Blogs

  1. Favicon SiteVisibility

    [Blog] SiteVisibility: How brands can become digital knowledge centres – INTERNET MARKETING PODCAST #291

    Simon Swann has been working in digital for 11 years with start-ups in mostly the sports/retail sectors. He now works in the publishing sector. In this podcast Simon talks about youtility marketing and the importance of building something that is helpful and useful to your audience. Brands are realising that broadcasting and promoting is becoming very noisy, therefore breaking down barriers and drawing a bridge between the brand and their audience is imperative. How is this done? Embrace your digital team and build conversations, don’t be too corporate, build on the sociable angle and engage.

    Simon talks about differentiating your brand in a crowded sector. He discusses blue ocean vs red ocean, crowdsourcing and brand aspiration. How do you build authority? You need to understand your USP, have a trust element, be consistent and have brand transparency. Then you need to measure it, focusing on key metrics.

    Youtility

    Kitbag.com

    Threadless in the US

    Starbucks

    Followerwonk

    Swan-y.co.uk

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

    How brands can become digital knowledge centres – INTERNET MARKETING PODCAST #291

    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 May 2015, 10:00 am

  2. Favicon Adactio: Journal

    [Blog] Adactio: Journal: 100 words 059

    Today was the first day of UX London. I was planning to attend. I decided I’d skip the first couple of talks—because that would entail rising at the crack of dawn—but I was aiming to get to the venue by the time the first break rolled around.

    No plan survives contact with the enemy and today the enemy was the rail infrastructure between Brighton and London. Due to “unforeseen engineering works”, there were scenes of mild-mannered chaos when I arrived at the station.

    I decided—wisely, in retrospect—to abandon my plan. Here’s hoping it’s better by tomorrow.

    Posted 20 May 2015, 11:28 pm

  3. Favicon Adactio: Journal

    [Blog] Adactio: Journal: Instantiation

    When I give talks or workshops, I sometimes get a bit ranty. One of the richest seams of rantiness comes from me complaining about how we web designers and developers are responsible for making the web a hostile place. “Stop getting the web wrong!” I might shout, like an old man yelling at a cloud. I point to services like Instapaper and Readability and describe their existence as a damning indictment of our work.

    Don’t get me wrong—I really like Instapaper, Readability, RSS readers, or any other tools that allow people to read what they want when they want it. But think about their fundamental selling point: get to the content you want without having to wade through the cruft. That cruft was put there by us.

    So-called modern web design and development is damage that people have to route around.

    (Ooh, I can feel myself coming over all ranty and angry again! Calm down, Jeremy, calm down!)

    And. Breathe.

    Now there’s a new tool to the add to the list: Facebook Instant. Again, I think it’s actually pretty great that this service exists. But once again, it should make us ashamed of the work we’re collectively producing.

    In this case, the service is—somewhat ironically—explicitly touting the performance benefits of not going to a website to read an article. Quite right.

    PPK points to tools as the source of the problem and Marco Arment agrees:

    The entire culture dominant among web developers today is bizarrely framework-heavy, with seemingly no thought given to minimizing dependencies and page weight.

    But I think it’s a bit more subtle than that. As John Gruber says:

    Business development deals have created problems that no web developer can solve. There’s no way to make a web page with a full-screen content-obscuring ad anything other than a shitty experience.

    My least favorite online game these days: finding the “X" that closes the nearly ubiquitous website popup for newsletter signup or video ad.

    — Jason Kottke (@jkottke) May 18, 2015

    How to browse the mobile web: Navigate to site Close modal popup (if you can) Decline native app offer Close top banner Close bottom banner

    — Justin Palmer (@Caged) April 21, 2015

    Now you might be saying to yourself “Well, I’ve never made a bloated web page!” or “I’ve never slapped loads of intrusive crap over the content!” I’d certainly like to think that I can look at my track record and hold my head up reasonably high. But that doesn’t matter. If the overall perception is that going to a URL to read an article is a pain in the ass, it hurts all of us.

