Blogs

  1. Writing For SEO

    [Blog] Writing For SEO: Essential On Page SEO Factors In 20 Slides

    I’ve condensed Are You Using These Six Essential On-Page Factors For SEO? into a Haiku Deck if you prefer looking at presentations to reading copy.

    ON-PAGE SEO FACTORS – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

    Here’s a summary of the slides’ content:

    1. ON-PAGE SEO FACTORS
    2. WRITE SUPREME CONTENT
    3. Others are already aiming for great
    4. Content must be:
      ◦ Informed and informative
      ◦ Grammatical, with real value
      ◦ Plenty to digest
      ◦ 100% original
    5. UNIQUE TITLE TAGS
    6. Don’t have the same title tag on all of your pages
    7. Title tag must be
      ◦ Relevant to your content
      ◦ Contains a key phrase
      ◦ Not your headline
    8. USE H1 AND H2 TAGS
    9. Help your readers and search engines
    10. h1 and h2 tags
      ◦ Grab attention
      ◦ Draw readers in
      ◦ Help structure content
      ◦ Make piece easier to understand
    11. INVOLVING DESCRIPTION TAGS
    12. Unique on each page
    13. Description tags
      ◦ Are not a ranking factor
      ◦ Can show in search results
      ◦ Encourage clicks
      ◦ Increase traffic
    14. HELPFUL ALT TEXT
    15. Make the invisible visible
    16. Why use alt tags?
      ◦ Google cannot see images
      ◦ Add text Google can read
      ◦ Images found in searches
      ◦ Use key phrases to help SEO
    17. USE SCHEMA.ORG
    18. Like meta tags 2.0. But more powerful
    19. schema.org
      ◦ Present information in a standard way
      ◦ Addresses, business descriptions, products
      ◦ Local SEO
      ◦ E-commerce sites
    20. CONTACT DAVID ROSAM
      DAVID@WRITINGFORSEO.ORG | +44 (0)1273 906607

    Please let me know what you think.

    Have you read these?

    Posted 24 October 2014, 11:12 am

  2. Favicon SiteVisibility

    [Blog] SiteVisibility: Panda and Penguin Updates – Gerry White – Internet Marketing Podcast #267.5

    In this week’s Internet Marketing Podcast Andy talks to Gerry White, Technical SEO Director at SiteVisibility about Google’s recent Panda and Penguin updates. Gerry goes through the differences between Panda and Penguin, and the purpose of each update. He then goes through the various tools that can be used to identify preventable issues with a site which Google may end up penalising. Finally he gives some advice on ensuring the content and meta data of a site is up to scratch and goes over Google’s other update, Hummingbird.

    Post from Apple Pie & Custard blog by SiteVisibility - An SEO Agency

    Panda and Penguin Updates – Gerry White – Internet Marketing Podcast #267.5

    Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image
    Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image

    Posted 24 October 2014, 11:00 am

  3. Favicon Wired Sussex Digital Media News

    [Blog] Wired Sussex Digital Media News: Salesforce launch Analytics Platform

    Salesforce 'Wave' is the latest piece of technology from Salesforce, but what does it do and who is it for? Come to the Brighton Salesforce Usergroup meetup on Thu 13th Nov to find out! Francis Pindar is coming hot from Dreamforce and will fill us ...

    Posted 24 October 2014, 1:00 am

  4. Favicon Paul Silver's blog

    [Blog] Paul Silver's blog: Setting up ColdFusion 11 and SQL Server Express 2014 on Windows 8

    Recently I installed Windows 8.1 in a virtual machine so I could set up IIS, ColdFusion (Developer version) and SQL Server (Express), which would match some of my client’s hosting well enough to use as a test environment.

    SQL Server Express and ColdFusion developer edition can be used for free by developers, which makes this a nice, low cost development environment.

    I hit big problems trying to get ColdFusion to talk to SQL Server Express, so I thought I ought to document the setup process for next time I tried and hit these problems. Sorry if you’re reading this and some of the notes are not detailed enough, I’ve set up ColdFusion and SQL Server enough times that the basics have stuck, if you need more help you might find it useful to search YouTube for help videos.

    Setting up SQL Server Express 2014

    Download SQL Server Express 2014 and running the installer. This all worked fine so just Google for wherever Microsoft are putting the installers now (which is a different place whenever I look, which is several years apart.) Try to find out if you’ve got a 32bit or 64bit version of Windows first, as you need to download the version which matches your Windows.

    Setting up IIS

    Go in to Windows settings > Control Panel > Programs > Turn Windows features on and off

    I’m not sure I needed all of these, but I ended up turning them on while trying to solve problems:

    Tick all of these (where nested, tick the ones inside the nest, not just to install everything):

    .Net framework 3.5
    .Net framework 4
    Within Internet Information Services:
    – Web Management Tools:
    – – IIS 6 Management Compatibility
    – – – IIS Metabase and IIS 6 configuration compatibility
    – – IIS Management Console
    – – IIS Management Service
    – World Wide Web Services:
    – – Application Development Features:
    – – – .Net Extensibility 3.5
    – – – .Net Extensibility 4.5
    – – – ASP.NET 3.5
    – – – ASP.NET 4
    – – – CGI
    – – – ISAPI Extensions
    – – – ISAPI Filters
    – – Common HTTP Features:
    – – – Default Document
    – – – Directory Browsing
    – – – HTTP Errors
    – – – HTTP Redirection
    – – – Static Content
    – – Health and Diagnostics:
    – – – HTTP Logging
    – – Performance Features:
    – – – Dynamic Content Compression
    – – – Static Content Compression
    – – Security:
    – – – Request Filtering

    Setting up ColdFusion 11

    Download from http://coldfusion.adobe.com

    Run the installer

    Choose the option to install a standalone web server, then, later in the install options you can choose to connect it up to IIS.

