How you can achieve more with your Dreamweaver, and in less time

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Size matters

Why offer your website users the possibility to increase font?

The obvious answer is: not everyone has the same eyesight. For some people, what’s big for you, is small for them. Accessibility is a very important issue, and sometimes the answer is much easier than rethinking layouts or changing menu options. Some web designers say,  why bother?  since there are zooming features in practically all modern browsers now. What they forget is that not everyone spends their days updating browsing software, and not everyone ever bothers investigating their browsers’ hidden features such as zooming.

Some statistics:  The World Health Organization estimates 161 million people worldwide have a visual impairment. Of these, 37 million are blind and 124 million have low vision (World Health Organization, 2000).

An estimated 7.9 million persons age 15 and older (3.5%) have difficulty seeing words and letters in ordinary newspaper print, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses (Steinmetz).

Approximately 19 million persons age 18 and older (8.8%) report having any trouble seeing even when wearing glasses or contact lenses (Lethbridge-Cejku, Rose, and Vickerie).
One in six Americans (17%), 45 years of age or older, representing 16.5 million middle-aged and older adults, report some form of vision impairment even when wearing glasses or contact lenses (The Lighthouse Inc.)
These numbers speak for themselves. It’s not without a valid reason that the UK government mentions,  in the official guidelines for all government websites:

Use only clear, commonly used fonts. Avoid the use of small text. Users should have the ability to scale fonts.

Even now, with all the technological advancement, legibility problems regularly end up “winning” the top rankings in the top ten web-design mistakes.

So the real question is, “Do you want everyone to be able to view your website?”

If you make your websites in Dreamweaver, the simplest and quickest way to make your website totally legible by everyone is by using Font Magnify, a handy extension created by TDE which can be downloaded here.  A simple set of A+, A- buttons, which can be easily interpreted by everyone, can be added anywhere on your pages with a single click. All you need to do is establish which content you want to be scalable. This is handy, because as Peter Schaffer notices on DreamweaverExtensions.org, “Limiting the size manipulation to a certain area (the extension also lets you set a maximum and minimum size range) means nearby design elements can retain their look while the visitor adjusts their own browsing experience.”

When it comes to fonts…size matters indeed. Wouldnâ??t you agree?

July 29, 2009   No Comments

The Perfect Form

One Dreamweaver extension can assist, two can seriously help, but several in a bunch can boost your site to reach new horizons! Such “extension packages””, or groups of extensions usually unified by the same area of application, are called Dreamweaver Boosters. If, for example, you need your web form data saved directly into an Excel file – whcih can be very handy indeed! – then you may need an extension called Form to Excel. It does what it says: whenever the customer fills in a form, which may include attachments, all data are automatically saved in an Excel sheet. But you would normally want your web form to have a validation protocol, to avoid senseless submissions; you may want to receive an email message each time a form is filled in; you most certainly will want your form to end with a captcha code (watch out for evil robots out there!); what about being user-friendly and offer a “check all” feature? or allow for fields to auto-complete themselves when customer is entering some initial digits? These are just a few features of a perfect form. Instead of adding them one by one, you can save both time and money by uploading a Dreamweaver Booster for PHP Forms.

Other Boosters exist: such as SEO Booster, for example; we will describe this one in detail when we cover extensions that concern Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

 

January 29, 2009   No Comments

Browse, Submit, Upload Sesame!

Dreamweaver extensions cover a large variety of situations that a webmaster can come across in his or her work. A large amount of extensions have been written to address the problems, or deficiencies, that can arise during the interaction “website/customer”. Here’s one example. 

Now that many websites actively invite their users to contribute to its content, such as texts, pictures, or videos, one of the moments that define the user-friendlyness and visual attractiveness of your website is the Upload Interface. Say, you want your user to upload pictures. You want to allow them to upload up to 50 pictures. But they could upload just one, or two, or maybe they’ll want to be generous and will send you all 50? Should you have 50 Browse buttons for each possible upload? Of course not. The most appropriate solution is to generate an Upload item (allowing to browse and locate the needed file on the hard disk, which then becomes available for upload to your server), dynamically. What does it mean? It means that if a user uploaded ONE picture, another Browse button will appear, inviting to keep uploading; and so forth, until the user reaches a maximum of allowable uploads. 

Multiple File Fields

Multiple File Fields

This handy element can be easily inserted into your webpage by using a Dreamweaver extension called Multiple File Fields. You can use it to let your customers attach all kinds of files; this way they can easily submit text documents, such as resumes, work references, examples of written work, etc; but it is most often used to upload multiple pictures in dating or matchmaking sites, rental sites, where people upload pictures of their properties, and many more.

