The Skills You Need for Mobile and Web Programming and Development

What it’s like to work as a mobile app developer” by TechRepublic is a simple but solid list of what it takes to be a mobile application developer, but also a programmer, web designer, and web developer.

The skills mentioned include persistence, ability to keep up with trends and changes in the fast pace of technology, testing to the extreme, and the understanding that this is a new and evolving industry and be ready for the shifting terrain in and around you.

I’d like to add two big skills missing from this list, without which makes the difference between a savvy developer and programmer and a mediocre one. It is the ability to pay attention to details and not make excuses.

It is always the details that bite you back. A missed semi-colon, a misnamed variable, a loop that doesn’t close right, validation errors, little simple things that should be a part of the testing environment but slip by.

I’ve seen many programmers and designers, including myself, blaming the software, the code, everyone else except the person who screwed up and missed the detail that caused the issue. Then the excuses start coming out. Not enough sleep, too much pressure, too many interruptions, trouble at home, traffic jam driving into work, family problems…the list is long and all of these can get in the way of your work.

When we let the excuses consume us, we negative the good work we’ve done. A lot of successes happened in the code before the mistake. Yet we spend a lot of energy on the excuses for that mistake instead of recognizing it as something fixable, a lesson learned or relearned, and move on.

We all have the same excuses. We’d all like them to go away so we could have a perfect working environment. They won’t go away so our ability to handle them must improve.

The first step is to acknowledge that we all have interference in our lives, so let them not interfere. Continue reading

Web Design: Tools, Color Wheels, Charts, Theories, and More on Color

Colored ball in a quilt of colors.Most business owners don’t consider the importance of color when thinking about promoting their business. They just want the colors to match their business cards or logo.

When it comes to choosing colors for your website, it can be as easy as planning the colors to paint the rooms in your house. It begins with some color theory, then pull out your old color wheel and give it a spin. Right?

Well, it would if colors on the web were that easy.

In order to understand how colors work in web design, you need to know some important concepts.

I’ve put together this summary of resources to support these and included many online free tools, color charts, color wheels, and more to help you learn more about how web colors work and how to choose colors for your web design or WordPress Theme.
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How to Choose a WordPress Theme

When it comes to choosing the right WordPress Theme, there is a right way and a wrong way. And both may be right for you.

First, let’s look at what people look for and what influences them in the decision process with a WordPress Theme, and the myths of their reasoning.

Comparing the same 2011 WordPress Theme - the light and the dark version - totally different.

The default WordPress 2011 Theme has two versions, dark and light. By changing the background image, these two sites on the same Theme are completely different.

How much does it cost?

First of all, the majority of WordPress Themes in the WordPress Theme Directory are free. Before you start investing in a WordPress Theme, stick with free Themes so you can test drive them.

If you fall in love with one and lack the web design experience or time to modify it, contact the author and hire them to fix this to your liking.

A paid or premium WordPress Theme is no better or worse than a free Theme. Don’t believe the hype. You are usually paying for support or additional features you may or may not need. Price does not dictate quality. Continue reading

What is a Website Call to Action?

Call to action button called click me with quote that says go on, you know you want to.What is a “call to action” on a site?

Call to action in web design — and in user experience (UX) in particular — is a term used for elements in a web page that solicit an action from the user. The most popular manifestation of call to action in web interfaces comes in the form of clickable buttons that when clicked, perform an action (e.g. “Buy this now!”) or lead to a web page with additional information (e.g. “Learn more…”) that asks the user to take action.
Call to Action Buttons: Examples and Best Practices by Smashing Magazine

It is literally a visual hint (or shout) that encourages a user to click or take some form of action.

Calls to action are used to:
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How to Create Seamless Background or Tiled Patterns

One of the ongoing challenges web designers have is with background images. Background images are found within the background of a web page, specific DIVs, menus and navigation, sidebars, all over the place.

Example seamless pattern background image for tiles and tiling on web pages. Source -

A well designed pattern or texture that is seamless and tiles well is one that repeats gracefully in the background, complementing the purpose of the site and not distracting. A non-distracting background is one that is literally seamless, no distinction between the edges of the graphic. It doesn’t look like a bunch of repeating blocks. It is one smooth, evenly repeating pattern that is flexible, stretching into the background no matter what the width or length of the web page.

