Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Asterisk - it really is the future of telephony

We have a shiny new toy (actually a few shiny new toys). We have a new server (called Buffalo after the bourbon) running asterisk the open source PBX and an IP phone (the Atcom AT-320 from IP chitchat - arrived the day after ordered it :) ).

Asterisk rocks - we can now set up softphones and real office phones and have a much more professional first impression for our clients. I have been using asteriskguru and the wiki at voip-info. Thank you to everyone who has created such a fantastic product and spent time documenting it.

If you are at all interested, I would recommend a read of Asterisk, the future of telephony.

We are going to be rolling out new services for our clients based on Asterisk in the coming months. Watch this space.

Oh, our new phone number is 020 7183 0767 :)

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Some new websites (not all designed by us!)

We haven't written about new sites that have gone live for a while now, but we have:

Some other sites built on Content Manager

As well as these sites, we have a number that we haven't designed but which we have migrated to Content Manager or built on Content Manager:

We are working closely with Stedman Oliver in particular - they are fantastic at branding and graphic design and we are each passing work backwards and forwards to each other. We are also providing their email (through our new partners, Tuffmail) and hosting an FTP server for them to swap proofs with clients etc.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A few years down the line

Javascript not all it was cracked up to be

4 or 5 years ago, I was quite pleased with myself. I had installed a javascript menu on my dads website, which appeared to work exactly as planned, in all the browsers we could test it on.

It is only now when I look at it again in a different, more experienced light that I realise how bad it is.

You can still see the menu in question at the top of www.halftimescores.co.uk which is a hobby site run by my Dad about the composer Schubert.

The menu itself is still going strong, new versions of browsers have come, and even new browsers and the menu is still there. However there is one major factor that neither me or my Dad spotted until now.

Dad spent the weekend adding a google search bar onto his site. You will have seen them before, but basically it is search powered by google that you can restrict your website. Whilst installing this it became obvious that google didn't know about all of the pages of the site.

Rats, as my dad would say

The long and the short of it is quite obvious. Google and the other search engines, don't spider javascript. 5 years ago this wasn't something I had put any thought into. The search engines were there, but I hadn't spent the time reading how to optimise them... 5 years ago people were still submitting their sites to the search engines.

What's the answer

In the short term, Dad has added two sitemaps (general sitemap, postcard sitemap) to his website. This is just text links and should be spidered by the search engines quite easily. The other tactic is this blog post, to encourage the search engines to have a look at the sitemaps (general sitemap, postcard sitemap)

In summary

Actually given what I know now, I wouldn't ever use javascript for a menu, and avoid it whenever possible. All of our sites, have accessible, valid html, and anytime we need a dropdown menu I use css tricks to do the dropping down.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

MSN success

MSN, we shouldn't be this high

We were amazed and shocked to see that if you search on msn for "high ranking website", we come top!

A while back Will and I wrote and "optimised" a page for the term high ranking website. This was the first time we have sat down and tried to follow the "rules".

We put our keywords into the title, into the header, and we bolded and italisced them. We mixed up how we used the words so that they weren't always in the same order, or infact even in the sentence.

And then we stopped

MSN shows that there are two inbound links to our page. With the one above that will make it 3, and I might add one from dmorris.co.uk to just see what happens. Everything anyone has told us about seo is that it is the number of inbound links that make the difference in the ranking. So what happened?

At the end of the day, we have no right to be at the top of msn. We suspect that msn pays attention to the word order, and that no-one else in the world, anywhere, has optimised for the phrase high ranking website. We did deliberately choose what appeared (no research, just at first glance) to be a non-competitive phrase, but this is just silly.

Have we stumbled across a magic formula, I doubt it. Will we be top in 6 months time, I doubt that also. Have we learnt anything, probably not. Was it fun .... well coming top for a phrase that makes you sound like an seo company was a hoot, so I guess so.

To satisfy your curiosity, we don't appear in the top 200 on google or yahoo!

You'll forgive me if I don't give our top position up that easily.... So just for luck, do you know anyone who wants a high ranking website, even if it is just on msn!?

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