First of all, a huge thank you to the hundreds of people who responded to our survey – we’ve had some great suggestions of improvements to the site. The survey will be running for the next few days before we announce the winner of the contest so if you haven’t filled it in yet, please do!
After hearing what you had to say, a few minor design and functionality changes to the site have been made. From the annoying fact you had to click twice to get to a featured site, to the scroll bar in the middle of our homepage – we’ve listened. Here are some of the changes that have been made today:
1. We have placed more visual emphasis on news and tutorials
2. Designs are now updated twice daily
3. We are increasing our regular CSS gallery updates to 4 per day
4. We are aiming to post more regular news and tutorials – so you can get your inspiration and news all in one place
5. You can now search by colour or layout from the top of the homepage
6. We are accepting reader submitted news articles
7. Only one click is required to get to a featured website
8. … and quite a few more random improvements!
We hope that some of your niggles have been fixed and you’ll enjoy Design Shack even more!May 5th, 2008 Posted in Articles, Design Shack
Keeping track of visitors to your website is vital, and these ten tools can allow you to monitor and review traffic in different ways. Some are free, some require a small charge – all of them will help you optimize your website and know exactly who is passing eyes over your design.
Analytics is a great word, meaning “sophisticated data analysis and modeling, including developing customer profiles, determining customer and merchandise price profitability”. Google Analytics is certainly a great statistical tool, and is completely free. It integrates into your website using a small piece of code and is hosted by Google so it doesn’t require you to install anything. The downside is the inability to install plug-ins to track extra aspects of your site.
Mint is a tool created by a designed called Shaun Inman (who has a great personal site design to boot). It is a locally run piece of software, which means installing it on your web server. The advantages are that it is very customizable and looks great. ‘Pepper’ can be used to add plug-ins and extra features not included by default, created using the Mint API. Mint costs $30, which is a small price to pay for an in-depth knowledge of your visitors.
AWStats is a different style of tool as, rather than tracking hits in real-time through a piece of code on your site, it reads web server log files to generate statistical reports. There is a good chance that your web server already has AWStats installed and it may just need turning on. A degree of technical knowledge is required to install and configure AWStats yourself, but it can be a useful tool for another perspective on your traffic.
StatCounter comes highly recommended by many people as a free, hosted tracking service. They offer a huge variety of different statistics, from entry and exit pages to country/state/city information. It is completely free, so may be worth giving a try to see if it fits well with your tracking needs.
7. The Counter
8. Going Up
We would recommend only using one or (at the most) two of these tools at a time. Most of them slow the loading of your page to an extent, and adding several at a time could impact the experience of a visitor.April 25th, 2008 Posted in Articles, Software
We have been testing a new way to submit your site to Design Shack recently, and it has been very well received. Express submission guarantees a 24 hour review of your website, and we will provide a personal response via email. The price was $10, and is now only $7. If you’re looking for a way to have your website reviewed quickly then this is it!
Please feel free to let us know your thoughts on the new service, we always appreciate feedback.April 24th, 2008 Posted in Articles, Design Shack
You’ve probably heard about Ruby on Rails by now, but it might not be something you have ever really got to grips with. A List Apart have published two great articles as an introduction to Ruby On Rails:
They look like an easy way to get started, aiming to to demystify Ruby on Rails and convince you that you can make the leap.April 22nd, 2008 Posted in Articles, Software
A common problem I encounter when designing a site in a team is the lack of a tool to easily allow us to collaborate and co-ordinate our work. There are several tools available to manage workflow and tasks, but few to actually help with the problem of overwriting someone else’s code.
Springloops is a unique source code management tool focused on web development teams. It allows you to code in parallel and share your code safely concentrated on results, not on lost changes or overwritten files. You get rapid collaboration in protected space.
In addition, using innovative deployment features, you can get rid of uploading files via ftp and overwriting others files on the server. It only takes one click to update several servers (both staging and production) in seconds. It can be a real problem solver – take a look at see if it’s for you.April 18th, 2008 Posted in Articles, Software
In celebration of a new hosting package, designed specifically to support the Magento eCommerce application, NuBlue are offering a 25% discount for all Design Shack readers. Simply use the discount code ‘sh4ck’ when signing up for an account. NuBlue are one of very few UK hosts that are currently supporting this application and this discount is a great way to get started using Magneto.April 9th, 2008 Posted in Competitions
To celebrate the arrival of Spring, Slice ‘n Dice are giving away a free project and a Gooey Carbon Bundle from GooeyTemplates.com. It looks like a great contest, something to make your spring coding a little easier!
The project up for grabs is a one page XHTML design with a three day turn-around – a value of $249. All designs are cross browser tested, with fully commented code.March 26th, 2008 Posted in Competitions
Creating navigation with CSS is one of the most crucial elements of website design. Get the navigation right, and people will feel welcomed and at home. Get it wrong, and it can spell trouble for your website. This is a great collection of 10 CSS navigation examples and tutorials to get you in the creative mood.
Open the safari preferences window, click on the ‘advanced’ option and then select the box entitled ‘Show develop menu in menu bar’. Straight forward! The result is a new field in the top menu which looks like the following:March 19th, 2008 Posted in Articles, Software