March 17, 2013: Weekly Roundup of Web Design and Development Resources

Technology websites and social media channels were filled with tweets and posts of astonishment this week when Google announced they were shuttering Google Reader on June 1, 2013.

I haven’t been a Google Reader user for years, but I know many of my colleagues and friends are. If you’re looking for Google Reader alternatives, check out this crowd-sourced spreadsheet (thanks Mike Petroff).

This week’s collection of resources includes tips for improving the performance of your website, comparison of CSS frameworks, a simple to use staff list WordPress plugin, a guide for pricing web work, and more. Hopefully you’ll find some resources to help you with your future projects.

Favorite tweet of the week:

CSS

  • CSS3 Patterns Library: From CSS Working Group member Lea Verou, patterns made entirely through CSS. The patterns work for all current modern browsers, except IE10.
  • CSS FrontEnd Frameworks: Table of current CSS frontend frameworks comparing browser support, preprocessor, device support and licensing.
  • CSS3 Video Tutorial: nth-of-type Selector: Russ Weakley walks you through how to use the nth-of-type selector in this SitePoint five-minute video. What I love about SitePoint posts like these: they take the time to provide a transcript. Thank you, SitePoint.

User Experience

  • Designing A Better Mobile Checkout Process: Practical tips from Derek Nelson for creating a streamlined, easy-to-use mobile checkout process; his recommendations apply equally to desktop checkout experiences. The January 2013 Harris Poll mentioned in the opening paragraph of the post confirms almost 50% of smartphone users research purchases with their mobile, but less than 25% use their mobile to make a purchase.
  • What UX Methods To Use And When To Use Them: From requirements to design and development to deployment and release, Jeff Sauro of Measuring Usability summarizes user experience methods and identifies the best method to use during each phase.
  • Using Mind Maps for UX Design: Part 3—Content Strategy Maps: In the third post in the series, Catriona Cornett explains content strategy maps, their purpose, and how to structure activities and outputs. Content maps serve multiple purposes:
    • Generate a list of the content strategy activities that you will be conducting
    • Document the primary outputs of content strategy activities
    • Create a framework for identifying relationships between content elements (for example, how voice and tone can be used to support the content’s purpose)
    • Help reflect the scale and scope of a content strategy effort, helping to plan and resource activities effectively
    • Create a visual reference of the most important elements of your content strategy for reference throughout a project

Accessibility

  • Reporters Get New Guidance On Disability Lingo: The Associated Press Stylebook adds news guidelines for journalists on how to write about mental illness. The style books urges:

    reporters to be as specific as possible about their diagnosis and include examples of symptoms.

  • Transforming Education Technology: A new bill introduced to Congress, Transforming Education through Technology Act (H.R. 521), would require accessible technology be available to all K-12 students in all subjects.
  • Captions in the Classroom: A Hidden Literacy Tool: At the Australian Council for Educational Research conference, Anne McGrath will discuss the links between captions and literacy in her presentation. It’s something I’m constantly sharing with friends and colleagues: captions go far beyond benefiting only people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Captions improves reading comprehension and benefits those people who are visual learners, struggle with reading or are learning a second (third, fourth, etc.) language.

WordPress

  • Beyond blogging: WordPress as a platform: If you haven’t heard of them, WordPress.com verticals offers template websites for weddings, cities, photographers, event ticketing, and more. The event ticketing site Tickera could be a good solution for event management.
  • The Redhat of Drupal: Too funny. Salesperson promoting Drupal sends a cold call email message to Matt Mullenweg, founding developer of WordPress, asking Matt to consider Drupal.
  • The Road to 3.6 Beta 1: In order to ensure the beta was “feature complete” (which means not all new features are finished), Mark Jacquith announced the 3.6 beta version has been delayed two weeks to March 27, with an expected release of the 3.6 version pushed back one week to April 29.
  • How to Create a Simple Staff List in WordPress: Creating a staff list with name, title, email address and phone number is simple to do with the Simple Staff List plugin. The added bonus? The plugin developer, Brett Shumaker, is very responsive to questions asked in the support forum.
  • Cross-Site Scripting in WordPress: Practical Tips for Securing Your Site: The second post in Tom McFarlin’s series on cross-site scripting in WordPress, Tom provides practical tips for testing vulnerabilities for input form fields, same-domain assets, and images. Tom includes an excellent list of resources, including a XSS cheat sheet calculator.

What I Found Interesting

  • Harvest Field Guide to Pricing: This helpful pricing field guide from Harvest, my favorite invoicing application, discusses the benefits and risks of the hourly, fixed-fee, retainer, and iteration pricing models. I like how Harvest points out when each model works best for you or your client.
    Graph showing results for how web professionals price their work
  • 12 Ways to Connect, Create, and Collaborate Using Google Hangouts: Google Hangouts is one of my go-to applications for connecting with people. Especially after having a Skype call fail not once, not twice, but five times last week. I like how easy it is to use Google Hangout for making a group video call, chatting, and sharing a document.
  • Handyman with protractor, t-squareHow to Lose Weight in the Browser: If you’ve looking to learn how to improve performance on your website, check out this fun guide dubbed “The definitive front-end performance guide” created by Zeno Rocha. You’ll find tips for optimizing your markup, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, images, and server. Love the illustrations by Scott Johnson.
About Deborah Edwards-Onoro

Deborah is a web developer and user experience professional focused on usability and accessibility. She's active in local groups as a leader for Detroit User Experience, Refresh Detroit, and Metro Detroit WordPress. In her free time, you'll find her birdwatching, shooting photos, reading, and watching tennis.

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