Category Archives: Website Tips

- all things that involve the designing, building, and maintaining web sites

Web Content Planning

If Content is King and Quality is Queen then making sure that everything is linked to everything else is that Ace strategy you’ve been waiting for.

The quantity of your content is your credibility and it’s best to keep 80% of your content in one place and 100% of your content (whether it’s from twitter or Facebook or tumblr or whatever) connected to your other content. You need a focal point. For most businesses that’s a custom domain.

Get a Domain Name

Great websites are both:

  • content rich where people are able to spend hours learning about you and your business, and
  • have friendly navigation so anyone can spend two minutes purchasing their product of choice and continue on their way.

You may want to consider a little mind mapping to get an overview of structure for a brand new website.

Consider Starting a Blog

Blogs are a great way to generate constant content and also archive older content. This would be a good place to consolidate all of your old newsletters and e-zine articles. If you want, you can date the posts with the date you sent the newsletter.

You might have newsletter content at Aweber, Vertical Response, ning, Media Temple, ezinearticles.com, mailchimp all of which can be consolidated on your news feed. If you can edit any of the articles to create backlinks to your website do so.

The fact to consider before you do commit to a blog is that it can be difficult to keep your blog alive after the novelty of it all has worn off.

Social Media Marketing is the Place to Create Genuine Connections and Listen

After a clear plan for your websites are established, you have an audience waiting for you to start a Facebook or Twitter or Google Talk campaign.

This isn’t something you want to begin until you are ready to update and check on every single day (at least every other day) . . .

Facebook is even better than twitter because you can share more information like

  • pictures
  • full recipes
  • and videos

Random but Handy Website Tools

Code Validation

I like to check my work. (Especially when code does not display the result I tell it to display. :) You’ve been there. )

  1. HTML Validator
  2. CSS Validator – If you find that your code ends up with a bunch of issues, don’t worry, even MSN’s website stylesheet came back with 2 errors and 916 warnings. However, that doesn’t excuse us from fixing ours.

Creating Web Ready Images

Tools I’ve used to add a little color to my website.

  1. HTML RGB color code converter – Know the RGB of a color but don’t exactly know the HTML version of the code? This will help.
  2. Gradient Image Maker – Just need to make a gradient image for a background or something? There are two things you must remember when using this. 1. you can make the height pretty much any length, but the width should stay at 100 or less might be better. Number 2. If you want to save the gradient image from the preview section, this does work. However, when you save it make sure you save it with the right extension. It defaults to try to save as gradient.php… that probably won’t help you. So save it as gradient.png or gradient.jpg.
  3. Also see three other posts about getting/editing graphics for websites and social network sites: WebSite Graphics, Ultimate Collection of Free Stock Photo Sites, Fun with Photos

Miscellaneous Website Tools

  1. Convert Your Spreadsheets into HTML Tables. I don’t really love using tables, but I have found them to be handy in some cases.
  2. Convert Your Web Page into a PDF

SEO

What’s the point in having a great site with great content if you can’t get found? I’ve shared 70+ very good SEO tools and tips in this blog. Here are the links to those articles about the tools I’ve been using.

  1. Tag Clutter – 2-14-2011 Don’t overload your posts or pages with keywords and phrases.
  2. Optimize Webpage Response Time – 12-13-2010
  3. 4 SEO Rules that Are Here to Stay – 11-29-2010
  4. 15 Easy Free DoFollow Backlinks to Your Website – 10-18-2010
  5. Website Backlink Popularity Tools – 3-1-2010
  6. Google PageRank – 2-23-2010
  7. How is Your Business Measuring Up? – 2-22-2010 <- I should have titled this how is your website and social media network measuring up.
  8. Use Social Bookmarks to Your Business Site’s Advantage – 2-8-2010
  9. Domain Life Expectancy – 8-9-2009
  10. FREE Inbound Link Checkers – 2-4-2009
  11. SEO Power Tools – 7-14-2009, updated August 6, 2010

Hmm, I think I should go ahead and change my SEO tag into a subcategory of website tips. It’s definitely something I’ve written extensively about.

Tag Clutter

I’ve been going through my website’s tags and after adding more content that I had written for classes but never posted. Somehow I ended up with 159 tags! This wouldn’t be bad except that many have only one or two posts attached to them, some had zero. So, I narrowed it down to 107 tags so far. I could definitely narrow them down more, but it’s a lot better.

Have you remembered to clean up your blog site categories and tags lately?

1. Go through all of your tags and see which ones can be consolidated, deleted, or changed to categories.
2. Go through some of your posts and make sure that your posts all have a fair number of tags and categories (at least one of each but no more than 8 or 9 total).
3. Also see my previous posts about this topic: Keywords & Categories & Tags Oh My!

I’ve added tons of posts to my Business category and Time Management tag and I’ve even added more posts to my newer tag:

College (which is a compilation of things that I wrote and learned during college but never got to shine up to make them a decent blog post. There is definitely more where that came from!)

This is very important for your visitors to get around your website and for SEO as well.

Now it’s time for me to go and make sure my sweetheart knows he’s special! ;) Happy Valentine’s Day!

