Month: February 2017

Top 5 Free Online Courses to Learn Web Design

The Internet is rich in data. Today, it’s not a problem to find an answer to any question that may come to your mind. There are plenty of resources providing effective recommendations on how to make your life easier, how to work productively, be healthier and wealthier, etc. Moreover, the Internet can educate. This is a place where you can attain new knowledge and skills in the way and time that are convenient to you the most. There are a number of online courses that you can pass for free. For this article, we have selected the most popular and effective online courses for web designers and developers.

In addition to being absolutely free for the public access, all courses are intended for web design beginners who are eager to get new knowledge on how to build sites, personalize their layouts, expand functionality with extensions, choose a CMS on their own, and so on and so forth.

Certification Center from TemplateMonster

This is a free education project that the company launched for everyone who is eager to discover more details about the process of a website creation. Certification Center targets both web design beginners and pros. In order not to mislead the students, the world-known themes provider has divided all courses into two big groups. The first one targets those users who have little to no knowledge about web design and development. The second one is intended for more advanced users. Let’s speak about each of them in details.

The “Beginners” section is made up of a series of free educational courses that will introduce you to the web design basics. This is where you can learn how such popular CMSs as WordPress and Joomla are organized. You can also take a look under the hood of the most trending eCommerce platforms like OpenCart. Being a popular developer of ready-made website themes, TemplateMonster also shows how to handle website templates, tweak them, and expand functionality with plugins and extensions. The courses include both theoretical and practical parts. After you learn a certain block of information, you will be asked to complete a few tasks in order to check your knowledge and revise the data your have passed.

2. Certification-Center

Speaking about the section for experts, TemplateMonster Certification Center welcomes all freelancers and web design studios that know how to launch sites on the basis of pre-designed themes. There is a 20-question quiz, which the participants are asked to pass. Upon a successful completion, every web design agency and freelancer will be granted with TemplateMonster Certificate as a proof of their high level of expertise in the field.

Moreover, they will become the company’s partners listed on a Web Design Studios Catalogue page. The latter is a unique opportunity to boost the public recognition and find new clients. Everyone who purchases themes from TemplateMonster has access to this chart. This is where they can look through the CMSs a web design studio works with, the number of projects those have launched, filter all web design studios by their location, etc. The integrated functionality also welcomes clients to send a website creation request via profiles pages of each freelancer/web design studio.

In such a way, with TemplateMonster Certification Center you can kill two birds with one stone – attain precious knowledge for free and boost client base while passing a quiz.

Learn CSS Layout

3. Learn CSS Layout

The LearnLayout.com site teaches CSS fundamentals that beginners need to be aware of in order to get started. Unlike the previously discussed free resource, this one targets those users who already know certain web design fundamentals and simply look for the ways to deepen and systematize their knowledge.

It is built around teaching CSS and HTML. Assuming that you are now an absolute beginner, you will be interested in looking through different information-rich slides. Get new knowledge and skills and apply those in your own works.

Alison’s Web Development

4. alison

The site contains courses that cover the basics and move up to a more advanced level on different topics. Web design is one of them. The lectures are organized in a clear, easy-to-follow manner. The lecturer speaks a common language, introducing beginners to the web design fundamentals. The course is made up of 9 parts. The topics that it covers include HTML, CSS, and Adobe Dreamweaver.

Udemy

5. udemy

Udemy is a large online learning marketplace. It includes both free and paid courses. This is a place where you can manage the lectures on your own, decide on your own schedule and the device that you use for learning. All courses from the collection can be filtered by the skill level of a student, features they include, popularity or the “newest” status.

DevelopPHP

6. developphp

This online training center is intended to help you learn the basic web development languages for free. They offer a series of free video lessons on the key principles of HTML, CSS, PHP, and SQL. Programming languages are not the only topics that the site provides. Those of you who are interested in learning about graphics and Flash can also find lots of useful tutorials.

Each tutorial is divided into topics and subtopics, with all of them being complemented by a YouTube video. The most trending free online courses in web design are related to the topics of building sites on the basis of WordPress, working in Photoshop, a series of WordPress guides for beginners, etc.

