Monday, August 29, 2005

Steve Jobs Speaks

On June 12 Steve Jobs delivered the Commencement speech to the 114th graduating class at Stanford University. Jobs' message was simple and eloquent. "Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories."
  • the first story is about connecting the dots
  • the second story is about love and loss
  • the third story is about death
A video of the entire address -- 15 minutes total-- is available at YouTube. Why not begin today with words of wisdom from Steve Jobs? Just 15 minutes. "That's it. No big deal."

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Boys vs. Girls

Designers beware. Not only must we account for cross-browser design differences, now we must account for cross-gender design differences!

Websites created by men and women are different. So different, in fact, that women prefer Websites developed by women and men showed a preference for Websites developed by men, according to a first-of-its-kind-study published by a Business School in the U.K.

The study's co-author states that "businesses definitely need to sit up and take notice."

The implication is that Websites visited predominantly by one gender (women's beauty products, for example) may be less effective at attracting customers if developed by a person of the opposite gender.

The study evaluated Websites on 23 factors and significant differences were found on more than half of these factors when comparing male vs. female designers. Males, for example, favor the following design esthetics:

  • straight lines (as opposed to rounded forms)
  • few colors in the typeface and background
  • formal or expert language with few abbreviations
Conclusion: If you are an independent Web designer, you might want to obtain feedback from a designer of the opposite sex throughout the design process, especially if your client and/or client's primary target audience is of the opposite sex.

Friday, August 19, 2005

IT Hourly Wages

Hourly wages for Information Technology (IT) professionals averaged $29.38 in the second quarter. This hourly rate equates to an annual salary of more than $61,000.

This hourly pay calculation is based on wage data from 5,000 IT professionals working on short- and long-term projects at 1,000 large employers according to the
Yoh Index of Technology Wages.

Not all IT pay is equal, however. Workers possessing skills that are in heavy demand receive higher-than-average pay. A few of the hottest skills, centered largely around database and programming skill sets, are as follows (average hourly wages in parentheses):
  • ASP.Net ($50.90)
  • C#.Net ($52.09)
  • C/C++ ($49.97)
  • Java Developer ($52.59)
  • Oracle DBA ($53.81)
  • SQL DBA ($47.53)

So, Web developers who want to upgrade their skills -- and their earning potential -- will do well by adding a technology such as ASP.Net to their arsenal. ASP.Net is the latest version of Microsoft's Active Server Pages (ASP) technology.

Software and training does not need to be costly. In fact, Microsoft offers "a lightweight, easy-to-use and easy-to-learn development tool focused exclusively on Web development" called Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition. In addition Microsoft provides an online QuickStart Tutorial. Also, be sure to check out W3Schools' ASP.NET Tutorial for complementary training. All resources referenced are free of charge.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Web Design Pet Peeves

A study of 2,500 adult Internet users in United States reveals Web design features that annoy them when accessing commercial Websites. The implications are clear: more than 70% of visitors who are aggravated when viewing a Web page say they are less likely to make a purchase or even return to the Website!

So, what do visitors find annoying? Here are the top offenders:

  • pop-up ads
  • registration log-on pages
  • eye-catching Flash software

Additional "pet peeves" include the following:

  • dead links
  • confusing navigation
  • slow loading pages
  • ineffective site search tools

Web developers can use this research to educate clients on effective Website design. To review the details of this study access a press release issued by Hostway, an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and sponsor of the study.

Hostway is also sponsoring a free Web seminar entitled "How to Design a Consumer-Friendly Web Site" on Tuesday, August 16. It is designed to look at the business ramifications of these "pet peeves" and provide advice and resources for building appealing Web sites.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Boston Market -- August

This month's job market analysis focuses on two core skills -- HTML and SQL.

HTML is used to display information in a Web page. SQL is used to locate and display information stored in a database. The display of database information in a Web page requires knowledge of both HTML and SQL. In addition, knowledge of a scripting language - the glue that binds HTML and SQL - is the third piece of the puzzle that can make a static page dynamic.

Listed below are five common Web-based scripting languages along with the number of jobs currently listed in
  • ASP (126)
  • JSP (94)
  • ASP.NET (74)
  • PHP (31)
  • ColdFusion (10)

Listed below are the number of jobs posted on for our two core skills:

  • HTML (207)
  • SQL (463)

SQL job listings have consistently outpaced HTML job listings by more than a 2:1 ratio throughout the year. In fact, knowledge of SQL is vital in developing proficiency in the top five hottest non-certified skills (25% or more pay growth) in the past twelve months. So, Web designers who want to buff up their resume will do well to add SQL to their skill set.

SQL training is a mere click away by accessing a free SQL Tutorial at W3Schools. If you feel you already have a working knowledge of SQL you can test your knowledge with a 20-question SQL Quiz.