To Be, Or Not To Be: An Independent Consultant

I’ve been in the Web Development field for over 16 years and during this time I have worked as a consultant and as a fulltime employee. If you ask me which I prefer I would say I prefer being a fulltime employee but not for the reasons you might think. As a Consultant I experienced working for consulting firms and as an independent consultant. Both options are viable ones which I would recommend to any developer seeking to make a move away from the fulltime employee scene. Both offer great pay opportunities and a level of independence that is refreshing and rewarding. They also ask for a higher level of commitment when you consider how your level of responsibility is increased when you become a consultant.

IT consultant
IT consultant (Photo credit: Todor036)

How could this higher commitment level impact you? Consider this, as a consultant you will no longer have tuition reimbursement available to you unless you are lucky enough to be hired by a consulting firm that offers it. Most likely you will be hired by a consulting firm that only offers this benefit to fulltime employees, not short-term consultants like you. Add to this that you will have to keep up with new trends in the field of your choice if you want to stay competitive. As a consultant you are only as good as your level of experience which can be limited to the type of work you are contracted to do. Unless you make a commitment to keep your skills up-to-date you will not remain competitive. The consultant market is full of opportunities but most of them are for short-term contracts and as a consultant you won’t have the luxury of choice, at least not at the beginning. You will have to be focused and committed to your choice if you want to succeed.

If you are looking into becoming a consultant you must consider more than just your experience and what pay you could expect, you need to consider the fact that what you have taken for granted as a fulltime employee will be your responsibility. It will be on you to secure many of the benefits your HR department offered. It will be on you to track your expenses in order to deduct them come tax time. It will be on you to market yourself in order to secure new contracts and keep earning money.

At first glance, choosing to become a consultant seems like a no-brainer but I’m here to tell you it is a very serious decision which will impact your life considerably. Make an informed decision, do your homework and research all aspects of consulting before committing to becoming one.

.

Advertisements

Website Accessibility and Usability

Usability is one of the most pressing issues in the field of website development nowadays. The usability of a website is tested against its simplicity which makes it easy for people to navigate the site as fast as possible, therefore making access to information easier.

Accessibility is a concept that is intertwined with the concept of usability. It refers to creating the website content available to all people.

Context

The issue has caught the attention of different sectors of society.  Why? Because 1 out of 5 people in America possess some kind of disability and this figure translates to around 30 million Americans. The figure is still increasing, with the coming of age of senior citizens. During the past decade alone, a dramatic increase of 25% was seen.

Why the Internet?

One might ask, “Why is the Internet a central focus in this issue of usability?” The Internet has transformed the lives of people during the past decade. People have been able to do things that they were not able to do before, this includes the people with disabilities. People who are impaired don’t have as much opportunities compared to people who are well and able. The Internet has provided them avenues for communication, information gathering, social interaction, engaging in cultural activities and it provides them with employment opportunities. However, statistics have shown that the potential of the Internet to provide these certain opportunities is still not maximized because the people with disabilities are hindered by usability issues from using it to the fullest.

Stakeholders

The issue of usability is not only watched by institutions which are related to giving support to people with disabilities, most of the sectors of society are closely watching its progress. Institutions which are involved in governance, education, media, public services and even the business sectors are observers in the game.

Benefits

The benefits of improving accessibility of websites will not only benefit the people who have impairments but will affect the whole web community. Businesses, services, information campaigners, everyone will benefit.

Many people are calling for developing websites using a universal design approach. This is a way of developing web content which would accommodate the widest range of users. Some features of this said scheme are: provision of interoperability of applications; access for the disabled; localization and customization.

Recommendations for Improving Accessibility

Listed below are some of the key recommendations from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 which was developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative of W3C on how to improve the accessibility of the contents of a website.

1. Provide alternatives to audio-visual content

Not all people will be able to use different kinds of content. These people may be disabled or may have a lower version of Internet browsers. Movies, sound clips, animations and other contents should be translated into text alternatives so as to provide information to the broadest range of viewers.

2. Developers shouldn’t rely on color alone

Many people are impaired in color differentiation. Developers shouldn’t rely too much on the use of colors to relay information in the websites. Charts that are color-coded should be modified and the background and foreground colors of the websites should have enough contrast to enable people with color differentiation impairment to easily navigate the site.

