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About CMK

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  • Birthday August 13

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  1. I wasn't singling out WordPress sites. I mentioned WordPress because it's so popular, and you do see so many themes that incorporate jQuery and script.aculo.us libraries. Anyway, compression is what it is: A quick way to improve user experience without compromising your design or interaction effects. Carol
  2. Thanks for your comments Jodie. I know that WordPress is the platform of choice for many VA and small businesses. Input from someone with expert knowledge of its benefits, as well as its limitations, is so valuable. Speed is always an issue. Whether you're a designer responsible for a client's entire web presence, or a simple coder working with a team of professionals, user experience should be the primary focus. We know that increasing site speed improves ROI, conversion, satisfaction, and usage. The issue really hits home when you find yourself browsing or transacting business using a slower connection or mobile device. Speed improvements will have a tiny impact on search results, but as Matt Cutts stated so eloquently yesterday: "Instead of wasting time on keyword meta tags, you can focus on some very easy, straightforward, small steps that can really improve how users perceive your site." Image files are the biggest offenders. This forum has a ton of really talented graphic designers. I hope that some are willing to share their image compression and delivery techniques. Good to know about WP Minify. Due to plugin conflicts and other implementation difficulties, using Apache's built in compression and content negotiation features outlined in the SitePoint article is certainly the preferred method. Kind of a "best tool for the job" sort of thing... Carol
  3. Interesting development from Google Webmaster blog today: Google is now using site speed in web search rankings. Other than optimizing images, one of the quickest ways to improve site speed is to gzip your HTML, PHP, JavaScript, and CSS. It’s not uncommon to see a CMS driven site with hundreds of extra kilobytes in uncompressed jQuery and Scriptalicious files. WordPress sites are not in my niche, so I’m hoping a WordPress expert will share their favorite compression plugin(s). SitePoint has an excellent article on Web Site Optimization for sites hosted on Apache servers. Many of us are on a shared server without access to mod_gzip or mod_deflate modules, but if you can set up a php.ini file, Option 3 is easy to implement. You can view your PHP configuration by uploading a phpinfo page, see Example 1. If you're a Firebug fan, be sure to get the YSlow add-on referenced in the Google article. HTH, Carol
  4. One more quality control Firefox extension: the WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Toolbar. This extension will help you identify accessibility barriers that limit your audience. This toolbar is based on current accessibility recommendations, and is more user friendly than the older online accessibility checkers. Instead of referring to lines in your source code, WAVE toolbar places error, warning, and feature icons next to the element or attribute in question. It flags common mistakes like missing alt text, problematic link text, absent form labels, and tiny text. An online version of the Wave Accessibility Evaluation Tool: http://wave.webaim.org/. A simple accessibility checklist based on the W3C's current web accessibility recommendation (WCAG 2.0): http://www.webaim.org/standards/wcag/checklist. HTH, Carol
  5. Just wanted to share a few informational, quality control, and debugging Firefox add-ons for web designers/developers. These extensions work in the latest version of Firefox at the time of this post (3.6). Web Developer – A “must have” extension with features to numerous to mention. A breakdown of some of its functionality can be found here: http://tips.webdesign10.com/web-developer-toolbar.htm Firebug – Edit and debug HTML, CSS, and JavaScript live on any page. One of the best tools for locating CSS styles for a particular element in complex CSS layouts. Great for those 900k Wordpress CSS files. Coral IE Tab - Use the embedded Internet Explorer engine within Firefox. You can quick switch from one engine to another or run Firefox and IE rendering tabs simultaneously. Total Validator – Validate your markup, check spelling, find broken links, test for common accessibility errors, and take screen shots in one click. The screen shot tool takes some time to run, but offers various Windows and Linux browsers at different resolutions. For experienced developers, HTML5 and XHTML5 (under development!) validation is available. This tool is highly configurable. Enjoy! Carol
  6. I see the bullet issues on your Services Provided page. Like Tracy said, you don't want to paste content from Word or Publisher into an HTML editing program. The diamond and check mark list bullets will not display as intended in anything other than Internet Explorer. All other popular browsers will show the raw characters without the font face applied. Download Firefox and test your site with it. You can clean up the lists as time allows. Use proper list markup and CSS to style the bullets. It will save you many hours in the long run. You might want to use numeric character entities for the check marks (& #10003; (without the space)). Super simple list examples can be found here: http://www.sourcefix.com/demo/lists.html HTH, Carol
