So there you are, wondering how I work all of this magic. How can one man produce miracles with just a lap top, and an internet connection? While what I do is a lot less confusing than computers in the Matrix, it is not far off. Here are my main tools.
When it comes to professionally using Unix, you need the command line, and I find no thing better suited to the task than the Bourne Again Shell. You never realize how easy life can really be until you can script, and automate common routines like database backup, file synchronization, and more. Basically if you can do it with a GUI, bash can do it better, including
working with your IDE.
I usually work with OpenSUSE, but most Unix flavors ship with bash, and as long as we have that we can get down to business.
You may get sass from cranky teenagers, but you get none of that here. If I use PHP to manipulate the markup, then I need another tool to style it, so I use Sass language. I could just use raw CSS, but this is the age of abstraction. The cool thing about it is that I can take ordinary CSS files, and do my work with Sass, and the world is none the wiser. That is pretty useful when I am just popping in to make some quick changes to a page, or two.
Aside from the code though I try to keep my sass to a minimum.
Say that I am not just popping in for a wham, bam, thank you ma'am affair, but I have a series of related tasks to complete; most important at that point is organization. Sure, I could just paw through email like an unwashed heathen, or I could use task tracking software for project management. You can create a task list for me to review at mental stopping points, making communication so much more efficient than disorganized email barbarianism. In the immortal words of the Charles Barkley,
any thing less would be uncivilized.
So you already have the fanciest, flashiest, most engaging site that ever existed. People are flocking to your site in droves, and you are serving up the freshest content, hot and straight from the kitchen. Now you need some mechanism to see what drives your traffic. Moving beyond that though, you can start to manipulate content based on trends. Perhaps one of your products sizzles during summertime, but fizzles when school starts up. We can automate based on that. There is a lot you can do when you understand what your users want, and compiling the user analytics is only the first step.
So you have seen what I do. You have a sense what I am all about, but how can I apply that to you? How can I start to address your specific needs? Rest easy. You can just tell me what you want to accomplish, and I will tell you how we get can get 'er done. You want better exposure? We can improve your SEO, and start an online advertising campaign. You want more user engagement? We can get going with user analytics, integrate a web forum into your pages. You just plain old want more money? Well, you will need to be a little more specific than that, but not by much. I can figure out the rest for you.
Visual design of your site does much more than just make you look good. Yes, good design is aesthetically pleasing, but there is a logical science behind the design elements. A casual observer may not realize it right away, but our minds subconsciously take mental cues from the what we observe. On some level we all know that different colors are associated with different behavior, and mental states, but we may not be fully aware of exactly how pervasive this influence is, or how effective it can be for marketing.
managing page layout
While load speed is an important factor in delivering maximum content to your visitors in the shortest amount of time, Jakob Nielsen shows
that we should pay special attention to the patterns that users may have already developed when designing pages for the web. Namely users consistently scan the page for interesting content before deciding whether to read in depth, or move on. The visual appeal of the content in your natural F shaped block can make the difference between a sale, or a bounce on your pages. Even the best, most compelling content still requires that viewers stay on the page long enough to read it.