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Article: Web Primer – Mistakes, I’ve made a few…

When I was four years old, I watched an older friend fix his bike.  He had it upside-down, the seat and handlebars forming a makeshift tripod.  Having reattached the chain, he turned the pedals by hand, causing the back wheel to spin rapidly.  It looked like fun, so I had a go, but somehow the middle finder of my right hand got caught in the chain, and the sprockets on the back wheel tore the end of the finger clean off.

Some things you learn the hard way.

As a web developer with nearly ten years experience – quite a lot in such an immature industry – I have made a number of mistakes, and learnt from other people’s.  I’d like to share the most common of those mistakes with you now, because if your site still makes them, you are handicapping yourself unnecessarily.

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Friday, December 5th, 2008 Published Elsewhere, Web Development 2 Comments

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  Your potential customers will probably make a similar judgement; a site which contains obviously out-of-date content – such as details of events which happened months ago –  can do you more harm than good.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

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 prominentmedia.com or google.co.uk 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

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

Article: Website Navigation Essentials

Though it sounds simple, one of the keys to making a website easy to use is giving people a clear indication of where in the site they are now, have been previously and should go next. This is the job of the site’s navigation elements.

In previous years, the consensus was that the main function of website navigation was to take visitors from your front page to the area of the site they wanted to visit. However in today’s search-engine-dominated World Wide Web, this model is unlikely to be the most accurate.

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Monday, October 27th, 2008 Published Elsewhere, Web Development No Comments