Wrapping up

Free online courses can be a great start to reaching new heights and mastering a new profession. Of course, a certificate from a free online course will not bring you a dream job. However, it will give you a rock-solid foundation to move further, discover more, and develop your own skills. In case you do not plan to become a web designer in the future, free online courses will be enough to get started with your first blog or site, customize its layout or run any other task. Thus, you attain a complete freedom in your actions. Do whatever you want based on your knowledge and, who knows, maybe one day the report about your web design project will be spread all over the world.

Original post: Top 5 Free Online Courses to Learn Web Design

Tips for Creating Killer Website Content

There was a time when website developers were happy to post illiterate content on a website. As long as the content was packed full of relevant keywords, it didn’t matter whether anyone wanted to read it. This strategy was called keyword stuffing and was a popular way of ‘gaming the system’.

Unfortunately, this technique no longer works. Google’s Panda update killed off thousands of websites with poor content. The minimum you can have is decent search engine optimization and engaging website content that your visitors will love. Of course, website content isn’t the only factor, but it is pretty important, so you would be wise to listen to your SEO advisor. So, what makes great website content? Let’s find out.

Original

It should go without saying that all website content needs to be original. If you write your own content, this shouldn’t be an issue, but if you outsource your content writing to a freelancer, always use a plagiarism checker before you upload it to your site. Plagiarised content hurts your site and you really don’t want to be the subject of a DMCA takedown notice.

A Strong Title

A title is the first thing readers see. A great title is the hook that draws your reader in, choose this wisely. However, be careful not to compose a title that bears little resemblance to the content of the post, or readers will feel cheated when the click on the post. This is known as ‘click-bait’, and whilst it works, social networks are cracking down on the strategy.

Engaging

Write for readers not search engines. Content should always be engaging and interesting. Be helpful, answer questions, or start a conversation. You can even be controversial if you like, but whatever you do, try to avoid being boring. Write in a conversational fashion. Nobody wants to read a page of technical jargon or monotonous drivel.

Video and Images

Break up the text with video and images. Video in particular is very popular these days and video content tends to get shared on social media more than any other type of content. Try to avoid using generic images for your web content and blog posts. Generic images are repetitive and most readers have seen them before. Instead, commission your own images and create a more personal feel on your website. It’s the small things that set your website apart from your competitor’s sites.

Fresh

Website content needs to be fresh as well as original. It’s a good idea to refresh content regularly. Update information and add new pages and blog posts. This encourages readers to come back. It also keeps the search engines happy.

Actionable

Include a call to action on every page. Encourage your readers to share your content on social media. The better your content is, the more likely it is to be shared.
Creating great content needn’t be a mystery if you follow the tips above.

Original post: Tips for Creating Killer Website Content

Gmail Blocks JavaScript Attachments

If you try to send a JavaScript attachment using Gmail or if you want to download a .js attachment, you’ll get a new anti-virus warning: “Blocked for security reasons”, “1 attachment contains a virus or blocked file. Downloading this attachment is disabled”.

.JS has been added to the long list of file types that are blocked by Gmail for security reasons. The full list: .ADE, .ADP, .BAT, .CHM, .CMD, .COM, .CPL, .EXE, .HTA, .INS, .ISP, .JAR, .JS (NEW), .JSE, .LIB, .LNK, .MDE, .MSC, .MSI, .MSP, .MST, .NSH .PIF, .SCR, .SCT, .SHB, .SYS, .VB, .VBE, .VBS, .VXD, .WSC, .WSF, .WSH. “To prevent against potential viruses, Gmail doesn’t allow you to attach certain types of files, including: certain file types (listed above), including their compressed form (like .gz or .bz2 files) or when found within archives (like .zip or .tgz files), documents with malicious macros, archives whose listed file content is password protected, archives whose content includes a password protected archive.”

The GSuite Blog informs that “for inbound mail, senders will get a bounce message explaining why the email was blocked. If you still need to send .js files for legitimate reasons, you can use Google Drive, Google Cloud Storage, or other storage solutions to share or send your files.”

