Monthly Archives: October 2015

Project Managing and Specifying What Needs to Be on a Site

This article outlines some tips as far as project management goes. It has listening as the number one tip, which emphasizes it. Listening is huge. I’ve been on projects before where either the project manager or the person who’d taken charge didn’t listen to the others assigned to the project. It always spells disaster. Another point is to be an effective team player. One of my favorite doodle-based explanations of teamwork is when someone writes “TEAM” in all caps and then shades in the gaps in the letter “A” to form a lowercase “i”. The person says “hey look, there was an ‘i’ in team, it was in the ‘a’ hole!” The moral of that is that some people will actually work just for themselves instead of for the good of the whole project and the others involved. When that person is the project manager, no good can come from it. These tips SHOULD help prevent something like that from happening.

This set of reviews on project management software shows some tools that can be used in the process of project management to keep things on track. Some types of project management software can keep track of everything involved, while some are better suited to budgets and other finance-based things. What’s important though is that everyone who needs to use the software needs to know how to use it. On top of that, the project manager should use it often to record which tasks have been completed and to document the processes. Documentation is huge with project management, and software that keeps track of the documentation does still need to have input, as it cannot just do that by itself. So with all things considered, project management software can help a project move along and keep everyone up to speed, but if it’s not used properly and often enough, it really won’t do any good. In that case, if it’s not a free product, it will just be a waste of money.

This article is on writing better site requirements. Site requirements are a crucial piece of the web development process, as it outlines exactly what needs to be part of the site and what the site needs to do. Without direction, one cannot simply walk into the web development process.  One point the article makes is to not go into details about how something will get done, just that it will get done. I notice that I jump into detailing how things get done when I’m working on my own projects or even school-related projects. That can possibly be a downfall, and it has been one in the past. Another key point is to avoid suggestions. Don’t make suggestions about what COULD be a requirement. Write what MUST be in the site. That’s what “requirement” means. Another good thing to note is to keep all the requirements in one document. This is for organization purposes, but can be important as it doesn’t create a mess of files that are all dedicated to one site’s requirements and specifications. All in all, keep things neat and focus on the task at hand.


On Development

This article has the top 8 programming languages as of the end of September this year. While I’m sure some of that is based on opinion, it’s likely that a lot of it is industry demands. Of course it’s pretty obvious that Java would be ranking high, but SQL kind of surprises me that it’s the top language. However, SQL can be used for a lot of things and embedded in PHP and JavaScript, so that’s pretty important to know. JavaScript being 3rd does actually make sense as web is getting so much more advanced very quickly. C# though, that’s definitely something to keep sights on if it’s getting bigger, especially if C itself is the gateway to objective C- iOS developer heaven. To further look at iOS, Swift is on the list as well as Apple seems to be staying strong. All in all, I think learning at least most of these would be a good investment.
This article isn’t super old, and it covers programming tips that should carry forth into the future. Plus, they’re nerdy enough to reference Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. If you’re referring to anything Douglas Adams-related, you’re probably steeped in out-of-the-box logic. To depart from nerdiness, the article outlines some definitely useful tips. I noticed that it mentions not being afraid to break things, and I find that interesting as that’s my natural way of doing things. Heck, I keep files and folders on my computer called “sandbox” for the very purpose of dissecting code and pasting it around into a Frankenstein’s monster of hands-on tested code. If I can work on some of the other tips a little more (oops) I can definitely see myself improving as a developer.
This is a somewhat recent-ish article outlining more tips. It does say that a programmer should work on one language before diving into others, but I feel that as with typography there are rules that can be broken under some exceptions. For example, combining HTML with CSS can be done well before the article’s ballpark estimate of 2 years for a language before moving on. Heck, you really wouldn’t need 2 entire years of those two before adding some JavaScript. In this day and age, rapid learning might move you along faster. However, they say to keep code clean and to love what you do. This does boil down to enjoying problem solving and puzzles. I got into development because I love the coding side of web development and solving problems. Logic puzzles are one of my favorite things, and eventually development just turns out to be a huge logic puzzle that just has tools that are out of the ordinary.

