Website Development

Ecommerce Website

How to Create Your Own Ecommerce Website

If you have a desire to sell goods online then you’ve most likely considered how you will build your e-commerce website. There is no doubt that shopping cart websites are complex. They require not only a high quality, functional and usable layout and design, but also a secure and well thought out back end as well, in order to facilitate the financial transactions that will take place on the site.

An e-commerce website should be well planned, with every aspect of the site having a purpose and contribution to the overall goal of converting your website visitors into buyers of your products. There are now many options when it comes to building a shopping website. You can use an open source piece of software, you can pay a web developer to build your entire site from scratch, or, in the case of very small e-commerce sites, you can even simply use Paypal to build a simple shopping cart. The size of your website and your budget will determine which path you take.

Other important factors to keep in mind as you plan the design and functionality of your website include the following:

Your domain name: this will be your branding opportunity so make sure you decide on a domain name that you are happy with and feel represents your products well.

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web typography

Serious Thinking About Web Typography

For those of you who have never had the occasion to learn how all this “font” or web typography stuff got started in the first place, 37Signals has a great post up about The Art of Computer Typography. It’s a great little history lesson on how hacker guru Donald Knuth basically brought typography to the computer age the way Moses brought the commandments down from the mountain.

It’s good to appreciate how your website’s font pairing setup can make the difference between visitors staying and leaving. There is something wonderful in the way a page full of well-laid-out, well-kerned type makes the reading experience easier for everyone. And of course, it wards you away from those dreadful yellow-on-red pages with Comic Sans text.

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careless employees

Who Is The Least Secure Employee In Your Web Company?

Dark Reading has a thought-provoking post up about the popular buzzphrase “insider threat”, and, to the point, how it really doesn’t make sense as a term. The post advocates for a more fine-grained approach:

  • rogue employees – This is actually the darkest prospect, and yet entrepreneurs fear it the most while it actually happens the least.
  • security loss through incompetence – now we’re talking!
  • just plain leaks – through, for instance, trusting a third party and then their incompetence exposed you to risk.
  • outside attacker penetrating inside – really, every outside threat aims to become an inside threat.

Experience has proved out time and again, that under-trained or careless employees are the greatest threat vector. For every “Hollywood hacker” trying to get into your site, there’s a hundred receptionists setting their password to “1234”, a hundred associates using a malware-infected Windows PC to send mail, a hundred security guards who aren’t watching what they should, and a hundred coders who left a gaping exposure to XSS in your web page. It’s ridiculous to treat malicious attackers and mistakes all the same way.

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Windows 8

Kiss Flash and Silverlight Goodbye on Windows 8

Did you ever think you’d live to see the day when you’d read this headline? Here, wait, let’s hear it in OSNews’ own words first:

“The world’s most popular operating system will not be receptive to Flash, and Microsoft openly stating Flash is history pretty much means that as a platform for the web, it’s done. Flash may still serve a purpose in other ways, but the Flash most of us know and hate – that’s gone.”

Wha… ? Done? Gone? Flash? DOA? Belly-up? Bereft of life, resting in peace?

Yes, the MSDN developer website seems pretty sure about this. HTML5 is where it’s at now. Throw away those O’Reilly Actionscript manuals and beef up on your HTML5. Meanwhile, Apple Insider can barely keep the gloating out of its coverage of the story.

The hilarious irony in all of this? Linux, the platform the Adobe despised the most, is now the only platform that will give the time of day to Adobe. So, ah, Adobe, do you suppose Firefox Ubuntu users can expect their Flash plugin update on time for a change?

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Instaview: Instagram to the Macs

InstaviewIconIt’s time to reveal what we’ve been working on these last few months, but first a little background. Instagram, an app available for iPhone is in the words of its creators at Burbn, “a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your life with friends.” The number of people who have adopted this service as their favorite way to share photos has been nothing short of amazing. A recent article puts its userbase at 5 million.

We too have enjoyed using the app over the last several months and have decided to provide a way for Instagram users to view these photos with a native Mac application.

