Some words about your site and Search Engines.

October 14th, 2008 by admin

1. Accessibility

Accessibility means that your site is available to the visitor and to search engine spiders. First, make sure you have reliable hosting. If your site is down or very slow when and a search engine spider visits it, your chances of being indexed thoroughly lessen. Also, in terms of accessibility, make sure you have a robots.txt file available to search engines and that it allows the search engines to crawl around the pages of your site you want them to index. If your robots.txt file says “disallow” for a certain file or directory, then the search engine spider will ignore that page. In addition, you’ll want to make sure that any pages with Flash, frames, are mostly graphics or that include fancy navigation schemes allow the spiders to enter properly and find other links to your website.

2. Friendliness

Friendliness just means that your site is friendly to search engine spiders and provides them with enough information for them to properly index and rank your website for your desired keyword phrases. This includes integration of proper meta-tags, like the meta description tag, meta keywords tag and meta copyright tag, as well as integration of your keywords in the page title, file name and image ALT tags in the HTML code. It is also very important to include your keyword phrases with enough frequency and density in the text content of your web pages.

3. Navigation

Having proper navigation on your website is crucial for both your visitors and the search engine spiders. Navigation is basically the linking structure of your website. Most sites should have one set of plain text links as navigation, usually at the bottom of every page. Include links to every page of your site or at least every key page of your site, regardless whether you use a javascript, DHTML, image map or other linking structure in your pages.

4. Sitemaps

Include a sitemap in your website to help the search engine spiders crawl all the pages of your website without having to travel to them link via embedded links on the page. A proper sitemap will include links to ALL the pages of your website, clearly marked with what the page is about. Some people even include a description of each page as well. Sitemaps are so important to Google, that they recently introduced a free service where you can create and submit your sitemap directly to Google to facilitate the indexing and crawling of your pages. You can find out more about this free Google service at: www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps/

5. Linking

Once your website is ready, friendly and accessible to search engines, you need to let the search engines know about it. One of the best ways to let the search engines know that your site is ready for visitors is to begin building your links. You can do this by submitting to large and important directories like Yahoo Directory or DMOZ, by exchanging links with other webmasters of authority and closely related sites, by submitting to general directories and by generating your own content and distributing it whether through RSS or by writing articles. No one bothers to submit to Google, Yahoo or MSN these days, it’s all about letting them find your link on another website. These methods of linking are an important start to getting search engine spiders and visitors alike to notice and visit your website.

A little php script :) Tell a friend about your site :

October 13th, 2008 by admin

Besides search engines, word of mouth is surely the best marketing tool you can have to promote your site.

But how can you easily make people recommend your site or even a page ?

Simply add a Tell  A Friend service on your website. By doing this you offer the possibility to your website visitors to send a recommendation email to their friends. I have been using Tell A Friend promotion for Years now and have found it to be an excellent form of promotion.

Even if you only get a few people using this script each day, always bear in mind the snowball effect : one visitor tells their friends about your site, which in turn tell their friends, … A single visitor has the potential to create literally thousands of referrals to your website.

Place this code in to your index.php or other php page.  ;) And you’ll see snowball effect ;)

Tell a friend about your site ;)

<?php
if ($d==1){

// Your site url
$site_name=”www.blog.branding-studio.com”;
// Your message for the email
$text=”Hi there, take a look at this great site that I found $site_name”;
// Title of email
$title=”A message from your friend $sendername”;
// Thank you page for users

// START CODE, DO NOT CHANGE ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE

// check email addresses

$x1 = ereg(“^[0-9a-z]([-_.]?[0-9a-z])*@[0-9a-z]([-.]?[0-9a-z])*\\.[a-z]{2,3}$”,$senderemail);
if($x1==0)

{
echo “<div align=center>You <b>must</b> specify a valid email address for yourself.<a href=javascript:history.back(-1)>Return to the form</a>.</div>”;
exit;
}

if ($email<>”") {
$x2 = ereg(“^[0-9a-z]([-_.]?[0-9a-z])*@[0-9a-z]([-.]?[0-9a-z])*\\.[a-z]{2,3}$”,$email);
if($x2==0)

{
echo “<div align=center>!!ERROR!!<br>The first email address you entered is invalid. <a href=javascript:history.back(-1)>Return to the form</a>.</div>”;
exit;
}
}

if ($x2!=0)
{
$send = mail(“$email”, “$title”, “$text”, “From: \”$sendername\” $senderemail\n”);

// return thank you page
echo” Thx from your buddy “;
}else{ echo “Sorry Error”;}}
else {
?>

<p><form method=”get” action=”<?php  echo $PHP_SELF; ?>”>
Your name:<br>
<input type=”text” name=”sendername”><br>
Your email address:<br>
<input type=”text” name=”senderemail”><br>
Your friend email address:<br>
<INPUT TYPE=HIDDEN NAME=”d” VALUE=”1″>
<input type=”text” name=”email”><br>
<input type=”submit” value=”Send”>
<input type=”reset” value=”Reset”>
</form></p><? } ?>

Some rules for Web Designers ;)

October 12th, 2008 by admin

1. Do not display your pricing on your website

Creativity is not a tangible product, rather an extraordinary gift. The design process isn’t a pre-defined series of events and timelines, rather a collaborative series of calculated and creative steps based on the client’s specific needs and objectives.
By displaying your price on your website, you are not only locking yourself into a project without first knowing what is involved, but you give clients and visitors the impression that the entire design community abides by these standards and pricing structures.

