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Design & Coding




Last week I explained the markup required for setting up the main aspects of a form. This week I’m going to explain the form input tag and its various uses.

The input tag

The input tag offers us several types of field depending on the value of the type attribute used. The different types available are text, password, checkbox, radio, file, hidden, submit, reset, button, image.

The type attribute defines the type of input field we’re using, and depending on what’s used can then define how the other attributes are used. So the different types are:


The text type is the most common input type used. This gives us a text field to allow the user to type in plain text. When using a text input you have the following attributes available to you

This should match the value of the label’s for attribute, as explained last week, and also the value of the name attribute (see below)
This is a required for serverside scripting and should match the value of the id attribute.
This allows you to define the length of the field displayed on the screen. It’s optional.
This allows you to restrict the maximum number of characters allowed in the text box. This is optional.
If this contains a value it will be displayed in the text field. This is optional
The disabled attribute (which should have a value of disabled), will prevent the user from being able to edit the content of the field.

Example usage of this would be

[sourcecode language=”html”]


The password type is identical to the text type except by using a type value of password it masks the characters typed into the box from anyone else.


A checkbox is a tickbox (basically!). You can have a single checkbox or a group of checkboxes. The attributes available on this are

This should match the label’s for attribute value.
This can either match the ID or if it’s for a group of checkboxes it can use a different value. For accessing the checkboxes via PHP or ASP you need to use the same name in the group and put square brackets at the end of it eg. name=”chkboxes[]”.
This is a required attribute otherwise your checkbox, despite being checked, will be empty.
If you want to set your checkbox to be ticked by default then it must use the checked attribute and have a value of checked.

An example of usage is

[sourcecode language=”html”][/sourcecode]

(Technically you don’t need the for attribute in the label tag when you wrap the tag inside the label tags, however for code completion I still use it).


‘Radio buttons’ are similar to checkboxes (they’re the circle ones), however you usually have a group of radio buttons and they all share the same name attribute. The difference then is that you can only select one radio button in a group. Otherwise the attributes available are the same as for the checkbox above.

An example of using radio buttons could be to ask someone their favourite colour eg.

[sourcecode language=”html”]


And to see this in action:


The file type allows you to put a file browse box on the form to let someone browse for a file on their computer. If you want to use this then you need to also add the attribute enctype=”multipart/form-data” to the form tag as well, or else the file will not be uploaded.

When using the file type the following attributes are available:

This should match the value of the label’s for attribute, as explained last week, and also the value of the name attribute (see below)
This should match the value of the id attribute.
This allows you to define the length of the field displayed on the screen. It’s optional.

This field is quite similar to the text field with the attributes and the usage is similar, except the outcome with add a browse button after the field eg.


Hidden input types allow you to add additional data into a form without it being displayed on the screen. This is quite similar to the text input except that you must have the value attribute, and do not need the size, maxlength or disabled attributes, eg.

[sourcecode language=”html”][/sourcecode]


The submit type will create a submit button on the screen to allow your user to submit the form by clicking the button. The attributes available are

This should match the value of the label’s for attribute, as explained last week, and also the value of the name attribute (see below)
This should match the value of the id attribute.
This allows you to define the width of the button displayed on the screen. It’s optional.
This should contain the text for the button.
The disabled attribute (which should have a value of disabled), will disable the button and the user will not be able to click it.

An example of usage for this is

[sourcecode language=”html”][/sourcecode]


The reset button is identical to the submit button above, except you use a type value of ‘reset’. On clicking a reset button, the form will be reset to the default values.


This defines a clickable button, similar to the reset and submit buttons. It’s usually used to activate JavaScript applications. It uses the same attributes as the submit button except the type value is ‘button’.


Instead of a standard submit button you can use a graphical image to act as the submit button instead by setting a type value of ‘image’. The attributes used with this type are:

This should match the value of the name attribute.
This should match the value of the id attribute.
Required. This points to the source of the image, similar to the img tag.
Required. This contains the alternative text incase the image is not displayed, and for accessibility purposes.


The input tag is quite complex but very useful! Next week I’ll explain the other form inputs, select and textarea, and give some examples of form usage in full.

A PHP Developer using WordPress to power both blogging and commercial CMS sites. I've written and released a couple of plugins for WordPress and am currently writing plugins for use on commercial websites.

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Design & Coding

4 Uncommon Design Tricks That Improve User Experience 100%




Everyone’s concerned about improving conversion rates. The general consensus is that user experience is the place to start.