The process involves developing graphics that, when tiled together, appear as one single image, or a gentle repeating pattern. This is often done by selecting simple graphics and blurring the edge or positioning the elements to they bookend to each other, repeating the pattern over and over again.
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Tutorial: How to Inspect, Edit, and Save a Web Page

This tutorial from the HTML Fundamentals Class I taught at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington, is a guide that will show you how to:

  • View the source code of a web page.
  • How to save a web page to your computer
  • How to view a saved web page on your computer
  • How to open a web page in your text editor
  • How to view the CSS/Stylesheet for a web page
  • How to inspect the HTML and CSS of a web page
  • How to view and edit a web page at the same time

To begin this tutorial, have your web browser and text editor open on your computer. It does not matter which browser or text editor you are using. The process is basically the same.

How to view the source code of a web page

  1. Go to a web page such as the test page for the class, Welcome to Lorelle VanFossen CTEC 122 HTML Fundamentals Class on the Clark Web Server.
  2. Right click on an empty space on the web page and choose View Page Source or View Source.
  3. The resulting popup window (or tab) will show you the underlying HTML structure of the page.
  4. You may save this to your hard drive or go back and save the entire web page to your computer.

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Truly Beautiful HTML Cheat Sheet

Chris Coyier of CSS-Tricks is one of the brilliant minds ripping and tearing web design apart and putting it back together so we understand it even better than before.

In “What Beautiful HTML Code Looks Like,” Chris shares a beautiful cheat sheet for what beautiful HTML really does look like.

Chris Coyier - CSS Tricks Cheet Sheet on creating beautiful HTML

It includes HTML5, JavaScript references, and everything you need to know to make beautiful music with your web page code.

Lorem Ipsum: Resources for Dummy Content

The traditional Lorem Ipsum site front page.The granddaddy of all Lorem Ipsum services is Lorem Ipsum – Lipsum generator. Lorem ipsum has been used for hundreds of years to generate dummy content for prototypes, wireframes, and galleys. Created originally for print material, it has evolved online beyond the original Latin to a variety of forms, formats, and “languages” for web use.

Selection of Lorem Ipsum types can be tricky. If you are working on a project for fun, you can use anything that tickles your fancy. If you are building a wireframe or prototype for a client, while Lorem Ipsum might be appropriate and professional, choosing dummy content that matches the intent and purpose of the site might be wiser, such as using the Cupcake Ipsum for a food site, a Lorem Ipsum alternative that features names of deserts with Latin, Pasta Ipsum – for all your macaroni product lorem ipsum needs for pasta lovers, or Veggie Ipsum – the vegetarian lorem ipsum generator for an organic restaurant or farmers market seller.

Mustard salsify welsh onion cucumber earthnut pea okra brussels sprout. Yarrow green bean gumbo garlic welsh onion wakame pumpkin wattle seed yarrow sierra leone bologi taro gram. Catsear amaranth celery wattle seed sorrel shallot pumpkin.

Onion wattle seed quandong parsley fava bean rutabaga courgette cucumber. Celery potato melon bok choy epazote zucchini artichoke fava bean beetroot groundnut desert raisin onion black-eyed pea jícama coriander celery. Lotus root spring onion endive arugula tomatillo sorrel pea dulse chickweed turnip gourd plantain cauliflower tatsoi bush tomato komatsuna rutabaga. Water chestnut endive pea sprouts gram lentil spinach chicory lettuce soybean melon turnip greens celery parsnip artichoke okra swiss chard eggplant aubergine. Water spinach garlic tomatillo tigernut catsear peanut amaranth melon garlic.

Consider Bacon Ipsum for carnivores or Cheese Ipsum for cheese lovers.

Cheese slices lancashire jarlsberg. Monterey jack fromage say cheese pepper jack fondue cheese strings blue castello cheese triangles. Cheesecake squirty cheese cheesecake fromage frais mascarpone cheese and wine edam cheesecake. Stinking bishop stinking bishop.

Manchego rubber cheese cheesy grin. Fromage frais port-salut camembert de normandie port-salut port-salut manchego camembert de normandie cheese triangles. Bocconcini bocconcini cheesy feet cheese triangles macaroni cheese cheese slices paneer cut the cheese. Edam.