2. Do not take part in Speculative / Contest work

“Speculative Work” is the unfortunate practice in today’s society by certain companies or organizations that put on a “contest”, asking hundreds of graphic designers to participate by designing, and sharing their ideas or work specific to the project, and promising the “winner” a meager payoff if their work is selected or used by the company.
Often hundreds of younger, inexperienced designers put in countless hours of work and creativity designing logos, web sites, or marketing collateral for these types of contests, without knowing if they will ever be compensated fairly for their time and efforts; 99% of these contestants never will.

3. Do not undervalue your time and break your prices

There are a set of standard pricing guidelines in the graphic and web design industry (whether you are a beginner or professional), and it is expected that designers charge at least near the minimum amount relevant to their experience for their time and services.
Those with ridiculously inexpensive fees, as well as those who undercut the rest of the designers by a substantial amount are truly doing a great disservice to not only themselves and their future as graphic designers, but the design industry as a whole by throwing off the pricing curve.

4. Do not copy someone else’s design work

Do we really need to say more?

5. Do not use template sites for a quick and easy fix

Templates are pre-designed web sites, logos, and even brochures that have been created by businesses who make a profit selling the same half-finished work to scores of unimaginative wannabe “designers”. What is wrong with this notion? If a client can not place a value on imagination, brainstorming, creativity, market research, and actual design work, then thousands of designers would have to look for other means to make a living.
Those “designers” who do think they have gotten away with using a template, can not comprehend the consequences of their actions beyond a quick profit. What will happen if the same client found out that his or her website or corporate identity was created through unethical means? How much recurring business will these “designers” expect from a client who is now furious, because the same website and logo they paid for is being replicated for their competitors?

6. Do not work without a working agreement

A well written, executable working agreement not only protects you as a designer and minimizes the chances of unknowingly participating in speculative work, but at the same time dictates your responsibilities in black and white. Having a bulletproof agreement ensures you are getting fair compensation for your time and efforts, and eliminates any misunderstandings and legal issues which may arise from working without a mutually agreeable set of circumstances.
Discussing all your terms and fees with the client before diving into a project portrays your professionalism and business ethics, and almost always drives off those clients who would have wanted to advantage of you.

7. Do not “steal” your competitors clients

With the competitive nature of graphic design (or any business for that matter), it is one thing to market your services to expand clientele, but it is immoral and unethical to target another design firms’ clients specifically. As graphic designers, we build long lasting relationships with our clients, know their company inside and out, understand their taste, objectives, and budgetary constraints.
Designers work hard to maintain business relationships, and for a new graphic designer to contact another designers’ client and offer them a better deal without knowing the intricacies of an-already established relationship, is unacceptable and unethical business. It leads to cutting prices, and eventually cutting corners; something that does not boast well for the design industry as a whole.

8. Say ‘No” to unethical clients

Often times an unethical client relies on a young designer’s inability to turn down a paying project, and in the process takes advantage of the circumstances. Designers are encouraged to say NO at the very first sign of problems with these types of clients.
Warning signs include those who ask the designer to work for free just to gauge his or her abilities prior to making a decision about a designer; those who refuse or “forget” to sign a working agreement or do not provide a monetary down payment. Others include those who ask the designer to use templates, or stock photography without the intent to pay for them, or simply ask the designer to “borrow” photos or designs from other sources. Sometimes clients have been reported to offer bogus shares in a startup company as form of payment, even though they know the chances of those shares actually being worth something is slim to none.

9. Be fair and punctual with your paying clients

Your clients are your lifeline – which means you should always have their best interest in mind. Stand by your deliverables and timeline agreement, even go slightly above and beyond the call of duty to make sure they are more than satisfied with the results. But whatever you do, do not hold hostage an artwork which has been paid for in full, or any other unethical practices which may ruin your reputation. Ethical business and design conduct will not only win you more projects in the future, but you will gain the utmost respect in the design community.

4 stages of web site design

October 12th, 2008 by admin

Typically, web site designs evolve. In the beginning, many web site owners become enamored with “bells and whistles” that, on the surface, might appeal to their target audience. Flash movies, Java applets, animation and other rich media has become increasingly popular over the years.

However, in the rush to have the “coolest” site design, web site owners forget whom they are designing their site for: their target audience. Your audience might find that Flash movie irritating after viewing it multiple times. Your audience might not be able to find your site in the search engines. “Bells and whistles” are attributes of a web site that need to be measured and tested to see if they increase or drive away sales.

Below are the various stages of evolution web sites typically undergo:

  • Stage 1 – Style Over Substance
  • Stage 2 – Designing for Online Visibility
  • Stage 3 – Designing for Your Audience
  • Stage 4 – Site Redesign
  • Conclusion

Stage 1 – Style Over Substance

The first stage is to design a site that the CEO, venture capitalists, and ad agencies like to see. There are all types of “bells and whistles” in this design. An entire site might be a Flash site. Or there might be some beautiful JavaScript mouseover effects or drop-down menus in the design. It’s always a pretty design, but the message is clear — style over substance.

Stage 2 – Designing for Online Visibility

In Stage 2, the reality of an ineffective web design begins to hit, usually around 3-6 months after the initial launch. A site will typically get rejected by many of the major directories, not be indexed by the major search engines, or not get the traffic or sales that were projected based on the various types of marketing strategies used. Typically, that’s when companies decide that they will try to hire a professional online marketer to promote the site. Doorway page companies, in some way, shape or form, rear their ugly heads.

