Category Archives: Uncategorized

Free SEO Report for Local Businesses

Anyone that knows me knows that I am passionate about Waterford and I’d like to see local businesses doing well, especially online. If businesses are doing well it creates employment and these employees, through spending monely locally, will create more business and so on. It’s in all of our interests to support each other in a tough recession.  The way I see it is that if we create a rising tide, all the boats will be bouyed up (pardon the unintended Waterford pun) and that’s the way we need to think going forward.  OK, enough of the blue skies…

I’m offering an essential search engine optimisation report (worth €200+VAT) to any local business that would like to know if their website can be improved. It will look at your website titles, headings, descriptions, keywords and make some recommendations to you on things you can do to quickly up your ranking on google for keywords related to your business. It will tell you if your site is structured well and is adhering to web standards.

This report will get straight to the point and will highlight problem areas in plain english.  It will not be an exhaustive report but it will allow you to address the major issues and as SEO is a bit like the 80/20 rule so you can fix the bulk of the issues in a minimal amount of time.

To qualify for this report simply like us on facebook or follow us on twitter and email cian@utdwebdesign.com with your web address and the subject FREE SEO REPORT OFFER.

Terms
Offer ends 25th March 2012.
Limited to first fifty applicants on first come first served basis.

Google Project Glass, Taking Augmented Reality to the Next Level?

My first experience of Augmented reality was with my kids 3Ds about 18 month ago now. The screen on the 3Ds is stereoscopic and gives a sense of depth to the scene. So when I was able to play a game shooting a dragon that emerged from my coffee table my world was rocked. OK the graphics were not as crisp as they could be and the 3D effects were a bit jittery at times, but the concept was realised and a world of opportunities flowed through my brain.

Of course now on iPhone and Android phones you have apps that allow you to view augmented reality information through the app such as overlaying map information on buildings as you walk down a street or using QR codes to watch a 3D version of a product hovering over a newspaper ad.

So now you have Google creating the Google Project Glass which integrates a heads up display and camera with augmented reality and their social network Google+. I hope they are considering creating a stereoscopic version of the technology where icons appear in the distance.

Here’s a video of project glass’ possibilities:

My vision of the future requires linking up the above and one other technology…

A few years ago XBOX 360 had launched their kinect technology, which allows users to control games and apps via gestures that the console understands.  When playing the Kinect you feel a bit like a magician waving your hand and making stuff happen. Pretty cool. This technology is coming to a PC near you soon with Leap Technology. This will allow you control your PC through gestures a la minority report. The device will be relatively inexpensive (probably around €70).

Imagine a future where all of this technology is merged together.  OK I can see leap being used on small 3d enabled displays like iPhone and Samsung Galaxy where icons pop out of the screen and the leap technology allows you to scroll through menus etc. by brushing your hand past the icons hovering out of the screen in the foreground.  Where you can pull and push objects in and out of the foreground/background such as photos, videos etc.  but lets take this one step further.

Imagine a future where you wear a 3D heads up display where the glasses can render any object in perfect 3D anywhere within the environment in front of you.  Imagine sounds can be overlaid in a similar fashion via headphones.  Imagine that you can interact with these objects through voice commands and that leap technology can see what your hands are doing and react via the application accordingly.

What kind of applications could you build?

  1. Mapping, imagine being lead to your location around a city by an arrow, or something cooler, a 3D person saying follow me, or a bird, or bee or UFO.  This could appear in front of your car on on the footpath in front of you if a pedestrian.   Imagine being up a mountain or in desert terrain, the device could show you the quickest and safest route to your destination. On the way your gestures could bring up information on a building or area.
  2. Sports: If cycling, jogging, racing you could race against your previous self to try and improve your time or see what you’re doing wrong.  You could see a ghost of yourself represented as an object and you would see it exactly as it was the day previous as you look around so you could check road position, heart rate etc. etc. See how far in front or behind you were previously at your best. Imagine the implications for athletes.
  3. Gaming: This for me will be the driver I feel.  Imagine being in the middle of your local park or woods and all of a sudden zombies start appearing from behind trees trying to come and ‘eat your brain.’ Zombies would be coming at you from all angles but no fear using gestures you could switch to a shot gun which you will be able to see in your hands and start shooting them, the gun shooting where you are currently looking as you gesture with your hands to shoot. The possibilities are endless here.
  4. Movies. You could be in the middle of a scene where a terminator is chasing John Connor and you are caught in the cross fire, or the Alien in aliens could hiss in your face as it runs past to attack one of the movie cast.

