Search Resources

September 17, 2007

LotusPerhaps you are self-taught like me-or maybe you just are curious about how things work. Here are some tools which may help you find more easily the information you are looking for. is a fabulous search engine for web designers. Powered by Google, it is a specialty search engine, which makes finding the information you need very easy, without weeding through lots of non-relevant material. Scrub the Web offers search and tools for webmasters.

One that has intrigued me is Search Lores, which favors Opera Browser to take advantage of all of its features, yet I have yet to figure out how to use it. If anyone knows, I would love to get some input on that one, as I believe many buried treasures lie there.

Octora is an RSS feed search engine which allows you to search feeds, urls, and offers a deep search. Daypop is recommended for non-main stream news, or perhaps research and articles are what you are looking for.

Or you may want to try HighBeam which offers a free search that includes search by subject. Of course Windows Live Search is now what powers MSN. The index page for Google Products has many options, including a blog search.

All the Web has news pictures, video, audio options. A newer contender is Wise Nut. Dogpile and OxySearch have compiled several search engines into one, and I am not sure what the difference is between these two.

Clusty conveniently organizes the search results in clusters. Answers is a “one-stop shop” with a customizable deluxe homepage, answers, definitions and explanations on over 4 million topics, in addition to WikiAnswers. Ask or browse.

An open directory project, which allows the internet to organize itself, and is edited by human volunteers can be found at DMoz A very useful search engine, Creative Commons Search, helps you to find content from the web which can be used for commercial purposes, or which can be adapted for your own use. Useful for respecting copyright.

Happy Searching!

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New Designs

March 29, 2007

LotusQuite ridiculous I haven’t posted here for so long. I will share with you my latest project which is where I have been devoting my time. The website itself has been only part of the project I am involved in, as I am also a producer of the show this website is advertising. This is a concert website for a concert we are promoting, to be held in Calgary Alberta, May 27, 2007. Lucinda Drayton from the UK band Bliss will be performing with Marcus Cliffe.

We are pretty excited about the show. The concert website is to promote the concert and to sell tickets. Please have a look at the Lucinda Drayton Concert Website I have just finished, and if you have a chance, I would be happy to hear your comments. The background was a challenge to work with. I do realize this type of background is not recommended, however hopefully I have done it some justice.

This was an accomplishment for a self-taught web designer. We as a group are pleased with the job. It is about bringing a vision to life. I can honestly say to more I am involved in this type of work, the more addictive it becomes. I will be back soon to share with you some exciting new resources I have discovered.

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Ask Yourself …

December 3, 2006

LotusWhat do you want in a website? When you decide to take the plunge, first of all you will need to think of your purpose of being on-line. Good web presence takes time to build and maintain.

If it a status thing, “Hey why don’t you check out my website!” then perhaps your advertising dollars are better spent elsewhere, unless of course, you have money to burn. If that is your reason, hey, I can still design one for you. Here are some things to consider, before you meet with the designer.

What do you want to accomplish? Some websites are educational, with an emphasis on relaying information and sharing it. It may also be a reference resource, or a non-profit organization. Perhaps you need a donation button.

Or if you are showcasing your talents you may need something slick and simple. Many artists use a website simply as an online portfolio, or a resume if you will for the galleries. If you are a self-representing artist, you will most probably need to set up an e-commerce system, where people can buy your art direct.

You may have a special interest in a particular topic, which you want to share, and connect with people who share a common interest. Writing websites are one example.

Perhaps you have a product to sell which you want to market whether it be to a niche market or a diverse audience. What better way to gain exposure for your business?

Consider your target audience, once you have decided on your goals. Then you have to get your name out there. What is it worth to you to have an internet presence? How much are you willing to spend, and what are you expecting as a return for your investment?

Drawing people to your site, having them make return visits is an indication your web presence is growing. Regardless of your goals you must represent yourself in an optimum manner.

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Browser Friendly

October 30, 2006

LotusA large part of designing any website, is ensuring it works fine in any browser. All browsers have some different ways of interpreting and displaying information.

You will want to have your site look optimum in any browser. Be sure that if you are hiring a web designer, that they are going to take these browser issues into account.