Unfortunately, many web site owners fall for a doorway page company’s pitch because the beautifully designed site couldn’t possibly be the problem with low site traffic. Yahoo might have rejected a site, or the site might have been listed in Yahoo and the company cannot understand why they have no description next to their company name. But in no way would many ad agencies or doorway page companies want to tell potential clients the truth — they simply did not design and write an effective web site — because it would mean losing thousands of dollars in business.

Stage 3 – Designing for Your Audience

By Stage 3, after spending an exorbitant amount of money on pretty web site designs and various marketing strategies, web site owners generally figure out that they did not design or write an effective Web site for their target audience.

Typically, web site owners will bring in a usability expert to analyze potential problems and present various solutions. Bringing in a search engine marketing expert to help with search-engine friendly design templates early in the design phase can save a company thousands of dollars in online marketing costs.

Stage 4 – Site Redesign

After careful usability and search engine visibility analyses, web site owners finally have an effective web site. A site that is written, coded and designed for user friendliness and search engine visibility generally gets the most traffic and resulting sales because it was written, programmed, and designed for end users.

Conclusion

Web sites should always be designed with your target audience in mind, not your own personal preferences. Colors have meaning. Professional designers understand the psychology of color and the use of white space to best project the image your audience wishes to see. (For example, try not to use the color red on a financial site.)

Understanding the products/services/information your target audience is searching for is paramount to designing and maintaining an effective web site. When you launch a site, you might have to make an educated guess as to what your target audience wants. After that, tools such as site statistics software and reporting from site searches tell you exactly what your visitors are looking for. Then content and marketing strategies can be adjusted accordingly.

Unless the advanced technology clearly benefits end users, do not use it on your site. If your venture capitalists or CEOs or lawyers like the site, ask if they are going to spend the thousands or millions of dollars to keep you in business. They’re not.

Your target audience who will ultimately determine the success or failure of your site.

If you have any specific questions about our web site design tips, or if you would like permission to republish this design tip on your web site or newsletter, please use our contact form or email us at suppor@branding-studio.com

7 Simple Ways to Get Repeat WebsiteTraffic

October 12th, 2008 by admin

Repeat website traffic is very important for any online business whether it’s monetized blog, e-commerce website or anything else that generates income for you. Sometimes generating an initial traffic becomes much easier than maintaining that tempo of the traffic and keep them bringing back to the website next time.

These are 7 ways I could figure out that helps to bring repeat traffic to your website or blog.

These are my favorite 7 methods to bring repeat traffic:

1. Be regular in your posts and make it look like that you follow some schedule. That automatically alarms the visitors that liked your article last time, about the time for post. Creating such schedule will not only help you grow your blog but also shows your visitors how keen you are on updating your blog

2. Make it simple for a visitor to become a regular reader by adding a link to your primary page with a “Book Mark” or “Add this site to your Favorites” script. Most of the readers keep on pulling the websites from their favorite folders. I can certainly gauge the world from my experiences here.

3. “Recommend this post or blog to a Friend” really works to attract more customers and make them repeat customers eventually. This link not only sends mail to the new users but most of the times has option to send a copy to the send himself. If I refer some article to my friend, I make sure that I keep on checking the blog for newer article to refer or just see what’s updated at my favorite blog that I referred articles from.

4. Your blog or website will make a mark on someone’s mind if it’s properly branded. When the reader think about your blog, they should be able to imagine some photo, figure, colour or logo. This will create a presence and feel for your customers and visitors that they are at your site. If you have your website’s or blog’s favicon developed using your logo, that would be great. If you check my website, it has a favicon of Colourful A B C D that says “Learn A B C D of making money online” here :) .

5. Sending unsolicited emails to your mail subscribers if the list is maintained separately! This should be the least expected thing from your for your readers. Give them options to opt out from mailing list for every mail you send to them. Be sure you honor their request and take them off the mailing list. Your readers will certainly not come back if you continue to flood their email box with mails they never wanted in their inbox.

6. Optimize the blog post pages for search engines in such a way that, the product or subject you were talking about in the blog post, if searched your blog post should be appearing in first two pages of search engine. I use this tact many times for the site bookmarks I misplaced and just remember few keywords related to that website.

7. Be excellent in the spelling and grammar used in your blog post! We had talked about this in details in past and most of the readers have found that blog post really useful that many of them started using the tools suggested by me. Use any spell check tool as mentioned in my previous post, but make sure that your post is completely spelling mistake free.

It would be exciting to know your ways to get repeat traffic.

What is specification? How it’s look like?

October 11th, 2008 by admin

Developing a site specification

The site specification is the planning team’s concise statement of core goals, values, and intent, to provide the ultimate policy direction for everything that comes next. Designing a substantial Web site is a costly and time-consuming process. When you’re up to your neck in the daily challenges of building the site, it can be surprisingly easy to forget why you are doing what you are, to lose sight of your original priorities, and to not know on any given day whether the detailed decisions you are making actually support those overall goals and objectives. A well-written site specification is a powerful daily tool for judging the effectiveness of a development effort. It provides the team with a compass to keep the development process focused on the ultimate purposes of the site. As such, it quickly becomes a daily reference point to settle disputes, to judge the potential utility of new ideas as they arise, to measure progress, and to keep the development team focused on the ultimate goals.

At minimum, a good site specification should define the content scope, budget, schedule, and technical aspects of the Web site. The best site specifications are very short and to the point, and are often just outlines or bullet lists of the major design or technical features planned. The finished site specification should contain the goals statement from the planning phase, as well as the structural details of the site.

