Tag Archives: hansen web design

Considering WordPress?

WordPress LogoAre you having trouble deciding if WordPress will be the right solution for your next amazing site, or do you have a boss or client who’s refusing to accept WordPress as a viable platform? Sara Rosso gave a great intro to the WordPress Ecosystem at this year’s WordCamp San Francisco. She covers some of the heavy-hitters using WordPress, how big of an audience some of them are reaching, and why they decided to make the switch (if they did move from another platform), as well as how the overall community works.

New Client – Studio GlassWorks, LLC

Studio GlassWorks, LLCHansen Web Design is proud to announce our latest client – Studio GlassWorks, LLC of Madison, WI.  Studio GlassWorks designs and builds custom architectural decorative glass for residential, commercial and religious clients.

We’ll be designing and coding a custom WordPress website for them with a special set of plugins for site management, search engine optimization, and security; and we’ll also be setting up a series of specialized galleries for them to show off their products – they have a LOT of products and beautiful photos!

An Explosion of Web Names

URLOne of the biggest changes in the history of the Internet could be set into motion shortly. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing remains open to fierce debate.

At a meeting in Singapore, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which oversees the Internet address system, has approved a vast expansion of the range of addresses available. The group wants to make it possible for Internet users to create their own extensions like .com, .net or .org.

So, get ready for Web sites that end with the names of cities or brands, like .berlin or .canon, to name just two entities that have expressed interest in the proposed system. Crafty entrepreneurs are busy thinking up sites like iwant.beer or whatsfor.dinner.

Icann envisions hundreds of new extensions, and that is just in the first round of applications. The overall range of Internet addresses on offer would increase exponentially.

Icann has been working on this for years. At a meeting in Paris three years ago, its board recommended going ahead. Since then, however, final authorization has been delayed several times, even as Icann has gone ahead with other expansions, including the use of non-Latin alphabets in domain names.

This time around, Peter Dengate Thrush, the chairman of Icann, said he thought the board would give the go-ahead. “We’re feeling reasonably confident at this stage because of the feedback we’ve been getting from all the players,” he said.

Such a vote would be a personal triumph for Mr. Dengate Thrush, given that the meeting in Singapore is set to be his last as chairman. Icann says the expansion would give Internet users vastly greater choice, leading to innovations in online marketing, among other things.

Yet critics of Icann question the need, saying existing suffixes provide plenty of choice. They say Icann wants to railroad the plan through without addressing their concerns.

Owners of corporate brands and other trademarks — who remember the cybersquatting that marred the early days of the Internet, when profiteers claimed brand names and then resold them to their owners — say the expansion would open the door to a new round of intellectual property abuses.

“It’s an unproven idea that has been handled very poorly from a project management standpoint,” said Alan C. Drewsen, executive director of the International Trademark Association.

The primary beneficiaries of the change, critics contend, will be the registrars that maintain Internet addresses; unlike Icann, a nonprofit organization, many registrars are commercial entities.

“The more domains they have out there, the more names they can register and the more money they take in,” said Josh Bourne, president of the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse, a Washington-based lobby group.

Icann plans safeguards to thwart cybersquatters and other opportunists. The price of the new extensions has been set at a steep $185,000, for example, with a further $25,000 annual fee to maintain them. Trademark owners would be allowed to claim their names for use in addresses during “sunrise” periods following the rollout. These protections have been strengthened since the proposal was outlined.

“My expectation is that people will look at this in a fairly commercial way,” Mr. Dengate Thrush said. “My hope is that they aren’t going to waste a lot of time and money applying for names that don’t stand a chance.”

Mr. Dengate Thrush acknowledged that there were still unresolved issues around implementation. But he said these could be resolved after a vote to go ahead. Icann plans a four-month communication period before applications for addresses will be accepted.

During that time, trademark owners will have to wrestle with some big questions. Should they apply for the new suffixes? Should they register their names for use with other new extensions? Or should they do neither? A lot of money hangs on the decisions.