As you see, no magic is needed to make your upload interface look neat.  Just remember the magic words “Dreamweaver extensions”

November 28, 2008   No Comments

Extend your Dreamweaver

When you are creating a website using Adobe Dreamweaver, and it suddenly occurs to you that you could be using extensions to simplify and speed up your work, the question that arises is where to find them? What most people do is enter “Dreamweaver extensions” in Google and see if anything comes up that matches your needs.

But BigDreamweaver wouldn’t be big enough if we didn’t think of an even better way of finding those little gems called Dreamweaver extensions. We thought that the coolest way to look up extensions should be without leaving Dreamweaver, and this is why we came up with “Extension Locator”. If you have never used Dreamweaver extensions before, let it be your first one: it is absolutely free, and once you have it installed, you have instant access to an entire world of Dreamweaver extensions. 

Here’s how to install & use Dreamweaver Extension Locator: 

1. Download the Extension Locator here.

2. Unzip the file and double click the .mxp file

3. Restart your Dreamweaver.

4. Go to Dreamweaver Menu > Commands > Extension Locator - Extend your Dreamweaver. 

5. A window will appear - as shown on the image below. Simply enter a keyword that best describes what you need, or the area that you’re looking to cover with the desired extension (for example, “mail”).

ExtensionLocator

6. A list of available Dreamweaver extensions will appear, with short descriptions and buttons to find out more.  Extension Locator is compatible with all Dreamweaver versions starting with Dreamweaver MX, so it also works on Dreamweaver MX 2004, Dreamweaver 8, Dreamweaver CS3 y Dreamweaver CS4.

November 19, 2008   1 Comment

Is your website Christmas-ready?

At the end of November, all serious webmasters prepare for what is known as Christmas Frenzy. Traffic slows down, probably because a lot of people wander in real-life stores picking items that are measured in currency rather than in kilobytes. This is the time when you can attract attention by adapting your website to the holiday season; in a way, make your visitors feel that you’re on the same page. Indeed, “being on the same page” is an important feeling to respect; few things are more dangerous to a website than appearing out of date, or better said, out of touch with reality. You could have a site about biblical legends, or amateur paleontology, but if your visitors feel that you are living in the same world, the gap between the real and the virtual diminishes, and you can easier sweep your readers into your information maelstrom. How can this feeling be achieved without having to switch your background color to bright-christmassy-red, nor having mature white-bearded men populate your home page?

An efficient, yet elegant, unobtrusive manner to do so is offered by “Snow Effect” - a cute little Dreamweaver extension that makes snow flakes fall all over your webpage. You decide everything: how many snowflakes, how big they are, how fast they fall. You can have them in specific sizes or colors, have them occupy a specific part of the screen,  - to perfectly customize this cool effect to your page. 

No matter what your site’s style is: academically serious or absurdly comical - falling snowflakes will not greatly disturb your usual presentation, but will indeed present your users with a nice touch of HSS - Holiday Season Solidarity. 

A similar Dreamweaver extension can be used one month or so later, towards St Valentine’s: snowflakes are replaced by hearts. 

At this time, it seems like there is no Dreamweaver extension with falling Easter eggs, or Halloween pumpkins. Due to this striking absence, please take part in BigDreamweaver’s first poll: 

What other seasonal Dreamweaver extensions should exist?

View Results

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PS. Given the amazing popularity of skulls, hereâ??s a tip: for next Halloween, spice it up with some on-site entertainment using Skull Music Player - one of the truly rare Dreamweaver extensions that can induce fear!

November 19, 2008   No Comments

Convert visitors into users

Can a Dreamweaver extension generate content? 

 As you may have heard, Web 2.0 is all about sharing information. So if you are selling a product, or a service, or even if your website is totally free, it is still a good idea to let your (presumably happy) users comment on it and share their opinions. Not only it helps prospective users make up their mind about whether to buy, (or join, or subscribe), but it is also a good way to add unique content to your website. 

Research shows that 77% of customers are significantly influenced in online purchasing decisions by the quality of online content, and the highest rank in that content was awarded to customer reviews and ratings. 

The simplest way to incorporate usersâ?? reviews into your website is by using a Dreamweaver extension, such as Comment System. You will be able to choose the width of the comment submission box, and receive an email every time a new review is submitted. If you get a bad review, you can always delete it from the admin interface. But remember: nobody will believe your reviews if they look too good to be true. Always keep some bad reviews. People realize that bad luck exists and that you can have bad experiences even with the best companies out there. But it definitely looks suspicious if everybody is â??totally satisfiedâ? and nobody has anything critical to say about your service. 

