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5 Common Web Design Mistakes Videos

March 5th, 2010

Getting web design right can be a difficult process, especially if it is your first time doing it. There are a lot of things to take into consideration when designing a good website, such as accessibility, usability and not forgetting search engine performance.

To help you on your way, we’ve compiled 5 of the best YouTube clips revealing some of the common web design mistakes that people make – and how to avoid them.

1. Dr Dave Chaffey – Author of E-consultancy’s Best Practice Guides

2. Mikal Belicove – Author and Online Consultant

3. Gareth Davies – GSINC Limited

4. Christopher Merill – Chicago Web Designer

5. Ernesto Verdugo – Entrepreneur

Google Analytics Annotations

March 1st, 2010

Just before Christmas, Google announced that a new feature called Annotations was being introduced to its Analytics website statistics software. The idea behind Analytics Annotations was that you can easily denote specific dips or rises in traffic for future reference. This addition to Analytics was expected for some time, but it has only recently arrived here in the UK. Here we explain a little more about the possibilities of Google Analytics Annotations.

An Example Scenario

If you work in a large company that maintains a high-traffic website, any sudden changes of activity would have to be easily explained if somebody comes asking. Instead of digging through server logs or scrappy notes, Annotations can be used to easily jot down a note regarding the reason of activity change (if known, obviously). Typical reasons might be because of server downtime or a new service launch, for example. The advantage of making these notes within Analytics is that anybody who has access can trawl back through the data to easily spot specific spikes and the relevant details/people involved.

Here is an example screenshot provided by Google:

afngnjrpct 108j3sgbhhj b1 Google Analytics Annotations

As you can see from the example, Annotations have been used to explain new activity such as ‘Began new Adwords campaign’ and ‘Lava lamps on sale’. With these notes in place, spikes or changes in traffic can be clearly accounted for without the need to painfully think back to what might have caused it.

How to use Annotations

With this new feature now available throughout all Analytics accounts, using it is very straight forward. Simply log in to your account and click on one of the small circles on your traffic timeline (as shown above in the example). A small popup box will appear providing you with the number of visits for that specific day, and here you can click ‘Create new annotation’.

Find out more by watching this fantastic Google video:

3 Reasons to Stop Using Internet Explorer 6 (IE6)

February 23rd, 2010

Internet Explorer 6 has long been a popular object of hate in web design and development circles, and with good reason too. Originally released in 2001 by Microsoft, IE6 was the default browser shipped with Windows XP and was also made available for prior Windows’ versions. In its prime, Internet Explorer 6 held a 71.2% market share according to W3Schools (Nov 2003), but it has been on the demise ever since. Fast forward to the present day however, and IE6 still surprisingly holds a 10.9% stake – which is quite frankly ridiculous.

To do our little bit to encourage users away from this awful piece of software, here some reasons to stop using Internet Explorer 6:

IT’S INSECURE – The biggest reason by far to stop using Internet Explorer 6 is security. IE6 has been a target for hackers ever since it was released, and continues to be vulnerable to a wide variety of security risks. Although Microsoft tried to release various patches and bug fixes down the years, the problems have never gone away – in fact, Internet Explorer software still continues to have security flaws in its latest versions.

IT’S INCOMPLIANT – From a web design point of view, this is the biggest issue. Internet Explorer 6 is renowned for being a pain to design for, with many things that work in other browsers failing miserably in IE6. A lot of designers have stopped supporting IE6 completely as their designs render completely different (or even broken) in it.

IT’S OUTDATED – Although this is similar to previous reason, it’s important to hammer it home once again. If you want to experience the complete potential of the web, then IE6 simply can’t cope. Some of the most popular websites on the internet such as Facebook advise you to upgrade your browser due to its lack of functionality and ability to deal with somewhat basic advances in web technology.

Companies who use Internet Explorer 6 throughout their offices can probably account for a lot of the usage statistics for the browser, but there is simply no excuse not to upgrade nowadays. Google brilliantly released Google Chrome Frame recently that allows you to bring Chrome’s web technology to Internet Explorer browsers (mainly aimed at IE6). If you previously thought that it would be too expensive to update your network of systems, look no further than Google’s free solution.

If you are using IE6, do yourself (and web designers) a favour, and upgrade to a better browser.

New Website Launch: Alexander Trailers

February 22nd, 2010

Although the Alexander Trailers website was officially launched a couple of months ago, we didn’t get round to writing about it – so here’s our chance!

The Problem

Alexander Trailers design and manufacture custom made trailers for commercial and industrial use. The website they initially had designed had good basic foundations in place, but needed improvements in terms of navigation and coding. With a vast array of trailers assembled over the years, Alexander Trailers needed a solution to showcase their previous work and promote their expertise.

The Solution

To develop the new website, Mediaspin proposed the WordPress content management system (CMS) as an ideal solution for maintaining and extending upon the current content. With a CMS in place, Alexander Trailers would be able to easily add new content to their own website without the need for any technical know-how or coding skills. Mediaspin would redevelop the existing design to be search engine friendly, and restructure the content in an accessible and maintainable manner.

