a more specific type of data that you want to include on your site. This is where custom post types come in.

We’re going to create a custom post type that we’ll call “Event”. This content type will let us add events such as birthdays, holidays, conference dates, and so forth.

We’ll be working with the default TwentyTen theme that comes with WordPress 3.0 so that we have a uniform code base, but the concepts and techniques will be applicable to any theme.


October 5th, 2010 by John Gadbois
http://sixrevisions.com/wordpress/wordpress-custom-post-types-guide/

WordPress Custom Post Types Guide

One of the most anticipated features of WordPress 3.0 was the ability to add your own custom post types to WordPress, which allows you to display and categorize different types of content outside of the 5 native WordPress content types (i.e. Post, Page, Attachment, and so forth). The addition of this feature is a big step forward in making WordPress a full-fledged CMS, extending outside its normal use as a blogging platform.

In this guide, we’ll go through the process of creating and using your own custom post type. More specifically, we will create an “Event” post type for your special events and dates, sort of like a calendar.

What is a Custom Post Type?

If you’re familiar with WordPress, then I’m sure you’ve already had some exposure to the default WordPress post types used for content creation: Post and Page. Almost all of the content in any WordPress site prior to 3.0 is composed of some combination of posts and pages.

Posts are generally used for content that is updated frequently (blog posts, for example), and pages are generally used for static content (such as the About page of a site).

Often, however, you may have a more specific type of data that you want to include on your site. This is where custom post types come in.

We’re going to create a custom post type that we’ll call “Event”. This content type will let us add events such as birthdays, holidays, conference dates, and so forth.

We’ll be working with the default TwentyTen theme that comes with WordPress 3.0 so that we have a uniform code base, but the concepts and techniques will be applicable to any theme. Leer más “WordPress Custom Post Types Guide”

Giveaway: PSD to HTML Conversion Service from P2H.com

Their expansive resources of over 300 full-time employees, coupled with guaranteed effective communication and customer care, ensure the highest quality for each project.
P2H Features

P2H’s work includes:

* The highest level of W3C-standards-compliant markup
* Table-less layouts
* XHTML 1.0 Strict DOCTYPE
* SEO-friendly
* Semantic HTML/CSS that follows best practices
* Optimized shorthand CSS
* Separation of presentational (CSS), structural (HTML), and functional (JS) layers
* Emphasis on page load speed
* Cross-browser compatible with IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and other browsers
* It takes only 1 working day to do the conversion of the 1st page, and 3-6 hours for each additional page

For additional details about the P2H features and the prize you could win, check out p2h.com order page.


October 6th, 2010 by Jacob Gube
http://sixrevisions.com/contests/giveaway-psd-to-html-conversion-service-from-p2h-com/

Giveaway: PSD to HTML Conversion Service from P2H.com

This one’s going to be a treat for you web designers out there: P2H, the first and premier PSD to HTML conversion service provider, has decided to provide up to 3 pages of their Hi-End Package markup, valued at $450, to a lucky Six Revisions winner. Read on to see how you can win this spectacular service.

What is P2H?

Founded in early 2005, P2H.com (also known as PSD2HTML.com) was the first service of its kind to provide taking a web designer’s Photoshop file (PSD) and converting it into standards-based, high-quality HTML/CSS template. Since then, they have established over 40,000 clients and is recognized as the most experienced and trustworthy company in the Design and HTML marketplace.

order now

Their expansive resources of over 300 full-time employees, coupled with guaranteed effective communication and customer care, ensure the highest quality for each project.

P2H Features

P2H’s work includes:

  • The highest level of W3C-standards-compliant markup
  • Table-less layouts
  • XHTML 1.0 Strict DOCTYPE
  • SEO-friendly
  • Semantic HTML/CSS that follows best practices
  • Optimized shorthand CSS
  • Separation of presentational (CSS), structural (HTML), and functional (JS) layers
  • Emphasis on page load speed
  • Cross-browser compatible with IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and other browsers
  • It takes only 1 working day to do the conversion of the 1st page, and 3-6 hours for each additional page

For additional details about the P2H features and the prize you could win, check out p2h.com order page. Leer más “Giveaway: PSD to HTML Conversion Service from P2H.com”

5 Fundamental Steps to Deploying a Website

Something that is overlooked by a lot of web designers and developers is what is actually involved in the deployment of a website; the process when you’ve finished developing the site, tested to make sure it works, and are ready to push it to a live web server.

In a lot of cases, you will be dealing with clients who are getting their website for the first time, and there is nothing for you to really consider apart from the hosting solution to set them up on. As time goes on, you will start getting larger clients that may have existing websites already, or who have more complicated needs. You may find yourself in a scenario where the outcome could be a very unhappy client with data loss and a whole company’s worth of missing emails and site assets. Here are some basic steps that will ensure that you have covered all the bases for a smooth website deployment.
Step 1: Preparation

There are a few things to consider when you are finalizing a website, and they all depend on what type of deployment you will be completing.