Mei-lan Stark, senior vice president for intellectual property at News Corp.’s Fox Entertainment Group, recently told a U.S. congressional committee that the change could cost her company at least $12 million in the initial stages alone.

That estimate was based on the cost of registering 300 names in an initial round of 400 new address extensions, at a cost of $100 each, she said. The cost, and related legal bills, would rise as the list of suffixes grew, Ms. Stark added.

Planning is complicated by the fact that brand owners do not know how consumers will react. Icann has already been adding suffixes one by one, in advance of the big bang it envisions. Most recently, it approved .xxx for sexually explicit sites. With a few exceptions, however, marketers prefer .com over other extensions, like .web, .net or suffixes that represent a specific country.

The .xxx extension appears to have had little support from the pornography industry, and its approval prompted dismay in political capitals around the world, including Washington and Brussels. The government advisory council, which monitors Icann and its independent board, had previously voiced concerns.

Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission, wrote in a letter to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke of the United States that the introduction of .xxx could create unexpected consequences, perhaps prompting censorship-minded governments to block entire portions of the Internet.

In a response, Lawrence E. Strickling, an assistant commerce secretary who is responsible for Internet policy, agreed, but added that the Obama administration did not think it was “in the long-term best interest of the United States or the global Internet community for us unilaterally to reverse the decision.”

The fact that Icann has ruffled feathers in Brussels and Washington, among other capitals, is not necessarily a bad thing. At a time when governments all over the world are taking a greater interest in what happens in the digital world, the Internet needs an independent guardian and Icann is one of several groups that play an important role in this regard. But it may have to pick its fights carefully.

Ms. Kroes wrote in an e-mail that she continued to support the “multistakeholder” approach to Internet governance, as embodied by Icann. But she said that the board of the organization should be “extremely sensitive to the views of public authorities” as it proceeded with projects like the expansion of Internet addresses.

“Overall, I am concerned that certain public policy issues, which are of great importance to the economic and social well-being of European citizens and businesses, have not been taken into consideration by the Icann board as much as they would deserve,” she said in the e-mail, sent via a spokesman.

Source: New York Times

New Client – Prairie Metallurgical Products & Prairie Industrial Products

Prairie Metallurgical ProductsWe are happy to announce our latest client, Prairie Metallurgical Products and Prairie Industrial Products.  While these are two separate companies, they have the same owner.

We will be developing WordPress sites for both of these companies in order to target their customer base with specific search engine optimization (SEO) while at the same time allowing the client full flexibility in the management of these two websites.

New Client – Southwest Surveying & Associates

Hansen Web Design is proud to announce the addition of our newest client, Southwest Surveying and Associates, of Palmyra, Wisconsin.  Southwest Surveying & Associates, Inc. is a land surveying firm providing services to Dodge, Jefferson, Waukesha, Walworth and Rock counties.  We will be designing a new WordPress platform site for them to highlight their services and concentrate on search engine optimization.

The Browser Wars and How They Affect You

Browser WarsAt Hansen Web Design we monitor and test web sites in multiple browsers every day, so we need to keep track of what’s happening with the various browsers out there – how they handle basic HTML code, CSS, operating systems – anything that will affect the look and feel of your website.  It’s important that you keep track too – why?  Not just for the reasons we track them, but for another very important reason – speed.  We want your websites to load fast and design them that way to the best of our ability, but you can help things along by using the latest and “right” browser for your needs.

Tom’s Hardware has been tracking the latest round of the browser wars and has completed a superb review of the latest versions of Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera, FireFox and Safari.  The results might surprise you!

E-Mail Spam Falls After Russian Crackdown

Silicon Valley Trade Delegation - NYT Photo
A Silicon Valley trade delegation, led by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, visited President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia in Moscow.

