Recently, on the blog

Fri 19
December
2014

Answer: When they're an overseas design sweatshop using dodgy SEO tactics.

I'm used to getting comment-spam on my blogs. Disqus is cleans out most of it automatically, but a few make it through to publication. Fortunately, Disqus sends out notifications on new comments, so I'm able to manually filter out anything that doesn't seem genuine.

What is comment spam?

Comment spam is used by dodgy SEO businesses trying to build backlinks for themselves or their clients. The idea is that you choose a blog that's relevant to the search terms you want to build PageRank for and insert a comment (genuine interaction seems to be unneccessary) that has a backlink to your site. 

While this can build pagerank on the site you've linked to, it only works if the site you're spamming has a higher pagerank than your own and is relevant to the kind of keywords you hope people will use to find your own site.

It also won't help you if you get branded as a spammer by doing so.

Fri 19
December
2014

I'm starting a new series, DIY Web Design Mistakes, quick examples of real-life problems caused by DIY design.

Today's candidate is The Boat Shed Restaurant in Maroochydore.

DIY Mistake #1: Not checking your site's listing in organic search

Otherwise, this can happen:

DIY Web design mistakes #1, not checking your search results

Yes. That's the Joomla! default description Meta Tag. Why this is bad and how to fix it, after the jump.

Fri 19
December
2014

Finding imagery for your site is hard, whether it's part of the design or for an ongoing blog.

If there's one thing I loathe, it's shiny-happy people images that say nothing except "I don't care enough to find evocative pictures".

As Tim Reid would say, "It's an EPIDEMIC!".

An epidemic of bland, faceless marketing that toes the corporate line but fails entirely to engage the humans who are forced to deal with the drivel. It's the visual equivalent of this kind of sentence:

GenericMarketingCo is a leading performance-based marketing company with enabling technology that connects marketers to consumers through a comprehensive set of email marketing and online media services.

I get it. It's hard to write good copy and it's hard to find good images.

But when you do find the perfect image, for the sake of your business, don't steal it.

Fri 19
December
2014

At the start of this month, we reported on the ongoing rise of social media among baby boomers in Australia. Now it's time to look at local search and the benefits for Aussie business.

According to the latest Comscore search report, 10.29 billion online searches were conducted in the US alone in June 2010. Fortunately, Comscore also includes some choice snippets regarding local and mobile search, incredibly relevant data for real-world businesses.

Given that the population of Australians online is roughly 5% of the US, it's possible for us to extrapolate what this means for local businesses.

I'll give you the short version: local search is on the rise. If you own a local business you need to start making use of local search now.

Fri 19
December
2014

We've all had the experience of dealing with unreasonable people. It's not just designers who have 'clients from hell', but it's designers who've built an homage to client horror stories with clientsfromhell.com.

I'll be the first to admit - I had more than one sympathetic laugh as I clicked through the backstories.

At the same time, I grew more and more uncomfortable with what I was reading. Not that I think the site's inappropriate in any way, we all need a place to vent and a sympathetic ear to commiserate. I'm certainly not engaging in some PC tsk tsking about the poor treatment of clients at the hands of merciless designers.

Instead, as I read through the site, I came to realise that for many of the authors their war stories represented their own failures as businesspeople rather than that of their clients.