Category Archives: Internet

Marketing for Businesses – Before & After Internet

Changes in marketing functions over the years!

To build an effective marketing strategy in order to lure customers was never easy. With the introduction of Internet there was a bit of change in every company’s marketing strategy. Previously, companies used to have print ads only but, when the Internet storm barged in, many businesses started to have online presence. And, then with the surge of social networking portals, multifunctional cell phones, and gadgets, the face of marketing again took a major makeover. In order to retain existing customers and to attract new ones, companies are keeping them updated with the latest trends in marketing.

Internet and technology has not only benefited customers but also, created newer space for marketing in the virtual world. With the emergence of various other forms of marketing such as social media marketing, e-mail marketing, text/display ad marketing etc. companies have become more aggressive and innovative in building their marketing strategies to attract new customers.

Gone are the old Days!

A decade ago, creating personal relationship with customers was given utter importance to boost sales through one-to-one interaction. Consumers had to believe to what is being said. They did not bother to verify the information provided. But, the tables have turned now and the customer is full of information at the click of a finger. Study says, majority of Internet users today, tend to conduct a background research of a product before making a purchase decision. For example: what would you do first when you decide to purchase a smartphone for yourself? You will immediately jump on to the Internet and start comparing, reading reviews & feedback for a few of them before making a decision. Consumers have become more and more demanding and adventurous to try out different offerings which have eventually put greater emphasis on creating brand value.

New Age Marketing!

The gigantic online presence of consumers has revolutionized the way of advertising and marketing. An Internet user today can buy almost everything online today. Thanks to the Internet which has changed the way of trade and commerce. Businesses have started capitalizing the virtual world by forming networks which eventually allows them to get closer to their clients. New age marketing is not limited to banner ads on websites only but has extended beyond in the form of video marketing, blogging, campaigns on social networking websites, discussion forums etc. Internet has not only been a reliable source to gather information through interactions, polls and surveys but is also a great medium to keep marketers updated about consumer needs and taste. Search engines have been eminent in promoting a product/service. If you are not present in any of the search engines, it means that your business has lost reputation amongst your target audience. Different forms of Marketing help search engines to rank websites. Hence, companies are now focusing on marketing to boost sales. According to statistics; Twitter has assisted 42% companies present on its portal to bag new customers, Facebook has helped 67% B2C and 41% B2B companies to generate business, Inbound marketing will cost 62% cheaper than outbound marketing. This shows the intent for aggression among companies. Previously, companies had to rely on customer loyalty to prevail in the market. But, today if a company’s presence is not felt to customers then, possibility is more for competitors to climb over.

This post briefly describes how the face of marketing has changed over the years and how important is marketing for a business. Marketing is not limited to just bigger profit making businesses only. Rather, it has turned out to be an important weapon for every business. Every business (big or small) is marketing itself today.

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Beginner’s Guide To LESS CSS Framework

LESS CSS is a framework intended to make/design adaptive websites. The framework extends the use of CSS with dynamic behavior such as variables, mixins, operations, nestings and functions.

Generally LESS runs on both the server-side (with Node.js and Rhino) or client-side (modern browsers only).

Using this guide you can move in the right direction in starting up with the LESS CSS and eventually develop your own websites using it.

WHY LESS CSS?

The day we have started using CSS for enhancing the look and feel of our HTML websites, we found it quite interesting and in a gradual process, it has changed the way our websites appear.

Day-by-day CSS was used all across the world wide web, starting from static website development, till UI as well as web application development. Looking into the global use of CSS across the web, all UI persons and web designers started using it in every project without looking towards the limitations of it.

A significant amount of design time with CSS is spent rewriting common code for routine operations and maintenance works for a site in the form of color change, font change and such like. Of course, all this routine code can quickly become disorganized in traditional CSS designs.

Problem occurs on the cases, where we we have thousands of lines of styles and some separated CSS files to maintain. What is needed is a framework for CSS that will work in the same way like the other dynamic pre-processors(PHP) do during the web development.

LESS CSS Framework has been around for a while and does exactly that. LESS extends CSS with dynamic behavior in association with variables, mixins, operations and functions in support of common tasks that includes the facility for organizing code in folders and files. As a result, time spent writing and organizing CSS code becomes greatly reduced. In general, being a LESS framework user, I must say that the use of LESS has made my CSS coding look more clean compared to the traditional use of CSS.

