Archive for Webmaster Stuff

Starting a Great Blog with Wordpress

http://www.webmaster-source.com/2007/06/04/starting-a-great-blog-part-1-intro/

Want to learn how to start a blog? A good blog, not a free Blogger blog that looks like every other blog in the universe. This tutorial series wlaks yo through coming up with a name, buying a domain, finding a good host, installing Wordpress, configuring Wordpress, finding and installing a theme, and more.

If you want to start a blog, check it out.

Cheap Domains Anyone?

Thinking of starting a website or blog? Forget URLs like dork732.blogspot.com or whatever. You can now get .info domains (like www.ImANoob.info) from GoDaddy for only $0.99/year. A usual domain, with a .com TLD, costs around $7-$10 yearly (I use 1and1, which is on the cheaper end of the scale). $0.99/year? Don’t tell me that’s out of your price range! You can’t get any cheaper than that.

So, you decided to get a .info domain from GoDaddy? Now you’re probably thinking “Now what?” You need a blog now. If you want really easy (and free), then get a Blogger.com account and point your domain at it (instructions on the site) Personally, I prefer Wordpress to Blogger, so I’d get free hosting from somewhere like Awardspace and point the domain there (make sure the domain is pointing to Awardspace before installing Wordpress).

Of course, I don’t really use free hosting. You could if you have a tight budget, though.

What’s the Most Annoying Ad Type?

Ads: They help keep websites afloat, and they annoy users. Well, it depends on the ad. Personally, I don’t mind standard AdSense-style ads. Others, though….

So what type of ad is the most irritating? Keep reading to find out.

The Contenders

Flashing/Vibrating Ads

Imagine this: You’re trying to read a webpage, but this distracting banner ad reading “You won [fill_in_the_blank]! Click here to claim your prize!” is flashing red and yellow…while vibrating. Doesn’t take much imagination, does it?

In-Video “Commercials”

Commercials belong on TV, not in online video clips. On IMDB you have to watch a stupid ad before you can view a trailer. On Shockwave.com you have to watch an irritating commercial before a game loads. They’re slowly becoming more common, unfortunately.

Flash-Based Banners With Sound

At first, they look like any old banner ad. Then you hear stupid voice-clips and sound effects blaring through your speakers.

The “Winner”

The winner of the Most Annoying Ad Type Award goes to…… “In-Video ‘Commercials’”, with ‘Flash-Based Banners With Sound’ a close second. Despite the annoyance of having unwanted sounds blaring through your speakers, unwanted videos are worse. Do you really want to be forced to watch a 30-second commercial before you can see a 1-minute video clip? No way! If YouTube adds these, I’ll be very annoyed.

Does Design Matter In Blogging?

In response to Why Design Doesn’t Matter In Blogging @ NorthxEast.com.

I would say that design does matter in blogging, though it’s a bit complicated. A site with a…less than spectacular…design can do well. I’ve seen some sites with putrid designs, though the sites using the designs have good content. TamoraPierce.com comes to mind. The site of a successful fantasy author, the design is in my opinion….lacking, though there is good content. The site has a PageRank of 5/10 according to CheckPageRank.com.

As I was saying, it’s complicated. As a commenter on NorthxEast said:

“With the ability to subscribe to an RSS feed, the most important thing is the content. The trick now is trying to figure out how to still get people to come and take a look since it’s been proven that if someone finds something pleasing aesthetically, then it will draw them back.”

That makes perfect sense to me. I’m a huge fan of RSS feeds, they let me check up on sites quickly every day. If you have a cool design (and use summaries in your feed instead of the full text. *Evil Laugter*), you could get your users to come to the main site…where you will proceed to make minuscule amounts of money off every one of their pageviews (*more evil laughter*).

Of course, you need more than a smashing design. If you have something unique or interactive on your site, you’ll draw more repeat visitors. If people want to comment, they’ll have to come to your site (fortunately, no one’s devised a technology to allow commenting without visiting a site). Make it fun to navigate your blog, and people will come back for sure.

In short, design matters and it doesn’t. Just make sure you have a good design anyway. It’s better to have a good design than to have comments about your bad design, isn’t it?

