Google Analytics Academy

http://www.google.com/analytics/learn/

Although the deadline has passed to get a certificate, you can still use their free learning materials to get a thorough understanding of Google Analytics. Pretty neat.

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Goodbye Amazon Affiliate Program!

The main way websites (especially blogs) make money is through ads. Even though as a reader we hate them, as website owners, they’re what pays the bills. Amazon is probably one of the largest affiliate program out there. They make it super easy to pick the content you’d like to display, and you just cut and paste the code. It’s hard to find a site that doesn’t have an Amazon link on it.

Yesterday I received an email from Amazon saying my Amazon Associates account would be closed by August 27, 2013. The governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, voted to pass a sales tax law on internet affiliate programs. This came as a complete shock to me because I hadn’t heard a word of it until now. And Missouri isn’t the only state to pass this new law. Apparently many others have joined the bandwagon as well. According to this article, Amazon isn’t worried about paying the tax, they just don’t want the hassle of dealing with each state’s tax law.

So, if you’re lucky, find a good affiliate program that won’t kick you to the curb. Amazon is going to lose a large chunk of revenue from this.

The Domain Game

I have gone through some domain issues recently and had to educate myself fairly rapidly. Because of these great pieces of knowledge I learned, I thought I’d share them with you.

Last year I used a service called Missouri Get Your Business Online. It’s an initiative to help Missouri small businesses get online for next to nothing: less than $5 a month, with the first year being absolutely free. You get a free domain name of your choice, free hosting for one year, and a great website builder to get you going. The template designer is for those who have no knowledge of web design. Being a web design major, I really hate it, but when you look at the cost, it’s actually pretty sweet. It just irks me when I see their templates, cause one glance at them and they look so unoriginal. But hey, if you’re a small business saving money by doing the site yourself, I think that’s great. In the end, you really don’t need an over the top site with tons of animations and stupid things people aren’t going to use.

I think as long as you do the following, you’ll be good to go:

  •  have a website to join the rest of the 21st century businesses (cause everyone has a website or some kind of web presence)
  • get your main message across (what your business is all about, contact information, prices, hours of operation, location, etc.)
  • link to social media (cause that’s essential to reach customers 24/7 nowadays)

So back to the point of my article… I signed up for this Missouri Get Your Business Online deal and got a domain. I upgraded to a shopping cart add-on and ended up cancelling out my $4.99 package deal. I tried to downgrade, but they said I couldn’t, so I ended up cancelling the whole site. I lost my domain. Now I could have transferred it to another host and saved it, but I didn’t know how to do all that a year ago. So here I am now wanting that domain name back and I just got an email saying it expired a few days ago. I figured it would be available once again and I could restart a new account with the $4.99 package. To my disbelief, the domain is still unavailable. So it got me thinking, ‘How long does it take for a domain to expire before you can buy it back?’

After reading a few articles and help sites, the answer is 75 days! (Source) I obviously don’t know enough about the subject, but yes, you have to wait until the site expires, then there’s a grace period where the owner has a chance to purchase the site back. Then the domain goes through more waiting, all WhoIs info is erased, the site is finally deleted (which takes a few days) and then you can buy it once again. But geez, 75 freakin’ days? Here I was the other day thinking, ‘Oh I’m lucky cause the expiration date was only a week ago’. Then I read this 75 day clause and it really upsets me. That’s 2 1/2 months, folks. I need my site up and running now. If I wait 2 1/2 months before I can get my site up, I will have lost out on a big opportunity. In the end, I should’ve done my homework before getting into this whole website/domain name/hosting deal. I know better now.

Server-Side Technology

Great article on which server-side technology to use: http://www.adobe.com/devnet/dreamweaver/articles/which_serverside_technology.html

(The reason I can’t write a lot about this topic is that I don’t quite understand it all just yet. But we were discussing it in class and I thought I’d just share a great page that breaks it all down.)

Responsive Web Design

You finally have a website up. Phew! But wait, what is this…a…mobile site? Isn’t my site going to squeeze and contort itself to the size of people’s phones and tablets and still look great?

Sorry, but the answer is no.

Mobile sites are the new “it” thing to do since so many people are accessing sites from their phones and tablets. I read an article recently that said more and more students are filling out their FAFSA applications on their phones. The screen may be smaller, but people are able to access information whenever and wherever. Oh, technology!

So I dabbled with learning how to make responsive websites, and, folks, it’s fairly easy. You just have to give up a lot of features that you really love from your website in order for people’s phones to load the page quickly. And, really, the most important thing to consider is that people get the information they’re looking for. I say the simpler the better. Skip the tricky navigation and banners, big logos and huge JPEGs. It’s really just a lot of text.

If you work with CSS like I’m doing right now, all you have to do is create a separate stylesheet for the mobile design and on your main HTML page, just tell the browser to display that if it’s a mobile device. It’s that easy! I found a great site for some templates if you’d like to try it out. One trick I learned to test out the site real quick on your desktop is to open the page in a browser and then make the window as small as you can. Play with the size and see what happens to your content. Everything essentially turns into a one column design.

Oh well, enough of my take on it. Go do some research and make an awesome mobile site like I know you can! 🙂

Recreating a Website From a Photo

After only 3 weeks of learning HTML 5 & CSS, I was given a class homework assignment to re-create a website from an image. I think I did pretty good. Let me know what you think.

PSDtoHTML

This was my reference image.

PSDtoHTML_2

This is my work after 8 hours.

At the end of the week I was given a test to do the same thing…and it took me 16 hours to complete it. After 16 hours of frustrating fun, I did it. It wasn’t perfect, but at least I finished it. This was probably the most challenging thing I’ve done in this class so far.

Sample image.

Sample image.

Finished project.

Finished project.

So is it easier to create a website from a picture (i.e. laying it out in Photoshop first) or just building it from scratch? I like to visualize and plan things out first, but this project was hard. I think if I was just doing this on my own, and not under the gun, I would’ve done better.

New Term Learned: @Font-Face

You pick a real cool font to load on your page; the only problem is that most people won’t have it loaded on their computer, therefore it won’t show up. Your page will not look as cool as  you intended it to.

The solution is easy: download the font file to your server and with some simple coding, viewers are prompted to download the file if they don’t have it.

How to do this: @ Font-Face Generator (This site is also great for free fonts.)

Another cool site I found today: ColorCombos.com – If you want to know the many forms of color values something is (RGB, Hex, CMYK) or if you need some great color combos, this site is perfect. You can even enter a URL and it will tell you all the colors on that site. Color could not be any easier when working with this awesome page.

Google's colorsGoogle’s site colors