CSS Website Question

Posted by Marty Dickinson on May 30, 2007

Why is CSS in a website so important today?┬ And are some designers going overboard with CSS?

First, for those not sure, CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets.┬ This doesn’t mean very much in and of itself, but┬ the word “style” should define it enough.┬ Actually, in the design world, CSS is commonly referred to as just “styles” anyway.

Using CSS┬ in your website will save you time if you ever want to make a change to the look a component of your website┬ (like a font size or color).┬ ┬ CSS in a website also allows you to be very specific as to positioning of a certain component on the screen.┬ The intent being to have the same look and the same positioning on any screen size and every monitor setting.

Without CSS in a website today, you’re leaving yourself open to a whole mess of potential problems.

But, I do believe too many designers have taken CSS a bit too far.┬ When is too far?┬ When the owner of the website is no longer capable of making changes to simple content without screwing up the rest of the page.

Audit your website by asking your designer about CSS.┬ Make┬ sure your website is incorporating CSS styles but make sure you can still maintain content without zapping something important.


Plan a Website Before You Build One

Posted by Marty Dickinson on May 24, 2007

Planning a web site is one of the most difficult pieces of the Internet process. Why? Because it all starts with a blank piece of paper…or a blank screen…or just an idea in your mind. Instead of actually planning for a web site, instead, most people bypass the entire planning step. Or, they’ll just turn the whole project over to a designer.

If you are thinking about launching your first website, or are revamping one that’s already existing, don’t skip the planning process. Here are five steps to apply to help you plan your website:

1. Plan a website by writing down on a piece of paper all of the things your audience (visitors to your web site) might want to know about related to your topic. If your website is for a school, for example, visitors might want to know how many people attend, classroom sizes, nearby restaurants, hours of operation, anyone famous that came out of the school. Write down every possible topic someone might want to know about related to the industry you’re presenting.

2. Plan a website by putting yourself in your audience’s shoes. Visit some websites as if you are wanting the services those sites have to offer. Are you driven to take action? What are the turn-on’s and turn-off’s?

3. Plan a website by finding what people are searching for. Use this tool: http://www.herenextyear.com/overture-keyword-search.php. Type in a general phrase like “high school” and see what comes up. These are topics that people are searching for already. Plan your website to feature content that answers peoples’ questions.

4. Plan your web site to grow. Avoid websites that cannot be expanded. Your website will always be in-process. Plan that you will always be able to add pages or products.

5. Plan your website to allow you to be in control. There are few worse feelings in business than to be confined to the power of your designer to make even small changes to your website. Plan to be in control of the process and be involved.


Audio for a Web Site Really is Easy

Posted by Marty Dickinson on May 18, 2007

More than two years ago, I attended an Internet boot camp where a guy by the name of Mike Stewart presented how easy it was to record an audio file and put it on the web. He was offering a package deal at the boot camp for $1000 or something where you would get all the equipment and software to do it yourself. The smarty pants “closet musician” that I am, I figured I’d just go down to Guitar Center when I get home and buy all the stuff myself and save some money.

Well, I found I could “save a little more” if I didn’t buy “exactly” what Mike had in his package offering and our struggle began. Since then we’ve spent a cumulative of probably 300 hours with audio and have produced only maybe a dozen sound files.

At the BigSeminar a few weeks ago, the same guy presented. This time I bought everything he was offering. I think I spent about $2500 because there were some other specific hardware items I knew he had that I wanted to buy and whenever hardware is involved, the numbers go up.

Anyway, I made my first audio file yesterday using HIS system. From the moment I began installing the software and connecting the microphone to the computer and installing the driver, I produced my first audio file and put it on the web in 2 hours and 12 minutes.

The important thing is that I did it all by myself. Want to hear it? Visit BestResellerProgram.com. It’s one of my websites that I promote to web designers and other people in the Internet services arena.

But, more importantly, if you are even THINKING about getting into audio and video for promoting yourself, your business or your website, take it from someone who’s been through HELL with audio. Don’t take any shortcuts.

Besides getting the RIGHT software and hardware the “first time around” the true secret is within all of Mike’s step-by-step walk through video tutorials he’s made. Anyone (and I mean anyone) can walk through those videos and within an hour or two have a thorough understanding of how to produce audio for the web. I’ve been told Mike will even help me by phone or email if I run into trouble but I haven’t need that support yet because the video walkthroughs are so well done.

