Experience Code Conference

A new conference is coming to Vancouver January 31 – Feb 1. Brought to you by the same folks who gave us the design & content conference, experience code conference is a conference for UX-focused frontend developers. Similarly to the design and content, this new conference will feature a full day of talks and a series of workshops. A few speakers have been announced and the list of workshops is available on their site.

This conference is a great opportunity to the design and code community of Vancouver and vicinity to come together, learn and be inspired

Resilient Web Design

Jeremy Keith author of DOMScripting, Bulletproof Ajax, and HTML5 For Web Designers has always been a favourite author of mine.

I read his HTML 5 book on the beach during a holiday. That’s probably not the kind of books most people read on the beach, but that’s what sets Jeremy apart from other tech writers. His writing is approachable and a pleasure to read.

His new book Resilient Web Design is more of a history book, rather than code. Not a single line of code is provided, but lots of examples and ideas are offered to help web designers approach their work. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone.

Foundations Icons

Foundation IconsA few weeks ago, I discussed the changes on the Bluelime Media site and talked about genericons.

This week, I discovered another great source of icon fonts distributed by Zurb. The social set is particularly interesting, since they have a few icons which are missing from genericons.

One of the best thing about teaching is learning from my students. I’m glad one of them introduced me to this great resource.

SubtlePatterns Bookmarklet on your Website

I’ve praised the SubtlePatterns site before on this site and I’ve been using it ever since. It’s an incredible resources for designers. Now there’s a new easy way to enjoy this site even more. The SubtlePatterns Bookmarklet lets you preview any background patterns directly on your website very quickly. This makes selecting a background for your website even easier!

Check it out »

Responsive Theme and Patterns

These past few weeks I finally started getting serious about responsive sites and finally completed my Bluelime Media website conversion. I started almost a year ago, but never got around to finish it. I had the chance to work on a few responsive sites this year and I predict that more and more websites will opt for responsiveness in the future, so as the saying goes, one must practice what you preach.

Lucky for me, Robert Dall at 32 Spokes, offered to help me convert the Bluelime Media HTML5 basic starter theme to a responsive version. Following an intense week of tweaking, refining and testing, I’m pleased to say that a responsive version of my starter theme is now available for anyone to grab on Github.

Like my other themes, this theme contains the bare minimum. The theme also only has one option for mobile navigation. There are loads of different options one could choose and one couldn’t possibly include them all.

If you’re looking for different responsive patterns, you might want to visit and bookmark Brad Frost’s collection of responsive patterns. Brad has compiled an amazing list of useful patterns and resources.

Kitsilano.ca goes Responsive

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Rob Lewis for years on the Kits website. Rob is great to work with as he let’s me try out different designs and doesn’t demand pixel perfection. During our last conversation, he suggested the site needed a refresh and needed to be more suited for mobile viewers. Responsive sites are more and more common and I’ve dabbled a bit, but diving into a new territory is always a bit scary.

Following the WordPress theme weekend, I was inspired to give Reverie a try. Other folks seem to like it and so I thought it would serve me well. Unfortunately after about 6 hours of tinkering, I just wasn’t getting the look and feel I was hoping for. I decided instead to give Emil Uzelac’s responsive theme a go. Once installed, I created my child theme and added my style changes to the stylesheet. I soon realized that changes to the templates themselves would be needed, but the theme files were so well laid out and commented, that child theming was a breeze. In fact, I can’t remember having so much fun building a theme. I hope that the viewers at Kitsilano.ca will enjoy the changes.

Intro to HTML & CSS with Ladies Learning Code

Have you ever wanted to learn HTML and CSS basics, but not sure what book to buy, what class to sign up to? One-day workshops are a great way to determine if indeed that $60 book or that one year programme is for you. Following a series of very successful workshops last year in Toronto, the Ladies Learning Code have announced two workshops right here in Vancouver. Sponsored by Simon Fraser University, the workshops will be offered Friday, August 24th & Saturday, August 25th from 10 am to 5 pm.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn, now is your chance. I’m thinking these tickets will sell out fast. Check it out.