    Setting up a database user in SQL Server Express 2014

    In SQL Server Management Studio

    Create a database:

    Right click on Databases in the left column ‘Object Explorer’ > ‘New Database…’ and run through the short form

    Create a user:

    In left column ‘Object Explorer’, click on Security, right click on ‘Logins’ > ‘New Login…’

    Add a new user, e.g. ‘CFUser’

    Choose SQL Server authentication, give it a password.

    Uncheck ‘Enforce password policy’

    In the ‘Default Database’ drop down, change it to your new database

    On the left hand ‘Select a page’ click on ‘User Mapping’

    Tick the your new database, further down add them as a type of user to the database – ‘db_datareader’ & ‘db_datawriter’

    Configuring Windows Firewall to allow access to SQL Server

    As per these instructions from Microsoft I ran WF.msc then set up an Inbound Rule to allow TCP on port 1433 for local use.

    Configuring security to allow ColdFusion to get data from SQL Server Express 2014

    Apparently by default, SQL Server Express doesn’t allow remote connections, but configuring it to allow a remote connection so ColdFusion could get data from it was very hard, as the 2014 version of SQL Server Express is more locked down than previous versions. I wouldn’t have got it working without this Stackoverflow question about SQL Server Express 2012.

    Open ‘SQL Server Configuration Manager’ (by searching for ‘SQL Server configuration’ on the Start screen.)

    Under ‘SQL Server Network Configuration’ > ‘Protocols for SQLEXPRESS':

    Change ‘Named Pipes’ to ‘Enabled’ (by right clicking) (I’m not sure this step is necessary, as I found it in a bit of advice while I was still trying to get everything working.)

    Change ‘TCP/IP’ to ‘Enabled’, then right click again and choose ‘Properties’

    Under ‘IP2′ set the IP address to be that of the computer’s IP address on the local subnet (I found this out by running ‘netstat -a’ on the command line and looking down for port 1433 while I was trying something else, I’m sure there’s an easier way of finding it.)

    Scroll down to the settings for IPAII.

    Make sure ‘TCP Dynamic Ports’ is blank (not the 5 digit number that mine had in there by default.)

    Make sure the ‘TCP Port’ is set to ‘1433’ (mine was blank by default.)

    You may also need to go to ‘Services’ (by searching for it in Windows) and turning on the SQL Server Browser service (and setting it to run automatically) – I already had mine turned on during other debugging, I’ve read different advice on whether it should be on or off.

    Some of the settings for SQL Server don’t take until you’ve re-started the SQL Server service. I think in the end I restarted Windows to be sure things were going to take long-term.

    After all of this, I was able to go in to ColdFusion administrator and successfully set up a datasource using the database user I’d set up. Just getting SQL Server and ColdFusion to talk to each other was 3-4 hours of messing about with my settings, hence writing up these notes to make it easier next time.

    Posted 23 October 2014, 3:51 pm

  5. Favicon Adactio: Journal

    [Blog] Adactio: Journal: Be progressive

    Aaron wrote a great post a little while back called A Fundamental Disconnect. In it, he points to a worldview amongst many modern web developers, who see JavaScript as a universally-available technology in web browsers. They are, in effect, viewing a browser’s JavaScript engine as a runtime environment, and treating web development no different to any other kind of software development.

    The one problem I’ve seen, however, is the fundamental disconnect many of these developers seem to have with the way deploying code on the Web works. In traditional software development, we have some say in the execution environment. On the Web, we don’t.

    Treating JavaScript support in “the browser” as a known quantity is as much of a consensual hallucination as deciding that all viewports are 960 pixels wide. Even that phrasing—“the browser”—shows a framing that’s at odds with the reality of developing for the web; we don’t have to think about “the browser”, we have to think about browsers:

    Lakoffian self-correction: if I’m about to talk about doing something “in the browser”, I try to catch myself and say “in browsers” instead.

    While we might like think that browsers have all reached a certain level of equilibrium, as Aaron puts it “the Web is messy”:

    And, as much as we might like to control a user’s experience down to the very pixel, those of us who have been working on the Web for a while understand that it’s a fool’s errand and have adjusted our expectations accordingly. Unfortunately, this new crop of Web developers doesn’t seem to have gotten that memo.

    Please don’t think that either Aaron or I are saying that you shouldn’t use JavaScript. Far from it! It’s simply a matter of how you wield the power of JavaScript. If you make your core tasks dependent on JavaScript, some of your potential users will inevitably be left out in the cold. But if you start by building on a classic server/client model, and then enhance with JavaScript, you can have your cake and eat it too. Modern browsers get a smooth, rich experience. Older browsers get a clunky experience with full page refreshes, but that’s still much, much better than giving them nothing at all.

    Aaron makes the case that, while we cannot control which browsers people will use, we can control the server environment.

    Stuart takes issue with that assertion in a post called Fundamentally Disconnected. In it, he points out that the server isn’t quite the controlled environment that Aaron claims:

    Aaron sees requiring a specific browser/OS combination as an impractical impossibility and the wrong thing to do, whereas doing this on the server is positively virtuous. I believe that this is no virtue.

    It’s true enough that the server isn’t some rock-solid never-changing environment. Anyone who’s ever had to do install patches or update programming languages knows this. But at least it’s one single environment …whereas the web has an overwhelming multitude of environments; one for every browser/OS/device combination.

    Stuart finishes on a stirring note:

    The Web has trained its developers to attempt to build something that is fundamentally egalitarian, fundamentally available to everyone. That’s why the Web’s good. The old software model, of something which only works in one place, isn’t the baseline against which the Web should be judged; it’s something that’s been surpassed.

    However he wraps up by saying that…

    …the Web is the largest, most widely deployed, most popular and most ubiquitous computing platform the world has ever known. And its programming language is JavaScript.

    In a post called Missed Connections, Aaron pushes back against that last point:

    The fact is that you can’t build a robust Web experience that relies solely on client-side JavaScript.