Goals and strategies

  • What is the mission of your organization?
  • How will creating a Web site support your mission?
  • What are your two or three most important goals for the site?
  • Who is the primary audience for the Web site?
  • What do you want the audience to think or do after having visited your site?
  • What Web-related strategies will you use to achieve those goals?
  • How will you measure the success of your site?
  • How will you adequately maintain the finished site?

Production issues

  • How many pages will the site contain? What is the maximum acceptable count under this budget?
  • What special technical or functional requirements are needed?
  • What is the budget for the site?
  • What is the production schedule for the site, including intermediate milestones and dates?
  • Who are the people or vendors on the development team and what are their responsibilities?

These are big questions, and the broad conceptual issues are too often dismissed as committees push toward starting the “real work” of designing and building a Web site. However, if you cannot confidently answer all of these questions, then no amount of design or production effort can guarantee a useful result.

Avoiding “scope creep”

The site specification defines the scope of your project — that is, what and how much you need to do, the budget, and the development schedule. “Scope creep” is the most prevalent cause of Web project failures. In badly planned projects, scope creep is the gradual but inexorable process by which previously unplanned “features” are added, content and features are padded to mollify each stakeholder group, major changes in content or site structure during site construction are made, and more content or interactive functionality than you originally agreed to create is stuffed in. No single overcommitment is fatal, but the slow, steady accumulation of additions and changes is often enough to blow budgets, ruin schedules, and bury what might have been an elegant original plan under megabytes of muddle and confusion.

Don’t leap into building a Web site before you understand what you want to accomplish and before you have developed a solid and realistic site specification for creating your Web site. The more carefully you plan, the better off you will be when you begin to build your site.

One excellent way to keep a tight rein on the overall scope of the site content is to specify a maximum page count in the site specification. Although a page count is hardly infallible as a guide (after all, Web pages can be arbitrarily long), it serves as a constant reminder to everyone involved of the project’s intended scope. If the page count goes up, make it a rule to revisit the budget implications automatically — the cold realities of budgets and schedules will often cool the enthusiasm to stuff in “just one more page.” A good way to keep a lid on scope creep is to treat the page count as a “zero sum game.” If someone wants to add pages, it’s up to them to nominate other pages to remove or to obtain a corresponding increase in the budget and schedule to account for the increased work involved.

Changes and refinements can be a good thing, as long as everyone is realistic about the impact of potential changes on the budget and schedule of a project. Any substantial change to the planned content, design, or technical aspects of a site must be tightly coupled with a revision of the budget and schedule of the project. People are often reluctant to discuss budgets or deadlines frankly and will often agree to substantial changes or additions to a development plan rather than face an awkward conversation with a client or fellow team member. But this acquiescence merely postpones the inevitable damage of not dealing with scope changes rationally.

The firm integration of schedule, budget, and scope is the only way to keep a Web project from becoming unhinged from the real constraints of time, money, and the ultimate quality of the result. A little bravery and honesty up front can save you much grief later. Make the plan carefully, and then stick to it.

Do you want build your website? What do i need to do for star my online project ? First steps …

October 11th, 2008 by admin

Planning

Web sites are developed by groups of people to meet the needs of other groups of people. Unfortunately, Web projects are often approached as a “technology problem,” and projects are colored from the beginning by enthusiasms for particular Web techniques or browser plug-ins (Flash, digital media, XML, databases, etc.), not by real human or business needs. People are the key to successful Web projects. To create a substantial site you’ll need content experts, writers, information architects, graphic designers, technical experts, and a producer or committee chair responsible for seeing the project to completion. If your site is successful it will have to be genuinely useful to your target audience, meeting their needs and expectations without being too hard to use.

Although the people who will actually use your site will determine whether the project is a success, ironically, those very users are the people least likely to be present and involved when your site is designed and built. Remember that the site development team should always function as an active, committed advocate for the users and their needs. Experienced committee warriors may be skeptical here: these are fine sentiments, but can you really do this in the face of management pressures, budget limitations, and divergent stakeholder interests? Yes, you can — because you have no choice if you really want your Web project to succeed. If you listen only to management directives, keep the process sealed tightly within your development team, and dictate to imagined users what the team imagines is best for them, be prepared for failure. Involve real users, listen and respond to what they say, test your designs with them, and keep the site easy to use, and the project will be a success.

What are your goals?

A short statement identifying two or three goals should be the foundation of your Web site design. The statement should include specific strategies around which the Web site will be designed, how long the site design, construction, and evaluation periods will be, and specific quantitative and qualitative measures of how the success of the site will be evaluated. Building a Web site is an ongoing process, not a one-time project with static content. Long-term editorial management and technical maintenance must be covered in your budget and production plans for the site. Without this perspective your electronic publication will suffer the same fate as many corporate communications initiatives — an enthusiastic start without lasting accomplishments.

Know your audience

The next step is to identify the potential readers of your Web site so that you can structure the site design to meet their needs and expectations. The knowledge, background, interests, and needs of users will vary from tentative novices who need a carefully structured introduction to expert “power users” who may chafe at anything that seems to patronize them or delay their access to information. A well-designed system should be able to accommodate a range of users’ skills and interests. For example, if the goal of your Web site is to deliver internal corporate information, human resources documents, or other information formerly published in paper manuals, your audience will range from those who will visit the site many times every day to those who refer only occasionally to the site.

