Web Design with a slick CSS Framework

I know I let this cat out of the bag every so often but I’m quite at pains to say at times I’m not a web developer. I try hard to be. I love learning new things whenever I can by expanding on what I already know and learning new things and adapting to the best practices of web design. Lucky I have a steadfast determination, desire to succeed and insatiable love of web design. And in the meantime, the web is like a playground for designers and developers who struggle with complicated web scripts and applications.

On Treehouse, the fabulous computer technology learning website, I’ve learned some wonderful new web design things I’ve already been putting into practice on client websites and my own. One of the things I’m most excited about is the use of CSS frameworks that come from Zurb Foundation and Bootstrap made by the developers at our friends from Twitter.

There’s nothing like a framework to quickly and easily make a website where otherwise you’d have to do it from scratch, which is great but can be time consuming.

It was from Foundation I came across something called “Slick”, a carousel/image slider framework from a developer called Ken Wheeler of Github.

It claims to be to be very easy to setup and use. And it is. Just not for someone like me. You take the nuts and bolts, the little code snippets you’re provided with to customise for your own needs.

<div class="your-class">
<div>your content</div>
<div>your content</div>
<div>your content</div>
</div>

Where content is an image or a piece of text, stored in the markup, inside those div tags and later animated in jQuery to fade in one by one after each other.

Then, links to the needed scripts and slick CSS file. All complicated stuff. Read it if you dare!   🙂

<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="slick/slick.css"/>
<script type="text/javascript" src="//code.jquery.com/jquery-1.11.0.min.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="//code.jquery.com/jquery-migrate-1.2.1.min.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="slick/slick.min.js"></script>

and the final piece of the jigsaw. The initialiser script that “makes it go”. 

$(document).ready(function(){
$('.your-class').slick({
setting-name: setting-value
});
});

And this is what sets me apart from the rest of the planet. I sit there and scratch my head, because it clearly isn’t working, and I’m thinking “why is this page not picking up the jQuery”. It just stacks the images on top of each other one by one, each on it; own line. I’ve done everything correctly. I’ve matched the CSS class to the jQuery class. I’ve correctly linked jQuery. My code is valid and semantic. It’s all there.

Except! Silly me… I need to upload the files to my web server. It sounds so daft because you expect it all comes together locally. And yes, of course there it is! The content boxes no longer stack across each other, but now appear as a nice fade effect in one place. One spot!

All that’s left was to add a little more markup to make the images clickable on each rotation and opened in a new tab on your browser. And voilà.

Now this may not be the final solution I end up using. In fact, it probably won’t be. I’d like at least 3 images appearing at once on each animation. But at a time when I’m struggling for a little of inspiration and motivation it’s great to know one can tun to a ready made, fully available and fully customisable framework to get you started in your web project. Wonders of jquery and CSS3 never cease!

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SEO with Jonnie Grieve Digital Media

A month ago I took on a client from a lead that came out of my website. This has seldom happened before but it was a good and genuine enquiry and it was regarding my services for SEO. And I was only too happy to take them on if they were happy to hire me. 
This was an exciting prospect but ultimately a daunting one. Because although I prepare the websites for easier indexing on search engines as standard, I make no secret that I’m not an internet marketing specialist. 

So not only have I that to concern myself with, but the website was a Joomla website. I had to get my head around a Content Management system too. Which was excellent experience for me in learning how websites on CMS are generated and organised.

But I digress. I’m talking about SEO. Marketing for websites.

There are specialist services out there that work very hard to get companies ranking on top on their website for the best keywords using their SEO magic. Some companies guarentee you a top position ranking on Google but personally, as millions of pages are added to the Internet every day, I would be wary of such guarantees.

The truth is there’s no easy answer to the question, “can Jonnie Grieve Digital Media get me to the top of Google?”. There’s no “SEO button” to magically poof your way to the top of Google for your chosen keywords. Organic search rankings take weeks if not months to gain you higher results. However if we can work together we can decide whether a Paid (PPC) or an organic (content based) campaign is what is best for you, so we can work to get you a higher ranking which will drive traffic and increase your sales. And that is the goal of any SEO campaign, get noticed and stay noticed.

So how do I actually do that? My method is simple.

I write good clean code that will be easy for search engines to index.

If access is permitted by my client, I get on to the domain and link it to Google Webmaster and Analytics and find out what keywords are actually working, that is what most people are searching for. I then figure out ways your pages can be improved to ethically (in Google terms) improve keyword density and relevance in Google search.

