It’s about solving needs

The economic crisis our nation and the world is struggling with has caused projects to be delayed, and in some cases people not hired, or let go because the employer has loss a major client. Richard Florida describes the “Uneven effects in the crisis” as it relates to jobs. He states that the intangible sector and creative sector jobs – arts, design, and entertainment, among others, are starting to register losses.

In this type of environment designers have to be clear about the difference between “treating a website like a commodity” (Andy Budd) and putting more thought and research into projects and making sure you are meeting the needs of users.

When we describe the need to create projects in courses that are “real world”, we are referring to issues that employers can identify with as the types of issues they work on daily. It is near impossible to identify such issues, without research and planning. It is simply not good enough to make a website that is better than one for a similar product. It is not about creating a site that “beats out” the competitors sites. Users are seeking to meet their needs, and unless you take the time and effort to see problems from the users perspective, you will find difficulty in satisfying today’s users. Students of Web Design and Interactive media, as well as other design disciplines, need deeper skills at learning to understand the user before going with the first good idea that comes along. You really can’t afford to wait until you graduate to develop these skills. You will need them as you hit the ground running.

References to further this post:
Uneven Effects of the Crisis, by Richard Florida
Don’t treat your website like a commodity, by Andy Budd
How the crash will reshape America, in The Atlantic, by Richard Florida

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DFW WordPress Group

The WordPress User Group in our area meets this coming Saturday at 4:00 at Spaghetti Warehouse on Central Expressway in Plano, just north of 15th Street on the West access road. Unfortunately there is a limit on attendance and only 1 spot remains, however, try and register and RSVP in case there is more space. The Meetup announcements are located at: http://www.meetup.com/dfwwordpress/calendar/959387. This is a good way to meet bloggers, and learn from the professionals, as well as learn more about WordPress!

Develop in the cloud!

Mozilla labs has recently announced “Bespin” a new “text editor” available online that works through a browser. The promise of this type of cloud-based product (available online) is one I would love to see become a standard. As an opensource editor this just might happen. I registered to try out the current demo framework – not a beta, and found the interface and speed very interesting and simplified from existing html editors. The fact that it will be a collaborative tool also makes it interesting. And I wouldn’t have to ask anyone if we used it for classes! As I have shared many times, I think cloud computing is where we are headed, and this is an exciting example of a new breed of tool with fresh open-source ideas to grow it. You and I can participate by trying the demo and offering suggestions to the team at Mozilla Labs.

You can register and view an introductory video at bespin.mozilla.com to get a feel for the product.

I would like to collect some comments from students/instructors on your reaction to this product.

WordPress Theme Frameworks

For web designers who may want to use WordPress as a robust content management system, might want to review some of the newer WordPress theme frameworks that are available.

Theme frameworks are not particularily new as the Sandbox theme has been a standard for taking the basics of a WordPress page and then adding theme information (CSS) to the basic structure.

But some recent frameworks are more sophisticated and aimed at making the CMS features of WordPress easier to work with when there is a lot of development to do or a designer is responsible for creating a lot of WordPress sites for customers.

As in other programming and markup environments (JavaScript, CSS, AJax, etc.) a framework is a completely coded theme that can serve as the base for many projects. Often the framework can be added to (as with several WP theme frameworks) with child themes – a way of changing the look and function of the base framework, yet using its many resources. (Justin Tadlock)

Tadlock’s article “Why I created a WordPress theme framework“, provides a good understanding of WordPress theme frameworks. Of the theme frameworks I have reviewed [Thematic, Vanilla, Hybrid, and Carrington] I think there are some creative uses of these products. I particularly like the Carrington framework, even though I have not completed a child theme with it. But if you need to save time, but also have time to learn the framework, these could be valuable assets in creating solid WP based websites.

Links to each of the frameworks mentioned and others are located on the WordPress Theme Frameworks link stated above. By the way, I forgot to mention that these frameworks are free – as in open source. Thematic does offer commercial versions but it freely offers the base framework.