Successful Design

web_e1p2

Designing a web site means a lot of things. There are a lot of charlatans professing to various areas of expertise, but bottom line you need a well rounded service to make your web site successful. The assistant to a client once told me she could get a web site built in India for $300.00 and I told her to go right ahead.

Fact is, you need a site that has a mission. Ideally, the project should have a written plan like any business. Many of my clients do not use business plans, so imagine a site plan is a little out of reach.

  • You need a site built with SEO in mind from the start (which includes a lot of things)
  • You need a cohesive story and mission statement
  • You need networking and relevant links in and out of your site
  • …but no matter what anyone tells out about search engine placement you MUST have well written content people want to view.

 

Leaving Las Vegas

victorian heritage – san francisco

This week I announced I was moving out of Las Vegas and heading to San Francisco on the hope that I would be opening up to new horizons. Exactly when I will be getting out of LV is a good question right now given all the plates I have spinning in the air.

I am working and doing work for people here and there and am committed to seeing each project through.

My Final Passage art piece is on hold, but WILL BE COMPLETED, yet I am figuring out how things will settle. I want to thank everyone who has donated to the cause so far. I wanted to make this a home-grown project for Vegas and make this a home for it after Burning Man but that does not seem to be the case.

Meanwhile, I am actively looking for work in SFO and had a great interview last week I am hoping to see go somewhere.

 

Social Networking Project

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Look in the right column there and see www.gotNurv.com and see an extension of what I am doing connected to this web site.

Many of the people I have made web sites simply do not have the time or the skills to network online. I have been given a lot of creditfor my ability to promote and cross-promote things; events, occasions, web sites and more.

One site www.engine1pizza.com is one of my more successful B2B operations and it coming up very successfully in SEO. Just this week they were contacted by the Billboard Music Awards people off a search engine find to feed their staff.

Within this process I make sure you are networked out to relevant sources so your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is more relevant. More relevance improves your position on a Google or a Yahoo. Not all search engines are the same, but almost all get their results from the same two fountains.

Knowing this, it is important to speak the right language and make sure the tags are in place behind the scene as well.

Engine 1 Pizza Banner

Learning again through Lynda.Com

Well, yesterday I signed up on Lynda.Com and started going through videos to the point my eye balls were ready to fall out of my head yesterday. That was beside the other issue I was dealing with; a web site that crashed and smashed and needed to be rebuilt (this one).

It felt good going through those videos and setting up a web server for my local use. I was dependent on my on-line account for production but locally makes more sense; any developer out there just went (DUH!).

It was an investment I needed but what I am excited about is that I am making a list of goals I started last weekend and have been achieving them one at a time.

I have a lot more and I am in a position where my priorities have shifted for urgency, but also for survival. I need to find work very soon and I would rather not compromise too much in that effort. I am talented. I am driven. I am good at what I do and work well with others. BUT – I am not sure people are seeing that through the interviews I have had so far.

My SEOmmmm

Apathy was my enemy. Maybe it was just ego (id)? But I have one client who came to me originally to improve his SEO on a site that was originally created in the 90’s. His position in the search engines was dismal at best, but there were a lot more reasons than SEO what was working against him.

With that, it’s easy to dismiss the possibility of this client ever seeing a decent SEO placement, especially since he is not willing to invest the time and energy to generate not only content but networks back to his site.

For about a week, the new and updated site, increased his position by 50%. Which means when he showed up on page 8 of searches he peaked at page 4, but then slowly began sinking back to page 6.

Admittedly, I am not an expert on SEO. Based on some schooling under an expert and some of my reading I thought I had some really good knowledge. And I do. I got a little lazy. I really got a little unsure about some aspects of this monster and doubted some of the steps needed to amp a page up with SEO friendly content.

If anyone is asking ‘what’ SEO is… it is Search Engine Optimization. EVERYONE wants their SEO placement in Google, Yahoo and Bing to be ahead of the others. Yes, everyone.

Through a conference call recently with Al from Market Connection, a self proclaimed SEO expert, we buddied up on my business clients site and went through things we could do. All the way through the conversation my ego was being self inflated as I thought how I knew much of what he was saying – in fact implemented much of it. BUT… I missed a lot of key elements and was a little embarrassed and humbled.

Spent the day yesterday creating a whole new site. And yes, WordPress was something Al said was a great idea.

