Text Editors Freezing on Search & Replace

I created a script that is run via cron that backs up the database of one of my websites, gzips it, and emails it to me. It works great, but I like to use a text editor to search and replace the domain name, so that I can use it in a development environment. As the backup file has been getting larger, I’ve reached the point where neither Sublime Text or gedit will do a “Replace All” without totally freezing. Linux makes this a non-issue:

#search for production.com and replace with dev.com
sed -i 's/production.com/dev.com/g' ./production-dump.sql

#overwrite dev database
cat ./production-dump.sql | mysql -u username -ppassword database

Yes, I Dropped Support For IE8 And Down

My stats show that legacy Internet Explorer users rarely come to my site, so why spend time coding for them? Many of these people are probably die-hard Windows XP users, and I know they wanted to stay with XP because everyone hated Vista, but Windows 7 is really nice. I haven’t transitioned to Windows 8, but I do know that IE10 and IE11 render very nicely.

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The Mysterious MLS API

It’s amazing how hard it is to find information regarding access to the MLS. I know three real estate brokers, but they aren’t much help; they’re too busy selling houses, and it’s really not something they should be expected to know. I’ve tried asking some web design agencies, but they haven’t been helpful, and many of them host the websites they create, so it’s impossible to browse server-side code and figure anything out. I’ll admit, I probably just didn’t know what to search for, or who to ask the right questions to.

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Google Maps Variables Replaced Feb 2013

One of the projects I have going right now requires using the Google Maps API. One of the features of this API allows for sending a street address to Google and receiving a response that includes GPS coordinates at that location. Today, when I needed to use my map, it was broken! Looking in my console I found that the variables I was getting my Latitude and Longitude values from were missing, and replaced with new variables. Google has probably suggested that developers not use the variables, instead using some functions to get the desired values, but I must have skipped that part of the documentation.

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Website Content Quality

There’s one thing that website owners always want, and that is to have a good flow of website traffic. It doesn’t matter if you have an e-commerce type website, a blog, or a one page website that shows people you exist, you’re not likely to have the quantity of traffic you desire without unique content that is descriptive and in abundance. Especially for your home page, the quality of the text is essential.

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In the video above, Google employee Matt Cutts talks about quality of content versus quantity. Focusing on blogs, what he has to say actually applies to most websites. Is your content useful, funny, exciting, or interesting? If it wasn’t your website, would you actually want to go there more than once?

Using Images Instead of Text

Replacing text with images is a bad idea. When a search engine like Google analyzes your website, it can’t see the text you may have in images. I know plain text on a page is boring compared to an image, but more than anything else, that text tells the search engine what your website is all about. I’ve seen websites that were made entirely of images or flash media, and the website owners couldn’t understand why they weren’t showing up on Google. Yes, you need text.

Stay on Topic

If you have a website that is meant to attract a certain type of customer or person, don’t stray from what you should be focused on. Having content that is out of place is confusing, and although you might think it is cute or revealing something personal, it can disconnect you from the site visitor you are attempting to attract.

Make Sure Your Text Includes Certain Words

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a customer show me their website and ask me why it isn’t helping their business, yet the only thing on their home page is a picture and their phone number. If your website is about marketing, make sure the word “marketing” exists in the text. If the website is for graphic design, the words “graphic” and “design” better be there somewhere. Even better would be to include these keywords more than once.

Don’t Overdo It

Yes, you can overdo it by including your keywords too many times. Ideally your text would actually be something a human can read, or would want to read. I know it may be tempting to have your keywords appear 100 times on a single page, but try to stop worrying about the search engines. You won’t get very far doing something like that anyways, because these search engines know all the ways people try to cheat.

Don’t Rely on Magical SEO Tactics

Read the fine print when you sign that contract with that Search Engine Optimization company. I’ve never seen one that outright promised results, and you could spend thousands of dollars before you realize it hasn’t helped. Will they offer you a money-back guarantee? I don’t think that’s very likely.

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No matter what stage your website is in it’s development, you can’t count on a service to trick people into visiting your website through bad SEO tactics, and you may even be penalized for trying to go that route. Take time to write good quality content for your site visitors, and let it work for you.

Responsive Web Design

Having a website that doesn’t work on mobile devices, like iphones and other smart phones, just doesn’t cut it in the modern web. As a website owner, you need to provide a usable website for mobile phones, because an increasing number of people are using them. It doesn’t stop there though.[youtube code=”uNMw34Z63Ck”]You can’t get away with a single design for standard computer screens, and a separate design for small screen devices. Unfortunately, that approach will leave out medium size screens, like the ipad or other tablets. In the past, websites may have tried to detect the screen size it’s visitors are using, but this approach isn’t really a good option anymore, because there are so many screen sizes used by today’s internet browsing devices.

The answer to all of this is called Responsive Web Design. Responsive Web Design is a way to make a website display properly on any screen size. While not brand new, this type of advanced web design is new enough that it is only being used by only a small percentage of websites. The techniques used are not for beginners, and development time can be much greater than a standard website. That said, Responsive Web Design is the future of the web.

If you want to see some examples of Responsive Web Design, take a look at the Media Queries website. This site showcases responsive websites. You’ll see familiar companies like Time, Microsoft, Starbucks and more. View them on your home computer, then view them on your mobile phone, tablet, or any device. Your screen size may change, but the website will continue to display in a way that looks good.

Alternate Content For Flash

Adobe’s Flash does provide some great animation, video playing capabilities, and your entire website could even be made entirely of Flash. A few years ago I spent a lot of time and money learning Flash, and while I wouldn’t consider myself a Flash guru, I produced some great work for both myself and my customers.

There are some important things to think about before using Flash in any capacity, and the purpose of this blog post will be the necessity to provide alternate content for Flash on your website, with an emphasis on abandoning Flash usage altogether.

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