3. Clarification of the use of natural language

Content developers usually mark up the changes in natural language in their websites. They should be able to identify the dominant language that is used in the site so as to avoid confusion.

4. Control of content changes that are time-sensitive

This issue particularly involves people who have visual or cognitive impairments and those who are not able to read texts that are moving quickly. Movement is seen as an over-all enhancer to the look of the site, but it may pose some problems to people with cognitive impairments.

5. Accessibility of user interfaces that are embedded

Objects that posses their own interfaces should be made accessible, and alternative solutions must be provided if this is not possible.

6. Provision of orientation and context information

The provision of information on how the objects are organized is important to provide people with guidance on how to access information.

There are other ways of improving a website’s over-all accessibility to make it more usable. Developers should take into consideration the different people who are going to view their websites and make them focal points in the designing process.

7 Surefire Ways To Increase Your Traffic Starting Yesterday

Internet. Business. Profit. To fully integrate all of these words into a successful merging you will need another word. Traffic. Every article you will find about making your site or company successful would always include the importance of generating traffic.

So, we all know that in the core of it all, traffic is the most essential thing to a successful internet based business company. Aside from ensuring that you have a great product to sell, and you have your company’s internal organization well taken core of, it would be time to get to the nitty-gritty of things, generating traffic.

If you already have a site and you want think that you’re not getting the traffic that you’re supposed to be getting, then its time to reconsider. If you are contending in these very competitive business, you should always be a step ahead of your competition, increasing your traffic flow should have been done starting yesterday.

Timing is essential, that’s an old adage known to everyone. But with generating traffic, you should always be on your toes and be a day ahead of everyone. Never think of today and tomorrow as a starting point for making your site traffic laden, it should always have been yesterday.

To help you out in generating more traffic for your site, here are some seven surefire ways to increase your traffic starting from yesterday.

1) Invest in good advertising with search engines

Google’s AdWords and Yahoo’s Overture provide great advertising schemes that are very truly popular and assures great traffic. Although with this surefire way to increase your traffic would cost some money. While some would shy away from spending money to increase traffic, it is imperative in this case to do so because AdWords and Overture is the top surefire way to increase your traffic.

You could see for yourself the success this search engine advertising methods have reaped rewards for so many companies. Lots of site feature these advertising system and many have signed on to reap the benefits. Do not be left behind. Every penny is worth it with using Google and Yahoo’s advertising.

2) Exchange or Trade Links with other sites

With exchanging links with other sites, both of you will benefit from the efforts both of you do to enhance your site’s traffic. When one site features another sites link, they could provide one another with the traffic one site generates. The efforts are doubly beneficial because it would seem like both of you are working to generate more traffic. The more links traded with more sites the more traffic could be expected.

3) Use Viral Marketing

Viral marketing allows you to spread the word about your company and product without any costs or if ever low costs only. This is a marketing method that can be quite sneaky; you can attach your company’s name, product or link to a certain media such as a funny video, entertaining game, an interesting article or a gossip or buzz. With this method, people get infected with the creativity and entertainment of the medium that they will pass it on to many people.

4) Search and use proper keywords or keyword phrases for your site’s content

Search engines look for certain keywords that they would show in their results page. In doing so, having the right keyword and keyword phrase is a high requirement in ranking in high in search engine results. You could write your own content or you could hire someone to do it for you.

5) Write Articles that can lead traffic to your site

Submit articles to sites that would contain the same subject that your site deals in. If you sell car parts write press releases and articles about cars and car parts. Attach your sites description and services at the end of the article as well as the link.

6) Join forums and form online communities

Capture a market and show your expertise and credibility. When you found a good foundation for your site, people will trust you and your site and will pass on to many people their trust. Traffic will certainly increase because they know that you can provide what they need.

7) Lastly, Offer newsletters.

If many people know what you are about and your existence is shared with many others, you will find a loyal traffic that can provide you with more traffic by recommendation. If you arouse the curiosity of your customers they would be pushed to help you with your traffic.

