Archive for October, 2006

Seven Deadly Sins of Web Un-professionals

1 Accessibility

  • 1.1 gratuitous flash without html degradation support
  • 1.2 cross platform support & testing – do they use a service like browser cam ?
  • 1.3 gratuitous graphics without alt tags and / or negative shifted html alternatives. I know this sounds contradictory to the cloak and dagger but it’s unlikely you’d get penalised for making your banners more accessible.
  • 1.4 Similarly coloured text and backgrounds or unreasonably small font sizes
  • 1.5 Using frames
  • invisible to some robots and can make navigation an issue

  • 1.5 PDF abuse – I notice local authorities resort to putting much of their content in to PDFs when it can just as effectively be rendered in HTML. Apparently they think PDFs are more accessible which I find ironic.
  • 1.6 Meaningless or excessively long directory names which do nothing for either human or robotic interpretation of your URLs

2 Online CMS

  • 2.1 Beware of offers to manage your own content. I know this is controversial but most online Content Management Systems either have a very geeky barrier of entry or produce horrid results or both. It should not cost much or take much time to have content added or changed if your agent has a decent templating system which should also keep costs to a minimum.

3 CSS abuse

  • 3.1 It seems pointless to combine CSS with HTML via in line styling as this obviates many of its advantages: there is no single point where you can make global styling changes. It adds bloat to the code which may become significant if your pages ever get mass appeal. In the worst case the styling directives are repeated for each element in addition to the inline directive, or at least extra directives are added as if by afterthought.
  • 3.2 Tables are for tabular data, not layout. Your design will never be “fluid” if you are using tables to mark up positioning, unless of course you use percentages in your table width.
  • 3.3 W3C compliance a rather harsh test but can be quite revealing ;)
  • 4 Cloak & Dagger SEO

  • 4.1 Beware of search engine optimisers who do not obey the simple rules www.google.com—answer.py
  • 4.2 Be specially aware of SEOs that use cloaking as this may cause you site to be dropped from the index altogether. For example this type of approach:
    <div id="seo"> <h1>Descriptive header</h1> <h1>Descriptive header</h1> </div>

    With CSS directive: #seo {display:none} To see an example look at www.nustage.co.uk

  • 4.3 Metadata. Meta keywords are hidden content, got abused and so is ignored by most indexes. Meta description on the other hand is required for important sites like DMOZ.org
  • 4.4 Using framesets to present the content you want indexed but presenting something different. For example view the source of www.hotelchocolat.co.uk Apart from anything else you can expect a penalty for appearing to have static content (unless you're really sneaky and enegetic and change the hidden contents!
  • 5 Hidden charges

    • 5.1 Many agencies lure in clients with low start costs and high hosting costs. Hosting is a commodity service and should never exceed the cost of design.

    6 Poor hosting

    • 6.1 Decent hosting should include decent information about how many visitors you get, where they are from, how they are referred and what search terms are used if the referrer is a search engine. Of course you can use an external service such as google analytics instead but this requires custom javascript on each page, and it's useful to have an additional counter instead of a replacement as you can then check the results tally.
    • 6.2 email rationing
    • there should not be any artificial limits on the number of addresses your domain can support

    • 6.3 DNS misconfiguration
    • your domain should should redirect to a home page even if the www prefix is not use and even if you are using subdomains

    • 6.4 404 error pages
    • don't leave the default error messages: design a custom error page that gives visitors some clue about why they have landed there and where to try next.

    • 6.5 contact addresses don't match domain
    • no excuse for this. It looks unprofessional.

    • 6.6 Sitemaps are easy to add and engines love them almost as much as robots.txt
    • 6.7 Geographic hosting. Hosting is much cheaper in the US & Germany but the host location is factored in to results even if you have a CC domain.

    7 Branded searching

    Chicken + Noodle

    Sorry for the delayed follow up. The method is very easy, just needs a lot of veg chopping.
    Fry some or all of the following cut in 1 inch squares or circles:
    courgette, red pepper, leek, sprouts, red onion etc plus the ginger chicken.
    When cooked add noodles and the sauce you prepared 2 weeks ago and chicken stock if you got some from roasting the marinade.

    Alternatives to Adsense

    Here’s a massive list of adsense alternatives

    Google Vs. Yahoo!

    Or more specifically GCalender Vs Yahoo Upcoming.org !
    Following up from last month’s dconstruct I have been doing some research.
    Upcoming assumes the world is on PST and appears poorly localised for “metros” outside the US.
    Google calendar give the option to SMS remind you at the time of your choosing – how cool is that?

    Amazon S3 or homeserver?

    A rather long check list of things to consider when making sites