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Web Dev

Of all the major forms of digital communication, email is, perhaps, the most flexible. Yet, for the website owner, it still can’t be relied on, in its purest form, as the sole method of communication. Visitors still like the reassuring guidance of specified text fields, and in some cases, pre-defined options can make for a better user experience, not to mention more streamlined correspondence.

It is for this reason that form builders are as popular now as they’ve ever been. Veteran Wufoo has held the top spot for many years, thanks to its drag-and-drop design suite and elegant output. Other platforms — Gravity Forms (WordPress only), for example — carve out their own market share by providing special features, such as payments and multiple-input guards.

However, one new form-building service, named Formbakery, wants to keep things simple. It, too, offers drag-and-drop design, as well as a form-by-form price. But can it match up to the long-established giants of form creation?

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It’s easy to assume your customers love your products and services, or your readers love your site, until you get an angry email telling you how terrible your stuff is. Getting your customers’ ongoing feedback would be far better, but most people simply won’t take the time to fill out a survey or write you an email unless something is really bugging them.

What if there was a way to get feedback quickly without bugging your customers? That’s exactly what Temper is designed for.

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If you’re a programmer, or if you spend a significant amount of your day working with plain text for any reason, you’ll surely have at least heard of Sublime Text. The one paid text editor that’s won over both Emacs and VI fans, Sublime Text is the gold standard in text editors. And, it’s cross platform, so you can run in on your Mac, Windows, or Linux PC.

There’s only one place it won’t run — Chrome OS. And, of course, it won’t run on any Mac or PC if you don’t have a copy — plus, keeping your settings synced can be a pain at best. That’s why Caret is so exciting. It’s a full-featured code editor in an offline Chrome web app that can run anywhere Chrome runs, for free, and it’ll keep your settings synced along with the rest of your Chrome data.

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Speak to any progressively-minded and well-educated web designer or developer, and you’ll soon realize that you are conversing with a master craftsman. Like any professional who is highly skilled, these shapers of pixels and writers of code take pride in the jobs they do, and they work to the highest possible standard. This requires, among other practices, the use of clean, semantic code — one less media query here, and one less repeated CSS rule there adds up to a noticeably faster website.

That is all highly commendable if you know what you’re doing (or if you can afford to employ someone who is suitably knowledgeable). But what about when David, the hotelier, wants to add a promo video to his website, or when Rachel, the musician, wants to include her recordings in her web presence? These folks may have basic web-building skills, but they certainly aren’t capable of writing functional micro web-apps. The solution? Embeddable widgets.

Unfortunately, widgets haven’t always been terribly adjustable, good-looking or quick to load, and finding one to suit your exact needs has always been a painful search. A new service named Blogvio, fresh out of private beta, aims to address these issues with a library of stylish, customizable widgets. But can any paste-in code really provide a satisfying addition to your website?

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Did I get geekier over the years or did coding just become mainstream? With so many youngsters online, it was foreseeable that a great share was peeking beneath the surface of the web at those huge walls of code. Using recent services, such as GitHub and StackOverflow, it has never been so easy to solve doubts and receive feedback. Communities became larger as new users flew into the adventure of creating code to call their own instead of relying on WordPress themes.

We still needed a tool to put all this learning to work — a truly universal service we could carry anywhere regardless of the inclemencies. That’s where CodeAnywhere stands out, offering the versatility of a web service and native alternatives to every mobile platform imaginable (there’s even a BlackBerry app!), without ever waiving the great features you’ll find out in this review.

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Websites are rarely perfect. They’re either horribly designed or simply lack the functionality to perform in 2013. Worse still, many website owners refuse to develop mobile version leaving smartphone users struggling to use their sites.

Tomodo is a platform for modding websites and sharing your improved version with the world. It seems like a strange idea. How can you mod a website that isn’t yours?

Using clever coding and the ingenuity of a growing community Tomodo is now home to dozens of modded website. Everything from Time Magazine to Ebay is altered. Are they any good though? Maybe you could do better.

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I can remember back to the days when web design was an extremely technical subject — a skill limited to those with an advanced knowledge of HTML, Javascript, CSS, Flash and all of the other technologies that currently make up the Internet we know of today. But nowadays, thanks to some pretty clever programmers, anyone can create a web page with no prior technical knowledge required — apart from the fact you need to know how to use a mouse and a keyboard.

There are countless of these kinds of programs, from Squarespace to Webflow but today, I’m going to be looking at Virb, a service we first wrote about back in 2010. Since then, an awful lot has changed (we did look at it nearly 3 years ago!) so without further ado, let’s dive straight in and see what Virb has to offer.

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Google Analytics is very much the Adobe Photoshop of web analytics. It’s extremely advanced with plenty of features but for many, it’s just overkill. Whilst powerful, it’s designed more for users wanting detailed statistics regarding advertising goals, conversions, and other buzzwords that make little sense to anyone outside of the social marketing arena.

GoSquared is an analytics service for the rest of us, providing the statistics and information that we expect, wrapped in a great web interface. I’ve been putting GoSquared through its paces to see if it could be an alternative to services such as Google’s behemoth.

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For web designers the big contracts are always the most exciting. But regular, monthly income derived from on-going clients can keep the lights on when feast turns to famine.

The most popular CMS by far is WordPress. Most website owners will never use it to its fullest capabilities, yet still pay expensive hosting fees and manage complicated design issues.

Cloud Cannon is a web app which allows designers to lighten the client-side workload. IT promises to take care of all hosting issues, make the website easily editable by the client and best of all – it’s all done through Dropbox. But is it worth the hassle for small design firms and individuals? Let’s see.

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When you’re designing an interface, usability should always be a top concern. Ensuring your users can have a pleasant, intuitive experience should come secondary only to the actual existence of your content on a page. Achieving such a feat is only guarenteed through testing with real life potential users and that’s where Usability Hub comes in.

UsabilityHub is actually a hub for three different types of user experience testing – the Five Second Test, the Click Test and the Nav Flow test – bringing together valuable data into one, manageable tabulation of useful results. (more…)

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