Tag Archives: websites

Sidebar Toolbars; The Next Scourge Of Blogs And Websites

For those of you who are relatively new to this blog, let me tell you something I hate: toolbars. That is, I hate them on websites and on blogs; I don’t mind if you want to have a toolbar on your browser because that’s not getting in my way, although I keep fighting the Google sidebar (a toolbar in its own fashion).

Of course I just led into my newest gripe; sidebar toolbars. In a rant I wrote last June on things that irritated me about blogs, I commented on these toolbars getting in the way of trying to read a post for a couple of reasons.

One, I like reading things a little larger than the norm. When I increase the size of the font, these toolbars increase as well, and suddenly they’re blocking all the content, making me bring everything down to size again. That’s irritating.

Two, you have your sidebar following me down the side as I try to get into some of your content. Now it’s not only big, but I can’t outrun it; that’s irritating as well.

You know, I get it. You read somewhere that you need to make sure people know how to share your stuff on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, etc. You’ve tried other things and you’re not sure if people are actually seeing these things because you have no idea if your traffic is going up or not. So you’ve figured “hey, if this thing is always in their line of sight, there’s no way they can miss it.

You got that right; what you don’t have right is that now people can’t read your content, and if they’re like me they’ll just leave and, well, so much for anyone sharing anything. And if I don’t like you I’m never coming back; so much for traffic as well. See the image above? That’s what I’m seeing with my text enlarged. Not only did it cover text, but as you can see the bottom part is cut off anyway, so if I’d wanted to share it via the final 3 options it gives me I’d have to reduce my text just to see it.

The funny thing is that what finally prompted this post is that someone I like recently wrote a post talking about how her traffic has dropped, and I can’t read it unless I make everything smaller because there’s this large sidebar toolbar blocking everything on the left side, and no matter where I go it’s there. I’m thinking that can’t help. And no, I’m not naming names; I’ll say something if she sees this post.

Of course, though I’ve been busting on sidebar toolbars, I can’t resist busting on those other little toolbars that follow you as you’re scrolling down a post as well. They’re sometimes on the bottom and sometimes on the top, and the purpose is the same as those moving sidebar toolbars; irritating as sin because it distracts you from reading. At least it distracts me.

I’m seeing these things starting to pop up on news sites as well, and it’s driving me nuts. I know I talked about our reluctance to market ourselves but this isn’t the way to overcome that if you ask me.

Folks, how many times does one have to state the fact that if you have things on your blog that irritates people and it’s not the content that you’re going to drive people away? Toolbars, popups, music playing when you get there, too much flash, people walking out from the side and talking to you (that always freaks me out)… stop it! lol

I know I can’t be alone on this one; speak y’all!
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell

What Does Your Site Look Like On All Browsers?

Last week while I was over a friend’s house, I wanted to show him my local Syracuse blog. He uses Internet Explorer (seems there’s still a lot of those out here lol) so I pulled up the main page and all looked fine. Then I pulled up an individual post and… ugliness!


bad code

I forgot about it until I was reading a post on a blog called IBlog4Dollars titled 35 Serious Blog Design Mistakes That You Should Avoid At All Costs written by Dennis Marshall. I got to #10, where it talked about making sure your website is cross-browser compatible, and then I remembered the problem I was having with IE.

I pulled it up on my IE and I had the issue like my friend did. I then went to work, and for the next 4+ hours I went through all the CSS code and checked all the PHP files, looking for something. I ran it through the W3C CSS Validator, which found some errors but nothing causing the issue. Man, was I frustrated.

Luckily, I play chess with Mitch Allen, so I threw the question out to him via one of my chess moves. He came back with a diagnosis that it was some javascript in the code, probably the Google Analytics script.

As I’d been researching the issue, I had come across something where it had been predicted that javascript could cause issues, but it never occurred to me it could be that one.

I went to the theme and then had to search for where I’d put it. Most of the time Google Analytics script works best in either the header or footer, but I realized I’d put it somewhere else, and then I remembered why. For some reason I can’t save many of the files on this particular theme. I get sent to a 404 page after attempting to do so, which was irksome. I found the script in a PHP I’d never put it on anywhere else because it turned out to be one of only 2 files I could actually save.

Once I removed it the site came back to life for IE8, which was great, but I still had a problem; how to get that Google Analytics code in. After all, if I couldn’t track my traffic, I wouldn’t know how I was progressing or digressing right?


good code

Then I remembered that sometimes you can fix things through your FTP program. I use something called WS_FTP for that purpose, so I opened that up, went to the plugin file and clicked once on Header.PHP. Then I right-clicked and went to Edit, and I popped the code in and saved it.

Came back to both my Firefox browser and IE, ran my tests, and all is working perfectly still. Just to make sure I also tested it in Chrome and Opera; looks good so far. Whew!