  7. What a handsome little man! Congratulations to you and your family Karri Carol
  8. I haven't tried this one yet, but Thunderbird Portable sounds like a nice application for Thunderbird users that work on more than one PC and/or desire a complete email backup solution. This application installs into a single folder, and it does not write anything to the Windows registry or system folder. You can install it to a flash drive and take your email, address book, account settings, and extensions with you: http://portableapps.com/apps/internet/thunderbird_portable. HTH, Carol
  9. Copied and pasted from the 2007 Microsoft Office system pricing page. Qualifying Products for Upgrade (Microsoft Office Professional 2007): HTH, Carol
  10. I think most designers would agree that Dreamweaver is the best WYSIWYG editor on the market, but a WYSIWYG editor is not always the best tool for the job. If you don't know HTML and you are trying to edit a complex nested table design, a WYSIWYG editor makes sense. If you are coding or editing a CSS based site, like some of the templates at Open Source Web Design, a CSS/xHTML editor or a good text editor might be a better choice. Editing CSS rules through Dreamweaver's Styles panel is cumbersome and time consuming – a lightweight editor with code completion is an attractive alternative. Dreamweaver has some nice features, but it does not generate optimal xHTML, CSS, or JavaScript. Many developers end up using it in code view only, and $400 is too much to pay for a tool that is going to be utilized like a text editor. If I had only $100 dollars to spend on my website, I would buy: HTML, XHTML, and CSS, Sixth Edition (Visual Quickstart Guide) Designing with Web Standards (2nd Edition) Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability A BrowserCam group subscription HTH, Carol
  11. That is a good point. Anyone that uses a three-button mouse and a modern graphical Windows browser can now choose how they open links. Still, if you are using an alternative device or assistive technology, it may be hard to override the author's preference and navigate the way you choose. New windows discussions take place frequently in HTML forums where authors are transitioning from old school, Transitional markup to cleaner, more user-friendly coding practices. The new window attribute, target="_blank", is deprecated and has been removed from the HTML and XHTML Strict DTDs (Document Type Definitions). Authors always want to know why the validator is suddenly failing their pages, and the ensuing discussions are always revealing: Many designers/developers are genuinely surprised at the level of annoyance expressed by users that dislike new windows. Authors firmly in the pro-new window or against-new window camps are unlikely to change their positions based on these discussions. User-centered design aficionados will want to warn their visitors before spawning new windows: Simple, Accessible External Links. HTH, Carol
  12. I read the comments at Problogger, and they are similar to dozens of other discussions I've read. One thing is clear, you are absolutely going to irritate some of your visitors by spawning new windows. Annoying potential clients will not advance your business goals. If you open new windows without informing your visitors, you create additional hardships for visitors with low/no vision, motor impairments, and certain cognitive disabilities. Why create usability problems and accessibility barriers if there is no tangible benefit? HTH, CMK
  13. The only way to keep text and images from being copied is to not put them on the web. Programs that encrypt or obfuscate (X)HTML are easily defeated, and if someone wants an image, they will print screen and take it. The program referenced above uses JavaScript to hide HTML. This type of encryption makes your content invisible to search engine spiders because they will not decrypt a page before indexing it. A Firefox extension revealed the "protected" source of their sample page in two clicks. These types of programs cause usability and accessibility problems and offer little or no benefits. HTH, Carol
  14. I try to avoid MouseOver galleries because they are not normally keyboard accessible. There are some interesting examples at CSSplay however. The photo gallery demos are in the left hand column. This one looks interesting: http://www.cssplay.co.uk/menu/menu_gallery. There are a number of excellent scripts that overlay images on the current page. These scripts are keyboard accessible, and visitors without JavaScript enabled can still view the larger image. Installation is painless. You link to external JavaScript and CSS files, and add a rel and/or class attribute to your thumbnail images. The title attribute is used for captions. It is that simple. Lightbox 2 has beautiful loading effects, but the script is heavy. Thickbox 3.1 (gallery here) automatically resizes images too large for the visitor's screen and can be used for inline and AJAX content as well. HTH, Carol
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