Fresh New Resources For Web Designers And Developers

As we move fully into April (and mid autumn) we thought it was time we looked at some of the fantastic resources that web designers and web developers have been tapping into over the first quarter of 2014. These resources are still very valid in this industry, so jump on board today!

  • Cerberus – With more people viewing emails on their smartphones, it is important to ensure that your email displays nicely and is readable. This resource is compatible with Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo.

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  • Ratchet – This is a new mobile app framework that allows you to build an app using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. It comes complete with a number of reusable components for building the interface.

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  • StackIcons – Whilst we can typically only assign a single colour to a font, this resource is sophisticated enough that every part within the icon is adjustable. And the icons come in multiple shapes!

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  • StickUp – This is actually a jQuery plugin that makes your elements stick to the top of the browser window. It means that, no matter how much you scroll down, the stuck element is still visible.

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  • Type Scale – This resource is the perfect tool for font scaling. You can set the base font size, font weight, font family, preview text and the scaling method – then get the results immediately.

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  • WP Job Manager – If your website has been built using WordPress, then you can build a job board! This resource adds a new menu to your Dashboard, allowing you to add new job listings and information.

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Whilst there are plenty more resources out there that web designers and web developers alike can take advantage of, we hope that you take a moment or two to check out some of the ones above for yourself. You might just find that they are exactly what you have been looking for.

Good News Everyone – Twitter Is Now Displaying Emojis!

On Wednesday, many Twitter users may have noticed that their beloved social network has begun displaying emoji characters – those small, cartoon-like pictures – on web and desktop versions of the site. This means that the emojis typed via your mobile phone are now reflected on the web instead of those annoying hollow square boxes that were previously displayed.

This latest feature is actually one of many experiments that the team at Twitter have been working on for sometime now. The social network is aiming to simplify the platform in order to increase its reach, and the visibility of emojis on web and desktop is seen as one of the steps to achieving this.

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It appears, however, that emojis are not supported in tweets that have been embedded on websites. They also appear to be of lesser quality than they are on mobile and it is unclear whether or not they are supported on Tweetdeck. These negatives do not appear to have dampened the spirits of Twitter users, however, with many taking to the social network to express their excitement.

Another point that is worth mentioning is that this update also includes existing tweets that already had emojis – check out some of the tweets you made a few weeks ago on a desktop computer and you will see that the emojis are now visible. Whilst this doesn’t really affect the way that people use Twitter, it has made the social network look a little more colourful and streamlined.

Users should note that the update is being rolled out across the world – the feature may not be available to everyone straightaway, but it is believed that it will be the norm for all users in coming days.

The announcement of this new emoji feature has also led to questions of whether Twitter will one day start to support stickers (like every other messaging app under the sun) – some people say no and others say that only time will tell.

Australia’s Famous Icons Captured For Google Street View – On Foot

Whilst you are probably familiar with the traditional way that Google collects images for their popular Maps function, Street View, they have brought one of their little known inventions to Australia. Known as “Trekker”, this contraption is mounted on a backpack and allows the user to collect imagery of places that are only accessible by foot.

“Trekker” is said to look like something from outer space and is comprised of 15 cameras that are five megapixels each and capture images every 2.5 seconds. The backpack weighs about 18 kilograms and its cameras are mounted about 60cms above the head of the user. Its compact size allows the user to trek to places that a car couldn’t possibly enter.

Trekker
Last Tuesday, a Google employee was spotted capturing scenes along the Bondi to Bronte walk in Sydney. There are currently two Trekker devices in the city and they will be used to capture some famous icons. The collected imagery will be integrated into Street View later this year, but first the pictures have to go through special software that ‘stitches’ them together and blurs peoples’ faces.

Shane Treeves, a Google Australia spokesman, said that “we’re starting in Sydney and then looking to go across Australia…hopefully it [will] encourage more people to jump on a plane and see [the locations] in person.” He also said that they hope to allow groups (like tourism boards, non-profit organisations and universities) to borrow Trekker in the future.

The Google Maps Street View feature was launched in 2007 using cars to capture imagery. They have since expanded from five US cities to more than 3000 across 43 countries (including many in Australia). Google have also expanded their collection methods to include cameras mounted on tricycles, snowmobiles, trolleys, underwater scooters, backpacks and even boats.

We can only wonder at the famous icons that Google teams and volunteers will choose to cover in Australia.

Google’s SEO Recommendations For Pages With Infinite Scroll

It is common knowledge that, whilst pages with infinite scroll are often quite user friendly, they are not really appreciated by Google. The main problem with infinite scroll, as noted by the search engine giant, is that spiders cannot crawl the website as a user would without the ability to mimic behaviours, like scrolling to the bottom of a page, clicking to load more and so on.

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Why is this bad for SEO?
It is important to remember that, if spiders cannot access the content, the chances of it appearing in organic search results are not very high. Spiders can’t always access all of the content on pages with infinite scroll, which leads to huge chunks of text not being indexed and whole websites being discounted from the results because they are not considered relevant.

How can we fix this?
To ensure that Googlebot can crawl all of the content linked via an infinite scroll page, it is recommended that either the webmaster or the content management system produces a paginated series that will coincide with the scroll. According to Google, infinite scroll is much more search friendly when converted to a paginated series (each component has a similar meta title).

Google has also shared a number of other SEO recommendations:

  • Break up infinite scroll page content into component pages that can be accessed when JavaScript has been disabled;
  • Ensure that each page has a decent load time and that users who visit can easily find what they’re looking for;
  • Ensure that there is no overlap in content between each of the component pages; and
  • Test that the page works by checking that its values adjust as the user scrolls up or down. 

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John Mueller, the Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, has created an infinite scroll pagination demo to help you out. The demo outlines two key search engine friendly features – that all individual items are accessible and that each item is only listed once in the series. This demo can be accessed by visiting the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog.

image source: google

Facebook Launch ‘Paper’, Their Newest Reader App

On the 30th of January, Facebook announced that a new standalone news reader mobile app, known as ‘Paper’, would be released in the near future. Whilst it has apparently been in the works for years, the announcement came only 24 hours after Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s famous CEO, revealed that they would be releasing more standalone apps this year.

What is it?
Paper will display content from 19 different ‘sections’ (such as sports, tech, pop culture and LOL), which users can choose to subscribe to. Each of these sections features a rotating carousel of images along the top with individual cards and stories below; a user can click on cards or stories that they wish to investigate further. For now, these sections cannot be personalised.

Users will also be given the opportunity to share their own stories on Paper, with anything posted also appearing on their Facebook Newsfeed. The app enables a user to preview what their posts will look like before sharing, ensuring that they are fully satisfied with the appearance. Users will also be able to share, ‘like’ and comment on stories, the same as with traditional Facebook.

Paper’s creation
It has been revealed that Paper was created by a 15-person team employed by Facebook Creative Labs. This is a broader initiative of the social network whose sole job it is to work on these standalone apps. It has also been announced that Paper sans advertisements, even though Facebook itself has seen quite a lot of success through mobile ads (53% of their revenue last quarter).

According to reports, Paper will be officially launched on the US App Store on Monday the 3rd of February. It will only be available to iPhone users in the beginning and there are not, as of yet, any indications of when an Android or iPad version of the app will become available. Whilst many have argued that Paper could spell the death of Facebook’s traditional app, only time will tell.