Sometimes you need animation – movement – on a website, but in the past animators have mainly used Adobe Flash. On Apple devices Flash animations simply appear as an empty black box, which isn’t particularly inviting. Given how many iPhone and iPads are in use now, this isn’t an ideal situation.

There is now other software options available to create animations that will work for more viewers. I often use Tumult’s software, Hype which can be used to create animations for websites and animated elements for use in iBooks.

There are several technical issues that need to be considered when using animations on sites. Firstly the file needs to load quickly so the visitor doesn’t get bored and leave, secondly the file type should be a type that the majority of visitors will be able to see.

Recently software developers have worked hard to come up with solutions that work both on old computers as well as smart phones, tablets and modern computers modern ones. Hype uses HTML5 which is a good solution for the majority of visitors.

Here is an animation to give a flavor of what can be quickly done:


Usability Web Design

Now that there is so much ‘drag and drop’ software to help with web design, it is easy to think that anyone can design a website. While it is possible to create a pretty site using such software, there is more to the process of planning and developing a site than initially meets the eye.

When I was taught web design we used Steven Krug’s book, Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability. It was here that I learned the principles of usability web design and how important it is that designers understand and use them. “Usability” may sound a bit technical and dull, but it as Krug says, it “really just means making sure that something works well: that a person of average (or even below average) ability and experience can use the thing – whether its a web site, a fighter jet, or a revolving door – for its intended purpose without getting hopelessly frustrated.” And that is a good goal for every site!

You will have experienced sites for yourself that are difficult to navigate, which don’t provide a quick way to find information about the business or organization to see if it is a ‘good fit’ for you, and which have the initial pages full of jargon-laced information that make it the site unwelcoming to a new visitor. Such sites tend to come from ignorance of the design process – or the ego of the designer…

Part of the problem with web design is that sites are essentially ‘bi-polar’, that is, they have to address the needs of both first time visitors as well as existing clients or members.

It is also important to consider the background and experience level of the site visitor. It is easy to assume that what you know about being online and using a computer is ‘common knowledge’, but watch someone else perform a computer task – like finding and opening up a file. You might be surprised by the different route they take to get to the same end result as you, or marvel at the 20 steps it takes them to find a file amongst the sea of similarly-named shortcuts scattered all over their desk top.

A fairly recent twist is that with the rise in people using smart phones and tablets to access the web, sites now need to be ‘responsive’, that is, easily used on all screen sizes from a phone to a desktop screen, and taking into account that a smaller device is being operated with a finger or thumb, not a mouse cursor. Information on the pages also has to scale and move to fit the device so the viewer can still easily navigate through the information.

If a website is designed not to be responsive, such as the ACS Extend sites, then it is wise to have a separate mobile version of the site created. A small piece of code on the main site triggers the mobile version to appear when the site is accessed by a mobile device, so the visitor doesn’t have to stop and decide which version of the site they need.

Remember, you are investing time and money in a site to attract new customers or members, in addition to bringing information to existing ones. To get full value from investing in a new site, hire someone – like me – with usability web design experience to get a user-friendly and attractive site!

Hosting your site

Now you have chosen an address – or domain name – for your site, you need to find hosting – or a home – for your site. Again, there are many options, and have most of my domains hosted with HostGator. For about $5 a month you can host your site with them, and I have found their customer service to be excellent. You can call them, text them or use chat to ask questions, and have been able to get really helpful advise every time.

Another option is once again NameCheap, and if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed, buying your domain name and hosting here is an easy option. Generally the idea is not to have “all your eggs in one basket”, but for a first site (and there will be more, it is addictive!) it is OK to keep things simple. NameCheap is currently offering a hosting rate of $2.95 per month if you pre-pay 36 months of hosting, or if you prefer a shorter commitment, it is $3.95 a month for a year.

Either of these options comes with a huge pool of email addresses that you can create for your domain, and which are easily set up. This means you can have ‘’ as your email address, and then add ‘’ or ‘” or any number of other possibilities. You can either access the mail through the hosting, or set them to be forwarded into another email account.

Generally if you pre-pay a lower level of hosting and then decide you want to build a forest of sites, you can upgrade to larger scale hosting, and apply the pre-payment to the new hosting. The advantage of having the more expensive hosting is that you can host multiple domains (“add-on” domains) within one package of hosting, which brings the per-site cost down dramatically. Be warned that ‘unlimited’ hosting does have limits, but it will take time to find where they are…


Chosing a domain name

As you think about the site you want to build, the first decision you need to make is to find a domain name for your site. This is the “address” of your site, so whatever you choose should clearly explain what your site is going to be about. For example, is this domains. It is my portfolio site which displays my design work.