Instaview allows you to easily set up one or more windows which will each show an Instagram photo stream. You can choose from several picture frames styles to showcase each photo stream. An overlay appears when you mouse over each stream window, allowing you to see more information about the photo being displayed. At that point you’re a click away from viewing who has liked or commented on the photo, further information about the Instagrammer, the ability to like the photo, follow the contributor or add your own comment. Our badging feature lets you know when new photos are available for viewing. Finally, each window can also become its own slideshow which will cycle through its stream’s photos.

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online business

Running your online business like a rock star?

An interesting pocket of web design is found on Naldz Graphics, with a gallery of 40 websites of rock bands. Now, the point of this post is “look at designs, be inspired in your own designs” and in fact some of these might work better for businesses other than a band.

We asked our own resident rock ‘n’ roll expert (he has a Frank Zappa poster in his cubicle) to rate how these designs work for a band as a business case.

Here’s some of the verdicts:

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hiring an online freelance web designer

Hmmmm, Good Advice For Being A Good Client

We jumped when we saw the title of the post: How to be a good client, but then when we read the content, it wasn’t what we had in mind. Don’t get us wrong, it’s all good advice, but we’d really like to take this time to advise readers on how to get the most out of hiring an online web design agency:

1. Link to an example of what you want. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. You can talk to a designer all day, “I want an arty header and a side link bank, but it should move with the scrollwheel and have green and blue colors…” That can still be interpreted 100 different ways. Find a picture to start with, then detail how you want it different.

2. Take the designer’s / developer’s word for it. We don’t know how many clients out there have made their own lives miserable by saying “I want the whole site in Flash.” or “Can I get it with animated GIFs and use this big image as the background?” You hire an expert; if they say that something isn’t a good idea, listen to them. That’s what you’re paying them for is to know their stuff!

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Mashups and APIs

The Irresistible Draw of Mashups and APIs

It’s worth checking in over at Programmable Web once in awhile just to see what they’re up to, with their API discoveries. Google, Twitter, Flickr, and all, the defining mark of a popular Web 2.0 service is whether people do things with your API.

Notable developments from just one recent week:

  • Comedy on Spotify – A directory of comedians and their albums, with video clips for sampling, mashed up out of Freebase and Just dive right in and look for the wit who tickles you the right way.
  • Today’s Special – A Google Wave bot serving up quotes, words, horoscopes, sports scores, and whatnot.
  • Tickets Suck – A Twitter and Twilio mashup that reminds you to move your car so you don’t get a ticket.
  • Quote Relish – A real-time news ticker using the Freebase and Moreover APIs.

Mashups and APIs are an exciting tech trend that’s worth keeping track of, because new gizmos are getting invented every day. This is something we couldn’t do only a decade ago. But even more fascinating is the potential that mashups have; they represent evolution at a lightning pace. Ideas build on ideas, just the way innovation is supposed to work!

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iPhone Animation Sequence

When writing Postage and WORD SPIN we encountered the same problem again and again: the need to chain a sequence of animations together. For example, when the user navigates to the next page we first animate away the controls for the current view, switch views, then animate the controls in for the new view. Initially, we set the UIView delegate and then in our specified selector implementation kicked off the next animation which itself would eventually call back into a completion selector, and so on. But it’s largely the same code over and over, and you either need a bunch of similar looking animationDidStop implementations, or a single implementation that branches based on the animation identifier. For example:

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Warning : Love hurts…

Sometimes the ones you love reject you. If you are an iPhone developer this is probably a concept with which you are already intimately familiar. We love developing for the iPhone, but sometimes the App Store and its app review process leaves us feeling a little dejected.

One of our applications was just rejected about halfway through the review process and it seemed like a unique enough situation that it was worth sharing as a warning to our comrades in the trenches.

Over the past couple of weeks, there have been several reports of iPhone Apps being rejected for use of private APIs. Many of the rejections are from developers that have used the extremely popular Three20 library from ex-iPhone developer Joe Hewitt. The developing consensus is that recently Apple has started using a static code analyzer to flag applications that have used private API calls.

Warning : Love hurts… Read More »