Al is one of those guys who is the Marketing Guru. Al Johnson has a professional site called Market Connection[dot]biz.

Browser Wars

My whole time in web design was plagued with the evil and damned web browser Internet Explorer. Just 2 years ago, 50% of all internet users were utilizing Internet Explorer as their primary tool to view web sites. The other nearly 50% were using FireFox. In fact, some designers refused to design for Explorer and actually posted this decision right on their sites.

This was mostly because of Internet Explorer V.6 that was the Edsel of Browsers and was plagued with problems. It was released in 2001 to the chagrin of not only designers, but network administrators for all its security problems let alone the broken web page displays [source]. The problems Explorer 6 was noted for were bandaged and excused over the entire decade that followed until finally in 2009 Microsoft announced they were no longer supporting it. By then V.10 was on the market and yet a huge percentage of internet users were still using the problematic browser V6.

In this decade the mainstream browsers (In order of use: Internet Explorer, FireFox, Safari and Opera) were suddenly met with a new level of demand by designers and users. Although the previously mentioned browsers competed fervently, new players emerged on the scene with promises of better results: Chrome and a few others.

The Big Browsers

Although the paradigm has changed significantly, the main players have hardly shifted much. People are creatures of habit and stay deep in their comfort zones. Americans are slow to adopt technology. When something new is presented it is done so with kid-gloves and soft exposure. Marketing and sales have mastered the art of delivering so that we, the consumers, almost believe it is something we needed and was there the whole time.

Think about the cell phone? Anyone remember when we did not have them? Anyone remember when the internet was not there?

So let us talk about Browsers and why one is better than the other:

  • Internet Explorer: Although the ghost of IE6 haunts the dreams of many designers and network engineers the Microsoft Corporation has staunchly refused to meet the strict standards of the W3C. The good side of this is that sloppily coded web sites will still work. The bad side of this is that pages are often distorted. Designers still have to have a stylesheet that addresses IE flaws in the way it looks at DIV’s and margins and more.
  • FireFox: Seems to have been the favorite go-to when designers and users were looking down their noses at IE. For many it was handed down by the angels in response of the IE6 plague. The beauty of this browser is that it provides SOOOOO many tools you can opt in for to make your internet experience productive. It even has tools for designers that help in the creation and analysis of web sites. With those pluses in mind, it also requires a lot of updates and they have to be painfully acknowledged; instead of letting them passively update. Another plus is that this browser is much more W3C compliant.
  • Safari: Most often associated with the Apple operating system this is a very complaint browser with some good plugins that people are generally pleased about using. There are not a a lot of development options in it for us web geeks, but the general public find it very productive. Of course most Apple users are worship the apple blindly.
  • Opera: Web geeks and the golden children of web development appear to really like this tool, at least they used to, until Chrome came along. Web purists like the ease of use of this browser and the ability to strip out the fancy styling and get to the content of the web page. This really was the forgotten child who lived under the stairs for many years. [more information]
  • Chrome: Began as a techie orgasm when it was released on an open source browser where it allowed developers to view the underlying code and add to the mechanism; which means an endless slew of plugins on the market. This quickly became the new sweetheart browser beginning in 2008 and forced designers and developers to seriously play nice with Chrome as well.

As much as we loved Netscape, once upon a time, it’s not worth mentioning; but fun to note.

My experience with all these browsers is varied and important to the creators of web sites, applications, blogs and more. With the demands of users and the shifting in technology it feels like most of these browsers simply cannot keep up with a responsible performing viewer of web based applications. Internet Exploder… I mean Explorer still shows pages very janky compared to the others. The others are not plagued with the same problems. Chrome has its own set of dysfunctional issues that I personally experience time and time again.

Compliance

As mentioned before there is an issue with W3C compliance. W3C is ‘the main international standards organization for the World Wide Web (abbreviated WWW or W3).  Founded and headed by Tim Berners-Lee,[2] the consortium is made up of member organizations which maintain full-time staff for the purpose of working together in the development of standards for the World Wide Web. As of 8 September 2009, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has 356 members.[1] [source]

Conclusion

Pontificating about any one browser over another is a waste of time since the major players are refusing to play nicely with each other. Looking at some of the references and reading about the different browsers and ancillary companies there are many tales of major battles between the companies. Each of them consider themselves an island while we, the consumers, only accept whichever one provides the least amount of difficulty.

