Jun
06
Posted by Navneet Kaushal on | Comments Off on Views and Tips on the Importance of Passwords!

Here at Candid, one of our most important fields of expertise is web development and keeping in mind the importance of ‘Administrator’ privileges, we understand how crucial is a password for a Webmaster. So we decided to share some information as to how users can create strong passwords.

Points to be Kept in Mind while creating a strong password:

Common elements should be avoided: To create a strong password use a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and other special characters such as to make the task of cracking it more difficult. Don’t make a password that’s less than 6 to 8 characters

Make your password as unique as possible: Users should make sure that their passwords are unique in nature, thus making them really difficult to crack. One such method is to take first letters from the first line of your favorite song and then alternate between lower and uppercases. Then you can substitute a letter with a number that most resembles that letter.

Create different passwords for different sites: This will ensure that in case one of the passwords gets compromised, the other passwords remain functional and thus can temporarily substitute for the lost password. But, a new password for the lost one should be devised as soon as possible. Users should never use their email, computer, or network passwords for any other purpose. Those passwords should be completely unique.

Don’t share your passwords with anyone: Users should not disclose or share their passwords with anyone. If a user is employing a password manager, then he should never give out his master password. Password managers are not safe on a shared computer. It’s best to only use them on your personal computer.

Be careful how you share your information online: Some online services such as social networking sites and gadgets that scrape information from other products might ask for a password or an API key. Before releasing any such information, it is critical to spend some time, researching as to the what the website is all about and the measures they take to keep such information confidential.

Another way through which a password can be chosen, is to select a good security question and answer on the sites that offer that option. Mostly, these security questions are used by the websites for identification of the user, when he has forgotten his password.

There are also some interesting points at the Google Blog, that also address the issue of creating a strong password.

Posted in Developer's Den
Mar
27
Posted by Navneet Kaushal on | Comments Off on Web Version of Photoshop Launched!

On 26th March 2008, Adobe Systems Inc. launched the Webtop version of their highly successful ‘Photoshop’. Adobe has termed it has ‘Photoshop Express‘.

As we are in the business of web designing. Photoshop CS3 and Flash are some of the prominent platforms that we work on. We were especially excited about the opportunity of editing images online. Here at CandidInfo, we field tested Photoshop Express and experienced mixed results. Because we are into the web designing realm, this online version didn’t suit our needs and requirements. The primary reason being that neither we can work with layers in it, nor can we use the primary features of web designing. For example, we couldn’t draw lines and the option of adding text is missing from the online version. Most importantly, it is incapable of creating shapes as well.

However, for users who are just looking for a simple software to create minor changes in their images, this is the perfect tool. You can always use this tool to crop your images, pop color, take out the red eye effect and change saturation levels of the image.

This online application is Flash based and as of now is open to anyone and everyone who loves to work on Photoshop. Initially, it has been launched in the ‘Public Beta’ phase and everyone is invited to join this revolutionary concept. However, a new service is under developmental stages, aimed at professional users. It would boast of increased storage capacity, backups and pro features. (P.S.- This service will carry a fee.)

Many users who believe that this web based application would be difficult or complicated to use, are in for a surprise. When working online, the Photoshop Express is extremely user friendly. There are only 17 editing features available on the online application, which can only be used for tuning or effects.

Main Feature of Photoshop Express::

  • Adobe has collaborated with Flickr, MySpace, Picassa and Facebook to provide the user with 2GB (gigabytes) of storage capacity for all our images.
  • All these web sites automatically synchronize with the Photoshop Express and any changes made to the image via the application are updated in real time.
  • However, the best feature that we are most satisfied with is, that all the changes and editing are completely reversible and thus make it a relaxed and hassle free experience.

Web Version of Photoshop Launched!

Web Version of Photoshop Launched!

Web Version of Photoshop Launched!

When asked about the reason behind this surprise launch. Adobe VP, In-charge of Photoshop Express said, “It is a showcase of what is the best that can be done with Flex and Flash. Hopefully, it will inspire other developers. We are also setting up a hosted services platform that we can expand to other products.”

