New Site Vs. Cleaning Up A Site

Are you a professional? Do you have a website? Does your website represent you as a professional?

Many professionals decide to create their own website using products such as MS Publisher, Frontpage, Word, etc. The thing about programs like these are that they use WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) technology, which makes it easy for them to use because they don’t have to learn code, but also creates many issues that don’t help them get the professional look they’re hoping for. Now, if you’re only creating one page, you can probably do a fairly competent job with things like this and move on with life. But almost every time, if you want to add more than the one page, things start going haywire.


coding example, modified

I recently had conversations with a couple of friends who do a lot of what I do. I asked one question; if you had your choice, would you rather create a new page from scratch or would you rather fix up a page someone created using WYSIWYG. Both said they’d must rather create from scratch, and that it would cost the client less to do so most of the time.

See, there’s the caveat… MOST of the time. Let me explain. Back in 2008 I wrote a post after I had finished working on a client’s site. He had used MS Publisher to create his site, and if he’d only stayed with the main page it wouldn’t have looked so bad. But every succeeding page looked different. The menu kept changing colors, the background moved around, he had a picture on one page that totally threw off the spacing, multiple fonts, sometimes multiple colored fonts… it was a mess. He did the best he could, but when he couldn’t get things looking right, he contacted me.

What I did for about 3 hours was try to remove code. He only had 10 pages, but there was so much code that it took me all that time to take care of 3 pages. That was ugly, and I was irritated. And I noticed that as I was removing code, his menu really wasn’t working anymore. It was totally skewed by Publisher because it had decided to create the menu on each page as an image, which means I couldn’t make it standard. Eventually what I decided to do was recreate his first page cleanly, figuring out his colors and changing a few, and that included his menu. It took a couple of hours, but once I got it done I then had a template that worked for all of the rest of his pages except one.

That was the one page with the image, and it took me a couple of hours trying to figure out how to get everything on that page to balance with all the other pages based on the new template. Eventually I got it figured out, moved all the other content, uploaded to his new host and all was right with the world. That took 10 hours to do, but would have taken much longer if I hadn’t been able to just create the template.

Recently I did another similar project. This one wasn’t as simple; more pages, more pages that were designed differently than the other pages. This was going to involve removing code, but also adding code. WYSIWYG allows for some formatting things that it doesn’t necessarily add code for, such as numbering and listing items, and it sometimes does some funky things with images. If you’ve ever noticed how some blogs have images that sit above or below the content instead of having the content wrap around images, like mine, you can bet those sites are most probably set up for WYSIWYG, although depending on the theme sometimes you’ll need to add some code to get those images to look right (I do).

Anyway, I had to remove a lot of code. Because of some tables on some pages, I couldn’t just create a template page for everything. However, I’ve learned some lessons over the years, and one is that when you can, copy newly cleaned code from one page to the other, always making sure to put it in the same place. That helped greatly when it came to the business name and the menus , and probably saved at least 3 hours of coding; many pages on the site, as I said. I found a few other places where I was able to do something similar, all saving time, and the final thing I did was to create a CSS file so that colors and fonts and other specialty things could be handled from one place.


color chart example

Of course, there’s still the little bit of extra coding one does when fixing things, and it’s always wise to make a copy of a page so that you remember what things looked like before you started so you can try to put them back where they belong. But it’s always important to make sure a website has some type of balance. If your site has a title, the title should always be in the same place. If it has a menu, the menu should always be in the same place. Think of it this way; if you were looking for someone to take care of you and went online to search, unless you knew them wouldn’t you potentially gauge their competence by how smooth their website was? No one needs to be perfect; you just look for some things to be standard so you can navigate through a site easily enough.

