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.

Tagliatelle - a tag too far?

Occasionally some of my clients ask me if it’s a good idea to add a block of tags beneath a blog article or a web page. Note that this isn’t the same thing as including what are called metadata tags or meta tags. (For an explanation of these, see blow.)

Tags in this sense are vocabulary terms that can be used to organise or categorise content. You might see them arranged in a block under an article, looking something like this:

Where does the time go?

Although the websites I build are done at a flat-rate fee agreed in advance, additional work that is subsequently requested is often charged at an hourly rate. This is the norm in the freelance world.

This presents a nice organisational challenge, especially when a working day is diced and sliced between two or three different projects. Not only do I need a method that enables me to track where I’ve spent my time, my clients rightly need to know that when I charge them for x amount of time, then it really was like that.

Backup belt and braces

Having suffered hard disk failures in the past and having been responsible for client data (software and websites) for around 17 years I admit to being paranoid about data loss. I try to operate as if all hard disks are bound to fail when you least expect them to and I therefore have in place backup strategies that try to minimise the impact of this when it happens.

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

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