My favorite feature in the LESS CSS is the ability to use the variables in the form of define something once, assign a value to it and refer to it later throughout the CSS script. This feature works the same way I use PHP variables.

What Editor shall I use to write LESS CSS?

There are several editors available widely for LESS CSS code writing. But the editor that most of the CSS coders are using across the world and the editor that specifically meant to support LESS file editing, is the ChrunchApp. CrunchApp is a cross-platform application, built on Adobe Air, which can be run on any environment, whether it may be on Windows, Mac OS X or Linux.

So, what we are waiting for? Let’s download the CrunchApp. Install it and start writing our first LESS CSS.

How to use LESS

As we have already discussed that, LESS is used both in server-side as well as Client-side. Among the both ways of LESS framework uses, Client-side is the easiest way to get started and good for developing websites using this LESS CSS.

To start coding using the LESS framework, we need few lines of code inside the <head></head> tags of our HTML document. First, the .less framework file on which we will write all our css scripts and next to that, the less.js library, which helps in rendering the .css file out of the .less file.

Using LESS is really easy. We only need this two lines inside the head tag of your HTML document.

<link rel=”stylesheet/less” type=”text/css” href=”less/style.less”>
<script src=”js/less.js” type=”text/javascript”></script>

Now, let’s see how to write code using the Crunch LESS compiler and compile the .less file into a fully functional .css file.

First of all, let’s open the CRUNCH compiler application.

Crunch LESS compiler is a quite easy to use. The whole application base is quite user friendly and visually appealing without giving the feel of getting cluttered. Genuinely you will feel fun to use this application.

Now click on “Create a New LESS file” button. This will prompt to save your newly created .less file within a directory. Give it a name (I have given style.less) and save it within the directory named as “less”.

NOTE: Before creating a .less file, make sure you have created your projects directory within your computer and created two sub-directories (css directory) and (less directory) within it.

Now you can see your style.less file being opened in the Crunch Editor. Click the “+” icon next to the file name “style.less” in the editor. This will create a new .less file. But this time, save this file with the name of style.css within the “css” directory we have created previously.

Now you can find, two files opened in the Crunch editor (style.less and style.css). Among these two, we have no use on the style.css file, as our main purpose is to write LESS css scripts and which will be compiled to .css scripts and be saved in the style.css file.

As of now, we are all set with the creation of files and directories. Now, it’s time to create a simple html layout, based on what we will write some basic LESS CSS scripts to see our progress on the scripting.

Now, our only need is to link the CSS file into our HTML document, as follows;

<link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” href=”css/style.css”>

Let’s see, how to integrate the .less file and the LESS JS library into a basic HTML script.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
      <head>
            <title>LESS Framework Tutorial</title>
            <meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0″>
            <link rel=”stylesheet/less” type=”text/css” href=”less/style.less”>
            <script src=”js/less.js” type=”text/javascript”></script>
      </head>
      <body>
            <div id=”container”>
                  <div class=”shape1″ id=”shape1″></div>
                  <div class=”shape2″ id=”shape2″></div>
                  <div class=”shape3″ id=”shape3″></div>
            </div>
      </body>
</html>

As you can see from the above HTML layout, we have integrated the two lines of codes (the css file and the less js library) inside the <head> part of our HTML. Make sure the .less file is integrated before the less.js file within the head.

Along with the above coding, we are all setup with the LESS CSS framework to work on out basic HTML template.

The next thing we will discuss is, some basic syntax that are mostly used during LESS CSS editing.

Before learing the basic use of LESS, let me remind you that, being an extension to CSS, LESS is not considered to be backwards compatibility of the traditional CSS, but the truth is, it adds the same use existing CSS syntax in a different and modern way. This makes the CSS coders learning LESS to be quite interesting and fun too.

Unlike our regular CSS coding, LESS works in a similar way and more-or-less like a programming language. But it’s dynamic feature has made it interesting and dynamic too. So, we must expect to find certain terminologies like Variables, Operation and Scope along the way unlike we use them in our other programming / server-side languages.

VARIABLES in LESS

In the traditional CSS that we are presently using, cases we came across where probably we write something like this, where we use repetitive values assigned to some properties to some id/classes in the entire style-sheet.