You may not have noticed, but since late last month, the world supply of Viagra ads and other e-mail spam has dropped by an estimated one-fifth. With 200 billion spam messages in circulation each day, there is still plenty to go around.  But police officials in Russia, a major spam exporter, say they are trying to do their part to stem the flow. On Tuesday, police officials here announced a criminal investigation of a suspected spam kingpin, Igor A. Gusev. They said he had probably fled the country.  Moscow police authorities said Mr. Gusev, 31, was a central figure in the operations of SpamIt.com, which paid spammers to promote online pharmacies, sometimes quite lewdly. SpamIt.com suddenly stopped operating on Sept. 27. With less financial incentive to send their junk mail, spammers curtailed their activity by an estimated 50 billion messages a day.

Why the site closed was unclear until Tuesday, when Moscow police officials met with reporters to discuss the Gusev case. The officials’ actions were a departure from Russia’s usual laissez faire approach to online crime.

They accuse Mr. Gusev of operating a pharmacy without a license and of failing to register a business. On Tuesday, they searched his apartment and office in Moscow, according to Lt. Yevdokiya F. Utenkova, an investigator in the economic crime division of the Moscow police department.

Lieutenant Utenkova said the search of the apartment turned up seven removable hard drives, four flash cards and three laptops. Specific, computer-crime related charges may follow after police examine their contents, she said. The investigation began Sept. 21, six days before SpamIt.com closed.

Mr. Gusev’s lawyer, Vadim A. Kolosov, said in a telephone interview that his client was not the owner of SpamIt.com and had never sent spam e-mail, but declined to respond to specific questions.

The drop-off in spam since SpamIt.com went down had been noted by companies in the United States that monitor the Internet.

“We’ve seen a sustained drop in global volumes,” Henry Stern, a senior security analyst at Cisco Systems, said in a telephone interview from San Francisco. The company pinpointed the closure of Mr. Gusev’s site as the cause for this easing up.

If individual computer users have not noticed changes in spam traffic, it may be because many people have learned to use spam filters that insulate them from the junk that continuously circulates on the Internet.

Kaspersky Lab, an antivirus company based in Moscow, said there had been a notable drop in mass e-mail in the United States that advertised prescription drugs — to about 41 percent of all spam at the end of the September from 65 percent at the beginning of the month. The figures are comparable in Western Europe, the company said. Many of the pharmaceuticals sold through Web sites promoted by spammers are believed to be counterfeit.

Other computer security companies had reported similar reductions in prescription drug spam, although they cautioned that spam volumes were volatile and often spring back to previous high levels. On a typical day, spam accounts for about 90 percent of all e-mail traffic on the Internet.

Mr. Gusev and SpamIt.com have been widely known in computer security circles, and he had lived openly in Moscow. Spamhaus, an international nonprofit that monitors global spam, listed the SpamIt.com organization as the world’s single largest sponsor of spam.

Last year, the Russian-language version of Newsweek reported that Mr. Gusev’s sites were connected to the same computer server farm in St. Petersburg, Russia, called Russian Business Networks, that was identified in a 2009 report by online security experts with NATO as a source of the attacks on Georgia in 2008.

Mr. Gusev filed suit against Newsweek in a Moscow court, denying links to spamming suggested in the article. That case is still pending. In that suit, he cited phone calls from The New York Times to his lawyer seeking comment as evidence that the article harmed his reputation.

Why, after years of ignoring spammers, Russian authorities have now acted has left online security experts puzzled.

SpamIt.com had operated in a gray area of Russian law, cybersecurity researchers said. They said it had paid commissions to other parties that had directed traffic to various sites operating under the name Canadian Pharmacy, using a Russian online settlement system. Mr. Gusev has denied in blog posts that he promoted spam.

The spammers, meanwhile, operated entirely in the shadows, using networks of computers that had been remotely infected with viruses, known as botnets, and turning them into relay stations for sending e-mail from anywhere in the world.