You can pick up things from other blogs, that’s for sure; heck, even this one I suppose. I had obviously taken time to see what that blog looked like before, but only the main page; that was a mistake, one I need to remember not to do again. One little code; with IE, sometimes that’s all it takes to mess stuff up.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell

Ken’s Googlebomb Post – My Head Hurts

Last Sunday I got myself hooked into reading a blog post by Ken Evoy of Site Build It that was titled Proof That Google Has No True Googlebomb Algorithm. I have to say that I knew nothing about Ken Evoy other than being the top guy there, and I didn’t even know he had a blog until this post. After reading the post… my head hurt.

I have kept the post for a while now because I wanted to read it again. The first time I read it I actually knew overall what he was talking about. But it’s quite a long post, so much so that I’m going to tell most of you that if you’re not into technology and a lot of that kind of talk don’t even bother checking it out. I’m going to touch on some of this though, because it’s interesting stuff.

What the Site Build It folks were able to do was prove that the Google system could be gamed. They have all sorts of documentation from someone who made it their goal of showing just how they could fool Google and get to the top of the rankings right under Google’s nose, even telling people what was coming. Site Build It tried to tell Google what was happening and, instead of addressing it, pretty much ignored it.

I say “pretty much ignored” because there were a series of form letters Google sent to Ken, and apparently Ken didn’t like that. At one point Google seemed to tell them they were going to do something really positive, but then didn’t do a thing.

Let me step back for a quick moment, if I may. A “googlebomb” is usually where a bunch of people get together and create a ton of links to something to skew search results so they’ll take you to a specific page for a search term, whether they’ve earned it or not. The most famous google bomb (you can write it as either one or two words) was when you’d put in “miserable failure” and George Bush’s name came up; so wrong! lol

Another google bomb was perpetrated by John Chow when he was able to get something like 85,000 people to keep linking to his name to drive him up to the top in Google’s search engines and in page rank. At least at that time Google hated it so much they delisted his site (that’s bad), but for whatever reason it didn’t end up reducing his visitors, and he still made a ton of cash online. He’s now back on Google after a 3-year absence with a page rank and listing after they kissed and made up (pays to have a direct connection to Matt Cutts; but I digress…).

Anyway, what it’s all boiling down to is, in his own way, Ken is going for his own google bomb, though he wouldn’t call it that. He’s trying to rally the troops, who would be us, to support his cause by going to this link and joining him in kind of a protest. He’s also declared that he won’t write another thing on his blog until Google fixes this algorithm.

I have some takes on this; otherwise, why would I have written this much?

One, Ken has a pony in this race which slightly colors his anger here. Seems there were some folks who google bombed his company with negative reviews, not because they didn’t like him or the company but because they wanted to prove they could do it. That doesn’t sit well with him.

Two, I can’t understand how not writing any posts on his blog will help push his cause. To me, if I had a gripe about something I’d want to write almost every day about it, or at least often. Who does him not writing on his blog anymore help? Google won’t care, people reading his blog that agree or disagree with him won’t go back because they’ll have no idea how long his boycott is, and thus his message will get lost.

Three, I’m not sure all that many people will get enthused enough to join a movement to get Google to take care of this problem of google bombs. I mean, Google did take away the page rank from this blog for a little while, but my posts were still showing up on Google, sometimes in the top spot for certain terms (you want to see something neat?

I could say more, but I think that’s enough for the moment. I guess I’ll just put the question out there and ask who’s angry enough at Google to even think about joining a movement against them? Actually, I hope you go check out what he wrote, but be warned, it’s almost 5,800 words. Good thing I speed read! 😉
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell

Blogs Or Articles?

I’ve been in the business of business website consulting for 4 1/2 years at this juncture. Most of the concepts have stayed the same; great SEO, continuous new content, balance, etc. There are two things that have changed the landscape a bit in that time. The first is social media and how companies can use it in some form or another for their advantage. The second… the conversation about blogs or articles.

Back in the day it seemed a fairly easy conversation. Having articles on a website makes a lot of sense to a degree. If done properly they help enhance the authority of a website. They’re fairly easy to optimize and, when done well, end up with their own page rank and many more opportunities for websites to be found fairly high for their search terms.

Nowadays a couple of things have changed. One, search engines value new content more than static content; even a page ranked fairly high will only maintain itself for so long. Two, more website owners and businesses want the ability do certain things for themselves, which means they need an easy process; not everyone knows how to write code to add new pages to their website or links within the website.

This means blogging becomes a more viable option for some people. In some ways, blogging it easier. You can write multiple short posts and keep your website relevant. You can write long posts and keep your site relevant. You can easily add video or sound to a blog. Blogging is easy because you don’t have to know how to code anything. You should for maximum effect but you don’t have to.

