Javascript

There are various ways of making web pages more dynamic, but the most widely supported method is still Javascript.  Javascript can make your web site act like an application running on your computer– adding things like drop-down menus or confirmation dialogs.  It can also give your site visual effects to make it more appealing to your audience.

Here are some examples of how I’ve used Javascript to enhance the user experience of a web site.

WordPress

WordPress is much more than a blog.  Of course it does blogging very well, but as you can see, it can also be used as a corporate web site.  The benefit of using something like WordPress (or any CMS) for your web site is that it is very easy to edit your content.

You can have someone (like me) set it up for you and build a custom theme and when it’s done all you have to do is go in and add your content.  You only need to concentrate on what your web site has to say rather that how it’s supposed to look.  If you can use Word, you can edit your web site in WordPress.

In addition to the site you’re reading now, WordPress powers these sites.

Joomla

For large corporate and/or community web sites, I recommend Joomla.  Joomla has very nice theming support as well as the ability to extend its functionality via either pre-built or custom-built plug-ins.  Joomla makes it very easy to compartmentalize your content into sections and to give various users control over that content.

Joomla was used here.

Google Maps

Would you like to integrate mapping into your web site?  Google Maps can be embedded directly into your site to offer location and directions.  Many people are very familiar with Google’s interface so will feel instantly at home on your site when trying to location your stores, for example.

See these examples of Google Maps at work.

CakePHP

When hosting is a concern (i.e. you are limited to LAMP) and you need a custom web application, I recommend CakePHP.  CakePHP holds many of the same philosophies that made RoR so popular, yet it runs anywhere PHP does, which is just about anywhere.

One concern about CakePHP is that is substantially slower than Rails, so I would consider the expected usage patterns of the application before making a technology recommendation.

I have used CakePHP here.

Ruby on Rails

Ruby on Rails has quickly become very popular among web developers because of how it takes care of most of the mundane tasks associated with creating a web application and lets the developer concentrate on what is unique about their application.  The framework encourages code re-use, separation of concerns and a high level of productivity.  A lot can be accomplished in very little time using the RoR framework.

If a project requires secure payment transactions, I have used ActiveMerchant and can recommend it fully.  It was created by the makers of Shopify.com and is robust, secure and supports many payment processors.

I use Ruby on Rails for all serious custom web development unless there is a hosting requirement that prevents me from doing so.  Here are the Rails projects I have worked on.

Drupal

For medium-to-large sized communities where you want your community members contributing and moderating content, Drupal excels.  There are other content management systems I would recommend depending on your needs.

If you have an existing Drupal installation and need maintenance on it, I can help you with that.  Here are the Drupal projects I have worked on.

XHTML/CSS

The fundamental building block of every web site is the HTML language. The most modern iteration of that language is to write all of the content in XHTML and describe all of the layout and presentation of that content in CSS. The reasoning behind this is that people (and computers) are viewing web sites in new ways everyday and separating the content from how it is displayed makes it much easier to make that content look good everywhere it is displayed.

For example, viewing a web page on a mobile phone is an entirely different experience than on a 30″ wide-screen monitor, or on a printed page.  A web page can be optimized for viewing on each of these platforms by using a different style sheet for each.  This way, you can change your message by editing a single XHTML file, and will still look good on all three platforms because the CSS does not need to change.  This saves a lot of time and money as your web site content changes.

Because of advancements in HTML and CSS standards it is very important to keep your browser updated.  If you are using an old browser, such as Internet Explorer 6, you are not viewing many web sites as they have been intended and should strongly consider upgrading or switching to a better browser.

All of my work adheres to at least XHTML 1.0/Transitional with CSS.  Here are some examples.