The Result

The redeveloped Alexander Trailers website incorporated features of the old design but improved and built upon the existing features. A sidebar menu was introduced to categorise the different trailers into relevant sectors, such as hydraulic trailers and industrial trailers. The old HTML table structure was stripped out and replaced with a DIV layout incorporating an external style sheet, and the image navigation menu was redesigned using HTML.

The site now validates to XHTML 1.0 Transitional and CSS Level 2.1 while clearly promoting key technical details and examples of past work.

Visit the Alexander Trailers website at: http://www.alexandertrailers.co.uk/

Looking for a new website? Get in touch!

If your business could benefit from a new website, or you would simply like a couple of improvements making then don’t hesitate to get in touch. All of our web design is done with SEO in mind, meaning that your website will be usable by users and found within search engines.

Call us today on 0161 903 8658 or email info@mediaspin.co.uk

Top 10 Chrome Extensions for Web Designers

February 19th, 2010

If you’re familiar with Firefox plugins then you will be aware of how much flexibility you can add to your default browser installation – and Google was aware of this too. It was only a matter of time before Google Chrome offered full support for user-developed extensions, and that time arrived this week. If you visit the Chrome extensions website you will now be presented with an ever growing list of extensions developed by both companies and users.

Here is a list of the top 10 Chrome extensions for web designers:

1. Firebug Lite – Firebug is a fantastic plugin for Firefox that allowed you to inspect the HTML and CSS elements of a page to fix errors and stop any issues. A ‘lite’ version is now available for Chrome and we highly recommend it.

Install Firebug Lite

2. Eye Dropper – Although this extension needs a bit of work, it is still a very good tool to identify colours on a web page. You can either select from the colour picker menu or use the eye dropper on a specific part of a page.

Install Eye Dropper

3. IE Tab – Internet Explorer; the web designer’s worst nightmare? Maybe so, but this little extension allows you to quickly view a web page rendered in Internet Explorer from inside Google Chrome, which is very handy.

Install IE Tab

4. Chrome SEO – As every good web designer should know; search engine optimisation is very important, and this SEO tool allows you to quickly view some of the key factors on a site.

Install Chrome SEO

5. Webpage Screenshot – If you need to show a design to a client or simply just take a screen grab of a page, then Webpage Screenshot is perfect. You are able to save a screenshot of a page without the need for an image editor.

Install Webpage Screenshot

6. Lorem Ipsum Generator – At some stage in the design process you may need to pad out a draft page with sample text, and Lorem Ipsum has long been the standard. This tool allows you to quickly generate Lorem Ipsum text.

Install Lorem Ipsum Generator

7. BuiltWith Technology Profiler – If you want to analyse the profile of a website it can be a tedious process to visit many different lookup websites. This extension provides you with a means of viewing key information, such as whether or not the site is running Google Analytics and what web server it is running on.

Install BuiltWith Technology Profiler

8. MeasureIt! – This very handy chrome extension allows you to draw out a ruler on a web page to view the height and width in pixels. You can use it for measuring images, white space or just about anything on a page.

Install MeasureIt!

9. Window Resizer – Designing websites that are accessible by all resolutions is one of the key factors in web design, so Window Resizer really does help. You are able to resize the Chrome browser window to a set of predefined sizes, and the lists are completely customisable.

Install Window Resizer

10. Pendule – Pendule offers a host of useful features when on a web page, such as disabling CSS, hiding images and W3C validation. Much like the Web Developer Toolbar for Firefox, this is one of the ‘must have’ extensions for web designers.

Install Pendule

SEO Tips: Visitor Retention

February 2nd, 2010

If you have just designed and developed a great new website then the next step is to get people visiting. Search engine optimisation (SEO) can be the key to increase a website’s exposure on the web, but for real success you need to keep the visitors on your website.

A good metric for measuring how well your website is retaining visitors is ‘bounce rate’ – best monitored in Google Analytics. Although bounce rate can provide you with some key reference data for analysing visitor activity, it doesn’t hold the key to everything – here is why.

Read the rest of this entry »

New Mediaspin Website Launch!

February 2nd, 2010

Today we are happy to announce the launch of the new Mediaspin website, which has been redeveloped using the WordPress content management system.

The website has been re-launched with a new search engine friendly design, with improvements made to the structure, code and navigation. A blog has been introduced to keep you up to date with the latest happenings in the world of web design, as well as our company and client news.

As well as enhancing the back end of the website, the services we offer have been more clearly defined. If you are looking for web design, content management or search engine optimisation head over to our enquiry form and get in touch today.

Let us know what you think

Whether you love or hate it, we would love to hear your opinions on our new website. Leave a comment on this blog post, send us a message or email info@mediaspin.co.uk with your thoughts.

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