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As web professionals, we’re always looking for ways to improve our knowledge and skills. Tips, tricks and checklists are often one of the most underused yet potentially useful models of providing great, quick and easy to follow pieces of useful information.

You may or may not know some of the tips below — and you may or may not agree with everything listed — but hopefully it will give you some ideas for your own sites or motivate you to create a checklist to help cover your bases.

Perhaps a few items may even inspire you investigating a subject further, and that would be pretty awesome too.

Planning and Getting Into the Web Design Profession

One fundamental aspect of creating a website is the planning stage. This includes things like looking for a domain registrar and hosting package, seeking out inspiration for your design, building the information architecture, and much more.

Getting your website’s purpose mapped out will help you better write content (to match your needs) and more effectively create a design that will retain the look-and-feel you want to put across.

Below are some tips and tricks which may prove useful when you’re making decisions before putting your (or your clients’) website together.

 

Picking Domain Names

1. Many people are used to seeing the www at the beginning of a website address (e.g. www.asiaissue.com). Ensure your website functions both with and without this famous subdomain.

2. Reserving a subdomain called m (e.g. m.asiaissue.com) for mobile devices has become a common web design convention. It’s cheaper than — and as widely recognised as — the .mobi top-level domain (TLD).

3. Most of the non-technical general public tend to only recognise .com, .net and .org. It’s worth checking the TLDs you want are available before dedicating yourself to a brand name.

4. Avoid using dashes in your domain name. (e.g. asiaissue.com versus six-revisions.com).

5. Domain hacks like del.icio.us have become pretty popular, and while they may be harder to spell, they can give you an awesome alternative to a simple but unavailable .com address.

6. If you want to target a local audience, it may well benefit you to purchase a country code top-level domain (ccTLD) in your own country. Something like co.uk may be great for grabbing regional visitors in the UK.

7. Remember that some ccTLD domains require you to be a resident of a certain country. If you don’t live there, you could forfeit the TLD as a violation of the registrar’s agreement.

8. WHOIS privacy can be a dicey affair when you allow your registrar to put their details in place of your own. You run the risk that you may lose the domain if a conflict occurs.

9. Domain auctions like Sedo can be a great place to get a domain that’s already been taken. While it can be somewhat expensive to pick up a rare domain, you might find yourself the owner of your preferred domain name.

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Web Hosting

10. When picking a website host, ensure that you check what you’ll get in the package. Disk space, bandwidth, CPU usage and other specified features may decide the cost you’ll encounter. If you already have a web host, test their performance using these tools.

11. Beware of hosts proclaiming unlimited bandwidth or resources. Everything in this world is finite and you may find yourself falling short of contractual small print and fair use policies.

12. If you’re starting a website or service of your own, it pays to start off with shared or grid hosting rather than a VPS or dedicated because you won’t know how many visitors you will need to cater for.

13. Free hosting for commercial use is not a good idea. If you plan on having a commercial website, it makes sense to avoid the intrusive advertisements and purchase some basic web hosting.

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Development Platform

14. If you want to have a good testing environment that will run PHP and mySQL on your own PC, install XAMPP. It’s quick, easy and will help you get things running before you go live.

15. Unless you know what you’re doing and have the money to finance the infrastructure, hosting your own website may not be the best or most economical idea (as fun as it sounds).

16. Pick your development platform carefully as some products (such as WYSIWYG editors) inherently produce less reliable code than a classic text editor that allows you to write by hand.

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Tools

17. You don’t need to rely on Adobe or Microsoft software to create a fantastic website as there are lots of free and open source products which can do the job without cost.

18. Ideas: GIMP, Inkscape, Dia, FileZilla, IcoFX, Audacity, Paint.NET, Scribus, Eclipse, Skype, KeePass, Xenu Link Sleuth, Tweetdeck, FoxIt Reader and Notepad++ are great free products for designers. For more great open source products, read the article called 30 Useful Open Source Apps for Web Designers.

19. Finding a good selection of checklists and cheat sheets can give the fledgling designer some quick, easy places to get advice on how best to approach a task.

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Project Management

20. Set yourself aside a decent workspace environment. The less distractions your workspace has, the better off you will be in terms of productivity.

21. Always have realistic expectations about how long a project will take to complete. Rushing your work and releasing it "half-baked" can cause issues — just look at Windows Vista.

22. Getting some decent time-tracking or project management software is important. It’s far too easy to get distracted and lose sight of the big picture if you’ve lots of small tasks to achieve.

23. To-do lists may seem inconsequential and rather trivial, but you may find them useful in structuring all the various tasks you need to deal with and setting yourself deadlines.

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Learning

24. Always keep learning because there is no excuse in allowing your education to lapse or become deprecated. You could keep up to date with news through design blogs or perhaps learn a new web language.

25. There are many fantastic web design books and magazines out there. They also cover a wide range of subjects with ever-increasing depth as a source of education they are second to none.

26. Web resources like Six Revisions are great for learning new techniques. While perhaps not as in-depth as books, many web resources offer you useful and up-to-date advice on the web industry.

27. Remember to verify anything you learn through a third party resource. There’s an awful lot of outdated information out there (like W3Schools) that could encourage bad habits.

28. Sites are beginning to teach classroom-style lessons and video-based instruction classes (e.g. Lynda.com) on web design and development. They can get pricey, but may be good alternatives to a degree.

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Picking Domain Names
Web Hosting
Development Platform
Tools
Project Management
Learning

 

 
 
   
 
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