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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Yahoo!’s Domainapalooza

Yahoo has decided to release some of its premium domain names to the public through an auction at Sedo…
Yahoo!’s Domainapalooza  (link updated 11/16/2013)
This premium domain name portfolio auction started today, November 14th, and runs through November 21st, 2013.  It is an impressive collection of some premium domain names, that is for sure.  Although there are quite a few names that I feel are not very good (especially for the reserve price indicated), there are some great domains in the bunch…
  • AV.com
  • WebServer.com
  • Transmissions.com
  • Sandwich.com
  • Sled.com
  • VoiceMail.com
  • Crackers.com
  • Jockeys.com
  • Freeby.com/.net
  • BlogsPort.com (or brand it as BlogSport.com)
Please note that the above is merely a sampling of some of the best domain names in the Yahoo Domainapalooza premium domain portfolio auction.  But that portfolio is listing over 500 names on its first day, and Yahoo! also indicates that it will also be adding even more domain names throughout the auction.  
This is a big opportunity to get a name that can be built into a dominant brand within its industry, not only for players collecting names, but also for entrepreneurs such as myself that develop the names into brands and fully-functional websites, as well as those looking for a great name with which to launch their company.
It is quite possible that you walk away with a great brandable domain name which you could develop into a profitable website or business?  Very likely, considering the quality of some of these names.  Especially with names that have an excellent second meaning.  
As of this writing, there are 517 domain names available for auction and with Yahoo planning to add even more this may become the most watched premium domain name portfolio auction in history.  As a domainer and developer, my interest is aroused.  As a businessman, it is maxed.  I wish I didn't have so much tied-up in other endeavors at the moment.  But I will definitely study this list thoroughly.
Happy domaining!  I hope there will be many domainers taking advantage of this opportunity to add to their portfolio and domainate the market with such great and industry domainating names.  ;)
-Doug
…”Domainating
(I’m going back to check out that list!)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Web Design Skill Requirements (or the lack thereof)

What Skill Set is Required Design to for the Web?
I lead and administrate a bunch of Google Groups (I'll leave a small list of links to some of these groups at the end of this post).  Because I run these groups and because I have been designing websites for over 14 years, I am often asked, "What do I need to know in order to be a web designer?"

I see the quick answer all the time, and it is wrong.  The quick answer is a small list...
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Javascript
  • Flash
...that list is complete and utter bunk.

In order to be a professional web designer, the first and most important thing you must know is how to design. This is the basic problem, we have so many people out there that can write code or throw-up a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) based editor generated layout and yet they cannot design themselves a way out of a paper bag.

I want to give you an example of a powerhouse that doesn't know how to design... Google.  Technically, it superior in development, but the anal idiocy and lack of intuitiveness with which is obviously inherent in many of its products is mind numbing.  Phones should not act like tablets and vice-versa.  Yet Google gives swipe motion commands that throws away my web pages in Chrome on My phone because it is is treating it as if it is a tablet.  All I wanted to do is scroll around for a better view on My zoomed-in screen, Google, but you didn't even bother to take that into account.  Another example is how illogically the interface for its proprietary "Sites" editor and page management interface is non-existant and fights the user trying to accomplish something.  Furthermore, the terminologies used in Sites are inexplicably wrong from either a design or development standpoint.

Google started out with a great idea and then threw-up its hands in disgust of the project and now very few people will even take advantage of its free business site hosting because it is so illogical and confounds the design and development processes.  Due to the lack of attention to detail and its complete inattention to intuitiveness, there are many such products, such as Google's Sites, that have been a complete failure.

It's All About the Brand
Design is one thing, but branding is a whole new area of expertise.  Sometimes web designers are asked to create a Trademark, Service Mark or logo for a small business website as it moves to expand its market through online media.  This is not necessarily a bad thing as long as the web designer understands trademarking and is capable of designing a brand.  Brands are unique, that is their job, to be easily and immediately recognizable after repeated exposure.  They are designed to cast a positive light on the enterprise they become identified with using symbolism and suggestive design techniques.  Studies on positive reinforcement visual communication and Trademark history are required.

Sometimes The approach to designing logos for web media is much the same in principle, but actually requires a bit more attention to detail.  The simple reason is that there are more problems associated with web media than with print.  The resolution is comparatively bad, so there is considerably less ability to account for detail, making attention to the detail in a logo all that more significant and demanding.  The colors chosen for a logo will look different on different platforms, devices and monitors.  Logos can offer interactivity on the web, which can compound the rules of branding.

The website is an advertisement.  The website is a marketing tool.  The website is a 24 hour-a-day sales team.  The website promotes the company presence and expands its reach.  The website represents everything about that company as an extension of its brand.