The three general scenarios of a website deployment is:

1. The client has nothing (i.e. this is their first website)
2. The client already has hosting and you will be deploying the site on their server
3. The client already has hosting but you will be moving to a new server

The first scenario is the most desired because you are starting with a blank slate. Scenarios 2 and 3 are a bit trickier and involve a more thoughtful deployment process.

Once you have worked out what your deployment scenario is, you will be able to better prepare yourself for everything you need to do in order to carry out a smooth transition from the old website to the new one.

If you are dealing with scenario 1, then all you need to do is register their domain name and purchase (or provide) web hosting. Simple and fast deployment.

Scenarios 2 and 3 require some information gathering. You need domain management credentials for the existing web host so that you can manage the DNS records (more on this in a bit). You will find that, in many cases, the client has no idea what these are or where to get them, so you will need to do as much as you can before you approach your client.

So let’s gather information on our own. We can use a tool like whois.domaintools.com to find out some information about the existing domain name.


by Mark Biegel | http://sixrevisions.com/web-development/5-fundamental-steps-to-deploying-a-website/

5 Fundamental Steps to Deploying a Website

Something that is overlooked by a lot of web designers and developers is what is actually involved in the deployment of a website; the process when you’ve finished developing the site, tested to make sure it works, and are ready to push it to a live web server.

In a lot of cases, you will be dealing with clients who are getting their website for the first time, and there is nothing for you to really consider apart from the hosting solution to set them up on. As time goes on, you will start getting larger clients that may have existing websites already, or who have more complicated needs. You may find yourself in a scenario where the outcome could be a very unhappy client with data loss and a whole company’s worth of missing emails and site assets. Here are some basic steps that will ensure that you have covered all the bases for a smooth website deployment.

Step 1: Preparation

There are a few things to consider when you are finalizing a website, and they all depend on what type of deployment you will be completing.

The three general scenarios of a website deployment is:

  1. The client has nothing (i.e. this is their first website)
  2. The client already has hosting and you will be deploying the site on their server
  3. The client already has hosting but you will be moving to a new server

The first scenario is the most desired because you are starting with a blank slate. Scenarios 2 and 3 are a bit trickier and involve a more thoughtful deployment process.

Once you have worked out what your deployment scenario is, you will be able to better prepare yourself for everything you need to do in order to carry out a smooth transition from the old website to the new one.

If you are dealing with scenario 1, then all you need to do is register their domain name and purchase (or provide) web hosting. Simple and fast deployment.

Scenarios 2 and 3 require some information gathering. You need domain management credentials for the existing web host so that you can manage the DNS records (more on this in a bit). You will find that, in many cases, the client has no idea what these are or where to get them, so you will need to do as much as you can before you approach your client.

So let’s gather information on our own. We can use a tool like whois.domaintools.com to find out some information about the existing domain name. Leer más “5 Fundamental Steps to Deploying a Website”

The Science Behind a Single Page Website

We have all come across them whilst browsing the web, and many of the examples that exist are quite awe-inspiring, the single page website is a paradigm of the modern web in which everything that needs saying can be placed in a single document.

Whilst the single page layout option can lead to overwhelmingly large documents of endless scrolling, a series of clever mechanisms using modern standards and techniques such as CSS3 and Ajax have burst onto the scenes, offering a method of simply giving information as they’re required.

This article is on single page websites that use HTML, CSS and JavaScript; we are skipping the discussion of Flash-only websites, which can technically be classified as a single page website as well.
Once Is Enough for Me

It’s understandable that not every type of website will be well suited to having “one page to rule them all,” however, a common trend that’s seen especially in portfolio websites shows that certain sites can benefit from a simple, yet still multi-faceted, single page.

The idea that a website can be created with just one page seems crazy, but with our industry shifting towards advocating simplicity for ease of use, single page web designs have become a viable and effective option.


by Alexander Dawson | http://sixrevisions.com/web_design/the-science-behind-a-single-page-website/

We have all come across them whilst browsing the web, and many of the examples that exist are quite awe-inspiring, the single page website is a paradigm of the modern web in which everything that needs saying can be placed in a single document.

Whilst the single page layout option can lead to overwhelmingly large documents of endless scrolling, a series of clever mechanisms using modern standards and techniques such as CSS3 and Ajax have burst onto the scenes, offering a method of simply giving information as they’re required.

This article is on single page websites that use HTML, CSS and JavaScript; we are skipping the discussion of Flash-only websites, which can technically be classified as a single page website as well.

