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Blogs of Guus Ellenkamp in 2010

Details als kwaliteit

We hebben recent onze contactpagina recent nog wat verbeterd door de meldingen als 'vult u alstublieft uw e-mail adres in' ook in het Duits en Nederlands te vertalen. Die wijzigingen op die pagina deden mij denken aan alle kleine details waar we bij de meeste sites die we opleveren aandacht aan besteden en wat nu precies één van de dingen is die wij 'kwaliteit' noemen.

De contactpagina op deze site ziet er op het eerste gezicht wellicht heel eenvoudig uit, alleen naar ons idee is hij dat zeker niet en deze zaken zitten vooral door de manier waarop de pagina wijzigt als de taal gewijzigd wordt. Probeert u het maar eens en u zult zien dat er allerlei zaken op deze pagina wijzigen als de taal wijzigt. En niet alleen de teksten op de pagina zelf wijzigen bij het wijzigen van de taal, maar ook de meeste meldingen zoals de hierboven aangegeven melding die u krijgt als u geen e-mail adres invult.

Kleine en misschien niet zo heel belangrijke details, maar wel zaken die een site nu net dat beetje extra gebruikersvriendelijkheid geven waarvan wij denken dat het belangrijk is voor mensen die de site bezoeken.


Created on: 2010-12-26 07:55:30

Last edited: 2011-01-06 07:35:47

Views: 417


HTML/CSS

I, being more the technical person and a bit less the 'customer satisfaction person' am often amazed that many of our customers want to be able to change (the content of) their website themselves, even when it is not expected the content would change a lot over time.

Knowing a lot about websites (html/css, search engine optimization, etc.) I/we often put a lot of time and effort in the non-visible things in a website. I/we also try to create as simple html/css code as possible, just to make a website look good by using similar styles for similar elements.

Next to keeping html/css code as simple as possible, we also put a lot of effort in making pages as user friendly as possible, by putting links to other pages and by making links 'user dependent'. With the last I mean that in some of our sites a user can be logged in and when he is logged in we know a lot about him or her, e.g. we won't display any links to 'register' or 'login' as he or she is already logged in.

The last, making content dependent on what we know from the user, is virtually impossible with a Content Management type of site as these things need to be programmed. Of course you could make different pages for the different situations, but that might be a lot of double work (and double maintenance if you want to change the text).

Anyhow, I'm still wondering if I myself would want to be able to make changes to something in a layman's way if there are expert people who can do the same thing in a fraction of the time and in a much more proper way than I could do it myself. Or is it just that people only see the 'looks' of a website and don't realize the things behind?

Am very interested in your opinion. Please send an email to guus@activediscovery.net with your comments. Or maybe I should make the forum page of our framework (with which this site is built) available for this kind of discussion?


Created on: 2010-08-13 08:07:14

Last edited: 2010-08-13 08:21:28

Views: 1583


Waarom een nieuw raamwerk

Gisteren kwam er natuurlijk een opmerking in de trant van 'waarom bouw je nu je eigen raamwerk/framework' en dus impliciet iets van 'er zijn al zoveel frameworks', waarom nog één?

Die vraag gaat eigenlijk terug naar toen we op verzoek van een klant met Joomla begonnen. We bouwden toen nog voornamelijk statische websites en Joomla (of eigenlijk PHP) was voor ons eigenlijk iets nieuws. Dat hadden we nog niet veel nodig gehad. Natuurlijk waren we heel blij met de nieuwe klant en het zag er naar uit dat er meer projecten op basis van Joomla zouden komen, dus we besloten te investeren in 'Joomla kennis'. Joomla was op dat moment net in opkomst en leek erg populair te worden (en is het nog steeds denk ik).

Wel, die eerste Joomla projecten hebben denk ik niet de beste code opgeleverd die we gemaakt hebben, maar al gauw bleek dat Joomla inderdaad een fantastische tool is voor content management. We zijn Joomla dus ook in meer projecten gaan toepassen. Al gauw bleek echter dat de flexibiliteit van Joomla ook z'n prijs heeft. Dit voert voornamelijk terug naar compatibiliteit en onderhoud.

Anyhow, om een lang verhaal kort te maken, mijn conclusie was en is dat Joomla een zeer geschikte tool is om een website te bouwen waar gebruikers zelf hun content beheren. Hier is het ook voor gebouwd. Al gauw bleek echter dat zodra je 'gratis' additionele componenten gaat toevoegen deze in standaardvorm meestal niet voldoen en dat je ze dus in het algemeen klantspecifiek moet aanpassen.

In dit laatste zit natuurlijk voor ons de winst (en hierin zijn we gespecialiseerd: maatwerk), maar in de praktijk blijkt dat het aanpassen van andermans code vaak onevenredig veel tijd kost. Toen dan ook één van onze medewerkers onze MIS-Improved applicatie op basis van een vereenvoudigd Joomla(?!) framework had gebouwd en zich een nieuw maatwerk project aandiende, besloot ik om dit nieuwe project dan maar op dezelfde basis te bouwen en zo was dan het Active Discovery Application Framework geboren.