If you aren’t sure what direction your site is going to take, or have several ideas you want to develop you might want to use your own name. On the other hand if your business already has a name, then your goal is to think of something that will help both current and potential customers find you. For example, if your business is known as “Danny’s Bistro”, then “” would make it easy for existing customers to find you. If the bistro specializes in French food, then “” would help newcomers find you and know exactly what you offer. The goal is to come up with a phrase that will attract the people you want to visit your site.

Where do you buy a domain name?

There are a number of sites which sell domain names, and the prices are generally quite similar. I recommend, as I have found them to be very helpful. I have also used and like them for buying domains, but do not like their hard sell of extra products, so be warned!

It is important to mention that not all domains are available, so it may be necessary to add another to the name you chose. Think of this as another chance to help visitors find you, so if “” has already been taken and you are located in Brooklyn, maybe “” is available instead! If you want to use your own name and it has been taken, then you might want to add a middle name. Think about this gently and write down all the ideas you come up with.

You also have the choice of many different options after the ‘dot’. If you can’t get the .org version you want, you could consider .info or, but beware that whoever owns the .com version is likely to get some of your traffic as people tend to assume all sites end in .com. Unless you are famous, or have a famous product, you don’t need to buy every version in addition to .com.


What is WordPress?

According to WikiPedia, WordPress is:

a free and open source blogging tool and content management system (CMS) powered by PHP and MySQL. It has many features including a plug-in architecture and a template system. WordPress is used by over 14.7% of Alexa Internet‘s “top 1 million” websites and as of August 2011 powers 22% of all new websites. WordPress is currently the most popular CMS in use on the Internet.

It was first released on May 27, 2003, by Matt Mullenwegas a fork of b2/cafelog. As of December 2011, version 3.0 had been downloaded over 65 million times.

What does this mean for you?

“Free and open source” means that the code for WordPress was developed to be freely used and developed by anyone, and that all additions to that code are available to all users. While the main software, many updates, themes, plugins and widgets remain free to all, other developers have taken the process much further and sell their WordPress themes and resources.

“Blogging tool” means that originally this software was built for creating personal blogs, but as people have developed the way they interact online, it has become a great tool for creating websites as well. If you aren’t convinced, companies like The New York Times, CNN, VW, eBay and UPS use WordPress as the basis of their websites.

“Content Management System” means that all your materials are kept within the site software, so you can use it in different places, or have several people working on the site simultaneously. For smaller sites, this is the benefit to you.

“PHP” is a computer language used to create web pages and items that respond to mouse clicks. You don’t need to know more than that, except it is a good thing!

“MySQL” is a data base system that is used to store then access all your site information. Again, you need to be aware your site is built on this database, so if you ever have to move or restore your site, it is important that you have backed it up and saved it regularly. (There is a plugin you can install to do this, so don’t panic!)

“Plug-in architecture” means that you can add functions to your site through installing a plug in, you don’t need to know how to code the site to make this happen. There is an enormous repository of plugins on the WordPress site, but wait to go and look – there are over 18,000 free plugins listed – and many more premium ones you can buy.

“Template system” means you use a ‘theme’ to make you site look the way you want it to. You can choose from an amazing array of layouts and color schemes, and having chosen a theme, can easily switch it out for another theme! (Once you have a great deal of material on your site, you might want to think carefully before changing the theme as some elements may not transfer over.)

So, if you want to build your own site on your own domain, you can do so with WordPress, and have an attractive site up and running within just a few hours.


Social Media

Social Media can be a confusing field to enter if you haven’t much experience with it. As the internet expands, social media marketing becomes a medium you need to embrace, but don’t worry! I’ll help you find the varieties that will best help get your dream out to others who will want to know about it.

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I can help you set up a page for yourself, your business or hobby. It can be a simple or as complicated as you wish it to be.



I can help you set up a Twitter account and show you how to use it. I can also help design a background pattern or information panel that will make it match your site.



I can help you set up your information and to connect with others in your field.



I can help you turn your presentation into a video and then post it to YouTube. I will help you set up your own channel and work with you on selecting keywords that will get your video found.



I can help you upload your photos so others can see them – including images of the things you have made and perhaps want to sell.



Need help understanding Pinterest and how to set it up? Let me help you learn how to use it to promote your organization, buisness or products!


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Now available for businesses as well as individuals. Let me help you find people who can help you and those who would be interested in what you sell.