Once Is Enough for Me

It’s understandable that not every type of website will be well suited to having “one page to rule them all,” however, a common trend that’s seen especially in portfolio websites shows that certain sites can benefit from a simple, yet still multi-faceted, single page.

The idea that a website can be created with just one page seems crazy, but with our industry shifting towards advocating simplicity for ease of use, single page web designs have become a viable and effective option.

Once Is Enough for Me

CSS Zen Garden is a classic example of a single page with multiple layers of interesting bits.

Trends and Tribulations

While traditional designs with multiple pages will always have its place, there are a number of advantages that give the single page website some potential uses for your own projects.

The ability to construct a site that is entirely self-contained gets a bit of getting used to, and involves a lot more thought and planning. Some questions you have to answer are:

  • Will a single page meet the project’s requirements or will multiple pages be better?
  • How do you organize the content?
  • How does the navigation work?
  • What content do I need and what can I leave out?

Benefits of Single Page Websites

Single page designs have the following advantages over multi-page sites:

  • No page refresh when navigating the site (content is either in the page or loaded using Ajax)
  • User experience can be improved because navigating through content is quicker and more responsive than having to go to a new web page
  • Easier maintenance because you only have to maintain one web page
  • You can design for quality over quantity — instead of having to design multiple page layouts for different types of site content, you can focus on just one solid and high-quality design
  • Your Google PageRank applies to the whole site
  • Higher core content density for search engine spiders
  • Distinction from most other websites; single page websites are less common, and can thus leave an impression on your site visitors (and that’s why they are popular on portfolio sites)
  • Easy solution for simple “brochure” sites that serve one product (i.e. iPhone app) or one purpose (i.e. a designer’s work)
  • Preferred solution for web apps designed for the Mobile Web

http://www.squarefour.net/

Once the page has loaded, there’s nothing else to download.

Disadvantages of Single Page Websites

Single page designs have the following disadvantages against multi-page sites:

  • Potentially large file size of the page
  • A requirement for scripting or CSS3 support if you want to stand out
  • Tabbing through elements can become trickier (for accessibility) because there might be plenty of content on one page (though this wouldn’t be a big problem for well-structured markup that use headings and other best practices)
  • Producing the design is more time-intensive because it involves a lot more thought and creativity to be able to fit everything in one page and to devise a great interaction design
  • The page can take much longer to load if you have a lot of content

http://2advanced.com/

File size is an important issue to contend with, especially where Flash is concerned.

The truth is that whenever you implement a specific design pattern, chances are that you will not be able to please everyone. While single page sites can be made to be 100% accessible and highly usable, there will be situations where a single page site is not a good option for you. For example, an e-commerce site such as Amazon.com wouldn’t be able to pull off a single page web design successfully because of its vast amount of content — and that’s fine because it’s better when these types of sites are multiple pages.

Production Theory

Before we look at some lovely single page designs, it’s worth taking a few moments to explain the various mechanisms used to produce such a site. Your emphasis should be on keeping file sizes as slim as possible and about a thoughtful way of presenting and structuring your web page. Think about user flow and interaction design — how does a user move from section to section of the page?

Here are some techniques that are used in single page websites. It’s important to note that they are not mutually exclusive, so you might find yourself using them in combination.

Manual Scrolling

The first mechanism implemented by conventional single page designs is to display all of the content on the page, structured logically and laid-out in sections.

The way people navigate through the content is simply by using the native scrollbars in their web browser. While this method is simple to implement because it’s just a regular web page with no special interaction, it’s also probably the most boring of the options.

http://www.authenticstyle.co.uk/

Sites that have no need for fancy effects could easily produce a simple and beautiful single page layout.

CSS3 Interaction

The next mechanism for navigating through content on a single page website worth mentioning is CSS3. With the latest version of the CSS specification, the ability to go beyond existing CSS2 selectors allow for a more unique single page experience. Most notably, you can do interesting, interactive things that deal with content by using CSS transition properties for animation and messing about with the :target and :checked pseudo-classes.

For example, the ability to use the :target pseudo-class (combined with anchor links) gives you the option to make the targeted section a different color or to give it a different background-image.

http://downloads.sixrevisions.com/css-light-box/source.html#content

Using CSS3 pseudo selectors, we could form a powerful cross browser “paneling” system.

JavaScript

Finally, we have good old JavaScript, which has been serving us a widespread range of functionality since the web’s early days. With the popularity of web development JS frameworks like jQuery, the ability to swap out existing on-page content has never been easier, and with the rise in Ajax, calling content as it’s required has an even greater potential for eliminating the need for page refreshes. Take note, though, that there are accessibility and SEO concerns with content that is remotely loaded.