    While JavaScript may technically be available and consistently-implemented across most devices used to access our sites nowadays, we do not control how, when, or even if that JavaScript is ultimately executed.

    Stuart responds in a post called Reconnecting (and, by the way, how great is it to see this kind of thoughtful blog-to-blog discussion going on?).

    I am, in general and in total agreement with Aaron, opposed to the idea that without JavaScript a web app doesn’t work.

    But here’s the problem with progressively enhancing from server functionality to a rich client:

    A web app which does not require its client-side scripting, which works on the server and then is progressively enhanced, does not work in an offline environment.

    Good point.

    Now, at this juncture, I could point out that—by using progressive enhancement—you can still have the best of both worlds. Stuart has anticpated that:

    It is in theory possible to write a web app which does processing on the server and is entirely robust against its client-side scripting being broken or missing, and which does processing on the client so that it works when the server’s unavailable or uncontactable or expensive or slow. But let’s be honest here. That’s not an app. That’s two apps.

    Ah, there’s the rub!

    When I’ve extolled the virtues of progressive enhancement in the past, the pushback I most often receive is on this point. Surely it’s wasteful to build something that works on the server and then reimplement much of it on the client?

    Personally, I try not to completely reinvent all the business logic that I’ve already figured out on the server, and then rewrite it all in JavaScript. I prefer to use JavaScript—and specifically Ajax—as a dumb waiter, shuffling data back and forth between the client and server, where the real complexity lies.

    I also think that building in this way will take longer …at first. But then on the next project, it takes less time. And on the project after that, it takes less time again. From that perspective, it’s similar to switching from tables for layout to using CSS, or switching from building fixed-with sites to responsive design: the initial learning curve is steep, but then it gets easier over time, until it simply becomes normal.

    But fundamentally, Stuart is right. Developers don’t like to violate the DRY principle: Don’t Repeat Yourself. Writing code for the server environment, and then writing very similar code for the browser—I mean browsers—is a bad code smell.

    Here’s the harsh truth: building websites with progressive enhancement is not convenient.

    Building a client-side web thang that requires JavaScript to work is convenient, especially if you’re using a framework like Angular or Ember. In fact, that’s the main selling point of those frameworks: developer convenience.

    The trade-off is that to get that level of developer convenience, you have to sacrifice the universal reach that the web provides, and limit your audience to the browsers that can run a pre-determined level of JavaScript. Many developers are quite willing to make that trade-off.

    Developer convenience is a very powerful and important force. I wish that progressive enhancement could provide the same level of developer convenience offered by Angular and Ember, but right now, it doesn’t. Instead, its benefits are focused on the end user, often at the expense of the developer.

    Personally, I’m willing to take that hit. I’ve always maintained that, given the choice between making something my problem, and making something the user’s problem, I’ll choose to make it my problem every time. But I absolutely understand the mindset of developers who choose otherwise.

    But perhaps there’s a way to cut this Gordian knot. What if you didn’t need to write your code twice? What if you could write code for the server and then run the very same code on the client?

    This is the promise of isomorphic JavaScript. It’s a terrible name for a great idea.

    For me, this is the most exciting aspect of Node.js:

    With Node.js, a fast, stable server-side JavaScript runtime, we can now make this dream a reality. By creating the appropriate abstractions, we can write our application logic such that it runs on both the server and the client — the definition of isomorphic JavaScript.

    Some big players are looking into this idea. It’s the thinking behind AirBnB’s Rendr.

    Interestingly, the reason why many large sites are investigating this approach isn’t about universal access—quite often they have separate siloed sites for different device classes. Instead it’s about performance. The problem with having all of your functionality wrapped up in JavaScript on the client is that, until all of that JavaScript has loaded, the user gets absolutely nothing. Compare that to rendering an HTML document sent from the server, and the perceived performance difference is very noticable.

    “We don’t have any non-JavaScript users” No, all your users are non-JS while they’re downloading your JS

    — Jake Archibald (@jaffathecake) May 28, 2012

    Here’s the ideal situation:

    1. A browser requests a URL.
    2. The server sends HTML, which renders quickly, along with with some mustard-cutting JavaScript.
    3. If the browser doesn’t cut the mustard, or JavaScript fails, fall back to full page refreshes.
    4. If the browser does cut the mustard, keep all the interaction in the client, just like a single page app.

    With Node.js on the server, and JavaScript in the client, steps 3 and 4 could theoretically use the same code.

    So why aren’t we seeing more of these holy-grail apps that achieve progressive enhancement without code duplication?

    Well, partly it’s back to that question of controlling the server environment.

    @sil @adactio @dracos That architecture is a hard choice to make because it ties you to a small set of runtimes on the server.

    — Dan Webb (@danwrong) September 22, 2014

    @sil @adactio @dracos plus, I think there’s something positive about hard separation of client and server code. Gets you thinking right.

    — Dan Webb (@danwrong) September 22, 2014

    This is something that Nicholas Zakas tackled a year ago when he wrote about Node.js and the new web front-end. He proposes a third layer that sits between the business logic and the rendered output. By applying the idea of isomorphic JavaScript, this interface layer could be run on the server (as Node.js) or on the client (as JavaScript), while still allowing you to have the rest of your server environment running whatever programming language works for you.

    It’s still early days for this kind of thinking, and there are lots of stumbling blocks—trying to write JavaScript that can be executed on both the server and the client isn’t so easy. But I’m pretty excited about where this could lead. I love the idea of building in a way that provide the performance and universal access of progressive enhancement, while also providing the developer convenience of JavaScript frameworks.

    In the meantime, building with progressive enhancement may have to involve a certain level of inconvenience and duplication of effort. It’s a price I’m willing to pay, but I wish I didn’t have to. And I totally understand that others aren’t willing to pay that price.

