We all visit websites for similar reasons regardless of the technology we use to interact with it. A person who is visually impaired will use a bank’s website to pay a bill with the same intent as someone who doesn’t use assistive technology. A person using their mobile device requires the same functionality of someone using their desktop. Just as a good site design will have considered the requirements of different screens, good site design needs to consider a variety of users’ needs and accessibility issues. This is called Web Accessibility.
Over the last few months I have been working with the Watertown Wilson County Public Library to launch an after school coding club called “Watertown Impact”. Every Wednesday, 7 young women, 6th through 12th grade, spend their afternoons learning to code.
The students come from different backgrounds, and utilize their different learning styles and problem solving skills to create something entirely new. They are quickly realizing that enthusiasm, hard work, curiosity and risk taking are essential to learning standard web languages as well as structural and presentational aspects of web design. And they’re usually laughing the whole time. They are becoming digital creatives, and it is wonderful to witness their originality and curiosity.
Already, they are putting their burgeoning coding skills to work for Wilson County by creating a website to promote the use and maintenance of the county’s new Little Free Libraries, a project organized by United Way of Wilson County to promote reading, strengthen community and inspire creativity. The site will feature pictures of the new Little Free Libraries, a map of library locations, and information on use, donations and the sponsors of the libraries.
This project requires peer-to-peer in addition to student-to-mentor relationships that extend beyond the local and into the world-wide coding community. Students will have the opportunity to publish their code in online repositories and receive input from others in the industry from around the world. They will visit local agencies, too, for some hands-on experiences of the local programming scene. Connections between industry and students opens possibilities and opportunities for kids and their futures and that’s something we’re very proud to facilitate.
Be sure to read the bios of these fledgling coders, once their new site is live. Their enthusiasm for learning, experimenting and having fun is contagious. They know that anything is possible.
We do our best to help you “Go Responsive … Responsibly.” When we design a Responsive Website at Bear Web Design we focus on what a mobile, tablet or desktop visitor is wanting to accomplish. Working with our clients we try to create a user experience that is optimal in varying device sizes. Check out this article from Website Magazine:
“… viewing websites on mobile devices is generally quite slow, most people are reluctant to start tapping all over a page. This means that design must make it visually clear what elements on the site allow for user interactions. Buttons, links, form fields and other points of user interaction must be large enough to be clicked easily, and spaced far enough away from other page elements that users don’t risk clicking the wrong elements.”
“A safer approach for many sites will be to use a drop-down or “select” menu. The user simply clicks the menu and scrolls to the selection (or category) of interest.”
Joomla Components, Modules and Plugins can have a great influence on your final website design. They can enhance your website design ranging from interesting content such as blogs to desired action items such as purchasing a product. Some of you may already know what these additional pieces of Joomla are… But for those clients or future clients that are new to Bear Web Design and Joomla! lingo, here’s an introduction.
A component in Joomla! is the most complex add-on. This usually adds a completely new, or different, function to your site. A component handles data input and storage into the database.
An Online Store System
A Blogging System
A Business Directory
An Advertising System
A Slideshow or Photo Gallery
A module in Joomla! is usually an add-on to the site that extends the functionality of another part of the system. It usually has fewer options and most of the time does not handle any storing of information into the database. A module usually supports a component by allowing more options on how to display data from the component. Modules are the most commonly referred to in a design meeting environment at Bear Web Design. Many modules can be customized to fit your color-scheme and style.
A module that shows a visitor their account info, shopping cart, and or login/logout info. (Works with a store component.)
A recent blog area or featured blog listing. (Works with a blog component.)
An advertisement area that holds an advertising banner. (Works with an advertising system component.)
A mini calendar. (Works with an Events component.)
Customized Quick link buttons. (Works with Joomla! menus.)
A slideshow on the homepage. (Works with a slideshow component.)
Search Box (core Joomla!).
A Plugin in Joomla! will manipulate output already generated by the system. It typically does not run as a stand-alone element but retrieves data from other sources like content on your site.
Search Plug-in (works with components, to make some of their data able to be searched within the entire site)
Simple Image Gallery – pulls images from a folder in a database and displays those images when called into an article.
Article Editor Plug-ins – allow for embedding of special media such as iframes, videos, etc.