Website Design That Can Improve Its Usability

Internet users encounter a website’s usability before they even have decided to use it and more so before they make up their minds on probable purchases. A fact is, the World Wide Web is the supreme setting for empowerment, where the one who is clicking the mouse controls everything.

Search engine marketing is important as generally visitors utilize search engines in order to discover your website. However once they reach your site, they should be able to use your site with ease and understand its content.
Research shows that of 43 million internet websites, only 42 percent are found to be usable.

Evidently, a major measure of website success is its effectiveness in converting leads into buyers.  However, recent studies show that 50 percent of website sales are wasted due to the fact that visitors can not locate the content that they need; this leads to reduced web productivity, increased visitor frustration, wasted visitor time as well as loss of visitor’s repeat visits, in turn, loss of website money.

Studies done by usability experts estimates that by improving your visitors’ web encounter, it increases your buyers by about 40 percent and also increases the overall amount of orders by 10 percent.

A fact is, internet users do not like to wait, more so learning how to go about using a hard to navigate home page. Individuals need to easily understand how a certain website functions immediately after they have scanned the page.

Here are guidelines to improve your website’s usability:

Simple and clear web navigation design

•    It must be situated in the exact same location on each page and in exact same format, so that your visitors will not get frustrated and confused if links disappear and appear unpredictably.

•    Use suitable text in your links. Your visitors must know where links will take them, through reading the text provided in your link.

•    Employ the use of CSS to give emphasis on text links.

•    Include always text links. Keep in mind that each page must have “text links” which links to all important parts of the website.

•    Include a “site logo” linking to your home page. Generally site logos are located at the topmost “left-hand” corner of the page, where most visitors have the tendency to go even before searching for the homepage link which usually is located in your navigation system.

•    Place a website search box to help your visitors locate quickly the information that they need.

Have a simple, authentic and clear content.

An attractive web design no doubt attracts visitors yet good content is what keeps your visitors on your site and inspires them to visit again.

•    When you write your content, while it is important to think of search engines and keywords, also think of your visitors and present the content in a manner that is easily understandable and to solve their problems.

•    Create an attractive heading and each paragraph should offer appealing statements all the time.

•    Create a page content that is easy to scan and emphasize your most important points with colors, bold letters or header tags.

Support your brand

A great brand strengthens your visitors’ impression or idea of your website. A site that is branded strongly imprints in your visitor’s mind your products each time they go “shopping”.

•    Keep typefaces and colors consistent. Pick fonts and colors carefully and consistently use them throughout the website.

•    Keep your page layout constant. Employ the use of a “website template” in order to carry out a consistent page structure.

•    Make a helpful custom page error that can help visitors should they click on “a broken link” or enter an incorrect URL.

Provide visitor feedback

Forms are essential to your e-commerce site’s success, as without it, you can not have your shopping cart. And any site generally needs a form for visitor feedback.

•    Keep them short and easily accessible, clearly noting what is required in order to submit it successfully.

•    Supply your complete contact details including your fax number, business telephone number, postal address and your email address.

Test your website prior to launching

•    Test to determine if your website loads successfully in all “browsers”.

•    Test all your links and be sure that they are working properly.

•    Look for and be sure that your website is free from errors.

•    Search for grammatical errors and misspelled words and correct them if any.

•    Test your website load times.

Web usability puts designing and planning primarily for your website visitors your top priority.  Website that measure up to the expectations of its visitors will have comfortable visitors that will visit your site again and again and recommend it to friends.

How to Make a Website More Appealing to International Users

More and more people around the world are using the Internet, and the numbers are increasing everyday. The Internet has become the primary source of information for many, and because of that, web sites have to constantly improve the content and image of their web pages in order to keep users interested in accessing their sites.

What are the measures that should be implemented by web designers in order to make their sites more appealing to users around the world? Here is a list of issues that can be encountered in web design and the necessary action to be considered:

1. Availability of basic features
First, the design of a web site should be compatible to any browser. It should be able to pass HTML and CSS validation tests. Second, web sites should be able to cater to disabled users. This won’t be a problem as long as designers adhere to web standards. Third, the process of navigating a web site should be simple enough for all users. No user likes to encounter a new site, and then he or she has to figure out how to navigate around it. Fourth, status bars should be available. It shows the destination of links as the cursor is being moved. The status of the current page is also displayed as it loads.