Cheese on toast who moved my cheese the big cheese. Queso cheddar pecorino fromage frais parmesan mozzarella brie lancashire. Jarlsberg smelly cheese lancashire cheddar stinking bishop roquefort port-salut cheesecake. Cheese and wine fondue blue castello smelly cheese emmental pecorino parmesan.

For serious sites and clients, the traditional Lorem Ipsum is a wise choice, but like the food versions of Lorem Ipsum, there are more content specific alternatives such as Corporate Ipsum for corporate speak, and Not Lorem Ipsum for industry based Lorem Ipsum generator. These create dummy content based upon the specific industry of the company such as app development, advertising, banking, cafes, restaurants, accounting, car sales, dentists, and more.

Check out this dentist version of Lorem Ipsum.

We are a friendly team of dentists, hygienists and receptionists who work together to ensure that you receive the best treatment that you require at a time that suits you. All of our dentists are accredited by The British Dental Association Good Practice Scheme, so you can rest assured that your smile really is in good hands.

We offer NHS dental treatment to children and have a very easy private payment scheme for our adult patients. We encourage everyone to visit the dentist regularly so that we can prevent any problems from occurring and the more you visit the less likely it is that we will have to do anything “scary!”

If you are working on a static HTML site, <html>ipsum is Lorem Ipsum set within HTML tags for paragraphs, lists, forms, tables, and more. Several alternative Lorem Ipsum generators offer the option for HTML including One-Click Lorem Ipsum Generator and

Web 2.0 Ipsumr is a popular alternative Lorem Ipsum generator using nonsensical Web 2.0 startup names in keeping with the naming of things like Google, Woopra, Orkut, Zynga, Squidoo, Meebo, etc. Hipster Ipsum is for the younger generation with lines such as:

Sriracha tofu ethical, cardigan wayfarers bushwick butcher kale chips scenester mcsweeney’s sustainable jean shorts Austin. Gastropub VHS farm-to-table, lomo whatever authentic thundercats street art. Iphone gentrify pour-over street art, small batch food truck keffiyeh DIY american apparel artisan high life cray twee fingerstache. Forage mumblecore readymade next level, single-origin coffee keytar swag cliche mcsweeney’s american apparel squid chambray. Occupy vice whatever forage, brooklyn next level direct trade messenger bag pitchfork.

Why stop with clever nonsense Web 2.0 names. Use Twipsum to generate your own Twitterverse originals in Lorem Ipsum fashion.

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Cleaning Up Your HTML and CSS Code

Dirty Markup interface for cleaning html, css, and javascriptTeaching HTML Fundamentals at Clark College in Summer Quarter 2012 was a step back into history and a good learning lesson for me about teaching but also about HTML.

I’m sharing a lot of the tutorials and guides I created for the class here which you can find in various categories but specifically under the HTML tag.

I’d like to share with you one of the great tools I uncovered. It’s called Dirty Markup and describes itself as the “Tidy and Beautify your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code tool.”
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Tutorial: Tidy Your HTML and CSS Code

The following is a tutorial for the HTML Fundamentals Class for Clark College. The information pertains to all web design, development, and WordPress fundamentals in WordPress Theme and Plugin development.

There programs designed to "tidy" your HTML and CSS into a format that meets typical standards for code layout. These take hard-to-read markup (code) and clean them up into a consistent format.

These tidy programs will not fix your broken code, but they may identify errors to help you fix it yourself.

Example of Tidy HTML cleaner before and after

Tidy programs were originally created by Dave Raggett to help clean up the HTML code. HTML TIDY now supports HTML5 and HTML exported from Google Docs, Word, and other publishing programs.

There is now a community supporting TIDY and you can learn more on TIDY Sourceforge Project.

There are also CSS TIDY programs. These work the same as the HTML versions. They include: CSSTidy and CSS Formatter and Optimiser/Optimizer (Online).

TIDY is available for cleaning up online or offline, and is incorporated into many text editors and programming editors. it is available for a variety of operating systems and in different programming languages such as Java, Perl, and Python.

To use these, follow the instructions provided by the developer. Always save a backup of the original file, called "about.bak" or something similar, just in case.

For online versions, it is as simple as uploading the file to be cleaned or pasting the file contents into the form. Copy the cleaned code and paste it into a copy of the file name or create a new version of the file and rename it to the desired name.

