5 Trends That Will Change How You Use Social Media in 2015 Thursday, Dec 4 2014 


This post originally appeared in Time.

Big changes are afoot for the likes of Twitter, Facebook and others.

This year started with a death sentence for Facebook. In January, a research company called Global Web Index published a study showing that Facebook had lost nearly one-third of its U.S. teen users in the last year. Headlines pronounced the network “dead and buried.”

Fast forward to the present and Facebook is reporting record growth. The company earned $2.96 billion in ad revenue in the third quarter of 2013, up 64 percent from just a year ago. More impressively, the network has added more than 100 million monthly active users in the last year.

All of which goes to show how difficult it can be to predict the future of social media. With that caveat in mind, here’s a look into the crystal ball at five ways social media will (likely) evolve in 2015.

Your social network wants to be your wallet

Hacks released in October show a hidden payment feature deep inside Facebook’s popular Messenger app. If activated by the company, it will allow the app’s 200 million users to send money to each other using just debit card information, free of charge. Meanwhile, the network has also already rolled out a new Autofill feature (a kind of Facebook Connect for credit cards), which allows users who save their credit card info on Facebook to check out with 450,000 e-commerce merchants across the web.

So why does Facebook want to handle your money in 2015? Right now, some of tech’s biggest players are battling it out in the mobile payments space, including Apple with its new Apple Pay app, upstarts like Square and Stripe and even online payments veterans like PayPal. The endgame at this stage isn’t exactly clear. Facebook may eventually charge for its money transfer services, leverage customer purchasing data to pull in more advertisers or even try to rival traditional credit cards like Visa and Mastercard (which make billions on fees). One thing’s for sure: You can expect to see major social networks jockeying more aggressively to handle your transactions in 2015.

New networks proliferate, but will they last?

2014 saw the rise of a number of niche social networks, many built specifically in response to the perceived failings of the big boys: the lack of privacy, the collection of demographic and psychographic data, the increasingly pervasive advertising. Newcomers range from Ello, which launched in March with promises to never sell user data, to Yik Yak, which allows users to exchange fully anonymous posts with people who are physically nearby, and tsu, which has promised to share ad revenue with users based on the popularity of their posts.

Will these networks grow and stick around? New social platforms that try to replicate the Facebook experience while promising, for instance, fewer ads or more privacy, have the odds seriously stacked against them. The biggest challenge – one that even Google+ has struggled with – is attracting a sufficient userbase so the network doesn’t feel like a ghost town compared to Facebook’s thriving 1.3-billion-user global community.

On the other hand, new networks that map onto strong existing communities or interests (interest-based networks, as opposed to Facebook-style people-based networks) have a much better chance. In fact, thousands of these networks are already thriving below the radar, from dedicated sites for cooks and chefs like Foodie to sites for fitness junkies like Fitocracy.

Shopping finally comes to social media

Earlier this year, both Twitter and Facebook began beta-testing “buy” buttons, which appear alongside certain tweets and posts and allows users to make purchases with just a click or two, without ever leaving the network. Expect e-commerce and social media integrations to deepen in 2015. In fact, it’s a little surprising it’s taken so long.

For starters, this approach eliminates one key dilemma all merchants face – how to get customers in the door (or to your website). On Facebook and Twitter, you’ve already got a receptive audience, happily chatting with friends, browsing the latest trends, sharing photos and videos, etc. Once their payment details are on file, purchases are a tap or two away. Then it’s back to cat GIFs and updates on weekend plans.

In addition, since Facebook and especially Twitter are real-time media, they’re perfect for short-term deals tied in with fleeting trends. With time-sensitive offers literally streaming by, consumers may well be inclined to act quickly and seal the deal, forgoing the obsessive comparison shopping that characterizes lots of Internet transactions.

Finally, there are major benefits to advertisers. Connecting individual Tweets and Facebook posts with actual purchases has thus far proved a huge analytical challenge. But with the advent of buy buttons, concrete revenue figures can be attached to specific social media messages in a way that hasn’t been possible until now.


Smart devices get more social

Cheap sensors have led to an explosion of smart devices. Everything from home appliances like thermostats, bathroom scales and refrigerators towearables like fitness bracelets and smart watches are now collecting data and zapping it off wirelessly to the Internet. Lots of these devices are also pushing notifications to Facebook, Twitter and other networks, a trend that will continue in 2015. The question is: Is that a good thing? The prospect of growing legions of washing machines, smoke alarms and Nike FuelBands spitting out Facebook posts isn’t exactly something to get excited about.

