Web Design in Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada

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I launched my new site, now what?

Posted On June 13th, 2013 Author Kyle Racki Filed Under Business Development, Coding & Application Development, Branding & Web Design, Internet Marketing, User-Experience,

We work with a lot of companies and organizations at Headspace. For many of them, the process goes like this: 

  • find a budget to re-design the website
  • put out an RFP
  • hire the right company for the job
  • Work with said company and launch the site
  • Ignore the relaunched website for another 3-5 years until they get another budget to re-design.

Sadly, this is the way economics work for these organizations. 

But there's a better way.

Instead of blowing your entire budget on just the website relaunch, spend 50% of it. Then spread the other 50% evenly across the next 3 years so that by the time the 3 years are up, your website isn't in too bad shape.

This leaves many website owners left wondering: What the heck do I do after the website is launched? Here's a check list:

Measure

There's a ton of stuff you can be measuring every day or every week. Google Analytics contains a wealth of information about your website traffic. Don't just focus on traffic alone, although this is an indicator of how your website is performing. Look at…

8 ways good developers become great

Posted On April 9th, 2013 Author Kyle Racki Filed Under Coding & Application Development,

I was recently asked by an interviewee what I think makes a good developer great. It's an interesting question, because since I'm only a pseudo-developer, what gives me the right to answer that question? Well, the fact that I hire and employ developers means that I need to be able to recognize talent, as well as attract and retain great developers, not just good ones.

Programmer Dude Now, I recognize that some developers just have the gift to create mind-bending technology and usually end up being employed by Google, Facebook or Apple. No matter how good I think I am at something, I will always find others who are better, who just have "it". So my list is not taking into account technical genius, but rather qualities that any working professional can work towards improving.

So without further ado, here is my list of eight qualities I look for in a developer:

1. Be creative

Many people think developers are a nerdy bunch whose idea of creativity is making clever Star Wars puns in place of lorum ipsum text when they are adding placeholder copy to a website.…

9 ways we (nearly) perfected our development process

Posted On September 8th, 2012 Author Kyle Racki Filed Under Business Development, Coding & Application Development, Branding & Web Design,

I used to think process was an ugly word. Who wants to be neck deep in charts and documentation, wasting time when we could be actually doing the design or dev work? And it’s that kind of thinking that got us screwed over on jobs our first couple of years in business.

Well this year, I think we finally got it right. Sure, there’s always room for improvement, but there are several ways in which we nailed down, perhaps our most efficient, effective process of building websites and applications, and one that actually enhances the fun for us, while also ensuring clients get what they want in the end.

Take a look at this process chart I made a few months ago:

This process shows a more refined way that we go about a project that fits into one of two camps; Either a website built in ExpressionEngine or an application built within the CodeIgniter framework.

Putting the visuals first: UX first

We’ve recently adopted a UX-first approach to most projects. The bigger and more complex the application, the more important this approach is.

Responsive Design vs Mobile App - Your website on a mobile device

Posted On September 18th, 2011 Author Kyle Racki Filed Under Business Development, Coding & Application Development, Branding & Web Design,

Just recently, a big change came along in web design; Arguably the biggest revolution since modern web standards in the early 2000's.

Responsive Design has been invented. It's a term used in new age architecture to describe buildings that behave 'responsively'. That is, they adapt or respond to conditions such as the amount of people in a given room, for instance. They will automatically change heat, air and even room size (yes, the walls expand and contract!) to accommodate more or less people.

And just like Responsive Design in architecture, when it comes to the web, responsive design allows websites to no longer behave like static online brochures that scroll, but rather they adapt by expanding and contracting, resizing themselves to appropriately fit a variety of screen sizes. So for example, a website might have five columns when viewed on a 52" wide screen, but when viewed on a laptop it may scale down to three columns, two on an iPad and down to one column when viewed on a smart phone.

The best way to illustrate this is…

ExpressionEngine 2.0 - worth the wait

Posted On August 18th, 2010 Author Kyle Racki Filed Under Coding & Application Development,

It’s been a long time coming, but ExpressionEngine 2 is finally here, and after using it on a number of projects, I can say that it was worth the wait.

