Being a Web Designer is so much more to me than just a career choice. I’ve begun to understand over the years of learning that it takes more than just showing up at 8am to be the best Designer I wish to be. This is an industry where I need to not only know how to design, but how to code to make those designs. It is almost like being an architect for the newest skyscraper in downtown Winnipeg and then also being the person to screw in the nuts and bolts to make sure it does not fall over. The web has evolved immensely over the years, and this requirement for a Web Designer to be a jack-of-all-trades is in demand more than ever right now.
This is one of the many reasons why I feel it's incredibly important to keep up to date with all the latest pieces of code or new design trends so that I can properly fulfill my job as Web Designer/Jack-Of-All-Trades. At the end of the day, I might find myself reading an article on new ways to organize my code or latest update for WordPress (Website Management System) before heading to bed. Doing research to improve your self-being as a designer is the single best practise you can do for yourself.
Over the years, I’ve mostly been in school learning Web Design, and a plethora of other media related skills but that has really let me hone down my skills of problems-solving, researching, and developing websites. I’ve learned how to keep up with latest web news and I wish to share some resources that I believe can really help people who wish to be more knowledgeable in this area whether you’re a student just starting out or a business owner who wants to know how to really utilize their website. I think it also important to note that it’s not the act of reading an article a day that I’m trying to showcase, it’s scanning these sites for new relevant information that you can apply to existing problems or even future problems. One of the coolest things that I can have happen to me in the day is implementing a new technology (Like a new innovative dropdown menu) that I discovered only a few weeks ago. This is a prime example of fulfilling my responsibility as a Web Designer. Not only does the new code work, it solves the problem that was at hand, and it also won’t be outdated anytime soon which is a common problem in this industry.
Because of how important I believe it is to stay updated as a Web Designer I’ve compiled a couple of my most favourite resources for research and the latest features coming out in the web world.
Smashing Magazine is one of my favorite sites for media related to Web Design. This site to me is a great way for me to not only improve my coding and designing skills but also on how to better my work process and use specific tools to create the best website for clients. The content they publish is so diverse that I learn something new every time I visit them.
CSS-Tricks is another one of those great sites however I usually find myself accessing it more while working than at home. They primarily publish content on how to improve your CSS (A common coding language used with Web Designers) and have a podcast called ‘ShopTalk’ which features other Designers from around the continent. Whether I mean to or not, I find myself at CSS-Tricks every day. This site is the reason my code is up to date. Without it, I might be stuck coding like it was 2010 (4 years can make quite the difference).
For the Novice Web Designer, I cannot recommend sources like this enough. Being a Web Designer takes determination and resources like Smashing Magazine & CSS-Tricks to make things easier. Luckily I’ve found a website that gathers all of my favourite new-media related sites into one place. Visit the Web Design Repo and explore. You might learn something.
It can be hard to notice with Google exchanging their logo for doodles most days, but on September 1, 2015 they unveiled their new design. This comes following their rebrand as a company to Alphabet – a new holding company whose largest subsidiary will be Google. Their new look is simple, colourful, and friendly and ‘not just for the Google of today, but the Google of the future’. Evolving and adapting with your company as it grows is important - your landscaping business is far more advanced than when you started it as a teenager mowing lawns. Google recognizes this need to readjust, having updated their logo 7 times in the last 17 years.
Re-branding can be great and clearly it’s worked well for Google, but sometimes there isn’t any need for it when you have a timeless design. Do you remember the short-lived Gap re-design? They tried to change something that was working for them and wound up over-complicating everything. I’m sure whoever gave the go ahead for the new logo wishes they had a time machine so they could avoid that fiasco.
The Modern Earth Web Design office will be closed Monday, September 7th, 2015 for the Labour Day long weekend. If you have an urgent issue please contact our emergency support line at 204-885-2469 extension 155. Regular office hours will resume Tuesday, September 8th, 2015. Our regular office hours are Monday to Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Enjoy the long weekend!
One of the aspects of my job as Creative Director at Modern Earth is to hire talented individuals to become part of our team. Throughout the years I’ve had the opportunity to meet with high school students, recent college graduates, people with no experience, and some whose career in design or development spans longer than mine – and while the talent of these individuals is important, there are a number of other skills which factor into the decision to bring a new employee aboard.
When asked “so, what do you do?” I find myself responding with something along the lines of “I help clients make it easier for Google to find their website”. I've tried saying "I do Search Engine Optimization" which is often met with a puzzled look or a blank stare.
Search Engine Optimization is a complex process that involves several small pieces of one larger machine. Starting from the code up, almost every part of a website can be search engine optimized. Good SEO tells a search engine what your website as a whole is about, and what each individual page of your website is about.
While there are a large number of elements to optimizing your website, here are some very quick, easy wins for your SEO strategy.
Specifying a unique title for each page of your website lets Google, and other search engines, know what the page is about. This helps them achieve their end goal of providing users with the most accurate search results possible. Make sure titles are concise and informative.
This is the area where you can expand further on the information contained in the web page itself. While there is no set character limit for page meta descriptions at this time, making sure users can see the description in its entirety from the search results page helps them make the decision to click on your website. Write descriptions that are compelling and attention grabbing.
Alternative text on images is important for all users; tags that accurately describe their corresponding image are regarded highly by search engines. If an image does not load on a page, or a user is using a screen reader, they will still have an idea of what the image is and how it relates to the rest of the content on the page.
Title tags on links, both in website navigation and in page content, can help users navigate your site. These tags can also potentially help improve click through rates within your website - keeping users on your site longer and encouraging them to view more pages.
This is a very high-level summary of just a few of the elements of website SEO, much like my “what do you do?” answer. For more information, or if you would like to discuss how Modern Earth Web Design can help implement search engine optimization on your website, we are just a click or a call away.