The challenge in 2015 becomes how to more intelligently integrate the fast-growing Internet of Things with social media. In short, smart devices need to improve their social intelligence. This might start with tapping users’ social graph – their unique network of friends and followers – in better ways. A very simple example: a smart fridge that tracks your Facebook Events, sees you’re planning a party and how many people have RSVP’d and alerts you to make a beer run. By listening to social media in more sophisticated ways – tracking users’ activities and interactions with friends and followers, then responding accordingly – smart devices stand to get even smarter in the year ahead.

The illusion of social media privacy gives way to the real thing

2014 saw a number of anonymous and ephemeral social networks – Snapchat, Secret, Whisper, Yik Yak and Telegram, to name a few – surge in popularity. Not everyone wants every conversation over social media broadcast to the world, after all. At the same time, savvy users are increasingly aware – and concerned – about ways personal data is being collected and later sold to advertisers, manipulated in tests or accessed by government agencies.

The problem is that few of these “private” networks fulfill their mandates.Snapchat has been hacked, repeatedly, with hundreds of thousands of sensitive – supposedly disappearing – user photos posted on the Internet. And in October, it was revealed that the anonymous network Whisper wasactually saving users’ posts and locations and compiling this information in a searchable database. As Venture Beat points out, real anonymity and privacy on the Internet is extremely difficult to achieve. While it’s easy to make promises, it’s nearly impossible to deliver.

But demand for anonymous social media will only get bigger in 2015. In fact, there are signs that even the major players are beginning to acknowledge the issue. In October, Facebook rolled out its new chat app Rooms, which allows users to create chat rooms around shared interests, with no requirement to reveal name or location. Meanwhile in November, Facebook became the first Silicon Valley tech giant to provide official support for Tor, the powerful, open-source anonymizing service – popular among journalists, political dissidents and law enforcement – that allows users to conceal their identity, location and browsing history.

  Ryan Holmes   Ryan HolmesRyan is Hootsuite’s CEO. He is a regular contributor to outlets such as Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and LinkedIn’s Influencer. He writes about social      media, technology trends, and entrepreneurialism.

4 web design trends for 2015 that will change your job forever Wednesday, Oct 29 2014 

Our day-to-day jobs are soon going to be very different, predicts Paul Boag.

Paul Boag

As web professionals we often look at other industries with disbelief at their failure to adapt to digital. The downfall of music retailing, the demise of companies like Kodak and the challenges faced by newspapers.

But are we aware of the changes happening in our own sector? The web is now over 25 years old. Are we beginning to get set in our ways? Are we just as blind to changes as other industries?

I am aware I maybe sounding melodramatic and I don’t mean to be. We are not about to see our roles disappear. We may not see many travel agents or encyclopaedia salesmen around these days because of digital. But that doesn’t mean we are in immediate danger.

That said, there are certain trends that are worthy of our attention. These are trends that might not make us obsolete, but they will change what we do from day-to-day.

The four trends I’m talking about are:

  • The move towards in-house teams
  • The automation of code
  • The rise of software as a service
  • The decline of the website

01. The move towards in-house teams

The way businesses perceive the web has changed a lot in recent years. Once seen as another marketing channel, it is now perceived as business critical for a lot of organisations.

Many companies have decided it is unwise to rely on an outside suppliers for business critical operations. Instead they are building internal teams to take on the role. This is strategically wise, but also provides significant cost savings over the longer term.

We are beginning to see this impact our sector as agencies compete for a shrinking number of opportunities at the top end of the market. Some agencies such as Adaptive Path and Mark Boulton Design have sold to their clients. Effectively they have become in-house teams. Others are being forced to downsize.

Of course no in-house team is going to have every skill they need to operate. There will still be work for the specialist. But, whether specialist agencies are sustainable is hard to tell. Instead we might see the growth of specialist contractors who work on short term contracts with in-house teams.

This means that those of us working in high-end agencies need to think about our long term position. The chances are we will see a growing number of agencies close their doors over the coming years. Those of us who work for those agencies may well find ourselves joining in-house teams. That or becoming much more specialised in our role.

But it is not just those working at the top end of the market who will experience change.

02. The rise of software as a service

The rise of software as a service is threatening the lower end of all kinds of sectors. For example, services like FreeAgent are replacing traditional book keepers. In fact SaaS is eroding traditional models in everything from recruitment to customer management.