    But while the mood might currently seem to be in favour of using monolithic JavaScript frameworks to build client-side apps that rely on JavaScript in browsers, I think that the tide might change if we started to see poster children for progressive enhancement.

    Three years ago, when I was trying to convince clients and fellow developers that responsive design was the way to go, it was a hard sell. It reminded me of trying to sell the benefits of using web standards instead of using tables for layout. Then, just as the Doug’s redesign of Wired and Mike’s redesign of ESPN helped sell the idea of CSS for layout, the Filament Group’s work on the Boston Globe made it a lot easier to sell the idea of responsive design. Then Paravel designed a responsive Microsoft homepage and the floodgates opened.

    Now …who wants to do the same thing for progressive enhancement?

    Posted 23 October 2014, 2:54 pm

  6. Favicon NixonMcInnes

    [Blog] NixonMcInnes: Mindfulness – a Q&A with the masters, Joel & Michelle Levey

    Last week I had the honour of interviewing world class mindfulness gurus, Joel and Michelle Levey, from Wisdom at Work, to get more insight into the work they do with organisations like Google, NASA and The World Bank.

    I was particularly excited about this because I am on a personal mission to develop and share my own experiences of mindfulness with others – to help people become less stressed, more resilient to change and ultimately happier and more empowered to do stuff they really love. As part of this, I am currently developing a new initiative at NM to help bring mindfulness into the team and through our work with our clients (watch this space!).

    The Q&A is documented below. If you like the sound of this, and would like to know more, join us at our Meaning conference in November where the Leveys will be talking and running a workshop,

    They will share their experiences and deep understanding of how mindfulness can promote leadership, change resilience and collective intelligence from insights with their work in government, healthcare, business and even the armed forces.

    Here’s the Q&A

    Q. What’s your background and what’s the journey you’ve taken to get to where you are now?

    Joel -

    “It’s quite a challenge to sum up two lifetimes of full-on exploration into the further reaches of human potential. But we’ll try and be brief.

    For me, I started doing consciousness research, exploring the nature of the extraordinary human potential, back in the late 60s and early 70s where I ran a consciousness laboratory at the University of Washington. We did a lot of work with brain studies, neurofeedback etc. and that extended into working in clinical settings where we both ran medical programmes for major medical centers on mindfitness, and ways people could develop adaptability and resilience in the face of change in their lives.

    That naturally blossomed from the medical work environment into organisations because we realised it made much more sense to work with whole organisations who were at times fairly toxic in terms of their culture which would take huge tolls on human beings.

    So we would teach individuals, groups and whole organisations ways to develop more healthy and high-performing teams and organisational cultures. That’s what has lead us to working with hundreds of different organisations and tens of thousands of people around the world.

    We’ve been stretched to learn – getting calls from companies like Google asking us to develop their global meditation and mindfulness laboratory, of which there are locations around the world. We’ve been asked by Intel to develop retentional leadership programs which have touched the lives of leaders all around the world. We’ve helped develop the first mindful organisation cultures on record.

    We keep getting invitations to step into new territory which stretches us. It just goes to show how universal these methods are and how easily accessible they are in any given setting.

    Recently we were asked to take part in a parliamentary roundtable on mindfulness for the British government. We were asked how the British society could adopt mindfulness in education, business, health care and many areas of British society. It was an absolute honour and we were very inspired by it.”

    Q. Tell us a bit more about what are you trying to achieve?

    Michelle -

    “Our area really focuses on helping people to thrive, not just survive, in these VUCA times – to develop people’s capacities for individuals, teams, leaders, orgs. The purpose is really to help people live and work together”.

    Q. This sounds challenging. What are the biggest challenges you face in doing this?

    Joel -

    “These days, it’s probably quite paradoxical – there’s a huge amount of interest which is rippling out of orgs around the globe. But what we’re seeing is that many orgs are taking a fairly superficial approach to it – they’re doing a bit of an inoculation, doing a bit of skills training or mindfitness, but they’re not always taking a really comprehensive approach to it in these current times as much as they had in the past.

    Now though, there are far more resources, time and attention available to do this in a much deeper way – to build mindfulness and complex systems thinking deeply into the fabric of the organisation, to help the way people work together, to make decisions and set values.

    So I think the main challenge we have is to take this wooly, profoundly valuable work and take it deep enough so it can realise the full potential for the transformation of individuals and organisations.”

    Q. You both sound massively proud of the work you do, and it’s really infectious. What are you most proud of in your work?

    Michelle -

    “I would say I am most proud of seeing and appreciative of the amount of success we’ve seen in people transforming and progression their lives, their work and relationships. We’ve seen people after a few years and they’re still practicing this and sharing their work with others and seeing the benefits. As well as the amount of enduring friendships we’ve made through our work over the years”.

    Joel -

    “I’d like to add that I am also proud that people find so much value in the work we do. They see so much value that they then get their leaders, friends and partners involved in this work as well.”

    Q. Finally, what will you be doing at our Meaning conference, what should people expect and why should they join us?

    Joel -

    “At the conference, our hope is to explore the difference and meaning in our lives so that we can realise when we’re more fully awake and truly living and working on purpose.

    When we’re clear on how we can tap into the full dimension of who we are individually and manifest it in such a way that expresses itself into a great vitality and wisdom through our work and parameters.

    So often,  people approach their work from a place of overwhelm, stress and exhaustion, mindlessness. This cuts them off from each other, their own capacity to think, to really reason deeply or to access anything resembling the really fantastic potentials they have.

    We’d like to really help people really find their capacity to realise their potential”.

    Michelle -

    “We will also be drawing and sharing inspirations and insights from successful programmes from thousands of people all over the world. It will be profoundly practical, to help encourage confidence and passion for people to skillfully apply to their own places of work, to have more authentic interactions and create more choice in their lives.”

    Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image

    Posted 23 October 2014, 2:04 pm

  7. Favicon NixonMcInnes

    [Blog] NixonMcInnes: Tech teams are better with empathy and emotional intelligence

    I’ve worked in technical teams in organisations both tiny and monolithic in a number of different roles. My experience has shown me that while people in technology are among the most important and impactful contributors to the success of an organisation, they are often the most disconnected, under supported and unhappy people in many organisations.

    My own journey has demonstrated the positive outcomes of increasing my emotional intelligence and empathy, not least at work. By doing so, I feel happier in my work, more effective at what I do and more connected to the people I work with. I have a burning desire to bring those experiences to ‘my people’, the techies, and helping them to develop in these areas has clear benefits for the organisations they work for.

    Better quality of work and products

    All the best developers, support reps and project managers I’ve known can connect and empathise with the real needs of their users and customers.  Empathy is a central consideration in user-centred design and design thinking, two core practices for modern innovation.

    The teams I’ve enjoyed working in most have had people who knew themselves and their emotions, making effective connections with others easier and more sustainable. Emotional intelligence like this is core to Agile, one of the movements at the heart of many of the most resilient and successful organisations.

    Better relationships with diverse team members 

    Emotional intelligence and empathy is essential for connection to people who are different – the more emotionally intelligent the people in a team, the easier and more inclusive the experience of integration can feel for new and different people joining the team.

    It’s a hard reality that the people in technology roles are among the least diverse, especially when it comes to gender. Diversity in general and particularly an increase in the number of women has been shown to have a positive effect on the collective and emotional intelligence of teams and thus on the potential for success of their organisations.

    Staying relevant in the new tech world

    The technology giants are already shifting their focus to the importance of emotional intelligence and empathy in their people and recruiting accordingly. Google run the Search Inside Yourself mindfulness-based emotional intelligence program, IBM have credited empathy as a key factor in their recent turnaround and new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella reportedly recommended Nonviolent Communication, an approach rooted in empathy, to his senior leaders upon his arrival – a man after my own heart!

    It is only a matter of time before other organisations start to follow suit in focussing on these more humanistic areas of development. This will have an impact both for people and their organisations; employers will increasingly value emotional intelligence as a core ability, and employees will demand more support and training in these areas.

    As I’ve said before, people in technology are some of the brightest and hardest working people of any organisation. They can create and enable innovative new products and customer experiences, improve the working life and efficiency of other people and be the source of new ways of using data in market changing ways.

    Doing these things requires a technology community that is connected to each other, the rest of the organisation and themselves – this can happen by supporting the development of emotional intelligence and empathy for the people in that community. Some of the ways we’ve found that help is personal development using Nonviolent (Collaborative) Communication, behavioural change tools like Do Something Different and meaningful experiences like our Church of fail.

    If this is an area that interests you or you’d like to join the community we’re building for EI in tech, i’d love to talk you. Send me a message on tom.warner@nixonmcinnes.co.uk or @thoswarner and let’s get started.

    Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image

    Posted 23 October 2014, 10:41 am

  8. Favicon Adactio: Journal

    [Blog] Adactio: Journal: A question of markup

    Hi,

    I’m really sorry it’s taken me so long to write back to you (over a month!)—I’m really crap at email.

    I’m writing to you hoping you can help me make my colleagues take html5 “seriously”. They have read your book, they know it’s the “right” thing to do, but still they write !doctype HTML and then div, div, div, div, div…

    Now, if you could provide me with some answers to their “why bother?- questions” would be really appreciated.

    I have to be honest, I don’t think it’s worth spending lots of time agonising over what’s the right element to use for marking up a particular piece of content.

    That said, I also think it’s lazy to just use divs and spans for everything, if a more appropriate element is available.

    Paragraphs, lists, figures …these are all pretty straightforward and require almost no thought.

    Deciding whether something is a section or an article, though …that’s another story. It’s not so clear. And I’m not sure it’s worth the effort. Frankly, a div might be just fine in most cases.

    For example, can one assume that in the future we will be pulling content directly from websites and therefore it would be smart to tell this technology which content is the article, what are the navigation and so on?

    There are some third-party tools (like Readability) that pay attention to the semantics of the elements you use, but the most important use-case is assistive technology. For tools such as screen readers, there’s a massive benefit to marking up headings, lists, and other straightforward elements, as well as some of the newer additions like nav and main.

    But for many situations, a div is just fine. If you’re just grouping some stuff together that doesn’t have a thematic relation (for instance, you might be grouping them together to apply a particular style), then div works perfectly well. And if you’re marking up a piece of inline text and you’re not emphasising it, or otherwise differentiating it semantically, then a span is the right element to use.

    So for most situations, I don’t think it’s worth overthinking the choice of HTML elements. A moment or two should be enough to decide which element is right. Any longer than that, and you might as well just use a div or span, and move on to other decisions.

    But there’s one area where I think it’s worth spending a bit longer to decide on the right element, and that’s with forms.

    When you’re marking up forms, it’s really worth making sure that you’re using the right element. Never use a span or a div if you’re just going to add style and behaviour to make it look and act like a button: use an actual button instead (not only is it the correct element to use, it’s going to save you a lot of work).

    Likewise, if a piece of text is labelling a form control, don’t just use a span; use the label element. Again, this is not only the most meaningful element, but it will provide plenty of practical benefit, not only to screen readers, but to all browsers.

    So when it comes to forms, it’s worth sweating the details of the markup. I think it’s also worth making sure that the major chunks of your pages are correctly marked up: navigation, headings. But beyond that, don’t spend too much brain energy deciding questions like “Is this a definition list? Or a regular list?” or perhaps “Is this an aside? Or is it a footer?” Choose something that works well enough (even if that’s a div) and move on.

    But if your entire document is nothing but divs and spans then you’re probably going to end up making more work for yourself when it comes to the CSS and JavaScript that you apply.