2. Appearance of the pages
There are four elements that make up the appearance of a web site. They are the fonts, color, graphics, and writing.

Fonts are not just a matter of personal preference of the user and the designer. The primary importance of font choice is that it affects how fast the users can read the information being presented. Arial fonts are usually recommended over the Times New Roman and the Verdana.

When applying color, it is important that there is enough contrast between background and foreground in order for the content to be readable. To achieve maximum contrast, black text against a white background should be used. Link colors should be established at standard settings.

When it comes to graphics, bear in mind that some pages get too overloaded because of the use of too much images. As much as possible, use graphics only to support the content being presented to users. A lot of people actually have the tendency to shut off the images when browsing for information.

Web designers should remember the distinction between writing for the web and writing for print. Web content should be short and straight to the point.

3. Site performance
There are three factors that determine the overall performance of a web site. These are speed, tables, and connections.

Since everyone is hankering for more bandwidth, the best that designers can do is to avoid the usage of design that will take up too much bandwidth, because not every user has access to fast Internet connections.

To avoid making the site appear like it takes forever to download, avoid loading putting a whole page inside a table. Instead, divide the page into several tables.

Web designers should not cloud a page with too much items for the simple reason that each item requires a separate browser for the whole page to be downloaded.

4. The occurrence of bugs
Of course, no one wants to have bugs in his system. To avoid this, body text should be set up with relative font sizes. One has to consider that there are users out there who have poor eyesight, and they would like to adjust the font sizes through their individual settings in order to read the text more clearly. The relative value recommended for this would be:

font-size: -1

or

font-size: 100%

In case of URLs, it should be simple and short, containing no punctuation or spaces. Users should be able to copy a URL and paste it into an email message without it being wrapped in multiple lines. To avoid dead links, redirects should be established, in order to avoid the breaking of bookmarks and links.

Web designers should make sure that navigation features will be present at all times, whatever the size of the window the user is using. Browser windows should be maximized when applying design, because not every user will be surfing the Internet in a maximized window.

Top 5 Challenges for Virtual Server Data Protection

Data Protection and the Drive to Virtualization

The benefits of server virtualization are compelling and are driving the transition to large-scale virtual server deployments. From cost savings recognized through server consolidation or business flexibility and agility inherent in the emergent private and public cloud architectures, virtualization technologies are rapidly
becoming a cornerstone of the modern data center.

However, the lure of virtual server deployments is having unintended consequences for data storage and data protection. The consolidation of physical servers and networking is resulting in a massively converged IT
infrastructure where already limited resources are being made even more scarce. Typical server consolidation ratios of 10 to 1 mean there are a fraction of the resources there once were for even routine IT management tasks like backup and recovery. In addition to fewer resources, massive data growth coupled with the expanding number of virtual machines is leading to an ever larger and more consolidated amount of data that must be managed and protected. The benefits of virtual servers in terms of cost savings, application flexibility and uptime are now driving customers to deploy more critical applications within a virtual machine context. These critical applications come with the most demanding SLAs for application uptime, granular recovery points, and rapid recovery times.

With this shift to virtualized data centers and round the clock operations, there is a need to rethink the traditional data protection techniques. Data protection and data recovery must have minimal front end impact and cannot exclusively rely on the legacy methods of streaming copying data from the production to the
backend. A modern, effective solution minimizes the load on production systems, reduces administrative effort, enhances data protection and recovery, eases the transition to a virtualized data center, and will enable cloud-based options when they are desired.

The Challenges of Virtual Server Data Protection

1 Exploding Backup Windows
High server consolidation and high virtual machine (VM) density concentrates data ownership to a small number of physical servers with most resources dedicated for production workloads. There are few resources, if any, left for traditional management tasks, such as backup, which moves data over a network during a fixed window. In this new world of consolidated and virtualized environments, storage and backup teams are being asked to protect large and growing data stores with a fraction of the compute, network and storage resources and to do so in less time.