.shape1 {
      color: #5cb100;
      border: 1px solid #5cb100;
}
.shape2 {
      background: #fff;
      color: #5cb100;
}
.shape3 {
      border: 1px solid #5cb100;
}

Writing this piece of code in our stylesheet is quite similar in most of the cases for the web designers and using this kind of css is also perfect to go with. But the problem arises, when our client want us to replace the color #2d5e8b across the site. Things became so tedious when we start modifying the stylesheet.

But things can be solved by using a CSS pre-processor, that can easily replace the traditional methodology of defining the styles. We can use a variable to store a constant value for it and use it later throughout the stylesheet.

@my-color: #5cb100;

.shape1 {
      color: @my-color;
      border: 1px solid @my-color;
}
.shape2 {
      background: #fff;
      color: @my-color;
}
.shape3 {
      border: 1px solid @my-color;
}

NOTE: In LESS CSS framework, variables are defined using the “@” symbol.

In the code aove, we stored the color value #5cb100 within a variable named as “my-color” and used that variable wherever we need to have that color. In this case, if suppose we need to change the color from “#5cb100” to “#250b0c”, we can easily achieve this just by replacing the color value at the top of the code by replacing the “@my-color: #250b0c”.

Make it a note that, every time we save our CSS code within .less file, we need to render them to .css file. To do so, click the Crunch File button at the top-right position of the Crunch compiler. This will render the style.less file into style.css file.

Now you can check your style.css file, how it looks. It seems to be very clean and well-commented as compared to your previously written CSS file.

MIXINS in LESS

In LESS Framework, we include a group of properties from one ruleset to another ruleset. So to define, if we have the following class:

.green-gradient {
      background: #5cb100;
      background: linear-gradient(top, #5cb100, #305d00);
      background: -o-linear-gradient(top, #5cb100, #305d00);
      background: -ms-linear-gradient(top, #5cb100, #305d00);
      background: -moz-linear-gradient(top, #5cb100, #305d00);
      background: -webkit-linear-gradient(top, #5cb100, #305d00);
}

As the above code defines, we have added a gradient color to a preset class “green-gradient”. Now, whenever we need to add this particular blend of gradient to any element (take for ex- a button) we just simply need to integrate the preset class “.green-gradient” in this way:

.shape1 {
.green-gradient;
      border: 1px solid #ccc;
      border-radius: 5px;
}

Once added and rendered the .less file, it will output to:

.shape1 {
      background: #5cb100;
      background: linear-gradient(top, #5cb100, #305d00);
      background: -o-linear-gradient(top, #5cb100, #305d00);
      background: -ms-linear-gradient(top, #5cb100, #305d00);
      background: -moz-linear-gradient(top, #5cb100, #305d00);
      background: -webkit-linear-gradient(top, #5cb100, #305d00);
      border: 1px solid #ccc;
      border-radius: 5px;
}

To use more mixins in our css3 based websites we can refer to LESS elements at LESS ELEMENTS .

What we have to do is, download the elements.less css file and keep it inside the less directory along with the style.less file.

Reference it at the top of the style.less stylesheet with:

@import “elements.less”;

Once integrated, we can reuse the classes provided from the elements.less, for example, to add a gradient colors(#F5F5F5, #EEE, #FFF) to a div with class shape1, we can write this block of code as:

.shape1 {
      .gradient(#F5F5F5, #EEE, #FFF);
}

In the above code, the output will be rendered with a gradient color of Bottom-#EEE to Top- #FFF. HEre the first parameter/first color is the background color to use for browsers that don’t support gradients. The second two colors are the start and stop colors, going from bottom to top.

For further uses on LESS elements, please refer to teh documentation at LESS ELEMENTS .

Nested LESS rules

LESS CSS provides the ability to use nested css instead of or in combination with cascading. Lets implement the nesting css into the following CSS block:

#header { color: black; }
#header .navigation {
      font-size: 12px;
}
#header .logo {
      width: 300px;
}
#header .logo:hover {
      text-decoration: none;
}

This is the traditional way of defining CSS , where we used to specify the parent of every child element while declaring any css property for them.

But if we write the same block of code using CSS , it will look somewhat like this:

#header {
      color: black;
      .navigation {
            font-size: 12px;
      }
      .logo {
            width: 300px;
            &:hover { text-decoration: none }
      }
}

The above piece of code will render the same output as the traditional method of CSS does.

