Archive for October 2009


Website Builder Tutorials: How to change link colours

October 30th, 2009 — 3:00pm

Links eh? Where would we be without ‘em! Watch the tutorial to find out how to change the colour of your links when you hover over them.

Phorm decides to give the UK a miss – for now

October 29th, 2009 — 2:57pm

Its been a few months since we talked about Phorm. The online advertising firm has raised controversy due to its technology which allows advertisers to target users based on their online behaviour.

Unsurprisingly, Phorm has met considerable resistance from online privacy campaigners, including the ‘father of the Internet’ Tim Berners-Lee. Big name websites such as Amazon and Wikipedia have also pledged to block Phorm from gather user data from them.

Whilst Phorm has to a certain extent faced down legal threats to its operation, the biggest challenge has been to convince an ISP partner to get involved. For the system to work, Phorm needs to install its equipment into the ISP data centre. No ISP, no Phorm.

Although Phorm convinced BT to run an early trial, it has since lost support from previously willing ISP partners. BT pulled the Phorm contract earlier this year, and TalkTalk has cut ties with the company. Virgin “continues to evaluate” the system.

For this reason, Phorm says that the UK was now just a “medium to long-term prospect”, adding that it will “deploy in other markets first”. The country which has been most open to this form of behavioural targeting is Korea, where Phorm is partnering with the largest ISP ‘KT’.

Nevertheless, Phorm has said that they will keep their UK operation running despite the challenges it faces here.

“Phorm remains fully committed to its operations in the UK. We continue to be active in the market and are confident of the opportunities domestically. Meanwhile, Phorm is also making substantial operational progress internationally”, it said in a statement.

Back in September Phorm released an update to its trading figures, which show that its had incurred a pre-tax loss of $15m for the first half of this year. This is a big drop in the same period last year, when it lost $24.7m.

What do you think of behavioural targeting? Are you willing to give up some privacy in order to get tailored advertising messages? Have we heard the last of Phorm? Leave us a comment below.

New Control Panel now out of Beta!

October 28th, 2009 — 1:47pm

Thanks for all the emails and comments you’ve left about the new control panel, released in Beta a few weeks ago.  We’ve used those to help get rid of any bugs and problems. And the good news is: the updated version is  now live!

Here’s what it looks like:

You might want to know what has changed! Y’ere tis:

  • CTRL key now works!
  • Keyboard shortcuts function normally again
  • backspace and @ symbol now work in Google Chrome
  • ‘-1′ error (and ’404′ on Macs) for large file uploads is all fixed
  • In Firefox the keyboard nudge, enter, tab keys and cursor will work normally again
  • ‘Delete this page’ option has been restored to the ‘Pages’ menu
  • Domains module now loads in the edit environment (doesn’t go back to webeden.co.uk)
  • Loading has been optimised for quicker download and more feedback
  • Sidebar panels now animate to add a bit of fuhzazz!

You can navigated to the new Toolbar in the same way (‘View’ -> ‘New Toolbar’), or if you’re already using it you get the updates automatically.

These are the best bits about the new Toolbar (we think)
The main reason to make these changes were to reorganise all the features into a more logical order, and to build a structure that meant it was easier to add new stuff in the future. Previously when we added new features we placed them where we could find space. Now the most important stuff is the easiest to find.

This is what we like:

  • Use the full screen browser for editing – you can move edit tools outside the boundary of your site
  • Zoom in/out while editing – you make your site bigger/smaller to help you ‘see’ it in full glory
  • Sticky edit tools – the Toolbar remains at the top and the Editor will remain on screen as you scroll up and down
  • Show off-screen objects – if you drag something off your site (outside the boundary), you can choose to hide or display off screen objects while in Edit mode (new under ‘view’)
  • Detailed insert menu – more objects can be added in one click, including some new HTML snippets (‘Insert’ menu)
  • Quick pages menu – includes quicker ways to add pages, copy pages and change page length, plus edit meta data (for search engines) more quickly (see ‘Pages’ menu)
  • Links to other services – Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, AdSense can all be viewed without leaving your site (new ‘Services’ menu)
  • Copy site/transfer site feature – allows you to create copies of your site as the basis for a new site (not for backup)
  • HTML widget – add any HTML snippet to your site using our HTML widget snippet (e.g. Google Gadgets, all Widgetbox widgets, all Amazon widgets and more).

That’s about it. What do you think? Leave us a comment below.

Get more from the Web with RSS

October 27th, 2009 — 3:06pm

Today we’re lucky enough to have another Guest Blog by Alison Cross from AlisonCross4Webs.co.uk. Its all about getting more from websites by using RSS.