The possibilities are endless, perhaps you could share some of your ideas via comments in the comments box below.

About the Author: Cian Foley is a Software Engineer based in Waterford Ireland.  Cian spent almost 10 years working for WITs research facility the TSSG conceiving and working on cutting edge Irish and EU projects.  He currently runs UTD Web Design creating web platforms and mobile web sites for his customers.

Barry Walsh Financial Services

UTD Web Design has just launched the new Barry Walsh Financial Services Website: http://www.bwfs.ie

Barry Walsh Financial Services

The site was designed by one of our professional designers and takes into account the concept of the rising values of pensions and investments.

Here are some of the things we implemented on the site:

  1. Integrated with calculators from financial institution
  2. Implemented tidy testimonials section using jquery
  3. Photographed Barry
  4. Implemented prominent call to action and contact form
  5. Installed analytics
  6. Installed Facebook Open Graph Tags so that page can be liked/recommended on facebook

Here is what Barry Walsh said about our service:

“I would like to say that I am thrilled with the outcome. I think you have helped me create the BEST financial website out there, simple, snappy but the best”

On a side note, I actually changed my life assurance policy to Barry and I have to say that he really broke down the cover that my wife and I needed and we now have a much more sensible policy for the same price.

 

What is drop box and how does it work?

We’re currently working with a client in France on a very image heavy website. To share images traditionally would mean the client would need to package up images in a zip file or send them over multiple emails.

Another way the client might have sent them traditionally would be on a CD or usb drive to send over lots of images.

Drop box changes all that and it is so simple and intuitive to use that anybody can use it once it’s installed.

Drop box allows you to share a folder (and the files within) on your computer with anybody in the world.

Basically you sign up to drop box and download the drop box application to your computer. Once it’s installed, it creates a drop box folder under your user folder. It integrates with windows explorer so you can share folders with other through bringing up the context menu on a right click.

To share a folder is simple, right click it, go to drop box menu item and click share this folder. This will bring you straight to the drop box website where you can share the folder by entering the email address of the person you wish to share it with. Simples.

I’ve used it so far to share files with my accountant, clients, co-workers, family and friends.

Dropbox is here to stay and the best part is, it’s free (well it’s free up to a folder size of 2GB and you get 250mb more for each additional person you recommend to the system, dropbox’s viral marketing mechanism).

Top Website Design Considerations

When designing / developing a site, too often the technical details are given all the focus instead of stepping back and telling the wood from the trees.
Here are some top design considerations when building a website:
  • Every page is a landing page, so it should be branded and formatted consistently
  • Make sure the brand targets the intended audience (e.g. don’t use shocking pink for corporate site)
  • Images such as jpegs etc. should be crisp, nothing gives off a sense of amateurism more than poor image quality
  • Avoid Animation / Flash, not only is it distracting, it does not work on iphones, if you have to animate maybe you could try jquery image transitions. If you absolutely need flash, limit it to specific sections of the site.
  • Readable Font / Width / Contrast: it’s important that your pages are readable, your fon therefore should be legible, paragraph widths should not be too wide and the contrast should be good (black on white)
  • Make use of Whitespace – don’t be afraid of space, whitespace gives a sense of order, try align elements together to an invisible grid where possible
  • Easy to navigate (nothing should be more than 2-3 clicks away)
  • Good content organisation – content should tell story, beginning middle and end and put your key message at the top for speed readers.
  • Put contact details on every page – a basic oversight, users can enter your site from a any page, make sure contact details are there, you might only have 1 shot for the business.
  • Highlight your call to action (use colour such as red for apply buttons etc.)
  • Use a subtle background (backgrounds can make a site but keep them subtle)
  • Make sure the site works on various screen sizes, try on large and small screens, avoid horizontal scrolling at all costs
  • Make sure your site works on ALL major browsers, make sure that your site works on the important browsers (IE, Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome)

This is just a snapshot of the kind of things that should be considered when designing a website. Best of luck.

Clustered Web Hosting Solution

I’ve worked with several hosting companies in Ireland and the UK and none have impressed me as much as TSO Host to date.

clustered web hosting solution

If you want to work with an Irish company then I have great time for Blacknight.  But if you’re looking for a shared hosting solution that is scalable, fast and has a well thought out hosting control panel then I would definitely recommend TSO’s clustered hosting package at £19.99 per month (or £199.99 per year).

