Drop down navigation

19 April 2009

Drop down navigation is actually quite useful when you have a few navigation items and then more subnavigation items, but how is best to implement this on your website?

Well for starters, I'm not going to go into flash as I don't use it.

The first way is to use Javascript. This would usually consist of the navigation along the top and then some div or other tag that is set to "display:none" in a style sheet, then when you hover on the main navigation link it will have a "onfocus:" or "onmouseover:" action which will then call upon a Javscript function to show the hidden div or tag.

Using Javascript means that you can do fancy things - like animating the menu as it expands. But Javascipt can be turned off - and so then they wouldn't see the drop downs - unless using a "<noscript>" but this will show them all at the same time.

The method of displaying drop down navigation that I use is through the use of CSS and unordered lists.

Embedding a "<ul>" tag within a "<li>" tag makes the bulleted list stick out a little further than the original bulleted list.

This also enables us to make use of 2 lots of "<li>" tags within the CSS, for example:

ul li:hover ul li {

This says that when hovering over the item in the first list, the embedded list item's text colour goes red.

So putting this all together here's some code:

On the HTML page:

<li><a href="#">Link 1</a></li>
<li><a href="#">Link 2</a>
<li><a href="#">Link 2 a</a></li>
<li><a href="#">Link 2 b</a></li>
<li><a href="#">Link 2 c</a></li>
<li><a href="#">Link 3</a></li>
<li><a href="#">Link 4</a></li>
<li><a href="#">Link 5</a></li>

On the CSS page:

ul li ul {

ul li:hover ul {

There's more you'll need in order to line up the sub navigation, to lay it all out, to remove the bullet points, etc... But it's a start for you to experiment with.

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Firefox Addons

18 April 2009

I've noticed a lot of blogs with a similar kind of entry to this - and so I thought I'd share with people which Firefox Addons I have installed and use.

The first - like everyone else is the Web Developer toolbar. This allows disabling Javascript, turning off cookies, selecting a different style sheet for a website you're viewing, view form informaion, image information, web page information, resize your window, and lots of things that I don't actually use - but I'm sure they're helpful.

Next I use SEO Quake. When I first started using Firefox ages ago I thought I'd add this addon as I heard it was good - although I never understood it. Now, after I've been playing with Google Webmaster Tools for ages, it makes a lot more sense and I understand what it's all about. Find out a web pages PageRank, and how many internal links a website has.

Delicious social bookmarking. Well this addon I decided to install once signing up to delicious. When bookmarking with delicious all you need to do is click the button on your tolbar at the top, rather than navigating to the website and then adding a new favourite.

IE Page is a big favourite of mine - allowing to switch a web page so that it renders in Internet Explorer. This is handy when testing a website, and also I had to use this when connecting to a VPN (Virtual Private Network) a few times as well as it only allowed me to connect through IE.

Lastly, I use Stumble Upon. Now this toolbar I rather like for it's inspiration! If I'm a bit bored, or am having a designing mental block - I'll just click stumble, and see where it takes me. It will basically pick a random website depending on the user's interests and display it. Sounds simple and nothing to it - but I like it!

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Avoid the spam filters when sending bulk emails

17 April 2009

When sending a bulk email campaign you want as many emails as possible to hit the inbox, rather than getting flagged as spam and potentially not getting read.

I'm going to share with you a few simple tips of how to avoid those spam filters, get your email into the receivers inbox and potentially raise the open rate of your emails.

These tips aren't guaranteed to work, but they will help when sending to some email clients.

Here's my top 5 tips to try and keep emails going to the inbox rather than getting caught in the spam filters:

  1. Do not use certain trigger words or phrases - for instance offering cheap or fake watches, certain medication and maybe some tablets (I am not mentioning these words as I don't want this blog entry to get penalised).
  2. If you have the software to do so then try running your email through a spam checker first which will tell you whether it's going to be picked up by spam filters at the clients end.
  3. Make sure that clients you send to on a regular basis add your email address to their safe list.
  4. Do not overuse bold, small, large or uppercase text.
  5. Do not over send emails to the same client within a small space of time.