There are several ways to improve user experience on your blog. Most strategies center on tweaking the design of your website, but sometimes it’s how you organize your navigation. You’ve probably made basic changes like switching to WordPress or alphabetizing your drop-down menu’s items.

Here are some strategies you may not have tried:

1 – Color-code your menus with matching page color schemes

If you’re like most bloggers, you probably created a workable color scheme for your site and called it a day. If you want to improve user experience, that’s not enough. Consider coordinating the colors between your main menu links and each of your pages.

In an article describing why color-coded, hand-written notes improve efficiency of thought, blogger Kevin Purdy reveals that “color improves recall time for graphs and charts, and can be a very effective performance factor if not overdone.” The article also summarizes the work of Michael Tipper, a speaker and consultant on mind mapping and organizational software. Tipper says that color-coding the branches of a mind map stimulates the creative side of your brain, and visually separates distinct themes (which improves recall).

This same idea can be applied to your website for optimal results. Improve user experience by color-coding your main menu with a matching color scheme for each page you link. For instance, Pioneer Seeds implements color coordination extremely well. From one side to the other, all mega menu drop-downs have a unique background color that matches the color scheme of the pages listed within that particular section. There are no complicated color schemes. Each page presents one solid color.

The continuity of matching colors feels good, it’s easy on the eyes, and it helps people keep track of what section they’re viewing.

2 – Hire a design agency to create a custom design from scratch

The era of templates is here to stay, but not without consequence. Templates are easy and cheap (sometimes free), but they lack the flexibility you need to create an impactful and smooth user experience.

For example, most templates feature a gigantic header that encourages you to create an enormous header you don’t need. The most popular templates today force users to scroll endlessly through horizontal sections containing nothing but large icons with a few words underneath. You can change a template, but not without effort and the frustration of having to settle for “good enough.” This is especially useful for anyone trying to making their mobile site look similar to their desktop experience. This is best accomplished when having a fully responsive theme in place for all platforms.

A design agency can give you exactly what you want from the beginning. When your website design is created from scratch, you don’t have to spend hours tweaking a template only to find out your final tweak – the one that matters most – isn’t going to work.

Men With Pens is a well-known design agency that has created custom WordPress themes for years. They specialize in design, and know exactly how to create a better user experience. Their website embodies their expertise in user experience.

Check out their tips for bloggers and see if you notice anything unique about the page design. The design fills the entire page, and the graphics extend outside the lines and boxes. When you land on the page, you’re engaged right away. Capturing a visitor’s attention is your first priority to improve user experience. If you don’t have a user’s attention, they won’t have an experience at all.

3 – Simplicity

Simplicity never goes out of style. Simplicity in design embraces the approach that “less is more.” It’s a cliché, but it’s true.

Nobody knows simplicity better than Steve Pavlina. He’s been publishing articles on his personal blog for over a decade, and until recently, his site was as plain as plain can be. He recently switched to WordPress, but managed to maintain the simplicity responsible for his success.

Simple designs are easier to read, navigate, and interact with. Less menu items, less distractions on the home page, and minimal or no sidebars is what simplicity is all about. A simple design draws attention to what’s important.

4 – Create a unique design for mobile

Don’t just optimize your website for mobile users. Create a custom design for mobile users based on your original design. When you optimize your existing design for mobile, you often sacrifice important aspects of your desktop design. Using code, you can program your site to display a different design based on a user’s device.

Statistics show that 83% of people say a seamless experience across all devices is important. By creating a custom mobile theme based on your existing theme, you give mobile users that seamless experience. It’s the best of both worlds. Just be sure to include all of your navigation links. Some people suggest limiting selections for mobile users, but that will crush the seamless experience.

How to Best Prepare Your Site for Design Success!

User experience can be improved not just by tweaking your design, but by applying principles of color, navigation, and organization. Instead of chasing the latest revelation in conversion gimmicks, invest your time and money in fact-based strategies that improve user experience. Shift your focus away from the minutia of testing every tiny design element, and toward creating a psychologically-sound foundation for your users.

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Design & Coding

Fotor Photo Editor – The Perfect Graphic Design Tool for Bloggers



As bloggers and content creators, it’s important to always have visual content built within our best articles and site designs. Infographics, clip art, stock photos and more… but customized and original images will always grab the most attention.

When it comes to actually creating such visuals, you will have many different options to choose from. Whether you are looking for a free application, one that is browser-based, or even if it’s a premium software you need to download and pay for — it’s important to know what’s out there.

