A data entry specialist once told me that the mouse is the perfect device for a computer user... who has three arms. I've since taken this on comment on board and found how much quicker you can get things done by using only the keyboard - you just need to know which keys to press!
This will be the first post in a series listing some of the best keyboard shortcuts you probably don't know. Today these listed shortcuts are for Microsoft Windows - which means they will work in most Windows programs you use. The next programs posts will cover more specific programs like Photoshop and Firefox.
Most people know Ctrl+S means save and Ctrl+Z means undo (Ctrl+C is copy, and so on... *yawn*) - but hopefully these ones should be not as obvious, but equally useful to you.
|Ctrl + w||Close current window|
|Win + d||Minimise all windows|
|Ctrl + up,down,left or right||Jump whole words in a text editor|
|Ctrl + Shift + up,down,left or right||Highlight whole words in a text editor|
|Ctrl + Home||Start of document|
|Ctrl + End||End of document|
|Alt + Tab||Switch active window|
|Shift + Tab||Change focus in the opposite direction to normal tab|
|Context button (between windows key and Ctrl)||Same as right mouse click|
|Alt + Enter||Properties|
|Win + r||Run|
|Win + f||Find|
In April 2007, A List A part and An Event Apart conducted a survey of people who make websites. Close to 33,000 web professionals answered the survey’s 37 questions, providing the first data ever collected on the business of web design and development as practiced in the U.S. and worldwide.
The results have been compiled into a freely available 80+ page pdf document. A very interesting read for any web professional! Amongst other things, the survey covers salary, geography, education, age, gender, skills and years in the workforce.
Being female, I was particularly interested (although not surprised) to learn that the industry is dominated by males - 80% to 20% females!
Download the survey from the A List A Part website:
Client input is the foundation on which all successful websites are built.
Did you know that 80% of all errors in software (or websites) are a result of developers and clients not communicating well enough? That figure can be further broken down: 
When you look at the steps in your average development project it's not hard to see that a miscommunication in the early phases of the project can easily become serious errors later on.
So what does this mean for developers? It means actually sitting down and talking with your clients to determine what they expect, what they want and what they need is far more important than the actual development.
The Document Object Model may seem a little bewildering at first, but once you understand it, it makes modifying your HTML/XML documents a lot easier. w3schools has a good DOM reference for beginners.
Ever find you use the same set of colours time and time again when designing webpages? I do, and I always get sick of digging through code of old projects to find exactly the colour I am looking for.
Well, inspired by this "Web 2.0 Colour palette" - I created a quick colour picker.
One of the first rules regarding internet security I was ever taught was this:
Second only to "Never trust user input" in importance, this rule is an absolutely crucial one. The basic meaning of it is: the less opportunities a malicious user has to attack your system, the less likely they will be able to harm you. Common sense, really - if you only have one door into your house, it certainly makes the chance of you being robbbed a lot less likely.
So I was considering this recently, and a thought occurred to me: Why do we in the web business feel the need to make every system publicly accessible via the internet? For the shopping carts, advertisements, blogs and other sites of a public nature, the answer to this is dead simple: because they have to be to generate any business. There is no option.
But for the orders tracking systems, customer-relationship-management software, accounting systems and even for the content-management systems that administer publicly accessible website - there is quite often no need to have it at an address such as www.yourdomain.com/admin
Often it is useful to do so, as you gain access to your site from anywhere you have access to the net, but when you do not need that sort of access it is nothing but a security risk. If you only ever administer your blog from your home computer, or track your orders from your work network then there is a great solution: setup a local web server like WAMP5 and run your administration panel on that. While this example is specific to a mysql & php system, the principle is the same regardless of platform.
Doing so will effectively reduce your exposure to zero. Admittedly there are always going to be risks, and there is the disadvantage of reducing the number of points the system can be accessed from but take a moment to consider the sort of information you are managing, and ask yourself: is it worth it?
The stuff generated by "What You See Is What You Get" editors like Dreamweaver or Frontpage
Write all code by hand!
Not at all. In fact, if you write good clean, reusable code once you may never need to change it again. Simply copy and paste into your new project, and you are on your way.
Definitely not! Some tools are incredibly helpful, and have obviously been made by highly intelligent people. These tools will not only give you good examples, but teach you how to become a better programmer, and catch your mistakes before you make them. But it is always a good idea to know WHAT the generator is generating before you go ahead and blindly use it.
Compare the simple web page that contains one heading and one sentence:
I know which one I would rather work with...
Writing code by hand can be a daunting experience, especially if you have had no formal teaching in programming or similar. After all: how do you know if what you are writing is correct? I have found the following tools and resources to be of immense value, and are essentials for any beginner web developer: click here to visit resources page
Most developers when asked can get pretty passionate about their favourite text editor. Take the age old vi - Emacs holy war for example.
Some, however, may feel nothing but apathy regarding their choice of IDE, image editing software or general development tools.
I, for one fall into the first camp. And if you are one of the ones that don't, the chances are you just havent found the right software yet.
The following list outlines tools that I simply could not do without in my day-to-day development tasks. If you haven't tried any of them out, I would strongly recommend it. If you have, but know of better tools - please contribute using comments, I would love to hear about them.
Lisa Barone from BruceClay wrote a great post about creating a strong web identiy which really made me think about the responsibility we, as web developers, have to educate our customers.
I’ve seen it time and time again – lovely, intelligent and enthusiastic potential customers – who are also dangerously naive when it comes to the web.
What it really boils down to is this:
Don’t assume that potential customers have any other plan other than:
investment in a great website = lots of new customers.
Don’t assume that potential customers have any understanding about online marketing or seo at all.
Don’t assume that potential customers have ANY CONCEPT of what it will take to really make their web project a success.
Never assume... as the saying goes, it makes an ASS of U and ME.
What do you know about making floral arrangements? Or caring for the elderly or kinesiology? I don’t have a clue. Just because we live and breathe the web, it’s unreasonable to take for granted that people in other professions will understand the fundamentals of our industry. In fact, most are intimidated by it.
It’s our job to help guide our customers through the digital wilderness with calm and confidence.
It’s our job to arm them with the knowledge they need.
As web professionals, I think we have an obligation to explain in no uncertain terms to all customers and would-be-customers the realities of what it takes to succeed on the web.
They need to know that: