Finding the Best Website Development Agency

As a business, finding the right web development company is not easy; as there are lots around offering state of the art services at record low prices.

Not to mention offshore companies based in Spain, India and the US – why not work with them. They are after all cheaper (mostly) and may be able to do a better job.

Using a local web development agency.

The main benefit with working with a local agency is that you can visit them and discuss the project face to face. Having an initial meeting with the agency will ensure they are competent and also help in communicating what the project is.

What about using an offshore web agency?

Quality – this would be hard to control if you cannot meet the agency. Skype and webenars are all well and good, but nothing beats a face to face for being able to communicate and discuss.

Remembering that only 10% of communication is verbal, talking on the phone or via e-mail means that the web agency misses 90%.

Which agency if you opt for a UK agency?

There is criteria that most companies look for when choosing a web agency

  • Do they understand the project?
  • Have they experience of your industry?
  • What will it cost?

These are the main things that come up when looking for a web company.

Meet with the agency (as mentioned) is the best way to a/ get a feel for the agency and if they are the sort of agency for you b/ they do understand your project. Many companies will say they understand when they really do not (as no one wants to tell a customer ‘we do not understand’ – could loose the client) understand.

If the agency has worked in your sector previously then they are much better equipped to tackle your project, contribute to is and also second guess to problem solve.

Comparing quotes from local web development companies is really the best way of finding out what the market price is. All companies charge differently and some are quite expensive – to avoid paying over the odds it is advised to get a few quotes.

Crafting the Perfect “About Me” Page for Web Designers

For web designers specifically, one of the most reliable and effective ways of turning a prospective client into a buying client is by providing a detailed, yet straight-to-the-point “About Me” page. It is essential to have a page that tells about yourself and your work. With today’s ever developing technology and Internet communication connections, clients need to find out who you are without speaking to you.

To develop a great “About Me” page, there are several tips below to help you.

1. Know your audience: The first step in crafting a really great “About Me” page is to know who you are talking to or who you are trying to engage. Time and time again, I’m sure you’ve heard about the importance of knowing your audience, however, even with an “About Me” page the same rules apply. Start by asking yourself who you want to attract, what projects you want to work on and in what area or field. Do you want small businesses or large businesses or individuals? Also, being specific as possible is a great idea. Do so by identifying your audience into gender, ages, locations and possibly, occupation. With having your prospects identified, your “About Me” page will encompass your top talents and skills in the areas of your prospects interest.

Tip: Be the Client: Re-read your “About Me” page results and view it as if you were the client. Are all you questions addressed? Be sure to take into consideration your past clients opinions or questions they may have asked. This will help to develop a great “About Me” page.

2. Be the Problem Solver: the main reason a client will view your “About Me” page is to see if you have the necessary skill, talent, and effectiveness to complete their tasks. When developing your “About Me” page, keeping in mind these issues and addressing each one will help the client make the decision to hire you. Projecting an image of your worthiness to their web design project is a must, especially if you want satisfying and great projects to work on. When writing your “About Me” page, begin with a few personality traits and move into a real-life experience that shows your commitment and skills necessary to overcome whatever that experience was. After that move on to your background experience, education, and location. You don’t want it to sound too much like a resume, but rather a few interesting key points about you. Here is a basic outline for your “About Me” page:

1. Address your full name and occupation
2. Describe your niche or area of interest
3. Address your experience in Web Design, Web Developing or both
4. Slip in some personality traits – be both detailed and short
5. Provide links to awards, past projects, interviews etc.
6. Provide information about your work experience and education
7. Reveal more personal information like family, location, age, and personal hobbies etc.

Tip: Be sure to use the same order of topics because if you start from the bottom and move up, the client will not be interested. You must first, give them a reason to be there before telling them information about yourself that may be viewed as useless info.

3. Use a Photo: Simply stated, consider adding a semi-professional photo of you so the client can see who they are working with. It’s not required, but it definitely has a positive impact on the hiring process. Sometimes, photos can even be credited with leaving a trusting impression on the client.

4. Contact Information: Do NOT forget to include contact information. Although it seems like common sense, people forget it all the time OR put it in a small corner where no one will see it unless they spend the time hunting for it, in which most people will not. However, most web designers do have a page dedicated to contact information only; it’s not a bad idea to put it on your “About Me” page too. This way, if a client feels inclined to speak to you promptly, your contact information will be right there.

It’s important to stress the factor that an “About Me” page is essential to your success as a web designer or web developer. The same stress should be applied to the crafting of the “About Me” page, because a bad page will not get you more work. Use the tips above to craft a really great “About Me” page and keep in mind that you need to project professionalism, personality and influence.

