Thoughts on programming, web development and design.

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Month: May 2013

CMS Showdown at Web414 Meetup

Milwaukee Web414 Meetup had a CMS showdown. 6 CMSes were chosen to show why web developers should consider using them over their current CMS favorite. The CMSes represented were: MODx, WordPress, Sitecore, Drupal, Joomla and Concrete 5.

Why MODx?

MODx is fast, clean and well organized. It is easy for your clients to use. For developers, you have complete freedom to design and develop your sites. You can build a website or application fast with a minimal amount of code. When you need help, MODx has a great developer community and staff that you can rely on.

Why WordPress?

WordPress is easy to use. About 17% of websites use WordPress. You can easily teach your clients how to use WordPress. It has plug-ins and themes that allow you to extend and modify WordPress to fit your client’s needs. WordPress has a large and dedicated developer and user community that can help you when you have a problem.

Why Sitecore?

Sitecore is designed for mid-market and enterprise businesses. It is built on ASP.Net which is created and maintained by Microsoft; the others are based on PHP. Sitecore uses open source code, but is a closed source product. Larger companies like having a company that builds this type of CMS that way they know who to talk to when they have issues or requests.

Why Drupal?

Drupal has a flexible user interface which makes it easy to customize. It has an API that is customizable. With Drupal, you can specify permissions at the field level. You can use this to control who can edit a certain field. Roles are integrated everywhere. Drupal has a strong and talented developer community.

Why Joomla?

Joomla is 100% community driven. About 3% of websites are built on Joomla. It has about 6000 extensions, supports multiple languages and responsive design. Bootstrap is a part of Joomla. You can use tools like jQuery, MooTools and LESS with Joomla. Joomla also has a robust developer community.

Why Concrete 5?

Concrete 5 is easy to use. It has robust roles and permissions. You can connect to different back-ends easily. Concrete 5 is SEO-friendly and has desktop and mobile themes that you can use.

Which one?

The panel of presenters agreed that every project and client is different. They each have different needs. You need to choose the right tool for your project and customers.

Watch the showdown to learn more.

Marco Polo, Zen Garden and Responsive Design

Books with GlassesWhat do Marco Polo, Zen Garden and Responsive Design have in common? Not much. The following are a collection of articles for inspiring you to share your story and responsive designs.  Plus learn a few techniques for adopting mobile first design philosophy.

Learn from Marco Polo

Marco Polo is remembered as an explorer. Why? He wrote about his travels as a merchant. Writing is one method to share and to teach others what you know. Web designers and developers who write and teach can build an audience. If you want to be successful, start sharing.

Zen Garden

Happy 10th Anniversary to Zen Garden. Zen Garden was a great idea on how to showcase what is possible with CSS. It was fun to look at the new designs for inspiration and to see who was brave enough to share their ideas. They’ve reopened Zen Garden and want people to share their Responsive Designs.

Mobile Design Reasons and Techniques

  • More mobile devices are sold than babies are born everyday. People use their mobile devices at home, at work and on the go. Having a site that just works no matter the device is becoming more and and more important. If you need to convince your clients, here are 3 Reasons for adopting a Mobile First Design Philosophy.
  • Content has always been important. Most design techniques start with the look of a website and then add the content in later. Kayla Night explains how to focus on the content and design a site to complement it. Photos, graphics and fonts should help your audience read and use your website not overwhelm them.
  • How do you focus on designing a website that achieves your goals? By using whiteboards, visions and banned words, before you jump into wire framing or prototyping. Banning words like nice, most and clean help you to focus on the specific problem you want to solve. It prevents you from focusing on issues that don’t really matter. Will Dayble’s process can help you to focus your client on designing for the right problem.

Pretty Does Not Equal Design

Art PencilsNotes from the Milwaukee WordPress Meetup “Stop Making Things Pretty and Start Designing”.

Design is more than themes, graphics, fonts or the look and feel of a website. The most beautiful sites aren’t the most successful. People come to your website to solve a problem, get a task done or to learn something new.

Things don’t need to be attractive to solve a problem. Michelle Schulp

Websites like Google and Craigslist have very simple designs. Most people wouldn’t call them beautiful. These sites focus on helping you get a task done instead of looking pretty.

Design is a technique that you can use to solve problems. It can help you to build a website or an app that your visitors will want to use.

Start Designing

Design is fundamental. It helps you to focus your attention on the details and see how everything fits into the final product.

Be deliberate! Everything on a website or web application should have a purpose. The most important question to ask when designing is Why. When you ask why, you can get to the reason for a font, color or photo on a website. You can then determine whether or not it really helps your visitors or just makes the site pretty. Design adds value.

Design is a process. Your job is to help your client and yourself remember that the design is not for you; it is for your customers. To help you do this, use tools like a mood board, style tiles and style guides. They help you to focus on choosing the colors, patterns, fonts and logos before you create a prototype. Gray screen prototypes can help to focus on how the site works before adding colors and fonts.

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