Unfortunately for some, web design is no exception. There was a time when self employed web designers could produce cheap websites from home and make a reasonable income. Today that is becoming hard with services like Squarespace allowing people to build their own website.

But this doesn’t just apply to ‘build your own website’ services. It would now be insanity to build a custom content management system in the vast majority of cases. Once this was big business for many developers. The same is true for ecommerce platforms. Services like Shopify means the days of building shopping carts for most are over.

What this does is push those low end web designers up market at exactly the same time as the high end agencies are lowering their prices. This squeezes the middle.

Software as a service is commoditising much of what use to be bespoke work. But even bespoke design is becoming easier than ever before.

03. The automation of coding

There was a time when being able to code good quality HTML and CSS was enough. That is no longer the case. Not only is there a surplus of people able to do this, the need to code is waning.

Tools like Macaw and Adobe Reflow are enabling designers to do much of the work of front-end coders. Now I know what you are thinking — these tools create terrible CSS. You are right, but they are a sign of things to come. Over time these tools will become more sophisticated. It wouldn’t surprise me if eventually hand coding HTML and CSS becomes a skill few still need.

Although these tools will never produce code as good as a person, it will be good enough. In the end it will come down to return on investment. For many ‘quick to market code’ that is ‘good enough’ will be a better investment than hand-coded.

But even if that does not happen, these tools are already having an impact. Creating working prototypes has become much easier. A job that used to keep a front end coder busy for days if not weeks.

It’s easy to dismiss the impact of these tools. They don’t replace a good coder. But, I remember graphic designers saying the same thing about desktop publishing. DTP didn’t replace the graphic designer but it did thin the herd.

If you are a designer, you might be feeling a little smug at this point. After all we will always need people to design websites no matter how we code our sites. But perhaps longer term even that will change.

04. The decline of the website

Have you noticed the gradual decline in the role of the website? Take for example going to see a movie. You know what you want to see, but you don’t know where it is showing.

In the past you would have visited each movie theatre website one at a time to see if they were showing the film you wanted. Each website was different, crafted by a busy team of web designers.

My betting is that is not how you look up movies anymore. The chances are you have a single app on your mobile that aggregates movie listings from many sources. Perhaps you even ask Siri or just Google it.


This creates a much better experience as users don’t have to deal with different interfaces. Unfortunately it does start to undermine the role of the designer crafting these different sites.

I am sure it won’t be long before you ask Siri and she tells you when and where your film is on. The whole thing done by voice command, no user interface at all.

Content is being set free from design. Instead we are sharing content via APIs between applications and sites. Sometimes business owners are choosing to put their content on Facebook, Yelp or Foursquare. They are abandoning the idea of having their own site. This is something that is particularly prevalent in China.

Don’t panic!

This might leave you feeling despondent about your future prospects. It shouldn’t. As somebody who has worked in the web over 20 years, I can tell you that as long as you are able to adapt then none of this will be an issue. Sure, your role will change but you won’t find yourself homeless.

The danger is that the transition could prove painful if you are not aware that change is coming. Whether I am right in my predictions or not you can be sure of one thing — the web will continue to evolve. As Charles Darwin said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Words: Paul Boag

Co-Founder of Headscape and host of the Boagworld Podcast, Paul Boag has spent more than 20 years of helping organisations manage digital change.

Why do we have to learn this? Monday, Oct 27 2014 

Originally published in the Los Angeles Times  December 26, 2004 by Arthur Michelson

Good afternoon! I got this from my college math ed advisor, and I thought it was great

American middle school students don’t much care that they’re worse at math than their counterparts in Hong Kong or Finland. “I don’t need it,” my students say. “I’m gonna be a basketball star.” Or a beautician, or a car mechanic, or a singer.

It’s also hard to get much of a rise out of adults over the fact, released earlier this year, that the United States ranked 28th out of 41 countries whose middle school students’ math skills were tested by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. So what if we’re tied with Latvia, while nations like Japan and South Korea leave us in the dust? After all, when was the last time you used algebra?  (Martin’s comment: We use calculus every time we drive a car or walk across a busy street!)


But math is not just about computing quadratic equations, knowing geometric proofs or balancing a checkbook. And it’s not just about training Americans to become scientists.

It has implicit value. It is about discipline, precision, thoroughness and meticulous analysis. It helps you see patterns, develops your logic skills, teaches you to concentrate and to separate truth from falsehood. These are abilities and qualities that distinguish successful people.