Natuurlijk ging het gebruik van een 'vereenvoudigd Joomla' voor verschillende applicaties niet zonder vallen en opstaan, maar inmiddels denken we met de huidige versie van ons framework een bijzonder goede en vooral onderhoudsvriendelijke tool gebouwd te hebben voor het bouwen van geavanceerde websites en web applicaties. En in mijn ervaring met software, en veel websites zijn 'software' zitten de kosten van deze software niet in ontwikkeling, maar in onderhoud. Vandaar dat onze slogan 'Nederlandse kwaliteit tegen aantrekkelijke prijzen' dan ook deels gebaseerd is op de onderhoudsvriendelijke (=goedkoop) manier waarop we websites bouwen.

En begrijp me alsjeblieft niet verkeerd. Er is niets mis met Open Source frameworks of andere software. Ik/wij gebruiken die zelf ook  en we leveren ook nog steeds CMS sites op basis van Joomla. Enige punt is dat voor werkelijk maatwerk of voor eenvoudige sites Joomla naar mijn/ons idee erg veel functionaliteit en/of flexibiliteit biedt en relatief complex (=duur) is in onderhoud.


Created on: 2010-07-09 08:07:42

Last edited: 2010-08-13 08:25:44

Views: 1254


Meertalige websites

Even een heel ander onderwerp dan SEO of kwaliteit van websites, hoewel dit onderwerp toch gerelateerd is aan kwaliteit. Een blogitem als dit kan natuurlijk geschreven zijn in een andere taal dan de site zelf. Dit bracht ons ertoe om blogitems van een taal te voorzien. Bij het maken van een blogitem in één van onze Active Discovery Framework sites kunt u dus de taal opgeven van het item, dat dus verschillend kan zijn van de taal van de site. Deze site is bijvoorbeeld op dit moment alleen in het engels beschikbaar, maar dit blogitem is in het Nederlands.

Waarom is dit nu belangrijk zult u zeggen? Nu, het kan bijvoorbeeld belangrijk zijn voor zoekmachines aan Google, die aan het item kunnen zien in welke taal het item is en dus ook rekening houden met de taal in de zoekresultaten. Ook kunnen bijvoorbeeld tekstverwerkers zien welke taal een gekopieerde tekst heeft. Stel dat u deze tekst wild kopieëren en in een tekstverwerker wilt plakken dan zou de tekstverwerker direct kunnen zien dat het een Nederlandse tekst is en dus ook de spellingscontrole voor dit deel van de tekst op Nederlands zetten.

Even terug naar kweliteit: dit is het soort kwaliteit dat wij willen en kunnen leveren. En bij een website zit dat vaak in details die op het eerste gezicht niet te zien zijn. Om te zien hoe wij de taal van dit item aangeven moet u de html code bekijken, maar uiteraard zullen de meeste gebruikers dat niet doen. Die laatste groep moet er naar ons idee op kunnen vertrouwen dat de web developer al dit soort dingen op de juiste manier doet.


Created on: 2010-06-24 06:23:22

Last edited: 2010-07-09 07:47:48

Views: 1099


Building a quality website

Well, I'm still busy with our own website and I'm continuously thinking how we could build this type of website at a reasonable price for our customers as more and more I'm realizing what a major task it is to build a website with all the products and/or services a company can offer. I think I spent 5 days alone now writing the text alone for this site. Of course I'm typing it straight in the code itself in the format I want it in, so it's not 'just making text', but even if the text were just provided by a customer it would still take quite some hours to convert it properly to the html needed for a quality website.

Of course we have done this many times for our customers, but I was never involved as close as I am now, at least not recently. Of course most companies would only remake their website every few years, not every year as we are doing now, but still, the process is more time consuming than I thought.

Reason I'm writing this here is of course because I want you to understand that to us a website is not just a 'copy and paste' process of existing text, but it is carefully thinking how to put what text where, what should be the build-up of the pages, what should be the page titles (did you know how important these are?) and later on finalizing the whole stuff by making it SEO friendly like putting the right keywords and description for each page. Next to this we're also working on the graphical design, in this case, as with most current websites, using an html 'template'.

So this whole exercise also brings me to the process of marketing and sales of especially our 'web services', from basic website to advanced framework website with many features. Well, enough for now I guess, but I'll certainly come back to it later on in another blog item.

I also promised to come back on the SEO stuff. This may be soon as I'm going to start on our SEO services page next.


Created on: 2010-06-20 06:35:02

Last edited: 2010-06-20 06:41:51

Views: 1053


Beta site?