Consider Adobe’s arrogant position and refusal at one point to work with Apple in their development of the Creative Suite that was still playing out even recently [sources]. This arrogance of popular software lines, with their strength in the market, gives these corporations corrupted power and a position where they no longer have to listen to the little people. One might note that other companies who took this point of view include the creators of Quark and Lotus Notes.

It is not the character of the average web user community to demand consistency and performance. We do not like the way a product works we project the problem on whatever is convenient and either accept the problems and continue using it or try other options without saying a word. Designers and Developers have been seen as whiners because we should be able to compensate for the bad software handed down from the gods of software. This is the only ONLY way something like Explorer 6 could have existed so long and while another one is probably right around the corner (cough, chrome, cough).

The views posted here are strictly my own based on my direct experience with these products as a user, designer and developer of web based sites and applications.

The Future

Since leaving TRNXS.NET (laid off) back in February 2010, I have taken on quite a few little projects. Some have been compensated strictly in the form of trying to help out either people in need or friends who had ventures I wanted to support. I had the tools to help promote, so why not and then why not add them to my resume?

The problem is that in spite of a strong work ethic and a commitment of 200%, I cannot seem to find a gig. Once more, the many people I know working in the industry have not really extended a hand. Certainly I am not expecting anyone to lift me out of this unemployment situation, because I believe on walking on my own two legs, but with almost absolute certainty I am missing something in my skill set that is getting me results.

I have posted on LinkedIn, the general community, and Art Bistro a request for someone, anyone, to help me with feedback on my portfolio and my resume. Potential employers are not saying ‘why’ they did not hire so there is nothing to build off of moving forward.

In my frustration I posted on LinkedIn I would pay any recruiter who could help me find a seat at a job suiting my skills and still, no reply at all.

So far it seems I am sitting in the row-boat in the middle of the ocean with no oars?

There are at least 3 people I know whom I have looked up to in the design field who have also been non-existent. As far as I know I am the forgotten step-child of the web design world. Basically, I feel like I cannot get a hold on any direction although I feel I have done everything right. Or, maybe stop bitching about it and keep going.

This boat may not have any oars but I can still dog-paddle, right?

Inspiration

I was writing a reply on a board on ArtBistro.Com when I thought this would make a good blog entry:

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I have always been creative, but had a paternal influence that was not supportive of my creative endeavors, whose pov was keep your nose to the grind-stone and head down – stay out of trouble. I finally went and got 2 degrees from an art school (culinary and web design), but have seen that creative passion take new form.

The passion burns inside of me now I am later in life… I got the last degree less than 2 years ago… and am looking for a support system that allows me to continue creating; support system being a paying job or investor in the pieces I am working on.

Ironically, my dad is a fairly well known artist in his day and was the one squelching my desires to be creative. Now I am bouncing back like a rubber band at 45 years of age.

I recently saw a documentary on some Burning Man artists who were older and felt reaffirmed that there is still a hopeful road ahead. Just saying … I still dream in color and find inspiration when I can.

Art Installations

What is wrong with me? Oh, too much of an open ended questions there… how is this? What is up with my new passion for art installations.

Not satisfied to something simply sitting on a page or a digital screen, now I am coming up with ideas that require space – volume – transportation. It’s just wrong.

The projects listed in the Art Installations page are all inspired from my recent trip to Burning Man and having interacted with some AWESOME work. I want to make people understand how this finally loosened something inside of me.

I was stuck. I am going to ride this creative wave and see where it takes me.

Burning Man Projects

While at the art and performance event that is Burning Man, I was inspired into 3 more art projects to have completed by next year. 2 of these are now listed in the right menu on this site.

Some people reading this might already have their mind made up about Burning Man, seeing it as a naked hippy drug fest in the desert… but naked hippy drug fests do not produce and display art like this:

"Bliss Dance" Photo by Kurt Ritta "Bliss Dance" Photo by Christina Ritchie "Bliss Dance" Photo by Rich Murphy

And there were many other projects including my own piece. My Monotropolis project was simple and a direct homage to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey from 1968.

Monotropolis at Burning Man - 8/2010I had several favorite including a piece by Syzygryd

"Syzygryd" Photo by Kristopher Hines Unknown Project Photo by Rich Murphy Shot of The Man by me

So stay tuned as I begin a rendering of my next couple large scale projects and begin my wind-up for next year’s Burning Man. I hope I find inspiration in these through the year. Only time will tell.