You can also use animated scrolling to sections of the web page using JavaScript — a step up from manual scrolling and using anchor links. For example, check out the jQuery ScrollTo plugin. You can see smooth scrolling in action via Laco Janic’s portfolio (click on the primary navigation links such as “identity & print” or “about”).

While it’s not an option for the poor souls with no scripting knowledge, using JavaScript is certainly the most flexible and robust method out of all three.

http://jquery.com/

jQuery amongst other scripting frameworks offer easy to implement content swapping.

A Showcase of Single Page Web Designs

As we have now finished examining the general ways that designers and developers go about creating a single page site, it’s worth looking at some great single page web designs for inspiration. Perhaps these designs will give you some ideas and inspiration!

Camera+

Camera+

Webdots

Webdots

Pear Hosting

Pear Hosting

Playmation

Playmation

Enrichmint

Enrichmint

Basil Gloo

Basil Gloo

Fran-boot

Fran-boot

Milk ‘n Honey

Milk 'n Honey Leer más “The Science Behind a Single Page Website”

How Fun is Your Website?

The secret to success for a website these days is really no secret at all. Websites that really bring home the bacon are the ones driven by loyal visitors who frequent the site on a regular basis. Building a community like this often takes a lot of time and loads of great content.

But is there a way to shortcut the tried and true methods of great material and great marketing?

What if a website were fun to play?

Games and gaming are two terms that are quickly finding themselves a new meaning on the web. What used to be associated with an acne-prone teenager alone in a windowless basement is being transformed into a socially hip hobby. The age range for gaming is expanding, and the activities that include gaming features are shifting as well.

Games in general are nothing new. For centuries, we have been enjoying sports, card games, and board games. In the past few decades, the evolution of video games has spawned the modern “casual game.” On the web, these games include online Flash games, mobile apps, and most recently, social networking and community-oriented websites.

Gaming, most recently, has entered the social media space, in incarnations such as Foursquare and Gowalla, as well as Facebook applications such as FarmVille, with great success. While the likes of location-aware social networking services like Foursquare and Gowalla may not seem like much of a game at first — don’t be fooled. Checking into your favorite locations in order to earn rewards such as points or badges is a solid game element.


by Jason Gross | 4 Comments | Stumble It! Delicious

Become a Facebook Fan of Six Revisions.

How Fun is Your Website?

The secret to success for a website these days is really no secret at all. Websites that really bring home the bacon are the ones driven by loyal visitors who frequent the site on a regular basis. Building a community like this often takes a lot of time and loads of great content.

But is there a way to shortcut the tried and true methods of great material and great marketing?

What if a website were fun to play?

Games and gaming are two terms that are quickly finding themselves a new meaning on the web. What used to be associated with an acne-prone teenager alone in a windowless basement is being transformed into a socially hip hobby. The age range for gaming is expanding, and the activities that include gaming features are shifting as well.

Games in general are nothing new. For centuries, we have been enjoying sports, card games, and board games. In the past few decades, the evolution of video games has spawned the modern “casual game.” On the web, these games include online Flash games, mobile apps, and most recently, social networking and community-oriented websites.

Gaming, most recently, has entered the social media space, in incarnations such as Foursquare and Gowalla, as well as Facebook applications such as FarmVille, with great success. While the likes of location-aware social networking services like Foursquare and Gowalla may not seem like much of a game at first — don’t be fooled. Checking into your favorite locations in order to earn rewards such as points or badges is a solid game element.

Gowalla

Is gaming something that can be incorporated into a website in order to draw in a wider audience? And more importantly, can game mechanics keep our users coming back? Leer más “How Fun is Your Website?”

Take Your Web Designs to the Next Level

When you start out as a web designer, you do all you can to grasp the basic design principles so that you have a solid foundation to start your journey on. As you become more proficient in your craft, you start to learn techniques that are more advanced, and you begin to implement bigger and better things in your work until you reach a point where you feel pretty comfortable to step outside the bounds of the ordinary. What else can you do to take your web designs to the next level?

Here are just a handful of ideas you can consider if you’d like to take your web designs the next level.

Delve Into Design Details

If you look at most beautifully designed websites, you’ll notice that they are often set apart not because of big things, but the little details that let you know the designer took great care and attention of even the smallest of things. These small touches don’t need to be in your face to be powerful and effective; details can include a hairline stroke for additional depth, a faint gradient for more interesting surfaces, small icons for added visual appeal as well as to aid visual cognition, and so forth.

Here are three good examples of web designs that delve into the details.


by Shannon Noack |  Become a Facebook Fan of Six Revisions.

