Tag Archive: HTML coding

Waves of change are currently rippling through every aspect of the Web. The iPad and other mobile devices are changing the way we access the Internet, while HTML5 and CSS3 promise to change the way we develop it. However, another storm is brewing that threatens Photoshop’s throne as the application of choice for Web design. The battle suggests a fundamental shift in the design process from Photoshop to mark-up.

A militia of designers have assembled to launch this coup. Their propaganda is convincing, and their proposed successor is worthy, capable and sexy. Their cause is important, but their manifesto is flawed.

Title-image in In Defense Of Photoshop

The Argument

The argument against Photoshop focuses on the effect of the final product. Photoshop can be used to create impeccable designs, but after hours of hard work, you end up with a static mock-up that is incapable of emulating the experience one gets when the design is converted to mark-up and viewed in the browser. HTML and CSS mock-ups require no explanation. They present the final product in the final environment. They also take full advantage of browser capabilities, such as fluid layouts, progressive enhancement and animation. These are things that Photoshop simply can’t do.

If we compare the two methodologies even closer, we find a number of other disadvantages to the Photoshop approach. For example, Photoshop’s text rendering is nothing compared that of modern Web browsers. CSS classes also make the process of updating similar elements easier than hunting down all instances within a Photoshop document. Even making certain structural changes to a website can be done more easily with CSS. Finally, I can’t overlook Photoshop’s propensity to crash, especially when opening the “Save for Web” dialog.

I admit: the benefits of mark-up are undeniable, and Photoshop doesn’t offer any of them. In fact, the mark-up generated across the entire Creative Suite is rather atrocious and unusable. Why then do I think Photoshop is still the most important Web design tool available today? The answer lies in the creative process.

Process Makes Perfect

The creative process is exactly that: a process. Clients may think we simply snap our fingers to make creative goodness flows directly from our brains to the screen, but we know better. We know that it takes hours or days of deep thought to devise the perfect solution. And if you’re anything like me, you often don’t find the perfect solution until you’ve explored a number of dead ends. Essentially, we need time and experimentation to work towards the goals of a project and determine the best way to communicate what needs to be said.

Experimentation is the key to creativity. Without it, the brain simply follows what it regards as the safest route, and the result is as mundane as the thought behind it. Most of the designers I know start all of their designs on paper: creating thumbnail sketches in order to quickly experiment with possible solutions. However, these sketches serve as jumping-off points; the design process is by no means over once the pencil is traded for mouse and keyboard.

Photoshop is vital to good Web design because it extends the process that was started on paper. It gives stakeholders a direct connection to the visuals without regard for the technical execution of the product. In other words, it accommodates visual processing. The designer is given a blank canvas—a playground for experimentation—on which anything is possible.

As designers, our medium is in a visual language. It’s a language of the subconscious, and it allows us to connect to other people through our work in ways that the spoken word cannot. Great design relies on anopen dialogue between the artist and the medium. Interfering with that dialogue only impedes the process and distorts the message.

Designing with mark-up, however, creates a disconnect with the medium. Ideas no longer flow fluidly onto the screen. They must first be translated into a language that the computer understands. Like a game of telephone, this methodology requires a great deal of interpretation, which inevitably dilutes the idea and its potency. This chain of translation introduces a latency that kills experimentation and compromises the design.

The Foreman Or The Architect

Truth is often seen clearer in extremes. So, let’s try a little thought experiment. Imagine yourself as an architect tasked with designing a large corporate skyscraper. How would you proceed? If you’re like most architects, you would start by sketching, and then work your way into AutoCAD. Eventually, you’d end up with a computer-generated 3-D model. You’d probably take it even further by constructing a small-scale model. All of this processing gives you a better feel for the project without actually building it. It’d be preposterous for the architect to go out and start welding I-beams together as part of his design process; that is the foreman’s responsibility, and construction begins only once everything has been designed.

Designing with mark-up is like welding I-beams without a blueprint. The client understands—or should understand with your help—that the mock-ups are not the final product and that this actually benefits them. They want to get an idea of what the website will look like without having the entire thing built first. It allows them to change the direction of the project before investing too much. Our responsibility is to explain the differences between the mock-up and the final product. Moral of the story: don’t play foreman when you’re the architect.

