Archive for November, 2008

Article: Web Primer – Keeping It Current

In my previous article, I mentioned a number of things that search engines look for when deciding where to rank your website among the other results.  In general, the things that make your site attractive to search engines are the same things that will make your site appeal to human visitors too.

This is probably most obvious when you look at how often a website is updated.  Search engines will give more weight to a site which is updated regularly, on the grounds that newer content is more likely to be relevant.  Your potential customers will probably make a similar judgement; a site which contains obviously out-of-date content – such as details of events which happened months ago –  can do you more harm than good.

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Monday, November 24th, 2008 Published Elsewhere, Web Development No Comments

Film Club – 09 December 2008: Die Hard

Last month we watched Superbad, which the writers first began writing in the early 90s, when they were just 13.  At that time, cinema was ruled by the Planet Hollywood triumverate of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis, and what better film to usher in the festive season than Willis’ seminal Die Hard?

Prior to this film, Bruce Willis was known primarily for his role in Moonlighting, which cast him as a loudmouthed detective (no change there then).  He was, in fact, shooting Moonlighting during the day, and Die Hard at night – tough work, but Die Hard alone was worth a then-astronomical $5million paycheck.

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Wednesday, November 19th, 2008 Film Club 1 Comment

Article: Web Primer – Search Engine Optimisation

The question I am most commonly asked, by about a mile and a half, is “How can I make my website do better on search engines?”  A short question, but the answers are many and varied.  A simpler question to start with is “What do search engines look for in a site?”  As you will see, the answers to question one all stem from the answer to question two.

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Monday, November 17th, 2008 Published Elsewhere, Web Development No Comments

Article: Web Primer – Domain Names

Your website has just gone live.  You have tweaked every word to ensure that it communicates your message clearly and powerfully.  The HTML is perfectly coded so that search engines have the best chance of sending your site to the top of their listings.  The design is beautiful and elegant, and having had it tested on countless computers you are sure that it will look great on any screen.  Your web developer deserves a pat on the back, and so do you for hiring someone so competent.

However, it is quite possible that a decision you made weeks, months or even years ago will have a big impact on the success of your website, and certainly on the speed of its growth.  Choosing the right domain name (the bit that comes after ‘www’, so or for example) is incredibly important.  As a professional web developer, I am only occasionally asked for to advise on domain name selection, which is a shame because in many cases I could help my clients pick a domain name which makes growing their website even easier.

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Monday, November 10th, 2008 Published Elsewhere, Web Development No Comments

Slowly backing away from 3G?

I love my 3G laptop card, even though it nearly cost me £1,050 the last time I used it (in Spain, watching video highlights of the US Presidential debates).  Yikes!

Now I see on TechCrunch that AT&T has bought Wayport, a US WiFi hotspot operator, in a $275 million deal.  I wonder if that will prove portentous for the UK, where mobile carriers are still trying to recoup their £22 BILLION investment in 3G licenses.  If the operating costs are significantly higher than WiFi, will we see the same thing in the UK?  And if so, who are the big players in the WiFi hotspot market?

The Cloud already provides a similar service for O2 and Orange (although they levy a monthly fee, unlike AT&T), while the others are either doing their own thing (T-Mobile) or ignoring WiFI altogether (Vodafone).  If WiFi continues to grow, while being much cheaper to support than 3G, will we see the incumbent carriers invest more heavily there?

Should be interesting to watch, in any case.

Thursday, November 6th, 2008 eBusiness, Technology No Comments

The benefit of misfortune

Yesterday, Barack Obabma was elected President of the United States of America.  He absolutely stormed it; a landslide, a rout.  But just eight years ago his first foray into mainstream politics ended in failure. He stood for election to the House of Representatives, and lost convincingly in the primary. 

I can only imagine the disappointment of losing an election; the days, weeks, months of work that seem wasted.  The humiliation of rejection.  The sacrifice unrewarded.  But actually, in the end it worked out rather well.

As Edward McClelland says in his excellent piece, How Obama learned to be a natural:

Only after losing that race, in humiliating fashion, did he develop the voice, the style, the track record and the agenda that have made him a celebrity senator, and a Next President.

The setback was the making of him; his strengths were forged in the fire of adversity.  But more than Obama’s ability to learn from his mistakes, I can also see the hand of fate.

I was struck by Alex Massie’s quote in this post, on the day before Barack Obama was elected:

Had he won the House race vs. Bobby Rush in 02 [sic] he’d probably be lost in Jesse Jackson Jr’s shadow and relegated to a life of obscurity.

You just never know.

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Wednesday, November 5th, 2008 Politics No Comments

Article: Seven reasons to avoid JavaScript dynamic navigation

I’ve been a web developer for over eight years, and in that time I’ve been fortunate enough to see several bad ideas go out of fashion, including splash screens and unnecessary framesets.  However, one really bad idea that seems to be hanging around is the use of JavaScript for dynamic navigation menus.  This is bad for several reasons – seven of the most obvious of which are listed after the jump:

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Monday, November 3rd, 2008 Published Elsewhere, Web Development No Comments