Math helps you make wise financial decisions, but also informs you so you can avoid false claims from advertisers, politicians and others. It helps you determine risk. Some examples:

* If a fair coin is tossed and eight heads come up in a row, most adults would gamble that the next toss would come up tails. But a coin has no memory. There is always a 50-50 chance.

Be rational and real

See you at the casino?

* If you have no sense of big numbers, you can’t evaluate the consequences of how government spends your money. Why should we worry? Let our kids deal with it….

* Enormous amounts of money are spent on quack medicine. Many people will reject sound scientific studies on drugs or nutrition if the results don’t fit their preconceived notions, yet they might leap to action after reading news stories on the results of small, inconclusive or poorly run studies.

* After an airplane crash, studies show that people are more likely to drive than take a plane despite the fact that they are much more likely to be killed or injured while driving. Planes are not like copycat criminals. A plane is not more likely to crash just because another recently did. In fact, the most dangerous time to drive is probably right after a plane crash because so many more people are on the road.

The precision of math, like poetry, gets to the heart of things. It can increase our awareness.

Consider the Fibonacci series, in which each number is the sum of the preceding two, (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 … ). Comparing each successive pair yields a relationship known as the Golden Ratio, which often shows up in nature and art. It’s the mathematical underpinning of what we consider beautiful. You’ll find it in the design of the Parthenon and the Mona Lisa, as well as in human proportion; for instance, in the size of the hand compared to the forearm and the forearm to the entire arm. Stephen Hawking’s editor warned him that for every mathematical formula he wrote in a book, he would lose a big part of his audience. Yet more than a little is lost by dumbing things down.

Fibonacci squaresNAUTILUS

It is not possible to really understand science and the scientific method without understanding math. A rainbow is even more beautiful and amazing when we understand it. So is a lightning bolt, an ant or ourselves.

Math gives us a powerful tool to understand our universe. I don’t wish to overstate: Poetry, music, literature and the fine and performing arts are also gateways to beauty. Nothing we study is a waste. But the precision of math helps refine how we think in a very special way.

How do we revitalize the learning of math? I don’t have the big answer. I teach middle school and try to find an answer one child at a time. When I can get one to say, “Wow, that’s tight,” I feel the joy of a small victory.

Arthur Michelson teaches at the Beechwood School in Menlo Park, Calif.   This commentary was written for the Los Angeles Times.

7 Best Practices for Being a Successful Remote Developer Wednesday, Oct 22 2014 

By , October 21, 2014


Working remotely requires special discipline and unique habits. Learn them to really contribute to the project.

Although working with distributed team members is gaining traction at companies, most people have never worked with a remote programmer. If you’re working remotely, don’t assume that your client or employer knows best — in fact, you likely have more experience with how to work this way than they do. Because of this, you will excel if you proactively offer guidance and set best practices in working together. My company specializes in placing remote workers and, in the process, we have come to recognize that freelance developers who achieve the best results typically follow these best practices.

Get Your Hands on the Right Tools

As a remote team member, you’ll probably be working with a team of other people who are either onsite internally, or spread around the world. Regardless, you’ll want to be plugged into their workflow and communications grids as soon as possible. If you don’t have a thorough sense of their organization, ask for a list of all the platforms that your fellow programmers use — for example, Slack, HipChat, Skype, and Google Hangouts. Download them right away and learn to use them well. Or, if you need to rely on internal tracking systems like JIRA, request access if it hasn’t already been set up for you. By paying close attention to tools and having them ready to go, you’ll increase your value.


The best remote programmers on my team provide progress updates (daily and sometimes twice a day). That’s because, unlike in a traditional office setting, team members can’t simply walk over to see what you’re working on. By providing regular updates, you explicitly define your value to the organization and build trust with your team members because they know you’re reliable, thorough, and a good communicator.

You’ll probably receive updates from others on your team, as well as from your client or manager. If you need to provide feedback, be as clear as possible and do so in a timely fashion, so if things aren’t going well, people are aware of speedbumps and can identify why objectives were missed. Also be sure to communicate in multiple formats. A good rule of thumb is to use two different media for each communication, rather than relying solely on email. If you give feedback during a video chat, summarize what you said in an email. This creates a streamlined feedback loop so communications are accurate, continuous, and relevant.

Finally, help guide efforts forward by scheduling real-time conversations. Talking works wonders when something complicated needs to be cleared up — email often just won’t cut it. While Google Hangouts and Skype feature talk-only functions, use video as much as possible. Seeing someone’s face helps build trust and a smooth professional relationship with your team.