21 Cool Logos

The logo is yet another important part of a web site. It’s part of what tells a visitor where they are. A logo (or banner) represents you. Below are a few cool logos/banners. Inspire yourself. As Smashing Magazine put it:

“To get things done, you need inspiration and creative thinking. You need fresh ideas and elegant approaches. And you need to be able to find them as quick as it is possible.”

When you design a website, you generally do one of the following:

  • Design a layout around a finished logo.
  • Design a logo around a concept layout.

However you design, inspiration is always helpful.
Ready? Read the rest of this entry »

4 Cool Footers

The footer is generally the least noticed part of a website. This is unfortunate, since some sites have some really cool footers. Below are some that I think are worth notice.

The average viewer tends to not make it all the way down the page to the footer. This is why the part of the page “above the fold” is given a lot of attention by designers. However, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a cool footer as well. After all, some people will see it. I tend to read web pages through to the end, unless I have reason not to.

Ready of an inspiring look at some interesting page footers? Read the rest of this entry »

29 CSS and AJAX Resources

Everyone likes Web 2.0. Wait, everyone except Jakob Nielsen. As I was saying, most people like Web 2.0. Here are some resources that you may find useful. CSS is the designer’s tool of choice for, well…designing, so obviously it can’t hurt to pick up a few new CSS tricks. AJAX has quickly taken the web by storm. Sites all over the place are using it to improve usability…and for pointless reasons as well. There are plenty of practical applications for AJAX, so obviosuly it’s worth seeing what others are doing with it. CSS and AJAX are two of the most important technologies making Web 2.0 (who came up with that term anyway?) possible. Ready for the list? Here it comes!

AJAX

CSS

ZetaBoards Enters Beta

ZetaBoards, the eventual successor to Invisionfree, is now being beta tested. Invisionfree, in case you didn’t already know, is a service that provides you with a free ad-supported Invision-based board. As the old version of Invision they use is becoming sort of an antique, they are developing a new forum system that is up to today’s standards…or so they hope.

ZetaBoards will be much better than it’s predeccessor Invisionfree. ZetaBaords adds many features asked for over the years, improves anti-spam, and improves in many ways upon Invisionfree. ZetaBoards (ZB) looks and acts similarly to the old Invisionfree boards, though with many improvements.

A theme changer has been added, along with a more powerful skinning system. More BBCode functions are added, including a Flash tag (useful for posting YouTube videos). There’s a more dynamic feel, and the system seems like it may be more stable. Macros are added, so you can finally mass delete spam posts. There is an unbelievable amount of improvements. One major complaint: The post form doesn’t show buttons for a lot of useful BBCode tags (like the [URL] tag). Hopefully that will be changed by the time ZB lauches.

ZetaBoards is looking to be a pretty good board system, though personally I prefer to host my own boards using SMF.

5 Great Main Pages

A website’s homepage is one of the most important parts. If someone lands there and doesn’t find anything interesting, they’ll go elsewhere more often than not. Here are some examples of good home pages. Here they are, in no particular order. Study them and learn. Read the rest of this entry »

Google To Purchase Doubleclick

Google has announced that they plan to acquire the ad network Doubleclick soon. They even started sending info out through Google Groups. What are they planning? They’re not giving much away. Time for some educated guesses.

Some qoutes from Google:

“This new partnership represents a tremendous opportunity for us at Google to broaden and deepen our inventory of available ads and to better serve both our publishers and users. Together, Google and DoubleClick will empower agencies, advertisers, and publishers to collaborate more efficiently and effectively, which will, in turn, provide a better experience for our users.”

“Sponsored information served by Google has always been, and will always be, clearly distinguished from objective content available via our search results and across our partner network. We want you to find the information that you are looking for—be it in an ad or elsewhere—quickly and without hassle. We know that our collaboration with DoubleClick will serve and advance this goal.”

Hmmm…. That sounds like the web will be getting a little less annoying soon. How? I’m thinking Google may be trying to kill pop-up ads and other irritating ad types. Google has always had bits in the AdSense policy forbidding you to put AdSense on a site with more than x popups per session. They seem to take a dim view of pop-ups and other annoying ads. Maybe they’ll stop providing the service of pop-ups and those annoying flash ads that expand across the page and annoy the heck out of you.

There’s a good chance that Doubleclick will become integrated with the AdSense program too. They did talk about broadening and deepening their inventory of available ads…

 
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