Design critiques

Each member of a site development team will bring different goals, preferences, and skills to the project. Once the team has reached agreement on the mission and goals of the project, consensus on the overall design approach for the Web site needs to be established. The goal at this stage is to identify potential successful models in other Web sites and to begin to see the design problem from the site user’s point of view.

Unfortunately, production teams rarely include members of the target audience for the Web site. And it is often difficult for team members who are not already experienced site designers to articulate their specific preferences, except in reference to existing sites. Group critiques are a great way to explore what makes a Web site successful, because everyone on the team sees each site from a user’s point of view. Have each team member bring a list of a few favorite sites to the critique, and ask them to introduce their sites and comment on the successful elements of each design. In this way you will learn one another’s design sensibilities and begin to build consensus on the experience that your audience will have when they visit the finished site.

Content inventory

Once you have an idea of your Web site’s mission and general structure, you can begin to assess the content you will need to realize your plans. Building an inventory or database of existing and needed content will force you to take a hard look at your existing content resources and to make a detailed outline of your needs. Once you know where you are short on content you can concentrate on those deficits and avoid wasting time on areas with existing resources that are ready to use. A clear grasp of your needs will also help you develop a realistic schedule and budget for the project. Content development is the hardest, most time-consuming part of any Web site development project. Starting early with a firm plan in hand will help ensure that you won’t be caught later with a well-structured but empty Web site.

What is .htaccess and how is it being used?

October 9th, 2008 by admin

What is .htaccess and how is it being used?

An .htaccess file is a simple ASCII file similar to that created through text editor such as Notepad or Simple Text. Most people are confused with the naming convention for the file. The term .htaccess is not a file .htaccess or somepage.htaccess because it is the file extension simply named as such. Its widely known use is related to implementing custom error page or password protected directories.

Creating the File

The creation of the file is done by opening up a text editor and saving an empty page as .htaccess. If it is not allowed to save an empty page, simply type in one character. An editor probably appends its default file extension to the name. Notepad for one would call the file .htaccess.txt but the .txt or other file extension need to be removed to enable the user to start “htaccessing”. This can be done by clicking the file and renaming it by removing anything that doesn’t say .htaccess. It can also be renamed via telnet or the ftp program.

These files must not be uploaded as binary but rather as ASCII mode. Users can CHMOP the .htaccess file to 644 to make the file usable by the server while preventing it from being read by a browser since this can seriously compromise security. When there are passwords protected directories and a browser can read the .htaccess file, the location of the authentication file can be acquired to reverse engineer the list and thereby completely access any portion that had previously been protected. This can be prevented by either placing all authentication files above root directory thereby rendering the www inaccessible or through an .htaccess series of commands that prevents itself from being accessed by a browser.

Most commands in .htaccess are meant to be placed on one line only thus if a text editor uses word wrap, it should be disabled as it is possible that it might throw in a few characters that might contradict Apache. .htaccess is not for NT servers and is considered an Apache thing. Apache is generally very tolerant of malformed content in an .htaccess file.

The directory in which .htaccess file is placed is “affected” as well as all sub-directories. It a user wishes not to have certain .htaccess commands affect a specific directory, this is done by placing a new .htaccess file within the directory that should not be affected with certain changes and removing the specific command/s. from the new .htaccess file which should not affect the directory. The nearest .htaccess file to the current directory is the one considered as the .htaccess file. A global .htaccess located in the root, if considered the nearest, affects every single directory in the entire site.

Placement of .htaccess should not be done indiscriminately as this may result to redundancy and may cause an infinite loop of redirects or errors. There are sites that do not allow the use of .htaccess files because a server overloaded with domains can be slowed down when all are using .htaccess files. It is possible that .htaccess can compromise a server configuration specifically set-up by the administrator. It is therefore necessary to make sure that the use of .htaccess is allowed before its actual use.

Error documents are only a part of the general use of .htaccess. Specifying one’s own customized error documents will require a command within the .htaccess file. The pages can be named anything and can be placed anywhere within the site as long as they are web-accessible through a URL. The best names are those that would prevent the user from forgetting what the page is being used for.

Password protection is effectively dealt with by .htaccess. By creating a file called .htpasswd, username and the encrypted password of the people to be allowed access are placed in the .htpasswd file. The .htpasswd file should likewise be not uploaded to a directory that is web accessible for maximum security.

Whole directories of a site can be redirected using the .htaccess file without the need to specify each file. Thus any request made for an old site will be redirected to the new site, with the extra information in the URL added on. This is a very powerful feature when used correctly.

Aside from custom error pages, password protecting folders and automatic redirection of users, .htaccess is also capable of changing file extension, banning users with extra certain IP address allowing only users with certain IP addresses, stopping directory listing and using a different file as the index file. Accessing a site that has been protected by .htaccess will require a browser to pop-up a standard username/password display box. However, there are certain scripts available which will allow the user to embed a username/password box in a website to do the authentication. The wide variety of uses of .htaccess facilitates time saving options and increased security in a website.

Many hosts support .htaccess but do not publicize it while many others have the capability for it but do not allow their users to have an .htaccess file. Generally, a server that runs UNIX or any version of the Apache web server will support .htaccess although the host may not allow its use.

When to Use .htaccess Files

The .htaccess files should not be used when there is no access to the main server configuration file. Contrary to common belief, user authentication is not always done in .htaccess files. The preferred way is to put user authentication configuration in the main server configuration.

It should be used in situations where the content provider needs to make configuration changes to the server on a per-directory basis but does not have root access on the server system. Individual users can be permitted to make these changes in .htaccess files for themselves if the server administrator is unwilling to make frequent configuration. As a general rule, the use of .htaccess should be avoided when possible since configuration can be effectively made in a Directory Section in the main server configuration file.

