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2017 a new look

Posted on by jordanhaines

The job of redesigning my site has been on my list to do for the last two years, but as I have learned. Once you have kids some jobs keep getting pushed to the back of the que. This is what happened with the design of this site.

In 2016 I actually got as far as making a photoshop document of the site I wanted after going through the site map process and all the wireframing, but the coding part of the job did not happen. This was mainly because of another bundle of joy coming into my life with the birth of my daughter.

Now my son is going to bed much easier in the evening, I now find I have a few hours in the evening where I can do little bits of work. So in 2017 I have made it my goal to redesign and sort out my site.

The theme currently running on it is 5 years old, it looks outdated and the responsive does not work that well.

I have been working on a new responsive WordPress theme which I use as my base files so want to use this. I will also be sorting out the structure to separate out the podcast posts as I would like to start mixing again now I have the chance.

I also want to include the ability to play the podcast from the site and sort out some of the coding examples that I have given in the past which do not look that great now.

I plan to blog the process of my redesign as I go through the process. This way it will keep me on track.

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Why I like open source content management systems

Posted on by jordanhaines

The term “open source” refers to something people can modify and share because its design and development is public. Open source software is software with source code that anyone can inspect, modify, and build on.

Two examples of open source content management (CMS) system are WordPress and Drupal, You may have heard of these. They are the two biggest content management systems powering the web today with an equal share of 21%.

There are many reasons I love using open source content management systems and below are a few of the reasons with a short explanation.

1. Cost

The great thing about open source content management systems is that they are free, You can donate to the project if you like. This brings the cost of projects down which helps the client and also makes it easier for anyone to try and get building using the CMS.

2. Knowledge

Open source content management systems are built and maintained by many people, There are also everyone that uses the CMS which makes up the community. If you have a question about the CMS you are working with, you can ask in the forum or Google the problem. There is a good chance that someone has had the issue already and can suggest possible solutions for you to try.

3. Community

The community is the back bone of any open source content management system. This is were all the knowledge for the software is. In the community you will have the developers that build and maintain the project, You will also have other people that maintain the documentation, You will also have people that have a huge knowledge of either WordPress or Drupal as they use it on a day to day basis. With such a strong community behind any project, you can be assured that support of the CMS will continue long in to the future.

4. Secure

WordPress and Drupal are very secure content management systems, If a security issue is found and reported to the community it is dealt with very quickly. Confidence in security for a CMS will be one of the factors in deciding if people will use it or not.

5. Quality

When new features are added to the code base for either WordPress or Drupal the community can inspect the code and have there say on weather it needs improving or not. Buy having many people looking at the code, you can insure that you get a higher quality of code then if it was just a few people in a company building a fully paid for content management system.

6. Flexibility and Freedom

Unlike paid for content management systems if there is a feature you need for an open source content management system and it does not exists in the plugin / module libraries. You have the option to build your own extension to make the CMS do what you want it to do.

So there you have it, Just a few reasons why using open source content management systems are better then paid for systems.

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I thought I knew about the title attribute

Posted on by jordanhaines

I have been building website for years, when I started learning how to build websites I was always told that when you use an anchor link you must include the title attribute and the target attribute.

The reasons I was told to include the title attribute was to improve accessibility, by including the title attribute users when they hover over the link with there mouse get a tooltip pop up which can give the user more detailed information about where the link will send you. The second reason was that it was suggested that the title attribute was good for blind people as screen readers would use the information to tell the user more about the link. The third reason for using the title attribute was it was good for SEO, By including a title attribute with more detailed information and keywords Google would like this more.

So what led me to question this?. I have recently been working on updating the Factor 3 WordPress base theme which we use to start our WordPress projects, While updating it I started to research why WordPress does not include the title attribute on its links in the content area. To my surprised it turns out that I was wrong and you do not need to use it.

Silktide did some research on screen readers and the use of the title attribute. It turns out that screen readers do not use the title tag, they use the anchor link text instead. After some more research it also turns out that there is no SEO benefit from using the title tag, I found this shocking. But Google uses the anchor link text instead just like the screen readers. The only reason to use the title attribute is to get tooltips to pop up when the user hovers there mouse over the link when they are on a desktop.