User-Friendliness: 5 Basic Website Rules

A couple of weeks ago I started talking about good navigation and promised to write about making sure that your websites and blog sites are user friendly.

This study is of Human Computer Interactions (HCI).

So, here is a break down of the 5 most basic (and too often ignored) rules to building a user-friendly website.

1. Find the Perfect Color Scheme

Readability is key for all content on your website. If you chose to use dark fonts with dark backgrounds or light fonts with light backgrounds, then you are breaking a cardinal rule.

Of course, you know what your article says, but you don’t want your visitors to have to highlight your text just to be able to read it do you?

You always want it to be as easy as possible for your visitors to find and read more.

It is best to choose monochromatic (different shades of the same) color schemes. Just ask Apple or Microsoft.

If you already have more than one color, make sure that they go well together. Use a color wheel, or try this web tool if you have the html color code for a color to find it’s complementary colors.

2. Show Em What You’ve Got

The first thing anyone should be able to find when they get to your homepage is a “list” of what else they’re going to find on your site. Make sure that you have a navigation bar at the top or page list on your sidebar pointing to your main web pages or categories.

Gray Area: I’ve heard mixed reviews about placing the navigation bar above the logo vs. below the logo. I read somewhere once that most people don’t read any of the content above the logo. And yet many many websites (including Google) place their menu bars at the very top.

3. Have Attention Grabbing Subscribe / Submit Buttons

Orange buttons are definitely “in” right now. If you see a request for information form on a well-designed website, many of them are changing their “Submit”, “Check it Out!”, and “Download” buttons to orange.

I’ve always considered the color orange a very cheerful color. According to many sources, the color orange increases your metabolism (which gives you an energetic feeling) and activates some kind of social center part of the brain.

4. Don’t Make Everything an Emergency

YOU’VE SEEN IT. WEBSITES WILL HAVE PAGES FULL OF CONTENT IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE THEY ARE TRYING TO GET YOUR ATTENTION! DID YOU KNOW THAT IT IS MORE DIFFICULT FOR A PERSON TO READ A MESSAGE THAT HAS BEEN TYPED OUT IN ALL UPPERCASE?

Just follow the most basic rules for using capital letters. They are to be used for acronyms, the first letter of a proper noun, and the first letter of the first word in a sentence.

Just because you can hard-code this css code: “text-transform: uppercase; ” into your stylesheet doesn’t mean that you should.

Gray Area: Some higher profile websites do use all capital letters for navigation menus (e.g. – msn) and section headers (e.g. Yahoo!). Use this sparingly. You probably don’t want to have all nav menu items in caps and all section headers in caps. Maybe just use one or the other.

5. Don’t Have Broken Links

This one can be very difficult especially for those of us who have gobs of content or people who comment with links attached to their name etc. This one is important for your human visitors and your search engine spiders that crawl your site to index content. I wrote a lot of good information about finding and fixing broken links in my article called: 4 SEO Rules That Are Here to Stay.

Are Poor Conditions Slowing Down Your Web Traffic?

Winter storms and icy roads have been causing quite a slow down in traffic here in Indianapolis. It is definitely December and this is the time of year when everyone seems to do their own sort of hibernating. Don’t they?

I cannot believe that next Monday is the LAST MONDAY before Christmas!!! :) I will get back to continuing the discussion of holiday wishes with you next week. However, this week I really needed to write about slow traffic. . . web site traffic that is.

I am really noticing page loading speed more lately because I have been cleaning up darkbluesun.com and struggling with my page loading speeds. GoDaddy is a decent host at times. Yet, some days I have had nothing but problems due to how slowly WordPress runs (probably due to how long takes to connect to the Godaddy server “grid” and retrieve info from the MySQL database service needed to run WordPress).

Page Load Speed Checkers

Here is a webpage load speed test from Pingdom Tools that you can use to see about where your site stands and get a good overview of all of the files that are actually being loaded by your visitor’s browser.

Google also has a collection of page speed tools.

Also check out this post which includes 3 steps to Optimize Web Page Response Time (a 4th step for me might be choosing a new hosting provider. ;) )

Have a spectacular week! Remember the reason for this season. It’s about peace and goodwill toward everyone.

You have the power to be a holiday blessing to somebody…
Think about it.

SEO is Changing

SEO is changing. Google is changing. Bing is… well, it’s still trying to figure out what it means to be a “decision engine”. I thought their commercials were sort of funny, but seriously… decision engine? I’d rather make my own decisions thank you very much. :D

With that being said there are some rules for search engine optimization that will NOT change. My post on darkbluesun.com this week:  4 SEO Rules that Are Here to Stay

In case you are just now joining us, my website: darkbluesun.com is being overhauled. I’ve done some things like change the theme and make it a little prettier. I fixed my header to include my image again :) and I am going to make better use of that extra white space in the top section so no worries.

Today I have posted about something a little more technical… and a little more VITAL to the success or failure of my website: getting found.

To make sure my website is properly indexed by search engines, I must first make sure that my site is following the basic SEO rules that aren’t changing anytime soon.

So go, read, learn from my mistakes, and have a great week! ;)