Get to Know the Culture of the Organization

After you’re hired, it doesn’t mean all that’s left is heads-down programming. You should continue learning as much as you can about the organization. This will help you work smarter as well as build trust with your counterparts. Most importantly, be proactive in figuring out how your client or manager operates and build off of their style of communication.

That goes for non-verbal communication, too. If team members are expected to be available via video during their shift, make sure you’re available during yours. If they sing happy birthday to each other via Google Chat, then join in! If they send e-cards, do the same.

Be Complete When Asking or Answering Questions

Many times, I see emails or hear about issues where the deliverer fails to provide complete context. Without enough background, issues simply can’t be acted on. When you’re a remote freelancer, you can create considerable goodwill by being complete, especially if you’re working a schedule that is different from HQ’s or other programmers’. That way, your contacts will always have the information they need and can address things in a timely fashion, even if you’re not online.

Whenever possible, include screenshots, documents, and message threads. Err on the side of over-communication rather than assuming that recipients have all the information they need.



Be Comfortable Escalating Issues You Think Are Important

Many people aren’t comfortable escalating issues. They’re worried that others may see their escalations as blame or pointing fingers. To be successful, you’ll need to get over this fear.

Make a point of getting used to escalating things, but also go a step further. Think about potential issues in advance and flag them to your manager — it makes everyone’s life a lot easier.

Also, communicate rapidly: Don’t let issues linger. Escalate immediately and be direct with your team members if it’s important. This is especially important if you are working at different times than your colleagues, timeliness keeps conversations moving as people go on and offline.

Be Reliable

Consider carefully what hours will allow you to work with your colleagues most effectively. As a freelancer, you’ll enjoy more freedom as to when and where you work — but some schedules may be better than others. For example, it’s best to maintain at least a few hours of overlap with your client so you can take advantage of synchronous communication like telephone, chat, Skype, and Google Hangouts. The same goes for vacation. You may already be an expert at managing your own time, but consider how your availability will affect your client.

When you’ve set expectations as to your typical hours, show that you’re responsive during them. When you’re not in the same place, your responsiveness and patterns of availability are what foster trust. The more proactive and responsible you are on this front, the more you’ll stand out. Be available via email and at least one other platform (such as Skype) and respond quickly, even if it’s simply to let colleagues know you can’t talk but will connect later.

Since you’re likely to work with team members in different time zones, find a time zone clock likeEvery Time Zone to make sure you schedule meetings correctly and aren’t late (or worse, forget a meeting altogether).

Create a Dedicated Workspace

When you’re online working, help ensure you’re in the mood to be engaged by setting up a routine and a dedicated workspace. Some of our team members have shared with me that they run errands and get coffee, then stay dressed up and work through their shift. Some have home offices or go to co-working spaces so they can concentrate. Regardless of what works best for you, create a routine and find a workplace that helps you be most productive.

Stephane Kasriel is the Senior Vice President, Product and Engineering at Elance-oDesk. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Ecole Polytechnique (France), a Master of Science in Computer Science from Stanford University, and an MBA from INSEAD.

12 Almost-Effortless Ways to Pick Up New Skills When You’re Busy Tuesday, Oct 21 2014 


By Aaron Skonnard of Inc., October 15, 2014

About The Author

Inc.com is where you can find everything you need to know to start and grow your business now. Inc.com is replete with small business ideas, information, and inspiration, as well as practical advice from those who have done it before.

SEO Explained Thursday, Oct 16 2014 

This is the link to several short and hidden videos about SEO explained by  one of the Google employees who makes these SEO decisions:


Video: SEO Explained Watch this 6 or 7 minute video (or cut to the end)

You will see several video choices on one U Tube screen.

Choose Maile Ohye


Developer Programs Tech Lead Google

The Next Big Thing In Responsive Design Thursday, Oct 9 2014 


WRITTEN BY Dan Gardner and Mike Treff

Responsive design, which allows designers and developers to build websites that adapt to every screen size, is one of the most empowering web tools to be adopted in the last decade.

But adapting to the screen is only the first frontier of a new, responsive web. Today, users expect online experiences that not only respond to what device they’re using, but also their location, time of day, what they’ve already read, and events happening inreal time.

To capture a user’s attention for the next generation of the web, you’ll need more than just responsive design. You’ll need a responsive philosophy.



