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Archive for the ‘How To’ Category

Importing a database for your WordPress site

wordpress-loveThere is no question that WordPress has become one of the most popular systems for creating sites on the web, and the info graphic below illustrates how relevant it has become in the web design community. One of the reasons we love it so much is how simple it is to create your own site, and keep it relevant by regularly updating it without any coding knowledge at all, but if you change hosts and have already put a lot of time and effort into creating your site you want to preserve that work by importing your database properly. Read the rest of this entry »


Avoiding Phishing Scams

You’ve got your own website, you’re selling your photography or car club swag, or whatever items you create. You work hard at that business and, if you are like me, just don’t need the hassle of what seems like a daily process of weeding through the online scammers and grifters. Now you can get a free app that identifies email as having been sent from legitimate sources and helps fight against the threat of phishing scams. Read the rest of this entry »


Image Optimization for Search Engines

Accessibility is simply good practice in web development, but it also helps with site optimizing for search engine ranking. Adding an alt tag to your images can have a larger impact than simply having a text representation of the image for users who are not seeing your images–it can help to drive traffic to your site.

If you have ever used Google Image Search you know that when you find the image you are looking for and click on it, you are directed to the site that is hosting that image. Chances are good that if your site is about cooking and you have a well-optimized image of an apple pie in your article about apple pies, that user who just arrived at your site from her google image search, may have found a new source for recipes on the web in your site.

Some may argue that the conversion rate on image search (converting browsers to loyal readers) is pretty low, but the reality is that images are becoming increasingly more important in Site Optimizing. Unless you haven’t used Google in a couple of years, you will notice that search results now typically include images and other rich media.

So, let’s start with the Alt Tag which is simply an HTML tag that provides alternative text when an image or other non-textual element is not displayed. This happens, for instance, when a blind user accesses the page using audio-based technology. And since automated indexing programs (the robots that scour the web for search engines) are essentially blind to your page, the Alt Tag is the only thing they can recognize and utilize as part of the page’s content.

Be descriptive but keep Keywords in mind

When you write your Alt Tag, be descriptive for the accessibility factor–a blind person cannot tell that “pie-1” is really a “scrumptious cherry pie with lattice top crust”, but also keep in mind the keywords for your article and try to include them in the Alt Tag.

You should also try to name your image using the same keywords: If your image is alternatively called “Baked French Toast” you could name the file “baked-french-toast.jpg”. The name of the image files you use should also be keyword-rich to improve the relevance of the image to the search engine. Another trick would be to file the images using keyword-rich directories. For example, if your article is about making baked french toast for breakfast, you might have the image stored here:

That is the overview on optimizing images for your web pages. If you are using Joomla to render your pages, optimizing images requires a bit more work, but is well worth the effort. This article covers optimizing in Joomla.


Layout Decisions: Fixed Width or Liquid

One of the greatest debates in web design has to be between fixed or liquid layouts and the proponents for either side are fierce loyalists. Which is why it is worth bringing up before you plan your perfect site design. If you don’t know the difference then there is even more reason for you to read on.

Fixed Width

A fixed width is constant and unchanging. No matter what size a users browser window is set to, the content area of the page stays the same, or “fixed”. This method affords you more control over the precise look of your design. If the width of the content area of your page is fixed then you can add graphics and text in pixel perfect layouts and be comforted in the fact that your design will look relatively the same on everyone’s computer. You have seen this before: the content area usually “floats” in the center of a simple background either of solid color or a simple repeating texture. This web site, for example, is a fixed-width design.

The big drawback to this method comes with the assumption that all users are browsing with windows open to a certain dimension. If that dimension becomes smaller than the width of your content area, the user is forced to scroll horizontally to see all the content, and if the user has a huge screen and browses with the window open wide, there will be a lot of empty space on your site dwarfing your content.

Liquid Layouts

On the other side of the argument, liquid layouts are designed to be entirely flexible: as a users browser window expands and contracts, the page layout follows suit, ensuring that the content fills the display at any window size. Liquid layout designs are subservient to the preferences of the user: as a window is resized, the text will flow to follow suit. The danger of this is that if a user browses with a narrow window, text will tend to be rendered in tall, narrow blocks as graphics or pictures squeeze them into smaller spaces and conversely, with the window open wide text can become long, unmanageable lines that are difficult for a reader to scan. Furthermore, the lack of control over the content area’s width can be difficult to balance when placing fixed-width elements such as photos into it.

So which layout do you use? The truth is that both methods have strengths and weaknesses and neither is inherently superior to the other. You can spend a great deal of time arguing over which method is best, but the bottom line is that you will have to make this decision based on the important aspects of the site: will graphic layout play a more important role? or is screen real estate the determining factor? Once you are over that hurdle, the important part can begin because the one secret is that the relative width of a design’s content area is not going to be the determining factor in the success of the site. Don’t get me wrong: a great-looking site can be impressive, even essential if the subject of the site has to do with presentation. Intuitive navigation is ultimately very important as well, but mostly, beyond the design, content is the most important factor in website success. Choosing how to display it effectively should be a consideration in the early stages of planning your site.