Archive for November, 2011

3 Mistakes Web Programmers Need to Stop Making

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Sometimes as programmers, we forget that 99.9% of the population doesn’t care how a piece of text, a button, an image or a video ends up onscreen. Most people just care that it’s fast, easy to use and gives them the content they want. Otherwise, they get upset — and rightfully so. Here are three common mistakes we programmers make, and what we can do to fix them.

1. Forgetting About Conventions

Ever since they started using the Internet, users have been trained how to interact with a website. Therefore, they often get frustrated when websites don’t meet their expectations. Here are some examples.

– They hover over an object they think is clickable, but become confused when they see an arrow instead of a hand pointer.
– They click on blue, underlined text, but find it’s not a link.
– They click on the logo in the top left, believing it will return them to the homepage, only to find it takes them nowhere.

Web design doesn’t always meet our expectations. However, developers and designers should always maintain certain rules to avoid user confusion. Here are three.

Clickable Elements Should Have the Pointer on Rollover Everything clickable should switch to the hand pointer when a user hovers over it. You can accomplish this using simple CSS. The code would look like this

div:hover { cursor: pointer; }

Style Links Appropriately Links should look different than regular text, and should be underlined within a page’s main content. If you really want to stick with convention, make them blue — research found users engage most with blue links.

Make Logos Clickable
The logo in the header of your website should be clickable, and should take the user to the homepage. This is pretty simple: Just wrap your logo in a tag.

2. Creating Slowly-Loading Websites

Users hate slow websites. Studies have shown that 40% of users will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. Here’s how to avoid common speed mistakes by new programmers.

Resize Images Outside the Browser New programmers will sometimes use a very large image, let’s say 600 pixels wide by 600 pixels tall, but will set the height and width so the image shrinks to the desired size. They use the following code.

There are two problems with this method: First, the full image still needs to load. Typically, bigger image files mean longer load times.

Second, shrinking an image using the height and width attributes can render a photo awkwardly, causing the browser to display a photo not nearly as clear as it would be were the image sized 200 x 200 pixels.

To fix these issues, resize and compress images in an editor like Photoshop or Gimp. Then code the image like we did above. Try to use a tool like Photoshop’s Save for Web & Devices to further shrink the file size.

Load JavaScript in the Footer Many programmers unnecessarily load all the page’s JavaScript files in the head tag. This stalls the rest of the page load. In almost all cases, except for JavaScript critical to user interface navigation, it’s okay to load script in the footer. Then the rest of the page can load beforehand. Try this code.

Rest of the page%u2026
Load CSS Externally Sometimes new programmers load CSS on each individual page using inline styles or an internal stylesheet. For inline styles, code looks like this.

Hi Mom!

And for an internal stylesheet, you’d most likely see this code in the head tag.

You should almost never use CSS in the page that holds your html. Store it externally using code like this.

There are two advantages to loading CSS externally: First, the user’s computer will save the external stylesheet to be used on every page, instead of retrieving the same styles over and over. This greatly speeds up load time. Second, using an external stylesheet is much easier to maintain. If you need to change the font size of your website’s paragraphs, you’re able change it in one place, without having to access each individual html file. Learn more about good CSS practices at CSS Basics.

3. Not Accounting for Potential Backend Changes

Most programmers nowadays are using a content management system like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal to build their websites. This is great because it gives website owners the ability to make changes and updates.

The problem is that a lot of developers only program for a website’s content at launch time. For example, at launch a developer may only create CSS styles for website headings 1, 2 and 3. What if two months after the website’s launch, the communications director decides to set some text to heading 6, since that’s an option in WordPress’s format? That decision would revert to the default styles of the browser since the developer never styled for it initially. Here is how to avoid this situation.

Include Styles for All the Common Tags To make sure that the design of your website remains consistent with any backend formatting, programmers should include styles to handle the following html tags.

SEO Beats PPC & Social Media For Generating Leads, New Industry Report Says

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SEO is the number one source of leads for both B2C and B2B marketers, beating out both Pay Per Click and social media marketing in a recent survey of online marketers. But more of those surveyed say they plan to increase their social media marketing budgets in 2012, ahead of SEO and PPC.

The numbers come from the 2011 State of Digital Marketing Report, which was compiled by Webmarketing123, a California-based online marketing agency. The company surveyed more than 500 U.S. online marketers in August and September; about two-thirds of all respondents identified themselves as B2B marketers.

Whether B2B or B2C, both groups of marketers agree that SEO has the biggest impact on lead generation. 57 percent of B2B marketers credit SEO as their primary source of generating leads, while 41 percent of B2C marketers said the same thing.

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Both types of marketers say that website traffic is the primary way they measure the success of online marketing efforts. Brand awareness was at the bottom of the list for measuring success by both B2B and B2C respondents.