This is not meant to be an in depth post, but merely a few points that I especially enjoy about the new EE. Because some of the features are more technical in nature and not necessarily of great interest to end users (our clients) I want to separate the points into those two categories; Clients and Developers:

Clients

Better Control Panel - The actual CMS looks a lot better than EE 1 (hey, Ellis Labs even seemed to brand it with the Headspace hot pink. Good taste I guess). Above and beyond just aesthetics, the new control panel is actually easier to use. There is more use of AJAX effects and JQuery enhancements, which means less rooting around and clicking on multiple nested links to get to where you want.

File Management and Uploads - I can admit it - uploading and managing images and other files, and then inserting them into posts was painful for clients in the old EE. Now it couldn’t be simpler. I…

What it truly means to build with web standards

Posted On March 18th, 2010 Author Kyle Racki Filed Under Business Development, Coding & Application Development,

Many of the web projects that we bid for specify in their RFP that the vendor must build with web standards as specified by the W3C. However, in the past, some of our clients have wondered why sites we produce do not always validate, and some clients have even been challenged by losing bidders that they apparently made the wrong choice in a web partner. We were once even told that because a website didn’t validate, it would not rank highly in search engines!

The attempt of this post is to set the record straight and dispel the myth that web standards and validation are the same thing (though they are closely related).

Without getting into the intricacies of web standards, it is important to note that web standards have been devised by the W3C to separate content, presentation and behavior. HTML tags are “marked-up” around textual content in a semantic manner (using tags to describe the meaning and format of the content), and in a separate file, CSS is used to instruct the HTML how to look (ie: fonts, colours, layout etc.). For a more detailed, but completely simple and comprehensible explanation of web standards, see…

10 criteria for selecting a CMS

Posted On April 2nd, 2009 Author Kyle Racki Filed Under Business Development, Coding & Application Development,

View the original post here: 10 criteria for selecting a CMS

I like all of Paul’s choices for the post, including:

Multi site support

We’ve had a few instances come up where our clients have multiple websites all running off the same server. In these case, having a CMS that let’s you edit content across multiple sites from the same admin login is invaluable.

Roles and permissions

Whenever I set up a website for clients to edit themselves, there’s always some work involved in making it a pleasant experience for them. With different levels of permission, I make sure that while my Super Admin account has all of the bells and whistles that I need for development, the client’s account is significantly simplifed to make it easy for them, and also avoid the chances of them accidentally deleting everything!

User interaction

Modern sites almost always require some sort of user interaction, whether it’s filling out a contact form or adding a comment to a blog. How easy does the CMS make it to gather, store and view the data?

Managing assets

In many cases, clients need to upload images, PDF, and video files…

Testing mobile browser compatibility - the beginning

Posted On March 17th, 2009 Author Kyle Racki Filed Under Coding & Application Development,

This is a bit of a techie article, but still worth checking out.

Here at Headspace, we’ve been specifically commissioned by one of our clients to test and ensure a site we’re developing works well in a mobile browsing (hint, the site we’re doing has a huge Japanese audience).

Like many in the web industry, I see designing interfaces for mobile devices as a clear direction we are headed, with the proliferation of mobile usage, especially among teens. Me? I have an iPhone and I still hate browing on the web, maybe I’m an overly “mature” 25 year old. But nonetheless, many have seemed to not only tolerate, but actually enjoy tweeting, emailing and browsing with their tiny little blackberry key pads.

What do you think? Will designing apps or web pages for mobile devices become as common for businesses as having a website?

Not all Flash Designers are created equal

Posted On April 8th, 2008 Author Kyle Racki Filed Under Coding & Application Development,

It can be said that Flash is a niche area of web development. Generally speaking, “typical” web developers (and by typical, I mean developers who build websites using web scripting languages, like PHP or Ruby, build databases with MySQL, and mark-up the front-end with HTML, and style it with CSS) use Flash very little or not at all. The reason being that Flash is a closed piece of software. It requires a license to use, and once published to a website, the code is hidden away, never to be seen by anyone—including both developers and search engines. Also, Flash websites usually aren’t even recognized by browsers; you can’t right-click and open links in new windows, you can’t bookmark internal pages and the visually impaired can’t access the content.

On the other hand, most web designers use Flash. Or I should say they can use Flash, even if they primarily build website the “proper” way. Whether it’s for banner ads, intros, or simple page headings, you’re average web designer should be able to open up Flash and make some nice animations.

Between the two aforementioned groups, there is a massive gap, and if you are looking for a high-end Flash website…