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Best Practices for Web Development 2014

I think a real driving incentive for getting formally trained in web development (after over ten years of actually working in the field) was the realization that it would be the only way I would be able to discover and be able to faithfully accomplish the "best practices for the web." Now that's a moving target, for sure, as the Internet along with all of the new devices and apps that interact with it. There are ways and especially most excellent websites to help all web developers across the world to stay in touch with how the Internet is developing and what the new rules of the game are for maintaining cutting edge, fast loading and uniformly performing websites across all browsers and devices.

Training
HTML5
CSS
Javascript
PHP-MySql
Ajax
SASS
Foundation
Wordpress
Photoshop
Sublime Text
Ustream
PayPal
UX Design
Social Media

Training

Training in the field of computers and the Internet is an ongoing way of life, a commitment to staying current with technology keeps the practitioner in training throughout their career. Mine began with the simple when an Apple IIc personal computer was given to the church I was working at in Selma, Ohio in 1985. Shortly after that I invested in my first IBM PC and within 10 years I was selling personal computers at the Good Guys at the Beverly Connection in Los Angeles. Realizing my affinity with computers I joined a friend in attending and graduating the Computer Learning College in Los Angeles which involved becoming certified as a Microsoft Certified Professional, CNE for Novel Intranetware and AA+ Certified Technician. Click here to see my certificates. I became a website and video editor by trade and was mostly self-taught until 2013 when I started courses at UCLA Extension, graduating from their Advance Web and Interactive Design certificate program, which covered HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, Jquery, Ajax, UX Design and Marketing/SEO/Social Media. I also attended a PHP and MySQL class at Mt Sierra College in Monrovia. By becoming a web developer I developed an understanding and deep commitment to ongoing training for life, finding and forging relationships with online sources of continued education, namely www.teamtreehouse.com, www.codeacademy.com and www.css-tricks.com/thelodge. I have additional training in Wordpress and Zurb Foundation, most of which is from attending Wordcamps in person and online, and being engaged in the development process using Wordpress content management system and Zurb Foundation frameworks with Compass and SASS (advanced CSS). No matter which way my career and creative technical growth takes me, training will always be an essential part of what I do, to constantly be trained and train others I have found is just the “way it works!”

HTML5

HTML5 is my personal starting place for achieving modern web design best practices. HTML5 is simply the current iteration of HTML, which has been the profound start of the World Wide Web (and I have a page honoring Tim Berners-Lee, who brought us this foundation Internet language). Ah, but HTML5 is so much more: the power of video and audio is what caught my eye and drove me deeper into laying hold of this language. For many years I developed and managed websites with editors like Microsoft Frontpage, Macromedia (now Adobe) Dreamweaver, then Wordpress, always avoiding the code except when I absolutely had to go inside of it, to embed a YouTube video, for example, or an Ustream live broadcast feed. HTML5 also provides more tools which can help the content of your web pages yield higher and more accurate search results by search engines.

I really had a difficult time trying to teach myself HTML and CSS on my own, and was really fortunate to find a local college I could attend classes. Learning a computer language from a human who you can interact with and and whom you can ask questions is priceless for the web newbie and learning alongside of peers who are also learning is super encouraging. That being said, I have discovered some real gems to share with you.

Resources for Learning and Using HTML5

  • My favorite Internet Video Teaching Resource: www.TeamTreehouse.com
    • A young, friendly and very articulate man named Nick Pettit will gently guide you through all of the foundational skills of using HTML and you'll have friendly mini-tests to take between videos to help you get a working knowledge along the way. The cost is low (around $25 per month) and they allow you to download the video files--very helpful!
  • My favorite HTML Book: HTML&CSS design and build websites by John Duckett
  • Fast track reading-based learning on the web, I have found this website to be incredible... and free! www.CodeAcademy.com
  • I'd be sorely remiss if I didn't mention the "go to" page for getting quick info on any thing related to HTML, well, at least it's mygo to: http://www.w3schools.com/
  • My last great find for HTML5 has been a free service that checks any page you have online and finds your mistakes, even the small ones that may not show up to your visitors, but might be undermining your coding success in other ways, such as search engine ranking, or how well your web page might be working on other devices: W3C Markup Validation Service http://validator.w3.org

CSS

CSS is definitely the #2 language of the Internet. Where as HTML controls the basic structure and text of a website, CSS controls the colors, the padding and margins, the layout, and on and on.

Håkon Wium Lie is the creator of this language, which had a profound impact and terrific upgrade to the world wide web: this new ability to separate content from styling.

Like HTML, I learned CSS in a classroom at a local college (UCLA) and I couldn't recommend such an opportunity more. That being said, there are some really tight resources that I turn to for the continued education that CSS is:

Resources for Learning and Using CSS

  • Exuberantly do I commend to you one of my web gurus on the Internet--Chris Coyier--and his website, www.CSS-Tricks.com
  • My favorite CSS Book: HTML&CSS design and build websites by John Duckett
  • Fast track reading-based learning on the web, I have found this website to be incredible... and free! www.CodeAcademy.com
  • I'd be sorely remiss if I didn't mention the "go to" page for getting quick info on any thing related to HTML, well, at least it's mygo to: http://www.w3schools.com/
  • My last great find for HTML5 has been a free service that checks any page you have online and finds your mistakes, even the small ones that may not show up to your visitors, but might be undermining your coding success in other ways, such as search engine ranking, or how well your web page might be working on other devices: W3C Markup Validation Service http://validator.w3.org

Javascript/jQuery

Javascript is next in line after HTML and CSS. It is by far the most difficult of the three languages as it brings variables, functions and a hefty amount of math into the equation. We have a hero for giving us his language, Brendan Eich, and I always marvel as I continue to work my way through the ranks of learning this language what kind of person can conceive of something so brilliant as this guy!

