Show 82: Microsoft drones

Paul Boag

This week on Boagworld: Paul talks about managing enquiries, Marcus asks whether you should add links to your website on client sites and Rob Borley talks about ASP .net.

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News and events

Staying Creative

I came across a great article this week by Keith Robinson about how to keep being consistently creative. Constantly being creative can be a challenge sometimes, especially when a chunk of your time is spent on less creative activities like coding or consultancy. This article provides some incredibly practical advice about how to keep those creative juices flowing.

The one part that particularly resonated with me was the need for time to play. I am very fortunate at Headscape that Chris and Marcus let me have time to experiment and try new stuff. The result is that I am much more creative than when I used to do production work all the time.

However, this article also offers advice for those of you who don’t have the same luxury. It talks about how to force yourself to engage on even the most dull project as well as the need to pursue your own projects and interact with other creative people.

WCAG Samurai

Over a year ago now Joe Clark published an article on A List Apart entitled “to hell with WCAG 2.0“. Following this slamming attack he went on to create the WCAG Samurai who would develop an alternative to WCAG 2 based on WCAG 1. A year later and we have a working draft of WCAG 2 as well as the recently released WCAG Samurai guidelines.

I have to say the WCAG Samurai Errata is a lot easier to understand than WCAG 2.0 but WCAG 2.0 has come a long way since Joe Clark’s article. Personally, the arrival of the WCAG Samurai guidelines have generated mixed feels in me.

I not an accessibility expert and so am naturally drawn to the Samurai guidelines. They are easy to understand and don’t use confusing or vague language. However, at the same time I have a feeling that yet another set of guidelines is only going to confuse matters.

I guess my hope is that all of the different interpretations on accessibility will make clients realize that accessibility is about more than confirming to a series of checkpoints and encourage them to start thinking in depth about their accessibility policy.

Movable Type 4 (Beta)

Yes I use Movable Type. I know the rest of the world uses WordPress but movable type works for me. I run the boagworld website on movable type and have no intention of changing so don’t bother writing in trying to convince me.

That said, I wanted to point out the recent release of a beta for Movable Type 4. I have to say I haven’t installed it yet but it looks good. Its still in beta and apparently buggy in places but some of the features look impressive.

They have revamped the interface which in my opinion was better than WordPress anyway. They have improved the content management capabilities, finally added a WYSIWYG editor and added support for Open ID.

If you are not already a Word Press drone then check it out.

Mobile web developers guide

This week the website has released a comprehensive guide for mobile web developers.

If you have listened to this podcast for any length of time you will know that I am constantly banging on about the mobile web. Developing websites that work on mobile devices is going to become ever bigger business and although it is a challenging area, I think it will be a huge niche for those willing to embrace it.

Of course, at the moment it is a relatively immature market and finding good information can be tricky. However, this guide looks very good. I can’t claim to have read it all yet but from what I have seen this is a must read if you are looking to explore the area of the mobile web further.

I was ferreting around in the forum for something to chat about and found this question from Remy:

I was wondering what the opinion was on adding a “Site built by Such and Co.” at the footer of a client web site.

I remember thinking it was normal practice in the late 90s and early 00s, but the more I look around today the less and less I see other web design/developer firms doing it.

I do think it’s a cleaner design if you don’t add a link off to a random (to the user) web site, but I remember hearing on one of the podcasts on boagworld that this is how this had contributed to Headscape’s (page)ranking on Google – i.e. by having well ranked web sites linking back to Headscape.

Just want to see what other people thought before I go and slap a nasty ‘who dunit’ at the bottom of my client’s web site.

This is a fairly old post and there’s a lot of interesting and useful stuff on there. But I thought that chatting things through, and letting people know what Headscape does, could be useful.

It generates business

It really does. Lots of it. I can honestly say that I think our credit (which was, interestingly, on a separate credits page) on the old National Trust site played a major part in whether or not Headscape would have survived its first couple of years.

I try to make sure that I always ask new enquirers how they discovered Headscape. Off the top of my head, I would say that around 1 in 20 say they followed a link from one of the sites we have built. We are currently talking to a prospect that followed the link on one of the university sites we developed.

Whether a link appears is up to the client. Ask them if they mind. If they do, ask if you could have a link on a credits page or possibly just on a single page (e.g. ‘About this site’ if they have one or the contact page).

If they still mind, leave it.

We formalise the arrangement in our terms and conditions, as follows:

The Contractor shall have the right to incorporate, in a readily viewable location, a credit and hypertext link in the Deliverables.

Use useful wording

Useful wording to a search engine that is. For example, ‘Designed by Headscape’ doesn’t really help page ranking at all, whereas ‘Web design by Headscape’ does as it includes the search term ‘web design’.

Beware CMS based sites!

There is always the possibility that doing this could backfire. If a client has control over aspects of a site’s presentation then there is always the possibility that they could make a nasty mess of your excellent work. You have to ask yourself whether a link, in this case, is valuable.

Client corner: Handling enquiries

The idea of the client corner section is that we tackle questions clients have. However, this week I answer a problem I am facing myself; how to handle enquiries better. We get enquiries from the Headscape website and I just don’t think we handle them very well. I always have the feeling some are getting lost and when I go away on holiday they just don’t get answered. After some thought on the subject I think I have come up with some enquiry handling techniques that might help.

Ask the expert: Rob Borley on ASP .net

I often get people asking to know more about the way we work as Headscape. What technologies do we use, what approaches do we take, how do we make business decisions? To be honest I often avoid this questions because I don’t want this podcast to feel too much like a Headscape sales pitch. However, several times I have been asked by people why Headscape works mainly with ASP .net instead of PHP or Ruby on Rails so I thought we might take a look at that decision.

Knowing little about server side coding myself I thought it was best to get Rob Borley (our technical lead) onto the show to talk about the decision we made in going down the .net route.

Its actually a really interesting segment that gives a real insight into how we run our business and how we go about making decisions in regards to technology.