It is our finding that this image editing tool, though not much useful to web designers, is like a magic wand for amateurs. Furthermore, those who are keen on learning the basics of image editing, this software will act as an excellent teacher and an experimental platform, with almost no risks involved.

Adobe has done an incredible work and this will help millions of users, who previously had to install the bulky applications on their desktops to do these simple tasks. Now in order to make any changes, they can simply go online to Photoshop Express, make the changes and get their work done in a jiffy.

Mar
17
Posted by Navneet Kaushal on | Comments Off on Improve CSS functionality with MoreCSS

Improve CSS functionality with MoreCSSNow creating popups, tab menus, tables and lists with even “Zebra” style would be much easier than what it used to be. You can do all this and much more with MoreCSS. It is a small JavaScript library which can enhance your CSS functionality. The most notable feature with MoreCSS is that you can do these things in regular CSS. You can open all links in a 640 × 640 px popup window like this:

Example:

a:{

target:popup;

target-width:640px;

target-height:640px;

}

You can do all this by including MoreCSS.js and an external stylesheet file in your page header. Here is how you can go about it:

<link rel=”MoreCSS” href=”path/to/the/MoreCSS/stylesheet.css” />

<script type=”text/javascript” src=”MoreCSS.js”> </script>

Improve CSS functionality with MoreCSS
As a Web Designing company, with this addition we will be able to give our clients a great flexibility in designing and maintaining their sites.

Mar
06
Posted by Navneet Kaushal on | Comments Off on Internet Explorer 8 Beta Launched!

Windows Internet Explorer has announced the release of the Internet Explorer 8 Beta. The annoucement was made by IE’s General Manager Dean Hachamovitch. It is considered to be an important milestone for the IE team. Here are some of the end-user features that can be seen on the Internet Explorer 8 Beta:

Activities

Through Activities which are contextual services, the users can quickly access a service from any webpage. The Internet Explorer 8 Activities makes the common pattern of copying and pasting from one webpage to another a much easier task than what it used to be.

Internet Explorer 8 Beta Launched!
The user can install and manage Activities services from the Internet Explorer 8 Service Guide or through any website that advertises Activities.

WebSlices

It is a new feature for websites through which the users can directly subscribe to content from a webpage. The WebSlices are much like the feeds where clients can subscribe to get updates and notify the user of changes.

Internet Explorer 8 Beta Launched!
The users can even add the WebSlices found within a webpage onto the Favorites bar. The Favorites bar is a dedicated row below the Address bar for easy access to links. Further the new IE8 can detect changes in the WebSlice and notifies the user of updates. The users on the other hand can, then preview these updates directly from the Favorites bar and click-through to the website to get more information.

Favorites Bar

Those of you who have used the Internet Explorer 7, will know that there is this Links bar which gives the users a one-click access to their favorite sites. Now with the IE8, the Links bar has undergone a complete change and has been renamed as the Favorites bar. So as to enable the users to associate this bar as a place to put and easily access all their favorite web content such as links, feeds, WebSlices and even Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.

Internet Explorer 8 Beta Launched!
Further more, as a user you can very easily add a link to the Favorites bar by using the Add to Favorites button and selecting the Add to Favorites Bar option.

Internet Explorer 8 Beta Launched!
Automatic Crash Recovery

With the Automatic Crash Recovery (ACR) featured on the Internet Explorer 8 you can prevent the loss of work and productivity in the unlikely event of the browser crashing or hanging. It even features a tab recovery capability, which can will help minimize interruptions to users’ browsing sessions.

Internet Explorer 8 Beta Launched!
Improved Phishing Filter

The Phishing Filter was introduced with the Internet Explorer 7. And now it only gets better with Internet Explorer 8, which now features a Safety Filter. This Safety Filter will not only block known Phishing sites, but also will now blocks sites known to contain malicious software that could harm users’ computer or steal their information. Also, it operates more quickly than ever before to ensure that users can browse both safely and quickly.

Internet Explorer 8 Beta Launched!
Current beta is available for Windows Vista (“Gold” and SP1), Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003 SP2, and Windows XP SP2 and SP3, both in 32- and 64-bit versions. Further, Internet Explorer also plans to release beta in German and Simplified Chinese soon.