Take Your Web Designs to the Next Level

When you start out as a web designer, you do all you can to grasp the basic design principles so that you have a solid foundation to start your journey on. As you become more proficient in your craft, you start to learn techniques that are more advanced, and you begin to implement bigger and better things in your work until you reach a point where you feel pretty comfortable to step outside the bounds of the ordinary. What else can you do to take your web designs to the next level?

Here are just a handful of ideas you can consider if you’d like to take your web designs the next level.

Delve Into Design Details

If you look at most beautifully designed websites, you’ll notice that they are often set apart not because of big things, but the little details that let you know the designer took great care and attention of even the smallest of things. These small touches don’t need to be in your face to be powerful and effective; details can include a hairline stroke for additional depth, a faint gradient for more interesting surfaces, small icons for added visual appeal as well as to aid visual cognition, and so forth.

Here are three good examples of web designs that delve into the details. Leer más “Take Your Web Designs to the Next Level”

When Creative Conflict is A Good Thing

During your career as a web professional, whether you’re a designer, developer or copywriter, you’re bound to encounter creative differences either within your team, or between you and a client. These situations can be emotionally taxing, but if you have a better understanding of how to work through them and even learn and grow from them, conflicts can actually make you better at your job.

Here are some tips on getting the most out of your conflict, and when it’s best for everyone to just throw in the proverbial towel.
Good Conflict/Bad Conflict

Conflict happens when two or more contradictory perspectives haven’t been agreed on, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, when handled well, conflict forces us to be creative problem-solvers, to avoid mistakes, and to learn how to benefit from our differences, all while challenging us to broaden our skills.

Conflict gets ugly when it affects workflow, gets personal, leads to more conflict, and harms working relationships. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent disagreements from taking you down the wrong path, starting with learning about how different people deal with conflict.
Types of Conflict Behavior

Understanding the types of behavior that occur during conflict, and recognizing which apply to you and your peers, can help you discover how to get the most out of it.

The types of conflict behavior are:

1. Competing: you have a high concern for personal goals and low concern for relationships.
2. Collaborative: you’re interested in a mutually satisfactory solution.
3. Compromising: you’re willing to give something up if they are.
4. Avoiding: you delay and ignore the conflict, hoping it will resolve itself.
5. Accommodating: you’re willing to make a sacrifice to avoid confrontation.

Depending on the way you and your team deal with conflict with respect to the above behaviors, you could either find yourselves at a creative stand-still, or you could come out of the conflict better than if there was none at all.

A study documented in Creativity and Innovation Management found that certain types of conflict behavior, specifically the confrontational variety, yield better results in terms of creative output. Researchers Petra Badke-Schaub, Gabriela Goldschmidt and Martijn Meyer observed video footage of design teams during idea generation. They then compared the conflict behavior styles of each team to their creative output.

The researchers found that high-scoring groups in the areas of innovation and functionality were more prone to competing and compromising, and low-rated groups were more collaborative. The findings also showed that more ideas were generated in the higher-scoring groups, while more repetition of ideas occurred in the low-scoring groups. The researchers concluded that creative performance in teams is not achieved mainly by agreement, but needs cognitive confrontation.

In other words, don’t be afraid to challenge the ideas of people on your team (respectfully), the results are often favorable, while being too agreeable for the purpose of avoiding confrontation can produce lackluster results.
Constructive Team Conflict

What’s the best way to deal with conflict on your team? There are many methods out there, but perhaps the most applicable to conflict on a creative team, is the Conflict Resolution Network’s Creative Response kit….


by Rick Sloboda |  Become a Facebook Fan of Six Revisions.

When Creative Conflict is A Good ThingDuring your career as a web professional, whether you’re a designer, developer or copywriter, you’re bound to encounter creative differences either within your team, or between you and a client. These situations can be emotionally taxing, but if you have a better understanding of how to work through them and even learn and grow from them, conflicts can actually make you better at your job.

Here are some tips on getting the most out of your conflict, and when it’s best for everyone to just throw in the proverbial towel.

Good Conflict/Bad Conflict

Conflict happens when two or more contradictory perspectives haven’t been agreed on, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, when handled well, conflict forces us to be creative problem-solvers, to avoid mistakes, and to learn how to benefit from our differences, all while challenging us to broaden our skills.

Conflict gets ugly when it affects workflow, gets personal, leads to more conflict, and harms working relationships. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent disagreements from taking you down the wrong path, starting with learning about how different people deal with conflict.

Types of Conflict Behavior

Understanding the types of behavior that occur during conflict, and recognizing which apply to you and your peers, can help you discover how to get the most out of it.