Two main factors warrant avoiding the use of .htaccess files – performance and security. Permitting .htaccess files causes a performance hit whether or not it is actually used, since Apache will look in every directory for such file. The .htaccess file is also looked into every time a document is requested. The Apache search will include .htaccess files in all higher-level directories to have a full complement of directories of application. As such, each file accessed out of the directory results to 4 additional file system accesses even if none was originally present.

The use of .htaccess permits users to modify server configuration which may produce uncontrolled changes. This privilege should be carefully considered before it is given to users. The use of the .htaccess files can be completely disabled by setting the Allow Overide directive to none.

Here  is few examples of .htaccess

Custom Error Pages

The first use of the .htaccess file which I will cover is custom error pages. These will allow you to have your own, personal error pages (for example when a file is not found) instead of using your host’s error pages or having no page. This will make your site seem much more professional in the unlikely event of an error. It will also allow you to create scripts to notify you if there is an error (for example I use a PHP script on Free Webmaster Help to automatically e-mail me when a page is not found).

You can use custom error pages for any error as long as you know its number (like 404 for page not found) by adding the following to your .htaccess file:

ErrorDocument errornumber /file.html

For example if I had the file notfound.html in the root direct
ory of my site and I wanted to use it for a 404 error I would use:

ErrorDocument 404 /notfound.html

If the file is not in the root directory of your site, you just need to put the path to it:

ErrorDocument 500 /errorpages/500.html

These are some of the most common errors:

401 – Authorization Required
400 – Bad request
403 – Forbidden
500 – Internal Server Error
404 – Wrong page

example :

ErrorDocument 404 http://htaccess.net.ru/error/404.htm

ErrorDocument 403 http://htaccess.net.ru/error/403.htm

ErrorDocument 400 http://htaccess.net.ru/error/400.htm

ErrorDocument 500 http://htaccess.net.ru/error/500.htm

Redirect non-https requests to https server fixing double-login problem and ensuring that htpasswd authorization can only be entered using HTTPS
Additional https/ssl information and Apache SSL in htaccess examples

SSLOptions +StrictRequire
SSLRequireSSL
SSLRequire %{HTTP_HOST} eq "google.com"
ErrorDocument 403 https://google.com
Redirecting YourSite.com to www.YourSite.com
If search engines find both www and non-www links from other sites to your site, they may treat http://YourSite.com and http://www.YourSite.com as two different websites with the same content. This means that your site can be penalized for duplicate content.

Many experts recommend to set up a 301 redirect (permanent redirect) from YourSite.com to www.YourSite.com…

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^YourSite\.com [nc]
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.YourSite.com/$1 [R=301,L]

Replace “YourSite.com” with your real domain name.
Preventing directory listing
Typically servers are setup to prevent directory listing, but often they aren’t. If you have a directory full of downloads or images that you don’t want people to be able to browse through, add the following line to your .htaccess file…

IndexIgnore *

The * matches all files. If, for example, you want to prevent only listing of images, use…

IndexIgnore *.gif *.jpg
Protecting your bandwidth
“Bandwidth stealing,” also known as “hot linking,” is linking directly to non-html objects on another server, such as images, electronic books etc. The most common practice of hot linking pertains to another site’s images.

To disallow hot linking on your server, create the following .htaccess file and upload it to the folder that contains the images you wish to protect…

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(www\.)?YourSite\.com/.*$ [NC]
RewriteRule \.(gif|jpg)$ – [F]

Replace “YourSite.com” with your own. The above code causes a broken image to be displayed when it’s hot linked. If you’d like to display an alternate image in place of the hot linked one, replace the last line with…

RewriteRule \.(gif|jpg)$ http://www.YourSite.com/stop.gif [R,L]

Replace “YourSite.com” and stop.gif with your real names.

Then, all you need to do is to create a file to display when the error happens and upload it and the .htaccess file.

SEO ? Ya Guide SEO for Designers ;)

October 8th, 2008 by admin

According to a poll I conducted, just over 1 out of 10 people don’t think SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is mandatory as a designer; and what really surprised me is about 24% don’t even know what SEO is! If you’re among the quarter of people who don’t know what SEO is or understand how it can help you, you should really read this article. This is an SEO guide for designers who want to learn about making it easier for websites or blogs to be found by search engines. I’ll explain the common mistakes made by designers and developers. Then I’ll provide some basic tips that you should be practicing to optimize your site for search engines.

Why Should You Learn About SEO?

  • SEO isn’t only for online marketers. As a web designer or frontend developer, most on-site SEO is your responsibility.
  • If your site is not search engine friendly, you might be losing a lot of traffic that you’re not even aware of. Remember, besides visitors typing in “www.yourwebsite.com” and backlink referrals; search engines are the only way people can find your site.
  • There are many benefits of getting a high ranking site. Let’s use Branding-Studio.com for example. I have, on average, about 14,000 visitors a day. About 40 – 45% of that traffic comes from search engines (about 6000+ referrals a day). Imagine, without search engine referrals, I would be losing thousands of visitors everyday. That means, I’m risking losing potential clients too.
  • SEO is also a value-added service. As a web designer/developer you can sell your SEO skills as an extended service.

The Basics: How Search Engines Work?

