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.