If you want to make money on the hyper web, you need to speak it’s language…

If you want to be a successful e-business SOMEONE in your business needs to know HTML and CSS. We are not talking experts at all, we are talking http://www.w3schools.com/ basic level of HTML and CSS (no need to worry as far as CSS 3 and HTML 5 as that’s for crazy coder types)

Why?

At the most basic level to format your text properly. Visual editors don’t always work on platforms such as eBay and you sometimes get yourself in such a loop with visual editors the code is crazy at the back end. Even if it is just to CLEAN OUT the code to start again with your visual editor, you need to know what is code and what is not…

The better understanding your team has of HTML/CSS the less reliance you have on third parties to do everything for you. It puts more power into your hands. The clients I have taught various aspects of code, using FTP, editing code files and replacing images find it empowering to control this aspect of their business. It gives you greater understanding of what web design and development agencies DO also.

Feedback I have from clients that have used web agencies and also people I talk to at events hate all the ‘cloak and daggers’ mentality of the web design world. They feel they are hostage to their web company because they don’t know the magical interweb language.

Things you should be able to do yourself as a business:

  1. Format text using basic HTML/CSS.
  2. Use FTP to upload, host and replace images on your server. Heck you need to know WHAT a server is, how to get your image URL’s from it so you can use them for stuff like eBay.
  3. Distinguish between CODE and TEXT so at least you can remove the code and start again if you are using a visual editor
  4. Know how to use FTP/server tools to BACK UP your files/design in case of errors or attack.
  5. Know how to control your domain name. This is power you should never give over to a web company completely. They can change stuff on your behalf sure, they need to do this. However, it is yours, you should own it and be the one to BUY it from a domain provider. Too many times I have entered projects to find out the ‘old web designer’ is the one who owns and controls the business main domain only to part with it at a high cost.

For more control – soon as you know who to distinguish between code and text you can change your text without breaking your design.

Knowing a few more webby bits to do with your business puts more power into your hands and makes my life as a web developer easier. I don’t want to have to charge you to edit text because you can’t get it right using the visual editor your webstore uses…. It pains me to do so as I believe you can do it and SHOULD do it.

I need to get on with the magic stuff you really can’t do!

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Web Design without Adobe

I love adobe, but commercially its damn expensive. So what are our alternatives? I like GIMP and here is a simple tutorial on how you can map out your own website design using GIMP. Chopping it up and making it real is another challenge!

I have been creating a colour pallet for an Intranet system, colours A and B are the branded colours which have to be used and the buttons are 100% GIMP:

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Open University Web Applications Development

I am nearly at the end of the first module, and with assessment scores of 88%, 95% and 100% I am hopeful I get a good grade in my project! Once it is all submitted and marked I shall publish my dealings as I am proud of my line by line code writing. Being a serial code masher, somethings do escape you and I am glad I am learning to code in XHTML and CSS properly. The next module is more about object orientated programming and client side scripting, as well as more advanced (X)HTML and CSS.

I’m loving it!

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E-commerce Tip – Add to cart button

The visual aspect of a website is always important but the add to cart button is quite frequently overlooked. This article :
107 Add to Cart Buttons of the Top Online Retailers gives us the some nice examples for inspiration. This article also has some great tips for cart buttons such as:

Button Placement

If you offer helpful features on your product pages like wishlists, enlarged photos, colour switching, alternate product views, email to friend, size chart, view cart or check out buttons, make sure the “Add to Cart” button is obvious, bright and prominent in comparison. Less important functions can be lighter coloured buttons or simple text links.

My Favourites are

add to cart

and

add to cart

from 1800contacts and Proflowers respectivly

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Should you employ a SEO expert????

Here are a list of claims from a random SEO site and my opinion:

  • specific advice direct from our experts – Are you an expert really?
  • monthly submission to 400+ search engines – Why? When really you only need to focus on the big 4?
  • guaranteed Google placement – Google says this can’t be done. You can set up a site map with Google using one of its free tools as thats almost a guarantee. You can also use Google Adwords for easy and quick inclusion. Hey Google will find you anyway in the end!
  • meta tag generation – yah, try this for size
  • customised search engine optimisation – OK, this might be good – but how customised, have we not customised it with the keywords and meta tags?Do you mean writing page copy to ensure high keyword density? I bet you could do that.
  • competitor website comparisons – Try Popuri.us or Compare in Alexa
  • keyword recommendations tailored to your site – Go Wordtracker Go
  • free phone consultation – yeah ok a £2 call?
  • ranking and link popularity data – http://popuri.us/ and http://www.compete.com/
  • Pay Per Click (PPC) – Google Adwords is the most documented PPC ever, try it you can manage it.

If you have time, read a book and tackle this area yourself. You can spend alot of money on companies that also use various tools (free or paid for) and you can save oodles of cashola!

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