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5 Must Read Web Blogs

There are a ton of web blogs out there and everyone has their favorites.  Below are a few of my favorites  related to web design, web technology and the website world.

24 Ways to Impress Your Friends

http://www.24ways.org/
24 Ways to Impress your Friends is a web blog that includes web design and development articles and tutorials. The founder and executive creative director of Happy Cog and co-founder of A List Apart, Jeffrey Zeldman, helped put this site together with numerous authors. Every year since 2005 an author will write a blog from December first until the day before Christmas. Each post is always fantastic and helpful. Even though this blog isn't updated everyday, they are still great blogs to extend your web knowledge and are worth reading through.

Noupe Design Blog

http://www.noupe.com/
The Noupe Design web blog posts about what's new and better in the web world. They use 9 different categories to keep this blog interesting. These posts include intriguing topics in Photoshop, AJAX, Wordpress, CSS, PHP, Icons, Tutorials, Design, and JavaScript. Noupe also posts some cute and funny blogs that can lighten up your day.

Line25

http://line25.com/
Line25 blog splits their design blogs into 3 different categories: Articles, Inspiration, and Tutorials.  Though all of the blogs are inspiring, they are all geared to help evoke creativity. Line25 was created by Chris Spooner, who blogs for Blog.SpoonGraphics too, which is also worth checking out.

Smashing Magazine

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/
Smashing Magazine blog shares useful and innovative blogs for web designers and developers. This blog is extremely useful information ranging from graphics, wallpapers, inspiration, coding, HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, WordPress, Design, Photoshop, Usability, Typography, and Freebies.

Net.Tuts+

http://net.tutsplus.com/
The Net.Tuts+ blog offers web developers and designers tutorials and articles on technologies, skills, and techniques to help them improve. They also blog about tips and Basix, which is PHP, HTML, CSS, etc. Net.Tuts+ is a part of the Tuts+ network, there are many other Tuts+ blogs such as PSD and Audio, check out their sites tab for more.

These are just some of my favorite web blogs and we encourage readers to share theirs by commenting to this post.

Find out what makes a great Twitter design

What makes a great Twitter design? The answers is simplicity, color thought and personality.  Simplicity and choosing the right colors are the key factors but having personality makes you stand out from the rest.

Design Rules

Keep your background as simple as can be. You could create a nice, repeating background or a design that has something to feature either on the right or left-side. Have a design on both sides typically creates clutter.

As a business, it is a good idea to get your logo in the background along with contact information, a tagline, or short description of the company services. The new transparent side of the content adds a twist for your design -- it's an opportunity to use your business logo to lay behind the content AND you can make it large.

Color selection is important. It is also a good idea to stick with the color palette of your website. Twitter allows you to define colors for background, text, links, sidebar, and sidebar border. Choosing the right colors within the restrictions takes some thought.

  • You have the choice to change the sidebar color from white, while the rest of your contents background will remain white.
  • The text that you can change does not include all of the text on the page, it is just the headers of each section (Your Tweets, Following, Trends, etc.)
  • The link color is the most important to choose because it will be displayed on both the left and right-side of your content area.
Don't forget to add your own personality. Create something that you think is great and make sure that it looks good as a background. Twitter allows you to look at your design before it is saved and permanent to your profile page. Check out some of my favorite designs below.

Great Twitter Design Examples

Equilibrium Solutions is a nice example of using the left-side background for their company information and they also have a large logo behind the right-side content.



Ray Frenden is using a consistent, repeating background that looks nice and clean while showing personality and style.



Social Media Kings also has their company name of the left-side and has an large image of their logo behind the right-side content.



Jordan Moorer is also utilizing the left-side background nicely.


Did you know? Twitter has a new view (which will eventually become the only view). TBH Creative's current Twitter design was created for the old Twitter view which was more narrow. In the new Twitter view, the content takes up more room (about double the size), allowing less room for an effective background.
Our background still looks nice on wider screens, but we will likely be changing that in the near future to accomodate the wider view.
As noted above, the right side of the content area is transparent in the new Twitter view versus solid in the old view. This gives a lot more to think about when creating your background design.

Simple CMS is really SIMPLE

Simple CMS is a free PHP CMS that has features such as using Word to update content and, and well, it is known for its simplicity.  It's geared more towards web freelancers and web companies that don't have their own CMS. 

Simple CMS allows you to design your website, but it doesn't come with extra widgets and plugins and yada yada yada (that many of the others we have reviewed offer, such as Expression Engine).

Simple CMS allows you to put a little bit of code where the client wants to edit their content and you are done.  The software is also registered at ContentEditor.net for their clients to login and edit their content.

Sometimes when someone reads something that is just that simple, they question it. I did.  As I continued to search around on their site, I found a demo and a video.  The demo gave me the gist of how simple the CMS is and appreciated the opportunity to test drive the system (unlike some other systems that did not offer a demo such as Dot Net Nuke).


The video also gives an inside look on the system.  The video is short, simple, and is worth taking the time to watch it.

Best Features

  • SIMPLICITY
  • Ability to send an email to update standard text, images, files, links, and adding new pages. 
  • No back-end to confuse the client.
  • No real programming knowledge needed to use the software.

Flaws

  • Lacking the dynamics (too simple) that many other CMS's offer, like Umbraco.
  • E-commerce option is not available, so a third party will have to be used.
  • Does not offer photo gallery support

Cost

If the developer only has one website Simple CMS is free, but there are options to have more than one website.  There are three options: 
  1. Basic option, which is the free one;
  2. Freelancer option, which is $15/month for 15 websites;
  3. Professional option, which is $20/month for an unlimited amount of websites.

