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Entries in "Tips and Tricks"


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December 09, 2008

5 Tips to ensure your readers can read your HTML e-mail messages

As the semester winds down, and the holiday season encroaches, it seems there are more and more events to publicize, greetings to send, end-of-year newsletters to distribute, holiday sales to promote, etc. T'is the season for HTML e-mails. Alas, as many of you know, creating and distributing an HTML e-mail message is far more complicated than building a regular Web site. As we struggled in the days of the browser wars, today we struggle with the myriad ways popular e-mail programs support HTML. Anyone who has had to create an HTML e-mail message, or has received one they couldn't read, knows what I mean. So today I'll present five tips that should help to make your e-mails readable by the masses.

November 09, 2008

An URL by any other name would still work like an URL, part 2: length doesn't matter

Last month, when I wrote about subdomains, I promised to find out more regarding the question of URL length. Site owners had been telling me that their URLs were too long for users to type and that this was keeping people from responding to their direct mail campaigns. Typically the URLs in question were 30-40 characters in length. These don't seem excessively long if you consider that even a short domain name such as takes 12 characters itself. But it did make me wonder if anyone had studied the role URL length plays in direct mail response rates.

October 21, 2008

Afraid of outbound links? Don't be.

"The site looks great. But could you take out the links? I'm afraid people will follow them before they apply to our program/sign up for our event/read the installation instructions/etc." I don't hear this as often as I once did, but it still comes up often enough that it's worth addressing. So today I'll try to dispel some myths about Web stickiness and outbound links.

September 16, 2008

Social Media: Your Interactive Information Resource

In prior reflections on social media, I've mentioned how services such as Facebook,, Twitter, etc. can be effective marketing tools. Much of this has to do with the fact that they foment two-way communication. When we join these communities and services we participate in a dialogue between our friends and contacts.

July 14, 2008

Testing Web sites with multiple browser versions

Until recently I was one of the only nerds who had yet to upgrade to Firefox 3. I'd been waiting until I could find an easy way to install it alongside (rather than in place of) Firefox 2. When I'd tried doing this a few months ago—with the beta version of Firefox 3—it hadn't worked properly, so I'd put the idea on hold.

April 15, 2008

Maximize your marketing through blog networks and aggregator sites

Lately I've noticed that I've been subscribing to more and more blog networks/aggregators. As a reader I like these because they help me discover blogs I might not have heard of otherwise. As a blogger and marketer I like the aggregators of which I'm a part or a similar reason; they put my blog in front of new readers -- readers who already have shown an interest in my topic.

April 03, 2008

How did I get by before Firefox Add-Ons?

Last night, whilst catching up on my RSS feeds, I discovered Paul Fenwick's video, "How to Fix the Web with Greasemonkey in 3 minutes." The video offers some clever tips on how one can use the Firefox add-on, Greasemonkey, to make Web sites (not just yours) behave the way you wish. I was particularly amused by the way he made MySpace content disappear. But it also reminded me of just how dependent I am on Firefox add-on's.

February 26, 2008

Wayfinding within your Web site

In Your home page is NOT your index; it's your store front, I discussed some of the goals of homepage design and navigation. Today we'll consider how users navigate within the site. As Wayne correctly surmised when commenting on that entry, the pages inside your site are like the aisles or departments within a store. Each page needs to be identified so that users know both where they are and where they can go.

January 16, 2008

Your home page is NOT your index; it's your store front

Space. Designers want to preserve it and clients want to fill it up. Whether you're a designer, a writer or a client you've all participated in this debate. What goes on the home page and what does not?

January 11, 2008

Tips for Nonprofits Meme

Elizabeth Able, of Able Reach Arts and Web Development, recently started a blog meme in support of nonprofits that have an online presence. She asks that we write one tip on ways nonprofits can benefit from having an online presence and have others do the same.

