web design

responsiveness in web design

18 months ago I purchased my first smartphone, an HTC Desire, and like millions of others it’s changed the way I access the Internet. Not only do I read my e-mails on the phone instead of my laptop, I also use the phone to scan web sites of interest. It didn’t take me long to realise browsing a site on the small screen is a far better experience when that site is purpose built to fit the smaller screen size, rather than having to move around inside pages that were meant to be viewed on desktop sized monitors stabbing away at tiny links designed for mouse pointers rather than chubby finger or thumb tips. I noticed that many sites recognise you’re using a phone and transfer you to their mobile site, usually prefixed with an “m”, (EG http://m.somesite.com). Yet other sites seemed to be “purpose built” for phone sized screens and didn’t have an “m” prefix. How were they doing that? They were using responsiveness in web design. Continue reading

blogging tools

EE 2

Well, I have Expression Engine 2 up and running on my localhost server and the changeover from EE1 went seamlessly, so I guess it’s time to bite the bullet and upgrade on the server running royby.com. I’ll have to contact the hosts first though and ask them to allocate more memory for PHP5. It seems that the EE2 control panel is a bit of a memory hog and requires at least 64mb allocated and I notice that the host has the allocation set at 32mb.

There is a learning curve to understand how the new control panel interface works and a few new tags, but it doesn’t appear as daunting as the learning curve when upgrading from pMachine to EE.

blogging tools, research

LARGE Expression Engine sites

Web developers and Expression Engine (EE) experts, Hop Studios have researched what they believe to be the “largest” sites developed using EE as the content management system. The criteria for “largest” site was based on the monthly number of unique visitors + number of entries/comments + number of members/forum posts + awards/buzz (I really hate that word, “buzzzzz”), plus Hop Studios own good judgment.

This eventually led to a list of the 32 sites deemed “very large”, and who could fail but to be impressed with some of the figures they have unearthed. change.gov, Obamas presidential transition site leads the way, but if a confirmed ranking of 20,000,000 page visits per month for iLounge (an iPod & iPhonesite) is impressive then try the unconfirmed number of 31,000,000 pages per month for All K Pop (a Korean celebrity news site). Staggering.

Anyway, you can view the results and criteria here.

blogging tools

Expression Engine – finally!!

It was over 12 months ago that I wrote this article explaining the reasons why I made the decision to upgrade from pMachine to Expression Engine as my Content Management System (CMS). But a lot of other things have been going on in my life over the past year, and learning the intricacies of EE has been too tiring to contemplate.

However, I couldn’t stand the nagging thought in the back of my head that something was being left undone (it was a bit like when you avoid doing the washing or ironing), so eventually I bit the bullet and dug into the documentation and tutorials to see what EE is all about. Gaining an understanding of how EE works seemed very daunting at first, but like anything, once you get into it and begin to play around, things begin to full into place (although I’m not sure that I’ve had the “light bulb moment” that the EE team constantly refer to as yet).

Anyway, “royby.com” and “a weblog about weblogging” are now both powered by EE but I’m still on a steep learning curve as I look over the myriad of plug-ins, extensions and modules available to me. I’m also contemplating a change to the overall navigation set-up and of course there is the image gallery to get back up and running. A lot of work to come yet and a general lack of time in which to do it. However, I’ll keep plugging away at it.

The great thing is that comments are now working properly, so please, leave me a comment, as is the member registration set up.


Website Marketing SEO Score Tool

Hubspot is an inbound marketing system designed to help your business get found on the Internet. The best way to be found on the Internet is to employ good Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) methods and Hubspot have developed a Website Grading Tool that not only allows you to see how your site ranks, it also allows you to compare it with the websites of your competitors. Best of all, at time of writing it’s free.

First up the grading tool evaluates how your Web site stacks up in terms of marketing effectiveness against the hundreds of thousands of websites that it has evaluated previously. It does this by using an algorithm of over 50 different variables and they say that this software is being constantly upgraded and the algorithm enhanced. I assume that, as more websites are graded, your own websites score will alter slightly according to the ranking of other sites evaluated. If that makes sense!

Considering that I’ve never worried too much about SEO for royby.com, I was happy that it received a score of 69/100. That means that it has scored higher than 69% of all other sites evaluated.

Website grader looks at on-page SEO first, like title, meta keywords, heading summaries etc, and then it checks out the off-page SEO like domain info and google page rank etc. It checks to see if you have a blog and finds your Technorati blog ranking which measures the popularity of a given blog compared to all the other blogs that have been submitted to the system. A Weblog About Weblogging ranked 1,285,236, which is not good enough if I want this blog to be right up there in terms of popularity. But hey, that still in the top 1.84% of all blogs tracked by Technorati.

