Monthly Archives: April 2012

Dreamweaver is basically the de-facto web design tool of web designers world wide. It is a tool offered by Adobe and like all Adobe tools, is very feature rich and powerful.

The problem with that though, is that it also implies quite a big learning curve.

Dreamweaver is therefore not really the ideal tool to start with for aspiring web designers.

If you want to build your own websites you have to look at the exercise from the following perspectives:

1. Do you want to build a site for yourself or your own business? In other words, this is a once-off exercise and you are not planning on building any more sites. In this case, learning Dreamweaver is really not the best option – you are going to spend a hell of a long time on the learning curve and you are only going to use the skills once. In this case, it is better to rather make use of an online tool or a CMS with a templating system. Examples of online tools offered by hosting companies are RVSitebuilder, or SOHO Sitebuilder. Examples of CMS packages that offer a relatively quick learning curve but still allows you to build a good-looking site is something like WordPress.

2. If you are planning on learning web design as a profession, in other words, you want to become a professional web designer working for a web design company, then learning Dreamweaver is a good idea, since you will use these skills in future. My personal opinion is still that using a CMS tool stuch as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal are better options to build websites, the fact of the matter is that lots of web design companies require you to have Dreamweaver skills, so you might as well go through the learning curve and gain them.

3. If you are planning on doing web design as a profession, but as a freelancer or working for your own company, then by all means gain the Dreamweaver skills on a superficial level since it should give you a good grounding in understanding HTML and CSS, but I would also recommend rather using a CMS type system such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal to build the client sites since these tool help you to build sites quicker and with more functionality than using Dreamweaver on its own. You can always usefully utilise your HTML and CSS knowledge to expand on the standard templates that come with these tools and provide your client with a unique design.

Firstly, what is W3c? And what does it mean for your site to be W3C compatible? Th W3C is the World Wide Web Consortium, and it is an international community who develops web standards. If your site is W3C compliant, it means that the coding has been done in such a way that it complies to the standards as laid down by the W3C.

Unfortunately not all browsers make it equally easy to comply to these standards! It is really easy for a website not to be fully W3C compliant. You can validate your website by checking it on this page – http://validator.w3.org/, or you can add a little button to your site that does the validation for you on the fly.

But is it really important for your site to be compliant from a SEO perspective?

Frankly, W3C compliance is not a big factor in SEO. In other words, a site that is not fully compliant with W3C might perform as well as a site that is compliant. It is just not one of the major indicators.

Google IS interested in your page load speed, however. So basically you should make sure that any W3C errors do not influence your page load speed. Google has some tools that you can use to test your site load speed, so I would suggest rather using that instead of really stressing about whether your site is fully W3C compliant.

See what Mat Cutts is saying about it:

There is nothing to beat the excitement of choosing your first domain name. It is similar to buying your first car, or moving into your own place. Luckily it is not that expensive – at first glance.

It is actually quite easy to register a new domain name, and once you get a taste for it you might keep on registering new domain names just for the fun of it. In other words, you could become a serial domain name registrar…

But to register a domain for a business needs some forethought. Even though it is not expensive to register a new domain name, it can become a costly exercise to change it after it has been in use for a couple of years.  You are going to build up a business and branding around your domain and website, and the time invested in this can represent quite a big investment.

Here are some tips therefore in choosing the best domain name for your business.

My advice if you are starting a new business is actually to select the domain name first before even selecting a name for your business. The problem is that the domain name (your website name, in other words), is going to be your main branding on the internet, and it is a lot more difficult to find an available domain name than a business name. Think about it, it is a lot easier to register a domain name than a business, so obviously it is a lot more difficult to find an available domain name than a business name.

But let’s say you are not worried about linking your domain name to your actual business (company) name, you just want to create an online business and the domain name IS your main business name.

Questions that arise are:

Should you choose a long descriptive name or a short, snappy memorable name?

Use the following rules of thumb:

  • Avoid hyphens. It is difficult to explain to people that they should use a hyphen for your website name, especially if your are trying to explain this over the phone.
  • Avoid too long names, it becomes cumbersome to manage and remember, your email addresses are linked to this name as well.
  • Try and stick to one or two syllables. Make sure that that the syllables next to each other do not create a confusing spelling (e.g. All Life Insurance products – their website is alllife.co.za. The three repeating l’s next to each other does not make for easy reading of the name and can quite easily be misspelled with only two l’s)
  • If SEO rankings are important to you, try and combine a short syllable with your main keyword (e.g. booksnap.com or SEOcomp.co.za or something similar.
  • Try not to have confusing syllables or numbers in the domain name, for example try not to use the number ’4′ for ‘for’ (as in this domain!) It makes it difficult to explain to people when you say the name.

If you want to build a complete new brand from a short, snappy ‘nonsense’ name (e.g. yahoo, google, dig etc) there are some tools that will generate these names for you. There are also tools that will help you combine prefixes or suffixes with your main keywords.

Here is a list of domain name generating tools that I have found useful (or at least then, fun to use!)

http://www.dotomator.com/   (do try the ‘web 2.0′ domain name generator for amusing nonsense type names)

http://www.surf7.net/services/value-added-services/free-web-tools/web-20-name-generator/

 

 

 

 

WordPress is great for building quick websites, however, it does have its limitations when you want to use it as a full-fledged CMS.

Examples of these limitations are that the templates often restrict you very much to a static type layout, and that it is sometimes frustrating to work with the permalink structure imposed by WordPress.

Typical examples are that if you create a menu item or have your categories displayed in the sidebar, WordPress adds the word ‘category’ to the URL.

E.g. http://www.yourblog.com/category/category-name

On this site for example, it would be:

http://www.4webdesign.co.za/category/wordpress

instead of the neater and shorter:

http://www.4webdesign.co.za/wordpress

There are various ways to get around this,  not all of them work and not all of them work equally well.

This page suggests a mod-rewrite solution, which I tried but it is not working:

http://www.wprecipes.com/how-to-remove-category-from-your-wordpress-url

This does work, but does not work well with sub-categories:

1. Set your permalink structure to:

/%category%/%postname%/

then set your category base to

/.

This solution was found on http://wpmu.org/daily-tip-quick-trick-to-remove-category-from-wordpress-url/

You can also read about the various problems with this solution on that page, although even though they say that they are experiencing problems with sub-categories, on this installation of WordPress v 3.3.1 it worked fine with sub categories.

Lastly, you can use the plugin WP No Category Base (just search for it on the WP Plugins sites). This also works fine out of the box and should really be added to your essential WP plugin list.