    Take this article from M.G. Siegler:

    Not only is the web not fast enough for apps, it’s not fast enough for text either. …on mobile, the web browser just isn’t cutting it. … Native apps provide a better user experience on mobile than a web browser.

    On the face of it, this is kind of a bizarre claim. After all, there’s nothing inherent in web browsers that makes them slow at rendering text—quite the opposite! And native apps still use HTTP (and often HTML) to fetch content; the network doesn’t suddenly get magically faster just because the piece of software requesting a resource doesn’t happen to be a web browser.

    But this conflation of slow websites and slow web browsers is perfectly understandable. If it looks like a slow duck, and it quacks like a slow duck, then why not conclude that ducks are slow? Even if we know that there’s nothing inherently slow about making web pages:

    You don’t need Facebook to deliver your text faster than you can. Remove all unnecessary cruft and make your site blazing fast.

    — Nat Buckley (@thatnatbuckley) May 15, 2015

    My hope is that Facebook Instant will shake things up a bit. M.G. Siegler again:

    At the very least, Facebook has put everyone else on notice. Your content better load fast or you’re screwed. Publication websites have become an absolutely bloated mess. They range from beautiful (The Verge) to atrocious (Bloomberg) to unusable (Forbes). The common denominator: they’re all way too slow.

    There needs to be a cultural change in how we approach building for the web. Yes, some of the tools we choose are part of the problem, but the bigger problem is that performance still isn’t being recognised as the most important factor in how people feel about websites (and by extension, the web). This isn’t just a developer issue. It’s a design issue. It’s a UX issue. It’s a business issue. Performance is everybody’s collective responsibility.

    I’d better stop now before I start getting all ranty again.

    I’ll leave you with some other writings on this topic…

    Tim Kadlec talks about choosing performance:

    It’s not because of any sort of technical limitations. No, if a website is slow it’s because performance was not prioritized. It’s because when push came to shove, time and resources were spent on other features of a site and not on making sure that site loads quickly.

    Jim Ray points out that “we learned the wrong lesson from the rise of mobile and the app ecosystem”:

    We’ve spent far too long trying to compete with native experiences by making our websites look and behave like apps. This includes not just thousands of lines of JavaScript to mimic native app swipes and scrolling but even the lower overhead aesthetics of fixed position headers and persistent navigation.

    (*cough*Flipboard*cough*)

    Finally, Baldur Bjarnason has written a terrific piece:

    The web doesn’t suck. Your websites suck.

    All of your websites suck.

    You destroy basic usability by hijacking the scrollbar. You take native functionality (scrolling, selection, links, loading) that is fast and efficient and you rewrite it with ‘cutting edge’ javascript toolkits and frameworks so that it is slow and buggy and broken. You balloon your websites with megabytes of cruft. You ignore best practices. You take something that works and is complementary to your business and turn it into a liability.

    The lousy performance of your websites becomes a defensive moat around Facebook.

    Go read the whole thing—it’s terrific:

    This is a long-standing debate. Except it’s only long-standing among web developers. Columnists, managers, pundits, and journalists seem to have no interest in understanding the technical foundation of their livelihoods. Instead they are content with assuming that Facebook can somehow magically render HTML over HTTP faster than anybody else and there is nothing anybody can do to make their crap scroll-jacking websites faster. They buy into the myth that the web is incapable of delivering on its core capabilities: delivering hypertext and images quickly to a diverse and connected readership.

    Posted 20 May 2015, 6:33 pm

  4. Favicon SiteVisibility

    [Blog] SiteVisibility: What’s Going on in Travel SEO?

    At the most recent brightonSEO we were lucky enough to gather together some of the brightest in-house search marketers at Travel and Leisure businesses for a chat, a rant and sharing some knowledge.

