HTML5 Rundown: When To Use It

HTML is the fabric of the internet. For web designers and developers, being able to write it as well as keeping on top of it is a much needed skill. As such, I thought it’d be topical to talk about the changes to the language have occured and will occur in the next few years. The main reason for discussing it now is  that support is just now becoming more widespread throughout the browser marketplace and thus usable by increasing numbers of users. Having said that, with the spec set to become a W3C recommendation in around 2022 and the prevalence of IE6, it’s sure to be a long wait until you cam be certain that all your visitors will be able to interact with all the new elements in the intended way. With that over with, I just wanted to suggest some circumstances on which it makes sense to look forward and build sites using the next generation of  markup. So, let’s go ahead and dive in head first!

You’re just learning

If you, like me, consider yourself a budding web developer and want to make it a future career it’s well worth keeping both eyes on the changes in technology so that it will be easier to adapt later down the line. If you start off learning standards compliant, forward-thinking markup, it will be far easier to move with the times without slipping into habits of bad coding.  You should apply this thinking to other technologies such as CSS3 and Javascript libraries. One counterpoint that’s also equally crucial is that, if you will be creating websites for public consumption anytime soon, you must always have cross-browser support and usability in mind over perfect markup.

It’s right for your audience

A website owner ought to always be looking at who’s viewing the website and consider the constraints that they are working under. For example, if your statistics tell you that 90% of visitors to your site are using Internet Explorer then it’s probably not the brightest move to change all your code to HTML5 because you will alienate those people on what will most likely be on a permanent level. In general, you need to analysis your users and use the data gained to decide whether the change you wish to make will work for your market.

As we’ve  seen, there are no strong rules about when is a good time to alter your code but you just have to think about what’s really the right choice for your market.

Drupal CMS

Drupal is a complex content management system that offers almost infinite flexibility for website designers. The issue is that, because the community is very developer-centric which can be disconcerting to even the greatest of web designers. As such, I published a comprehensive video training series about key concepts developers should be aware of before getting started. It seemed like a natural and logical progression to publish my custom-made, clean starter theme that developers can use as a blank canvas in order to design the theme whilst tweaking minimal markup and PHP code. The main ethos is that the design is a simple and solid base to start from. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them believe or use the site contact form. Let’s take a quick glance at some key features.

Key Features

  • Valid HTNL 5 markup.
  • Simple column layout which is fully CSS 2 compliant.
  • Simplistic  typographical styles.
  • No images required.
  • Modular structure.
  • All text elements editable through Drupal interface.
  • Javascript-ready

Simple Drupal Demonstration Theme Download

Getting Work As A Web Designer

The fight for employment is becoming increasing hostile considering our volatile economy. The web industry has not escaped this hit so prospective designers (like me) need to stay on the inner-curve to stand any chance at all of keeping pace in the rat race. But, that is easy to say and hard to do. This is a topic that means an awful lot to me so I wanted to lay down some different perspectives and things that could be sticking points on the matter. The idea of this article is to further the conversation and, while doing this, try to gain different slants on the issues. So, please feel free to post your thoughts and ideas in the comment area below the article.

The first big issue, especially for freelancers, is job titles. Some refer to themselves as designers/developers, some as simply graphic designers and even some as inflated as “information architecture.” The problem is that many customers will expect the developers to be able to take care of all their web needs. That instantly creates a problem because, to avoid turning work down, the person then quickly has to learn more skills or turn down the work. Without realizing it, by doing this, the client is slowing the development of the site which will make it more expensive. Even worse, making the designer learn more skills that they’re not expert in, the final product will suffer. So, we need to find a way to better define job titles which are more universally understood.

Next comes the problem of qualifications and experience. From what I know about the industry, getting work is less about formal certifications and more about a strong and long-standing portfolio of work completed in the past. This introduces the problem of where you get that experience from when starting out. One way that I personally tried to overcome this was by offering to design jobs for free. Doing that for a while really did open my eyes in regards to just how demanding people can be even when they’re getting something for free that would run them hundreds on the open market. This quickly made it crystal clear that, even though it helped me to build a portfolio. I could not possibly devote every evening to it and see no financial return. So, the problem still stands, how the hell do you gain trust if nobody is willing to trust you in the first place?

Add to all of this the issue of not knowing what kind of qualifications and references that commercial design firms will expect and you’ve got yourself a big fat pile of unknowns. On that note, I saw an article that gave poll results from readers of a large design blog relating to the relationship between having an academic degree and their current web design job. I’ll let you go over to the page if you’re interested but, in summary, the results are a very mixed bag. Although I personally believe that a range of skills are important in case you want a career shift in the future, one thing the article does reinforce is that this is not always entirely necessary.

My first client was Adrian Miles of Supreme Cleaning of www.carpetcleaningstreatham.com, we original designed their website in Joomla a great platform, but soon after we launched the website, they found it a little difficult to change the content, as an initial revaluation, we decided to convert it over to WordPress, this involved a few hours of coding, but now anyone in the company can change the content with ease, This was a great opportunity of show my skills, within a week of doing so Adrian referred 4 new clients to me one resulted in a new WordPress website www.leafletdistributioninlondon.com. We delivered the site full functioning in 10 days from the start, 4 days ahead of our estimated finish time, so looking after customers can really increase your client base.

Free free to give your thoughts down below.