On 90s Web Horror and Ways to Improve Your Skills

This article shows some “before and after” style views on some large companies’ websites from the 90s to recent times. It shows how what’s considered good design can change drastically over a decade or so. I think part of the problem, however, was that 1996 didn’t have the CSS technology we have now. However, they did have .gif technology and dancing babies, so they clearly decided that they were going to do everything just because they could. We now know that it’s not a good idea to just use every type of technology all at once and make a scattered navigation page out of the home page, but who’s to say we have the cleanest and most useful web design now? Perhaps in 10 years the decade from 2010 to 2020 will be considered yet another terrible decade in web design. But then again, we weren’t the 1990s. And it’s especially interesting to see how far Apple’s come- they’re supposed to be streamlined and neat, but apparently that wasn’t the original plan.

How NOT to do graphic design… and somewhat how you actually should. As far as this article goes, I can agree for pretty much all of it. I’m not entirely certain that the centering looks better- but that’s probably just their example. A poem actually would be centered by its lines. The rest of the body copy however would likely not be centered unless you’re compiling a poetry anthology. I would not commission the author of this article to do that.

However, the rest of the article seems rather sound. It has good advice that applies to print, and maybe a little bit to web. Don’t use comic sans unless you have a really good reason to, and don’t use the same generic computer font every time- unless you have a really good reason to, such as a sales report.

I think the main issue the author in this article is having is that “once you know the rules, then you can break them”. There are times and places for doing different things with design, and if you have a really good reason to do something against what is commonly accepted as a guideline, then go ahead and do it. You’re not going to put a 50-page sales report in 10 different fonts for the sake of not using a standard font constantly. Using more “interesting” fonts could detract from the information.

This article outlines a summary of how not to behave as a graphic designer. I really wanted to use an article on “keming” which is to say, bad kerning, but unfortunately that was a bit risqué for school (you’d be surprised at what people don’t notice until it’s too late). Anyway, with that you could easily add to this list that a bad designer doesn’t proofread.

I like how the article mentions that you should use correct software. That is key. However, as long as your software is doing the job, there shouldn’t be too much problem with deviation. For example, if you need a .jpg image resized for the web, you’re already using raster and GIMP will do the job. It’s just more important to make sure you’re using the right file type and the software that will give you that file type.

On Social Media and… how it ties in to customer relations.

This article shows why you don’t want to use automatic tweets for replies as part of a social media team. When replying to any potential consumers, it’s not wise to let an automated reply repeat itself- it’s better to respond to things with a genuine (but tactful) response. So when the public’s concern is one of life and death? Definitely a terrible idea to let the automated responses pile up. This gives the impression that the company doesn’t care at all for its customers. While a single tweet with the message given would have been appropriate as an official statement, using it to automatically reply to any customer or Twitter user that directly tweeted the company was a clear mistake. Progressive could have used the original message once as an official statement, and then replied to a few of the concerned messages separately and with tact. That would have reflected far better on their part and perhaps improved customer relations instead of being detrimental.

This article gives examples of what to learn from social media mishaps. It explains that Applebee’s handled a social media backfire terribly and lost customer trust because of it. It goes on to explain that while Kitchenaid had an incredibly rude tweet get sent to its company account instead of the social media manager’s personal account, the company was able to pick up the pieces thanks to an apology from the company explaining that the person responsible would no longer be using the company’s Twitter account.  Using knowledge about other social media problems that companies may have, even if a tweet making fun of someone having a death in the family was put onto a personal account, the person posting it may have consequences. In short, be careful what gets sent out- and be careful how you handle things that do make it out.

This article shows not only good social media marketing campaigns, it gives examples of how to create your own successful campaign. Giving examples that point towards humor shows that humor is a driving force behind things “going viral”. When thinking about the last social media marketing breakthrough, most campaigns that come to mind are going to be witty, funny, or downright hilarious. The remainder is going to be filled with touching or inspiring campaigns, such as the mentioned Starbucks campaign on Twitter that dealt with giving other people free coffee.  This shows that social media marketing relies heavily on an emotional approach of some kind. Giving people a way to give others something simple, or making a point with sarcastic use of hashtags can echo throughout social media. And the more shares, likes, retweets and more means more people talking about your brand.