When you look at the print version of any major print publication over time, you realize that they don’t just have a couple of templates. They have hundreds. They have the ability to respond to any combination of events with a design that gives each event the proper editorial weight.

Somehow, we’ve lost that ability on the web. Most homepages use the exact same layout, day in and day out. And it’s not just homepages. Article pages–where most users first land on websites–look exactly the same, too. To a user, a day when war breaks out in Iraq can feel exactly the same as a day when the biggest news is a change in Bieber’s hairstyle.

These limitations aren’t just stifling for readers. The lack of variation inonline presentation limits a news organization’s ability to communicate its perspective and editorial voice to readers through design choices.

It’s no wonder that some publications feel so one-dimensional online: not all are equipped respond to events with the cultural understanding and editorial vision that once made newspapers so essential.

Websites should do more than respond to devices. Web experiencesshould respond to multiple contexts so that they’re meaningful to every reader, in every moment, on every device.



One example of this approach is the reuse of elements. We’ve long noticed that publishers invest massive amounts of energy and resources designing front-page and section treatments, and spend too little time designing elements for the articles themselves. An easy way around this is to empower editors to reuse packages of content originally designed for one context anywhere on the site, and make these packages automatically respond to their context.

For example: on the homepage, a gallery might expand to take over the entire width of the page. On an article page, it might take up only half the page. This allows editors and designers to create unique designs quickly without repeating work they’ve already done.

The other place where a responsive philosophy can figure prominently is at the bottom of an article page. Unlike the print newspapers of yesterday where the front page sold the newspaper, most visitors to today’s news websites visit to read a particular article. They may never visit the homepage. To convert them into multi-page and even repeat visitors, you have to capture their attention as soon as they finish the article and direct them on the path most likely to make them stick around.

To address this, most publishing sites throw in a comments section or put a static, poorly designed “recommended content” module at the bottom of the page. What they should be doing is reusing more dynamic designs and responding to users to create an ideal path for them to follow.



As this philosophy becomes more commonplace, you can imagine a new role developing inside newsrooms. This person would combine a deep understanding of the editorial mission with empathy for the user to constantly tweak the algorithms governing how readers consume content, and design responsive pathways throughout the site that keep users engaged.

Media outlets aren’t the only organizations that could benefit from a more holistic approach to responsive design. On the web, the definition of a publisher has become fluid. Anyone who wants to reach a user through media can become a publisher. Increasingly, brands are co-opting tools designed for publishers to offer better experiences for their customers.

As brands become more publisher-like, they’ll also need to incorporate a responsive philosophy that adapts to the user so that they can reach them at the right time, with the right messaging, and an understanding of cultural event


But to truly adopt a responsive philosophy, you can’t slap newpaint on an old house. You must create dynamic systems that can ingest, analyze and act on information to serve a tailored experience. In the future, these systems can adjust to incorporate new editorial needs, technologies, and user behaviors.

Responsive philosophy is not just about designing websites that adapt to screen size. It’s not just about designing new interfaces. It’s not just about upgrading a technology stack. It’s about suffusing an entire organization’s culture, process, and technology with the ability to respond to any situation, anywhere, for any user, inside and out.

Read more about Code and Theory here, here, and here.

9 Reasons You Should Know a Little HTML and CSS Monday, Oct 6 2014 


for The Muse

You’ve heard over and over that everyone should learn to code. Alright already! But as a writer, marketer, finance guru or nonprofit worker, why in the world should you get into coding?

Well, I‘m here to tell you that even a little knowledge of HTML and CSS can make a big difference in your career. And learning tech isn‘t just for the production assistants and print designers of the world — whether you‘re a small business owner, a sales manager, an event coordinator or even a magician, you can benefit from some HTML and CSS chops.

Sound too good to be true? It‘s not, and I‘ll give you nine examples to prove it.

But, first, let‘s review what exactly HTML and CSS are. The short and sweet version is: HTML and CSS are the foundations of the web. HTML — HyperText Markup Language — is the language used to tell your web browser what each part of a website is. So, using HTML, you can define headers, paragraphs, links, images, and more, so your browser knows how to structure the web page you‘re looking at.

CSS — Cascading Style Sheets — is the language that gives those web pages their look and formatting. In other words, CSS is what you use to make sites look nice with fancy fonts, rich colors, gorgeous backgrounds, and even slick animations and 3D effects.

