Wednesday, 31 December 2008


So long to 2008. No mega message but glad to see another year categorised safely into the mega system backups archive with all client data and Callisti details safe and snuggled up for the New Year.

Our online shop experiments are trading well and all our clients seem to getting what they need from our services without too much ado.

Can't say fairer than that...

See you at the London Search Engine Conference in February!

Monday, 22 December 2008

Opening the next gateway

Recently been looking at the Scottish Enterprise "Grow your business" initiatives. One of the challenges of working in the web/IT industry is that teams are often too busy to allow time for a clean development and testing environment pressure.

The now fragmented LEC now has a localised wing called Business Gateway to further spread the quango funding but their website does have a section of funding opportunities for development.

New Year, new thinking. Well, we'll see, but now that the set-up period for Callisti is mostly sorted and administration is ticking over nicely, it's time to look further afield to the world of possibility.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Video lackey

What better way to spend the day than working through a script and shot sequence for a DVD production project.

Getting out and about in the fresh air, meeting people, developing skills, intermittent manual labour, knocking off around 5pm,... sigh, sounds like a proper day's work.

Callisti is producing the Forest Sawmills Health and Safety Training DVD and we hope the new callisti website will feature this soon in the first quarter of next year. The website has been serving a very limited role since it's inception in quarter 3 of 2008 but we will be investing time in a more fitting web presence in the coming weeks.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Virtumonde malware

Watch out for the virtumonde trojan that's kicking about this festive season.

This infects using holes in Sun Java and gets into Windows registry and System 32 files. If you notice a randomly generated dll file name it's worth checking.

Common symptoms are pop up windows usually saying that you need to download software to fix the problem! Don't click on these popups!

This can be a sticky problem to remove as the infected dll's start when you boot up your machine.

Best solution if you're not sure, aside from checking your security settings, is to run Spybot to see if anything turns up, but this doesn't always remove the problem permanently. You should also try ATF cleaner to remove all temporary files on your computer and then run Malwarebyte's Anti-Malware. If any problems come up ensure that you check them all and 'remove selected'.

On restart the system may be slower initially but this will recover. You should then run HiJackThis to generate a log file and submit this along with the Anti-Malware report to an appropriate forum, such as Safer Networking.

You will get the best and most thorough advice from the experienced teams on these forums.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Using blogs for SEO

All the basic entries are now added to the Arts Festival diary on the wordpress blog and this has now been 'pinged' using PingMyBlog. Loosely, this is the blog equivalent of search engine submissions.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Running concurrently

Ah, the long winter nights.

Recently Callisti has been updating the experimental Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival wordpress blog site with the provisional festival diary.

Some of the events are tentatively booked so dates and venues may still need to be firmed up.

Updating wordpress blogs can take an age - I hope it's not as slow as that when you have a local server installation.

Anyhow, good to see the search results for "dumfries and galloway arts festival".

Now what was that about PageRank?

Friday, 5 December 2008

Christmas presents for boys and girls

It doesn't get more straightforward than this:

Christmas presents for girls and Christmas presents for boys.

We've found that implementing SEO recommendations does actually improve search engine performance. (check Stuart Spray Wildlife Consultancy and JBA Seed Potatoes) We urge all our clients to consider what they are aiming to achieve from their web presence.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Google Base products

Our client JBA Seed Potatoes now has competitive product listings on google's shopping search engine where you can submit product feeds and widen the range of possible searches that land on the client site.

It can take around 4-5 days from submission to insertion (oo-er) which has significantly increased in the last 18 months but there are more e-commerce websites using this service.

Be aware that Google base UK and Google base US are different and mess around with sessions if trying to switch between them.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Log Cabin Holidays

Callisti is now managing, a self catering log cabin provider in Dumfries and Galloway. Log cabins, Lodges and Chalets - these are all fairly synonymous to some but when you get in the outdoor hottub at lochanview such definitions become unimportant.

Check out the booking calendars for the lodge and log cabin.

Bat Surveys and Wildlife Consultancy

Some additional work on Stuart Spray Wildlife Consultancy has helped structure the pages with more relevance and is more SEO friendly.

Google has given an initial PageRank 2 which is nice and the sitemap has been resubmitted to feature bird surveys and bat surveys. These are key phrases besides wildlife consultancy for this client.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Today I have been mostly...

While the dust settles from recent website hiccups for Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival, Callisti started populating an Arts Festival blog on Wordpress as an experimental resource.