December 26, 2007

Web Content: Not just YOUR words and pictures

If they read what you write, they may also want to read what you read. Webmasters and bloggers know this. That's why we'll embed links within our text, build pages with links to recommended sites and/or add linkblogs to our side bars. In a world where most of us don't have the time to research and write everything we'd like to share, such resources add value to our existing content and give readers guidance on where to look for additional information.

November 14, 2007

A picture is worth a thousand words, but that's not always enough

How to add captions to images in Photoshop On the Web it is preferable to place your caption in the HTML. If that won't work and your captions are long, you should also link to a place providing a description of the image and an alternative rendering of the text. Colleagues of mine are involved in a project that involves adding captions to photographs. Like many of you, they aren't full-time designers and haven't spent a great deal of time using Photoshop. While they know how to crop and resize photos, they've not yet worked with type. For those...

October 30, 2007

Don't build your Web site in a vacuum

This is the fifth in a series of posts that discuss Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and other Web marketing strategies. This week we'll go beyond the Web.

October 11, 2007

Voice and Tone: Writing to reflect your personality as well as your message (Part 1)

Last week someone posted a question to the WordNerds group regarding the importance of voice and tone in writing. In particular she wanted to know how to convey the importance of voice and tone to colleagues who aren't professional writers. Not having covered this topic previously I thought I'd give it a go.

October 01, 2007

CSS Tip: Positioning photos with floats

In the past I've discussed how the use of photos can enhance a Web site, but I've not discussed the code one uses to incorporate them. On campus, and elsewhere, Web designers use a variety of techniques to include their photos.

August 09, 2007

Enhance your reputation & increase traffic by joining discussions on other blogs

As you know from my earlier post on commenting, people (and robots) like to leave comments on other people's blogs in order to provide links back to their own Web site.

July 13, 2007

An Introduction to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Part 1

This is the first in a series of posts that will discuss SEO and other Web marketing strategies. Before we dig into our first discussion of SEO, it is worth remembering that search engines are not the only way visitors get to your site.

July 06, 2007

Image Formats 101: From Bitmaps to Vector Art which do you use when?

Since we released the logos on Monday, I've received a number of questions regarding file formats. The .gif files I made for the Web are pretty easy to use, but many of you are also incorporating logos into your print projects, and aren't sure which version to use when. To help you choose the best format for your project, here is a bit of background on the differing file formats and some recommendations on their use. Follow the links within the text to learn more about each of these formats.

June 12, 2007

When one image just won't do; incorporating slideshows on your Web site. Part 2: Flash

ast week, I showed you one way to make a slideshow for your Web site using an existing javascript. Today we'll build a slideshow in Flash.

April 25, 2007

Converting Word documents to HTML

While I write my own copy for this blog, and some of my other sites, much of what I post on the Web is written by others. This material comes to me in a variety of formats, from Open Office to .pdf files, but most of it is in Microsoft Word, and all of it needs to be converted to HTML. There are a variety of ways to do this, but I'll just review three, two common approaches and my preferred method.

April 19, 2007

Embedding Flash Objects for Internet Explorer

Due to a lawsuit between Microsoft and Eolas, Internet Explorer no longer processes , or in the way that it used to. Now instead of using to embed a Flash file, you need to use javascript in order for Internet Explorer users to load the content automatically.

April 02, 2007

Don't say "click here." Include your links in context.

After more than a decade of Web development, most of us have gotten used to adding links within the context of our text—just as I did in this sentence. Yet despite our good habits, awareness and best intentions, many links are still awkwardly managed.

February 27, 2007

Flickr: Tags, Groups, Interestingness and Social Networking

Back on January 11th, when I first wrote about using Flickr to archive photos, I promised to follow-up with more information on keywords and groups. These tools serve organizational purposes, help users explore each others work and allow users to interact with one another. In other words, Flickr's easy-to-use photo archiving system also functions as one of the Internet's more popular social networking sites.

February 21, 2007

The site is up and running, but is anyone visiting? Find out with Aurora stats.

