December 2008

What’s all this blank space on either side of my website?!

A lot of clients ask me why there is so much blank space on both sides of their website, and I often get requests to make the site “fill the screen”

This is something that is easier said than done, especially when you want to maintain a certain look or design.

Monitor resolutions are based on a set # of pixels. 640×480, 800×600, 1024×768, etc…different website visitors are going to be using different resolutions depending on a their screen size, if they have a standard or a widescreen monitor.

In order to optimize a website to be viewable on the largest possible number of monitors (without a horizontal scrollbar), you have to make the website small enough to be viewed by someone who’s screen resolution is 800×600 – as this is the setting used by more than 50% of people today (this number changes as time progresses)

So although us lucky people (with large and/or widescreen monitors) see the website with LOTS of blank “wasted” space on either side of the site, many people see the site as exactly filling their screen.

Now the question often comes up, “Why can’t the site scale to the browser like the other ones I have seen?”

If you allow your text and graphics to float around the page, your site’s final appearance is almost unpredictable.

When your text flows from one side of your screen, all the way to the other side, you could end up with lines of text hundreds of characters long on a larger monitor.  Ideally, you want your text lines to be about 80 characters long.  That is the reason that a standard “letter’ sheet is 8.5 x 11.  With a standard sized type, the lines are long enough to be legible, without having to worry about your eye “losing it’s place” when it returns to the beginning of the next line.

At the end of the day, when I design a website for a client, the #1 priority is that the website looks GREAT on the CEO’s monitor, since he’s the one paying the bill. But, we do need to consider the other visitors and their experience.  When we limit the width of the site, we are not wasting space, but allowing for a more elegant design and functionality.

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How Fast is Your Internet?

Is your internet running slow, or is it your computer?  There is an easy way to test.  Go to www.speedtest.net.  It will even keep a log of all your tests so you can see how your speed changes over time. (As long as you have your cookies enabled)

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Website Tracking

Many of my clients request website tracking to see how many ‘hits’ they are getting. For the most robust tracking with a great interface at an unbeatable price, use Google Analytics.

Forget the crappy one that came with your web hosting package, forget those new “BETA” ones people are trying to get you to test.

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Search Engine Marketing

When I design websites for people, they often want to be #1 in the Google results for their category.  I cannot stress enough how important INBOUND LINKS are to your online marketing efforts.  The more sites that are linking to your site, the more weight sites like google will give to you as being a ‘valid’ site.

Get your link out there, get your affiliates and partners to link to your website, start a blog, and link to your own website like i sometimes do for Square Squared.

You can sit and think about your META tags day and night, but in the end, inbound links give you a big head start.

So now you are asking yourself, how do I know who is linking to me.  Well, google offers a great way to do this.  Just go to the google search box and type “link:http://www.yoursite.com” (without the quotes and no spaces) it will show you all the results of sites that are linking in to your site.

You can also use sites like www.wholinks2me.com to see Who links to my website?. And yes, I know no one is linking to this blog. Haha (the classic shoemaker syndrome).

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Facebook

I spend a portion of my time on Facebook. Some might think it is a waste of time, but I find social networking to be a great way to do business networking (well, duh). So hopefully all that time commenting on people’s photos, making status updates and playing scrabble will pay off one day.
I’m sure they will. I have already made MANY business connections through Facebook, and even more so than on LinkedIn. Perhaps because I catch people off-guard.

Today I saw this in my News Feed:

Colin Cosell “Mansion maintenance necessitates a full professional staff”.
at 5:28pm December 2
Rules:
* Grab the book closest to you. Now.
* Go to page 56.
* Find the 5th sentence.
* Write that sentence as your status.
* Copy these instructions as a comment to your status.
* Don’t go looking for your favourite book, or the coolest one you have — just grab the closest one.

Of course, I grabbed the nearest book “How to Design Logos, Symbols and Icons,” by Gregory Thomas, opened to a chapter on the logo design of Netcenter, and posted what it said.

The whole thing is quite clever much different than the normal day-to-day facebook happenings. And the some responses were quite funny…although mine was not. “Considerations of future scenarios for the service were hypothesized and reviewed.”

One notable response was from Chalo Rojas who changed his status to “Slouching is a natural response, but this posture tends to stretch spinal ligaments and strain the discs and surrounding structures of the spine.” I wonder what book that was from? Is he studying Physical Therapy? Perhaps acupuncture… Or it could just be his employee handbook.

We should create more “status games” like that…

It seems like this blog is evolving into an extended Status update. As this being my fourth blog entry, I haven’t quite found a groove for my writing.

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Internet down?

It amazes me at how much we are all dependant on the internet.  The internet goes offline and work at my office seems to come to a halt.  Even the simplest things still require you to be “online”.

We run tests and see how fast the speed is, eventhough the tests don’t acutally fix it, they only tell us what we already knew – that there is a problem.  And you call the internet provider and they say there is a ‘team of engineers diligently working on the problem”  a.k.a.  they have no clue what the problem is.

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Just a Thought

If I put my two cents in and I only get a penny for my thoughts, who gets the extra 1¢?

Think about it.

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Time to start blogging

For a long time I have been meaning to start my own blog.  I worked creating websites for people and companies for many years before I created one for myself, and I didn’t want to make the same mistake with blogs.  I figured it was time to start blogging.

Did I customize it?  No.  Is it fancy shmansy?  No.  But the important thing is it’s here. The #1 way to start marketing yourself is through the web.  It’s cheap, fast and easy.  There is no better medium these days than a blog.  You can say what you want, how you want and when you want.

As time progresses I will begin to customize this website.  new colors, new look, new feel, but since the blog is all stored in a database, all the content will carry over.

So come back soon.  Don’t forget to comment on my stories, and thanks for stopping by!

Take Care. Stay Well. Best Wishes.

Michael

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