There are other factors that may affect the end result, but these are some just to get you started.

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Website funnel model

16 April 2009

The website funnel model is a funnel shaped model of how visitors interact with your website.

Website funnel model

From the funnel model (above) you can see that a website has the potential to get a lot of website visitors.

Of these website visitors a few less will actually stay on the website and make an enquiry using some kind of contact method through an email or phone call.

Fewer of these website visitors will go on to make a small sale on your website like a small audio or pdf download.

And finally only very small percentage of the original website visitors will go on to make a big sale - something like a seminar or training program that will be a lot more costly.

There are a lot of other steps within this funnel model that could be added such as a returning visitor, someone bookmarking your website, someone sharing your website on a social network, or other ways of interacting with the website.

Tracking a website's funnel model can be done by using an analytics application such as Google Analytics.

There are also ways with Google Analytics to setup funnels and goals which can track when a website visitor joins your path to sale, and at which step they decide to leave your website or get off of the sale pathway.

Finding out when people leave this sales pathway can help the website owner to tweak the copy and images on the page in order to try and raise the conversion rate to get a higher percentage of sales against the number of website visitors.

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Transferring a domain

15 April 2009

Potentially you may never have to transfer a domain once you've bought it and have a hosting server.

Cases when you may need to transfer a domain might be:

  • You're using an online CMS (content management system) and want to edit it using FTP rather than online
  • You reach your bandwidth quota too quickly and so need to upgrade
  • You sell your domain name to someone else and so transfer it to their website hosting server
  • You find a cheaper web hosting server deal

Transferring a domain name can also quite often cost.

Depending on your hosting provider will depend how much - some even do it for free.

Depending on the TLD (top level domain) which is the end part of your domain, .com, .co.uk, .net, .info, .org, etc... Depends on the cost.

Transferring .co.uk domains is, more often than not, free.

The way in which a domain name is transferred is also dependent on the TLD. A .co.uk domain (or other UK domain) just need to change the IPSTags to point at the new web hosting provider's IPSTag. For instance Heart Internet use the IPSTag HEARTINTERNET.

Once the IPSTags have been changed on the current domain name holder, then the new domain name holder needs to create a domain reference, build a holding page (or the whole website) and then request the transfer in.

If the new IPSTags match the tags of the hosting provider calling upon them, then the domain is transferred in and the new hosting comes into effect.

A .com (or world wide type TLDs) doamin requires an authorisation code be entered by the hosting service that's receiving the domain.

This process is a bit longer...

The current domain name holder needs to unlock the domain so that it can be transferred, they're then given an authorisation code.

The hosting service requesting the domain will then try calling the domain accross. Using the authorisation code that the current domain name holder has they will use this and request the domain name successfully (hopefully!).

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Using a web page's title

14 April 2009

After a website's domain name, the page title is the second most important part of a website used for search engine optimisation.

The title tag on a web page should contain keywords, but at the same time tell the user what the web page has to offer.

The web page's title is what is displayed on Google when carrying out a search. Any search words used will be made bold in the web page's link.

It is also a good idea to keep your website's name in the title tag as this indicates to people using search engines that this is your website - as an individual page name may be seen as quite random if found just on it's own.

Google reads imprtance from left to right and from top to bottom, and so the title tag should also be used in this way.

I personally use the title tag (and recommend you do the same) in the following format:

Page name - parent page name - website name

This will include the current web page's name and also the website's name - and a bonus is including the parent page's name as quite often keywords will be repeated as you work down through navigation and sub navigation.

For example look at the blue bar at the top of this page. It will look like this (depending on the web browser you're using):

Web page title

You will see that this page name is "Using a web page's title", this page's parent page name is "Blog" and the website name is "Peter Nichol".

As for the "Mozilla Firefox" at the end - this is because this is the name of the web browser that I'm currently using.

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Why do I need FTP access to my website?

12 April 2009

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is the method used for uploading and downloading to and from a website.

When a website is built FTP access will be needed by the website developer to upload the new website.

