Cloud computing is changing how we use the web. It’s shifted how we hold information and where we store it. What does that mean for web designers? The cloud also offers an opportunity for web designers to streamline their work and develop a new flexible working practice.
This is a crude description but in essence, the internet is hosted on physical servers all over the world. Inevitably that limits space meaning there is a restriction on growth. For many years this was a real fear but the Cloud has minimised that risk. It promotes the ability to share resources and applications machine to machine. Virtualization, key in the development of Cloud Servers, allows you to “rent” space in the cloud.
It means you can run applications faster with the information coming back to you much quicker.
There’s a space for more powerful tools to run. For a web designer working on collaborative projects or working for clients it means they can explore new ways to get the job done and improve their service.
So if you’re a web designer working in the Cloud what apps should you be downloading?
Many web designers will opt for online storage platforms like DropBox, Google Drive or Teambox if they are looking for a way to store their work and allow clients to view it.
In fact, it’s worth asking what the storage deal you get when you sign up with a provider. Some, like Intrahost, offer deals for unlimited information storage.
When exploring web hosting deals you always need to ask what programming features each package carries. If you use PHP you’d be pretty angry if your provider doesn’t host it. There are plenty of Cloud apps that make coding easier. Codeanywhere uses HTML, CSS, PHP or XML allowing web designers to explore how their coding looks. Firebug and Skywriter from Mozilla are both cloud based applications allowing you to tweak and alter coding while seeing the real-time effects. Another good toy is Google Playground which allows web designers to explore different APIs before they start using them on their sites.
Gone are the days when you need to download a large and expensive editing programme to your harddrive. The cloud allows the potential for using editing software on an ad hoc basis. Whether checking different fonts or colours, applications like Typetester and Adobe Kuler let you try a range of looks before choosing one.
If you work in CSS, Sandbox lets you tweak web functions and make edits. It allows a more flexible editing process that’s more cost-effective.
Talking to clients
Project Management is all about communication and while services like Hosted Exchange make that so much easier, in terms of sharing tasks, calendars and folders, you can team it with a project management app.
Both Draftboard and Jumpchat allow you to provide a sitemap of progress to clients, letting them know when their site will be ready.
Web designers have much to explore thanks to Cloud Computing. The service offered by providers allows them to test the flexibility on offer and the ability to make designing a website an easier and more collaborative project. Whether working one on one with a client or working as part of a larger team the cloud makes it simpler to share information and practice.