My next challenge will be video but I already know how easy that will be because I’ve already watched the tutorials and can hardly wait to get started!

Alright. So, this is supposed to be a blog post, not a manifesto. Hopefully you can hear my enthusiasm for Mike Stewart in my words. Soon, I’ll be using audio and video within these blog posts.

For as little as $695 (Mike’s Bronze package), you can begin recording your own radio studio quality audio files for the web, iPods or CD’s. Why would you not take advantage of this? Now, Mike has a lot of different web sites. Here’s the best one to start with. Mike Stewart gets my full endorsement.


Custom Copper Weathervane Website Review

Posted by Marty Dickinson on May 12, 2007

www.LakesideOrnamental.com is a website that offers rare custum copper weathervanes, finials, fountains, and general ironwork. My review is as follows based on the 5-Star system:

Visual – Original look. I like how the fish weathervane image is coming out of the picture kind of like it’s jumping out of the water. Good use of “upper right quadrant” (URQ) focusing on getting people to just immediately use the drop-down to see samples or just call or send a quote request. Good photos, thumbnails on summary pages and individual large photos to see details. Some choppy parts in the design, like some of the borders don’t meet at the bottom. Some inconsistent css text needs to be improved a bit. But, I’ll give 3.5 stars for this component.

Total rating 3.5 Stars.

How would you rate this site? Make a comment.
Want YOUR web site reviewed here?

Usability – Good use of left column but once someone gets past that part of the page, it’s not entirely clear what the user should do next. I suggest highlighting a faster way to get the visitor right to the photos. 3 stars for usability.

Salesability – Am I compelled to take action? If I was in the market for a weathervane, sure. I’ll give this area 4 stars.


What’s Your Link Exchange Policy?

Posted by Marty Dickinson on May 11, 2007

A couple of years ago, one of my clients hired two interns over the summer to do nothing but recruit links from other websites. By the end of the summer, they had thousands of websites linking to theirs.

Times have changed though. We’ve discovered that it’s more impactful and helpful to recruit even just 2 or 3 links each week or even every couple of weeks.

The good news is that sustaining an inbound link campaign is much more realistic. Anyone should be able to squeeze in recruiting 2 or 3 links a week. But you need to have a policy.

Will you be willing to exchange links? Or will you only look for sites that will link to yours without the reciprocity? Should someone post a link on their site “before” even asking you for a link? What would you like the webmaster on the other end to post as a description of your link? These are all factors to consider when conducting and inbound link campaign to promote your websites.


Listed on Google in 2 Days

Posted by Marty Dickinson on May 10, 2007

So, here begins a log of my blog journey. I launched the blog and made my first posting on May 2, 2007. Two days ago, I posted a link on one of my other web sites, on a different web server, called MusicMates.com. As of today, Google is listing almost all of the posts I’ve made so far. Not that they’re in such great position or anything, there’s still work to do. But, it goes to show that you can certainly get listed on Google in less than what many people claim is a month or two.

The other thing I noticed is that the post I made a few days ago about Linked-in helped to get my Linked-in “profile” indexed and listed on Google too. If you search for martydickinson on google, you’ll see the posting for my Linked-in profile. But, if you search for marty dickinson (with a space), the linked-in profile doesn’t display. If you’ve been to one of my workshops, you can probably guess what needs to happen to improve that.

Still to do is announce to my list that the new blog is active. Hence no comments yet. And, I’m having my designer start working on a nice header. So, we’ll see what comes of that. Also, just got all my stuff in from Mike Stewart, so look forward to seeing some audio and video stuff coming soon.


Why Does Website Downtime Still Happen?

Posted by Marty Dickinson on May 9, 2007

It doesn’t happen too often, but it does happen. I got a call from a new client today, “new” meaning as a result of this website downtime incident, they’re new hosting clients for us. He said their website had been down for two days and of 12 ISP locations around the country, not one of their phones will let you connect to a support person to find out what’s going on.

Seems to me I can remember a day a long time ago when something similar happened to someone I know…ME! Except the site never came back up. I had to dig through the ruins and figure out a way to go on. With no backup of my own, that single experience paved the way for everything that I would do online in the future.

