132. Drobo

Paul Boag

In this weeks show Paul and Marcus return to talk about the abundance of content management systems and ask the question “Are there too many?”,  as well as discussing Paul’s new Drobo and backing up.

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Vote Boag

To start with we’d like to ask a favour of all the loving Boagworld listeners, would you vote for our panel at SXSW this year. We’ve called it Clients Are Stupid…? and the official description is as follows:

Why do clients seemingly make idiotic decisions? How come they fail to ‘get it’? Learn how to improve communication with your clients and enhance your working relationship. Be more successful at pitching ideas, getting design sign off and ensuring projects stay on track. Don’t let your projects become a battleground.

Check out the panel page for more information on what we’ll be discussing and we’d appreciate the vote!

Special Discount

On last weeks show Ryan and Stanton talked about FreeAgent, an online accounting and project management tool for freelancers. Ed Molyneux, FreeAgents founder and CEO, has written to us to offer a special discount for Boagworld listeners:

We’d be really pleased to offer Boagworld readers/listeners a discount of 20% on all ongoing subs if they sign up with the referral code boag99 before the 15th September 2008. They get a 30-day free trial before having to subscribe, and monthly subs range from £15 for Sole Trader freelancers to £25 for Limited Companies.

So thanks Ed, and listeners be sure to check out freeagentcentral.com to take advantage of this offer.

News and events

Step away from the keyboard

One of the curses of being a web designer or even a website owner is that we spend too much time in front of a keyboard. Whether we are writing content, coding or planning a site structure, it is normally done in front of a PC.

I have tried to escape the shackles of the keyboard but with only limited success. Sketching can help and I do a lot of information architecture work using pen and paper. However, these approaches don’t allow the flexibility and speed of a PC.

However, this week I have come across two little products that help to escape the PC. The first is called GUIMagnets. They are basically fridge magnets with GUI elements printed on them. These including text fields, radio buttons, dropdown menus and more. Used in conjunction with a whiteboard you can quickly prototype page layouts in a much more tactile way.

The second product is an alternative to whiteboards. The problem with a whiteboard is that you don’t always have one handy when you need it. They are large, static and relatively expensive. What you need is something that provides the benefits of a whiteboard but without the disadvantages. Magic Paper is that alternative. Magic Paper is made from lightweight, flexible plastic that can be rolled up and carried anywhere. When you want the whiteboard you simply smooth it onto a wall and it is held in place with static. You can then use it like a whiteboard and remove it when you are done.

Hopefully these two products will encourage you to leave the PC behind, at least some of the time!

Creating slick CSS

Next we have some tips for you CSS coders. If you have grasped the basics of writing CSS and want to improve, then you should read the ‘7 principles of clean and optimised CSS code‘. As the title suggests this post provides 7 ways that you can improve the quality of your CSS coding. These include:

  • The use of shorthand
  • Avoiding hacks
  • Using whitespace wisely
  • Pruning any frameworks or reset code you use
  • Future proofing your CSS
  • Documenting your work
  • Making use of compression

Bitter experience has taught me this is excellent advice. Even if it is old news to you it is worth reminding yourself of these points. It is easy to fall into bad habits.

While on the subject of CSS, I also want to quickly mention a site called Conditional-CSS. This site provides a mechanism to deliver specific CSS to specific browsers without relying on hacks. It uses either PHP or C to achieve this and uses a very similar formatting to IE conditional comments.

It would be unwise to become too reliant on this approach because it could cause problems as new browsers emerge. That said, it is potentially useful in certain circumstances and is worth checking out.

Focusing on the wrong thing

Talking of reminding yourself of best practice make sure you read Gerry McGovern’s post on Google and Yahoo! Gerry examines why Google makes 10 times the profit of Yahoo! even thought it has significantly less page impressions.

Gerry argues that Yahoo! focuses too much on its products/website and not enough on the needs of their users. In essence Gerry is emphasising the importance of putting your customers first.

Although as website owners and designers we should all know this, we often forget it in the scramble to add new features, and implement new technologies.

Screencasting beginners guide

Our final post today is an introduction to screencasting by smashing magazine. This is a subject I covered myself in show 122 and for good reason. Screencasts are becoming increasingly popular and it is important that we know how to implement them.

The article looks at why you should make a screencast, tips for creating a good screencast and reviews of the different tools available.

Its a good post that provides all you need to know to get started. It also provides some excellent tips that are worth taking on board. My favourite is…

Editing may be an option, but sometimes its better to simply start over and have a nice flow to the production rather than piecing together snippets.

Editing is for wimps :)

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Feature: Too Many Content Management Systems

I know we live in a capitalist society. I know we are supposed to believe in choice. However, there are just too many damn content management systems. Another extract from the Website Owners Manual in this weeks feature.

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Review: Drobo And Backing Up

Since posting on twitter about my new Drobo, I have received a number of requests for a review of this backup and storage solution.

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