Finally, you've launched your site and can begin to relax. But as soon as you do that the question begins to nag, is anyone visiting? If your site is on the main Case server you can find out using the statistics generated by the Aurora Project Administration System.

January 11, 2007

From HTML tables to Flickr: How do you archive your photographs?

I first got my paws on a digital camera when I was working for Development Programs. My plan was to take photos of events and places on campus so that I could use those photos on the Web sites I built for the department. This turned out to be rather useful, but also time-consuming.

January 03, 2007

New Year, New Copyright Date?

This is also the time of year when people ask me if they should now change the copyright date on the bottom of their Web sites. The short answer is no; don't change the copyright date unless you've made other changes to the site and are using a multi-year format such as © 2004-2006.

December 05, 2006

A picture is worth a thousand words, more or less

A few weeks ago our project team was reviewing beta version .95 of Web site X, when we realized that we each had different reactions to some of the photos used in the project. While person A felt that photo 1 invoked a certain mood, person B felt something else. Given that site X requires a certain amount of precision we decided to explore other options such as purchasing stock photos pertinent to the topic. Today Greg Szorc commented on the forums about a photo choice on another Web site. In this case Greg and I had entirely different...

November 16, 2006

Using CSS to deliver Web content to different media types

Earlier this week Jeremy Smith wrote Delivering Web Content to Mobile Devices in which he discussed some of the different options, and concluded that by using CSS, one can configure pages for handhelds just as easily as one can for print or other media options.

November 13, 2006

A writer's obligations: ethics, law and pragmatism, Part 3: Pragmatism

The Ford lecture site asks the reader to register and prpvides additional information to help the reader to decide whether or not to attend. While I'll probably post additional entries on ethics, today we'll discuss what I expect will be the simplest chapter in this series, pragmatism. When I think of applying pragmatism to our Web development strategies, I think of taking a practical approach that examines our options in regard to their intended consequences. In particular I want to ensure that our choices support our goals. I discussed goals earlier in the Planning Your Web site tutorial, but...

October 25, 2006

I had a good experience at the BMV: Customer Service on the Web

Last weekend I noticed that the temporary tags on my new (to me) VW were going to expire Tuesday. I quickly went into the house to check the mailbox to see if my new title had arrived yet. It had not. So Monday morning, with one day to spare, I hopped online to find out what steps I would need to take to register my car without this important document. Envisioning a series of errands involving the seller, notaries, and visits to various offices, I was happy to learn that the process was actually quite simple and that all...

October 05, 2006

From Case to Colby in 8 jumps: The value and vagaries of external links

Sometimes I like to wander the Web while eating lunch. Today I began this endeavor with a trip to Planet Case, beginning with James Chang's "Riot at Columbia University" entry.

From Case to Colby in 8 jumps: The value and vagaries of external links

Sometimes I like to wander the Web while eating lunch. Today I began this endeavor with a trip to Planet Case, beginning with James Chang's "Riot at Columbia University" entry.

August 09, 2006

Avoid squishy head syndrome: proper techniques for sizing and cropping images

Heidi's head hasbeen squishedKevin's head is normal While I may never regain the finely sculpted cheekbones of my college years, the photo on the above right is not of me after a bad facelift. It's just a photo of me suffering from squishy head syndrome. I'm sure you've seen other examples. Perhaps you've been to the staff directory page for department X. It's a useful page with names, titles and contact information for everyone in the department. The only problem is that some of the people look a bit funny. Either their photos have been squished to the wrong proportions...

June 20, 2006

Web File Organization and Naming Conventions

At home, entropy reigns supreme. My friends will attest that a visit to Heidiland—replete with obstacles ranging from art supplies to Pisa-like stacks of books—is an adventure that would be considered overly-taxing by the neat freaks of the world. My computers, however, are another story. Given that my active Web development folder has over 14,000 files within, and that this is but one of many folders on one of three computers, I've had to take a more logical approach.