Well, I was supposed to continue with my SEO story, but something else came in my mind. We have put some kind of 'apologetic' messages in the site because we think it's not fully finished. However, I realized this site might already be more finished than many other sites on the internet.

With 'unfinished' I mean many things like

  • We don't have a very outstanding design yet. We want this site to have all the features and knowledge we have like outstanding design, framework, resizing, Flash, JavaScript effects, etc.
  • The text is far from what we want, more like draft that's being discussed with several team members.
  • The site is currently only in English, while we want to put back all of the languages that were in the previous site
  • ???

However, with my striving for perfection this site may never be finished and I realized that many other sites don't even come as far as our current site:

    The design is not yet perfect, but almost acceptable. It looks quite ok to me already, even though it doesn't have all the features I wanted.
  • I have put a lot of time and effort in all the texts on the site. It may not yet be a fully commercial text, but I guess most of it is clear.
  • It does not have all the graphical features we want, but it looks already good to me.
  • We first need to have an acceptable English version before starting the translation. With some other sites we found that doing different languages at the same time takes a lot of effort in rewriting and comparing early drafts.

So not so bad after all what's there already and I realized that if I don't tell people the site is in beta stage many people might not even know as they would be just looking for some information about our company.

Anyhow, just wanted to let you know we put a lot of effort in making sites perfect. And wanted to let you know that those things are quite time consuming. Just matching to the W3C standards, which all our sites do, takes a little time initially, although it also saves time when solving issues in a later stage. Just check this site and you will see that all or most pages just validate or only have a few errors.


Created on: 2010-06-16 11:16:03

Last edited: 2010-06-16 11:22:50

Views: 1069


So what about SEO

Don't really know how to start this. This is the Active Discovery Designs website, so I have to be careful what I state here. On the other hand, a blog is personal, so I can just put my opinion here. Anyhow, I can always edit. Many of my friends I guess know that I don't like SEO (or whatever term is currently popular about making sites rank higher in search engines, especially Google).

So why is it that I don't like SEO. Basically that is weird as our company is into web development and web development is not only about a nice graphical design and putting content, but also about being found on the internet. Well, basically I don't like SEO, or more the things so called SEO companies do, as to me what they do is a kind of cheating: finding artificial ways to get on top of Google.

Lately however I have been doing a lot of research and development about 'being found on the internet' or, and I'm very hesitant to say this, being on top of Google, so I have spent a lot of time on exactly what SEO companies do. Actually the reason was very simple: economy is a bit slow and when things are a bit slow we sometimes spend time on some of our own sites. Most of those sites were just old customer domains where the customer did not want to continue the site and not even the domain. The last is very weird to me, because if you have a good domain better keep it. It's very cheap and getting it back is very expensive or at least a lot of (legal) hassle. But more on that some other time. I was talking about SEO and my own research and development on it.

The reason I started this article now was that I was converting an old customer site to some kind of 'advertising site'. What we want to achieve with that kind of site is just putting some advertisements and try to make some money out of that. While I'm writing this it seems to be even worse than what the SEO companies that I don't like seem to do: my only reason is to get some money out of a domain, even without any content.

However, and this is exactly what I wanted to put here, what I found is that it's not that easy to influence search engines, or just plain old Google in particular: the sites we maintain ourselves don't really get a lot of traffic: why? There is nothing to get there for internet users, so why would they go there (and why would they end high in Google?). Well, this article is getting too long and it's already late, so I'll continue this later.

To be continued...


Created on: 2010-06-15 16:01:52

Last edited: 2010-06-15 16:56:04

Views: 1119


New site online

Well, today I decided it was about time that our new site went online as the old site does not contain enough information anymore.

I get more and more questions about what we exactly do at the moment and that is a lot more then what we did in 2005 when we started and when the old site was made.

One of the issues with the old site was, that it was made in many different languages, so very hard to replace as all the translations needed to be done again. The same issue arises of course with this new site, but it's made with our latest technology, so much easier to adapt and for now I'll accept it's only in English.

This also brings me to the issue that it takes much, much more time to make the text for this site than I expected. Mostly we get 'content' from our customers, so I don't worry too much about it, but with this  project of making our own site up-to-date and add all the information about our company I can find I found out that it's a lot of work and takes a lot of time.

So basically this site is just a draft, in text as well as design. To tell you the truth I just copied an old template and adapted it the bit so I had a system to work with to put the content (menus and text).

So where do I want to go with this site (and I can say 'I' here as this is just a blog item, so my personal opinion:

  • It should be built with the Active Discovery Application Framework
  • It should have an outstanding design
  • It should use Flash as well as our own JavaScript graphical library for graphical effects
  • And last but not least: it should use our 'resizing' technology, which we have not combined with our Framework yet

So a major project for us, but I guess it's worth it as we can use it to present our company and show what we can do.


Created on: 2010-06-11 08:06:56

Last edited: 2010-06-11 08:08:06

Views: 1060


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