First, let’s look at how crawler-based search engines work (both Google and Yahoo fall in this category). Each search engine has its own automated program called a “web spider” or “web crawler” that crawls the web. The main purpose of the spider is to crawl web pages, read and collect the content, and follow the links (both internal and external). The spider then deposits the information collected into the search engine’s database called the index.

When searchers enter a query in the search box of a search engine, the search engine’s job is to find the most relevant results to the query by matching the search query to the information in its index.

What makes or breaks a search engine is how well it answers your question when you perform a search. That’s based on what’s called the search engine algorithm which is basically a bunch of factors that the search engine uses to say “hey is this page RELEVANT or NOT?”. The higher your page ranks for these factors (yes some factors are more important than others) than the higher your page will get displayed in the search engine result pages.

Your Job As a Search Engine Optimizer

Each search engine has its own algorithm in ranking web pages. Understanding the general factors that influence the algorithm can affect your search result position, and this is what SEO experts are hired for. An SEO’s job has two aspects: On-Site and Off-Site.

On-Site SEO: are the things that you can do on your site, such as: HTML markups, target keywords, internal linking, site structure, etc.

Off-Site SEO: are the things that you have much less control of, such as: how many backlinks you get and how people link to your site.

This is a guide for designers and developers. The main concern is the On-Site aspects. Secretly though, if you do your job right… and design a beautiful site… and/or produce useful content… you’ll get Off-Site backlinks and social bookmarks without even lifting a finger.

Top 9 SEO Mistakes Made by Designers and Developers

1. Splash Page

I’ve seen this mistake many times where people put up just a big banner image and a link “Click here to enter” on their homepage. The worst case — the “enter” link is embedded in the Flash object, which makes it impossible for the spiders to follow the link.

This is fine if you don’t care about what a search engine knows about your site; otherwise, you’re making a BIG mistake. Your homepage is probably your website’s highest ranking page and gets crawled frequently by web spiders. Your internal pages will not appear in the search engine index without the proper linking structure to internal pages for the spider to follow.

Your homepage should include (at minimum) target keywords and links to important pages.

2. Non-spiderable Flash Menus

Many designers make this mistake by using Flash menus such as those fade-in and animated menus. They might look cool to you but they can’t be seen by the search engines; and thus the links in the Flash menu will not be followed.

3. Image and Flash Content

Web spiders are like a text-based browser, they can’t read the text embedded in the graphic image or Flash. Most designers make this mistake by embedding the important content (such as target keywords) in Flash and image.

4. Overuse of Ajax

A lot of developers are trying to impress their visitor by implementing massive Ajax features (particularly for navigation purposes), but did you know that it is a big SEO mistake? Because Ajax content is loaded dynamically, so it is not spiderable or indexable by search engines.

Another disadvantage of Ajax — since the address URL doesn’t reload, your visitor can not send the current page to their friends.

5. Versioning of Theme Design

For some reason, some designers love to version their theme design into sub level folders (ie. domain.com/v2, v3, v4) and redirect to the new folder. Constantly changing the main root location may cause you to lose backlink counts and ranking.

6. “Click Here” Link Anchor Text

You probably see this a lot where people use “Click here” or “Learn more” as the linking text. This is great if you want to be ranked high for “Click Here”. But if you want to tell the search engine that your page is important for a topic, than use that topic/keyword in your link anchor text. It’s much more descriptive (and relevant) to say “learn more about {keyword topic}”

Warning: Don’t use the EXACT same anchor text everywhere on your website. This can sometimes be seen as search engine spam too.

7. Common Title Tag Mistakes

Same or similar title text:
Every page on your site should have a unique <title> tag with the target keywords in it. Many developers make the mistake of having the same or similar title tags throughout the entire site. That’s like telling the search engine that EVERY page on your site refers to the same topic and one isn’t any more unique than the other.

One good example of bad Title Tag use would be the default WordPress theme. In case you didn’t know, the title tag of the default WordPress theme isn’t
that useful: Site Name > Blog Archive > Post Title. Why isn’t this search engine friendly? Because every single blog post will have the same text “Site Name > Blog Archive >” at the beginning of the title tag. If you really want to include the site name in the title tag, it
should be at the end: Post Title | Site Name.

Exceeding the 65 character limit:
Many bloggers write very long post titles. So what? In search engine result pages, your title tag is used as the link heading. You have about 65 characters (including
spaces) to get your message across or risk it getting cutoff.

Keyword stuffing the title:
Another common mistake people tend to make is overfilling the title tag with keywords. Saying the same thing 3 times doesn’t make you more relevant. Keyword stuffing in the Title Tag is looked at as search engine spam (not good). But it might be smart to repeat the same word in different ways:

    “Photo Tips & Photography Techniques for Great Pictures”

“Photo” and “Photography” are the same word repeated twice but in different ways because your audience might use either one when performing a search query.

8. Empty Image Alt Attribute

You should always describe your image in the alt attribute. The alt attribute is what describes your image to a blind web user. Guess what? Search engines can’t see images so your alt attribute is a factor in illustrating what your page is relevant for.

Hint: Properly describing your images can help your ranking in the image search results. For example, Google image search brings me hundreds of referrals everyday for the search terms “abstract” and “dj“.

9. Unfriendly URLs

Most blog or CMS platforms have a friendly URL feature built-in, however, not every blogger is taking advantage of this. Friendly URL’s are good for both your human audience and the search engines. The URL is also an important spot where your keywords should appear.

