Stay Current …

or at least take the dates off if you’re not current.

Huh?

Web sites get old and get old quick. People are way more understanding about seeing out of date info on printed material then they are on a web site.

7up spot

Ideally, if you have a news section, you should keep it up to date. Vistors and ‘bots (think Google) like to know what you’re up to. Nothing generates thoughts like “Oh, they must be out of business” or “He must have stopped performing” more then seeing your most recent news item dated 2007.

It may be easier than you think. If you’re fortunate to have a site built recently, you’re more then likely to have a site built using a Content Management System (CMS). Some are easier then others, but basically they are all built with the idea that anybody can login and update a webpage using nothing more then your browser. If you have an older site or a custom HTML based site, there are CMSs out there that can be “retro-fitted” to almost any site. We use them all the time. Clients with older sites love it. A service like CushyCMS is very easy to install and lets people update their own calendar, news, bio, etc. If you can find half an hour a week, you could really do a lot to keep your web site feeling current.

If you’re still not convinced and have five year old news as your lastest hot topic, at least take the dates off if you can! It will at least make it a little ambiguous and less obvious that the content was last updated when you also found yourself wondering if you were indeed  “Smarter Then a Fifth Grader.”

counter
(Cool graphic from 2004!)

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You got a little Flash on you!

iPhone Flash ErrorThis started out to be another “Flash is dead to me” type post. There’s plenty of those out there, but if finally hit me with my own browsing experience. More on that and why I feel it shouldn’t be used the way it’s been used in the past, in a bit.

As I started researching this concept, it turns out, Flash really isn’t dead. It’s focusing on what it does best. Adobe has a whole 5 to 10 year plan for it to keep improving and developing the product. It’s still widely used for video streaming, particularly when you need to tie in ads, rights management and other things. Online game developers are still using Flash as the vehicle of choice for some really cool, interactive games. Just ask any 12 year old to show you his or her favorite online games. Any website or project that needs incredible amounts of animation? They’re great and still Flash based.

flasherror2So, why did I think Flash was dead? I came across a website that had some Flash pieces on it. It was an audio player and an image gallery. Instead of being able to see and hear everything, I got gaping holes. I really wanted to listen to this artist’s audio clips, too. If I was using my iPad, it wouldn’t have been weird at all. But, here’s the thing, I was on my laptop. My flash player was out of date, so it wouldn’t work and I found myself lazily thinking, “oh well” and moved on. Who knows, if I had listened to it and liked it enough, I may have clicked on over to see if I could download their music. 

I’m not alone.

So while my research did show that Flash was still a viable platform in some areas, it did also show that the days of using Flash for audio, video and slideshows are pretty much done. If you have and still use it for your multimedia and want to continue to make sure you’re reaching the widest audience, it’s time to move on to a more modern method of doing so.

As always, if you need help with this, let us know!

Keep Your Info Current!

When’s the last time you checked the contact information on your domain name registration?

I admit it. I’m not the best at making sure my information is current. I get the yearly ICAAN reminders to do so, but they end up in the “I’ll get to it” folder. We’ve run into situations a few times where out of date contact information causes a delay to getting a project going. Once, the client just gave up and changed his domain name (that’s a bit of a different story involving a bitter middleman that I’ll chat about later).

I was lucky today. I went to update a setting on a personal site and realized that the contact info was all out of date. The address and number were a few houses ago and worse, my email listed was one that I had long closed. Somehow, I remembered the password. If I hadn’t, it could have been a long and painful process to be granted access back to it.

Lesson learned.

If your email, phone number and/or address has changed since you’ve lasted updated your contact info, go change it. Change it now! If you need help with this, let us know. We’re always glad to help.

Responsive vs. Mobile sites

So there’s been two schools of thought about designing a website that’s friendly for mobile devices over the past year or so. There’s Camp Responsive and Camp Mobile. What’s the difference?

A mobile site is a separate site designed to work best with smart phone browsing. Maybe you don’t feel your whole website needs to be available on a phone. Possibly, you feel if a user would be using their phone and looking at your site, they would be looking for a specific piece of your site. For example, if your site is about your public performances, you might feel the schedule and venues is really the only thing somebody would want to see easily. Everything else could be on the main site. The main drawbacks are: it’s a separate site to maintain and tracking can get a little crazy.

A responsive site is the same site that reformats itself as a response to what’s being used to view the site. The idea is the entire site is viewable without having to pinch and zoom to see the content. In some cases, this is better. Almost any service or online store would be a good example here. If a user is thinking about buying from you or hiring you, it would make sense to be able to present all of your information or items. Again, the idea being to present it with minimal effort to the user. The main drawbacks here are that it can be difficult to get the design to layout exactly as you want and although the content will be easily read, the user experience (referred to as UX by the techies) can become a bit wonky (referred to as less the desirable by the aforementioned techies).

romney-obamaInterestingly, both candidates in the Presidential Race chose a different approach. Obama went with a responsive design, Romney with a separate mobile version. Both were criticized. The former made for almost too much information (causing very long pages and scrolling), while the latter left the viewers wanting more. I found the whole article fascinating, and you can read more about it at Smashing Magazine’s website.

What do we like? Both. Dotman Design has done both. If your site is built on a Content Management System (CMS such as Word Press, Joomla!) and current, chances are there are some really great pluggins available to help make your site pretty responsive. In terms of ROI, this may be the way to go. If your audience has a strong mobile usage, a dedicated mobile version could be the better choice.

If you need some help figuring out what you might want to do, contact us.

Smart Phone Browsing

I just read some amazing statistics at Pew Internet. It’s all about the amount of people using their smart phones as their means for browsing the internet now. There are a different ways to read the “Who, What, Where and When,” but it boils down to “…on a typical day 68% of all smartphone owners go online using their phone.” Another more recent article claims that their studies show “17% of cell phone owners do most of their online browsing on their phonerather than a computer or other device” (from this post). That’s a lot of people and a lot of potential clients.

How does your site look on a smart phone?

Know Your Info!

I came across a typical scenario this week. Dotman Design is finishing up a site that was started by another person. Generally, not a big deal, this stuff happens. People get started, and then get overwhelmed, over committed, leave, almost anything can happen.

It is a big deal though when the person that started it, is the only person that knows all of the information! Hours can be wasted trying to track down the correct access credentials. Yes, we get paid, but that’s not the point. It can add days or weeks to the scope of the project if your site is inaccesible.

At a minimum, know:

  • your domain name username, password and what company it’s registered with
  • web host username, password, control panel URL (web address) and hosting company provider.

With those two pieces of information, you can generally find out the rest (with varying degrees of difficulty).

Other helpful access information:

  • If your site is based on a CMS (like Word Press, Joomla, or other Content Management System), there’s another application username, password and URL for the backend access
  • database name, username and password
  • Paypal or similar service credentials
  • All of your social media credentials (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Flickr, Youtube, etc)
  • Reporting username and password
  • Online services usernames and passwords (dropbox, basecamp, etc).

Know your info!

It will save time, dollars and frustration.