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November 20, 2011

By Orange Aura

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Flash

Favorite Website of the Day: Nike’s website of Jordan – History of Flight

We often like to admire work of other designers! Today’s site is a Flash website form Nike about the history of Michael Jordan in an interactive timeline filled with amazing full blown animations. I have always admired how Flash websites behave. Imaginations can be often times, endless! When creating a Flash website or application, I find that you do not have as many limitations in terms of how elements can interact. Although HTML5 has recently came out, its features are still growing and being added to popular web browsers, only allowed for small animations. We’ll just have to wait for this language to evolve by 2013, but for now, here an amazing Flash website to admire:

Jordan: History of Flight website

November 19, 2011

By Orange Aura

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Wordpress

5 Tips for creating content using WordPress Visual Editor

WordPress’ visual editor allows you to write blogs, pages, and posts without the knowledge of HTML. It allows for fast, quick, and efficient writing. Here are best practices for using the WordPress visual editor to help write amazing blogs and articles:

1) Use ‘Paste from Word’ icon in the Toolbar:

Often times, we like to write our posts on a Microsoft Word or another visual text editor. If you are the same, you may have noticed that copying and pasting from a word document into WordPress visual editor causes the information to insert weird indexations. To avoid this formatting issue, use the “Paste from Word” icon in the Toolbar.

2) Maximize on Media: Add an Image,  Add a video, Add Audio, or Add Media:

The web is growing rapidly and information is able to stream much faster than before. Make your website better than the rest and allow your users to absorb information beyond text. Create a full multimedia experience by adding rich images, videos, and audio. WordPress Visual editor has a Upload/Insert area where you can add multimedia content with ease. Remember! WordPress allows you to Upload/Insert Media so take advantage of this space.

Use the ‘Insert More Tag’ icon in the Toolbar:

When creating long posts, it sometimes maybe better to add a “read more tag” for your visitors. The “Insert More Tag” icon in the Toolbar inserts a separation and a button to view more content.

4) Add Website URL’s to words using ‘Insert Edit/Link‘:

There is no point in inserting those long URLs in your articles. Your viewers will not remember it so it is best to place a URL inside of a word or image. To do this, use to the “InsertEdit/Link” to place it inside of a related word in your article.

5) Use the ‘Preview Post’ before publishing your blog:

When you are finished with your writing and editing, it is always good to see what your viewers see. Always preview your posts to make sure all visual elements are in place

November 18, 2011

By Orange Aura

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Wordpress

WordPress Tip of the Day: Make a unique WordPress username

When running your website or web application on WordPress, it is a good practice to change the defaulted username that WordPress initially assigned to something more unique and different. WordPress assigns the name “admin” as the general user name. We recommend changing this to something that fits you. Also,  you should delete the old “admin” username.Why? By using something unique, only you are aware of it and it keeps hackers that specialize breaking into WordPress sites at bay.

November 17, 2011

By Orange Aura

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Wordpress

Reading the WordPress Codex first when you have trouble

As website owners whether you are a designer, developer, or content creator, it is always good to dwell into the official WordPress manual from time to time. WordPress calls it the WordPress Codex, which is an online manual for information and documentation.

They provide in depth information on what you need to know about WordPress. A few of those topics are:

  • What are WordPress Features
  • How to download WordPress and install WordPress
  • Finding your current WordPress version
  • WordPress News and Annoucements
  • Access to WordPress Support Forums
  • Trouble Shooting information

They also contain information on how to work on themes, write plugins, and topics on how to use WordPress. I recommend going here first to get vital information about WordPress and what you need to know. Anytime I hit a roadblock, I always learn something new here.

November 17, 2011

By Orange Aura

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Wordpress

How to protect your wordpress website from Hackers

Several years ago when we started using WordPress CMS to design our websites on top of, we learned the hard way about security issues and how to keep your website safe through a series of best practices. When optimizing your WordPress.org content management system(CMS), it is always good to keep your system safe from Hackers by keeping everything fully updated and lean.