The types of conflict behavior are:

  1. Competing: you have a high concern for personal goals and low concern for relationships.
  2. Collaborative: you’re interested in a mutually satisfactory solution.
  3. Compromising: you’re willing to give something up if they are.
  4. Avoiding: you delay and ignore the conflict, hoping it will resolve itself.
  5. Accommodating: you’re willing to make a sacrifice to avoid confrontation.

Depending on the way you and your team deal with conflict with respect to the above behaviors, you could either find yourselves at a creative stand-still, or you could come out of the conflict better than if there was none at all.

A study documented in Creativity and Innovation Management found that certain types of conflict behavior, specifically the confrontational variety, yield better results in terms of creative output. Researchers Petra Badke-Schaub, Gabriela Goldschmidt and Martijn Meyer observed video footage of design teams during idea generation. They then compared the conflict behavior styles of each team to their creative output.

The researchers found that high-scoring groups in the areas of innovation and functionality were more prone to competing and compromising, and low-rated groups were more collaborative. The findings also showed that more ideas were generated in the higher-scoring groups, while more repetition of ideas occurred in the low-scoring groups. The researchers concluded that creative performance in teams is not achieved mainly by agreement, but needs cognitive confrontation.

In other words, don’t be afraid to challenge the ideas of people on your team (respectfully), the results are often favorable, while being too agreeable for the purpose of avoiding confrontation can produce lackluster results.

Constructive Team Conflict

What’s the best way to deal with conflict on your team? There are many methods out there, but perhaps the most applicable to conflict on a creative team, is the Conflict Resolution Network’s Creative Response kit…. Leer más “When Creative Conflict is A Good Thing”

Creating a User Interface That Speaks Your Users’ Language

In this article, we’ll talk about the challenges of writing concise and familiar copy for web application user interfaces. We’ll illustrate, with a real case example, how tools like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk can help designers find a common language with their users.

Words Matter

A good user interface needs concise instructions. When we label interface elements or write instructions for a given task, we aim for clarity and succinctness.

Succinctness is a fairly simple standard to follow. The shorter the better. Short, familiar labels and instructions are more readable. Long copy can convey more information and may explain things more completely, but designers find long blocks of web copy unwieldy, and for users, mentally taxing (i.e. because people don’t read). The result is that longer copy generally makes for more confusing interfaces.

But a short label must also be clear; and it’s tricky to write copy that’s brief but thorough at the same time. And then what the definition of “clear” is, in the context of your UI, is another (tougher) problem altogether.

We don’t write for ourselves, but for the users, and web users defy categorization and stereotypes. Some are technically savvy, some are less so. Some use their own lingo and some don’t even speak our language.


by Cedric Savarese | Become a Facebook Fan of Six Revisions.

Creating a User Interface That Speaks Your Users' Language

In this article, we’ll talk about the challenges of writing concise and familiar copy for web application user interfaces.  We’ll illustrate, with a real case example, how tools like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk can help designers find a common language with their users.

Words Matter

A good user interface needs concise instructions. When we label interface elements or write instructions for a given task, we aim for clarity and succinctness.

Succinctness is a fairly simple standard to follow. The shorter the better. Short, familiar labels and instructions are more readable. Long copy can convey more information and may explain things more completely, but designers find long blocks of web copy unwieldy, and for users, mentally taxing (i.e. because people don’t read). The result is that longer copy generally makes for more confusing interfaces.

But a short label must also be clear; and it’s tricky to write copy that’s brief but thorough at the same time. And then what the definition of “clear” is, in the context of your UI, is another (tougher) problem altogether.

We don’t write for ourselves, but for the users, and web users defy categorization and stereotypes. Some are technically savvy, some are less so. Some use their own lingo and some don’t even speak our language.

Leer más “Creating a User Interface That Speaks Your Users’ Language”

Aggressive Expansion: 8 Tips for Finding More Clients Now

I’ve covered finding awesome clients before. It’s still the ultimate goal for any service business to work with clients that don’t just pay you, but also get you. From passion projects to assignments that are truly interesting, there’s nothing better than working with great clients.

But sometimes, great isn’t an option. For every freelance web designer, there are times when great clients aren’t the only type of clients you want to attract; when any client will do. It’s easy to panic and think that things are eternally going to be like this, but the simple truth is that client crises rarely end up being anything more than a temporary setback.

If you do find yourself without major projects to turn to, don’t give up hope. There’s no shortage of ways to reignite that sales flame and start closing major projects again.

These eight strategies have the power to help you find instant projects, be it a long-term design contract or a one-off request. If you’re short on work, itching for a new project, and out of requests, why not give these tips a shot?


http://sixrevisions.com |  by Mathew Carpenter

Become a Facebook Fan of Six Revisions.

Aggressive Expansion: 8 Tips for Finding More Clients Now

I’ve covered finding awesome clients before. It’s still the ultimate goal for any service business to work with clients that don’t just pay you, but also get you. From passion projects to assignments that are truly interesting, there’s nothing better than working with great clients.