Finally, Website Grader looks at your websites standing in the social mediasphere, how it converts qualified visitors to leads via RSS and conversion forms, and looks at your sites competitive intelligence. Throughout all of these evaluations, Website Grader gives you valuable hints and links to information about how you can better optimise your website. You receive an e-mail telling you when the evaluation is complete with a link to click and view the report.

A very useful tool and one that I will use consistently in the future as I strive to upgrade royby.com’s SEO.


Blogging – a book by Dr. Jill Walker Rettburg

Dr Jill Walker Rettburg has been a research blogger since October 2000 and this year saw the release of her latest book which is titled simply, “Blogging”. There is no prize for guessing what this book is about, but if you are interested you can visit Amazon and search through the table of contents and some extracts as well.

image The book earns glowing reviews from such well known luminaries as Howard Rheingold, “Blogging is a landmark in social cyberspace studies and much more than that”, Axel Bruns, “Jill Walker′s Blogging is set to be a key text in its field” and danah boyd “Walker′s book brilliantly documents, analyzes, and situates blogging”.

I’ve just ordered a copy and I’m looking forward to reading it when it arrives.



blogging tools

new blogging direction

Last month a hacker found a way into royby.com’s pMachine control panel, deleted most of the data and left me some cute messages. In it’s current form, royby.com is over 6 years old, so that was a lot of data to lose. However, it wasn’t really a problem because the data was backed up and it didn’t take too much effort to restore it.

What the incident did do though was to remind me that for a long time now I’ve been meaning to replace the now obsolete pMachine blogging software with something that is supported and still under constant development. I also want to change the overall design, (I’m certainly tired of the old design now), restructure the overall site design and consider the direction that I want royby.com to take.

Every time I consider beginning this project however, I experience a sharp stabbing pain in my forehead accompanied by a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. It’s not that I’m not capable of undertaking all of these tasks, it’s the amount of time that I know they will take. Time that I just don’t have right now.

So I’ve decided that, rather than embarking on a major overhaul to all the above mentioned areas, baby steps are going to be the order of the day. I’ll make small tweaks here and there to the site design until I get time to code a new set of templates and change the CMS. Expression Engine has replaced pMachine as Ellis Labs prime content management tool and I have it installed and under development, but I can see that it will take some time to get it to the point where I can migrate my data from pMachine.

Expression Engine is a natural progression after using pMachine for a number of reasons, but the primary one is the ability to migrate data to the new system. There is no literature about such a migration to the latest version of WordPress or indeed to a program such as Drupal for instance. Other than that, the support team at Ellis Labs are just so helpful if there is a technical problem. And won’t there always be a technical problem when you are working with an application for the first time?

The Expression Engine forum holds a wealth of information as does their Knowledge Base and Wiki. There is a healthy philosophy at Ellis Labs which I recognised when I first began using pMachine and your queries are always answered in a timely fashion by people who know what they’re talking about and who take a real interest in ensuring that your technical problems are solved.

So, stay tuned for more information on how I progress with the gradual re-build of royby.com.

news articles

Australian IT – Blogging confuses Britain (Correspondents in London, SEPTEMBER 28, 2005)

Blogging confuses Britain
Correspondents in London
SEPTEMBER 28, 2005

At the risk of being accused of “pommy bashing” I say “so what” to this article. It just doesn’t surprise me that people who know all about networking the news if they find a couple having sex in a park or recording their mates bashing some poor innocent victim wouldn’t have a clue about anything meaningful that is happening in the world let alone know about blogging.

PROPONENTS of the latest web trends were have been warned that the rest of the world may not have a clue what they are talking about.

A survey of British taxi drivers, pub landlords and hairdressers – often seen as barometers of popular trends – found that nearly 90 per cent had no idea what a podcast is and more than 70 per cent had never heard of blogging.

“When I asked the panel whether people were talking about blogging, they thought I meant dogging,” said Sarah Carter, the planning director at ad firm DDB London.

Dogging is the phenomenon of watching couples have sex in semi-secluded places such as out-of-town car parks. News of such events are often spread on web sites or by using mobile phone text messages.

More people (56 per cent) understood the phrase “happy slapping” – a teenage craze that involves assaulting people while capturing it on video with their mobile phones – than podcasting (12 per cent) or blogging (28 per cent).

“Our research not only shows that there is no buzz about blogging and podcasting outside of our media industry bubble, but also that people have no understanding of what the words mean,” Ms Carter said. “It’s a real wake-up call.”

DDB, a unit of New York-based advertising group Omnicom, said the survey results indicate that agencies may be pushing their clients to use new technology – that is, to advertise on the new media formats – too quickly.

“We spend too much time talking to ourselves in this industry, rather than getting out there and finding out what’s really going on in the world,” DDB’s chief strategy officer David Hackworthy said.

Agence France-Presse