What is RSS?

You may have noticed a little orange radio symbol on your journeys through the various plains and jungles of the internet. Usually on a blog or news site it winks at you from the corner of the page, inviting you to click it.

But what is it?

It’s an RSS feed link, that’s what it is.

‘What in the tarnation is RSS?’ I hear you ask! Truthfully, I didn’t actually know what RSS stood for, but I am reliably informed that it’s short for ‘really simple syndication’. And it is just that – a really simple way to share information.

Let’s look at a normal working day. Do you log on in the morning and visit your usual sites – perhaps the BBC for news, maybe WebEden’s blog to see what Ken’s telling us about today, maybe a couple of sites to do with your business? Twitter?!

What often happens is that you go out looking for those new links. With RSS, you tell the sites to send the new stuff in to you.

Sounds Good! So how do I use RSS?

What you need to get your hands on first of all is an RSS Reader.  This acts as your central gathering point for the RSS information that you want to read.

It will not surprise you in the least that I’m about to point you in the direction of the Google Reader. You can sign up to Google Reader here. You’ll need a Google account for this, which you will already have if you use their Analytics or Webmaster Tools. There are load of alternative RSS readers – just search for ‘RSS Reader’ on Google.

Google Reader

Once you’ve activated your Google Reader, you can add feeds to it in two ways.

The first way is within Reader itself. In the top left hand corner of the Reader screen you’ll see a box that allows you to add a new subscription. Here’s what it looks like:

You can either type in the actual URL of the website you want to subscribe to, or you can type in a search term and browse about until you find one that you really like the look of and then subscribe.

The second way is to click on that little orange radio button (like the image at the top of this post) while you are on the site that you want to subscribe too.

When you click on that button, you’ll probably find that you are offered several Reader subscription buttons – and Google is usually one of them. Click on that feed button and next time you log in to your Reader page, there will be the fascinating feed!

Get a Bundle

Subscribing to RSS feeds can save you a lot of time. In fact, Google has even bundled together lots of different RSS feeds for people who haven’t got time to go hunting for relevant feeds.

As of today’s date, there are 449 different bundles available to you – from news feeds..coffee ..crochet…surfing…yoga…everything! If you can’t find a bundle that interests you, why not create a bundle of YOUR niche favourites and submit them to Google for other people to subscribe to?!

Finally

Why you should use RSS? Because it brings your internet world to YOU, you don’t need to go rootling about to find it and best of all, you’ll never miss an update from your favourite site again.

About Alison Cross
Alison Cross lives on the Isle of Bute where she has built over a dozen websites using our software. She also helps people use Twitter to market their business. For more info or advice about social media or web design, visit her website alisoncross4webs.co.uk.

Find a website hard work? Help others by using the Google Sidewiki

October 26th, 2009 — 2:46pm

Have you ever reached a particular website and found it really hard to find the information you were looking for? Have you ever needed a bit of help from friends to work the checkout on a website? What about letting others know how great you think a site is – did you want share your feedback with other visitors?

Thanks to the Google Sidewiki, you can now do all of these, and much more besides. And you can also read the notes and comments left by other visitors to a website.

Launched a few weeks ago, the Sidewiki lets you add helpful information alongside any webpage. The Sidewiki looks like a browser sidebar, where you can read what others have said, and also write your own entries.

If a webpage has lots of entries they are ranked according to lots of ‘signals’ which mean that those considered most useful stay at the top. The ranking system takes into account feedback that you and other users have given, and previous entries you’ve made. The entries are ranked in real time. You can read more about how they’re ranked on the Google Research Blog.

If you make a comment about a particular web page, the Google sidewiki will also display those comments against webpages that contain the same snippet of text.

Let’s say you were leaving comments about Gordon Brown’s party conference speech, on a webpage that actually included the text of the speech: your comments made on one website could also be visible on other websites displaying the same bit of Brown’s speech.

The sidewiki also pulls in posts from blogs and other websites that discuss the particular webpage, so you can see what other people are saying about it even if their comments reside elsewhere.

At the moment the Sidewiki is a feature on the Google Toolbar for Firefox and Internet Explorer.

If you’re interested you start using the Sidewiki by visiting google.com/sidewiki to download Google Toolbar with Sidewiki.

If you’re a website builder, this feedback is a potential goldmine of information. We’re going to be able to get live feedback from our website visitors about what they think of our website. They will hopefully point out where they think we’re going wrong, and what we need to do to fix it.

Do you think it’s a good idea to allow anyone to comment on any webpage? Would you be happy to read the feedback on your site? As an experienced web user, are you happy to share your feedback? Leave a comment below!

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