I was also discovering the strangest feelings while learning about the flirtation of getting quotations and prices for potential work. For the quoter it's like buying a house in Scotland - blind bids... and it's true what they say about Rackspace...

Still been checking out the famously cheap films on iLoaded for download - some good titles in the movie download section.

Also our Annan seed potato merchant is now a Callisti SEO number one for "seed potatoes" - how about that!

Still waiting for a PageRank and a re-caching by google is the bat surveys and wildlife consultancy service but you can't get to number one overnight.

Another touchbase was the self catering log cabin down at Kippford which isn't that far from Elm Cottage in Kippford.

Finally the Lockerbie Computer Services persons are getting all multimedia this festive season - we await with mulled breath what Santa will bring.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Usability and Accessibility

Excellent feedback from a Ryan O'Malley today on the Callisti fledgling website: the colour contrast between text and background is not properly readable!

"The W3C recommends a standard of 500 or greater for the color difference and a standard of 125 or greater for color brightness" and more information is at the Colour Contrast Analyser resource.

In fact the Colour brightness formula goes like this:

To conform with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, foreground and background color combinations should provide sufficient contrast when viewed by someone with low vision or colour blindness, or when viewed on a black and white screen.

The formula suggested by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to determine the brightness of a colour is:

((Red value X 299) + (Green value X 587) + (Blue value X 114)) / 1000

Two colours provide good colour visibility if the brightness difference is greater then 125 and the color difference is greater then 500.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Bat Surveys

This is a whole new world of activity for a desk jockey like me.

Stuart Spray Wildlife consultancy have recently launched their new website informing of their bat surveys, tree surveys and habitat surveys - all part of the range of wildlife consultancy services they offer.

They cover the UK but most of their work is in Southern Scotland (Dumfries and Galloway) and the North of England (Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Cumbria)

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Where to download a film...legally

Recent marketing has drawn attention to the film download market as we move away from DVDs to digital storage on our own devices. iLoaded took a benign view of the credit crunch and encouraged users to download feature films for £1.99!

There are also good deals on music videos and games for PC but it's very Windows PC oriented. The film downloads are copyright protected to prevent piracy so you know you're getting the real deal but it's a Windows DRM based security that's in place. Just make sure your windows media player is up to date, that's all I'm saying...

One interesting feature is the OMA DRM format (.DCF) that can be transferred to supporting mobile phones - this is a pretty sweet idea in principle but there are compatibility issues and the market is still settling down to some sort of cross-platform industry standard.

Note: Mac users do have a limited selection of Quicktime titles that are DRM-free :)

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Wildlife Consultancy

Callisti has recently carried out SEO work for Stuart Spray Wildlife Consultancy.

This is a UK based wildlife consultant that specialises in bat surveys, habitat surveys, and range of services for protected species survey, mitigation, research and so forth to ensure proposed developments adhere to Scottish, English and European legislation.

MyWishWand on Wordpress

There is now a dedicated Wordpress blog keeping abreast of updates to the MyWishWand wishlist and gift ideas for the family website.

Friday, 7 November 2008

When links aren't allowed

One of the irritations of building links is affiliate based wholesalers.

There is a mini-blog for MyWishWand, the gift wishlist site with virtual shopping mall and gift ideas tool but we've been frustrated in our attempts for the wholesalers and retailers to provide a link to the website even though it is a portal to their products.

You will often find that these companies will have a one-way link policy so they benefit from all traffic driven to them by external affiliate partners without reciprocating.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

MyWishWand on Squidoo

Squidoo allows users to create a 'lens' on a subject that is of interest and has become one of the top 300 US sites with over 700, 000 users.

There is an updateable entry on MyWishWand that provides a review of the services of the Gift Wishlist site. This is part of Callisti's ongoing provision of web 2.0 and review services.


Sundials, gnomons, solar time, mean time, winter solstice, true south

Where is my mind #2

That's 2 respected minds now that have extolled the virtues of NLP. Lifehack your mind?

We are underused.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Meeting of minds

Callisti is now in talks with ICT Advisor to develop new working relationships for international ecommerce SEO.

After attending a Business Gateway event in Gretna (Dumfries and Galloway) it was clear that more investment in building knowledge and skills would be the true path to illumination.

There are upcoming opportunities for tenders and Callisti says put best foot forward.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Crichton developments

Callisti has recently been active in Chamber of Commerce events and has met with the Crichton Development Company as a spin off to this.

There are a lot of events and initiatives planned for 2009 in Scotland with the Homecoming experience. This should attract media promotion at a national and international level and encourage many Scots to return to their homeland for a time.