Unfortunately, there is the good guys and bad guys in the internet and just like computers that contain virus protection software, you need to keep your website safe with best practices. To prevent your site from suffering this fate and possibly losing your data, content you have created, or even have important information stolen, follow our steps below to make sure you are well protected.

1) Keep your WordPress fully updated:

WordPress has Updates! The makers of WordPress always keep you up to date with the latest versions. In the left column of the “Dashboard”, you can click on “Updates” to see if you are running the latest version of WordPress. If you do not have the latest version, upgrade it as soon as possibly because they have addressed past security issues that will keep your  site fast and efficient.

2) Update your Plugins:

In the same Update page, wordpress will tell you if your plugins are up to date. When developers release in versions, you will be notified so you can update that as well.

3) Keep your WordPress CMS lean:

Always delete unused plugins and themes. By allowing more unused themes and plugins code to exist within your system, it can lead your website open to an attack. Take out things you do not need.

4) Always keep backups:

If you are hacked, it feels almost impossible to know what they did or planted inside your code. The best thing to do is keep weekly backups of your website so you can restore it in worst case scenarios.

How to keep backups:

A) Have your hosting service make backups of your database.

B) Export your content in Tools > Export > and export all content into a wordpress xml file.

C) Keep copies of your wordpress theme and plugins

April 27, 2011

By Orange Aura

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Web Design and Development

What is a server header response? Here is an infographic to explain it.

Server header responses are very interesting. These are things that happen everyday but we are not away of it when we go on the internet. It is basically a text record that the web server sends back to our browser window. Why? It is in repsonse to our http request when we enter a webpage url. The server header response contains a date, size, type of file the server is sending back and the data.

We usually get a status code as 200 when it is okay. But there are times when we encounter 404 pages, where the server cannot find the page you requested. While going over a few design blogs, I stumbled upon this interesting info graphic on server header responses. This is a great refresher to understand what to do and how to compensate  when these errors happen with proper redirects.

April 17, 2011

By Orange Aura

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Wordpress

A collection of amazing websites created in WordPress

WordPress is a content management system (CMS) started in 2003 and has grown tremendously in the open-source community as a way to build flexible web design layouts for websites, not just for blogs.  In addition to their awesome blog management system which is probably my preferred solution, they allow the website user to extend their website with the use of plugins.

Their administration system is simple to use and can be explained very quickly. Now there are two types of wordpress systems and sometimes, people get them confused. WordPress.com is a hosted application by wordpress allowing users to choose themes and customize and add content. It is very similar to Tumblr and Blogger.

WordPress.org allows designers, developers, and anyone interested in using the open-source wordpress platform. This system is downloaded in a zip file and must be installed and configured on your own hosting plan.

Today, I want to showcase what the WordPress CMS can accomplish with the right web design skills found across the web beyond what we see from the traditional blog layout. See what can be accomplished and what might inspire you:

 

April 16, 2011

By Orange Aura

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Wordpress

Installing WordPress on your Website Hosting

For most people, downloading the wordpress content management system zip file, extracting the content, then uploading it a server via FTP can be a bit confusing. It even gets more complex when you have to create a database before proceeding to the wordpress install instructions. If you feel overwhelmed with this, you have 2 choices when installing wordpress on your own hosting plan. You can either hire a web design/developer or someone knowledgeable on the topic. The second option is even better, most hosting plans have a self install for open source software. WordPress will be included as well as other CMS systems like Joomla, Drupal, and OS commerce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For manual installation of wordpress, follow these instructions: (Also, keep in mind, WordPress has documention on installation and configuration here)

1)       Installing wordpress on your website hosting requires a compatible hosting plan that takes php. First, create a database in your hosting and remember what the database name, user, and password are. You will need it later.

2)      Download the wordpress CMS on wordpress.org. It will come in either a .zip file or .tar.gz file.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3)      Unzip the contents and then upload the files through a FTP service. (File Transfer Protocol)

4)      Once uploaded, go to the url directory that you uploaded the contents to. It may look like the following: (Yourdomain.com/ or yourdomain.com/directory)

5)      A wordpress install page will appear and enter the database name, user, and password when prompted.

