Our ramblings about website design and other things

Category: General

Browser Compatibility

When we produce a new website for a client we make a big effort to ensure cross browser compatibility but what ever we do there are always small differences fo the appearance of a site depending upon the users viewing environment.

It is a continual battle (we use the choice of battle deliberately) to ensure current compatibility and backwards compatibility but the big question is how far do you go back with testing.

We see that WordPress have taken the step of announcing the ending of support for  Internet Explorer versions 8, 9 and 10 starting with the WP release 4.8

To us this makes sense, we wish that all users only used the latest browsers in their environment but there are many ranging reasons why users have no upgraded their browser from lack of knowledge, possible cost implications to working in a situation where there are locked down sue to administrator control.

The full story can be viewed over on the WordPress blog

Windows 10

Windows 10 is slated for release on July 29th 2015, for the first time Microsoft are going to make a new Operating system free to certain users.

Users of Windows 7 and 8 will be able to get a free download, between now and the release date you can prepare your Windows machines for the update, you reserve your update so you will receive notification for when it is ready.

As we develop websites that can be used across multiple operating systems we like to have a range of Windows running in the office. To get the update all you need to do is make sure that your Windows installation is fully updated, we did this on one of our Windows 8 laptops and hey presto the windows icon appeared in the task bar, we clicked on it and reserved our upgrade.

We moved on to one of the office Windows 7 machines but this time the Windows icon did not appear, so we did some checking and research only to discover that as we use a Windows Domain in the office, Microsoft do not automatically offer the upgrade as I guess they do not want to suffer the wrath of IT managers who will need to do the upgrade in a controlled fashion.

We will wait to see what Microsoft offer for that type of situation.

Google Places entry not showing 100% complete

Many users get frustrated that when they complete their entry in Google Places for Business that the entry only shows xx% complete and they never seem to get to the magic 100% – the following table shows how google weight various parts of your entry. This of course may change but it is a good guide to assist you.

% Contribution to Score
Required Fields, Company/Organisation, Street Address, City/Town, State, Post Code/ZIP, Main phone 40%
Email address 5%
Website 10%
Description: 200 characters or less 5%
Categories 0%
Hours of operations 5%
Payment options (any box toggled) 5%
Photo 1 5%
Photo 2 2%
Photo 3 1%
Photo 4 0%
Photo 5 2%
Photo 6 2%
Photo 7 2%
Photo 8 2%
Photo 9 2%
Photo 10 2%
Video 1 4%
Video 2-5 0%
Additional Details (one line) 6%

Internet Explorer Versions

We are not great fans of Internet Explorer, which is the case with the vast majority of the web development community, however we always test with it as there are still many users.

For a recent project we had to try and connect to some old legacy sites that blocked access to later versions of IE, we have some old machines with earlier versions of windows running but this can be time consuming so we found a neat site that changes the User Agent String in your version of explorer so that it appears as an earlier version.

The site has some Registry Files to make the change and includes a file to reset the changes as well – view here if you need to do this, thanks to www.enhanceie.com for the files

Facebook Photos

We recently had a requirement to update a facebook page with a large number of photo albums, we found a great add in for Firefox that allows you to simply download some or all of your albums, we tried various other applications but none were as slick as facepaste then right click on the album to download.

To Blog or not to Blog…

More and more businesses are running a blog but are never sure if it is of benefit to the business. We believe that for a blog to be successful there are a few key points that you should follow.

Regular Updates – It is vital that you blog is current and regularly updated, you want users to read it, if the information is current they will come back, if the last blog is months old they will not return.

Content – Make sure the content is useful and informative, it has to be useful to the readers or you will lose them.

Style – We recommend that Blogs are less formal, use your news feed for product launches, updates etc but make the blog the ‘news behind the news’, the writing style can be very different but above all for your business make sure it is not too personal, readers do not want to know what you had for breakfast.

Location – Make sure your Blog can be easily located on your home page, add it to the menus, put a link somewhere that is easy to find.

Social Networks – A blog is ideal to appear on your Social Network pages such as facebook, twitter etc so that you are informing users of a new post, there are lots of tools available that can do this automatically for you.

Happy Blogging!

The New EU Cookie Regulations

You may have seen various articles and mentions on the TV news bulletins about the new EU Rules on the use of Cookies.