Naturally this will have spin-off opportunities for businesses and services all over Scotland.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Enterprise agencies

Cycling about town today in a green sort of way. We had a constructive meeting earlier with the local Scottish Enterprise agency for Dumfries and Galloway where Callisti will be suggested for tenders for new work in the region.

This work will be for clients requiring a suite of services, from search engine optimisation, website design and development, and video editing for the web.

There are other opportunities in conjunction with the creative arts and art events groups in the region which will be followed up in this next quarter.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Christmas presents nightmare

A handy tool for getting gift ideas for your Christmas present list can be found at mywishwand. Enter the age of the recipient, their gender and their personality characteristics and go!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Another journey by train

I'm visiting a client in Bristol today where extensive media processing and testing goes on for a music video and film download site. The train journey is a bit horrendous: 5 and a half hours from Dumfries and Galloway with 3 changes.

The first train carriage had plug sockets but no power and a dodgy tannoy. Helpfully the assistant informed me that I could try another carriage as sometimes the power didn't work all the way through the train. Virgin trains keeping standards high!

Crewe is somewhere I only know because of journey transfers; what happens there apart from travelers crossing paths?

Anyway more SEO article writing for gift wishlists this morning as part of the ongoing campaign for mywishwand - the trend of the google analytics should gradually show an increase in traffic but with the proportion on free search engine traffic growing from the current 3%. There are some referrals at the moment but most of the traffic has been as a result of the offline marketing at the launch of the site, e.g. press and media coverage in related magazines and programmes.

The internet connection from the XDA has been fine but the network for o2 is somewhat lacking in the lake district - I guess network coverage is as concentrated as the population for any given region.

The laptop keeps picking up 'Free Public WiFi' on the train and I can connect to it without additional security measures. However it doesn't give me internet access so it may be a feature of the rail service - CrossCountry now.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Players on a stage

We are but players on a stage it has been said. It's strange how the word 'but' is used here. Lesson: remember that a lot of the language we used is expression-based and falls under the evil spell of cliche very easily.

There is a need in Dumfries and Galloway, and Dumfries in particular, for the development of a quality theatre.

A venue that can reach out to the local community and encourage participation with the performing arts as a way point for the talented children of the area, and a theatre performance area that can attract shows to the region during the Arts Festival and throughout the year.

The current venue is that closest fits this bill is the ageing Theatre Royal. We are now in a period of consultation on how best to deliver this, whether by building a new venue or by overhauling the existing theatre. Either way funding will have to be secured.

Callisti supports the performing arts and original artists.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

To blog or not to blog

We have carried out some preliminary work on mywishwand as it is a new site, generating initial traffic by offline marketing and exposure.

The site allows you to log in and search for gifts to create a wish list for you or your friends and family. You can also satisfy someone's wishes for their ideal gift by logging in and buying it for them.

An interesting link that arose from this was to BlogStorm which has a wealth of information on blogging and associated SEO and marketing.

Monday, 6 October 2008

DGCC Annual Lunch

Well that was the first annual lunch Callisti has attended and well attended it was too. Organised mainly by the Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce and featuring Charan Gill MBE as guest speaker, it was all very entertaining and relaxed.

We got the random tables and discussed the inner workings of the post office and royal mail delivery software - database driven route planning for mail delivery - the post code database is the family jewel.

Also juxtaposed were representatives from the Care Training Consortium so we had a pleasant chat over the creme brulee...

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Mountain biking

2009 will herald the World Mountain Bike Conference in Dumfries and Galloway so there will be a strong influence on the activities and visitors to the region in the coming year. This is the first time the event has been held outwith USA so it has significance.

We were in contact with Trailbrakes, a mountain biking holiday provider in the region who are now extending the range of their biking trips to Morocco as well as within the region (and of course the famous 7 stanes course at various points in Southern Scotland.)

I'm sure mountain biking awareness will increase tenfold and we welcome this positive influx to Scotland.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Nicotine logic

"I swear I'll kill someone I love today", quipped the drug addict. Outbursts like these can be uttered by those in the throes of craving when experiencing stress.

This craving can reach a certain point where imminent delivery of the drug is no longer consciously exciting, usually when the habit-formed procedures have kicked-in and the subconscious machine has taken over control of feeding the craving.

The resignation afforded to the conscious mind manifests itself by abstractions like "I don't even want this" and thinking of other removed things.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Time is a face on the water

What does that mean?

If you want space and peace in a beautiful place check out Elm Cottage in Kippford, and I'm not just saying that!