    There’s a bit of a contradiction to what I’m saying here.

    On the one hand, I’m saying you should usually choose the most appropriate element available because it will save you work. In other words, it’s the lazy option. Be lazy!

    On the other hand, I’m saying that it’s worth taking a little time to choose the most appropriate element instead of always using a div or a span. Don’t be lazy!

    I guess what I’m saying is: find a good balance. Don’t agonise over choosing appropriate HTML elements, but don’t just use divs and spans either.

    Hope that helps.

    Hmmm… you know, I think I might publish this response on my blog.

    Cheers,

    Jeremy

    Posted 22 October 2014, 5:56 pm

  9. Writing For SEO

    [Blog] Writing For SEO: Ten Ways To Supercharge Powerful Writing

    No matter how good your writing, there’s normally something else you can do to make it even better. It’s a fact that’s been hard-learned here over decades.

    Are you doing everything you can to supercharge your pages and posts?

    Online writing is always evolving

    As marketing online evolves and the search engine algorithms get more sophisticated, we need to address more and more aspects of the published page.

    What was powerful yesterday, may be missing the mark today. Powerful content online requires all the skills of offline writing, plus an up-to-date knowledge of how the web and search engines work.

    Here’s how to make your content more powerful:

    Ten Ways To Supercharge Powerful Writing

    1. Engage with search engines

    At one stage, writers thought SEO copy was just about engaging with search engines, securing high rankings. I’ve put this one first for historical reasons, but also because many pundits are saying forget them. It’s plain silly when there are still plenty of ways of helping the search engines understand your content and the site as a whole – including heading tags and title tags.

    2. Engage with people

    Understand your readers or potential buyers. Write with one real or imagined person in mind if that helps.

    3. Do your key phrase research

    Know which key phrases you’re going to use to create your content. If you’re unsure about finding key phrases, read this post or make it simple by asking me to do it for you.

    4. Plan your strategy

    Be clear of your priorities. Create the content that will give you the greatest return first. But don’t go for anything that’s really tough if the site is new and you want to see short-term returns. You can find more about developing your content from key phrase research in this article.

    5. Learn your craft

    Writing for the web is a craft. Very few people get it right from the start. And you certainly can’t stand still, because things are always evolving. You’re never the best you can be, and the concept of power in writing is changing continually.

    Powerful writing

    6. Be clear about your outcomes

    Don’t just plaster your website with ‘content’, covering it with badly-written, weakly conceived words because ‘Content is King’. Great Content is King, so be very clear about what you want to achieve and that you’ve done everything you can to address it with everything you put on your site – buying, signing up, increasing trust, telling others about you. Great content achieves your aims.

    7. Produce better content than your competitors

    Ask yourself why someone would read your content. Can they get better elsewhere? Can you produce something easier to understand, more exciting, more precisely targeted, more exhaustive? Think about what you’re trying to write from a reader’s point of view, and don’t feel intimidated by the big guns out there. Your experience and point of view are unique. Play to your strengths!

    8. Make it shareable

    These days, so many parts of online marketing are inextricably linked. The downside is that to be really successful you’ll need to do more than just produce great content for your blog. The upside is that, with a bit of thought, you can make your content work for you in social media – make sure you have sharing buttons on your site. They give you powerful content that’s effective in more than one place.

    9. Help it work harder with schema.org, microformats and social graph information

    With these embedded in your page, your writing can work harder for you when it appears on social media and in search engine results.

    10. Support your writing with images

    The search engines can’t make sense of images, but completing alt tags on your images, using key phrases carefully, can help your content’s performance.

    How do you enhance powerful writing?

    Thanks to Alden Jewell and Greg Westfall for making their images available via Creative Commons.

    Have you read these?

    Posted 22 October 2014, 1:09 pm

  10. Favicon Wired Sussex Digital Media News

    [Blog] Wired Sussex Digital Media News: Who are the big players on the Brighton tech scene?

    We have to admit to being a little too busy to have kept an eye on all the amazing companies mushrooming in Brighton over the last few years. In this blog we reacquaint ourselves with some of the larger companies on the Brighton tech scene in 2014. We ...

    Posted 22 October 2014, 1:00 am

  11. Favicon Adactio: Journal

    [Blog] Adactio: Journal: Indie web building blocks

    I was back in Nürnberg last week for the second border:none. Joschi tried an interesting format for this year’s event. The first day was a small conference-like gathering with an interesting mix of speakers, but the second day was much more collaborative, with people working together in “creator units”—part workshop, part round-table discussion.

    I teamed up with Aaron to lead the session on all things indie web. It turned out to be a lot of fun. Throughout the day, we introduced the little building blocks, one by one. By the end of the day, it was amazing to see how much progress people made by taking this layered approach of small pieces, loosely stacked.

    relme

    The first step is: do you have a domain name?

    Okay, next step: are you linking from that domain to other profiles of you on the web? Twitter, Instagram, Github, Dribbble, whatever. If so, here’s the first bit of hands-on work: add rel="me" to those links.

    <a rel="me" href="https://twitter.com/adactio">Twitter</a>
    <a rel="me" href="https://github.com/adactio">Github</a>
    <a rel="me" href="https://www.flickr.com/people/adactio">Flickr</a>
    
    

    If you don’t have any profiles on other sites, you can still mark up your telephone number or email address with rel="me". You might want to do this in a link element in the head of your HTML.

    <link rel="me" href="mailto:jeremy@adactio.com" />
    <link rel="me" href="sms:+447792069292" />
    
    

    IndieAuth

    As soon as you’ve done that, you can make use of IndieAuth. This is a technique that demonstrates a recurring theme in indie web building blocks: take advantage of the strengths of existing third-party sites. In this case, IndieAuth piggybacks on top of the fact that many third-party sites have some kind of authentication mechanism, usually through OAuth. The fact that you’re “claiming” a profile on a third-party site using rel="me"—and the third-party profile in turn links back to your site—means that we can use all the smart work that went into their authentication flow.