Oh, by the way; it only took me 13 hours to do more than 3 times the pages of the first site. We’re always learning more efficient ways to do our work so that we can hopefully save clients money and ourselves time and frustration. When you can, it’s probably better to allow the person working on your website to redesign certain things that will still look good but save you money. When you can’t, just acknowledge that it’s going to take time, that time costs money, and either bite the bullet or make changes one step at a time. That’s harder to do when you want a professional looking site, but you can only pay for what you can pay for. Yes, I meant to say that. 🙂

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Social Media Marketing Strategy, Phase III

If you’ve been following along, you know that I’m going to be doing this social media marketing workshop on July 22nd locally, which is next Thursday. My friend Renée Scherer of Presentations Plus! and I have been working this thing both online and offline, although she’s much better offline than I am either online or offline. I initially brought up this subject in a post talking about my social media marketing goal, which was to put bodies in the seats at Hope Lake Lodge in Cortland, and wrote a follow up post on how I was applying the social media strategy early on. I’d like to progress from that point to tell you where things are now as far as the marketing efforts.

Hope Lake Lodge

You might want to know why I’m talking about it. Whether it’s a great success or not, when I do the workshop next week, I’d like to talk about the online strategy I undertook in trying to promote this event. My goal, of course, is to put bodies in seats. My other goal, however, is to make sure that there’s not a single local person who I’m in contact with online who can say that they didn’t know I was doing this thing. If people can’t come, that’s one thing; after all, it’s summer, vacations and the like. It’s another if someone who would have wanted to come said “You were doing that; man, I’d have loved to come to that.”

How have we progressed since the last post on the subject? First, I finally went down to see the place, and I have to admit that I was amazed. You know, you get impressions about places, and knowing that it’s originally a ski lodge, and I don’t ski, my imagination was running wild. It’s an amazing facility overall, and it’s much bigger and more spread out than I’d known it would be. The lodge is pretty big also and they’ve laid it out so that you can get either basic accommodations, which are fairly nice, or really soup it up and go luxury, which will include kitchens, multiple bathrooms, fireplaces… the works! The indoor water park wasn’t what I was expecting either, and it’s neat because the outdoor pool actually works like a hot tub when it’s cold, and a regular pool when it’s warm, as it’s always 84 degrees. Just an amazing place overall.

That visit ended up prompting this video that Renée shot, though she shot it up this way in front of the sign highlighting the Greater Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, which we’re both members of, since they’re helping us promote by sending an email blast in support of our putting this thing on. Here’s the video:

Not bad, eh? Anyway, this allowed us to add the link to the video in the latest email blast, and of course to pop the video link on both Twitter and Facebook. I’m going to pop it on LinkedIn as well, and in my last email blast I’ll make sure it goes out. This was actually pretty important because I now know how to help people set up a YouTube account, although for whatever reason it wouldn’t let us upload an image last night; these things can be hinky sometimes.

Of course email blasts are important for us to do, and Renée has been using Constant Contact to sign up for your Free trial, which is offering a free trial, to send her email out. She’s going to be teaching that portion of the workshop, as it’s something I still haven’t tried out, but I really need to one of these days.

indoor water park

Meanwhile, you’ve probably seen the sticky post, and for others who come into the blog they’ll see it as well. I’m going to be leaving it up after next week, but changing the date to August 19th, as that’s the date of our second presentation. I also finally wrote about it on my other two blogs, so that made it a 3-pronged attack on Twitter, since every blog post shows up there.

The rest? I’m making sure I post the link to the registration page at least once a day on Twitter. I’m probably going to step that up over this last week, since I seem to always be up, to make sure I hit both the morning crowd and the evening crowd. I have a lot of local folks following me, so I’m taking no chances. One more email from me and that’ll be that. And get this; we were able to get the people at Hope Lake Lodge to send an email blast to their mailing list, which was around 20,000 people; neat! Renée can talk people into doing some very interesting things, I must say.

Also, I realized that I needed to create an event on my Facebook business page. I was under the initial assumption that creating an event the normal way would move over to my business page since I was the guy creating it, but it doesn’t work that way. So I created the event and popped it onto my business page there, and I helped Renée pop a link on her Facebook page as well. I didn’t have her create a new event because it would have read the same way as mine, and I figured that since we have many of the same people on both of our pages that would be a bit redundant.