My research was backed up by Jeffrey Zeldmen and Bruce Lawson who both have said to not use the title attribute.

So what is the solution? Its seems we can drop the title attribute from our links and it is better practise to use more precise and better descriptive anchor text. It would also seem that this has been best practise for a while now and website testing tool like Sitebeam and Nibbler are already testing for “weak text”. This will take some time to get used to but going forward from now on I will not be using the title attribute on our links.

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Open design process

Posted on by jordanhaines

At the end of 2016 Mozilla showed there final logo design of there company rebrand. The strange part about this design process was that the whole process used the open design process.

So what actually is the open design process? It is where all the design work and process are shared online of anyone to view and comment on, It is mostly used on open source software and hardware in which it will be free for anyone to use.

Most brand development exercises will be done behind closed doors with only a limited number of people working on the project, Then at the end of the process the big revile happens of the new logo.

Mozilla opted for the open design process because it was in keeping with the company way of working. Mozilla are pioneers of open source and web standards there are most well known for the Firefox browser.

Benefits of Open design

There are a few benefits of designing in the open which I will walk through below:

Community Feedback

Communities are fantastic for sharing resources and advice. If you write a post discussing a problem or asking a question about something you are working, the community can respond with potential solutions, resources, tips and advice.

Gather feedback

Working with a community by sharing your design and your thoughts on where the designs have come from can help get a huge amount of feedback that you might not have go if you where working behind closed doors.

Build interest

By sharing your designs while its in progress you have a chance to build up interest and a following for your work and the company that you are doing the re brand for. An example of this are The creators of Indie Game: The Movie were religious about sharing their progress while filming and editing, and as a result they built up a massive community. By the time the film got released, they had amassed thousands of people who were ready to purchase the movie.

Establish yourselves as industry leaders

As a creative agency you know how to develop a brand buy using the correct processes. So to show other people that you know what you are talking about, Share those ideas so everyone can see. By doing this we not only helping ourself but providing information to help others in the industry.

Challenges of open design

Unfortunately its not all plane sailing with open design, Some of the issues with open design are listed below

Sharing non finished work

Creative agencies and designers are set in there ways and many will only like to show off polished designs to the public. We hate showing off mistakes and designs that might be considered sloopy or prototype work that is buggy. But by showing off our workings and ideas we are able to explain them better and hopefully come to a much stronger result.

Other companies will take our stuff

This has to be the biggest challenge to overcome when you talk about giving anything away. Both clients and designers need to over come this way of thinking. Copying will always happen, but another way to think about it is if you start talking about it in public first. Then you can claim you had the idea first.

Community Comments

One of the greatest thinks about the open design process is the community, but sadly it is one of its downfalls. You will get some great feedback with some great tips and suggestion, but you will also get the stupid comments and suggestion, Remember Boaty McBoatface?

Time

Committing to an open design project means you have to commit extra time to writing all the blog posts and scanning in sketch. Sometimes deadlines are just to tight to do this.

Some examples of some open design projects are:

The idea of this post was to explore the benefits and challenges of open design and ask the question would you consider trying the open design process?

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Closing my yahoo and Flickr account

Posted on by jordanhaines

Over the last year it has come to light that in the past Yahoo have had several data breaches in which hackers managed to download information about there users. It seems that every few months we are learning of a new hack that had been kept secret.

This week I was listening to the The Big Show on the British Tech Network where they began to talk about another report of a Yahoo data breach.

For myself this was the last straw, The only reason I have a yahoo account was because I was a Flickr Pro user. I used this service as a way to back up my photos online at the time just incase anything happened. I have since started backing my photos to Google Photos as well as Facebook so the family can see what the kids are up to.

With all the news about the Yahoo problems which have dented my confidence in the company a lot and then the sale of the company I have decided enough is enough and have closed my account.

It feels great to close the account as its one less service to have a login for and its also one less service to pay for as well. Flickr was amazing back in the day when there was a real community sprite but Yahoo have killed it and if I am honest they killed it years ago. The only reason I stayed with them because I was using the service as a back up.

My advice to anyone that still has a Yahoo account would be to close it, Your data is not safe and with the sale of the company as well. Who knows what will happen, it is better to be safe then sorry I think.

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