May 05, 2006

Taking over the world, or at least reaching out to it

Screen capture from Riding in Cars with Girls Earlier this year I discovered a new band, Moi Caprice, from Denmark. My experience in listening to and acquiring their music reminded me of the power our Web sites can have in reaching out to the world at large. It also demonstrates that even a site with some (minor) design flaws can be successful if it incorporates the right elements. What follows is the process I took from first hearing the music to unwrapping an envelope from Denmark and inserting my new tunes into my Mac. When I first heard Moi Caprice...

March 23, 2006

Beware of your vocabulary

Last night some associates and I were bemoaning the proliferation of obfuscation instigated by the intentional propagation of technical jargon in modern-day communication. Or rather—to phrase it more clearly and accurately—we were complaining about the overuse of business doublespeak. I see this in two forms on the web. Some writers choose to muddy their messages by peppering their sentences with big words. While these words may demonstrate the writer's vast vocabulary, they can often confuse the reader, particularly if these words are less accurate than their smaller, yet equally powerful counterparts. Another issue that concerns me is the appropriate use...

March 06, 2006

To Blog or not to Blog

If you are reading this, then you probably know that offers blog space to faculty, staff, students and alumni for personal and/or academic/business use. If you are either a blog author or a blog reader you are familiar with the wealth of opinions that can be found through a daily perusal of You may think of your blog as being part of the Case blogosphere, but distinct from your other Web pages. Today I'd like to consider when and why to blur that distinction by incorporating a blog into your regular Web presence. By using a blog in...

February 24, 2006

Raising your Web site rankings

People often ask me how they can raise the rankings for their Web sites. Typically I explain, that while many algorithms are involved, the major factors include: The number of Web sites that link to your site The relevance of those Web sites linking to your site The quality of your content How you present key terms— using headers rather than bolded text for key points Today—thanks to Brian Gray at e3 Information Overload—I discovered a great article by Google's quality engineer, Matt Cutts, that quite clearly explains how Google collects and rank results. I urge you to read...

November 09, 2005

Training & Resources

Given that web designers at Case come in a variety of skill levels, and we all have something new to learn, I thought this might be a good time to remind everyone of some of the resources available to us here at Case. Classes provided through KSLearn provide training opportunities for students, faculty, and staff covering an array of topics including Microsoft Office products (Excel, Word, Access, Powerpoint), web-authoring tools and basic HTML, graphic design software including Adobe Photoshop, effective use of the Internet/WWW for research and teaching, and the use and creation of electronic texts, image databases and other...

July 01, 2005

So you want to build a website

This is the first in a series of entries on how to plan your website. Whether you are starting from scratch or rebuilding an existing site, I hope this will help you understand how with careful planning you can build a site that serves the needs of your target audience. Now that you've decided to make a site, you are probably thinking about colors, html and menus, etc. But just as one doesn't hit the ball in one's first tennis lesson, one doesn't start a website by jumping into the code. Instead, the first question you should ask yourself...

April 13, 2005

Securing web pages for password authentication

I received a question today about securing webpages, so now that I've told you how to use ssi files with your secure page, it makes sense to tell you how to make the secure page. Please note that these instructions are only for accounts on the Aurora (Benbecula) Server. If you are maintaining a site on a different server you should check with your server administrator. Let's Begin Go to Login with your web account name and password. This would be the same one you use with Dreamweaver or your ftp program of choice to upload your files to...

March 22, 2005

Automatic 'Print this page'

If you want to provide a way for the user to print the current page, include this little javascript snippet....

March 07, 2005

Javascript - 'Bookmark this page!'

Use this little javascript in your pages to enable the user to automatically "bookmark" your webpage....

March 04, 2005

URL Redirect

If a page on your site has moved, or your whole site for that matter, you will need to redirect your visitors automatically to a new page. Use this meta refresh to send them to the "new" page......