But sometimes, great isn’t an option. For every freelance web designer, there are times when great clients aren’t the only type of clients you want to attract; when any client will do. It’s easy to panic and think that things are eternally going to be like this, but the simple truth is that client crises rarely end up being anything more than a temporary setback.

If you do find yourself without major projects to turn to, don’t give up hope. There’s no shortage of ways to reignite that sales flame and start closing major projects again.

These eight strategies have the power to help you find instant projects, be it a long-term design contract or a one-off request. If you’re short on work, itching for a new project, and out of requests, why not give these tips a shot? Leer más “Aggressive Expansion: 8 Tips for Finding More Clients Now”

10 Excellent Tools for Testing Your Site on Mobile Devices

With the ever-increasing sales of smartphones and the burgeoning tablet market starting to skyrocket, coupled with far greater access to more robust mobile data networks, the internet is now being accessed by our users in a multitude of new ways.

The huge range of mobile devices used to browse the web now means you really have to consider making your site mobile-compatible.

But how do you go about it? Testing your site on mobile devices can be time-consuming and expensive due to the vast number of different mobile devices.

Fear not, because there are some handy tools available at your disposal for making sure that your website renders appropriately on the Mobile Web. This article shares and discusses 10 such tools.


http://sixrevisions.com | Become a Facebook Fan of Six Revisions.

10 Excellent Tools for Testing Your Site on Mobile DevicesWith the ever-increasing sales of smartphones and the burgeoning tablet market starting to skyrocket, coupled with far greater access to more robust mobile data networks, the internet is now being accessed by our users in a multitude of new ways.

The huge range of mobile devices used to browse the web now means you really have to consider making your site mobile-compatible.

But how do you go about it? Testing your site on mobile devices can be time-consuming and expensive due to the vast number of different mobile devices.

Fear not, because there are some handy tools available at your disposal for making sure that your website renders appropriately on the Mobile Web. This article shares and discusses 10 such tools.

1. iPhoney

iPhoney

An excellent free iPhone tester, iPhoney isn’t exactly an emulator, but allows developers to create 320×480px websites for use on the iPhone. It allows you to test images and code in a pixel-perfect AppleSafari-powered environment, with all the normal features including Portrait and Landscape modes, fullscreen, zoom and plugins.

2. W3C mobileOK Checker

W3C mobileOK Checker

This checker is a web-based automated validation tool that checks to see how mobile-device-friendly your website is. The tests are checked against the W3C mobileOK Basic Tests specification developed by W3C. Leer más “10 Excellent Tools for Testing Your Site on Mobile Devices”

How to Customize the WordPress Admin Area

WordPress is one of the best CMSs out there — if not the best (but of course, I’m biased because I’m a WordPress fanatic). It has loads of handy features that make site administration a breeze. WordPress is a publishing platform with a comment system, a GUI for creating, editing and managing posts and pages, handy built-in tools like the “Export” feature to back up your content, user roles and permissions, and more.

But how much of these features do we really use? Though already simple and user-friendly by default, we might want to customize the WordPress Admin interface to make it even simpler and more manageable for our clients, our co-authors, and ourselves.
Why Customize the WordPress Admin Interface?

Lately, WordPress has reached phenomenally high usage rates. There are over 25 million publishers[1] who use WordPress, making it a popular publishing platform. This means that its use has been extended outside of just a blogging platform (although it was certainly built for bloggers at the start) to other types of sites such as portfolios, business sites, image galleries, and even e-commerce sites.

Here is the problem, though. A robust publishing platform like WordPress has way more features than a regular user would ever need. Take the “Comments” panel for instance: Not everyone is going to need all the moderation privileges it has. Some sites might not even need commenting capabilities on their content. For example, a static informational site that doesn’t have a blog section might not want people to be able to comment on static pages like their About and Contact Us page.

The following image shows the default WordPress Dashboard — the first page you’ll see when you log into the Admin area. For tech-savvy folks and power users, it’s great. But imagine a person (such as a paying client of yours) who doesn’t need half of the things they see in this screen. All they want to do is publish a post. Maybe edit it if they make a mistake. That’s it. Nothing else.


by Filip Stefansson | http://sixrevisions.com

Become a Facebook Fan of Six Revisions.

WordPress is one of the best CMSs out there — if not the best (but of course, I’m biased because I’m a WordPress fanatic). It has loads of handy features that make site administration a breeze. WordPress is a publishing platform with a comment system, a GUI for creating, editing and managing posts and pages, handy built-in tools like the “Export” feature to back up your content, user roles and permissions, and more.