Example of Friendly URL: domain.com/page-title
Example of Dynamic URL: domain.com/?p=12356

General SEO Do’s and Don’ts

Let me tell you WHAT TO DO by telling you WHAT NOT TO DO:

Don’t Ignore Your Audience

Write about topics your audience cares about. Like what? Find out, by conducting a poll (like I did), scan some relevant bulletin boards or forums, look for common topics in customer emails, or do some keyword research. There are great free keyword tools like the Google Keyword Tool or SEO Book’s Keyword Tool and loads more. The plan is not to spend your life doing keyword research but just to get a general idea of what your visitors are interested in.

Don’t Be Dense About Keyword Density

Once you have a topic for readers; help search engines find it. Keyword Density is the number of times a keyword appears in a page compared to the total number of words. You want to make sure your keywords are included in the crucial areas:

  • the Title Tag
  • the Page URL (friendly URL)
  • the Main Heading (H1 or H2)
  • the first paragraph of content.
  • at least 3 times in the body content (more or less depending on amount of content and if and only if it makes sense).

Most people aim for a keyword density of 2% (i.e. use the keyword 2 times for every 100 words). But what if your keyword phrase is “SEO for Web Designers and Web Developers” how many times can you repeat that before it sounds just plain unnatural? Write for your readers not for search engines. If you follow the tips
in this article you’ll be writing naturally for your readers; which works for the search engines too.

Warning: Do not over fill your page with the same keywords or you might be penalized by search engines for keyword stuffing.

Don’t Ignore Relatives

In this article, it makes sense to mention topics like “keyword research”, “search engine crawlers” and “title tag use”, but what if I mentioned a highly trafficked term like “cell phone plans”… kind of out of context right? So use other keywords and topics that make sense to your audience, the search engine measures keyword relations to determine relevancy too.

  • Cars and Tires (yes)
  • Web Design and Flying Monkeys (no…well sometimes)

Don’t Be Afraid of Internal Linking

Do you want the search engine to see every page on your website? Help the search engine spider do its job. There should be a page (like a sitemap or
blog archives) that links to all the pages on your site.

Tip: You can promote the more important pages by inserting text links within body content. Make sure you use relevant linking text and avoid using “click here” (as mentioned earlier).

Don’t Ignore Broken Links

You should always search for and fix the broken links on your site. If you’ve removed a page or section, you can use the robot.txt to prevent the spiders crawling and indexing the broken links. If you have moved a page or your entire website, you can use the 301 .htaccess to redirect to a new URL.

Tips: You can use the Google Webmaster Tool to find broken links and your 404 Not Found errors.

Don’t Be Inconsistent With Your Domain URL

To search engines, a www and a non-www URL are considered two different URLs. You should always keep your domain and URL structure consistent. If you start promoting your site without the “www”, stick with it.

Don’t Be Scared of Semantic Coding

Semantic and standard coding not only can make your site cleaner, but it also allows the search engines to read your page better.

Search Result Position

Coding and setting up your site to be SEO friendly can improve how well a search engine can access your website, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll end up at the top of the search engine result page (SERP). There are many factors in determining the search result position, but here are the basics:

PageRank

Some professional SEO’s pay attention to Google’s PageRank and some don’t. In my experience it doesn’t hurt to have a high Google PageRank. It’s a nice little benchmark to let you know how important Google sees your web page as. You can improve your PageRank by following the tips above and building-up quality backlinks. If you want to learn how PageRank works, we  have a very good article look at our next post.

Domain Age Before Beauty

You might be surprised to learn that domain age is also a factor in the search engine algorithm. Older domains have a history, and their content is looked at as more credible than the website that got started last week. Older domains sometimes get the edge in search results.

Be Patient

You may have done every single thing right., but your site is still not showing up in the search engines for your target keywords. Why? Because everything takes time. It takes time for the search engines to index and rank your site (especially for new domains). So, be patient.

Another reason — it could be the keywords that you’re trying to target are very competitive. Try altering the keywords on the page and you may have different results. Remember, you are competing with millions of web pages on the internet.

Resources to Help You Go Farther

Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools allow you check the crawl statistics of your site. If you haven’t been using this great tool yet, login to the Google Webmaster Tools, then add and verify your site.

After you’ve verified your site, you can find out:

  • When was the last time Googlebot crawled your site
  • HTTP errors
  • 404 Not Found errors
  • External link counts
  • What keywords people are using to link to your site
  • What are the top search queries to your site
  • And more.

Free SEO Tools

Here are some online SEO tools that you can use to check your PageRank, Link Popularity, Search Engine Position, Keyword Density, etc.

SEO Resources

Here are some external links where you can learn more about SEO:

P.S. i hope this little post helped you   Branding-Studio.com .

Portfolio Sites – how it’s look like :?

October 6th, 2008 by admin

Are you looking for ideas to design a portfolio site? Maybe all you need is a single-page site? Single-page design works if you don’t have much content, but just want to showcase your work. It can save time and cost because you don’t need to build the CMS and templates. In other words, it’s perfect for the non-coders. Here are some single-page portfolio sites with exceptional design and implementation. Hopefully, they can give you some inspiration.

TapTapTap

A creative way to layout and display the iPhone app information — all on one page.
web design Branding - Studio.com

Paolo Boccardi Photographer

The thumbnail tooltip combined with the horizontal scrolling is the perfect match.
web design Branding - Studio.com

Portfolio of Brad Candullo

web design Branding - Studio.com

Kinoz

web design Branding - Studio.com

Stoodeo

Nice header illustration!
web design Branding - Studio.com

Puneet Sakhuja

web design Branding - Studio.com

Sroown

web design Branding - Studio.com