Rob Tomlinson's blog

These posts are on a broad range of topics – mostly about web design and development — but off-topic posts are scattered about.

The website evolves once more

This website first started life in 1999 and it’s interesting – if geeky – to look back at its evolving design (and underlying technology). (This burst of nostalgia has been provoked by version 7’s launch last Thursday.)

You can see most of these versions on The Way Back Machine’s website, though not the first version.

(Thumbnails can be clicked for pop-ups … if you are bold enough!)

Intelligent web publishing

Of all the reasons to move your static website to a dynamic content-management system (CMS) website, I believe the most potent is what I call ‘intelligent web publishing’.

Business is an activity and websites need to reflect the details and direction of that activity. Enabling the publishing of this information – often in small chunks – is what a good website should do.

Things that search engines look for

People in other professions perhaps wouldn’t put up with this, but we should remember that this is how it has to be: the day someone knew what Google, for example, was really looking for, would be a day when the rest of us would be at a disadvantage!

People in other professions perhaps wouldn’t put up with this, but we should remember that this is how it has to be: the day someone knew what Google, for example, was really looking for, would be a day when the rest of us would be at a disadvantage!

Search engine optimisation examined

Most people start an internet search with Google, so let’s begin this blog article there. Here’s a screenshot of page 1’s results for “sports car sales” on Google UK:



Billable hours? Not to be sneezed at!

One of my UK clients came to me with an interesting problem: he wanted changes made to one of his websites, but the agency that originally built it for him wanted to charge him £80 an hour plus VAT.

He wanted to know what I could do…

I had a look at the site and found some interesting things:

Advances in web technology: what this means for you

The detail of this may not interest you that much, but it’s offered on the basis that the better informed we are, the better the chance that we can make good decisions. So here’s a simplified run-down on the different approaches to building web pages, and how these have changed and improved over time.

The intention is to explain not just the nuts and bolts, but how these technologies bring with them advantages of cost, efficiency and speed. In essence, this is about publishing, and how quickly/cheaply you – the website owner – can get your ideas up onto your website.

Surrounded by orchids

It being May, the orchids are back and this year there seems to be an abundance of them. Perhaps this year’s unusually wet spring in the Gers favoured them.

In previous years we have counted between 12 and 15 different species of orchid either on our land or very close by. So far, the count is perhaps 9 and the late-flowering ones are yet to show themselves. What is different this year is their abundance and duration. They are everywhere and a stroll outside requires special attention not to tread on them.

A carpet of orchids

Tuning in to clients

Spending plenty of time working with potential clients is important. Note the word potential: this is before a client has decided to sign up for a website designed and developed by me.

Websites can be very personal and clients need to verify that x is the right person for the project.

So how can this be accomplished?

Well, each client is different, as is each website project. A constant is that both parties need to establish some common ground. This comes about by discussion (by ‘phone or by email – I prefer the latter but do both), and the obvious topic for discussion is websites:

Search engine experiments

From time to time I run some simple search engine tests, both on my clients’ sites and on my own. This helps me get some insight into how well these sites are being tracked by the SEs. I did this again yesterday – and the results are interesting!

(Firstly, a caveat: these results are relevant to 10th March 2009. If I run them on another day, the results may differ.)

The importance of web standards

One of the key selling points of my website development service is that sites I develop conform to web standards, and I keep banging on about this. So why does this matter so much?

To recap: web standards are a collection of international standards that specify what is and isn’t acceptable HTML, XHTML and so on – the code that holds together and structures the content of web pages. They are thrashed out and agreed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the organisation headed by Tim Berners-Lee.

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