The Solway coast in Dumfries and Galloway is quite magical to travel along and looking beyond the normal tourist traps you can find your own places of activity and comfort. Otherworldly.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Apples of the earth

We've just finished an enjoyable phase 1 project for a website selling seed potatoes. There are a few refinements we can pick up in phase 2 but the shop is now live for the end of the month and enquiries are already coming in.

My dad's a big fan of Kerr's Pink so maybe the client will send a bag my way for crimbo - not the most obvious fringe benefit but good potatoes are hard to beat.

So, plenty of other work to be getting on with having also finished setting up the Independent Financial Adviser template site for Duncan Brown & Co. This deals with investments, pensions, mortgages and protection and is regulated for compliance under the FSA.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Website revisions

We are embarking on a marketing phase of company development this quarter so the website is going to be designed with a more professional image and better management of content and information.

Some good template sites that are css and xhtml have been made available by Andreas Viklund. This has been adopted by Geodata Solutions, for example, for use in their surveying and digital mapping services resource.

Never one for the bells and whistles approach, Callisti will aim for an efficient, usable website that looks pretty sweet.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

SEO what not to do

The mysteries of acquiring a page rank are myriad but here's what not to do.
Traffic for Callisti is being picked up by Google analytics but the site has not been assigned a page-rank as yet.

Some sources say that having AdSense on when the site is launched is deemed questionable by Google but this seems a little bizarre as it's part of their website services.

So with that in mind more time can now be invested in developing the site content and describing the services more informatively.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Writing for fun

Callisti services include website copywriting and document preparation. Copywriting is a key part of any communication as this is the message. This is what is expressed and this is what is interpreted and processed by the reader.

On a webpage this is a component of the design, especially when the page uses the visual appearance to convey a sense of style, mood, movement and the many other presentation techniques used today. The text message however remains key to a successful site as this is read by humans and search engines alike and is very effective as a vessel for meaning.

Document preparation is quite a wide area. Taken from a basic letter to a published book, a leaflet to a high value proposal, a presentation to a newsletter - there are so many ways that documents are made public to as many different audiences. Callisti can combine desktop publishing and layout tools to give your documents that consistent professional appearance. We can edit copy and proofread to reduce embarrassing typos. We can also get your documents print-ready using postscript software for consistent delivery.

How important is your document?

Named in the bible

Interesting fact: Queen of the South is the only football team named in the Bible.

Well, more accurately, the Bible mentions a Queen of the South and there is now a football team that shares this name. It's not like Queen of the South Football Club were around 2,000 years ago and someone thought they should mention his allegiance to the team.

Anyway, they are having trouble with their official website from what I can gather from the various unofficial blogs and supporters' message boards - the official message board is not available, possibly due to bad press.

A lesson for all you web site design companies out there trying to make that step up to professional service delivery: be careful what you promise.

And if you can't deliver what you promised, at least test your development site before you put it live.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Stirling work

The weekend just past was spent in Aberfoyle, Stirling and Falkirk helping Kit (website designer and video technologist) through his stag activities.

A good proportion of the minibus-load are involved in video and web-related work, including time-lapse photography expert Robbie Allen.

After a fear-fighting Saturday jumping of trees in harnesses we ate and drank in Stirling until we felt sick or tired.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Directory Listings

Is it good to embark on a link building campaign for when building your website's presence online?

There are numerous directory sites where concepts like relevant directory and page rank, non-reciprocal, reciprocal, all come to the fore. I am currently experimenting with these, especially the ones that don't require payment, but it's a murky business.

I can see that the Callisti website is listed on some of the sites as this shows up in search results. I am slightly concerned that it's wasting energy that could be spent in something more genuine. Being listed in 50 different phone books doesn't seem very substantial for some reason but maybe that's just me.

The more sites that we work on, the more courtesy links point to the site, which I feel better about as it is honourable. Let's face it, on today's date the site is currently indexed but unranked and this can take time.

I'm quite impressed with some of the automated link building systems - a collection of scripts and applications that have gestalt intelligent appearance but no inherent soul. Where am I going with that?

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

SEO and Google Adwords

Hi pop-pickers. Another busy day in and out of the office. One random event of note was my dilapidated car reach a milestone...

Or 150,000 of them to be precise. This was en-route to Barncleuch, Irongray in Dumfries and Galloway to consult with Chairman of the Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival about a number of issues.

On my return I found that a swarm of SEO jobs had come into my mailbox along with some hosting requests. I do love administration!