Some American security experts have said that the spamming operation in Russia appears to have been protected by Russian authorities — whether for reasons of corruption, national pride or state security.

Because most victims of online crime, and the targets of unwanted spam advertising, are in Europe and the United States, Russian police have typically seen little incentive to prosecute online crime, analysts say.

But recently, President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia has been seeking to expand and legitimize the domestic Russian Internet industry — and move it away from its reputation as a playground for hackers, pornographers and authors of darkly ingenious viruses.

In June, Mr. Medvedev visited California to meet with Silicon Valley executives. The SpamIt.com site closed two weeks before the reciprocal Silicon Valley trade delegation, led by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, arrived in Moscow on Oct. 10.

Computer security researchers have conjectured that spamming gangs have sometimes been co-opted by the intelligence agencies in Russia, which provide cover for the spamming activities in exchange for the criminals’ expertise or for allowing their networks of virus-infected computers to be used for political purposes — to crash dissident Web sites, for example, or to foster attacks on foreign adversaries.

The Russian government has denied orchestrating computer attacks beyond its borders.

Source:  New York Times, October 26, 2010

Choosing a Website Designer

MonitorSelecting a website designer that you can work with is vital, whether it’s for a personal site or for a major business site. Creating a website can be a wonderful experience, or a nightmare, depending on who you choose to work with.

One of the most important things you need to do is find is a website designer that you can get along with and who will listen to you. They should also offer a contract up front so that both of you have a clear understanding of what will be done and what everything will cost.

Have a talk with the designer. If they are in your area, you should try to meet with them face-to-face. It is not necessary that the designer be in your city. We have clients from all over the world even though we’re in Wisconsin (the power of the Internet!). You need to feel at ease with the designer since you will be dealing with them for weeks or months while your site is created, and perhaps even longer if they are going to maintain the site for you.  We have clients that we’ve been working with for over ten years now.

Ask your designer what program they use to create their websites. The most popular are GoLive and Dreamweaver. We would suggest avoiding anyone using FrontPage, as it is a definite sign of a beginner. A lot of people use it and like it, especially since it costs less than $100. However, it writes HTML a little differently than other programs, which will lead to problems, including HTML errors, adding extra code (which causes pages to load slower), and incompatibility with other browsers (which causes the page to show differently and even incorrectly in some cases depending on which browser you use). Some web hosts can’t (or won’t) even host sites constructed with FrontPage. Website designers who use FrontPage often use the templates that come with it, thus limiting the creativity that could be used on your site. At Hansen Web Design, we use what we consider the best and industry standard – Dreamweaver.

You want to be sure that your potential website designer asks a lot of questions about what you want and need, instead of trying to talk you into using what they offer. Your website should meet your needs and expectations, not only in function but also in layout and design. We’ve recently seen a small town near us get sold an interactive map for over $20,000.  For curiosity sake, we drove over to the town only to discover a community of less than 7,500 – there was not even a downtown to speak of – what is the “interactive map” going to cover on this website for them?  This type of snake-oil salesmanship hurts everyone and will also likely make that website incompatible with older browsers and slower Internet connections (in other words – the townspeople themselves are likely to have a hard time using their own website!). Simple is always better when it comes to website design. Content is what is MOST important – not animation, graphics or anything else.

When looking for a website designer, ask these questions:

  • Are the web pages they design easy to use? The designer should have a page on their site with links to the sites they have created so you can check this out.  Even better, they should have testimonials and references available upon request.
  • Is the website, and its pages, organized in a logical manner?
  • Do the pages, especially ones with graphics, load quickly? A page should load in 30 seconds or less on a dial-up connection.
  • Are the main points of a page (products and services offered) easy to find, and do they stand out?
  • Does the website entice visitors to take some kind of action (buy or use something)?
  • Contact people they have created sites for to see how they were to work with. You can usually do this by e-mailing their clients and asking these questions. “How well is the site working for you? Did they meet deadlines? Does the website work properly? Was the estimate accurate? Did they do any follow-up to be sure everything was working properly? Are they easy to get a hold of if anything needs to be fixed or updated?”
  • Ask if the site will be usable on browsers other than Internet Explorer. Some other common browsers are Firefox, Opera and Google Chrome. Your site should also be usable on older version of all these browsers.