Today we are going to be looking at Fotor photo editor which is a free and powerful tool that lets anyone get started with their own graphic design in just a few short minutes.

This tool allows anyone to start using it through a web browser or even with their mobile application. Whether you need to edit a photo, make a collage, or create a custom and original design, it can all be done through the power of Fotor.

The most popular features of this tool are it’s one click filters and fixes that allowed anyone to make their images pop and stand out like never before.

Let’s take a look at some of the many benefits to using Fotor photo editor for your website, blog, or just everyday life.

With most people looking to customize their mobile screenshots on photos with a few simple click of a button, and this is exactly what fotor photo editor will allow you to do. It will also allow you to create custom YouTube banners that can be used to liven up your channel as well.

You can see a few of these examples in the screenshot below.

When comparing Fotor to other graphic design applications like Photoshop, you are going to find many similarities, but it’s also important to note that premium applications like Photoshop are much more advanced, but also more costly in the process. The software is free to use, you can upgrade to Fotor Pro and find even more upgrade and options available.

What makes this design application and tool great for site owners and bloggers, is that it has a unique set of design tools and features — which are what most content creators are looking. In short, it provides users with what they need, while not overwhelming them in the process.

Fotor also offers a nice selection of design templates to choose from, which makes the process of creating new and original content even easier. These template designs scale across the many different design themes, sizes, and concepts on the site.

In addition to everything else mentioned, there is also a nice collection of resources, guides, and tutorials that can be found on their site blog. Such resources will provide users what the information and walk-through processes to get the most out of Fotor.

If you are currently looking for a new design editor to improve the look and feel of visual content on your site, be sure to give Fotor a try.

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Design & Coding

4 Essential Elements of Web Design (No.3 Will Shock You!)




If you’re a small business owner take note of these four elements of web design. They’re essential for boosting your online presence. Click here for more info!

Have you ever wondered why most business websites tend to look the same? It’s like you’ve seen one and you’ve seen them all.

The truth is a lot of business owners prefer the easy route. That means going for a website builder, which offers templated designs.

If you want something different, you’ll have to go custom. But that takes a lot of time. Plus, you’ll have to look for a skilled designer/developer.

Whatever route you choose, you need to understand the elements of web design. After all, it’s your website. If you choose to hire a pro, you need to know what to ask for.

And if you opt to DIY it, then you can steer clear of cringe-worthy web design. That said, here are 4 web design elements that will help boost your online presence.

1. User Journey

You can scroll through countless website design guides and you’ll never see one that says, “ignore what users think.”

Consider mobile apps. Would you download something that’s hard to use and has a lot of annoying ads?

When you design your website, put yourself in your visitors’ shoes. Is your website hard to navigate? Does it load fast?

But how do you know if your user interface is good? Aside from consistency, it has to be simple, intuitive, responsive, and flexible.

This is why it’s good to test different designs first before committing to one. It saves time and eliminates the need for major changes later on.

2. Content

Designing for the web doesn’t stop when you have a “pretty” website. Sure, your target customers will appreciate nifty graphics and all. But if your content doesn’t offer value, users will leave your website.

Now, this doesn’t mean huge blocks of text that will drown your visitors with information. Opt for conciseness. Give your target audience content that’s easy to digest so they can process it better.

Depending on what CMS you are using, content creation is usually the easy part. This is especially the case when using platforms like Weebly, WordPress or Wix. Since most of these platforms are drag and drop, it’s simply a matter of getting familiar with each platform, and knowing how to create great content. There are no programming or design skills required.

3. Accessibility

Did you just check the title again? If yes, you may be wondering why this would be shocking. Shouldn’t this be part of any website designing guide?

The thing is there are plenty of websites that use low contrast for text because it’s trendy. But you have to take into account users who have vision problems.

There has to be enough contrast between text and background. And you also need to choose your colors well. You don’t want to alienate color-blind and blind users who use assistive technologies.

4. SEO

Some people approach website design as a separate entity from search engine optimization. But there’s a way to be strategic about the process so that design elements improve the SEO of your site.

The easiest way would be to outsource to an all-in-one design company such as When they build your site, they also take care of the backend coding stuff. This ensures your title tags, meta tags, etc work for better search ranking.

Want to Know More About the Elements of Web Design?

Knowing the elements of web design is your first step to a website that looks and functions well. But getting them all right takes a bit of trial and error.

For more web design tips, don’t forget to check out our other blog posts.

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