Kindly notice that, we have use a “&” mark before “:hover”. It is used when there is a need for a nested selector which needs to be concatenated to its parent selector, instead of acting as a descendant. Especially it is used an an important selector mostly for pseudo-classes like :hover and :focus.

LESS CSS for Basic Operations

Basic operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division can also be done with the CSS file using the LESS CSS operations. WOW! Surprised. Yes, using the LESS CSS framework, now it is possible for us to do mathematical calculations and operations within the .less file which will finally rendered to required value for the elements. Any number, color or variable can assigned on CSS operations. Let’s find out how it happens:

@basic-width: 100px

.shape1 {
      width: @basic-width;
}
.shape2 {
      width: @basic-width * 2;
}

We the above code defines,, we have declared a value of 100px for the variable “@basic-width”, which is assigned as the width of shape1. As per our requirement, the width of the shape2 needs to be two times larger than the shape1. In our traditional CSS , we used to calculate this manually and write down the value for the width of shape2. But in LESS CSS, just simply adding “*2” with the variable “@basic-width” renders the width of shape2 two time increased in shape than shape1.

So, in this case, if anytime you want to have the width of shape1 to have increased to a different value, automatically the width of shape2 will increase depending on the width of the shape1.

Using Functions in LESS CSS

LESS framework helps in providing a variety of functions which transform in doing mathematical calculations easily. To define it with an example, we have used this method:

@width: 0.5;

.shape1 {
      width: percentage(0.5);
}

The above code will render the width of shape1 to 50% of its parent element’s div. Here we have used the “percentage” function with parameter “0.5” to render the 50% width of the HTML element. !Quite straight forward.

A detailed list of LESS functions can be found at the “Functions” section of the LESS framework website.

Interpolating Strings in LESS CSS

Unlike we embed variables inside strings in other languages(like:Ruby or PHP), with the @{name} construct we can also embed variables inside strings within LESS CSS.

@url: “http://mindfiresolutions.com”;
background: url(“@{url}/images/bg.jpg”);

LESS is one of the few available CSS pre-processors. But, remember this is just the beginning into the CSS pre-processor framework. More will come along the way. I will post in a few days about the SASS and PCSS (PHP-driven CSS preprocessor).

I hope, this post has ultimately guided you in understanding the basics of using the LESS CSS framework along with the CRUNCH compiler application. If you are a first timer in using the LESS framework, you will find yourself to be non-techie in LESS CSS . But gradually practice makes it easier for you to go deeper into it and explore the rest of the uses of LESS framework and surely become lot easier for you.

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Common Mistakes To Avoid When Designing For Mobile Devices

Today, more people access web using mobile devices rather than desktops but do you really design websites to give visitors using mobile devices a good experience? A single design mistake that hinders the visitor from navigating effortlessly may also mean loss of a business prospect of your client. In coming up with design for mobile devices, there are things that one has to recognize before jumping into the planning method. Before starting anything, one should acquire ample information regarding the task at hand.

Continue reading Common Mistakes To Avoid When Designing For Mobile Devices

Netscape Vs Internet Explorer

The Browser Wars 1993-2004 – Part 1

Netscape Vs Internet ExplorerThe First Browsers

Browsers began to be taken seriously around 1993 . The first were the Unix browsers such as Line Mode Browser, ViolaWWW, Erwise and MidasWWW, and MacWWW/Samba for the Mac. In a short span there were more like Cello,Arena,Lynx,tkWWW and Mosaic. The most popular was Mosaic. It was designed by National Center for Supercomputing Applications(NCSA) to run on multiplatforms.

Marc Andreessen, a founding developer of Mosaic, started his own Mosaic Communications Corporation and his first product was Mosaic Netscape. The company was renamed Netscape Communications Corporation and the browser Netscape Navigator. The Netscape browser was much better interfaced and reliable than other browsers of that time but the best thing was it was free.

Corporates soon recognized this as a new market and many more IT companies jumped in like Browse, IBM’s Navipress, SlipKnot, Web Explorer, UdiWWW, Omni Web, Web Rouser, Mac Web . And then one day Bill Gates took notice of Netscape and soon Microsoft introduced it’s own Internet Explorer 1.0.