    You can see IndieAuth in action by logging into the Indie Web Camp wiki. It’s pretty nifty.

    If you’ve used rel="me" to link to a profile on something like Twitter, Github, or Flickr, you can authenticate with their OAuth flow. If you’ve used rel="me" for your email address or phone number, you can authenticate by email or SMS.

    h-entry

    Next question: are you publishing stuff on your site? If so, mark it up using h-entry. This involves adding a few classes to your existing markup.

    <article class="h-entry">
      <div class="e-content">
        <p>Having fun with @aaronpk, helping @border_none attendees mark up their sites with rel="me" links, h-entry classes, and webmention endpoints.</p>
      </div>
      <time class="dt-published" datetime="2014-10-18 08:42:37">8:42am</time>
    </article>
    
    

    Now, the reason for doing this isn’t for some theoretical benefit from search engines, or browsers, but simply to make the content you’re publishing machine-parsable (which will come in handy in the next steps).

    Aaron published a note on his website, inviting everyone to leave a comment. The trick is though, to leave a comment on Aaron’s site, you need to publish it on your own site.

    Webmention

    Here’s my response to Aaron’s post. As well as being published on my own site, it also shows up on Aaron’s. That’s because I sent a webmention to Aaron.

    Webmention is basically a reimplementation of pingback, but without any of the XML silliness; it’s just a POST request with two values—the URL of the origin post, and the URL of the response.

    My site doesn’t automatically send webmentions to any links I reference in my posts—I should really fix that—but that’s okay; Aaron—like me—has a form under each of his posts where you can paste in the URL of your response.

    This is where those h-entry classes come in. If your post is marked up with h-entry, then it can be parsed to figure out which bit of your post is the body, which bit is the author, and so on. If your response isn’t marked up as h-entry, Aaron just displays a link back to your post. But if it is marked up in h-entry, Aaron can show the whole post on his site.

    Okay. By this point, we’ve already come really far, and all people had to do was edit their HTML to add some rel attributes and class values.

    For true site-to-site communication, you’ll need to have a webmention endpoint. That’s a bit trickier to add to your own site; it requires some programming. Here’s my minimum viable webmention that I wrote in PHP. But there are plenty of existing implentations you can use, like this webmention plug-in for WordPress.

    Or you could request an account on webmention.io, which is basically webmention-as-a-service. Handy!

    Once you have a webmention endpoint, you can point to it from the head of your HTML using a link element:

    <link rel="mention" href="https://adactio.com/webmention" />
    
    

    Now you can receive responses to your posts.

    Here’s the really cool bit: if you sign up for Bridgy, you can start receiving responses from third-party sites like Twitter, Facebook, etc. Bridgy just needs to know who you are on those networks, looks at your website, and figures everything out from there. And it automatically turns the responses from those networks into h-entry. It feels like magic!

    Here are responses from Twitter to my posts, as captured by Bridgy.

    POSSE

    That was mostly what Aaron and I covered in our one-day introduction to the indie web. I think that’s pretty good going.

    The next step would be implementing the idea of POSSE: Publish on your Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere.

    You could do this using something as simple as If This, Then That e.g. everytime something crops up in your RSS feed, post it to Twitter, or Facebook, or both. If you don’t have an RSS feed, don’t worry: because you’re already marking your HTML up in h-entry, it can be converted to RSS easily.

    I’m doing my own POSSEing to Twitter, which I’ve written about already. Since then, I’ve also started publishing photos here, which I sometimes POSSE to Twitter, and always POSSE to Flickr. Here’s my code for posting to Flickr.

    I’d really like to POSSE my photos to Instagram, but that’s impossible. Instagram is a data roach-motel. The API provides no method for posting photos. The only way to post a picture to Instagram is with the Instagram app.

    My only option is to do the opposite of POSSEing, which is PESOS: Publish Elsewhere, and Syndicate to your Own Site. To do that, I need to have an endpoint on my own site that can receive posts.

    Micropub

    Working side by side with Aaron at border:none inspired me to finally implement one more indie web building block I needed: micropub.

    Having a micropub endpoint here on my own site means that I can publish from third-party sites …or even from native apps. The reason why I didn’t have one already was that I thought it would be really complicated to implement. But it turns out that, once again, the trick is to let other services do all the hard work.

    First of all, I need to have something to manage authentication. Well, I already have that with IndieAuth. I got that for free just by adding rel="me" to my links to other profiles. So now I can declare indieauth.com as my authorization endpoint in the head of my HTML:

    <link rel="authorization_endpoint" href="https://indieauth.com/auth" />
    
    

    Now I need some way of creating and issuing authentation tokens. See what I mean about it sounding like hard work? Creating a token endpoint seems complicated.

    But once again, someone else has done the hard work so I don’t have to. Tokens-as-a-service:

    <link rel="token_endpoint" href="https://tokens.indieauth.com/token" />
    
    

    The last piece of the puzzle is to point to my own micropub endpoint:

    <link rel="micropub" href="https://adactio.com/micropub" />
    
    

    That URL is where I will receive posts from third-party sites and apps (sent through a POST request with an access token in the header). It’s up to me to verify that the post is authenticated properly with a valid access token. Here’s the PHP code I’m using.

    It wasn’t nearly as complicated as I thought it would be. By the time a post and a token hits the micropub endpoint, most of the hard work has already been done (authenticating, issuing a token, etc.). But there are still a few steps that I have to do:

    1. Make a GET request (I’m using cURL) back to the token endpoint I specified—sending the access token I’ve been sent in a header—verifying the token.
    2. Check that the “me” value that I get back corresponds to my identity, which is https://adactio.com
    3. Take the h-entry values that have been sent as POST variables and create a new post on my site.