Friday, 5 September 2008

Aberdeen Media Website Development

What a strange day at the office. The morning entailed a rainy trip to the 'Making it Happen' discussion on the alternative futures for theatre provision in Dumfries (and by extension Dumfries and Galloway).

There were many representatives from local authority, theatre trust (involved with the intimate but delapidated Theatre Royal), community organisations, schools, etc. and a few from the Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival membership. This is a part time interest for me as I am keen to find a practical way of joining up the provision of creative arts and events information for the region and have somehow been co-opted on to the festival board.

Subsequently a London client of Callisti required some research to find an alternative quote for a large scale development (masquerading as another nominal company for NDA reasons) and I was fortunate enough to find AVC Media Enterprises based in Aberdeen.

After a good chat with their project interface character I was well impressed, and he was able to be helpful and informative in a way that I'd like to revisit. Their website is professional and exemplifies some of the clever applications they have put to use. More media oriented than most and, by the way, it was surprisingly hard to find a company (that was accessible) based in Scotland who could come close to providing what was being asked for.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Somewhere to dig for gold

I was thinking that there's gold in them there hills. Just not enough to warrant spending £1 million setting up a small mine to extract £0.9 million worth of gold. Some smart alec will find a cute way of making it worthwhile.

Not me though, I was too busy optimising the website for the Central Hotel in Annan. A freelancer of some local repute had passed on the work so I was happy to help. It was 6am, how could I refuse? The Basement bar/venue sounds interesting though so I should sample it someday.

SEO on many levels

I spent some of this afternoon thinking about sheep. Not because I'm surrounded by Scotland. The latest client has a number of web sites and the latest online presence is for pedigree Suffolk sheep.

There are some interesting facts to be found when researching for writing web-copy, and it wasn't something I could have predicted last week. Still, trawling through the DEFRA website for information on MV and Scrapie had it's neuronal pleasures...

Some kind of rural filmscape theme was trying to tie itself together in my head since the morning phone call from a travelling developer, wandering wild in hills near Keswick.

Windows DRM

The nightmare that is Windows DRM. Here's the challenge: go and find a definitive website that shows a list of compatible devices for Windows DRM.

Remember there's Windows Media Player DRM and the 3GP DRM (.dcf) files that will only play on compatible mobile phones (see manufacturer's specifications for details, hehe). I'll give you a fiver if you find a page or site that lists this clearly.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Google Listings

Just tried a speculative search in UK results for 'usability and seo' and callisti comes up in postition 8. Remove the 'and' and it shifts to 3rd or 4th page. Encouraging though all the same. I must update the sitemap now that some content for user testing and seo consultancy has been added in a subdirectory for the website.

User testing or website usability

I'm not even sure if usability is actually a word beyond the realms of websites and graphical user interfaces. Anyhow, user testing is a research component of the website usability consultancy service offered by Callisti.

A client's website is examined in several ways: what does the unassuming user discover unprompted when visiting the website; how does the user navigate through the site and what is her experience of this; how does the client intend the website to work; etc.

By compiling the findings we can report back on a convergence strategy that aims to improve ROI and goal conversion from the client's point of view while simultaneously improving user feedback.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Why optimise?

Your corporate or business website is your 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, non-stop marketing and information machine. It can reach a massive audience and relay your products, services and relevant information about your company.

Nobody wants to be misrepresented so it is important to maintain this window into your business. How do you manage your website?

Are you reaching as much of the right audience as you'd expect? All your website development efforts may not be fully realised if your website is hard to find.

We believe that a website isn't just an add-on to your marketing strategy. It can be integrated efficiently into the way you traditionally share information and distribute changing information about products, services and events.

We also know that time spent clarifying your target keywords, updating the web-copy where appropriate and building relevant links, in short 'search engine optimisation' (SEO), can help you get a lot more out of your website and, in some cases, restore your faith in how effective a website can be for your organisation.

Callisti can also help you with sponsored listings, such as Adwords, which is an efficient way to drive traffic to your site especially once your target keywords and SEO has been completed. In cases like this it is good to think about your online marketing budget and the targets you would aim to meet to demonstrate value for money.

So much information is available on the internet, all it costs is your time. You also need some experience and judgement to make sure that you're getting the best information.

Contact Callisti if you are starting to think about SEO and online marketing. We can guide you by principles of good practice and help clarify what you can expect when you have a well managed website.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Making Music

G came visiting today and offered some inspiration for making music again. What I need to do, though, is set up a capture mechanism for recording acoustic sounds to digital tracks in my PC pod. Although this could be an avoidance technique for actually doing the work of writing new music.