But how much of these features do we really use? Though already simple and user-friendly by default, we might want to customize the WordPress Admin interface to make it even simpler and more manageable for our clients, our co-authors, and ourselves.

Why Customize the WordPress Admin Interface?

Lately, WordPress has reached phenomenally high usage rates. There are over 25 million publishers[1] who use WordPress, making it a popular publishing platform. This means that its use has been extended outside of just a blogging platform (although it was certainly built for bloggers at the start) to other types of sites such as portfolios, business sites, image galleries, and even e-commerce sites.

Here is the problem, though. A robust publishing platform like WordPress has way more features than a regular user would ever need. Take the “Comments” panel for instance: Not everyone is going to need all the moderation privileges it has. Some sites might not even need commenting capabilities on their content. For example, a static informational site that doesn’t have a blog section might not want people to be able to comment on static pages like their About and Contact Us page.

The following image shows the default WordPress Dashboard — the first page you’ll see when you log into the Admin area. For tech-savvy folks and power users, it’s great. But imagine a person (such as a paying client of yours) who doesn’t need half of the things they see in this screen. All they want to do is publish a post. Maybe edit it if they make a mistake. That’s it. Nothing else. Leer más “How to Customize the WordPress Admin Area”

The Perfect Web Designer Should Not Exist

The web design community is both strong and deep. We support each other and quickly find out that everyone is encouraged to both grow with, and contribute to, the community.

Certain individuals within our community will stand out as experts and will be looked upon for words of wisdom and examples of great design. But, still, to say that the perfect web designer does not exist is not a huge stretch of the imagination because we all have our weaknesses, and no one is perfect, right?

Well, I will do you one better: Even great designers don’t exist. And finding good designers is (or should be) pretty tough.

As a member of this wonderful web design community, I know it can be quite easy to get caught up with the creations of our colleagues. But this game of “keeping up with the Joneses” and searching through web design galleries for “inspiration” is a dangerous one to play. It has become all too easy to forget what really matters in web design: the users.

Unless you are designing a website for the web design community, your average user just doesn’t care how pretty your site is or how much blood, sweat, and tears you put into it.

Instead, more often than not, if someone wants to know who made the web page they are browsing, it’s because something went gone wrong and they are looking for someone to blame for its atrocious acts.

So, then, the goal of the designer is to be unremarkable. And the better you are at design, the more unremarkable you become. The perfect designer then, doesn’t exist.

The “perfect” website’s goal isn’t to make sure that site visitors see the pretty pictures, amazing color combinations, and wonderful typography. Instead, it wants to convey a message to the user.

The perfect web design is simply a structure that has been developed so that the consumer can absorb a message or complete a task as quickly and as painlessly as possible. If the consumer is focused on the design or development of a site, then attention is drawn away from that core task or message.

When your target audience is caught up on the content of your website — the design does not exist at all, or is invisible — and, in turn, the web designer and any trace of his work ceases to exist.


Become a Facebook Fan of Six Revisions
http://sixrevisions.com/

The Perfect Web Designer Should Not Exist

The web design community is both strong and deep. We support each other and quickly find out that everyone is encouraged to both grow with, and contribute to, the community.

Certain individuals within our community will stand out as experts and will be looked upon for words of wisdom and examples of great design. But, still, to say that the perfect web designer does not exist is not a huge stretch of the imagination because we all have our weaknesses, and no one is perfect, right?

Well, I will do you one better: Even great designers don’t exist. And finding good designers is (or should be) pretty tough.

As a member of this wonderful web design community, I know it can be quite easy to get caught up with the creations of our colleagues. But this game of “keeping up with the Joneses” and searching through web design galleries for “inspiration” is a dangerous one to play. It has become all too easy to forget what really matters in web design: the users.

Unless you are designing a website for the web design community, your average user just doesn’t care how pretty your site is or how much blood, sweat, and tears you put into it.

Instead, more often than not, if someone wants to know who made the web page they are browsing, it’s because something went gone wrong and they are looking for someone to blame for its atrocious acts.

So, then, the goal of the designer is to be unremarkable. And the better you are at design, the more unremarkable you become. The perfect designer then, doesn’t exist.

The “perfect” website’s goal isn’t to make sure that site visitors see the pretty pictures, amazing color combinations, and wonderful typography. Instead, it wants to convey a message to the user.

The perfect web design is simply a structure that has been developed so that the consumer can absorb a message or complete a task as quickly and as painlessly as possible. If the consumer is focused on the design or development of a site, then attention is drawn away from that core task or message.

When your target audience is caught up on the content of your website — the design does not exist at all, or is invisible — and, in turn, the web designer and any trace of his work ceases to exist. Leer más “The Perfect Web Designer Should Not Exist”