    We’ve run these roundtables for a few years and they’re a great opportunity to really feel the pulse of the industry. The roundtable itself is held under Chatham House Rules, which means we can’t share precisely who said what but we did want to share some general notes and findings from the event.

    If you’re interested in attending future travel SEO roundtable events just email kelvin.newman@sitevisibility.com

    Mobile changes 21 April

    Some ready, some not. No-one too sure on impact. Bigger companies e.g corporates very aware of the possible negative impact on this critical touchpoint in the consumer travel market. In bigger businesses might be higher levels of panic as realisation dawns it has to.

    Questions around  Smaller companies e.g using WordPress already covered for responsive.   Some sites only partially ready – prioritising important pages.

    Bigger companies have to work hard to educate internal stakeholders on why it’s needed – a lot of effort!

    Prioritising changes is a challenge. Many bigger players are outsourcing

     

    Site Search

    Broadly agreed important but not utilised to the full. Bigger companies see insights for new content and missed opps but winding up to present to senior players in a deck with business case an obstacle.

    Also pipeline of projects is often full, so adding new becomes an issue – especially at short notice.

    Mobile site search – good for smaller sites – one client problem with Google site search not working with Universal Analytics

     

    Outreach

    Bigger players wary of link building – doing link earning – but only for relevant content pages mapped to audience needs.

    Bigger players aware of multi channel (omnichannel) marketing – SEO not a silo but increasingly part of a joined up journey.   Social Big disappointment with Google+ and authorship pull. Trust diminished. Google_and Google account too complicated to use and manage, only used to support SEO.

    Pinterest, Facebook & Twitter main channels. Social signals benefit not widely seen (or perhaps understood). Feeling google missed a trick with Google+ which could have been massive for travel.

    Travel Industry still use it for business place, local and YouTube tie up.

    Bigger companies value social for link earning – being seen and increasingly dealing with customer service issues (Twitter as default)

     

    Blogging

    This was seen as crucial to organic search strategy for long tail and a tactic to bring in customers to the main website by many.

    Some weren’t sure on its usefulness.

    Timing is everything – Seasonal factors. repurposing old content (evergreen).

     

    HTTPS

    Numerous bad experiences with loss of traffic with two attendees reporting 50% drops in analytics (and reverting back to http)

     

    Development outsourcing

    Bigger companies outsourcing development tasks due to bulging pipelines – too much work in the pipeline to cope internally. Especially when red alert Google changes require a fast turnaround.

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

    What’s Going on in Travel SEO?

    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 20 May 2015, 2:56 pm

  5. Favicon Adactio: Journal

    [Blog] Adactio: Journal: 100 words 058

    PPK writes of modern web development:

    Tools don’t solve problems any more, they have become the problem.

    I think he’s mostly correct, but I think there is some clarification required.

    Web development tools fall into two broad categories:

    1. Local tools like preprocessors, task managers, and version control systems that help the developer output their own HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
    2. Tools written in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript that the end user has to download for the developer to gain benefit.

    It’s that second category that contain a tax on the end user. Stop solving problems you don’t yet have.

    Posted 19 May 2015, 4:43 pm

  6. Favicon Freelance Copywriter | Web / SEO Copywriter | Dorset / London / Brighton

    [Blog] Freelance Copywriter | Web / SEO Copywriter | Dorset / London / Brighton: DotDorset – the new monthly meetup

    DotDorset is a new meetup group that’s open to everyone. The focus is on digital media, technology and arts, but the group’s main purpose is to hang out in pubs, so we’re pretty flexible. What can you expect from DotDorset? A place to meet other web workers and tech professionals An informal, friendly, welcoming group […]

    Posted 19 May 2015, 9:58 am

  7. Favicon Adactio: Journal

    [Blog] Adactio: Journal: 100 words 057

    It’s UX London week. That’s always a crazy busy time at Clearleft. But it’s also an opportunity. We have this sneaky tactic of kidnapping a speaker from UX London and making them give a workshop just for us. We did it a few years ago with Dave Grey and we got a fantastic few days of sketching out of it.

