January 31, 2015

How to Shapes Navigational Structure of Mobile Designs?

With more and more users leaning towards mobile devices than desktop systems, creating mobile first designs has become a necessity for web designers. When creating designs for the mobile, most of us, pay attention to improving the look and functionality of the design and making it simple enough for users to understand. However, we overlook how the navigation works. Remember, providing navigational aids is equally important to offering great mobile first designs.

In essence, rather than just craving for visual simplicity we need to ensure that our visuals are easy to navigate. Wayfinding is an excellent technique that helps inspire us to introduce navigation to our designs.

Understanding the Significance of Wayfinding

Wayfinding, as the name suggests, inform about our surroundings and how we can navigate in the virtual space around us.

We all depend on hints in our environment, to figure out where we’ve been and where we should head to next. For instance, if you have taken a flight to a place, you can recall your experience to know what you need to do when boarding a flight in an unfamiliar airport.

Similar to the way we find directions in real life, we also look for information when browsing the web via our mobile. And, probably we are bound to experience the same frustration and struggle we went through while searching for our intended destination.

A Look At Wayfinding Concepts

There are three different wayfinding concepts that can be implemented into mobile and responsive designs for making navigation easier for the users:

1. Circulation systems

It represents an infrastructure allowing people to move around inside a fixed space. In simple words, they help define the navigation path to users. It facilitates users diversified options to reach to their intended destination. When it comes to designing for the web, circulation systems acts as navigational structures like the hierarchical tree menu, nested doll navigation used in mobile web applications, etc.

2. Spatial cues

Circulation systems shows the path, determining people where they need to move further. Spatial clues, on the other hand, determines the observable qualities of a space, making people know their surroundings. Web designers depend on the spatial clues to help users locate the path they need to navigate. There are two form of spatial clues: landmark and edges.

Landmark: In terms of UI design, a landmark are elements placed in a fixed position that helps visitors know about their position relative to those elements. Let's take a look at some elements (the ones that are visible throughout a site):

  • Logo
  • Guide us to return to the home screen
  • Primary navigation
  • Provide access to landing pages, helping users to explore other sections quickly.
  • Breadcrumbs
  • It serves as a ladder that enable users to traverse up the site map
  • Search

It provides an alternate way to users to find out about the required information.

Edges: As the name implies, tell us about the boundaries where we can tap targets (i.e. area of clickable links and buttons). When we talk about UI design, defining the edges of the objects as well as regions of mobile device help users become acquainted with its interface quickly.

3. Signage

This concept is about incorporating instructional signs, symbols and iconography guide people how to navigate in their mobile devices. In mobile design elements such as menus, labels, buttons, etc., serves as signage. Since symbols take less space compared to text, they're massively used in UI designs. Considering the fact that, people make use of images and text in a different manner, it becomes needful for designers to keep certain factors in mind, when determining: how and when an image or text should be used. Here are a few ways that will let you know how you can utilize icons effectively.

Using Icons: Icons are considered to be one of the most effective means that enables people to communicate information. In addition, they even help highlight navigation options of a mobile device screen. One downside to using icons is that they can be misinterpreted, as users often find some icons that are hard to understand. But icons work in an excellent way when they people are familiar to them. Let's take a look at some of the most common icons:

  • + (Plus): Adds or expands
  • - (Minus): Remove item
  • x (Cross): Close or Exit a window and more..

Text Labels: Well-written text labels compared to icons are more easier to understand. In mobile designs, text makes it easier for users to scan and process different options. Especially, text helps you understand the meaning behind icons that you might not be aware of. For example, as you can see in the below screen shot there are a lot of symbols in the web design that you might be able to relate to, however the text written beneath those symbols clearly define what they're meant for.

Wrapping Up!

There exists a lot of difference between the physical and digital space, however, there is a similarity between them in the manner how we familiarize and determine where we need to move in both those spaces. Just like we depend on cues in our surroundings to know where and how we need to go to our destination, similarly there are visual cues using which we can understand how we can navigate smoothly in a mobile design. This can be done effectively with help of wayfinding assistance.

About the author: Lucie Kruger is an application developer working with Mobiers Ltd, the leading mobile app development company. She provides concrete information on latest technologies like iOS, Android mobile apps development.

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January 28, 2015

AngularJS - Why every web developer should know it better ?

Are you about to build your next web app? Have you heard a lot about AngularJS but are still unsure whether to choose it or not? If your answer to both these questions is a 'Yes' then you're on the right post. Here, I'll be making you familiar with some compelling reasons why knowing AngularJS and using it during your forthcoming web app development project is a 'Win-Win' situation, both for you(as a web app developer) and for your client. So, let's take a closer look at these reasons which make AngularJS a must-know framework for web developers across the globe.