6)      Create a wordpress username and password and enter all information needed to manage your new cms.

These are quick install instruction, but we will be expanding on our installation documentation very soon.

April 11, 2011

By Orange Aura

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Google

Best Google Products for Web Designers and Website Owners

Google has done a great job at creating not only an amazing search engine, but also a line of products used to help users searching for relevant content and accessing their email to robust applications for business owners and web designers to use.

Here are five of my favorite Google products that I think are best for web designers.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics serves as  a tool to help track statistics on your website. By adding a script embedded usually in the footer of your website, you are able to track deep analytics on activity on your website. Google Analytics are very detailed and in depth allowing you to view using by region, country, city, but also see where your traffic is coming from. You can see which sites are referring you, keywords they use, which pages they are viewing, and much more. Key items I tend to look at when optimizing my website are bounce rate, page views, the number of unique visitors, and how I can add more content that will help boost my website on search results. Using Google analytics allows me to see what I can do to improve my websites, the websites of others I create, and solely to create amazing and functional websites.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Google Webmaster tools

Google webmaster tools allows  you to see if your website is showing up in Google search engine.  Has it been indexed and which pages are showing up. You can monitor page impressions to clicks. This tool is probably the most important tool needed for SEO as well. It allows you to see if your website is being crawled by Google’s search engine bots. I tend to use this quite often in conjunction with my websites and maintaining their sitemap.xml.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Google Website Optimizer

Last but not least, Google Website Optimizer is another great tool especially for designing great website not only on look, but making sure they are optimized for success. Getting that Return on Investment (ROI) should be your main reason why you have a website. Using website optimizer gives you a statistical way to test and target regions of the webpage. You create campaigns and measure your success using A/B testing seeing which portions of the website your users click and focus on. Keep in mind you need a good amount of page impressions in order to made a decision from good data. This tool now turns your website into a successful online business.

January 13, 2011

By Orange Aura

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Usability and Accessibility

Websites and People: What needs to be considered?

There are at least several million websites on the internet and increasing every day. Websites are most likely larger than the population of the world. Website design and development has become an important part of today’s business. It can be your business card or it can be your sales associate. Creating a website has matured and is much harder to create not just a website, but a website that works for your customers. A website should be your business tool for you and your customers are the users that visit your website.

The keys things to consider when designing a website is who you want to see it and what people are actually seeing it. You may want to:

  • Bring in traffic
  • Use it to increase sales
  • Provide your message
  • Information that relates the user

For whatever reason the website is being designed for, it has a purpose and the design has to fit that purpose. When talking to my clients, I often ask who they are targeting with their website. I like to know the specifics of their market and the demographic they want to focus on. These characteristics include age, college education, income, location, ethnicity, and gender, etc. Demographics give a variety of information for web designers to use to our advantage especially for research and determining what your users want to see.

What do my users want to see? This is an extremely important idea to consider in today’s website design. Every year, new technological advances change the way websites are designed. There are new standards, new languages, and new ways to add functionality, but even when you have your web designer adapt these changes to your website, it doesn’t grab your viewers and keep them coming back…great content does!

What needs to be considered in every website design is content. It is best to structure your design around the content you produce. Researching and developing strategies to produce strong content and engaging your users. Creating a theme of ideas focusing on the information you want to provide whether blogs articles within categories, news about your company or industry, images that capture your user’s eyes and interest, and powerful videos to grab your user’s attention. Combining these types of web content will not only increase your traffic, but it strengthens your product and services.

Of course, every client has a different website, idea, and an image to brand, but once I get to know my client’s demographics and who they want to target, my clients and I can figure out together how to structure their content and design a website that not only works for the client, but for the user. After you know what type of content you will provide, the design of the website can be structured. Understanding the user, the site can be laid out in a way that appeal to the user, typography can be selected, mockups can be generated, and a website can be created that your users visit frequently.

 

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