If a designer does not understand professional branding, he/she has no business in the professional web design industry.  A professional designer needs to be able to design a unique brand and the job of a professional web designer is to showcase the company message, products and services under that brand. 

Understanding Layout Design for Web Media
Designing a page layout is different for web media than it is for print.  Part of the reason is that the web is commercialized.  Our clients are commercial enterprises seeking to do business.  The other part is that when you are holding a magazine you can easily flip to the cover if you forget which magazine it is you are reading.  This is not always the case with a website.  Just yesterday I logged into my bank's website and wound-up at their online security outsourcer's website on a whole different domain name.  Although this is a pathetic practice, it is actually quite common because smaller business just can't dedicate the resources that a large corporation can.  And by specializing in such services a single small company can accommodate a wide variety of small banks who need secure account and transaction management capabilities.

Again, the brand is therefore promoted on every page of the site as if a letterhead for the page.  Brand colors may section off areas for navigation, sidebars and promotional advertising.  Even brand icons and link type hint icons can be used extensively through out the website. 

When a visitor is done with the business website, even if they do not buy and are not looking to do business with this company, they are always impressed upon by the brand.  After viewing only a single page, any page of the website, the visitor should have had the brand impressed upon them enough to recognize it again for years to come.

Understanding the Current Best Practices for Standards Compliant Web Coding
It just isn't enough to know HTML, a web designer has to stay on top of the current best practices of web standards.  That means that he not only has to know the current standards (currently HTML5 & CSS3) and how to utilize them to make an original web page from scratch (without using someone else's template) custom-made for the client, he has to know how to use the code effectively so that the ratio of content to code is maximized to facilitate search, and that the site offers no stumbling blocks that a search engine's spider could trip over and get stuck, opt to abandon the task at hand leaving pages uncrawled.

Gone are the days of table based web design.  Tables were never supposed to be used to create designs.  They were meant for structuring tabular data and allow the easy extraction of data.  At one time this is what pros were paid to do, work around the absence of any decent layout formatting and structure tools by hacking the page using tables to produce layouts.  But now we have most of the layout tools, structure tags, and the positioning ability to work with the code to design stunning layouts without having to resort to bastardizing the tables tags. And the bastardization of tables has actually hampered search engines since they can't rely on data found within tables as tabular data.

Professionals understand that we have to stop using tables and the web will eventually right itself.  Unfortunately, the search engines aren't promoting web standards, yet.  This is the larger issue, if a website uses a table for layout it should be penalized for it.  Or at least web standards compliant code should be rewarded.  So in reality, now the search engines (yes, Google especially) are keeping us down by not rewarding the effort put into designing sites well according to standards.

However, it will happen.  It has to, it's simply the natural progession of things.  Bing is already dropping poorly coded websites, but more has to be done.  Well coded, standards compliant websites need to be rewarded.  Now.  Perhaps the search engines are taking vengeance on the professional web designer for hacking the design layout by using tables in the first place long ago?  And now we, as web designers, await the search engines to clean-up their algorithm mess?

Whatever the case is, it will be straightened-out.  You will not have to have a professionally designed website in order to produce a standards compliant online presence, but standards compliant code really does need to be a priority that factors into in the search results.   

There is good reason, as well.  If you actually look at the code produced by those one-page and extremely long-paged affiliate, spammer, scammer and malicious software websites you will see tables.  In my experience this has been the one theme shared by poor sites and web spam.  To not acknowledge this is pretty stupid on the behalf of search engines.

The reason these guys are using tables to produce these crappy websites is because it's so easy to put-up such a site with any WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) web editor.  I could easily put up 3 crappy sites a day, this way.  And that is exactly why these guys use tables, they are quick and dirty and extremely effortless to produce.  But crafting a website with care using CSS does still have its rewards.  Namely, optimization, easier (quicker) page loading and taking up less memory to display. 

Web designers need to understand the code required to build web pages, HTML & CSS.  Once they do, they can build better coded websites that are standards compliant and with a little more research can utilize the best practices required for more efficient websites.

As far as Javascript goes, I can now do literally anything that I need to in CSS3 that I would need Javascript for interactivity, excepting form validation (which actually relies more on logic coding than the effects I used to use Javascript for).  Since there are many publicly available customizable Javascript scripts that accomplish this, and since there are all sorts of Javascript frameworks to utilize Javascript more easily, having Javascript knowledge or experience can be a bonus, but is more incidental since this is not where our industry is headed.  Furthermore, there are tons of other server-side languages that can be much more useful in the long run since Javascript requires the user to have it activated in the browser for it to even work.