Summary

Simple CMS also has a customer feedback page, there are pages of feedback mostly listing improvements.  Some of these comments have responses from the Simple CMS team saying that their request is in progress, but at the same time these improvements would take away from what Simple CMS is, simple. 

The best suggestion that I read was to add a help guide to the site which is nice for any CMS.

Why does CMS Made Simple work so well for small to medium businesses?

Why does the open source content management system CMS Made Simple (CMSms) work so well for small businesses and organizations? In large part because of the characteristics emphasized by the last two words in the application’s name.

Novice end users truly do find this Content Management System (CMS) to be simple – its intuitive structure makes it easy for even tech-averse people to manage a site’s content. But, unlike other content management systems, CMSms doesn’t provide simplicity at the expense of flexibility and aesthetics. Even veteran web developers and designers appreciate CMS Made Simple because it allows them to create appealing and functional sites for clients without on-staff webmasters.

CMS Made Simple is not the same as Simple CMS which we recently reviewed. Read more about Simple CMS here.

When selecting the right content management system, it’s imperative to identify who will use the system. Designers must remember that many clients aren’t tech-savvy enough to use systems such as Joomla and Drupal. These popular, full-service content management systems offer lots of functionality and customization, but many novice users find them difficult to master. Developers who forget this primary purpose of CMS in search of enhanced functionality cripple the effectiveness of the sites they design.

Wordpress, another popular content management system, historically has been used for blogging, but it’s serving more and more as an adequate CMS. As a result, the functionality of the system is expanding as more plug-ins and extensions are produced. Certainly, Wordpress has the friendliest user interface of open source CMS, but it lacks the flexibility in customization provided by some full-service content management systems.

CMS Made Simple offers a modular, PHP-based system, utilizing the Smarty template engine to create a flexible system for developing websites.
  • With this system, HTML and CSS can be developed from scratch integrating Smarty tags, and a number of modules developed for the system are available for downloaded.
  • Programmers can create their own PHP functions through user-defined tags, and Javascript and Jquery plug-ins also can be incorporated into page templates and menus.
  • In addition, available global content blocks can be used to call Smarty or user-defined tags.
  • Finally, designers can download hundreds of themes, all of them customizable. Through these many features, the system meets the most developers’ design needs.
Screenshot of the back-end.

Want to give it a test drive?

The best way to understand any software is to give it a try. You can do that on their demonstration site.

http://www.opensourcecms.com/demo/2/10/CMS+Made+Simple
Username:admin
Password:demo123

Summary of benefits

In today’s marketplace, web designers must provide clients with a system that allows them to maintain their own content. CMS Made Simple makes this possible, providing an intuitive process for adding pages and updating content through a sensible administrative interface. Base modules allow novice users to manage news articles and blogs easily, and several WYSIWYG editors – including TinyMCE – are available in the CMSms package. The menu hierarchy is automatically generated through page creation and easy to edit after the fact.

What kind of learning curve should you expect?

Becoming proficient in CMSms does require some learning, but the system is laid out in a common-sense manner that allows inexperienced users to gain a functional level of competence with a minimal effort. As a result, CMS Made Simple offers a capable solution for that allows virtually any organization to design and manage its own attractive and robust website.

Examples sites using CMS Made Simple:

JTPR, Inc.


George Lazaros Radio and Nightclub DJ

Essenza
Best Functionality Features
  • SEO Friendly URLs
  • Integrated and online help
  • Modular and extensible
  • Group-based permission system
  • Full template support, for unlimited looks without changing a line of content
  • Minimal server requirements
  • Integrated file manager w/ upload capabilities
Design Features
  • XHTML and CSS compliant
  • Auto-generated menu
  • Every page can have different theme
  • Design protected from content editors
  • Multiple content areas on one page
This post was written by guest author Jeff Noe (EDU Data and Web Designs) with some additions, facts and samples pulled from other sources of information.

Related Links:

Why your company needs a Facebook page

Why should your company have a Facebook page?

Facebook is the perfect outlet into the social network which includes sharing, statuses, advertisements and profile pictures. You might already have a personal Facebook profile, but do have one for your company?

Your company needs a Facebook page because that is where your audience is -- they are on Facebook -- your clients, your prospective customers, your business partners, and your vendors. People are getting their news in their Facebook news feed. You want your company information, posts, and updates to appear right there, where they are already getting their news.

Statistics (proof of why you want to participate)

  • More than 500 million active users
  • Average user has 130 friends
  • People spend over 700 BILLION minutes per month on Facebook
  • There are over 900 million objects within Facebook that people interact with (pages, groups, events and community pages) 
  • More than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) shared each month. 
  • More than 70 translations available on the site 
  • Nielson research (April 2010) says that users spend ~6 hours a month on social networkings sites like Facebook -- almost one whole working day.

When there are over 500 million users on Facebook, with the average of 130 friends each (and lets remember that that is ONLY the average), it creates around 650,000,000 connections that your business could reach if you were mentioned on their pages.  This means that your 'fans' will be spreading your companies name farther than you could imagine.

Lets not forget to mention that users can now access Facebook on the go with their SmartPhones. (There are more than 200 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices.)

Examples

Many companies have already taken advantage of Facebook, here are some of my favorites:





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