Right now, I can say that we have enough bodies so that we can do this thing, and that was the initial goal. Of course we want more bodies, so it’s time for the final push. How will it all end up? Stay tuned!

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Toolbar Overwhelm

I guess it was time for this post. I know I can’t be the only person who is suddenly hating all these toolbars popping up all over the place. It’s almost to the point where you can’t go to any site or blog without having either the upper or lower part of your screen filled with a toolbar that won’t go away. Heck, even my buddy Sire had one (he might still have one, but it’s not coming up anymore & I haven’t seen him talking about it any).

At this point probably everyone has seen either this picture to the right or something like it. These types of toolbars are bad enough because it seems like every piece of software wants to load someone’s toolbar onto your computer. I already have a search engine I used that I specifically loaded myself; why the heck would I want to keep adding other company’s toolbars onto my computer like this?

You go to a news site these days and there’s a toolbar at the top. You go to close it and sometimes it doesn’t close, just reduces itself to this little tab that seems to be saying to you “go on, you know you want to use me; I’ll just be sitting here until you’re ready”. If I closed your toolbar I’m not going to use it; take it away! And, for whatever reason, Firefox’s Adblock Plus can’t block them; what the hey? Guess I have to find some software or plugin that blocks pop-unders, which is kind of what these things are.

Why are most of these sites loading toolbars? It all comes down to money; it always does. Everyone is getting paid to add a toolbar in some fashion. Software companies, if it’s not their toolbar, are getting paid. Blogs that add toolbars get paid if someone actually uses it. I doubt there’s one truly altruistic company out there putting out toolbars. Heck, even Google’s toolbar, which I stopped using, was getting something out of the deal, mainly tracking people who used it, even on their own computers, so they could target advertising towards them based on their surfing habits. I wonder what kind of ads Google sends to those folks who only search for porn all day, since they don’t accept advertising from adult related sites.

Either way, I have to say that I didn’t purchase this 22″ widescreen monitor so someone could invade and fill up my space with a toolbar. Please, if you’re going to use one, at least allow us to be allowed to totally close it and get it out of the way.

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Topic Related Spam

Have you noticed that there’s a new and more sophisticated spam that’s out lately? It’s interesting because it’s actually related to the topic in some fashion, to the degree in which you just might leave it alone because it looks like the real thing.

Only it’s not the real thing. You know it for a couple of reasons. One, it’s mostly a one line item, although I did get one that actually had 3 lines strung together. Second, there’s the little squiggly at the end of the message, which I just figured out where it is. Here’s an example:

my grandfather is also a baby boomer and he is also a war veteran~`”

Here’s another one that was actually on a post of mine on writing articles:

sometimes article writing too much time and effort, specially when you are writing lots of stuff~–

Anyway, all of this stuff is spam, and you need to be leery of it. Sometimes it comes with a link in the message, though neither of these did. They do come with some interesting links as the home domain name, though. The first message came from a site that I assume sells USB related items. The second came from something related to male reproductive systems; hey, that’s actually what it said! lol

I’m also starting to see this on a lot of other blogs, and people are responding to this stuff. Yes, it’s tricky. Sometimes it even comes with an image. But let’s be realistic folks If the picture is of a pretty girl but the name says “David”, it’s fake. Also, if the email address and the domain name don’t quite match up, there’s the strong possibility that it’s fake as well. The first one above for the USB stuff was sent from an email address with “brownies” as the domain name. The reproductive system one was sent from something called “kimber.”

I put it out there in case y’all have been receiving the same sort of stuff and either letting it pass or wondering about it just a bit. It’s spam; kill it.



