Tips on Resizing Images with HTML

One of the most frequent mistakes we see beginner web designers make is not resizing images to the appropriate size, and relying on html tags to resize it on the fly.

This has a number of negative effects. One is that the browser isn't designed to resize images, so it can distort the picture, making it look bad.

More importantly however, it can mean that the visitor is forced to download massive files for absolutely no reason. This slows down the website, uses up bandwidth, and generally gives the user a bad impression.

So make sure you use image editing software to make your image exactly the right size before you upload it to the web.

What are reciprocal links?

To answer this question I'm going to start at the very beginning, to make sure no one gets lost. If you know some or all of this already, feel free to skip ahead. A link is a word or phrase on a webpage that you can click on, and it will then take you to a different webpage.

An outbound link is when you link to someone else's site from your webpage.

An inbound link is when someone else links from their site to yours.

Reciprocal links are when you agree with the other webmaster to exchange links - i.e. you link to their site and they will link to yours.

(An important note I want to make here, which may seem obvious but I have been asked a surprising number of times, is that you don't have to ask permission to link to someone's site. A website is by definition in the public domain - if someone is publishing information in the public domain, they can hardly then get upset if you point it out to people. Quite the opposite, as I'll explain below, you are doing them a favour. So don't waste their time by emailing asking permission to link to their site)

So why bother with reciprocal links? Well, apart from the obvious benefit that you could gain traffic from related sites that click through to yours, inbound links are the original basis for the Google algorithm, and therefore the Holy Grail for many Search Engine Optimisers. Google uses a 'democratic' system to rank pages, counting each link to a website as a 'vote' for that site. But it's not quite as simple as that. The votes of some sites have a heavier weighting, so for example: if The Guardian newspaper linked to you, it would count as a more important vote for your site than if your mate Dave linked to you from his wedding website.

However, Google is moving away from this method and it is only one of many ways of rankings websites that is in their toolkit. A reason for this is that some webmasters abuse the system and set up huge networks of websites, created simply for the purpose of linking to each other. They charge small webmasters a monthly fee and guarantee them high Google rankings, but this practice degrades the experience for visitors as they bounce from directory to directory, never reaching a final destination. Therefore, Google blacklists websites it discovers doing this.

Despite these caveats, it is still worth building a dedicated partners page or even section, which is unobtrusively linked to from your homepage, and having limited numbers of links to related sites listed, on the condition that they link back to you. Try to make a decent proportion of these 'deep' (not just to your homepage) link too.

Happy canvassing!

Tips on choosing a web designer

Pick us.

Only kidding; there's more to it than that.

Below are some hints and tips on what to do if you want to choose a web design company and don't know where to start.

1. Always get quotes from more than one to begin with, at least three is advisable, otherwise you have no idea of your options. An additional benefit of this is that you get an impression of how they work, and if you're likely to get on withh them.

2. Check out their previous work. In our opinion they should have a wide range of examples of websites they've made on their website for you to view without asking, which click through to the genuine website. However, if they don't offer it right away and you do decide to ask, they shouldn't have any problem providing you with a list. If a web design company can only show you one or two websites they've made, you've got to wonder why... likewise if they don't click through, how do you know the website really exists?

3. Check out their previous work thoroughly. More than just look at it for a second, use the websites. Are they easy to navigate, do they load fast enough? If they don't, chances are yours won't either.

4. Look at their website. A website is a showcase for all businesses, but for a website design company it's absolutely critical. If their website doesn't work it's an extremely bad sign. If their website is 'under construction' don't touch them with a barge pole. What decent web design company can't organise finishing it's own website?

5. Look for testimonials and recommendations. You could even contact their clients (you know who they are, you've seen their websites) and politely ask how they found the web design service. Most people will be happy to tell you if they've had good service, and even more keen if it was awful!

6. If there are any terms they use that you don't understand, don't be afraid to ask exactly what they mean. They should be able to explain in a suitable manner, taking into account the fact you're not a techie. If your designer can't explain it to you, there may be communication barriers later down the line, or they may just be trying to baffle you with jargon.

7. Make sure they can provide you with a clear breakdown of what is included in the contract. It's in both your interests to have it in writing to avoid disputes (often simply due to misunderstanding) after the project is underway.

8. They should be able to provide you with statistical reports on your website's performance, so you can see how many visitors you're getting once the site is live.

9. Check that they provide ongoing support, NOT on premium rate numbers or only via email or a list of FAQs, and not at extortionate rates.

10. Tech spec crib sheet for dummies (or just non geeks):

  1. What browsers do you support?
  • Ideal answer: IE6 and up, Mozilla firefox, Safari and Opera (these are the most common).
  • Bad answer: Cross-browser compatibility? What's that then?
  1. Do you use cascading style sheets and up-to-date coding methods?
  • Ideal answer: Yes, we use the most elegant script to keep the back ends of our websites light and Search Engine friendly.
  • Bad answer: We use tables to structure our websites.
  1. What SEO methods do you use?
  • Ideal answer: We use only honest, 'white hat' methods, including keywords, titles, descriptions, search engine submission, reciprocal links and Google Sitemaps & verification.
  • Bad answer #1 We don't do SEO.
  • Bad answer #2. We guarantee you top positions in Google for all of your keywords, using all the methods that are available.