That should be fairly easy to accomplish, however things are always changing. IE 7 and Firefox 2.0 are the latest editions of browsers to most recently appear on the scene.

As the two most popular browsers have been released this past week, web designers and developers will need to go over all their code to make sure it is compatible with the newest upgrades.

I am willing to bet, the one which will be the most challenging will be IE7. It is sure to be a learning experience soon to come which I have not delved into yet. Old bugs may be gone, while new ones are sure to appear.

I am not sure why new versions are not standards compliant at the time of release. Surely fixes will follow. Already security vulnerabilities have been found.

It would be great to get it all in one shot, rather than a constant stream of updates. I shall soon sink my teeth into rewrites shortly, while all the while trying to drum up new business. And I may even get my own website finished. ***Sigh***

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Getting Found

October 9, 2006

“If you build it, he will come.”
~Field of Dreams(1989)

Having a website is one thing. Getting people to visit is another. Building my first website, involved a huge learning curve. I had known for a long time I wanted to build myself a website. It did not become a reality until much later. Once I had it somewhat the way I wanted it, I realized my work had just begun. Action needed to be taken to ensure someone besides myself would see it.

After all, I had spent a tremendous amount of time teaching myself code, optimizing images, and learning layout. How was I going to get people to visit? So the research began. Finding out how to market a website became my new obsession. All of this was new to me. Submitting to search engines, what to use as keywords, meta tags, site maps, link popularity, page rank … a never ending stream.

One could never profess to know everything. So much to learn and the learning never ends. Rapid change continues to occur, requiring ongoing work, to ensure your presence on the web. Here are some resources for you to check out if you would like to read up on what is involved. Some excellent tools here:

Search Engine Watch
Future Page Rank

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Hand Coding

September 18, 2006

Lotus No matter how much you know about different development software it is helpful to be able to hand code. If something goes wrong with the program you are using, then you have alternative means to finish your project. Especially important to be able to do if you have a deadline.

I hand code everything. First of all, I enjoy it. Second of all, I get to see every detail, and I know when things are going to work and when they are not. Programs can be finicky, sometimes adding in extra code, or stripping out things you wanted to leave in. Seriously, I have Macromedia, yet I found it easier to learn to hand code, than I did to learn that program.

Now that I have learned to do everything from the ground up, I am able to get around on Macromedia just fine, as I have a better understanding of how things work. Yet I still prefer to do it all by hand. Did you know you can build an entire website in Notepad? Simple and clean. As of late I have discovered Notepad2 which is very much like notepad, only it has quite a few more convenient options.

Also I most often use HTML Kit, which has lots of handy resources for more than just html. I love it so much, I can’t imagine not using it. New things are always coming along, each claiming to be better than the last so they say. Yet I like to keep my brain sharp, so coding by hand helps me to do that. Besides, what fun would it be, if we were not still learning?

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Visual Tools

September 2, 2006

LotusWhat are some tools creative people require for their website? You may be showing art, photography, crafts or something similar. Visual content must be shown in the best light possible. Quality is key.

Good photographs of your work, are of utmost importance. A digital camera is one of the best investments you can make if you are a visual artist. When looking for a digital camera I would say anything 3.2 mega pixels and up, is a good choice. Prices are coming down, so you can get a decent digital for $300.00 or less.

Some features you will want your camera to have include white balance and the ability to take pictures without a flash. I have never successfully photographed a painting with a flash enabled. It creates a glare which renders the picture useless. In order to do this you will also need a tripod to steady the camera, especially when using slow shutter speeds. For closeups of your work, you will want to have a macro setting on the camera.

A good photo editing program is essential. Learning to use a photo editing program can be trial and error. Many use photoshop, yet it is expensive. If you are looking for open source photo editing I highly recommend Gimpshop. It has a similar interface to Photoshop. The good news is it is free! They now have a Windows version that is precompiled, so that you can install and use. Be sure you get the right download for your operating system.

For help with photo editing check the web for many good tutorials. Here is one for Gimpshop, and one for Photoshop to get you started.

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