Category Archives: blog

Providing Clients with Post-Production Usability

When handing over a completed site to a new client here at Austin Web Design we consider it professional and helpful to send with it a user manual for how things are structured, especially on a Joomla CMS.

Creating a Module Stylesheet

For pages with several module layouts it may be confusing for administrators to have to go in and take a guess at modules. It is helpful to name the module name whatever the title text of the module is displaying as on the page. If the module name is the same for several modules you can specify which one by id number. It may also be helpful to just recognize several small areas by their position name and number, especially for text block modules that happen in be in rows across the page.

 

A simple screenshot taken of the page will do. Then you can pop it into Photoshop and place color coordinated squares around the modules. You can write the information directly in the boxes or next to them on the page. Or utilizing color coordination you can write out the names, id numbers, or module positions on another less crowded page.

Other Helpful How-To’s

Other things like links to videos on how to write blog posts and other backend management tasks so that people new to web administration  have a real time visual explanation of how to use their new site that they can go back to again and again if they forget how to use something. Also we have a series of written web tutorials that can model simple website tasks. Check out our article by company CEO Jerod Moore on how to write killer tutorials. I highly recommend writing articles about using your products and saving them as a resource for clients. Other companies also have helpful resources that your clients could use. When considering new color schemes for sites it would be helpful to include in a client package links to sites like Adobe Kuler. Links to products and services on  your own site like the Adobe Creative Cloud could be helpful to clients as well as show that you are up to date with industry standards for technology.

 

Handing over not just websites, but packages of information like module stylesheets or videos, is a professional move that creates a sense of trust and a good name for your company.  Moreover it is just plain helpful and respectful to people who may have never administered a website before. Also it can help cut down on calls or emails asking how to write a blog post or move a widget, which saves you time. It is standard procedure here at Lakeway Web Design.

Austin WordPress Training

WordPress is one of the simplest backends that you can use. We recommend creating WordPress based sites for any clients who don’t want to get too into the technical aspects of managing their website. We now offer training classes for Austin wordpress training as well. WordPress’s blog, page, and image gallery set ups are simple for website managers of any experience level. Its ease of use side panel is written in plain terms that anyone could understand. Want to write a blog post? Obviously you click on posts. Want to make a new page? Simple click pages and fill in a check box where you want it to go. Not to mention Google loves WordPress. From the SEO perspective starting with WordPress right off the bat can be the boost you need.

WordPress, being the most commonly used backend, has tons of open source add-ons and extensions to make your site beautiful and unique. If you are starting from scratch you can download frameworks like Thematic that you can get for free. The best part of having these open-source frameworks is there is already a support system built in to help you with any problems in the code or function of the program.

At Lakeway Web Design we have clients who want to learn to administer their website all the time. Now we are extending this service to the community. To learn more about the program or sign up for training you can click here to go to our Training page. We can offer you hands on training either on-site or over the weekend. The on-site is an 8 hour course for $450 in the greater Austin metropolitan service area. The weekend course is on-site at Lakeway Web Design for 4 hours and is $250. Classes are limited to 3 people and one weekend a month.

Single Navigation Ideas

Website Navigation  – Single Navigation Ideas

Usually when I work with a client I am mocking up several pages for traditional website. A new page loads, and the website becomes a tree of linked pages. Having more pages with more words for Google to crawl is better for SEO, but sometimes that is not what a client needs. Enter the balance of Menu, Taxonomy, and structured content.

CMS Solutions with WordPress

Some of the best ways to present a different navigation element are with additional pages that have new menu items, this leads to one problem however. The orphaned viewer. The person becomes by necessity pigeon holed into browsing the specific sub-category and often will have a hard time finding a pathway to a more appropriate page. Thus WordPress has a solution with Taxonomy and various ways to present the same content.

Navigation solution with Sitemaps and Contact Forms

A tag and category are both viable options for a end-user to find information with, but how can they get that information in an easy way? We use the catchall of a straightforward addressing of the problem on websites. A link needs to be shown on all pages that asks if the person is lost or looking for something else like below.

Not what you are looking for? Click here!

That leads to a page that allows them to checkout the sitemap for the website and also to use a quick contact form to query the site owner. The results? Amazing upticks in contact form submissions and significant improvements in time on site. Not using WordPress? You can easily implement the same idea into any CMS quickly and easily. Not sure how? Give us a call and we can get you straightened out.

Alfresco Document Management – How to rule your piles of paper (Digitally of course)

Alfresco Document Management Systems

Alfresco document management systems simplify your workflow and ease the transition of artwork assets between developers and designers or other coexisting team of employees. The system allows you to upload folders to a document library that can be shared with specific people within a company. You can create work flows for yourself,  your team, or others. You can manage tasks, deadlines, and calendars. All versions of files can be saved for easy backup conversion. You can even access this information and the document database from anywhere with an internet connection.

Alfresco 4.2.0

Alfresco’s latest and greatest version is 4.2.0 which has amazing new features like lightbox image previews and previews of Photoshop, Illustrator, and .pdf files. Easy on the fly view of files can save long, unnecessary download times. This can prevent accidental downloads of the wrong file that may have a similar name.

Workflow kick offs are new as well. You can use the task manager to create a workflow to assign to others. This piece of code was added thanks to open source contributions to the new version of Alfresco. If you cannot make it into the office you can still assign to your team what work needs to get done for you to complete your end of any deal. You can also set a workflow for yourself to keep on track with clients and projects.

Less Paper, more production

Content management systems are fantastic because they cut down the amount of paper a company uses and saves them money. The global access makes it easier to work at home than ever before. Alfresco creates flexibility for its users like local shared networks cannot. NASA, MERCK, and many other big name organizations use Alfresco because they know it to be a reliable platform. My personal experience has been very enjoyable and I am glad to have it for our company.

Customized Social Media Artwork

Customized Social Media Artwork

Many companies don’t have their website alone, they also have social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook. A wide variety of social media sites brings direct interaction between organizations and consumers like never before. Customized social media can help you stand out above the crowd.

Certain sites like Facebook and Twitter have many active users but allow for very little customization. For Twitter you can only utilize a custom background. In this background you can place product codes, contact information, or just work with leading lines to draw the viewers’ eyes into the body of Tweets. With Facebook you only have the posts, advertising, but primarily you have the timeline cover photo. The timeline cover photo allows unique interaction between the profile image and the banner. It can be an aesthetic visual shoot off of the profile image or again be used with arrows and leading lines to bring a viewer’s attention to coupons, sales, or promos. Facebook does not allow contact information of requests for purchases in these cover photos.

A Youtube page can be more customized by altering the physical layout with html. Background images and textures can be achieved. For bigger clients major revisions can be made to the layouts and custom backgrounds are a must.

Other places to draw inspiration for personalization include sites that don’t allow much customization themselves, yet should not be over looked. Dribble is a social media site for designers that allows for personal display of graphic works both physical and digital as well as works in progress and inspiration displays. On Dribble you can view product images for applications, websites, logos, themes, fonts and other aspects of graphic representation. These are organizable into projects or clients. Whereas Behance, another social media portfolio site, is leaning more towards all artistically inclined mediums. You can browse photography, illustration, printmaking, and even art direction. Designers and artists of the world are going to put up the best stuff they have as these sites double as portfolios. These sites are great inspirational wells to draw from when looking for sleek, modern design to draw from for a client.