I've been thinking about the transience of music making since hearing about the death of Steven Edgar of My Electric Love Affair although I don't know whether I know him from Leith by association with Cestlavie and his Rodney Relax connection.

Friday, 29 August 2008

An American World

We live in an american world. Every day I have to miss spell words like colour (color) to correctly code css style sheets.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Excerpts from Skype #1

when i left on tuesday i got a wave of weirdness

i thought i'd been a pest with asking for your help on some stuff

but generally i'm curious and interested in what's going on with you re change of direction in your life and if you're just being mental for a bit or if you have a new found purpose and appreciation for things within you that have been quiet up to now

A whole host of problems

We don't market ourselves as a hosting service but we are finding that a lot of new customers feel it's time for a more reliable service and are asking if we can provide.

There is much more administration involved in keeping a website and email service ticking over nicely with so many factors affecting how well your current hosts can deliver on their promises. Even the process of switching to a new provider is seldom hassle free.

However our strength is that we keep our client base small; if it's too big how could a small team look after everyone properly? It seems obvious but different companies have different business plans and philosophies.

If the market was truly free...

When the site hits the fan

Woke up this morning, checked in on a client site, nothing there. No database access, content management access or website front-end visible.

Not good.

After some frustrating phone calls, another freelancer working on the site (unit A), started playing the 'blunderbuss blame game' to defer any responsibility for the problem.

Unit A was put in place to ensure the site project would have failsafes for when a server went down, mirrors and database snapshots with smart load balancing, clustered server setup, 3 different geographical locations, etc.

Previously the site had 99.7 % uptime on a Fasthosts dedicated server but Unit A was keen to force through 'scaling up' tactics rather than wait for the worst to happen. Sensible chat indeed. However Unit A is a chatter and not a doer it seems and is now squirming while all the teams working on the project add yet another black mark to the Unit A gripe-sheet.

This is the culmination of a month of Unit A speaking with forked-tongue about a new, more safe and efficient system that was being put in place for developers to test and deploy code to the live site. Which hasn't been delivered.

What we now have is a system whereby Unit B (a friend of Unit A) outsources development work to Unit C and all work must go through Unit C's team server environment.

Once we check files in and out we now have to merge those files on the team server, run a script or batch file to update THE WHOLE SITE from the team server to the development server, test on the development server, then snapshot that instance of the site and submit to the Live-Candidate stage using a multi step, error-prone system, then wait for Unit A to hear from Unit B, (which in practise is me phoning Unit A every day at least once asking that he sends an email confirmation which he is very resistant to doing) then carry out UAT (user acceptance testing), then feedback to Unit A, who passes this back to Unit B, who charges the work to Unit C to revise the develoment server version, resubmit to live-candidate version, ETC.

In the meantime we have work queued up on the system which can't be deployed until Unit C fix their errors.

It's the perfect bureaucracy: impossible to understand, unduly complicated, far too many agencies involved and people who want to get on with their work can't. Oh, and the CEO is under the illusion that we need Unit A and that everything will be better soon.

Add to that, the most creative developer is so demoralised by the situation that he is now leaving the team. This follows all the existing team repeatedly expressing justified reservations to the CEO about the involvement of Unit A and subsequent issues.

Some other key failings of Unit A: not making any allowance for the fact that the whole team use Macs which aren't compatible with team server, not being open with basic permissions and access details for team, not communicating clearly, etc.

Sometimes I feel like laughing.

SEO is not alchemy

SEO services that professional companies should offer you:

  • Online Market research - Competitor and industry research, research into the psychology of the targeted audience, keyword research etc.
  • On-site optimisation - On-site changes that are made in order to improve search engine rankings. On-page optimisation can include improving keyword density, writing headings and meta tags, cleaning source code, setting up links etc.
  • Copywriting - Writing content for your website is an important part of any search engine optimisation campaign. It doesn't matter if your website ranks #1 if the words don't communicate your message and make the sale.
  • Off-site optimisation and marketing - Includes setting up external links, partnerships, manual submission to search engines, directories, setting up ads etc.
  • Tracking and ROI Analysis - Tracking traffic changes and patterns as well as accurate ROI analysis is what makes a SEO campaign successful or not.

You should expect to pay for all of the above services, they are all part of search engine optimisation and they all require time, knowledge and other resources in order to be successfully carried out. Some other aspects of SEO consultancy that are likely to incur costs are:

  • Email and phone consultations
  • Client training and education
  • Preparation of reports and other documents and materials related to services to be provided