You can still send JavaScript files using Gmail if you change the extension. What about downloading old .js attachments? Try the workarounds from this post.

5 Tips for Writing About Complex Topics

Some subjects are harder to write for than others. It may be due to a lack of audience familiarity, the presence of technical terms and concepts, or the sheer depth of the subject matter, but in any case, it’s difficult to write about these subjects without scaring users away or alienating them entirely.

For example, writing about legal topics like bankruptcy depends on explaining complex legal systems to an (often) uninformed reader, so your style and content structure needs to take that in mind. Similarly, writing about computer programming subjects like Ruby on Rails can be intimidating to anyone unfamiliar with the nature of the language, so shape your content and choice of words to mitigate this challenge.

As a writer, your job is to overcome these hurdles—and you can, with a bit of forethought.

Goals in Navigating Complexity

Speaking generally, you’ll have three main goals in writing about a complex topic:

Cultivate approachability. First, you’ll need to make sure your audience isn’t intimidated or scared off by the topic. When people read hard-to-understand sentences, they get the urge to bail, so work to keep them around for as long as possible.

Simplify the complex. Next, you’ll need to take big, complicated, nasty concepts and transform them into smaller, more digestible ones. This is where your imagination and expressive abilities will come in handy.

Improve reader understanding. Finally, you’ll need to organize and create your article in a way that maximizes reader takeaways. Make your content understandable!

Strategies for Better Execution

These tips will help you achieve your goals:

1. Rely on illustrations and diagrams. There’s a reason visual content has exploded in popularity over the past few years; people find it easier to absorb information through visual demonstrations than with written language. Accordingly, try to include more visuals in your work. These don’t have to be glamorous or labor intensive; even a stick-figure drawing or brief sketch can make the difference in making a complex subject easier for people to understand.

2. Use metaphors and storytelling devices. Similarly, you can use metaphors and storytelling devices to improve understanding and simplify your material at the same time. As an added bonus, people will be more entertained, which will draw them deeper into your content even if it’s naturally hard to approach. For example, instead of describing how gravity represents a warping of space-time with math equations and theoretical proofs, you could describe it like a magnifying glass distorting the images it runs over.

3. Try a question-and-answer format. You may also consider opting a question-and-answer format for your post, or at least having a small Q&A segment at the end of your original post. This will help you address readers’ concerns, thoughts, and feelings directly. If you do a good job at capturing your average reader’s mindset, you’ll easily lock them in for future content opportunities. Plus, you’ll have the chance to explain your topic bit by bit, rather than in an extended paragraph-based form.

4. Start with an introductory post. “Keep it simple, stupid,” KISS, is the acronym to keep in mind here. You don’t need to dive into the full complexities of your chosen topic—at least not right away. Instead, work to create something high level and approachable for anyone, even if they’re completely new to the subject. Describe the general concept of the subject, such as stating that aerodynamics is the study of how to make things move more efficiently, rather than digging into the details. You can always expand later—for now, focus on warmly introducing your readers to the topic at hand.

5. Avoid technical language (until necessary). In what may be an obvious step, reduce your reliance on technical language whenever possible. When it comes time to introduce technical terms, do so gradually by carefully defining them and incorporating them slowly into your content. For example, instead of writing about “entangled photons,” you could say “particles of light that are fundamentally linked together.” If you get stuck, use illustrative language to bail you out.

Knowing Your Audience

In addition to these general tips, it’s also important that you know and understand your audience intimately, as your methods of execution and specific considerations will vary based on those factors.

For example, if the reading level of your audience is fairly low, you’ll need to use approachable, low-level vocabulary and sentence structures to explain your points. But if your audience is already somewhat familiar with your subject matter, you’ll need to bridge the gap between high-level material and technically complex explanations.

No matter how experienced you are in a complex topic, it can be hard to present that topic to others. Fortunately, these tips can spare you from more than one headache. Put them into practice and become familiar with them. In time, you’ll be able to make better, more approachable content from even the most complex subjects.

Original post: 5 Tips for Writing About Complex Topics