Web Technology Tips

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What does the mobile Web mean for designers?

The Mobile Web

These days, technology is rapidly advancing and the Web is becoming more and more mobile. As people begin to search for information from their phones, laptops have become smaller and more portable, and because of all of this the Web designer's job will have a new set of challenges.

New and emerging Web technologies are beginning to look more closely at things such as all-in-one devices and built-in wireless technology. In the future, it seems possible that a Web designer might be asked to set up a phone, load an MP3 player and put up a Web page--all for the same client. The iPhone has begun a trend in mobile technology that looks as though it will not only continue, but flourish as time goes on.

The mobility factor also means that things such as remote storage and compressed files may take on a new importance. Although it isn't yet clear which direction things will go, a good designer will be paying attention to the advances and readying themselves to meet them as they come. The mobile Web is something to keep an eye on in that regard.

   
What is HTML?

What Is HTML?

When people think of Web technology, they automatically think of HTML; the two are linked together almost automatically. HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language, and it is one of the primary ways that information is processed and presented on the Internet. People who go into Web design or who want to do graphic design on the Web will need to understand HTML to ensure they are able to perform their duties.

HTML files are made up of text characters that have tags in them that tell the Web browser how the page should look. Editing HTML documents is made much easier by using programs such as Dreamweaver or Front Page. These editor programs are sometimes referred to as WYSIWYG, meaning "what you see is what you get". This is especially helpful when doing layout work.

Learning HTML can take a while, but once you understand how it works, it makes everything on the Web far easier to understand in terms of programming, setup and layout. It can enable you to work with colors, lists and other key features of Website design, and it is pretty much used as the industry standard throughout the world.

   
What are some examples of recent innovations in Web technology?

Recent Web Technology

If you take a look at the history of Web technology it can make your head spin to realize how quickly things change and evolve. Web designers and people in related fields need to stay on top of the latest developments in order to remain competitive. What are some of the newer technologies that those who are working in this industry have had to adapt to? Here are some of the ones that have come about in the recent past:

  • We've seen the explosion of video on the Internet through sites such as YouTube, and new ways to contact each other, such as Skype. These newer models will undoubtedly continue to grow, change and develop as they seek to meet the needs of their users.
  • Twitter has become a popular new form of social media, allowing people to "follow" each other throughout the day. LinkedIn is a professional networking site that has garnered recent attention as well.
  • Google seems to put forth an endless stream of new ideas, and giants such as Apple continually revolutionize the way information is digested, stored and carried.
  • Photo sharing, personalized home pages and new music sites all offer the latest and greatest in new technology.
Web developers get to enjoy all of this new technology as they integrate and update their skills. Although in some ways it can be difficult to keep up, the Web scene is always changing which makes it an interesting field to be in.

   
How can I stay up to date on Web technology?

Staying Up To Date

Web technology continues to evolve and staying on top of the latest advances is a must in the design field. Whether you enroll in continuing education courses, research new items in your spare time or follow the trends in an industry magazine, it is crucial to keep your finger on the pulse of the design field and where it is going.

Sometimes staying current can be as simple as having an informal meeting periodically at work to go over new software or other programs that have made their debut. If everyone brings information about what they have heard about, it can be an effective way to stay with the times--or even get ahead.

You may also want to designate someone in your company to do this task. If so, select a person that loves keeping up on the latest and greatest items out there, and if possible, give them a budget to do a little outside research. It can pay off for you in the long run if they find new Web technology that makes everyone's job easier.

   
Should I know how to blog as a Web designer?

Blogging

Blogging has become popular across the Web, and continues to flourish. A blog is a series of posts, often with a personal touch, listed in reverse chronological order. There are several different hosting services for blog setup, including WordPress, Blogger, Typepad and Vox. As a Web designer you may be asked to set up a blog on a Website, or help someone create a blog. This should be a fairly easy skill to add, and it is a smart one to have in your arsenal.

Blogs tend to have particular features, such as photos, comments and a "blogroll," which is a list of recommended blogs. The interface for using a blog is typically very user-friendly since it is designed for people with little to no HTML experience. This means as a Web designer you should be able to pick up on how to blog very quickly.

