Chrome Dev Tools

How do I change the font size? Why is the background blue?  These are questions easily answered through the Chrome Developer Tools. Anyone wanting to do any customization of a web site needs to be familiar with them.

Updated April 30, 2017:  This is the presentation given at WordCamp Chicago.  Thanks to the many people who came to the presentation and offered comments and compliments!

View this full size in your browser from Google Docs  or download Fun with Chrome Developer Tools as a PDF.

 

Button, button, who’s got a button?

Next time you’re tempted to create a button using your favorite graphics tool and some javascript to swap images on a hover and click, stop.  It’s really easy to create a button with CSS the CSS Button Generator.  

Check out the buttons on Great Harvest’s home page.  It’s just text and CSS. Once you’ve defined the class and put it into the site’s style sheet, creating a button is as easy as this:

<a class="myButton" href="target.html">Button Text</a>

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Six Steps to a Better Website – SEO in a Nutshell

Is your website useful to your vistors, both human and non-human? You can spend a lot of time and money optimizing your website for search engines and making it friendly for your human visitors. There are books, tutorials, and videos.  Ultimately, it comes down to just six things that are important when you build a website. 

1.  Text is king
Search engines cannot read graphics.  Use graphics to make the site pretty for human visitors, but be sure that the really important content (name, location, phone number, hours of operation) are text elements on the page.  The page design and contents must be pleasing to both humans and machines.

2. URLs are not that important
It is important to have an easy-to-type URL (Uniform Resource Locator).  Your URL is part of your branding strategy.  In the grand scheme of things, however, the URL is not all that important.  Most people come to your site through an intermediary; they do not type in your URL.  It’s more important to promote your site to the intermediaries than to have the perfect URL.

3.  Reasonable Repetition
Search engines index the content of your site.  In the old days (two to three years ago), the engines allowed you to set keywords through “meta” statements. They found that self-declared keywords were unreliable, so they now read a site and figure out keywords and key phrases on their own.  This means that you should make sure any key terms people might use to search for your site are used on the pages of your site, and more than once. 

4.  Google can’t find what you don’t say
The converse of repetition is that if you don’t say it, Google can’t guess it.  I worked with an organization that was promoting webinars. They were upset when searching on "webinar" didn't get any hits.  After digging around for a bit, I found that they used "web conference" and "web based training" on the site, never using the word "webinar". You know what the words mean; Google just looks for the words.  We updated the site to use "webinar" and all was well.

5.  Tricks may be held against you
One of the things that doomed self-declared keywords was that some sites were gaming the system. They used a number of keywords in “meta” statements that had nothing to do with the actual content of the site. Search engines are now smarter. They look for attempts to game the system and punish them by pushing them down in the results.  Don’t put a term 20 times in white text on a white background or hidden with a no-display tag.

6.  Plan for mobile users
Have you reviewed your site from a few different brands of smart phones?  There’s not a lot of screen real estate and someone viewing your site from a phone is probably concentrating on one of those five questions above.  Make sure these are clearly visible on your home page, and that they’re text, not a graphic.  Smart phones understand addresses and will automatically link an address to a map and make phone numbers clickable.

Tracking My Time with Toggl

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Today was a busy day. I was working on six different projects for two different clients. Nothing is unstarted and nothing is done; it’s all a work in progress.  How can I keep track of it all?  Toggl.

I’ve been using Toggl for free for almost a year now. I get enough value from it that I upgraded to the “pro” version.

What is Toggl?

Toggl is designed for effortless time tracking. You can easily capture fragmented worktime. Switching a task or creating a new one is as simple as one mouseclick.  It’s a cloud based service that’s accessed via web browser or desktop client (Linux, Mac, and Windows) or an app.  Enter what you’re doing and click start. When done, click stop. If you’re picking it up again later, click continue. Tasks are grouped by client and project.  The website can generate reports suitable for printing or as CSV downloads.

Toggl is not just for consultants.  At the end of the day (or week, or month, or year) it gives you a way to look back and see how you’ve spent your time. Toggl is a  great tool.

Google releases an Apache module to optimize web page delivery

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Google has just released mod_pagespeed for the Apache web server.  Mod_Pagespeed automatically speeds delivery of web pages by optimizing HTML, combining and caching CSS and JavaScript, and automatically managing and adjusting cache times for relatively static elements.  Web developers can concentrate on building good sites. Let the system figure out how to optimize it.

A reviewer says that the module made his Drupal site “blindingly fast”, but he cautions that it broke some of the javascript.

This is certainly something to watch.

 

You need a networking website

Every networking list I’m on and every networking seminar I attend tells me that I need to establish a personal brand for myself.  I’ve got my tag line ready — Strategic Information Technology Management.  What’s yours?

 

How do you get your brand out there?  If you’re reading this, you know.  You need to be on the web.  A website like this is absolutely free and you can set it up for yourself.  Visit my guide at http://sstern.wordpress.com.  You’ll have your site up and running, for free, on one of the best web platforms in the world, within 20 minutes. Really.