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How to Properly Structure Web Content

Audience

This article is intended for people who use a content management system like WordPress to blog or create & maintain your website, but the overall concepts apply to all web design, regardless of what platform you use to create/manage your website.

Goals

  1. Create an ideal webpage structure for easy reading
  2. Maintain style consistency throughout entire site
  3. Help search engines understand what the web page is about

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Make Better Websites

I stumbled upon a cool website called ‘Make Better Websites’ (www.makebetterwebsites.com) that is more or less just a collection of sites the team puts together for web design inspiration.  Some of the designs are fairly straight-forward, and some are really out of the box, but all of them are visually appealing, professional, and easy to navigate.  Check it out next time you find yourself coming up with something fresh!

If you have a website design that you think should be showcased on the site, they have a submit form where you can enter your design for consideration.

How to Unlock a Google Apps Account

The other day my Google Apps account randomly stopped working in my Mac Mail application.  The ‘the password you entered is invalid’ error kept popping up, even though I knew it was correct.  After some digging, I found that occasionally a Google Apps account might become locked for one reason or another.  Unfortunately the problem and the fix wasn’t obvious, but I eventually found a solution.

To unlock your Google Apps account, go to: https://www.google.com/accounts/UnlockCaptcha?, fill out the Captcha, and your account should unlock.

Feel free to leave comments or possible reasons for why a Google Apps account might get locked.

WordPress Auto Update Problems

I always say “WordPress is a double-edged sword”.  It’s pretty cool that you can get a website up and running so quickly, but there are so many problems that are a result of so many versions, incompatible plugins, and server configuration issues.  I just finally solved one issue I’ve been having for quite a while – WordPress failing on an automatic update.

The fix that is quoted on so many blogs was to delete the wp-content/uploads folder and try again, which never worked for me.  I then stumbled upon a blog which pointed me the right direction – change your server configuration to use  proFTP instead of pureFTPd.   I have a Storm on Demand account (Through Liquid Web) and was able to change this in WebHost Manager in under a minute.  Violia!  Now I’m able to do auto updates as intended!

Cudos to Darcy for figuring this one out!  View source

MYSQL Query – Sort Alphabetical Exclude Articles (‘a’, ‘an’, ‘the’)

I just ran across this query I had to construct a while ago which can be useful when trying to sort alphabetically, but some of the data contained the articles ‘a’, ‘an’, or ‘the’ which alphabetized the results incorrectly. This query could be useful in a number of situations – album titles, company names, movie titles, book titles, and more.

For example, ‘The Big Lebowski’ ought to appear in the B’s, but if you simply did this query, it will show up in the T’s.

SELECT `id`, `title` FROM `movies` ORDER BY `title`;

With a little MYSQL magic, we can sort alphabetically by title, ignoring any leading articles, while still preserving the full title.

SELECT `id`, `title` FROM `movies` ORDER BY TRIM(LEADING 'a ' FROM TRIM(LEADING 'an ' FROM TRIM(LEADING 'the ' FROM LOWER(`title`))));

Basically the ORDER portion of the query just trims off any instances of ‘a’, ‘an’ or ‘the’ (case insensitive) to get the desired order, but the column `movies` will still return the full, unaltered title.

Web Design Checklist – After the Design is Done

Create a Favicon

Use the Favicon generator available at http://www.html-kit.com/favicon/, download the package, upload it to your server, and add the following lines to your <head> section of your webpage.

<link rel="icon" href="images/favicon.ico" type="image/x-icon" />
<link rel="shortcut icon" href="images/favicon.ico" type="image/x-icon" />

Search Engine Optimization

There’s far too much to cover in just a short paragraph, but make sure you have unique title & description tags, keyword rich content, descriptive alt tags, etc.  If you want to learn more about SEO, I suggest you check out www.SEObook.com – they have a pretty cool Firefox plugin that reports keyword density, Google cache date, and much more.

Validation

It’s kind of a tricky subject, but long story short, your website should meet the web standard you are aiming for.  Cleaning up all the errors goes a long way in making your website play nice with all browsers. Use the tools available at the W3 Validation Service.

Sitemap

Search engines should eventually find all the pages you created (so long as there are links to them), but creating a sitemap usually helps search engines find your pages more quickly.  There are  some cool online tools that will automatically create a sitemap for your website by just entering the homepage address.  The best one I’ve found so far is available at www.xml-sitemaps.com.

Add Website to Google Webmaster Tools account

If you don’t already have a Google Webmaster Tools account, get one now!  It provides some great tools, and some great insight to how Google views your site.  It’s free, and the first step (after validation) should be to submit the sitemap you just created in the last step.  Yahoo! has a similar service called Yahoo! Site Explorer that’s worth checking out too.

Submit Site to Search Engines

I’m not sure how much good it does to submit your site to Google if you’ve already added the site to your Google Webmaster Tools account, but it certainly can’t hurt.  You can also submit your site to all major search engines including Google, Yahoo!, DMOZ, & Bing.  DMOZ is much more difficult to get listed in, but certainly worth the little effort it takes.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a great tool which collects all kinds of data about your website visits and displays the data in graphical format.  One of the main things I like about Google Analytics is that it allows you to drill down as far as you can imagine, but doesn’t overwhelm you with information if you just want a good bird’s eye view of your site’s traffic.  I also can’t help but think that a website will get indexed a little more quickly if Google is collecting data on your site’s traffic. Accounts are free and available at www.google.com/analytics.  If you are a webmaster, you can also invite your client to view the data for that account without giving them administrative access.

Google Places

Yet another way to link to your website is through Google Places (formerly known as Google Local).  You can add your business’ address, contact information, hours of operation, pictures and much more.  Verify your account by having Google call you, and in just a few minutes you have yet another way for customers to find your business.  Google Places offers some interesting advertising opportunities through Google Local as well.

Have Something to Add?

If you are a web developer and have something to add to this list, send me a comment and I’ll be glad to add it to the list!  And as always, if you have any web design needs, contact me at www.Jellyflea.com.

Credit Card Processing by Square

I just received my Square credit card reader yesterday – it’s pretty impressive.  For those of you who haven’t heard of Square, they are a new credit card processing company founded by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.

The Square card reader is a small device that you plug into the headset jack of your iPhone, iPad, or Android powered phone.  Coupled with the downloadable app, you can take credit card payments anywhere.  All you have to do is enter an amount, swipe the credit card through the reader, have the customer sign on your touchscreen, and the customer is sent an email receipt for the purchase. Continue reading

Website Redesign Checklist

This is a sort of checklist in progress for things to keep in mind when redesigning a website.

  1. Backup Current Website & Databases
  2. Take note of the current site’s SEO tactics and page rank for target key phrases
  3. Check for existing Google Analytics (etc) accounts
  4. Check for existing .htaccess file
  5. If renaming pages or restructuring, prepare a new .htaccess file to include 301 redirects so search engines can find your new pages
  6. Upload new website & new .htaccess file
  7. Add & verify site in Google Webmaster account
  8. Tweet, Facebook Posts, etc to get the word out about the new design

Example .htaccess 301 redirect

Redirect 301 /old_page.html http://www.your-domain.com/new-page.html

Have something you think should be added to the list?  Leave a comment!

© 2021 Kyle W. Henderson

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