As server resources continue to consolidate and virtual environments become more concentrated, the amount of data owned by virtual machines is skyrocketing. This massive growth in the amount of data to be owned, managed and protected by the virtual environment is compounding what is already an untenable situation when using a traditional streaming backup approach. Cases are emerging where a successful backup of multi-terabyte data stores using a traditional streamed backup approach is exceeding a 24-hour window,
far in excess of what the modern data center requires.

Every virtual machine is essentially a set of large files (VMDKs in a VMware context). These large files are stored on LUNs known as Datastores. Datastores can be configured on iSCSI or Fiber Channel block storage volumes or on NFS volumes. Traditional data protection techniques such as VMware’s vStorage API for Data Protection (VADP), or VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) rely on an external agent to protect VMDK files associated with virtual servers. Typical steps are as follows:

  • Queisce virtual servers to get a consistent set of VM image files.
  • Use the VADP enabled agent to read the VM image files from the Datastores.
  • Copy the image files to a backup disk target.
  • Release the Virtual Servers for normal operations.

While VADP brings much efficiency to this process, it is still a streaming method that moves the image files from the datastore to backup disk for protection. For environments with ever shrinking backup windows, there is simply not enough time or bandwidth to move all the VM data. Even if the infrastructure is available to copy all this data, it places a tremendous burden on the datastores as the data is read.

2 Unprotected Virtual Machine Data
The ease of deploying new VMs leads to a virtual machine sprawl, making it tedious and time-consuming for administrators to keep track of new virtual machines and to ensure correct data protection and retention policies are applied to them. There is a major risk that important virtual machines may be created and never backed-up. Today, many administrators spend a significant part of their day tracking down new VMs and manually applying data protection policies. In the modern data center with hundreds or even thousands of virtual machines, this manual approach to ensuring VM protection policies is simply an unacceptable solution.

3 Lack of Application Integration
As more and more mission critical applications—like SQL, Exchange and Oracle—are virtualized, it is necessary to provide the same level of protection and recovery capabilities for these applications as they had in a purely physical server setting, while staying within the constraints imposed by a highly consolidated, virtualized environment. The modern data center now demands data protection solutions that deliver a level of application and virtualization platform awareness in order to provide concerted backup and restore capabilities that will ensure maximum uptime of these critical applications.

4 Inadequate Recovery Points
With high data growth and change rate, relying on last night’s backup for recovery is no longer sufficient. In addition, as organizations deploy more critical applications within a virtual server context, they are demanding Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) of hours. In other words, it is necessary to be able to recover to a few hours ago, not to last night’s backup, in order to minimize data loss and the impact to the organization as a result of any disruption. Creating frequent recovery points without impacting production activity is a huge challenge.

5 Lack of Restore Granularity
In order to further accelerate restores, organizations require an integrated approach to restoring data granularity at the volume, file or application object level. The ability to restore an individual e-mail or file from within a virtual machine datastore is critical for ensuring application uptime and for meeting availability and uptime SLAs. Traditional approaches which require remounting an entire virtual machine datastore (such as a VMDK) and searching through the contents to find a single user e-mail is simply too time-consuming and resource intensive to be a workable solution. Newer approaches are currently being introduced that enable file and object level restoration, however, they may require a second pass in order to generate that granular catalog. This unnecessarily adds additional processing time and consequent risk into the data protection process. A solution is needed that delivers granular restore options down to the file or object level and does so from  a single pass backup operation.

What you should know about a Computer Programming Career

Computer programming is one of the most important and exciting careers today.  It is also a field that offers plenty of job opportunities for graduates.  It’s one of the best fields of endeavor for people who love technology and are willing to try out new things.  If you’re considering pursuing a computer programming career, here are some things that you should know:

What is computer programming?
Computer programming is basically the process of writing codes to create a computer program.  A programming language is used to write this code, also known as the source code.  Computer programming is actually an umbrella term that encompasses all types of programming involving the use of computers.  The design and method utilized to write a source code will depend on the type of computer language used for the job.  Some of the most common computer languages include BASIC, COBOL, FORTRAN, C++, Java, Visual Basic, Python and PHP.