I have to agree. Any tool that is meant to translate visual elements from canvas to code will inevitably fail in the semantic realm. Computers are monolingual: they need us to make that translation. However, do we need perfectly semantic code if we’re only creating a mock-up? Why can’t we accept the reality that we’re not crafting the final product and simply spit out HTML and CSS that’s “good enough” for mock-up purposes. Once the design is approved, we’ll put on our foreman hat and begin the real construction.

Until our paradigm is rocked by some killer new app, Photoshop will reign as the best tool for designing websites. Although it doesn’t currently speak to our medium the way we wish it did, it proves itself priceless when it comes to the process of designing. Photoshop is a virtual playground of experimentation; dropping it from the process only prevents your design from being fully developed. So, before you switch to the mark-up methodology, understand that you’re sacrificing creativity for a few browser capabilities, which could be explained to clients anyway. For the sake of your client, creativity and work, stick with Photoshop.

SEO is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. Typically, the earlier a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, and industry-specific vertical search engines.

As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work and what people search for. Optimizing a website primarily involves editing its content and HTML coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines.

SEO techniques can be classified into two broad categories: techniques that search engines recommend as part of good design, and those techniques of which search engines do not approve. The search engines attempt to minimize the effect of the latter, among them spamdexing. Some industry commentators have classified these methods, and the practitioners who employ them, as either white hat SEO, or black hat SEO. White hats tend to produce results that last a long time, whereas black hats anticipate that their sites may eventually be banned either temporarily or permanently once the search engines discover what they are doing.

What is on page optimization?

On page optimization (on page SEO) are the techniques that you use, when designing your web pages to help make them Search Engine Friendly. A Search engines job is deliver their users with the most relevant site pages for any particular query. Maybe your website has a lot of material and is relevant to searches for your product, but it may not have been designed or written in a way that is search engine friendly. The correction of design mistakes and the re-writing of the websites text and meta tags is what is known as on-page search engine optimization.

The most important areas in on page optimizations can be listed as follows-

(1) Keyword Research

(2) Include your keyword in your Domain Name

(3) Use Title Tags and make sure they are different for all of your web pages

(4) Content optimization, keywords should be used at a density of around 6-8%

(5) Header Tags, ensure your top keywords sit within the h1, h2 and h3 tags

(6) Image Optimization use your image tags and include a keyword or phrase

What is off page optimization?

Off page optimization (off-page SEO) are techniques for search engine optimization that are carried out off the pages of a website to help maximize its performance in search engines for target keywords related to the page content. Off page optimisation is just as important as on page optimization. Examples of off-page optimization include linking, and placing keywords within link anchor text. Methods of obtaining links can also be considered off-page optimization. The most important off page SEO techniques can be summerised as follows-

(1) Press releases.

(2) Link exchanges.

(3) Article distribution.

(4) Social networking via sites like Facebook, Digg and Twitter.

(5) Link campaigns, such as asking complementary businesses to provide links.

(6) Web directory listings.

(7) Blogging, run a separate site or on the same URL.

(8) Forum posting, reponding to queries.

What are SEO Web tools?

SEO web tools are software programs (either web based on available for download) that will allow you to monitor your owns sites performance and optimisation percentages against that of another. Many SEO web tools are free and some require payment. It depends on the level site as to which tools you need opt in for.

A list of the most popular SEO web tools follows-

Zippy is a relatively new meta based search engine that queries other major engines and returns results in a format most suited for Webmasters and SEOs.

A fantastic tool that provides you with the following information-
External web link statitistics
Search Engine Saturation, detailing how many pages do you have indexed
Meta Tag Analyzer, allowing you to check your Meta Tags validity
Geo Tracker, locate countries using IP address or domain name
Password Gen, for Basic and Digest authentication

A well put together website that send out spiders to crawl your and then it provides you with various stats showing how many pages you have, their respective PageRanks, keywords and descriptions. You can also build sitemaps for Yahoo! and Google.

Firefox SEO extension
A SEO free tool that bolts onto your firefox web browser and provides you with a whole host of tools that will provide information on web serches and web sites, a must have.

URL Trends
UrlTrends is a service that helps you track your marketing, perform competitive intelligence and get the data you need to make better domain purchases

We Build Web Pages
This SEO tool allows you to compare your site against the top 10 listed sites in Google for a particular keyword or phrase.

WebTool is loaded with useful SEO tools including Google Banned Checker, Link Popularity, Keyword Suggestion, Search Engine Position, etc.