    I tested my micropub endpoint using Quill, a nice little posting interface that Aaron built. It comes with great documentation, including a guide to creating a micropub endpoint.

    It worked.

    Here’s another example: Ben Roberts has a posting interface that publishes to micropub, which means I can authenticate myself and post to my site from his interface.

    Finally, there’s OwnYourGram, a service that monitors your Instagram account and posts to your micropub endpoint whenever there’s a new photo.

    That worked too. And I can also hook up Bridgy to my Instagram account so that any activity on my Instagram photos also gets sent to my webmention endpoint.

    Indie Web Camp

    Each one of these building blocks unlocks greater and greater power:

    Each one of those building blocks you implement unlocks more and more powerful tools:

    But its worth remembering that these are just implementation details. What really matters is that you’re publishing your stuff on your website. If you want to use different formats and protocols to do that, that’s absolutely fine. The whole point is that this is the independent web—you can do whatever you please on your own website.

    Still, if you decide to start using these tools and technologies, you’ll get the benefit of all the other people who are working on this stuff. If you have the chance to attend an Indie Web Camp, you should definitely take it: I’m always amazed by how much is accomplished in one weekend.

    Some people have started referring to the indie web movement. I understand where they’re coming from; it certainly looks like a “movement” from the outside, and if you attend an Indie Web Camp, there’s a great spirit of sharing. But my underlying motivations are entirely selfish. In the same way that I don’t really care about particular formats or protocols, I don’t really care about being part of any kind of “movement.” I care about my website.

    As it happens, my selfish motivations align perfectly with the principles of an indie web.

    Posted 21 October 2014, 5:49 pm

  12. Favicon martyn reding - juggling with water

    [Blog] martyn reding - juggling with water: The Future of Programming by @worrydream



    I recently attended a two track conference (one track design, one track dev) and for the sake of not watching a presentation I'd already seen and for the sake of forcing myself to open my brain beyond design I decided to spend the morning in the Dev track.

    It turned out to be a fantastic idea. One of the references during the presentations was this presentations by Bret Victor. Most of the Developer attendees nodded along knowingly, however none of my design friends have heard of it.

    Yes it's a presentation about programming, but wait! It's probably one of the most creative presentations you'll see. Bret Victor gave this entire presentation from the perspective of a 1970s Californian computer scientist. The idea of looking at the future, from a historic view is total genius. Bret's attention to detail is wonderful. He dresses as a stereotypical 70s computer operator, complete with pocket pen pouch. He even delivers the slides using an overhead projector.

    One of the key messages in this presentation is that technology moves quickly, but people's behaviour takes much longer change. Which brings back the argument that because we know how to do something, does it mean we should do it?

    It also nicely frames the notion that in order to really understand where we (the digital industry) are going, we have to fully understand where we've come from.

    Posted 21 October 2014, 4:45 pm

  13. Favicon NixonMcInnes

    [Blog] NixonMcInnes: Transformation or Tinkering?

    This is the title of the talk I am delivering this week at HR Tech Europe in Amsterdam. It came from a tweet that I dashed off in frustration a few weeks ago: “Do you want transformation or do you want tinkering?” Why the frustration? Because there is much talk of the potential of social tools to bring about change in business, but not much evidence of real impact. 

    Even if people have embraced social platforms, and appear active, a lot of the energy is still soaked up by “busy”ness. Reading case studies, choosing tools, deploying tools, measuring tools, writing reports about tools. But how much change is actually going on? How much have they got to grips with people? The messy, scary, unpredictable business of truly connecting with people and enabling them to really adapt and change often deeply held assumptions about work.

    The real benefits of social in business should be huge. Not just a trendy new communications channel down which to push content, but a robust platform on which to have work-focussed conversations and get things done. Not just an “employee engagement” palliative, but something that has a productively disruptive impact on the business.

    But for this to happen, people have to want it. They have to understand what they are getting themselves into. They have to be willing to give up their familiar ideas of work and embrace something radically new. This is especially true of those promoting the use of these new tools.

    Too often, when I ask clients how their social media platforms are doing in their organisations, there is the following exchange: “No one is using them.” “Are you using them?” “No I am much too busy.”

    The sort of profound change we are looking for in our workplaces happens one person at a time, one conversation at a time, and for their reasons not ours. This calls for a different approach to management and a shift in our understanding of work. This doesn’t just happen. It takes real work. It IS the real work.

    To find out more follow #HRTechEurope or say hi to @euan or @contentqueen at HR Tech Europe this week. If you’d like to talk about how we can help your organisation benefit from more social and collaborative ways of working, email belinda.gannaway@nixonmcinnes.co.uk.

     

     

    Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image

    Posted 21 October 2014, 4:08 pm

  14. Favicon SiteVisibility

    [Blog] SiteVisibility: Long Tail Keywords and Profitability – Felice Ayling – Podcast Episode #267

    In this week’s Internet Marketing Podcast Andy talks to Felice Ayling, Digital Media Director at SiteVisibility, about long tail keywords. They first discuss the difference between head keywords and long tail keywords and the different results each type of search give you. They then talk about how longer tail keywords are more suited to those looking to target particular niches and that they often have much higher conversion rates. Finally, they chat about the various tools available to help you identify the keywords you want to target.

    Post from Apple Pie & Custard blog by SiteVisibility - An SEO Agency

    Long Tail Keywords and Profitability – Felice Ayling – Podcast Episode #267

    Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image
    Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image

    Posted 21 October 2014, 11:00 am

  15. Favicon Wired Sussex Digital Media News

    [Blog] Wired Sussex Digital Media News: It's that time of year already - the Wired Sussex Members' Christmas Meetup is coming!

    Meeting other members and talking to Wired Sussex about what you and/or your company needs is one of the best ways of getting the most out of your membership. The more we know about you, the better we can help; and the more you know who we are - and ...

    Posted 21 October 2014, 1:00 am

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