Don’t be intimidated, know what you want and shop around until you find a designer that can do what you need.

You usually get what you pay for. The lowest price may not be (and likely isn’t) the best choice for you.

Know what pages you want on your site and what you need it to do for you. Are you going to sell a product or service? Do you want it to be a portfolio for your artwork or photographs? Think carefully about what you want and write it out so you can give a copy to the designer. (See our earlier article about planning your website).

If you have a deadline, let the designer know up front.

It can be helpful to have a list of a few websites that are similar to what you want yours to look like. This will give you a clearer picture of what you want, and the designer can see what you like.

You are going to spend time and money creating this site, and you have a need that this site must meet, so be sure you get what you expect. You and your designer need to be a team in order to accomplish this task, so you want to make the right decision up front.  Feel free to ask all the questions you want. Then you can make an informed decision – and you will find that working with the right designer can be a very enjoyable process!

Making Your Site Visible

GoogleThere are a number of things you can do when creating a new web site or simply creating new pages to help increase their visibility in search engine results. The more visible you want your site to be, the more time you may need to consider and spend on this.

Additionally, you need to consider whether your particular topic will make it possible for your site to appear on the first page of a Google search, or if this is absolutely critical to your goal. For example, it might be more important to have your site listed as a resource on other critical sites. You may find that you will get more visitors to your site from this type of referral than from a search engine result.

To design your site with search engine ranking in mind you need to first ask yourself – “what is the question that you are answering.” This is crucial. When someone looks for the information you have on your site, you need to be sure your site is visible to them. Some of the most critical items that affect visibility are:

Critical Items:

  • The title in the header of each page
  • Meta tags with descriptive keywords in your pages header section
  • Text contained in each page (this is being emphasized more and more by Google)
  • Text in the first paragraph of the page
  • Relevance of text used as it corresponds to keywords in your meta-tags
  • Links that use keywords
  • Images with descriptive “alt” tags that include keywords
  • Who links to the page

Secondary Items:

  • Creation of pages linked from your main page that emphasize keywords
  • Submitting your web page’s URL to various search engines
  • Creation of log reports that include keywords used in searches that led to your site
  • Submit your site to some on-line directories
  • Get your site listed on industry-specific leading sites for the topic or topics you are covering
  • Many people try to get as many reciprocal links as possible from other sites. There are pros and cons to this.
  • The more your site is mentioned the more visible it becomes. I.e., on-line newsletters, blogs, news announcements, etc.

Making your site visible on the Web can be a time consuming, labor intensive process, but at Hansen Web Design, we’re here to help you with your content and coding to help you optimize your site for the search engines every step of the way. By taking a few basic steps, and avoiding a few pitfalls you can improve your site’s visibility dramatically.

Hansen Web Design – New Site, New Features

Hansen Web DesignWe’ve recently completed a remodeling effort at Hansen Web Design and welcome you to take a look around our new home.  The new site offers a LOT more functionality and will feature our latest news along with articles on how you can improve the visibility of your web site, AND, we’ll show you some tricks of the trade along the way too!  You can subscribe to our news and articles by subscribing to the entire site, or by subscribing to individual articles to receive comments.

The new site also has Facebook connectivity for our Facebook fans (perhaps you’ll become one of them?); a better portfolio that includes links to our most recent sites and a slideshow; a more detailed services page; a secure form on our Contact Us page; and even a way to directly “Schedule an Appointment” with us.

We believe in interacting with our clients and felt our site should reflect this same belief right up front.  So enjoy, subscribe, and by all means, provide feedback on how we can make it even better.