So we come to this conundrum of whether a website should have a blog or articles. Actually, for me, it’s not a conundrum at all. I tend to believe websites need both. And I’m prepared to say why.

Websites should have articles that pertain directly to what they say they do. I’m going to use the example of my business website to highlight this. My business website says I basically do two things; leadership/management training and health care finance consulting. Within the health care finance consulting, there’s one thing I do specifically that’s more specialized, that being something called charge master consulting. Not all consultants do this, so it’s my edge, if you will.

Now, I could just write about this every once in awhile in my blog, but that’s really not strong enough for me. Since this is a core business issue it needed that specific link that I shared. However, if you follow that link to the page, which talks about the service I provide, you’ll see I have 3 other links on that page. All of those links are articles I’ve written that are related to what I do. That helps the search engines really zone in on what I do for business. My main search terms are all in the top 10, most in the top 5, for providing this service. I used to be number one for all of them but you just can’t always keep the big dogs down I’m afraid. 🙂

I have a similar page talking about leadership and management, and I link to some articles from that page as well. But there are many more people that provide these same types of services. Therefore, even with the articles I have, I need more of a boost when it comes to that topic. Hence, my blog talks more about leadership issues there than anything else. Doing that helps keep my site in the SERPS, although I still battle for recognition. My checking it last night when I was putting this together has me at 143 on Google, 103 on Yahoo and 136 on Bing. In a crowded field that’s not bad, but it can be better.

So, this is my argument for having both articles and a blog on a website. How do you see it?

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell

ARRHH! How Can I Work With These Creative Graphic Designers? – Guest Post

Some of you might recognize Wes’ name. He’s a regular commenter on this blog, and some of his articles are on topics that are pretty cool to comment on as well. I don’t take a lot of guest articles on this blog, but he’s earned his way here and thus I’m pleased to offer him some time here. I’m even allowing the Australian spelling of words instead of changing them to the American version. 🙂 Please check out his blog as well.

It is not easy to start or run a business. You may have a long list of suppliers and customers you need to build relationships with. Among the people you will inevitably need to work with when starting a business is graphic designers. How on earth can you work with these creative, arty-farty types.

Your experience with graphic designers does not need to be as harrowing as you may think. In fact, not all graphic designers are ‘arty-farty’. However, I do understand the perception out there and have a few suggestions to make it easier and more enjoyable to deal with graphic designers. These include:

Create a rock-solid vision

Before approaching or hiring a graphic designer, it is best if you are clear in your own mind what your intended outcome is for any given project. It is a colossal waste of time to kick-off a graphic design project then change your mind when it’s almost complete. This can be quite costly as graphic designers will charge for modifications and authors corrections. I’m not suggesting you need to have a clear vision for the actual design or the look and feel but you need to be rock-solid in what your intended result is.

Communicate your vision clearly

Knowing exactly what you want and being able to convey this to your graphic designer can be difficult. It will help to write the vision down so you can communicate the brief clearly. It’s great to talk through the brief so it can be discussed however this can cause problems for graphic designers if that’s all you give them. It can be difficult determining what is clear direction and what is a passing thought or idea if you don’t write it down.
To make sure there is no communication gap, give your graphic designer samples of designs you like and dislike. This is a sure-fire way of speeding up the design process and being clear about what you are wanting. It can be difficult to describe in words what you are looking for visually. For example, if a colour was important to you, provide colour swatches or samples so you can communicate precisely what you are looking for.
If there are certain logos, graphics or images you want to be included in your project, prepare them before meeting with your graphic designer. This will save you both time and make the briefing easier.

Knowing your budget

You should know your budget limitations before starting a graphic design project. You may need to have an initial discussion with your graphic designer to get an idea of costings before you define your budget. If your graphic designers understand your budget restraints, they may be able to make recommendations so you get the best bang for your buck. For example if you wanted to produce a flyer that included photography, your graphic designer could suggest stock photography. Stock photography could save you quite a bit of money so you could then afford to print more flyers with the same budget. If you are not transparent and upfront with your graphic designer, you may miss these kind of opportunities.

Knowing your time-frame

This boils down to being clear in the communication process even during the primary stages of your project. Be honest, if it’s needed in a weeks time, don’t say you only have three days to give yourself ‘breathing room’. Your graphic designer may not be able to invest the time and energy into your short time frame that he/she would have with a little more time. If the deadline is critical, be really clear about that and trust your graphic designer to meet the deadline.

With the pace of business these days, we always tend to want things yesterday. For this reason we want our projects to be worked on immediately however, if this is going to impact on the quality of work being produced maybe you should reconsider your time-frame.


Wes Towers invites you to learn more about marketing, branding, graphic design and web design and how they can help in your business. Check out www.omnificdesign.com.au for more resources and free ebooks.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell