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We're looking to partner with a Boston based web development company - Interested?

We're looking to partner with a Boston based web development company - Interested?

As a proud Belfast based company with close links to Boston MA, we were delighted to hear the recent announcement of our two great cities become "Sisters".

It was announced on the 12th May by Belfast Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir and Mayor of Boston Martin J Walsh.

Here's the link:

http://www.belfastcity.gov.uk/News/News-37859.aspx

The announcement not only made us reflect on our time in Boston in 2002, but gave us an idea, why not ask a Boston based web development company to partner with us?

Initially we would see it as a loose relationship where we can communicate on a regular basis about what we're doing, contracts we've won, ideas, advice etc.

No massive commitment and certainly no financial investment needed. In the true spirit of open source software, it would be an exchange of ideas and advice to help both businesses get the most from each others experience.

Interested?

If so please get in touch! :)

 

We would be particularly interested to speak to those who work with open source tech - jQuery, Joomla, WordPress, Drupal etc. with a particular focus on development rather than design, but all enquiries are very welcome!

Wordpress SEO Vs Joomla SEO

Wordpress SEO Vs Joomla SEO

What CMS is better for SEO, Joomla or Wordpress? Lets clear up a few misconceptions shall we? SEO and CMS are not now, nor were they ever, causally connected.

You don't need to use a CMS to build a perfectly SEO'd website and therefore your choice of CMS has no real baring on your SEO strategy. To use a house as an analogy... whether you build your own house (HTML website) or you build on from set blue prints (CMS website) you'll still be dry when it rains...!

The old Joomla vs Wordpress debate boils down how easy it is for an admin to SEO the site they are building. The debate is usually focused on "out of the box" features... How does the router build URLS? How does site structure work in each CMS? Those sort of questions.

But here's the problem, these things are becoming less and less important to you SEO strategy. For SEO strategy, we must focus on USEFULRELEVANT, INTERESTING and ENGAGING content. (From now on I'll refer to this as URIE content). Having the occasional duplicate URLs matters not, if you have URIE content.

I'll give you a picture of what I mean... you have two websites:

The first website, is meticulously structured, with perfect URL structure, nice keyword placement and unique meta data on each page. The text on each page is vaguely relevant to the overall site subject but is wordy and boring.

The second site has a loose URL structure, all the pages are lumped into one category, and there are no SEF URLs. There is no over-reliance on keywords. The content is relevant and useful. The author has used engaging HTML5 elements like <canvas> to write graphs that convey useful stats, they've used video, images and audio as well as other interactive features.

So given the SEO strategies you've read about over and over again, which of these sites will rank higher on Google?

The lazy SEOer will say site 1, since it "ticks all the boxes"... but we know from practical examples, that site 2 will not only rank higher on Google, but will score massive kudos on the social networks and engage with communities who are interested in the subject matter.

Ideally, your site will be a mixture of both of these sites. Your site should at least have SEF URLS and have a good overall siote structure, but most importantly it should have URIE content.

We at Webcraftni.com focus clients sites on these sound SEO principles and NOT focus on CMS's. You choice of CMS should be based considerations other than SEO!

So if you're asking "What CMS is better for my SEO?"... then you're off on the wrong foot right away. You've gone to buy a car and focused on the colour of the screen wipers...!

So the answer to the question "What CMS is better for SEO?" is...

Whatever CMS you feel confortable enough with to begin writing URIE content. End of story.

 

Get your new website from Webcraftni.com!

Whats our favourite type of website to develop?

Whats our favourite type of website to develop?

We've been asked on our Twitter Feed recently, "What's your favourite type of website to develop?".

It's a great question.

On the one hand, we do highly stylised blogging websites such as MonkiesKanFly.com, where the main focus is on style, user readability and the ease of use for the site owner.

On the other hand we have enjoyed building intranet sites that revolutionise the way our client companies do their day-to-day work, such as StirlingTelevision.co.uk, where we built a comprehensive calendar system that made their office much more efficient.

And if we had three hands we could also mention doing our wonderful brochure style websites, like ThisIsFermanagh.com, or iris-colour.co.uk… These sites focussed on SEO and driving business, securing customers and were a real 'shop window' for the respective companies.

Which websites do we enjoy the most?

Honestly? We prefer the custom built intranet style sites. On these sites you really get your hands dirty in the code, and considering our background in computer science, getting into the code is what we most enjoy.

We work with PHP and MySQL databases. We also work with the Joomla Platform and with CodeIgniter. Both are great web frameworks, joomla has lots of features, CodeIgniter is ultra lightweight and great fro smaller web apps.

We also use the JQuery framework and we're really excited about JQuery 2.0.

We're always looking for more business so why not get in touch about your new web project!

There are no SEO guarantees, only good practice.

There are no SEO guarantees, only good practice.

There are no SEO guarantees, only good practice. There is no silver bullet to shoot your site to the top of the google rankings. It's as simple as that. I would advise caution if any company or freelancer guarantees SEO success, unless of course they come with a 6 or 12 month plan.

SEO used to mean putting a few things in place on your site, getting a few links to your site and the rest would fall into place, with no further effort and no further thought.

But since Google updated and refined their ranking algorithm in 2010, that all changed. Google now rank sites a lot differently, and add weight to the type of links you have to your site, and the quality and relevancy of the content on your site. So called "black hat" techniques will kill your site and rightly so. Why should a site without decent content go to the top of the rankings ahead of a site that has?

You have to remember that Google are a company like any other. Even massive companies need satisfied customers. Google need the best, most relevant sites at the top of their search results, otherwise their users will look elsewhere. So those terrible, irrelevant, content-light sites get punished. It just makes sense!

Getting ranked well on google starts with good web development. It is imperative to start with the correct mark-up, metadata, structure and link quality.

Here at WebCraftNI, we have spent many years building sites that adhere to the strictest coding standards and structure. We have developed tools to help build automatic site-maps, both HTML and XML. We have many years experience using Google Webmaster Tools.

But most importantly we can use our wealth of experience to help you publish the correct content for your site. We can advise you on content, publishing and metadata. Our CMS tools will allow you to publish content easily.

Get in touch and see if we can help your site get ranked!

Responsive Design is more than just moving modules.

Responsive Design is more than just moving modules.

Responsive design. It's all well and good. Your site adjusts to the screen size, and your users get a good mobile experience, without having two or even three separate websites. But truly mobilising your site takes more thought.


Why would someone view your site on their mobile? What info do they need? What do you want to offer them and why are they different from your desktop computer users?

Tablet users? What do they need? What's the best way to interact with them?

All these questions need consideration when venturing into responsive design.

 

What is responsive Design?

First off let me give you a quick run down of what responsive design is.

Responsive design is a design technique for webpages that allow a webpage to rearrange itself based on the size of the screen displaying it. Modules and widgets rearrange so that nothing gets too squashed and small on a smaller screen, meaning mobile users get a good viewing experience when visiting your website.

This solved many problems for website owners. For one it solved the problem I described above, the proper display of the website. But another, perhaps bigger, problem that this solved was the need to have a separate, dedicated site for mobile.

Most large, modern websites now use a Content Management System (CMS) of some kind, whether it be the open source Joomla or Drupal or any of the 1000's of commercial ones that are available. To have the same CMS service content for two separate sites, a normal desktop computer website and a separate mobile one, was an extremely difficult thing to do and required a lot of extra administration time, skill and lot of effort.

Responsive design cured this in one go. Simply having a design or template capible of responding to any screen width meant that you needed only one site, and that site worked on any device.

Mobile

But that's not the end of the story. You have to ask why a user would choose to use their mobile to search for your site.

Usually a person using their phone to view your website is looking for specific information; a phone number or your address, a quick product price look up, or even a quick fact to settle an argument!

We at WebCraftNI set about creating your site with these things in mind. That's why we use PHP technology to present the relevant information to mobile users based on analytics data and good practice. We are able to present your business telephone number clearly at the top of the page on a mobile device and a link to the devices map app for easy location search.

iPad

Extensive analytics data has shown us that tablet users, iPad and Android, tend to use their tablets as they would use a desktop computer. However tablet users tend towards using their devices for online shopping.

That's why our e-commerce solutions are designed to fit the iPad screen so effectively. We can make your users iPad shopping experience good enough to drive sales. We use simple user-friendly interfaces that will make your users shopping experience enjoyable and easy.

 

Why not contact us now about your new responsive website?

What Joomla version should I use?

What Joomla version should I use?

Big news on the Joomla front! It appears the the steering group that runs Joomla has recently updated it's advice on Joomla website building.

Up until recently, it was recommended to launch all new Joomla sites with the LTS (Long Term Support) version 2.5. But with the release in late 2012 of Joomla 3.0 (STL) the Joomla community has had a glimpse into the future of the project.

It has not been recommended to use Joomla 3.0 for any production sites, it was only a short term release and was recommend only for early adopters and developers. However recently that advice changed. The Joomla 3.0 release has been deemed so stable that it is now recommended that all new Joomla sites use Joomla 3.0! Great News!

joomla release cycle

This means any Joomla site we currently build will be supported by the J! Community untill at least the latter part of 2016.

Joomla 4.5 (The next LTS release) is due in March 2016, and as always there will be a few months crossover.

We're all hoping that future upgrades will be smoother, unlike the transition from J1.5 to J2.5. There's plenty of evidence to say this is true, as the upgrade from J2.5 to J3.0 was quite smooth.


What does all this mean in terms WebCraftNI.com's websites? Well it means every new Joomla site we build from April 1st 2013 onwards will be Joomla 3.

I will be adding another blog post explaining the Joomla Release cycle in more detail soon, and also about the advantages of Joomla 3 and what it offers, so watch this space.

 

How to secure your Joomla website

How to secure your Joomla website

Here are a few simple things you can do in the Joomla backend to help tighten the security of your Joomla site. Each are useful in their own way in the battle against hackers.

 

Stopping Registrations

(This tip applies only if you are using Joomla for a brochure style website and are not allowing users to register. )

Not having a link on your site to your login page, and removing the login module is not enough to prevent someone registering on your site. All they need to do is enter the URL in the address bar and anyone can access any public page, even if you haven't linked to it. Remember, a hacker will be smart enough to know some simple tricks to get access to your public pages.


Try it yourself! Add this to the end of your domain-name in your joomla site: "index.php?option=com_users&view=registration" and you'll get the registration page, whether or not you've made a menu item to it!
This little loophole is easy to close.

Simply go into user manager in the admin end, and click "Options". You'll get a pop-up of the overall component user options. Now set "Allow User Registration" to 'NO'. SIMPLE!

While you're there you should set "Send Password" to 'No' as well.

Now revisit the "index.php?option=com_users&view=registration" URL…
You'll see that the page redirects to the login screen. You'll notice there's no option to register.

 

Uninstall unused stuff

If you're using a 3rd party template, (And why would you not be? Are you seriously using the default Joomla templates???) then it's time to uninstall unused templates!

There's no need to have unused components, plugins, modules or templates hanging around your joomla installation. They are a security risk. What if an exploit is found on an old unused template? You might not see it because the template is unused. What about those little plugins you installed when you were developing the site, that you no longer need because you've found a better plugin? And that module you tried for a minute, realised it wasn't for you and you unpublished?

All these things are still installed on your joomla and represent potential security risks.

Simply visit your module manager, plugin manager, and template manager, and see what you're not using. Make a list of them and got to "Extension Manager" -> "Manage".

Now tick the boxes and click uninstall.

 

Keeping your Joomla house in order is important for security. Use only what you need and disable anything you can't uninstall.