Sue Nolff's Weblog

website design & hosting, SEO, email marketing

CMS Websites

December13

In the quest for self-control of their websites, many people go to WordPress, Blogger, GoDaddy, Drupal, Joomla, or one of the many “free template” services, and sign up for free websites that they can “manage” themselves. In some cases, there is nothing wrong with that!

What you can get through these blog services or “free website” services is a cookie cutter, simple design in an empty shell, void of content or originality. How you get that simple design live on the web is entirely up to you, literally. You can buy space on a cloud server somewhere for a monthly fee, but you need to figure out how to get your website onto that server.  You can purchase your own web address, but you need to figure out how to point that web address to your simple website on the server you’ve chosen. What these services won’t offer is help – help getting your site live, help learning how to use their site editor system, help putting a contact form on your site, help uploading images or documents to your site, help putting your facebook widget on your site, help getting your pages to look the way you want them to, or help when your site gets hacked (which these free services are notorious for)!

The company I work for has a better solution, complete with all the necessary “help” and security: BytePages.com

To get an idea what the CMS is like, go ahead and review our Help Docs website.

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posted under Design | No Comments »

Your Home Page Content

May1


So have you ever wondered just what the search engines see when they visit your site? Here’s a great way to get an idea of it. I’d like you to open another browser window so you can navigate to your website without losing my site window.

I’ll assume you’ve done that. Now view the “source” code of that page. With each browser you will have to access this a little differently, but you’ll find the option somewhere in the top navigation bar for your browser.

Now, unless you know a little bit about html, you probably won’t understand much of what you see in this window. Here’s the catch — if you don’t find the text on your home page clearly visible somewhere in this long (hopefully!) page of code, then either can the search engines! This code very closely resembles exactly what the search engines see when they visit your site.

If the text of your home page is embedded in images or in a flash presentation, then the search engines have no way to “read” your home page. Your home page is the page that is supposed to give the search engines all the information they need to know about your website; for instance, the name of your company, what your company generally does, all the links to the other pages in your website, the location of your business (for geo-location purposes), etc. If the search engine spiders don’t find that information there, they will simply move on to the next website. That will invariably leave you wondering for weeks, months, even years why your site just doesn’t show up on the first page when you search for it, even though you’re the only widget builder in town.

Can you see where this is going? I can’t tell you how many times I hear clients say something like, “My site must have the WOW factor right when people get there. I want a flash splash page!”

Okay, I’m done gagging. People, people, people! Flash is great! Yes, I’ll say that. But please, can we constrain it to pieces strategically placed on well-optimized home pages? NOT the whole darn page, please. Go out there and find a website that I’m sure really has the WOW factor (that’s ‘why oh why’ in my book) because of its flash intro. Please view the source code of that page. You will find that the source code is only about 15 or so lines long, and not one bit of it contains the all-important text about your company that the search engines need to find.

Now I’ll admit that Google has started pulling text out of flash pieces, but they are the only search engine doing this.

I’m just amazed when I visit a site that has the entire site navigation built in flash. How does that company expect the search engines to navigate to any page other than the home page? It can’t be done.

If I am able to dissuade just one person from insisting on a flash splash page, then I’ve accomplished my mission here. Please just let that be you.

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posted under Design, Home | 108 Comments »

Email linking on your site

September23

The days of the mailto: email link should be long gone, but unfortunately there are still millions of those type of links out there. I don’t necessarily mean unfortunately for you or me; I mean unfortunately for the millions of people who are the poor recipients of email from such links out there.

There are thousands of nasty little spambots out there just searching the web hour after hour, zeroing in on that little snippet of code known as a mailto: email link. Bingo, when they find one, the email address that comes immediately after mailto: in the link will be massively bombarded over time with spam. Did you ever really wonder how that poor widow in Nigeria got your email address?

Every good web design company has an even better web programmer. That web programmer can spend up to 1/3 of his or her time just trying to stay one step ahead of the hackers and spammers. In larger companies, it can be a full time job.

The mailto: spam debacle is generally one of the easier problems to troubleshoot, and I’ve seen many different workarounds.

Some people just type out their email address but don’t make it a link. This is fine, but it forces the person who wants to email you to have to write it down, or copy it over to their email program in order to email you. That’s where human error enters the picture.

Some are even afraid to type out their full email address on a web page so they take that human error factor one step deeper and tell people to email them at myname at mysite.com.

Now, I’ve also seen some ingenious workarounds. I’ve seen code that turns typed email addresses into images of the letters because the spambots can’t read text in images. That one is pretty cool!!! But it’s also pretty complicated for the average site.

My favorite solution is a simple javascript, placed in an external javascript page. I’m so fond of it that I’m about to share it with you. Copy and paste the following into your external javascript page, or just in the head area of your page:

<script type=”text/JavaScript”>
<!- -
  function myEmail(prt1,prt2,id,subject){
    //redirect to mailto
    if (subject == undefined ){
      window.location = ‘mailto:’+ prt1 +’@’+ prt2;
    }else{
      window.location = ‘mailto:’+ prt1 +’@’+ prt2 + ‘?Subject=’ + subject;
    }
    return false;
  }
– ->
</script>

Now instead of the mailto: email link in the body of your document use this:

<a href=”javascript:void(0);” onClick=”myEmail(‘myname’,’mysite.com’,this,’Website Contact’);” title=”Click here to email us”>email us</a>

Now how cool is that?! And if you think about it, how much more simple could it be?



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