Flash is much similar, though it is actually a third party proprietary package provided by Adobe.  Again, it needs to be activated in order for the client to view any sort of Flash.  Yet because it requires a plug-in, that has to be downloaded and installed as well.  On top of that, the plug-in has to be updated periodically, and so even if a user has Flash capabilities activated, he might not be able to see Flash media that was programmed in the very latest version until he updates his plug-in.  The thing is, using HTML5's canvas tag along with CSS3 capabilities will already allow us to accomplish a great deal that Flash does.  And there is no plug-in required, all you need is a modern browser (and browsers should be kept up-to-date anyway just to prevent security issues).

The whole problem is that we have relied on technicians to design the web and now it is becoming less and less intuitive and a whole lot more complicated.  This was the problem from the onset, but people ignored it because money was tight.  Unfortunately, now-a-days everything has to be redone because it fights the user and sends out a cry for help.  Unless this is addressed the brand becomes quagmired in illogical, unintuitive, unfreindly interfaces for presentations that actually alienate rather than invite and guide the user in and along an easy to follow path.

Everyone wants to be leaders but refuse to invest in the education required to be a good one.  The simple plain truth of it is that most web design today absolutely sucks.  That's the long and short of it.  And it sucks because design was not even an afterthought in most any case.

So the brand continues to die a slow death in the name of economics, but it never had to, and the investment required to undo all that was done is actually quite staggering.  Or just let the brand die by not even considering design.  But if you do choose the alternative... let the designer lead the project,  ALWAYS.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Introducing the WebsiteWebmaster.net Blog!

Yesterday, very late in My workday, I realised that one of My domain names, aBitofAllRight.com, was no longer pointing to its website.  After checking things out, I realised that the free hosting I was using for it at TNTParking.com doesn't support subdomains, so only the blog address was good.

Earlier in the week I had noticed that the blog wasn't loading.  So it seems that I ripped it from its usual home page, and the blog has been redirecting to the host.  Wow, is that a no-no in Google, or what?  Through all the confusion of racing around to get the blog back online I had forgotten about the site.

So, number 1, I apologize to Google, I didn't intend to be redirecting my blog traffic to My free hosted domain name.  Geez, no wonder you thought I had violated the terms of your online advertising program and kicked Me out of AdSense.  This would have been much simpler if you had indicated the discrepancy, I am managing over 300 domain names for My self alone.

Number 2, I have now renamed the title for this blog based on a different domain name that I had lying around collecting dust.  The new domain name for the blog is WebsiteWebmaster.net.  I am using it with the blog subdomain so that I can keep the www subdomain and naked domain available for another project or two.  Today I created logos for the header and favicons for the domain and blog.  The Trademarks and favicons use My Struckshur freeware font to define the logo, with very tight  letter spacing (each letter touching the next letter).  Struckshur is a Freeware TrueType PC font that can be downloaded from its Struckshur font archive web page at Font-Journal.

Hopefully, everything will get back to normal pretty quick and I'll be in good stead with Google, again.  Wish Me luck!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Domain, Server & Shared Web Hosting Deals

Welcome to A Bit of All Right, where we are offering special deals to webmasters...

Domain Name Registrations, Linux or Windows Hosting and Web Servers

Domain Hostmaster has to keep prices low because they are marketing directly to professional webmasters, designers, developers, domainers, brand experts, online marketers and internet professionals that are fully aware of the costs and value associated with domain names, web hosting and web servers.  But to those who know, you can save even more using the following codes:
Save 15% on any order of $100 (USD) or more by entering promo code 100CN15 at checkout.
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The Best Full Featured Shared Web Hosting

Apache Website Hosting offers the best pricing on the market today for its full featured Linux Apacheshared web hosting packages.  These packages not only support the PHP and Perl langauages as well as the MySQL database, but also supports the Python langauage, SSI (server side includes), the Postgre database and even a cron.  To top this off, Apache Website Hosting also offers the SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption security certificates required for e-commerce and private/personal transactions to their customers at wholesale prices.  A free domain is available in all but the starter plan ($2.50 per month). 

About: A Bit of All Right

A Bit of All Right was originally a blog designed to be a shopping guide. Eventually it was to become sort of an online digital malls and stores catalog with a digital coupon assistant.  Unfortunately, problems at the web host required us to shut the service down, for now.  I just do not have the time to reinstall and update software and databases, convert/import stuff, etc.  However, A Bit of All Right does live on, offering the best deals for webmasters on domain names and web hosting, above.

