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Rachel Andrew is a web developer, writer and speaker and one of the people behind the content management system, Perch. She is the author of a number of books including The New CSS Layout. She writes about business and technology on her own site at rachelandrew.co.uk.
In March this year, CSS Grid shipped into production versions of Chrome, Firefox and Safari within weeks of each other. It has been great to see how excited people are about finally being able to use it to solve real problems.
CSS Grid is such a different way of approaching layout that there are a number of common questions I am asked as people start to use the specification. This article aims to answer some of those, and will be one in a series of articles on Smashing Magazine about layouts.
Editor’s note:Please note that this article is quite lengthy, and contains dozens of CodePen embeds for an interactive view. The page might take a little while to load, so please be patient.
Layout on the web is hard. The reason it is so hard is that the layout methods we've relied on ever since using CSS for layout became possible were not really designed for complex layout. While we were able to achieve quite a lot in a fixed-width world with hacks such as faux columns, these methods fell apart with responsive design. Thankfully, we have hope, in the form of flexbox — which many readers will already be using — CSS grid layout and the box alignment module.
In this article, I'm going to explain how these fit together, and you'll discover that by understanding flexbox you are very close to understanding much of grid layout.
The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is the protocol that governs the connection between your server and the browsers of your website’s visitors. For the first time since 1999, we have a new version of this protocol, and it promises far faster websites for everyone.
In this article, we’ll look at the basics of HTTP/2 as they apply to web designers and developers. I’ll explain some of the key features of the new protocol, look at browser and server compatibility, and detail the things you might need to think about as we see more adoption of HTTP/2. By reading this article, you will get an overview of what to consider changing in your workflow in the short and long term. I’ll also include plenty of resources if you want to dig further into the issues raised.
The web is moving toward using HTTPS encryption by default. This move has been encouraged by Google, which announced that HTTPS would be a ranking signal. However, moving your website to HTTPS is good for other reasons, too.
Rather than debate those reasons, this article assumes you have already decided to move to HTTPS. We’ll walk through how to move your website to HTTPS, taking advantage of Varnish Cache.
In this article I’ll be taking a look at how to build a simple yet robust workflow for developing sites that require PHP and MySQL. I’ll show you how to use Vagrant to create and run a web server on your own computer, with the version of PHP your live site runs. I also demonstrate a process for using a hosted service to deploy files in a robust way to your live server.
This article is for you if you currently have no way to test your PHP and MySQL sites locally, or use something like MAMP or XAMPP. The second half of the article will help you move away from uploading files using FTP to a process that is far less likely to cause you problems.
I’m a firm believer that the best way to optimize for fast-loading mobile sites is to optimize for everyone. We don’t know when someone is on a non-mobile device but tethered to their phone, or just on awful Wi-Fi.
In a previous article for Smashing Magazine I explained how you can speed up your websites by serving dynamic pages from a reverse proxy like Varnish. If you are new to Varnish then that article is the place to start as I'll be diving straight into configuration details here. In this article I’ll explain how you can benefit from using Varnish even when there are parts of your pages that can’t be cached for long periods, using Edge Side Includes.
If you mention printing with CSS to many people who work on the web, print style sheets are the use that comes to mind. We are all well used to creating a style sheet that is called upon when a web document is printed. These style sheets ensure that the print version is legible and that we don’t cause a user to print out huge images.
However, CSS is also being used to format books, catalogs and brochures — content that may never have been designed to be a web page at all. In this article, we’ll take a look at the CSS modules that have been created not for use in web browsers, but to deal with printed and paged media.
Imagine that you have just written a post on your blog, tweeted about it and watched it get retweeted by some popular Twitter users, sending hundreds of people to your blog at once. Your excitement at seeing so many visitors talk about your post turns to dismay as they start to tweet that your website is down — a database connection error is shown.
Or perhaps you have been working hard to generate interest in your startup. One day, out of the blue, a celebrity tweets about how much they love your product. The person’s followers all seem to click at once, and many of them find that the domain isn’t responding, or when they try to sign up for the trial, the page times out.
Developing a product is one thing, bringing it to market is another. In this article, Rachel explains how to start with a new product, develop and support it over time. Interested in learning more? Rachel will be hosting a full-day Smashing workshop on "Shipping Your Product" in Berlin, and she has contributed a chapter on customer support to the brand new upcoming Smashing Book #4 (to be released in late November). —Ed.
If you are launching a bootstrapped product, then your aim should be to ship something that people are happy to give you money for as quickly as possible. This means launching with the minimum that will make your product something that people would be happy to buy. You can then begin to develop additional features based on what customers actually want and need, rather than on what you think they want and need.
PHP is widely available with inexpensive hosting plans, which makes it a popular choice for developers who write software for the Web. From big platforms, such as WordPress, down to small scripts, such as ones to display image galleries or to send forms to email, thousands of script and products are out there written in PHP that can be installed and used even if you don’t know much about PHP yourself.
I have been a PHP developer for 10 years, and my company has developed a content management system, written in PHP, that is intended to be very simple to install and get started with. So, I spend a lot of time working with designers who are installing a PHP script for the first time. If you are installing a script and something goes wrong, PHP can be incredibly infuriating.
Users will always need support. You could have a bulletproof product and the most excellent tutorials and documentation, and someone will find a way to break it or just not read the information staring them in the face. Later in this article, I’ll explain some ways to minimize support requests and the time spent in dealing with them. But you should expect to offer support and build it into the price of your product.
Your support systems should also help you track the amount of time being taken up by support, so that you can plan for future requirements. If you are a small company whose product developers are supporting the product at present, knowing the amount of time each license or user requires for support on average will enable you to project when you might need to hire additional support staff.
The world of mobile app development is quickly becoming a crowded and complicated space, especially for those outside of the development niche. “Which development platform should I use?” “Do I go native or Web-based?” “Which devices should I plan for?” “Can I build my mobile website by hand or should I use a pre-built package?” The questions are endless.
As a designer, my job is to help my clients answer these questions. I try to stay in the category of “knowing enough to be dangerous,” and I keep tabs on the latest mobile development trends, one being the growing popularity of mobile Web apps.