AngularJS uses HTML for defining app's user interface

As a declarative language, HTML is being utilized for defining the use interface of web applications. Unlike the hassles associated with defining the app interface via a procedural approach in JavaScript, HTML offers you the convenience of framing an interface that can be easily reorganized as and when required. Plus, the special attributes of HTML allows you to determine “what” gets loaded. This plays a vital role in simplifying the web app development via the WYSIWYG(what you see is what you get) method. Instead of spending time and efforts on defining the program flow along with the things that should be loaded first, all you need to do is just define what you expect the app to do and AngularJS will take care of everything else.

Cuts down the need for writing lengthy code

The Data-binding feature available in AngularJS saves you from putting data into the views using a manual approach. Rather, the view is being defined using HTML, making it simpler to write the data models without facing any kind of issues. In addition to this, the in-built filters enable you to manipulate all the data that has been stored inside the view, without the need for altering controllers. With such brilliant utilities in hand, you can save yourself from worrying about writing lengthy and complex code.

Open for Unit Testing

It is the Dependency Injection(DI) feature of AngularJS which makes it ready and available for unit testing. This DI asset allows it to manage the scopes and controllers. With unit testing for AngularJS, you can opt for injecting mock data into the controllers, thereby measuring the behavior and output in a fuss-free way.

Services available with AngularJS aid in manipulating the scope of web design project

AngularJS comes loaded with services which offer an outward API which is further utilized for exposing components you intend to expose for your web application. By synchronizing with your server, AngularJS works as the best option for maintaining an offline data backup for your app. Also, you can opt for creating a separate resource sharing service which would allow your multiple controllers to share a specific set of resources. All the services available with AngularJS serve as standalone objects which have been separated from the web application and enable your controller to stay lean. Therefore, you need not configure any third-party services for your controller as all the complexities would be well taken care of by these default services.

Data models available in AngularJS are plain old JavaScript objects(POJO)

Since all the data models defined in AngularJS are POJO, you need not create any additional functions for tweaking the web application. You are free to add and modify the properties, followed by looping over the arrays and objects in accordance to your specific preferences. Doing this will make your code look a lot more crisp, clean and intuitive. Unlike the conventional data models, AngularJS's data models work in close proximity to the controller and view. All the changes made to the properties are being keenly observed by AngularJS, which further updates the review via an automatic approach.

Wrapping it all up

I'm sure the aforementioned reasons would have given you an idea of what makes AngularJS a powerful and robust web app development framework. Irrespective of the purpose behind building an application, AngularJS would turn to be the right fit for your specific domain. Leveraging features of AngularJS will undoubtedly enable you to come with a web application that is loaded with flawless functionalities and visual assets worth receiving numerous remarks.

Author Bio: Maria Mincey is qualified web development outsourcing professional who is great at delivering focus in her writings. She works for Xicom Technologies, a software development company which delivers most comprehensive web applications and solutions for different industry verticals.

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January 27, 2015

How jQuery Mobile and HTML 5 Can Impact Your Mobile App Development

Whether you are interested in developing a mobile website or application, implementing an appropriate framework can help you accomplish your project in a more efficient manner. There are numerous frameworks available out there that helps one improve their productivity with the resourceful features of the development tools.

The jQuery Mobile is one such mobile framework with which you can develop your simple, cross-platform web application with utmost precision and convenience. This framework is basically a HTML 5 based UI system that allows developers to beautifully integrate both JavaScript and HTML 5 for creating a flexible mobile web app that stand up to the UI expectations of numerous devices like Smartphones, tablet, iPad, desktop, etc.

The incredible community contribution has added numerous utile plugins and other useful features that makes jQuery Mobile a viable framework. However, there are certain merits and demerits of implementing this UI system for mobile web app development. Let's have a glimpse over some of them.

Valuable Merits of jQuery Mobile and HTML 5:

  • Supports Cross-Platform And Cross-Device App Development – Today, when there are truckloads of mobile devices featuring distinct shapes and sizes, and numerous mobile platforms are available out there, the task of developing an app to target a whopping number of mobile users has become a bit cumbersome. Thus, following an approach that facilitates developers to effortlessly and efficiently develop cross-device and cross-platform app not only minimizes the overall complexity but also offers a prolific solution.
  • No App Approvals are Needed Even for iOS Devices – Seeking Apple App store approval for launching an app publicly is one of the factors that makes the platform rank low under the preference chart. However, if you have developed a web app for your website using jQuery Mobile framework, you won't need to wait for approval from the app store even if your app is targeting an iOS device. This helps you save your valuable time and efforts.

    Moreover, the jQuery Mobile app users are not required to update their app manually, rather they will get an updated version, as soon as they reload your website.

  • Faster Turnaround Time – You can accomplish your application development task by implementing this framework at a faster rate as compared to that while implementing any platform natively. That is so even if you don't possess any prior knowledge about HTML 5 or jQuery Mobile, as the learning curve for this framework is comparatively low.
  • Customizable Themes – The visual appearance of your application is quite imperative as it helps attract users. With this framework, you can easily customize a desirable look and feel to your app. And, modify it as and when desired.
  • Platform-agnostic UI widgets – Since currently, the mobile market trends are greatly focusing over touchscreen devices, the touch-optimized widgets for UI elements makes the jQuery a viable choice for developers.