We being a Web development company, certainly believe that great web experiences starts with good web developers. Therefore, we want to engage our developers first to test the IE8. As we think that those who build a better browser for the people who use the web, are the best judges of any web browser for that matter.

Posted in Developer's Den
Feb
27
Posted by Navneet Kaushal on | Comments Off on 8 Exciting Best Practices For Shopping Carts!

8 Exciting Best Practices For Shopping Carts!
If you really want to reap the benefits of making profits through online sales then you need to ensure that all the aspects of your promotional efforts are taken care of well. A single missing piece anywhere could render all your efforts to elicit online sales redundant. Remember your chain of online promotion is only as strong as its weakest link. Once you’ve done all things right about your website, much of your success depends on how you’ve dealt with designing and programing the checkout button.

Not only do these little wonders called shopping carts encourage the users to proceed with the purchases, but their functionality also determines whether the sale materializes or not. Impeccable shopping cart designs can set you apart from your competitors, as most probably, most of them would have gone wrong somewhere.

One of the most common instance of a flawed shopping cart design is the inappropriate usage of the icon. A properly designed one can enhance the buying experience by making it quick and easy. This is an area that simply can’t be ignored and hence warrants a careful consideration during the design process.

This post features different ways of making your shopping carts, bags, trolleys, buckets, etc attractive and user-friendly. Furthermore, you’d also find tips ‘n’ tricks and pitfalls to avoid.

What designs you should choose for your online-store largely depend upon the kind of products the company or store offers. For instance if the company sells tools used in a garage, perhaps colorful and flashy shopping bags might not be appropriate, rather a graceful visible text link should do the trick. On the other hand if watches or hats and caps are what you sell, then it becomes pertinent to attract attention through more creative and flashy design elements.

The key point in all cases is how the shopping cart’s subtle functionality has been showcased. A shopping cart or a checkout-icon’s importance for customers as well as the store owners can’t be overstated and so their design requires a a well thought out decision. A good decision can help replace unexciting text links with something more happening.

1.) A Simple Text Link

A Simple Text Link
Here’s a simple text link for the shopping cart functionality by Landsend, but there can be several effective alternatives.

2.) Make The Shopping Carts Attractive

Since, one of the prime purposes of shopping carts is to encourage users purchase products, you would find quite a few attractive ones making use of intriguing elements to standard trolley icons. Moreover, if you surf through a store selling items for women, you’d come across carts that look a lot more pretty in comparison to a store selling computers.

Most of the times designers keep the carts confined to their primary function of a holding place for products that a customer wants to purchase. At other times however the carts are more animated and communicative as well, much like the actual shopping carts.

Make The Shopping Carts Attractive
Make The Shopping Carts Attractive
Make The Shopping Carts Attractive
3.) Enhance Usability

Since interaction with a cart is not human, it’s always reassuring for the users, if they can easily verify that the system works properly or that they clicked at the right places. Consider, providing the users with a short and complete review of the current shopping process.

You can achieve that by combining shopping carts with other functionalities of the store. Try including more options near the shopping cart, encapsulating complete shopping process in a compact and visible manner.

Consider the following tips to enhance usability:

  • Provide information of the shopping cart’s content
  • Specify the minimal requirements for a successful order.

Enhance Usability

  • The cost of the products placed in the cart

Enhance Usability

  • To help users complete the shopping process faster, place a link to the checkout-section.

Enhance Usability

  • Keep the possible payment options visible

Enhance Usability

  • Keep the help option handy for the users to refer back to, if need be.

Enhance Usability
If this information comes in handy for the user, then they always have a map right in front of them about the whole shopping process. Not only does it save the user’s time by reducing the number of clicks, but also allows them to focus on products they want to buy.

4.) Designing Carts That Support Content

Another use of the shopping carts is for the purpose of illustration. Sometimes, designers put them within the content. For instance, in the description of a product, etc. This seems to work a lot of time as examples of such usage are many.

Designing Carts That Support Content
Designing Carts That Support Content
Designing Carts That Support Content
5.) Designing Subtle Shopping Carts

For the most part the shopping carts are visible at the first go, however at times they are subtly designed. You might want to make use of this option if the store has sombre profile.