Easy, right? But you‘re probably still wondering: How am I supposed to use these coding languages in my job? Well, here are just a few of the amazing things you can achieve with just a few lines of these easy-to-learn languages. Trust me — your boss or potential employer will be impressed, your colleagues will be happy and you may be well on your way to a more fulfilling and lucrative career.

Here are nine things you will be able to do with your HTML and CSS skills:

1. Design an awesome email for your customers

Email is turning out to be one of the best online marketing tools out there. And you can make an email that your customers will actually look forward to getting by organizing and styling it using the HTML and CSS editors available with most email marketing services.

2. Create a stunning corporate newsletter

Now that you‘ve impressed with those gorgeous emails, take it to the next level with a newsletter template. HTML and CSS will be your secret weapons once again as you lay out and customize the template to fit right in with your corporate brand and style.

3. Tweak your company‘s WordPress site

A surprisingly high percentage of corporate websites are built on WordPress. And this is good news for you when you know some HTML and CSS, because you can use them to add content and make changes to your company‘s site. That means no more waiting around for your overworked web team to update the office calendar!

4. Teach your colleague (or boss!) some code

Speaking of overworked co-workers, how about sharing the HTML and CSS love with your colleagues (or even your supervisor)? Then everyone on your team will be able to update and improve the website, emails and newsletters. Ahh, the joy of delegation!

5. Make your technical team adore you

The developers in your working life will thank you if you understand even a hint of HTML and CSS. You‘ll know how to tell them what needs to be changed on the company site (instead of referring to everything as a “whatchamacallit“ or “thingamajig“ as well as be more aware of the limits and possibilities they face every day.

6. Show off your skills with a perfectly-tuned Tumblr blog

Want to leave that adoring team behind and turn your passion into your profession? It‘s easy enough to set up a Tumblr blog to show off that side hustle you‘ve been working on. If you want to send a dazzling display of your freelance photography or graphic design work to that agency that‘s hiring, you can! Just a bit of HTML and CSS can take a Tumblr template from so-so to stunning.

7. Build a professional resume site — from scratch!

Go beyond just a Tumblr blog and really show some initiative by coding your own online presence from start to finish. It might sound daunting, but it‘s actually surprisingly easy to create a simple but great-looking site with basic HTML and CSS. And, boy, will you knock the socks off potential employers when you tell them you did it all on your own!

8. Take your design skills to the next level

So you‘re already a Photoshop wizard, and you can even create some impressive website mockups. Well, get some HTML and CSS under your belt, and you‘ll be able to turn those mockups into actual sites. You can become the “unicorn“ (a designer who can code) every company is looking for right now.

9. Start learning more — and earning more!

Like I said at the start, HTML and CSS are the foundation of the web. So, they‘re also the foundation for taking your tech skills to the next level. Having a handle on the fundamentals will make learning another programming language (like JavaScript, Ruby or PHP) a whole lot easier. And the more you know, the more job opportunities will open up for you.

This article originally published at The Muse here

http://www.csszengarden.com/ Friday, Oct 3 2014 



A demonstration of what can be accomplished through CSS-based design.

Download the example HTML FILE and CSS FILE


Littering a dark and dreary road lay the past relics of browser-specific tags, incompatible DOMs, broken CSS support, and abandoned browsers.

We must clear the mind of the past. Web enlightenment has been achieved thanks to the tireless efforts of folk like the W3C,WASP, and the major browser creators.

The CSS Zen Garden invites you to relax and meditate on the important lessons of the masters. Begin to see with clarity. Learn to use the time-honored techniques in new and invigorating fashion. Become one with the web.


There is a continuing need to show the power of CSS. The Zen Garden aims to excite, inspire, and encourage participation. To begin, view some of the existing designs in the list. Clicking on any one will load the style sheet into this very page. The HTML remains the same, the only thing that has changed is the external CSS file. Yes, really.

CSS allows complete and total control over the style of a hypertext document. The only way this can be illustrated in a way that gets people excited is by demonstrating what it can truly be, once the reins are placed in the hands of those able to create beauty from structure. Designers and coders alike have contributed to the beauty of the web; we can always push it further.


Strong visual design has always been our focus. You are modifying this page, so strong CSS skills are necessary too, but the example files are commented well enough that even CSS novices can use them as starting points. Please see the CSS Resource Guide for advanced tutorials and tips on working with CSS.

You may modify the style sheet in any way you wish, but not the HTML. This may seem daunting at first if you’ve never worked this way before, but follow the listed links to learn more, and use the sample files as a guide.