Demerits of jQuery Mobile and HTML 5:

  • Can't Access All Device's Features – Since, it runs JavaScript in the browser, it doesn't facilitate access to all native features of mobile devices. However, if you consider this aspect, native apps stand ahead of the jQuery Mobile web apps.
  • Not Apt For Multimedia And Gaming Apps – The framework is preferred only for simple, data entry types applications. Native app development approach is considered much better than this approach, if one is interested in creating feature-rich, complex application like Gaming or multimedia apps.
  • No MVC Architecture Support – Model View Controller (MVC) offers different views of the software. It helps separate presentation from the logic and facilitates greater efficiency. Unlike other mobile app development tools like PhoneGap, this framework doesn't support MVC architecture.

It is essential to review the benefits and drawbacks of using a framework beforehand. Because, this helps one easily streamline their choice for preferred framework. Review the aforementioned merits and demerits of the jQuery Mobile web app framework before beginning app development. If your need a simple and efficient application for performing task like data entry, you must deploy this tools and integrate HTML 5 and JavaScript is an absolute manner. Your app will surely deliver remarkable performance.

About the author: Addison Cohen is an application developer for Appsted Ltd, an iPhone app development services provider. He loves sharing latest information on mobile technology.

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January 20, 2015

How to Create and Add Custom Widgets to WordPress Theme?

WordPress comes with some amazing built-in functions. “Widgets” is one such default function that helps to add functionality to your theme’s sidebar, also known as widget-ready areas. However, default widgets always might not match up to your expectations of coming up with a website that functions according to your wants and needs. Besides, with time, eventually you may need new things which might not be available with default WordPress widgets. In that case implementing and using custom widget area will be a more viable solution.

There are plenty of tutorials and resources available online dedicated to help you learn about the process of creating custom WordPress widgets and how you can add them up to your theme. But, you may find those materials hard to understand. Especially, newbies often find them insufficient to implement, so as to add custom widgets to their website.

So, to help you out, I will be discussing about a basic tutorial on creating a custom sidebar widget that even the novices can understand easily. But, before that let’s first discuss about the most common concern among users!

What are WordPress Widgets?

Widgets allows you to add static and dynamic content to your WordPress posts and page. They are also called executable scripts that you can drag and drop in your theme’s sidebar or other widget-ready areas to embed custom content and functions. The available widgetized areas will vary from one theme to another. You can find several types of widgets. WordPress comes packed with built-in widgets like post categories, tag clouds, navigation menu etc.

Adding a Custom Widget to Your Pages/Post

For implementing your custom widget and widget-ready areas in your WordPress theme, you will have to first get it registered. In our example, we are creating a sidebar widget. And so, let us take a look at the code that will help register our widget. For this purpose, you’ll need to add the following code in your theme’s functions.php file.

'name' => __('My first Custom Widget'),
'description' => __('You describe your widget here.'),
'id' => 'first-custom-widget',
'before_widget' => '
', 'after_widget' => '
', 'before_title' => ' ', 'after_title' => ' ' ));

As you can see in the above code, we’re registering only a single sidebar “my first Custom Widget”. Next, an array is declared with different values that are needed to create the custom widget. Let's talk about those values one by one:

Name: This helps to assign name to our custom widget. You can change this name to your Widget name.

Description: This is another parameter that helps to identify what will come in your theme’s sidebar.

id: This parameter is used to call the custom widget that you would like to display in your WordPress widgetized area.

before_widget: It places HTML before your custom widget.

after_widget: It places HTML after your custom widget.

before_title: This argument places your HTML before your custom widget title.

after_title: This argument positions your HTML after your custom widget title.
Once your custom widget is registered, you just need to drag and drop that widget into your WP theme. For this purpose, you will have to go to Appearance -> Widgets screen. Remember that your custom Widget won’t be visible on your theme until it is being called from the place you want to display it.

In order to use your custom widget in your WordPress website, simply copy and paste the following function in your functions.php file:

 //my-first-custom-widget is the id of your widget  

Next, go to your widgets panel and you’ll notice that your newly created “My first Custom Widget” will be visible in your WordPress back end (as you can see in the screenshot below). Finally, you can drag-and-drop the elements in your custom widget area that you want to display in your theme

Summing Up!

Widgets are powerful tools that help to embed additional functionality into your WP theme. You can add them to your WordPress posts/page, however usually they get added to WordPress theme’s widget-ready areas including sidebar, header or any other widgetized regions. WordPress comes with default widgets, but you might feel the need to create a custom one tailored to fit your needs.

Reading this post will help you learn how you can create and add custom Widgets to your WordPress pages or posts.

About Author:

Emily Heming is a professional WordPress developer for a leading PSD to WordPress company. She also provides conversion services like HTML to WordPress theme and many more. She has served many companies helping them in developing user-friendly website. So feel free to contact her.

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