How much does a website cost?

Ed posts a typically thoughtful and balanced meditation on this key question. Turns out our prices are reasonable, by Ed’s reckoning, which is always good to know.

Friday, March 20th, 2009 Uncategorised No Comments

Growing in a recession

I know there’s a recession on, and we’re all supposed to be hiding under blankets waiting for it all to be over, but the problem I’ve been facing for the past 6 months is that Prominent Media has been busier than ever. I have a couple of ideas as to why that might be, based on conversations I’ve had with new and existing customers over that period. 

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Monday, February 23rd, 2009 eBusiness No Comments

How to print one A4 page as two A5 pages in Microsoft Word

It’s a common problem: you have written your article, poster, flyer or handout on an A4 page in MS Word, and you suddenly think to yourself, “I could do with printing two of these per page at A5 size”.

Initial A4 Page

Figure 1: Initial A4 Page

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Tuesday, February 10th, 2009 Uncategorised 222 Comments

The science of the afterlife

If you have a spare 20 minutes during the Christmas break (you are having a Christmas break, aren’t you?) I thoroughly recommend reading the full version of this Times Online article by Bryan Appleyard.  I just found it a) was quite insightful about the ways that scientific positions require faith and b) made me feel strangely hopeful. 

The world, on the face of it, is made of two ingredients: thoughts and things. A brick, for example, is, on the one hand, a fact in the world and, on the other, a combination of all my feelings about bricks in general and this brick in particular. This is generally regarded as a very odd state of affairs. My thoughts and feelings are as real to me as the brick, but they don’t seem to be made of the same stuff. Indeed, they don’t seem to be made of any stuff. The belief that they aren’t, that the world is made of two different substances — bricks and thoughts of bricks — is called dualism. Dualism is the default human conviction, embraced by religions, philosophies and, in fact, by everybody in their lives — if we didn’t embrace some degree of it, we’d be constantly worried about crashing our cars into other people’s thoughts. Dualism means that the mind and the brain are not made of the same things and therefore in theory, they can be separated, as in NDEs.

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Thursday, December 18th, 2008 Uncategorised No Comments

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

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 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

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