It is also good to know that modules and components are great ways to provide interaction with your website visitors.
These items are important to know when starting or redesigning a Joomla! website. In a design meeting these will help express how you would like your site to look and function.
As 2012 draws to an end, we have lots of new developments (“web developments” that is) on the horizon for the coming year. Most important of these is that our new custom templates will feature Responsive Web Design, also known as RWD — click here for definition.
In a nutshell, RWD is a design approach that optimizes the web browsing experience no matter what web device you happen to be using – desktop, laptop, iPad or other small-screen device, or mobile phone.
We are in the process of finalizing the templates of our newest sites and will provide links, examples and more info in early 2013… stay tuned!
Vicki Beare (this is my new last name — as I mentioned, we had LOTS going on around here lately!)
One of my favorite lines in the movie The Blind Side is when Sandra Bullock (referring to UT Orange) says, “But I will not wear that gaudy orange, I will not. It is not in my color wheel and I’m not gonna wear it.” And that gets me thinking about web design.
Most people, male and female, have a general idea of what’s in their “color wheel” – what their favorite colors are, whether they are comfortable pairing, say, a purple blazer over emerald green slacks, or whether they are soothed by the sight of a closet full of khaki and blue. The same goes for interior decorating, the color of our cars, the television ads that catch our eye… all sorts of things. The bottom line is that, generally, we pay more attention than we know to color and style.
But websites haven’t been around nearly as long as those other things, and I’ve noticed that sometimes people can’t define exactly what it is they like about certain websites. Is it the color scheme that’s most attractive, or the “flow” and ease of use, or the crisp-and-clean lines, or a feeling of excitement that there’s a lot of information and interactivity going on here?
As a website designer, I ask clients to provide a few examples of websites they like. Sometimes they will supply distinct details of what sort of look they want — color, type of background, location of logo and other features — but I’ve also noticed that sometimes it’s hard to define what it is you love about certain sites (and, equally important, what drives you away from other sites).
If you are thinking about getting a new website, or upgrading an existing one, it’s a good idea to do a little analysis on the sites you visit frequently, or ones that have caught your attention. Even if one of your favorite websites is for a restaurant, and your business is something entirely different, ask yourself what it is you like about the site.
Some things to pay attention to include color, depth (a flat, clean look vs. 3-D and layered), squared or rounded corners and borders, visually vibrant or information-rich, even what kind of background is behind the site (you might prefer a colorful and interesting background – or you might not want to distract your site’s visitors from the content).
Of course, there will be many other questions to be asked and analysis to be done before we design and build your new website… but the clearer you are about what you want and don’t want, the closer we will be to creating a site you will absolutely love!
And, incidentally, if you happen to like UT orange, we have no objections at all to using it in your website.
As a designer I refer to functionality on a daily basis. I truly believe in having a well designed website, however, if it doesn’t have functionality it is just a pretty image on a computer screen.
SOO.. Let’s define functionality.
Functionality is defined in the dictionary as the “quality or state of being functional.”
Functional is defined as being “used to contribute to the development or maintenance of a larger whole.”
A Function can be described as a purposeful action.
Ask yourself this question, “What should be my website’s purpose be?”
Your answer should be that you want to reach your audience efficiently and market your company/organization well.
To be able to bring that purpose into fruition there needs to be an understanding that a well designed website is more than exciting colors and graphics. It is a high-level dynamic mixture of a strong content management system with branding, color schemes, composition, clean design, meaningful and easy to update extensions, and good content. That mixture is used to achieve a website that is designed well because of it’s level of functionality and of course some good aesthetics.
You see there are a lot of templates site and graphic designers out there that can provide a image that looks dynamic, but in the end it flops. We make sure that behind the scenes it is working for you … not against you. Each client that we work with is a customized experience. We review the needed functions and pick the right extensions and design elements to achieve their marketing purpose.
At Bear Web Design we use slide shows, photo galleries, blogs, action buttons, search modules, calendars, forms, Google maps, social media integration, multi-level menu systems, video players, and all sorts of other extensions that have to be integrated into the overall design to be the “larger whole” – to achieve that sought after purpose. (Do you see the functionality ooozzzing out!?)
Hopefully you can see that we take web design seriously and design websites that are more than just a image on a screen, but a functional marketing tool that can grow as your company grows.