 The War

By 1995 Netscape Navigator in only about a year was more than 80 % of the web browser market. Microsoft released Internet Explorer 1.0 with licenses from NCSA’s Mosaic on its Windows 95 Plus! Pack in August. Some time later Netscape was free only for educational institutes and non profit organizations while Internet Explorer 2.0 was released as a free download. Everybody realized how competitive the new market had become and started to provide free installation with new updates appearing regularly at a rapid pace

On October 1997, when Internet Explorer 4.0 was to be released, Microsoft had a 10 feet “e” logo put on the lawns of Netscape office with a sign “From the IE team … We Love You”. Netscape responded by knocking it down and setting their Mozilla dinosaur mascot on top of it , with a sign reading “Netscape 72, Microsoft 18” representing the market distribution.

Internet Explorer 4 was a turning point. It was introduced as a part of Windows to exploit the already dominant personal computer market of Microsoft. IE 4 was free and already there with Windows and thus no need for users to get another browser.

The U.S. Government soon took notice of this and was concerned because Microsoft had already had some trouble over monopoly rules in the past. Microsoft defense was that Internet Explorer was not a separate product but an upgrading feature for Windows, although the IE was part of the Plus! Pack which was sold separately from Windows 95. Microsoft in its reports said that the government, under influence from its competitors, was trying to constrain the Windows business.

The Trial – Part 1
 

 

On May 18, 1998 the U.S. Justice Department and the Attorneys General of twenty U.S. states sued Microsoft for illegally obstructing competition in order to protect and extend its software monopoly and for violating a 1994 consent decree by forcing computer makers to include its Internet browser as a part of the installation of Windows software.

Bill Gates himself was brought to trial. But his attitude was reported to be “evasive and non-responsive” and saying ‘I don’t recall’ so many times that the judges got irritated. Intel Vice-President Steven McGeady, called as a witness, quoted Paul Maritz the senior Microsoft Vice-President as to “extinguish” and “smother” rival Netscape Communications Corporation and to “cut off Netscape’s air supply” by providing Netscape Navigator’s clone for free.

To prove that IE 4 was an upgrading feature of Windows, Microsoft provided videotapes that demonstrated that removing IE 4 from Windows caused slowdowns and malfunctions. Interestingly Microsoft Vice-President James Allchin had stated the video to be a seamless segment filmed on one PC, but the prosecutors found some icons mysteriously disappear and reappear on the PC’s desktop, and thus claimed it to be a fake. Allchin confessed and blamed his staff, “They ended up filming it – grabbing the wrong screen shot,” he said. Microsoft had to drop the the claim that removing IE slowed Windows and got irritated by the lawyers’ “nitpicking on issues like video production”. Microsoft submitted a second videotape to demonstrate how easy it was for America Online users to download and install Netscape Navigator onto a Windows PC. Microsoft’s video showed the process as being quick and easy with the Netscape icon appearing on the user’s desktop. The government produced its own videotape of the same process, revealing that Microsoft’s videotape had conveniently removed a long and complex part of the procedure and that the Netscape icon was not placed on the desktop, requiring a user to search for it. Brad Chase, a Microsoft Vice-President, verified the government’s tape and conceded that Microsoft’s own tape was falsified.

Continued in the next part

Author- Soumendra Barik

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Google’s Tryst With History,Facebook’s Fate

As most of you would be aware Facebook’s promised awesomeness turned out to be a one-to-one video chatting feature. Now is that really innovative ? It is something  that has already been introduced since almost a decade by companies now vanished. Of the barely surviving companies, ICQ introduced video chatting in 2007. In fact, for some inexplicable reason, I always feel ICQ was precursor of Twitter in a way. Going back to video-chatting, the much-touted Google+ Hangout feature isn’t the first group video chat either. I remember at least one service, ICU , which had similar features, then Yahoo Messenger + Public Chat + Group are so similar to the phenomenon that is now termed as Social Networking.

Continue reading Google’s Tryst With History,Facebook’s Fate

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Dot Com Bubble 2.0? An Analysis

Dot Com Bubble 2.0?

“Two days back, when I opened Twitter to check the topics that are trending, a piece of news struck me: “Deal of the day site Groupon files for IPO”. When I continued to read, I gathered the following facts: The two and a half years old e-commerce company is valued at 20 Billion Dollars. Though the revenues saw a surge, the company spends more and more to get it, the company has never seen any profits ever, its balance sheet shows a net loss of 400 Million Dollars last year and the first quarter results this year too showed a loss.”

Does anything look unusual here? I guess it does, looks like history is going to be repeated.

Continue reading Dot Com Bubble 2.0? An Analysis