Luckily, the hosting company today didn’t go out of business and pull the plug. And, we’ll have a backup of the files tomorrow when the site should be back in place.

My question is why does website downtime even happen these days? We’ve come so far with web servers with backups and server mirroring, that it just doesn’t make sense.

I don’t know the answer…but I DO know the question! Before selecting your hosting company, always ask them about their backup process and what happens if the server your web site is hosted on goes down? Is there another (mirrored) server that takes over the day while the other gets fixed? Or, is your site just down for the duration until the problem is fixed?


Linked-In is the Search Engine of Tomorrow

Posted by Marty Dickinson on May 7, 2007

Google had better be careful…There’s a new search engine in town. It’s called Linked-In. You first add your profile and then invite people you know to link with you. They become part of your network of trusted sources, so to speak. What’s great is that all of the profiles associated with that person you link with become part of your network too. And, isn’t that what networking is all about?

Not really that Linked-In is so new, but its application is morphing from what used to be primarily an employment recruiting tool to more of a lead generation tool.

And, it makes sense. With Google so cluttered with people trying to fake out the system by attempting to get top organic search positioning, Linked-In allows you to search for products and services offered by people that are within your network. And, that’s the future of search. Afterall, people buy from people they know, like and trust.

Better probably to demonstrate rather than to explain.

Step 1) Visit my Linked-In Profile to see what a Linked-In profile looks like: http://www.linkedin.com/in/martydickinson
Step 2) Click “Join Now” if you don’t have a Linked-In account of your own yet.
Step 3) Add your own profile and send a link request to me.

When you send a link request to me, I will review your profile. If I like what I see, I’ll accept the link request and then send a document to you as a special free gift titled, 21 Steps to Using Linked-In to Build Your Business.


Figuring Out Custom URLs in WordPress

Posted by Marty Dickinson on May 4, 2007

How to customize a url in WordPress seems to be kind of hard to find in documentation and forums. I’m a new user of WordPress so I’m just trying to figure it out now. I think WordPress generates urls dynamically whereas Moveable Type produces filenames statically. So, using its “Permalink” feature, you can choose what method for the system to use to name those url filenames. I’ve chosen one that will produce the filenames with /the/date/then-the-file but I don’t think these url’s kick in until the document actually archives. So, today is May 4. We’ll see how long it takes for this post to arrive with its own url. Will keep you posted.


Armand Morin’s BIG Seminar 2007 Reviewed

Posted by Marty Dickinson on May 2, 2007

Web Site Waves is the start of a whole new blog designed to keep my own clients up to speed with anything new I’m seeing in the industry. This also marks the beginning date of future anniversaries to be celebrated. For it was just a few days ago when I returned from Armand Morin’s BIGSeminar 2007.

And, let me tell you, it was quite the event! Here’s a pic:

Armand Morin's BIG Seminar 2007

This picture is of Alexandria Brown “Ali” as she like to be called, maybe better known as “The E-zine Queen.”

Ali was one of the many featured speakers at the Big Seminar. The event was great (of course), but the only thing that seemed like a surprise was that the speakers were so jovial and willing to talk about anything in the world…except their topic. I must’ve been told 15 times, “Well, yeah, that is a common issue….annnnnd, I’m going to be covering that in my presentation!”

And, then of course, they would be swarmed by people for a few hours after the presentation and then they disappear for a plane flight.

Brian Tracy did the same thing to me after a team of us helped him sell $100,000 in product after one of his shows here in Denver. I asked him a simple question about his speaking career and his response was, “Too big a question.”

Who are these people anyway? I mean, we buy their products, attend their high dollar multi-day events and they can’t just answer a simple question? The answer lies in “accessibility.” They’ve all gone to the John Carlton school of public speaking, which is to “tell a little…” and “sell a lot!” and the Dan Kennedy practice of being untouchable.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with selling and each speaker gave great content at the BigSeminar. It’s just this little thing that continues to catch me off guard at every event I attend.

What are your views? Should a speaker have the right to say “I’ll be presenting that later” or do we not have the right as attendees to be upset about not getting an answer? Post your views here.

So, I’m looking forward to making frequent posts with this blog starting tomorrow at my Winning the Internet Dogfight workshop. Stay tuned!