    This time we grabbed Jeff Patton. He spent this afternoon locked in the auditorium at 68 Middle Street teaching us all about user story mapping. ‘Twas most enlightening and really helped validate some of the stuff we’ve been doing lately.

    Posted 18 May 2015, 11:10 pm

  8. Favicon remy sharp's b:log

    [Blog] remy sharp's b:log: Quick technique for API mocking

    During server software development (i.e. node) I always strive to work offline, in that my development workflow doesn't depend on any online services.

    However, sometimes that's not possible as there's some 3rd party API dependancy - as there was in my latest client work. The problem I found, was that the latency between my location and the 3rd party API was so high, that it was impacting on the workflow cycle of: debug, change, test, repeat. The load time was taking anywhere from 15-30 seconds each time.

    So this was my quick work around to easily mock out the API so my development process could be faster.

    The aims

    The aim was to, without much work at all, replicate specific API calls without modifying my application code. i.e. I could switch my mock API on and off as I needed.

    It was also important that the time required to put a mock API in place, did not outweigh the time lost on the latency. Specifically, if the custom mock API turned into days of work, it would have been a total waste of time.

    The simple solution

    This code uses Express 4. It's entirely possible that there was a library that already existed, but the small amount of code that I had to write wins over finding, researching, checking and learning a new library.

    Capturing mock data

    First I had to run my way through each API call and save the raw output as a .json file in a local directory (not tracked in git) called mock-data.

    Since all my internal API calls used a config value as the root of the API URL, it meant I could change my local config to point to my local mock API instead of the staging or production endpoint:

    var config = require('./config');
    var root = config.api;
    
    function getOrder(id) {
      return request({ // a promise
        url: root + '/order',
        type: 'json',
        body {
          id: id
        }
      });
    }
    

    I would change my config.api value to point to `http://localhost/mock-api' and the server I was developing would actually reply to the API requests using the code in the next section.

    Mock API Code

    The following code would be in (something like) routes/mock-api.js:

    var express = require('express');
    var fs = require('fs');
    var router = express.Router();
    // directory path to the mock json files
    var mockPath = __dirname + '/mock-data/';
    
    var design = {
      'POST /order': 'getOrder',
      'POST /order/tickets': 'addTickets',
      'DELETE /order/tickets': 'removeTicket',
    }
    
    module.exports = router;
    
    Object.keys(design).forEach(function (req) {
      var method = req.split(' ').shift();
      var path = req.split(' ').pop();
      var mock = '{}';
      try {
        mock = require(mockPath + design[req]);
      } catch (e) {}
    
      router.route(path)[method.toLowerCase()](function (req, res) {
        res.send(mock);
      });
    });
    

    In my main routes.js file I can then conditionally load up my mock router:

    // snip...
    if (config.mock) {
      app.use('/mock-api', require('./routes/mock-api'));
    }
    

    Now requests to my server (the same server I'm doing my main development against), can respond to API requests with pre-baked data. Now my damn latency is a thing of the past!

    Taking it further

    I struggle to look at the above code without seeing ways to improve it - but as I pointed out in the aims: keep it simple, and keep the solution quick.

    Here's a few ideas that spring to mind that might make the code more useful in different situations:

    • Respond with different file types (rather than only .json)
    • Respond with inline JSON data (that would be defined in the design)
    • Support variables in the URL to pick different static responses (like GET /order/:id)

    I have done some similar work in my static server which also has limited support for interpolation in the response.

    For now though, this simple version suits my requirements!

    Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image

    Posted 18 May 2015, 2:00 pm

  9. Favicon Adactio: Journal

    [Blog] Adactio: Journal: 100 words 056

    I did not take any photographs today. There was a moment when I thought about it. Standing in the back garden, looking up through the leaves and branches of an overhanging tree, I almost reached for my phone.