The survey asked a number of budget-related questions, including one about which channels get the majority of the marketers’ budgets. On the B2B side, one-third indicated that SEO gets the majority of their budget. But on the B2C side, more than 42 percent say that PPC gets the majority of their budget — about double the number of B2C marketers who said SEO is their top budget allocation.

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Overall, 60 percent of respondents said they plan to increase their budget for social media marketing in 2012; 53 percent plan to increase their budget for SEO and 40 percent will increase their PPC budget.

Those increases in social media spending are likely field by another couple statistics from the survey: 68 percent say they’ve generated leads from either Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, while 55 percent have closed deals from social media leads.

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Muhammad Ali’s Lessons for Life

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So, this article has nothing to do with web content, SEO or anything related to online marketing. It’s simply something that I’ve come across that I think has great power to those who follow in Ali’s footsteps, one of the titan’s of positive thinking and believing in yourself….

Ali was not only one of the greatest boxers the world has ever known but he is also known as an incredibly inspiring human being. He was also known for his pre-match hype, where he would “trash talk” opponents on television and in person some time before each match, often with rhymes. These personality quips and idioms, along with an unorthodox fighting technique, made him a cultural icon. Below I will list some of his most inspiring quotes and how important they can be to the person who takes heed.

1… Fake it until you believe it.

“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was”

I’m sure you have heard the “fake it till you make it” phrase before. How you hold yourself and what you say to yourself has a dramatic affect on how others see you and how your mind perceives your environment.

When you are out and about in the world today, hold your head up, pull your shoulders back and speak with clarity. By purposely and consciously acting how you would like to feel, your body and mind will begin to follow the lead you set out before hand. Also, the people you meet will treat you the way they perceive you, thus, reinforcing into your mind the outcome you set out to from the start.

If you want to feel more confident, in control and you want others to see you that way, then fake it. Inside, you might be nervous at first but others will not notice this as they will only be focused on what their eyes can see.

“I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest”

2… Short term pain for long term gain.

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”

Everything we do in life has consequences and more often than not we tend to opt for the easiest solution ahead of persevering in the face of resistance. Our bad habits are a perfect example of this lesson because they give us instant gratification and yet we never focus on the long term effects they may cause.

It becomes very easy to choose between what makes us feel good now as opposed to what will make us feel good in the future. Take a look at the choices you make each day and ask yourself if you are simply choosing instant gratification over long term pleasure. Most don’t want to put in the effort today because the results may take some time to manifest.

I am all for living in the moment but there are certain seeds that need to e planed today for the to harvest tomorrow.

3… Nobody knows you better than you know yourself.

“I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.”

No one can accuse Ali of being a person who lived his life on others terms. What about you? Are you living your life on your own terms? Have you made choices in the past because of what others expected of you and continue to do so?

I made the decision some time ago to live my life on my own terms. I left an extremely well paid  job after 12 years because I simply didn’t enjoy it anymore. It was a big decision at the time and I had to listen to my friends and family tell me how I was making a huge mistake in doing so. If I would have listened to them then I would be as miserable now as I was then. It was the best decision I ever made and I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

Most often the time is never right and you just have to go for it. I truly believe that things will always work out for the best in the end if you are willing to fly in the face of adversity, make a decision that feels right and stick with it.

4… You are so talented.

“It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself”

Nothing is impossible if you have faith in yourself…nothing. I have found the biggest problem that people have is doubting themselves and their abilities. I have also realized that your mind is the great trickster. How many times have you doubted your ability to accomplish something and avoided the task altogether. Stop listening to useless thoughts created in your mind that limit your growth. You are not your mind, and doubting yourself is absolutely useless because it is absolute lies.

You have enough ability to last you 100 lifetimes but you may never believe it if you give power to the thoughts that limit you. Believe me when I tell you this, you have the power to either entertain or dismiss any thought that enters your mind. Your mind is always thinking, remembering, fantasizing and forever creating stories based upon the information you subject it to. Start to believe in your abilities and begin to discard the negative useless thoughts that limit you.

“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen”

5… Does life just happen to you?

“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life”

If we do not consciously create the life we want for ourselves then we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over until the lesson is learned. Your life will change as the years go by but will it be because you took control and made the effort to consciously change your life, or will you leave it up to life to do the changing for you.

I have met many people who are not living up to even close to what they are capable of. The worse thing is that they don’t make any effort whatsoever to change their circumstances. They obviously want to have a better life, but it’s as if they’re hoping things will magically get better for them further down the line.

Take an inventory of your life up till this point and ask yourself if you are in the same situation, physically, mentally and emotionally as you where last month, year or even decade. Then ask yourself if your life is being played out on automatic pilot.

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