The job of computer programming also includes testing the source code, debugging it to check for flaws and weaknesses and maintaining it to ensure optimum performance.

Creating the code
The soul of computer programming is the creation of the source code, which can either be brand new or something created to modify or improve upon an already existing code.  The object of the source code is to build a program that will perform a particular series of tasks based on a specific set of commands.  This is called customization.

The end result of writing the source code is a computer program.  In software engineering, computer programming is an important initial phase.

What does a computer programmer do?
The main job of a computer programmer is to write the codes that serve as the foundation of software programs.  He is also tasked to test, troubleshoot, debug and maintain the program to ensure its quality and reliability.

Generally, the tasks that a computer programmer must perform are assigned by another person, usually the system analyst.  The computer programmer’s job is then to write the program, test it, modify it if necessary and ensure that it passes compatibility and quality standards.  If errors are found, it is the computer programmer’s job to ensure that they are corrected.

The job of a computer programmer usually requires hours upon hours spent in front of a computer to design and write a computer program.  Depending on the type of program being written, its purpose and the complexity of the commands required in order for a computer to execute the series of steps involved, writing a program can take several months to several years to complete.

The length of time it often takes for a program to be completed often necessitates having a single program broken down into a smaller series of steps.  These steps will then be assigned as tasks to a group of programmers who will work on them independently.  The final step is to put the end results and produce one coherent and useful computer program.

Computer programming is a very dynamic field and involves plenty of imagination and discipline.  Although there are set standards for the tasks involved, the profession itself does not require certification tests from government agencies.  There are also no state and federal licenses to obtain.

How much does a computer programming job pay?
That will depend on the experience and level of expertise of the programmer.  Most entry-level programmers earn a minimum of about $33,000 a year while mid-level programmers earn approximately $50,000 a year.  For senior level programmers and those who have several years of experience behind them, their typical take-home pay averages at about $65,000 a year.  Consultants, some managers and those who have advanced well in their computer programming career are often paid more.

Learning Computer Programming Terminology

Computer programmers use a range of terminologies that make sense only to them and to their colleagues. For other people who are not very adept with computers and programming, those words either mean something else or don’t mean anything at all. Here’s an overview of the ten most commonly used and confused computer programming terminologies that everybody should know, explained in layman’s terms:

1. 1GL
1GL means First Generation Programming Language. It is actually a machine level programming language that is written in one’s and zero’s. These are the programs that can be understood by the computer’s central processing unit directly. There’s no need to run it into a compiler or any other programming software. There are also second, third, up to fourth generation computer programming language.

2. Abandon ware
Abandon ware are software that are not being used, supported, or sold by its respective publisher any longer. These types of software cannot be resold or redistributed to end-users unless otherwise given away as a freeware.

3. ActiveX
ActiveX are programs using the Visual Basic programming language. It is basically created for active contents of the software that are commonly used by other applications that are already installed or existing on the computer. Sometimes, it even shares the ones used by the operating system itself. ActiveX is the one responsible for the interactive features of web-based programs.

4. Beta Version
When a software, a website, or any application is tagged as a beta release or beta version, it means that version is its first ever launch. It is the program that incorporates the very basic features and requirements of the software. At that point, the software is not yet tested for bugs. The beta version of the software is normally its test run.

5. DirectX
DirectX is a program provided by Microsoft. It is a collection of different multimedia applications and programming interfaces. It is built into the Windows operating system. DirectX is mostly used in gaming applications.

6. Emulation
Emulation is the term given to the capacity of a certain program to imitate another device or program. There are different degrees of emulation. Emulators are usually created for arcade game devices so it can be played on a desktop computer.

7. Firmware
Firmware refers to the software that is implanted in a device or hardware. The firmware usually contains a set of protocols that the hardware has to run so it would work smoothly with the other devices that it is attached to.

8. HTML
HTML is hypertext markup language. It is the language used by web pages. It is a programming language that has a way to describe the different parts of the text created. It can denote text used as paragraphs, text, headings, and lists.

9. Java
Java is an object oriented programming language. Sun Microsystems developed the software and it can be said that it resembles the C++ program. However, it was structured to avoid the flaws of the latter. This is widely used in the world-wide web as well.