Of the three main languages of the Internet, this is the one I have the most unfinished business with (which I love!). Please let me share with you the resources I've found so far that are very helpful in traversing through this difficult language:

Resources for Learning and Using Javascript

  • I have found two exceptional video training websites--and the gifted teachers who appear on those videos--that are particular to Javascript:
    • A truly "rock n' roll" contemporary, youthful and helpful web school to attend for their Javascript track is www.CodeSchool.com . CodeSchool has a "Javascript Roadtrip" to take you on which you can sample for free.
    • Well worth the price of admission ($29 currently) is the Javascript and Jquery video training course on "The Lodge" where Chris Coyier with his friendly and informative manner will walk you through understanding both Javascript and one of its most popular library, jQuery: www.CSS-Tricks.com
  • Fast track reading-based learning on the web, I have found this website to be incredible... and free! www.CodeAcademy.com

PHP-MySql

I began my "PHP-MySQL Journey" in 2013 and attended a PHP & MySQL class at Mt Sierra College and am learning from Chris Coyier of CSS-Tricks.com/thelodge and an excellent series on the subject at www.teamtreehouse.com. Every page on this website is built with PHP, a language that works right within the HTML page, turning "on" and "off" long enough to accomplish its tasks, one of which is to allow the web developer to control all the navigation links from one page and have all other pages point to that page. Other services PHP provides include providing an interface for connecting our HTML pages with a MySQL database, providing the tools for allowing web pages to dynamically pull in content and also allowing the people, companies and organizations who own websites to elegantly and resourcefully display focused content from large pools of data, something like a website that has hundreds of videos, photos, articles or audio files.

Ajax

Ajax is almost like magic in that it allows additional content to instantly download to a web page that is already open, without having to refresh the browser to get it. This not only increases the page load time of a web page, but allows the page to become more dynamic and exciting.

SASS

SASS and SCSS are like CSS on steroids, adding the power of variables, mixins, and other enhancements to the already powerful CSS language. Written by Hampton Catlin of San Francisco, this is one of my favorite things about the web, and exciting technology.

Foundation

Zurb Foundation and Twitter Bootstrap are the two most popular frameworks on the web, and Zurb's version is he most advanced, partly because it leaves most of the design up to the web designer, instead of predefining the way most things look, it is there to help save the developer time and especially to ensure that all websites built with Zurb Foundation are fully responsive, meaning they will work well in small phones, laptops, desktops and big screen TVs. I am especially found of Zurb and love building websites on top of their framework.

Wordpress

Of my 12 years editing websites, I have spent the most time editing in Wordpress. I began developing my own themes several yeas back using a Wordpress theme editor called "Artisteer" but in recent times I have been learning Wordpress Theme Development, which I think is better because learning the source code allows more control over all aspects of the web design. Wordpress is an amazing gift to the world wide web, so amazing that approximately 20% of all the websites in the world are running on it. Like Zurb Foundation framework, Wordpress is open source and absolutely free, which is certainly one of the reasons it is so popular, but beyond the great price, there is a robust international community of people sharing with each other in the Wordpress world, a very generous, kind vibe and part of the evolving cutting edge of the Internet.

Photoshop

Most website developers consider Adobe Photoshop to be the most important software tool for all things graphic-related to the web. I am a subscriber of Adobe CC and enjoy a number of their products, Indesign and Premier, in addition to Photoshop.

Sublime Text

Sublime Text is one of the most popular code editors of our day. It is a programmers tool built by programmers with the programmer community in mind. It has many tools and features which make code editing more efficient, and sometimes more fun!

Ustream

I had the good pleasure of managing a live Internet television broadcast operation three to four times a week, for six years, during which time I researched and tried out nearly every "live stream" service available. I found Ustream to be the best, and a part of my turning toward full on web development came from troubleshooting and performing advanced operations with the engaging and forthcoming tech support members at Ustream.

PayPal

I have managed PayPal accounts and enjoyed working with their embedded buttons and seen how well their system works. One thing I like about working with a service like PayPal is that they handle all of the security themselves, though I admire websites that have well-functioning ecommerce functionality integrated in their design.

UX Design

I have been formally trained in UX Design at UCLA Extension as a part of my web development training. What I find most useful about the whole field is the focus given to the user's experience of a website or an app being the priority, and the tools for achieving the ultimately best experience for the user. It is also a skill set very helpful when interacting with clients. the power to articulate, to quickly prototype, to adapt, then go live.

Social Media

Being formally trained in the new media marketing of social media was and continues to be an amazing experience because Social Media is Amazing--the ability for groups of people to form across the world over mutual affinities. Equally exciting, I think, is the way a company, organization or individual can boost the traffic to their web site by carrying out a well organized and consistently maintained social media marketing plan.

I personally engage on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Youtube (comments) and a number of tech forums.



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Email: jdsebastian7@gmail.com

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