Thank you for your interest in A Bit of All Right.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Faviconvert: Image to Favicon Conversion Tool - Faviconvert.com

Faviconvert: Image to Favicon Conversion Tool - Faviconvert.com

Well, it's finally online.  Faviconvert is a tool that will convert your logos & photos into a favicon to use on your websites and blogs.  It makes 2 PNG images well (16x16 pixels for web pages and a 32x32 pixels version).  The animated GIF is kind of one of those hit or miss things.  There is also an 16x16 pixel .ico file that works, but it is optimized for the web so it doesn't have a 48x48 pixel version included so that it looks good on the desktop.

That's what I am addressing now.  This version uses the GD library and I want to do another using the ImageMagik library, I just have to find a developer that will do it.  Then I can have the multi-resolution icons I want that will work when someone drags an icon to the desktop, or a folder.

For now, that's my new favicon tool.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Windows 7 or 8? Which Apps Work?


What works with Windows 8 Pro?

First, I have to tell you, I do NOT recommend upgrading to Windows 8, I find it an extremely pathetic OS.  Do NOT upgrade (at least not yet) if you do not have touch, because it renders your computer completely useless when accessing it via remote desktop.  This is supposed to be a computer OS upgrade, but it wants to grow up to be a phone, not a personal computer.

What's wrong with Windows 8 Pro?  

Nearly everything.  It works, but barely, and it looks broken from a designer's stand point.  I don't mean a little broken, it looks incredibly broken, it looks just like Windows OS 3.1, which was an absolute nightmare to deal with.

Windows 8 is an OS that is designed for a phone, not a tablet, notebook or desktop. It offers limited options by design, which means limited functionality.  When running a program from the Start Screen, unless it is a full screen app, the desktop wallpaper doesn't update.  The tile icons are horrid.  The start screen backgrounds are poor and there is no customization option.  If you don't have touch capabilities, they will be disabled and your remote desktop will be unusable on your tablet, other PC or phone.  It looks like Microsoft's terrible Windows 3.1 OS user interface, all boxes are square (no rounded corners, no window border opacity setting like in Vista/7).    The Control Panel is cryptic, at best, not presenting all necessary functions

If you have any choice at all, your upgrade should be to Windows 7, not Windows 8, unless you need touch support.  Windows 8 will probably be a great OS for your tablet or phone, if you want to re-learn Windows all over again.  You are much better off with an android system though, as that is much more intuitive.

Will My Old Programs Run in Windows 7/8?

That said, if you have older programs, like I do, will they work in Windows 8?  That's a big question.  And if they work in Windows 8, they will probably work in Windows 7, as well.  So here's the skinny on what I see...

Windows 8 Pro (fresh upgrade on a fresh install of Windows 7):

Creative Suite 3:

  • Acrobat - DO NOT INSTALL
  • Bridge - Warns you that it might run slow if you have a 64 bit processor, but worked well on my dual core laptop.
  • Photoshop - works
  • Adobe Illustrator - works
  • Dreamweaver - works
  • Premiere - works
  • After Effects - Limited functionality until you download and install Apple's Quicktime (which itself is a stupid decision on Adobe's part to require software from its main competitor in the same market (Non-linear Video Editing) and because Apple's Software Update sucks).
  • Device Central - It loads, but I don't think that anyone would ever want to use this, including me, and therefore since I don't use it, I can't report anything beyond that.
OK...
I was going to finish this with a full list of crap that won't run, but Windows 8 Pro was such a pathetic piece of junk that I uninstalled it.  As a UI designer myself, I was offended that Microsoft crossed the line and made me think about what I needed to do just to access something.  This was a catastrophic failure in UIX design and I feel embarrassed and sorry for Windows as such a complete failure in basic User Interface design methods.

I wound-up reverting back to Windows Vista.  But I could mot upgrade to Windows 7 without doing a fresh install.  

I figure it will take me another year to update all my configurations and settings with the info I used to rely ob.

Windows 8 Pro was a fail on my machine because it was scary, it looked exactly like Windows 3.1 and offered no visual effects.  I was sure it would crash because it looked like 3.1 with no visuals or effects, the UI was completely broken and it was a hassle trying to figure out what ran well and what didn't.

Windows 7 Ultimate worked out well, but required that I do a fresh install, leaving me with months of reconfiguration ahead.  But now I have a decent UI that isn't broken and doesn't make sense.

Either upgrade is a trade-off.  I would have been best off buying a whole new computer, but to get one that does everything that this one does now I would have had to spend at least $1200.00 on that upgrade.  I spent $40.00 on the Windows 8 Pro software that was broken and 150.00 (with shipping) on the Windows 7 Ultimate upgrade package, but I also spent 3 months or more trying to get the upgrade done with all of my settings intact before giving up and doing a fresh install.

The same programs that won't work in Windows 8 won't work in Windows 7,  though.

Unless you upgrade to a touch based Windows system, Windows 8 is completely worthless.