How to Add File Upload Support to Your Web Site

Introduction

Providing the ability for visitors to your web site to upload files from their computer allows for the implementation of some very powerful features, such as for example letting your users share files with other visitors, or decorate their online presence on your site with an identifying portrait or avatar. In general, allowing for a file upload provides an easier way to share a large amount of data rather than extensive and tedious form-filling. However, while the file upload feature has long been supported by most Internet browsers, the precise details of how it is done can be quite tricky; the devil is indeed in the details. In order to correctly use this feature, you will need to perform some work both in the HTML and on the server side, and if you are writing client software to upload the file to an existing web site, you will need to know some details.

In the HTML and Browser

Adding a file upload button to a web page is relatively easy; it is just another type of INPUT field within an HTML FORM. Setting the type attribute of the INPUT field to “file” will provide an input field that allows file selection. Note that the actual upload of the file requires a little bit more work, including some server-side coding, which will follow shortly. The INPUT field may have other attributes set on it, such as size, which will allow control over the size of the display of the selected file, which should be very similar to a text field.

At this point, it is already worth noting that this HTML is likely to vary in appearance considerably from browser to browser. Typically, the form control thus created will consist of what looks like a text field, accompanied by a button that will launch the system file selector. Already, the appearance of the word “looks” should indicate there are possibly some accessibility issues with using this control. In both Internet Explorer and Firefox on Windows, the control appears as a text field with a button labeled “Browse…” next to it, with a few other visual differences. In Google Chrome, the button is labeled “Choose File”, and the text area where the name appears initially begins saying “No file chosen” and is just regular HTML text, not a text input field. There is a little control over the appearance of these visual elements via CSS, but some features, such as the actual text on the button, are chosen by the browser, not by the web developer. Furthermore, the button now means there are two button elements in the HTML FORM, not just a standard “Submit” button. This may cause some issues for browser users who are visually impaired or who use a different input method other than a mouse. In many ways, the appearance of the form may be unfamiliar to users, so your page should contain sufficient explanatory text, should be tested on many browsers, and perhaps should also provide an alternative method of supplying the file data.

Before leaving the HTML, there is one other change that needs to be made to a standard FORM – the enctype attribute of the form needs to be set to “multipart/form-data”. This is the most common omission when setting up a file upload form; if the enctype is left at its default value, “application/x-www-form-urlencoded”, your server will not receive the contents of the file at all, just the file name! This leads us on to the next observation; since the format of the data returned by the browser will be different, any standard form handling code you have will not work. You may need to make matching server changes as well.

On the server

As mentioned above, changing the encoding of the browser response to “multipart/form-data” is necessary so that actual file data is sent to the server; the standard form encoding does not handle arbitrary file sizes well. The encoding is based on the MIME standard for sending multipart messages, most recognizably used in email for file attachments. This makes sense since you are in effect attaching a file to a browser response, but note that the mechanism actually supports multiple files if necessary. Indeed, if there are other INPUT fields in your form, each of their results will also be returned as if they were a file attachment. This means the standard form handling code you have is unlikely to work.

Exactly what needs to be done on the server side depends highly on your server technology and the access rights you have on your site. You may need to contact your web hosting company, for example, to see if they already have a “canned” upload script that you could use. A blog widget or similar inclusion on a third-party site probably will not let you use this functionality. If you are the web developer, you should be able to search for “file upload” in your platform documentation; for example, Perl users will find file upload is supported in the CGI.pm module.

At this point, if what needs to be done appears too difficult, you should consider whether implementing file upload is really what you need, and be wary that there are many security and complexity issues that you may have to handle. What will you do with the files once they arrive? Where will you store them? What if, either accidentally or maliciously, a client tries to send you a huge file? What if the file never makes it to its destination? In cases like this, you may wish to consider an alternate provider to give you file upload capabilities. One use case was, for example, allowing your users to upload a picture or avatar of themselves. There are plenty of services to do that, such as Gravatar; your users might even prefer to see you integrate with Facebook or Twitter.

In client software

Nowadays, it is quite normal for programs other than web browsers to connect to web pages. If you are a developer for software that runs on smartphones, you may find yourself in a position where you need to upload a file to a web site without launching the browser. Again, the precise details vary depending on the platform you are using. Java developers may be familiar with the Apache HttpClient collection of utilities. Creating an HTTP POST using HttpClient is well-documented elsewhere, and a quick search for multipart posting highlights a MultipartPostMethod that is deprecated. The correct way in this case to post is to build a MultipartRequestEntity made up of one or more Part objects; a Part object can be configured to contain, among many other things, a file. A call to setRequestEntity() on the POST method will do exactly what is needed in this case.

What next?

Being able to upload a file to your web site opens the doors to some exceptionally powerful functionality, but the details seem to be a bit sparse online. You may go ahead and check RFC 1867, the original proposal dating back to 1995, and you may wish to try out this functionality in as many different browsers as you can find. You will most likely be surprised at the differences in look and feel. However, it is a good tool to have available in your web development arsenal, and the techniques illustrated here come in useful, even in modern web development environments.