10. Linux
Linux is an example of operating software in the likes of Windows and Mac Os. But unlike these two, Linux is a free open source program. Anybody can use the software for redistribution and modification.

These are just some of the computer programming terminologies you should know so that the next time you come across them, you won’t be guessing what they means. Programming can be a complex task but if you learn the basic things like terminologies, you will surely find the subject interesting.

When Is the Right Time to Redesign?

If you run a website, chances are you often wonder whether it is the right time to do a total redesign of the layout of your website. Here are some points to consider:

Are you thinking of a redesign just for the sake of it? If you answered yes to that question, it is not yet the right time to do a redesign. Remember, a design serves a specific purpose. If you are not sure whether to do an overhaul of your site, keep in mind that your current design might have a specific purpose that you might not know about. You will lose that function if you do a redesign.

On the other hand, if your website has had the same website design since 1990, perhaps it is high time to do a redesign. The last thing you would ever want to happen to your site is when visitors leave your site without taking a look at your content just because the design is old-fashioned. If this is your case, here are some points to ponder before doing a redesign.

Redesigning your website is like performing plastic surgery on it. Your website loses its current identity (for the better or worse) and your regular visitors might not recognize your new design at first glance. You risk losing them just because they thought they landed on the wrong page. Hence, it is very  important that you retain a characteristic feature from your old layout. Perhaps it is the logo of your site; perhaps it is the same text style for the title for your site.

To play it safe, put a poll on your site to let your visitors do the talking. If they think it is necessary for the website to have a fresh look, give it to them!

Computer Programming: Working In a Team

Computer programming requires some very intricate work.  This is the type of work that thrives on details and people who work in this field understand that the absence of even the minute elements can spell a huge difference in the overall result.  If a programmer fails to correct this problem, it can lead to errors down the line.  As a result, bugs will appear in the system and errors will emerge later on.  Programming is also taxing work, requiring hours upon hours of writing, testing and debugging.  This is why computer programming thrives on team work.  Without team work, a single computer program can take decades to complete.

Although one programmer has the necessary skills and knowledge to work competently on a problem or even create a program, he or she can only do so much.  Creating the source code for an operating system, for example, will require thousands of man-hours from a single programmer and most probably, he or she will only be halfway through.  There just isn’t enough time for one or even two programmers to work effectively to produce a usable program.

Team profile
So what constitutes a team in computer programming?  A team is usually headed by the team leader, such as a systems analyst or senior programmer.  The senior programmer is usually a person who has had years of training and experience behind him.  His task is to supervise the team, lead in brainstorming and problem solving sessions, delegate assignments, check the correctness of the coding, dispense advice and recommendations and lead in debugging and software maintenance.

The team leader is the one who holds the team together and ensures there is a well-coordinated effort that will lead to the desired results.  All team members report to him and depending on the size of the project, the team leader may have an assistant or another leader to work with.

The team is usually composed of junior or entry-level programmers, particularly those who may have the qualifications but not the number of years’ worth of experience yet.  Depending on what the team leader wants, a junior programmer may be tasked to work on his own on much simpler assignments or he may be assigned as part of a group.  This group may consist of other entry-level programmers or more experienced professionals.

The members of a team are chosen based on their expertise.  At the beginning of a project, the team leader, along with other more senior programmers, will try to break down the problem into components, which will consist of tasks.  Tasks can vary according to complexity and function and will be assigned to a team who has the skills to complete them.

The number of programmers in a team can be as small as 3 or it can number in the dozens or even hundreds.  Again, it all depends on the size of the project and the availability of resources.

Team work is a necessary component of computer programming.  It helps pool a group’s resources and form a coordinated effort in order to produce a particular program or software.  In some cases, such as in exceptionally huge projects, some teams may work alternately or in shifts, which makes it necessary that a team is capable of sustaining coordination among them.

Team work drives computer programming.  A vast majority of the computer programs and software we enjoy today – from the operating systems to the video games to the technology that run our phones – were produced not by a single programmer but by a team.  Whatever it is that has made using computers and other forms of technology that much easier and more convenient is something we owe to a team of well-trained and highly skilled computer programmers.