Download the sample HTML and CSS to work on a copy locally. Once you have completed your masterpiece (and please, don’t submit half-finished work) upload your CSS file to a web server under your control. Send us a link to an archive of that file and all associated assets, and if we choose to use it we will download it and place it on our server.


Why participate? For recognition, inspiration, and a resource we can all refer to showing people how amazing CSS really can be. This site serves as equal parts inspiration for those working on the web today, learning tool for those who will be tomorrow, and gallery of future techniques we can all look forward to.


Where possible, we would like to see mostly CSS 1 & 2 usage. CSS 3 & 4 should be limited to widely-supported elements only, or strong fallbacks should be provided. The CSS Zen Garden is about functional, practical CSS and not the latest bleeding-edge tricks viewable by 2% of the browsing public. The only real requirement we have is that your CSS validates.

Luckily, designing this way shows how well various browsers have implemented CSS by now. When sticking to the guidelines you should see fairly consistent results across most modern browsers. Due to the sheer number of user agents on the web these days — especially when you factor in mobile — pixel-perfect layouts may not be possible across every platform. That’s okay, but do test in as many as you can. Your design should work in at least IE9+ and the latest Chrome, Firefox, iOS and Android browsers (run by over 90% of the population).

We ask that you submit original artwork. Please respect copyright laws. Please keep objectionable material to a minimum, and try to incorporate unique and interesting visual themes to your work. We’re well past the point of needing another garden-related design.

This is a learning exercise as well as a demonstration. You retain full copyright on your graphics (with limited exceptions, seesubmission guidelines), but we ask you release your CSS under a Creative Commons license identical to the one on this site so that others may learn from your work.

5 Best JavaScript libraries Friday, Oct 3 2014 

There are many Java script libraries on line.  Here are the ones that looked the most interesting and useful to me

Discover a selection of the most useful, highly efficient and cunningly ingenious JavaScript frameworks to streamline your workflow




BEST FOR… Managing JavaScript
Small amounts of JavaScript code are best included using the Script tag. Once a program is made up of a group of interdependent libraries, a more sophisticated way tends to lead to better results.
Require.js offers utility functions to simplify things. Callback routines can be invoked once the loading of a JS file is completed – useful if you want to bring up frameworks in a specific order. Advanced users can create Web Modules containing code and info about other libraries it depends on.



BEST FOR…  Lightweight jQuery work
Zepto.js weighs about 10KB, which makes downloading and parsing it fast. This is achieved by stripping out the rarely used parts of jQuery. The developers also restrict their library to modern web browsers and remove glue code to further accelerate the process. It is targeted at the mobile web, and boasts a large compatibility list Zepto follows the lines specified by jQuery closely. jQuery’s event system survived the cut and can be used in Zepto-enabled applications.



 BEST FOR… Testing Node.js solutions

Testing code based on Node.js with a ‘normal’ unit-testing framework doesn’t take long to become
tedious. Mocha excels at testing applications that are made up of server and client components in one go.
Because of it being based on Node.js, users are unable to run Mocha tests from within a web browser. Instead, the product has to be invoked from an npm command line in a fashion similar to the included code snippet. Still, Mocha really shines when it comes to testing asynchronously. The callback routine of the code that is to be tested simply has to invoke the done() function when the result has been determined – data brokerage is handled by the framework.



BEST FOR… native-looking phone apps
PhoneGap apps tend to look a bit ‘off’, as the widely used jQM framework does not do a good job of mimicking the GUIs of mobile operating systems.
PhoneJS intends to solve this. It’s made up of a GUI stack specialised in creating native-looking apps. In the backend, jQuery and Knockout are integrated to simplify development. The developer also includes a view caching system and other elements that make creating robust architectures easier.
Sadly, the framework is not free and must be bought in subscription form, which costs $199 for the year.



BEST FOR… Apps for smart TVs
Enjo was envisioned as GUI building framework for Palm’s webOS. After it premature death, the rights of the library fell to LG. Pundits think the framework will be used on the next generation of LG smart TVs – but Enjo also works on most mobile and desktop browsers.
Creating user interfaces is easy. Forms are made up of ‘kinds’, which can best be described as slimmed-down components. Developers are provided with common widgets and additonal ones can be created using the kind() function.
Applications that access web services benefit from helper classes that simplify consumption. Internationalisation is aided by a library called g11n, which provides utility functions for adjusting text, number and date formats.

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