Many companies are now starting blogs to promote their businesses. This makes it more likely you will be asked to set something like this up eventually, so having some basic knowledge about it on the front end can be extremely helpful. If you are a freelance designer, you may even want to start one to promote your own business.

   
What role do search engines play in Web design?

Search Engines

Search engines enable Web users to find information quickly. They are also a tool that can be used for marketing. When it comes to Web design technologies, it can help to know a bit about how these tools are used and what you can do to position your client's site well. This means that at the very least you will need to look into information about search engine optimization and submission.

Search engine submission means getting a particular Website listed with search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Alta Vista and others. This is a basic step that should always be done, and it can differ slightly, depending on which one you submit to. Most have directions for submission, but knowing a bit more about how they work can be advantageous.

Search engine optimization means positioning a site so that it will rank well on a search. This is becoming a specialty field in itself, but it is also something a Web designer should understand. There are many things that can be done to move a Website up in the rankings, and not all of them are complex. Taking a class in this subject can be a smart move for those in the field, as it will show you are serious about more than just delivering a Website.

   
Are Web cameras useful to designers?

The Web Camera

Web cameras have been one of the new and emerging Web technologies to appear on the scene, and they can be very beneficial to designers. Since work on the Web is often done remotely, using a Web camera can help personalize interactions over the computer and add another dimension to a conversation. Videoconferencing is one possibility, as well as one-on-one video calls.

Some computers have built-in Web cameras these days, and a webcam can be added to those that don't. The cameras are very easy to use and you can typically turn them off if you prefer to be on a call without video. Web cameras are also being used in some places for security purposes.

You'll have to take a look at your business and see if using a Web camera could be right for you, but many people find them a useful addition to the office environment. Overall they are fairly inexpensive as well. Think about what applications you might use a Web camera in and evaluate if it could be a worthwhile investment for your business.

   
What is software?

Web Technology: Software

When it comes to Web design technologies one typically thinks of software. Graphics programs can come in many different forms, but they still fall under the umbrella of software. Basically, software is what allows designers to do what they do. It is a tool that is used to help them build Websites, manage data and other important tasks.

There are three main players in the software field when it comes to graphic design: Corel, Adobe and Quark. Each of these have different programs that are used in the design field, and which one is preferred often depends on the job that is being performed. It is also sometimes a matter of personal preference since if you already have knowledge of a particular program, you will be more likely to use it.

Keeping up with Web technology can be a challenge, and software is always moving forward with new features. The good part about that is that the newer programs tend to have more features and can often help make your job much easier.

   
What is hardware?

Web Technology: Hardware

These days, even the most basic freelance design work comes down to hardware, since without it, Web technology would not exist. So, what exactly is hardware? Basically, it can be defined as the components that make up the physical computer.

A desktop computer has different sections, such as a monitor, screen, system unit and speakers. All of these are considered hardware. So are microphones, keyboards and your mouse. It can help to think of hardware as the structural tools that help you do your work as a designer. These things make computing possible, and without them you would not be able to access the Web.

Computing speed is often affected by the hardware you own, such as your hard drive and your RAM (random access memory). This speed is important for working on the Web as well as creating and working with various files. Although hardware is only a small part of Web technology, as a designer, it is one that you can't do without.

   
What is social networking?

Social Networking

As a Web designer you may be asked to work with people on setting up social networking capability for their company. This concept has become popular, but what exactly is it? Social networking is pretty much what it sounds like--networking with others on-line. Many people are now using things such as Facebook, MySpace and Digg to market their business or develop personal as well as industry contacts.

You may be asked to do something such as include a link in someone's signature block to a MySpace page--or you might have someone request that you set up a Facebook page for their business. Having a bit of familiarity with these social media outlets can be useful for this reason.

One way to introduce yourself to this arena is to create these pages for yourself or your business, and use them on a regular basis. This will help you develop an understanding of the particulars that are involved, as well as raise your Web presence. When it comes to Web designing new technologies pop up all the time and it pays to stay on the cutting edge.

   
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