Designing Subtle Shopping Carts
In addition to being subtly designed the carts can be made more visible with a distinctive color, as it would set it apart from the design of the site.

Designing Subtle Shopping Carts
Designing Subtle Shopping Carts
Designing Subtle Shopping Carts
6.) A Creative Approach To Shopping Cart Designs

You might also want to do something different than what the crowd does, you can infuse more creativity into the designs making them look different than the traditional designs. There’s a caveat however, since the users are used to looking at the conventional carts, these more creative renditions might not strike them immediately. Despite this risk there are many designers who make use of creative designs.

A Creative Approach To Shopping Cart Designs
A Creative Approach To Shopping Cart Designs
A Creative Approach To Shopping Cart Designs
A Creative Approach To Shopping Cart Designs
Designing Shopping Carts Within The logo

On many occasions designers merge the shopping cart into the store’s logo. In many such examples you would find the same colors being made use of as in the logo. This pattern for the cart icon is spread throughout the store.

Designing Shopping Carts Within The logo
7.) Deadly Shopping Cart Mistakes

It seems that following the basics of shopping cart designing is not at all a child’s play, as many shopping cart designers make some very basic mistakes: It’s important not to err on some vary fundamental principles of designing carts.

Not making the shopping cart icon clickable.

The shopping cart icon being low on recognizability.

Shopping cart icon
A difficult to spot shopping cart icon

In the above example, despite the shopping cart box being at the right place and highlighted in green, it’s hard to spot as it’s overly overcrowded by other elements.

8.) Placement Of Shopping Carts

Conventionally, the shopping carts have been placed on the right-hand side and at the top of the page. While the users have grown used to this type of placement, it might be a good idea to try out a vertical placement rather than a horizontal one. This becomes ideal as the height of the box might rise as with the number of selected products.

If you’re faced with such a case then you could place the cart in the right-hand sidebar. These would also help the position of the shopping cart to remain consistent on all pages.

In a nut shell

Once you are through with designing your website, it is desirable that you test run the site. You might actually ask different sets of people to try their hands on the shopping carts, make sure your sample shares the characteristics of the people who would typically be shopping at the online store.

There are a couple of points that need to be kept in mind before you’ve completed your design. You might want to use the following checklist:

Checklist:

  • Check whether the secure-server icon appears on your secure-server pages or not?
  • Do the shoppers get to see an order number so they’ll have an easier time asking follow-up questions?
  • Have you tested the usability of your online ordering procedure by placing an order yourself?
  • Has your order form been so designed that shoppers need to enter each bit of information only once?
  • Have you made a provision to allow the users an opportunity to review their entire order, including the final price, before submitting it?
  • Have you made it easy for shoppers to easily change quantities or delete items from their shopping cart without beginning to shop all over again?
  • Is there enough space in the order form for people to type in unusually long addresses?

It’s been many years since Candidinfo has been offering customized solutions for shopping cart and e-commerce services to our clients. We believe that a lot of thought and planning goes into building shopping carts that are effective, efficient in facilitating online sales in addition to making them last longer.

We’ve helped our clients grow by providing services vis-a-vis, Setup and Support, Design and Layout to Customer Service. And have found that Building effective Product Catalogs and efficient Payment Gateways & Methods is by itself an art. However, the story of shopping carts doesn’t end with these, Sales Reporting, Analysis & Tracking enables you to control your marketing efforts a lot better. For a shopping cart to work well, an impeccable Database and Platform Compatibility is important amongst other features such as accommodating repeat customers.

All said and done the criticality of a site’s search engine friendliness can’t be overemphasized. Security of your customers data and shopping metrics is another key area, that can make or break your shopping cart. While the phrase “Shopping Cart” by itself might not conjure up a picture of something big, the fact remains that building shopping carts indeed requires a comprehensive and a creative approach to make them truly successful.

In this post we’ve discussed different designs that can be used to make the carts more appealing and other aspects, such as the mistakes to avoid. However, the decision whether or not to use, or how to use the advice outlined rests with you, as we have stated in the beginning that requirements of each project differ.

Further Resources:

  • Find a whole gallery of shopping carts at Get Elastic

Shopping cart buttons

Shopping cart icons

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