Stop Building Sites In Subfolders? I disagree.

Drew McLellan wrote an interesting article on March 9, 2011. Of course a year later, comments are closed (as they should be unless you want to get daily viagra offers) and I couldn’t add my thoughts, so I thought I would explain why I build sites in a subfolder on the live server.

Drew specifically talks about Perch. I’ve never worked with Perch or any CMS other than WordPress, so perhaps his article is spot on. But when developing WordPress sites, I favour developing in a subfolder on the client’s server.

If the client has an existing site, I create a new subfolder, set up a fresh installation of WordPress, including a database and start working there. I’m a big fan of the BackWPup plugin and set that up during development as well, that way there’s a backup of the theme and database if anything goes wrong.

When it’s time to go live, WordPress provides a simple step to give WordPress it’s own directory. No files but two need to be moved to the root directory and WordPress takes care of the urls. So there’s no danger or messing about with links and losing any page relationships.

By working on a temporary server, I’ve learned the hard way that no two servers are the same. Just last week, I proceeded to set up WordPress on a client’s hosting provider only to find out that they are running a lower version of PHP than required. I’m glad I found that out sooner rather than prior to launching. Now the client has time to look into new hosting.

Additionally, you might not believe this, but clients sometimes disappear and never provide copy. Gasp! Shocking I know. This happens to me at least once a year. I set up the site, make sure everything is ready to go, give the keys to the client and then wait until they tell me they are ready to go live and everything goes quiet. By having them on a subfolder on their live server, the ball is in the court and I don’t have to maintain a temporary site on my server.

I build on average 50 WordPress sites a year and this is my workflow. It makes sense when working with WordPress. What are your thoughts?

Transferring a domain can be an adventure. Learn how to make it less painful.

One of my WordPress colleagues, Kathryn Presner writes an interesting newsletter full of web design tips. Her latest one discusses the process one should take to transfer a domain name from one registrar to another:

First, avoid doing a domain transfer when you’re very close to your renewal date. Give yourself lots of time, just in case something goes awry. A month is great – two weeks should be doable. A week is really cutting it close.

Be sure the domain is unlocked before starting the process, or your transfer will be denied. Domains are usually kept locked to prevent unauthorized transfers, so when you’re ready to initiate a transfer make sure to go into your domain control panel and unlock it.

Make sure the contact email in your current account is up-to-date. Much of the transfer process relies on email notifications at every step, and if you’re not getting notifications at the right address, it throws a huge wrench into the works. On the flip side, some registrars will deny a transfer if you’ve changed any registrant details within a few months of renewal, so be sure to look through your registrar’s transfer FAQ before changing any contact information.

For most types of domains, you will need a special code from your current registrar. Because nothing is simple in the world of domain transfers, the code goes by many different names: EPP, authorization code, AuthInfo code, transfer key, transfer secret, and so on. Not only that, but simply locating it may not be obvious! You may have to look around for a while to find it – and take note that some registrars provide it directly in your control panel, while others will only email it to you. Again, if you get stuck, your registrar’s transfer FAQ may provide clues.

Keep an eye on your email after you’ve submitted the transfer request
and when you get an email from your new registrar, be sure to choose the option to accept the transfer. You should also get an email from your old registrar and/or see a note in your control panel that a transfer is pending, at which point you can manually approve the transfer by logging into your control panel and clicking in the right place. If you don’t complete both these steps, your transfer will be either delayed by several days or blocked entirely.

Make a note of any services you may be using from your current registrar, such as domain parking, forwarding, email, custom DNS, or others. You will need to ensure that your new registrar offers the same services, and then once the transfer goes through, set up the equivalent services again. Be aware that there may be a time lag between when a service stops at your old registrar and when you can re-start it at your new registrar.

I know it seems like a lot to remember. Once you’ve done this a few times, it does go faster, but it’s always a bit of a rigamarole. Good luck to all in your domain-transfer adventures!

For more great web design tips make sure you subscribe to Zoonini’s newsletter or browse through back issues.