    The sky was a rich clear cerulean blue. The leaves of the tree were a deep maroon colour. The sunlight shining through the leaves showed a branching system of vein-like lines.

    If I had taken a photograph, I probably would’ve pointed the camera lens straight up, filling most of the frame with pure blue, and the purple leaves encroaching into the picture.

    Posted 18 May 2015, 12:16 am

  10. Favicon Adactio: Journal

    [Blog] Adactio: Journal: 100 words 055

    Yesterday I wrote about a tenuous serendipitous connection between Spacewar and the creation of the internet. In the appendix to Stewart Brand’s 1972 Rolling Stone article I spotted a reference to the one and only Bob Kahn.

    Except it turns out there is more than one Bob Kahn. A kindly email from Jack Dietz set me straight: there’s Robert Kahn who demoed ARPANET and then there’s Robert Kahn who advocated public access to computers.

    This has taught me two important lessons:

    1. Names are not the best unique identifiers, and
    2. The best way to get feedback is to publish.

    Posted 16 May 2015, 9:36 am

  11. Favicon Adactio: Journal

    [Blog] Adactio: Journal: This is for everyone with a certificate

    Mozilla—like Google before them—have announced their plans for deprecating HTTP in favour of HTTPS. I’m all in favour of moving to HTTPS. I’ve done it myself here on adactio.com, on thesession.org, and on huffduffer.com. I have some concerns about the potential linkrot involved in the move to TLS everywhere—as outlined by Tim Berners-Lee—but still, anything that makes the work of GCHQ and the NSA more difficult is alright by me.

    But I have a big, big problem with Mozilla’s plan to “encourage” the move to HTTPS:

    Gradually phasing out access to browser features.

    Requiring HTTPS for certain browser features makes total sense, given the security implications. Service Workers, for example, are quite correctly only available over HTTPS. Any API that has access to a device sensor—or that could be used for fingerprinting in any way—should only be available over HTTPS. In retrospect, Geolocation should have been HTTPS-only from the beginning.

    But to deny access to APIs where there are no security concerns, where it is merely a stick to beat people with …that’s just wrong.

    This is for everyone. Not just those smart enough to figure out how to add HTTPS to their site. And yes, I know, the theory is that is that it’s going to get easier and easier, but so far the steps towards making HTTPS easier are just vapourware. That makes Mozilla’s plan look like something drafted by underwear gnomes.

    The issue here is timing. Let’s make HTTPS easy first. Then we can start to talk about ways of encouraging adoption. Hopefully we can figure out a way that doesn’t require Mozilla or Google as gatekeepers.

    Sven Slootweg outlines the problems with Mozilla’s forced SSL. I highly recommend reading Yoav’s post on deprecating HTTP too. Ben Klemens has written about HTTPS: the end of an era …that era being the one in which anyone could make a website without having to ask permission from an app store, a certificate authority, or a browser manufacturer.

    On the other hand, Eric Mill wrote We’re Deprecating HTTP And It’s Going To Be Okay. It makes for an extremely infuriating read because it outlines all the ways in which HTTPS is a good thing (all of which I agree with) without once addressing the issue at hand—a browser that deliberately cripples its feature set for political reasons.

    Posted 15 May 2015, 3:51 pm

  12. Favicon Adactio: Journal

    [Blog] Adactio: Journal: 100 words 054

    In between publishing the Whole Earth Catalog and spinning up the Long Now Foundation, Stewart Brand wrote an article in Rolling Stone magazine about one of the earliest video games, Spacewar.

    Except it isn’t really about Spacewar at all. It’s about the oncoming age of the personal computer.

    The article was published in 1972. At the end, there’s an appendix listing some communal places where “one can step in off the street and compute.” One of those places—with 16 terminals available—was run by a certain Bob Kahn.

    Together with Vint Cerf he created the Internet’s Transmission Control Protocol.