So what are cookies and how do they work? (Chocolate Chip are our favourites :-))

A cookie is simply a text file containing information that can be remembered by a web browser between pages. When an individual uses a web browser to access the Internet their browser can create cookies which are stored on the user’s computer. Cookies are not programs and therefore cannot contain viruses or other malicious software. They are purely a string of text and numbers.

There are two main types of cookies – session cookies and persistent cookies.

Session cookies only last during a single visit. When a user closes their web browser the session cookie information is automatically removed from their computer. Typically a website uses session cookies to allow you to navigate back and forward through pages.

Persistent cookies are stored by the user’s web browser even when the web browser has been closed, so that the next time a user goes back to the website that originally set the cookie, the web site can read information back from the cookie.  Persistent cookies have an expiry date which controls when they are automatically deleted. This can be anything from a few minutes to several years.

The big concern by the EU is the use of Persistent Cookies and how that information can be used by different websites.

As many sites are using a lot of Persistent Cookies then they will need to obtain your permission to proceed so from the 26th May 2012 every time you visit some websites you may need to click on an accept cookie pop up box.

At Bluewaveweb we tend to only make use of persistent cookies for Google Analytics and the information stored is minimal mainly being used to clarify users as a first time or returning visitor, no personal information is stored.

So for our customers our approach is to add a ‘use of cookies’ page to their website so any concerned visitors can find out more information about the use of cookies on their site.

Ultimately the user has total control over cookies by changing the settings on their browser.

Facebook Pages

If you have a facebook page for your business it is important that you personalise it as much as possible.

Make sure you fill in as many details as possible about your business, remember that with advanced search your business may be found via your facebook page rather than direct to your website.

It is important that your business facebook page has a professional look so you need to add a profile and a cover picture.

The best size for a profile picture is 200 x 200px but be aware that when showing your profile next to your status updates then this image is cropped so the best thing is to have an image 200 x 200px but leave free space around the actual image of 12px so the actual size will be 176 x 176px.

For the Cover Picture go for an image that is 851 x 315px – avoid trying to cram this image with lots of logos or information.


Shopping on Line

We have found recently that clients are requesting a range of ways for customers to purchase their goods.

We had one customer ask us for the ability to take a deposit for goods and then pay the balance later, they felt that this would make customers commit to the purchase and of course the customer did not get the goods until the balance was paid.

Other requests have included purchasing certain goods gives an automatic discount on others typically if a customer buys a large item they get discount on the smaller items, this is seen as a way to top up the sale by getting the customer to add accessories or add ons etc.

Another popular request is the use of Coupons or Vouchers that you an email to existing or prospective customers to give a discount on a purchase, these are often time limited so it becomes an encouragement for the customer to purchase before a certain date.

The key thing with all these methods is to get customers on to your online store and to get them to purchase while there, we always encourage customers to think of their online store as a shop and once the customer is inside you want to make them feel welcome and relaxed, make it a good experience and above all make it easy to purchase something.

Extracting a Flash File from Powerpoint

We had a client who wanted a Flash Movie File putting onto their website, no problem except it was supplied to us as part of a Microsoft Powerpoint presentation. Of course we assumed this would be easy to extract but as it proved it was not.

We found various suggested solutions including saving the file as a HTML version or changing the extension from .pptx to .zip and opening with Winzip, however this extracted the graphics files but did not extract the .swf movie file.

We then tried to simply copy the movie and past to another location but all this did was save a Scrap.shs file, .shs files are used by Microsoft to transfer objects between their Office Applications so we were stuck with this file.

After lots of searching we found a utility called extractaflash.exe and this solved our problem, this pulled the .swf movie file out of the .shs file.

You can download the file from here as a zip file.

To use do the following:

1, Open Powerpoint, Copy the flash file and paste to your required directory location – Windows will save as Scrap.shs

2, Copy the extractaflash.exe to the same windows location as point 1

3, Open Windows Command Prompt and change to the directory you used above, look for your scrap file ending in .shs

4, At the Command promt type extractaflash.exe Scrap.shs flashfilename.swf

5, You will end up with a Flash Movie file in this case called flashfilename.swf (do not use spaces in any of the filenames or it will fail)

We are not sure who produced this great utility, if you know we would be happy to acknowledge them and link to their site.