It seems like the next big thing is video reviews - customers find video reviews especially appealing - Amazon already launched video reviews in November 2007. Simply mix Comment System with Video Inserter, and youâ??ve got a state-of-the-art customer review system online!  Another cool trick is pairing your Comments with a Rating System, which is another Dreamweaver extension, which adds a nice visual element to your customersâ?? opinions by representing their liking (or not) in terms of stars.

October 23, 2008   No Comments

Use Form Validator and save millions in lawyers fees

If you work with forms, you soon realize your Dreamweaver needs to be bigger. The moment always comes when you start looking for a Dreamweaver extension that will do what you need and save your time. 

A typical situation with forms is that you want people to tell you their shoe size, and they type â??Redâ?. It can seriously drive you nuts, especially if you have large volumes of forms to process, and hopefully lots of shoes to ship off to your customers. It becomes even more problematic if they say something like â??john2991â? in the email field, or if they skip a number in the credit card, which, of course, will result in a denied charge. You could also want their phone numbers to include their country code. You would be surprised at how many people in the United States never ever write +1 before their phone number. If a customer leaves a phone number like this: 86215623190, you could assume it is a customer from New Jersey, area code 862, OR from Shanghai, China, country code 86, area code 21. Of course, you would normally have a field for the address, or country of origin, which would help you figure it out, but most Big Dreamweavers do instead, is use validation protocols, which force your website visitors to submit the information correctly - i.e. according to the standard that you set up yourself.

Now, there is a risk of making it too difficult. Doesnâ??t it drive you crazy when you try to fill out a registration form on some website and it keeps bouncing you back, saying, â??your selected passwords donâ??t matchâ?! â??please enter a valid postal code!â? â??please enter a valid year of birth!â?. A good rule of thumb is, donâ??t ever ask too much. Weâ??ve got enough big brothers inquiring about every single aspect of our lives, as it is. So donâ??t ask for usersâ?? data unless you really really need it for their own sake - shoe size seems a fair request if you sell shoes…birth year doesnâ??t.

Form Validator is an Dreamweaver extension that does exactly what it says: it validates your forms before they are sent through to you. If your customer types â??Redâ? in the field that asks for her shoe size, as soon as she clicks on Submit, a prompt will show up saying â??Invalid entry in field: shoe sizeâ?, or, perhaps, â??Hmm… something doesnâ??t look right. Are you sure about your shoe size?â? - if you want to sound cool. In fact, if you sell really funky shoes, and your whole website is waaay cool, the freedom to set the â??error messageâ? to say what you want is rather important. You donâ??t want to sound like a bureaucrat rejecting a passport photo because your smile is too big.

Form Validator comes with several validation rules preset, so you donâ??t have to think about practically anything, just keep clicking. It will require a bit more of your attention if you decide to set up your own validation rules, because you will then have to come up with a â??valid regular expressionâ? that matches your rule. In most cases you will able to find a regular expression by searching on Google. Just donâ??t forget to place the expression between /brackets/ when you insert this extension in your Dreamweaver.

A typical case of validation requires the user to check â??I accept Terms and Conditionsâ? box before proceeding; simply imagine the millions of dollars that this Dreamweaver extension could save you in court of law!

October 22, 2008   No Comments

Dreamweaver extensions?

If you are a beginner user of Dreamweaver, you may not yet know that ways have been invented to have you sit back, relax, and watch your favourite show instead of actually building, brick by brick, the website you, - or your client - have in mind. I am talking about Dreamweaver extensions: cool little mxp files that in a couple of clicks achieve what would otherwise take hours of work. Most importantly, - since a lot of people don’t mind “hours of work”, as it is pure pleasure with the new version of Adobe’s dream machine, - it allows a newbie to create complex, feature-rich sites. BigDreamweaver.com’s noble mission is to show you the way in the world of Dreamweaver extensions, discuss how to use them effectively, how to locate the right one on the Net, how to use them, and even how to build one yourself.

Needless to say, creating high-quality websites entails more than filling it with cool features. And having a fantastic website doesn’t really serve any purpose if nobody knows about it. Which is why we will not only cover Dreamweaver extensions, but also basic Dreamweaver tips and tricks, and will pay special attention to the positioning of your website - search engine optimization, SEO - which, by the way, can be greatly assisted by… Dreamweaver extensions.

Dreamweaver extensions will not only speed up your work, and make your webpages look amazing: they can also contribute to your website’s rank in Google search and allow for a better customer feedback, which eventually results in more hits, and a better position in search engines. Basically, when you launch a website, you need to see the big picture: make your site complex, but user-friendly; visually appealing, yet rich in content. All these qualities can be achieved with help of Dreamweaver extensions, and BigDreamweaver will help you pick the right one for your needs.

October 18, 2008   No Comments