The advantages:

  1. Shared hosting price, but when you need performance it can handle significant traffic.
  2. The control panel allows you to create individual hosting accounts for each website you have, this is advantageous because when you’re updating a site through FTP there is no danger of overwriting other files. It also allows you to give out ftp details to clients without any fiddly configuration.
  3. A temorary domain is created for each website.  This has been excellent for me, some scripts rely of absolute paths and on some shared hosting accounts the root path is a few directories down from the domain, with tso, your temporary domain root is the same as if the site were live.
  4. Automatic database back ups.  This for me is really handy. If you create a database, TSO will automatically dump backups into a backup folder for you.
  5. You can resell hosting.  For webmasters this is a great feature allowing you to create sub accounts off the main hosting account.

There’s also a nifty affiliate programme too whereby anyone with a website can add a banner such as the following and earn a commission, like so 😉

clustered web hosting solution

Top 5 SEO Tips for 2011

Here are my top 5 SEO tips for 2011.

  1. Get a Clear Picture: The very first thing anyone performing SEO should do is get a clear picture of the current situation. The best way to do this is by installing Google Analytics.  After running Analytics for a month you will see some patterns emerging and you can determine how much traffic is coming from search engines.
  2. Filter out seasonal trends: There’s no way you can identify gains and losses unless you figure out the seasonal trends.  You can use a tool such as google trends to do this if you do not have your own data.
  3. Find Opportunities: As with any marketing exercise you need to determine if there is a market.  You need to identify the key phrases that people will use to find your site, but there’s no point in doing this if there is huge competition.  Find the best keyphrase volume you can that has poor returns on the search results page and target that.
  4. Apply Research Effectively: Once you have the keyphrases identified using tip 3, apply the keyphrase to your site naturally in key areas such as titles, headings, links and body text. Don’t over do it. Find out how many times your competitors use it. As always it is no harm to build links to pages.
  5. Measure Results: Using analytics, measure how many hits these keyphrases are generating for you as a percentage against your search engine results position. Tweak your page slightly each month to see if it positively or negatively affects your position. Link building may also affect your position positive and should be an ongoing task.

That’s it.  The basics are simple enough, do them right and you can’t go too far wrong.  It’s that final 20% that’s the most painstaking and most difficult.  Keep at it and you will get ahead of most of your competitors within a realistic time frame.

Make Submit Button an Image (HTML FORM)

Often you might want to replace the standard sumbit button on a html form with an image.

This is a very simple thing to do.

Instead of:

<input name="submit" type="submit" value="submit" />

insert:

<input alt="Search Button" src="image.jpg" type="image" />

Here is an example of such a form:

<form method="POST">
<input name="searchtext" type="text" />
<input alt="Search Button" src="search.jpg" type="image" />
</form>

Why should I advertise on Facebook as opposed to Google?

Short answer is everyone is on Facebook (or at least knows several people who use Facebook) and you can target individuals more specifically than you can with Google.

For example, if you are a company that sells anything to do with weddings be it flowers, dresses, cakes, invitations etc. and your business is located in Waterford, Ireland, you can target all the females within 50 miles of Waterford, who are engaged or in a relationship and get them to join your company facebook page.

If you are selling GAA merchandise you could target all the people from a certain towns and who have an interest in GAA.

In fact most businesses can get access to their target market very easily through a few simple clicks.  What’s more Facebook approximates how many people you will potentially advertise to based on your criteria selection. You can also target by gender, age and interests etc., you can even target by work place (if users have that set, unfortunately most users don’t set that field).

You can also get a bit more advanced with it and only advertise to friends of people who are currently subscribed to your page, or exclude people who are in certain groups or pages already.

The beauty of it is that once you have someone on your page you can repeat advertise to them for free :-) and what’s more their friends will see your messages via page updates on their profile. This is the beauty of Facebook advertising i.e. your money doesn’t stop working for you once the user clicks like on your ad.

Google ads has it’s own advantages, generally when people search online they search in surf mode, comparison mode and buy mode through the use of keywords and phrases.  You can get people coming to your site looking to purchase your goods if you get the key phrases right and not only will your ads appear on Google’s search results page it will also appear on other webmasters sites whose page topic matches the advert in terms of keywords and phrases.

The problem with Google is that you cannot focus in as specifically as with faceboook and you only get 1 shot at selling something based on the money you spend on a click.

So depending on your business Facebook could be an ideal way to capture your market and you can grow from there.