Champion Men’s Mesh Shorts;
click on image

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Does Your Content Stink? Kind Of A Rebuttal

A couple of days ago I came across a post that kind of intrigued me and kind of bothered me at the same time. Actually, my mind said it was fulfilling one of the points of the author, and in that case it probably worked as he expected. In another, however, I’m in almost full rebuttal mode, hence I’m writing about it on my site instead of his.

Abandoned Kits
vladeb via Compfight

The post was titled 10 Signs That Says Your Content Sucks (updated 6/2015; the blog is gone now). Actually, though it said 10 signs, only 9 of them actually ask you a question for you to determine if your content stinks.

I have to say that I disagree that if these points apply in some fashion that it means your content stinks. I want you to read his post so I’m not going into full details with it, but I will at least mention what I’m countering. This means I won’t hit all his points; no need.

First point, journal entries. In essence, he says no one is interested in our lives. Actually, since I decided to be more personal on this blog, I’ve had way more traffic and received a heck of a lot more comments. Beforehand, I think many folks had no clue who I was or what I was about. You can play it too close to the vest in not divulging any personality sometimes. Remember what my most visited post is all about; it was personal and social commentary, and I doubt anyone learned much from it.

Second point, number of comments. The reality is that some of the best stuff written on the internet is not only never seen, but never commented on. Blogging turns out to be a community, and if you don’t give yourself to trying to reach out to others, unless you’re famous for some other reason, you’re going to get neither visitors or comments. Judging your content based on only comments is useless.

Third point, if time were the great predictor of how many comments people were going to get we’d all take a week putting together our posts. Every post isn’t a home run, just like every song on an album (or CD; I still like to refer to them as albums) isn’t a top 10 hit. If you’re looking for that kind of perfection you’re never going to attain it, and you risk alienating your audience because they have no idea when something new is coming.

Fourth point, fan mail. Yes, I get some fan mail. But I receive a heck of a lot more comments than fan mail. Truthfully, I didn’t start getting fan mail until probably the middle of last year; it threw me off initially. I tend to view it as some people wishing to express a point of view, but not wanting to be “outed” on the blog itself. On my business blog, I get a lot of email responses whenever I write on topics of racism and diversity instead of comments on the blog. Are those posts better, or are they scary enough for some folks to not want to put their name on it in the blogosphere?

Fifth point, hate mail. Why would I intentionally want to put out a post to receive hate mail? Who am I supposed to be, Rush Limbaugh? I don’t ever want hate mail; I’d rather be ignored if someone didn’t have the guts to post their rebuttal on my blog. However, I have received a version of hate mail twice ever; didn’t like it one bit, especially since one was on a tribute to my dad, thus it was way out of place.

Beautiful woman with grimace beacuse of bad smell. Isolated on white.
Aqua Mechanical via Compfight

Sixth point, is it my responsibility to educate or expect someone to learn something from every post? It’s an interesting point, and one that I believe is what finally makes some people give up blogging. If you don’t diversify, you’re going to stagnate and want to go away.

Did anyone learn anything from my cleavage post (which I had to take down because Google hated it & took my page rank away for a year…), easily the most popular post ever on this blog? What about my story about losing and finding my keys? Were people entertained? Yup! Is there anything wrong with entertaining? Nope. Charles Barkley once said “I am not a role model”; well, he got that one wrong, but what’s not wrong is that “I am not everyone’s educator”. I’ll educate when I want to, but otherwise, as Wanda Sykes like to say, “I’m a be me.”

I think that’s enough. Chris actually made me think, which is good, even if I disagree with his premise. Darren Rowse’s blog gets plenty of comments, but at least half of his posts these days are written by someone else. Are those posts all great content, or are those people who visit because he’s the Problogger? Sometimes, lousy content gets lots of comments, even more than good content; I see it all the time. It’s about connections and community as much as the content. Without content, nothing moves. With good content, you’re afforded one type of opportunity; with bad content, you’re actually afforded another type of opportunity.

But does your content stink based on the number of comments you get? There’s no real way to affirm that. What say you?
 

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