Learn More About TIDY

HTML and CSS Resourses List

The following was compiled specifically for the Clark College HTML Fundamentals Class but can be useful to WordPress and web design in general.

The following are helpful HTML and CSS references and resources.

W3C Guidelines and Standards

Basic HTML and CSS Resources and References

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Web Browser Tips for WordPress, HTML, and Web Design

The following video contains useful web browser tips to help you speed you your browsing, WordPress, and web design work.

Basic Web Browser Tips by Lorelle VanFossen for Clark College from Lorelle VanFossen

Please note that the video refers to the Windows keyboard shortcuts using the CTRL key. This is the equivalent to the CMD key on Mac.

For mobile devices, long presses usually activate the equivalent of keyboard shortcuts and right clicks, though not all of them may be available in the apps you are using.

Here are some of the specific tips covered in the video.

  • Editing (just like in a word processor)
    • CTRL+C = Copy
    • CTRL+X = Cut
    • CTRL+V = Paste
    • CTRL+Z = Undo
  • CTRL+T = Open New Tab
  • F5 = Reload/Refresh Page
  • Zoom in and out of a web page (magnify): CTRL+Plus and CTRL+Minus
  • Right click on links on the page brings up the right click menu to access link specific options and features.
  • Right click on blank or empty spaces on a web page brings up the right click menu for page specific options and features.
  • Learn to open web pages in tabs not windows. This saves on computer memory issues and speeds up your browser process.
    • Use Mouse and Keyboard shortcuts: CTRL + Left Click on Link = Opens Linked Page in New Tab
  • Fast Navigation through Browser Tabs
    • CTRL+T = Opens New Tab
    • CTRL+1 = Goes to Tab #1
    • CTRL+ 2, 3, 4, etc. goes to that tab number
    • CTRL+Arrow = moves focus to next and previous tab
  • Working on web page design or WordPress? Refresh and you don’t see changes? You need to clear the cache and do a "hard" clearing page reload. F5 or SHIFT+F5 OR do a Cache Refresh
    • CTRL+F5 (Firefox and Chrome)
    • CTRL+Shift+R (Firefox)
    • CTRL + R (Chrome)
    • (You may have to repeat a couple times)
  • To view the source code of a web page: Right Click > View Page Source
  • Web Developer Tools

2011 Prove It Campaign: Prove Yourself on Your Blog

In January 2012, I started a year long campaign on called Prove It!

I recently learned the true definition of the word “guru.” It means to lift someone up through knowledge and wisdom. It means to teach, to impart wisdom, “to dispel the darkness of ignorance” so that those who go after you will be better for it.

Too often the label is used with arrogance. It doesn’t mean to lord over others as an expert. A true guru probably wouldn’t call themselves a guru. Others would honor them with the title.

After years of being called a guru in WordPress, blogging, and multimedia web publishing and being embarrassed by it, I realized there was more to being a guru than a line on a promotional ad. It’s time to reconsider such self-proclamations without anything to show for it. It’s time to call myself on the carpet to prove my worth, and for others to step up to the plate and prove it themselves.

Here is the article series so far which focuses on proving your personal expertise and experience to back up what you blog about. I just published the last article which includes research on what elements of a website design and content inspire trust in their readers.

Future articles will focus on specific design and content elements with recommendations on WordPress Theme and Plugins to help “prove it” on WordPress sites. I’ll be writing about how to prove it through accuracy in writing, publishing, and interaction with readers, and how to measure the proof of your success through analytics and feedback. I’ll add more articles to this post as the series continues throughout the year.

How to Work with WordPress Theme Frameworks

WordPress Design Wordle graphicA framework is literally a frame upon which a web designer adds the design elements. A WordPress Theme frameworks is a skeletal frame set with HTML and CSS with all the WordPress code embedded within it, upon which a designer can paint the website walls.

Most WordPress designers and developers either create their own WordPress Theme frameworks or use one already created for every WordPress site they develop. It’s important for them to be familiar with all the HTML and CSS design elements so they can quickly apply the design elements, whether from scratch, wireframe, or from a Photoshop to WordPress conversion. The more you understand how a Theme framework functions, the faster the design work can be applied.
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