    Posted 15 May 2015, 1:37 pm

  13. shardcore

    [Blog] shardcore: Diogenes and the chicken

    diogenes_web
    Acrylic on canvas 762mm x 508mm (30″ x 20″)

    Diogenes is my favourite ancient greek philosopher.

    Diogenes made a virtue of poverty. He begged for a living and often slept in a large ceramic jar in the marketplace. He became notorious for his philosophical stunts such as carrying a lamp in the daytime, claiming to be looking for an honest man. He criticized and embarrassed Plato, disputed his interpretation of Socrates and sabotaged his lectures, sometimes distracting attendees by bringing food and eating during the discussions. Diogenes was also responsible for publicly mocking Alexander the Great.

    Here I have painted him holding a plucked chicken, a reference to one of his infamous run-ins with Plato.

    Plato liked to ‘interpret’ Socrates, and on one occasion spoke of his definition of man as a “featherless biped”.

    Allegedly, Diogenes plucked a chicken and brought it into Plato’s Academy, saying, “Behold! I’ve brought you a man.”

    diogenes_detail

    Posted 15 May 2015, 12:23 pm

  14. Favicon Adactio: Journal

    [Blog] Adactio: Journal: 100 words 053

    When I got back from Bletchley Park yesterday, I immediately started huffduffing more stories about cryptography and code-breaking.

    One of the stories I found was an episode of Ockham’s Razor featuring Professor Mark Dodgson. He talks about the organisational structure at Bletchley Park:

    The important point was the organization emphasised team-working and open knowledge sharing where it was needed, and demarcation and specialisation where it was most appropriate.

    This reminds of another extraordinary place, also displaying remarkable levels of collaboration, that has an unusual lack of traditional hierarchies and structure: CERN.

    Bletchley Park produced the computer. CERN produced the web.

    Posted 14 May 2015, 11:31 pm

  15. Favicon All these things

    [Blog] All these things: Mud on my boots

    Sometime I arrive in my London office with mud on my boots.   For some that would be dirty or uncivilised.  Us humans have paved over the world to make it safe and mud free. Bringing mud indoors makes a mess.   I do have a change of shoes at the office in case they are just too bad.

    Contributor has not supplied alternative text for this image

    The mud has become a symbol for me: a peek under the pavement to the un-human-conditioned world we all derive from.  Think of clean paved streets as a virtual reality, a human construction.

    I care about the mud on my boots because I care how the mud got there.  My commute from suburban Brighton to Charing Cross in London begins with a twenty minute walk.  A walk through woods, across a fieldy park, up past some apartments and then along a stony track beside the railway.  This walk through relatively unconditioned nature helps me construct myself before the human-conditioned world of the streets, trains and city take over.

    I’m learning to finesse the way that I construct myself daily.  I’ve begun - as of this spring - stepping outside as almost the first act of my day, only pausing to set the kettle boiling or making a first cup of tea.  This seems to be a statement of:

    ‘I am.

    I am here.’

    as some unconditioned ‘truth’.  The radio - breakfast - dishwasher - internet - conversation - shower - shit - busyness inside doesn’t get close to this. I don’t stay outside long.  It doesn’t feel that deep or special but it is compelling.

    I began this once I realised that nature sits at the core for me.  The deeper I look into myself, the more I contemplate motive, fear, agency and narrative there is the image of me in nature in my mind.  At the beginning, me sitting in the mud in the woods.   This is a beginning to take all thoughts from.  A humbling, inclusive place.  Me in nature.

    I’m grounded with mud on my boots. I think that is the quick version.


    Posted 14 May 2015, 7:34 pm

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  1. Hot Chip
  2. Beck
  3. alt-J
  4. David Bowie
  5. Sufjan Stevens
  6. Tame Impala
  7. Bon Iver
  8. Air
  9. A Tribe Called Quest
  10. Radiohead

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