But why would you, the end user, need FTP access to your own website?

FTP access means that if one day you decide you want an update made to your website, or a complete re-design - you don't need to go back to the original developer, but instead you could find someone else to do the job for you cheaper.

If you decide you want to keep analytical data of your website you will need the FTP details to download your web pages, add the Google Analytics Urchin (or other analytical method) and then you will need to FTP to upload the page again afterwards.

As well as Google Analytics, you may also want to add Google Webmaster Tools which requires you to verify your website by either adding a line of code to your home page or uploading a new file, you may want to edit your sitemap to reflect new/different pages, or you may want to add a robots.txt file to stop Google and other search engines from crawling certain areas of your website.

Even if you never use it - it's always worth having your FTP details to your website, just in case you'll need it sometime in the future.

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Is Facebook note's the same as a blog?

11 April 2009

Facebook notes are, I guess, like blog entries, except without most of the functionality from a normal blogging script.

Blogs are archived into months and years, as well as being categorised.

Facebook notes are shown in reverse date order (so the newest is always at the top) but not have categories or search by date features.

Blogs can be pinged off to other blog services to announce that a new blog entry has been posted.

Facebook can post something to your profile to say that you've written a new note.

Google does crawl Facebook notes - but I'm unsure whether this is Facebook profile notes - or just Facebook page notes. The reason I am unsure on this is because of the vast privacy settings that Facebook allows us to do, limited profile, only friends can see updates, hidden profile, etc. And there's no way for Google to know whether the person currently doing the search is a friend of the person who's Facebook note it is.

Facebook does not optimise very well with a note, whereas, on a blogging script it will tend to be optimised purely towards your blog entry's title.

I am also unsure as to how often Google crawls Facebook pages and so by the time a note is listed in Google, it may well be old news.

Blogs on other hand can be crawled daily if they're very active and seen as very useful to Internet users.

Ok so in answer to the original question - Is Facebook note's the same as a blog? - No, they're completely different and shouldn't be used for blogging.

You will not get as much Internet coverage using Facebook, but you may attract some of your Facebook friends to have a look.

If you want to be blogging - start a blog, don't take the quick, easy and cheap option of Facebook notes.

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How many pages should my website have?

10 April 2009

The easy, and correct, answer to this question is - to have as many pages as you need.

As long as you cover everything you want to cover on your website then that's fine - there's no point adding more pages just for the sake of it as you'll probably end up just babbling and struggling for content.

In your main website's navigation you should have no more than 7-9 links, and so if you have more than 9 pages then you'll need to categorise the content covered on your pages and then create sub navigation.

Every page of your website should be no more than 3 clicks away - whether it's a main navigation, sub navigation, then a page link - or whether your user goes straight to a search feature and clicks to search and then clicks for the page they're after.

When thinking about how many pages - don't think the more pages the better, as this may affect your ability to optimise a page to it's full potential.

Each page of your website should cover a different topic and so be optimised for that topic and that topic alone.

Once you've sorted out your main navigation and start using sub navigation then it's easy to add more pages at a later date if you need to, simply categorise your new topic within one of your current navigation options.

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Which web browsers should I test my website with?

9 April 2009

When building a new website you want to make sure that every website visitor is able to view the website clearly.

Because of CSS issues, you will find that viewing a website in Firefox and in Internet Explorer will render the website differently and will quite often show you 2 different looking websites.

For testing purposes you should check your website in the most popular web browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 7
  • Firefox
  • Safari
  • Opera
  • Google Chrome

and now that it's been released, Internet Explorer 8
Now you need to check with different computers and monitors:

  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Apple Mac
  • 17" monitor
  • 19" monitor
  • Any other size monitor you can test with

Lastly you need to check your website against different user preferences:

  • Javascript turned off
  • Flash not installed
  • Cookies switched off
  • Java applets not installed

If you still pass all of these tests then it's fair to say that your website is probably ready to go live!

But if you happen to have them you can always see how the website looks using a PSP, iPhone, and other mobile phones that can browse the Internet.

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