I change the code to give your website descriptive alt tags and link names that include the keywords being searched and are also relevant to your websites content.

Little immediate things that can be changed on the page that can make a difference but the rest is work from a specialist SEO company. Will Jonnie Grieve Digital Media get involved in this one day? Well all I’ll say is I am always looking to improve my services for my clients so the answer is never say never. 🙂

So what has Jonnie Grieve Digital Media been up to lately?

It’s been a little while since my blog to you on the internet. Sorry! I’ve been busy. Honestly.  ;O)

Even when there are few work referrals coming in, I can often be found behind a screen of some sort, whether it be my laptop, desktop, trying to market myself or refine my skills. When you’re a self employed person you are rarely switched off from your work.

But lately, and this has been amazing, I’ve had an explosion of enquiries  most of which have led to new work and have brought me to all sorts of different directions.  The summer looks like it’s going to be very busy and profitable indeed.

I think 2014 so far has been a year in which I’ve seen real growth as leads and referrals just keep on coming.

Traffic

In 2014, my website [link] has been getting consistent traffic, thanks to the hard working people at Bizitalk who have helped promote my services through their trademark Twitter campaigns.  It’s a unique business model of shareholder membership and I’m pleased to be a part of it. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made since I went into business on my own.

I’ve even been able to strike up business partnerships with other members which has been great as it shows that at least my name has been noticed a lot more. 

Graphical design and illustration

In January I tried my hand at computer illustration. A client came to me with a chance to try some illustrations for her children’s stories. Particularly for her own children but I was sent some examples of some professionally printed work.

Although I was pleased with my work and it was very much appreciated by my kind client, it didn’t quite meet her needs so I didn’t get a full commission, although I was kindly paid for the time I did spend working on the project.  There were some good illustrations there but it didn’t quite fit the style of what my client was looking for so it was left at that. But it was good experience to try something new. My core business is website design but it’s important for me to try different things whenever I can.

New Websites for the portfolio

I have a couple of new websites for my portfolio on the way which will be live paid projects.  This is a chance not only to add to my small network of portfolio sites I have in my arsenal, but one of these will be an e-commerce site.

Now unfortunately I don’t have the skills yet to code this for myself. This is an ambition of mine to stretch myself and do this for myself one day. But for now, I’ve got a couple of clients who are keen to work with me and use me to build the website, using market tools from GoDaddy (yes I’ve blogged about GoDaddy) before to do it and promote it once it has been built.

I also have another enquiry for a website, which I still hope will convert to new business which should be a simpler, promotional brochure-like site.  

Search Engine Optimisation

Now this is proper graft. Experienced Internet marketers will tell you that there is a lot of hard work and learning to do if you want to be successful in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)  I’ve made no secret of my inexperience in this field, but every day my understanding of the basics of SEO has increased and I’ve wanted an opportunity to spread my wings in this area.

To this end I was contacted by a business owner (via my website no less) with a view to running a trial SEO campaign. Now this has been exciting for me. A chance to work with a completely new contact and gain a reputation.  

This venture is still in it’s early stages and I’m keeping my fingers crossed I can overcome all the challenges coming my way (I’m sure there will be a few)

Social media management.

I recently took a call regarding some work in social media management. Literally taking on the running of social media accounts to take on.  It’s an area I never thought about getting into until I received the call.  But I didn’t close the door immediately.  It didn’t take me long to think, “why not?!” Why can’t I learn how to market a business or a campaign on social media and turn that into another niche for my business? How will I ever know if I can do it if I don’t give it a chance?

We’ve just finalised our proposal to run a social media campaign initially across 4 social media sites with potential for growth and a long term relationship and another additional service I will be able to offer in the future.  This is how the experience is gained and lessons are learned.

Back to School 

Speaking of lessons, I mentioned earlier about how keen I was to keep learning and refining my skills. To do this joined Codecademy and more recently TeamTreehouse.  I’m not sure I can reiterate often enough how useful these sites have been in keeping me up to date on the best website coding and design practices.

So there’s a lot for me to be getting on with.  Day by day I just keep trying to grow my business, be the best I can be at what I do and build my expertise and reputation; that I can be more than just good at designing websites.

My new website is not far away now.  I haven’t had so much time recently to update it because of other work coming in but I will update once it is complete and live.  Thanks for reading.   🙂