Tips on Choosing a Good Domain Name

Before you rush out and choose your domain name or name your website, you might want to consider the following points:

1. Your Domain Name Should Be Your Website Name

Naming your site after your domain may seem obvious to some of you, but you’ll be surprised to learn that not every website is named after the domain name even when the webmaster owns that domain name.

2. Generic Names Or Brand Name Domains?

I know that a number of people seem to think that your domain name really must be some generic name like “cars.com” if you are selling cars. Witness, for example, how much money those generic names are being sold for. But seriously, if you were looking for a car, you’ll probably already have some brands in mind, and you’re more like to try out things like generalmotors.com or toyota.com rather than just cars.com.

3. Long or Short Domain Names?

Domain names can be of any length up to 67 characters. You don’t have to settle for an obscure domain name like avab.com when what you mean is AcmeVideosAndBooks.com.

Having said that, there appears to be some disagreement about whether a long or short domain name is better.

4. Hyphenated Names?

Should you get a hyphenated name? There are a few things to consider here:

a. Disadvantage: It’s easy to forget the hyphens when typing a name. Many users are used to typing things like freecpluspluscompilers.com but not free-c-plus-plus-compilers.com. They’ll probably leave out the hyphens and wind up at your competitor’s site.

5. Plurals, “The”, and “My” Forms of the Domain Name

Very often, if you can’t get the domain name you want, the domain name registrar will suggest alternate forms of the name you typed. For example, if you wanted website.com, and it was taken (of course it is), it might suggest forms like:

thewebsite.com
mywebsite.com
websites.com

6. COM, ORG, NET, etc?

One common question I encounter is from people who can’t get the “.com” domain of their choice, but find the “.net”, “.org” or other country-specific top level domains (TLDs) available (like .de, .nu, .sg, etc). Should they try for these?

7. In Conclusion…

In case the forest got lost in the trees (or the reverse) in my arguments here, let me reiterate the main point of this article: GET THAT DOMAIN NAME before you start your site or business.

Don’t make the mistake of attempting to retrofit your domain name to your business or website. thefreecountry.com did not originally start out with that name, and I encountered a huge hassle (and lost visitors) as a result of the URL changes. Don’t make that mistake too.

more details…

10 projects every php developer should use

As a php web developer, you should know that php is probably the language that has the biggest code repository. So no matter what module you want to include in your project there should be an open source solution.

This can help in various ways, but just in case you can’t think of one, here I put a few :

  • Open source is worked by many people, so the result is for sure better than one man’s work
  • You can have free updates to your code, while otherwise you should code the updates each time something new comes up
  • You save development time while your project is getting better

Anyway, after many years as a web developer, I’ve compiled a list of php classes that can be easily integrated in any project and I am regularly use.

Sending Emails

Sending emails is something very common for every web site. Php’s mail() Visit through proxy function is good for this, but what if you want to attach a file, or send through an SMTP server, etc? Well in that case you should use phpmailer Visit through proxy

User Manipulation

Another common module is the user module. With that you can manipulate users (login, logout, register, etc.) Personally I’ve never found a project that is good enough, so I created my own Smiley

Php user class Visit through proxy is a module that can be used even in established projects, as it uses variable data for database tables, fields, session variables, etc.

Fetching RSS Feeds

Ever wanted to fetch an rss feed from your project? Well there is always an easy way to fetch a feed Visit through proxy but in most cases you need more than that. When that is the case you should definitely use Magpie RSS Visit through proxy

Geotargeting

There are many times that you need to know where are your visitors coming from. Maxmind Visit through proxy gives a solution to this. For a complete tutorial check this article Visit through proxy

Grabbing Remote Content

Some times RSS is not enough so you need to grab the content of a web page and parse it. If you are a huge fun of preg you should not continue reading, but if you are not you definitely need the htmlSQL class Visit through proxy The htmlSQL class allow you to access html values with SQL code. Nice huh? Smiley

Trackback

Sending and receiving trackbacks is vital for a web site in our age. And in fact it is very easy if you are using a class like php trackback Visit through proxy

Template System

Another thing that all sites use is a template. A template engine can save you lots of time, while it can make display changes very easy. A complete template engine that most projects use is Smarty Visit through proxy

BBcode

BBcode used to be a functionality for forums, but as more and more sites use it in order to be more friendly to their users, you might want to use BBcode to your site. The problem is that BBcode requires a lot of coding and I am not sure if you have the time for this. If you don’t you’ll find StringParser_BBcode class Visit through proxy very useful Smiley

Paypal Payment Integration

As you may know paypal has a nice API for developers who want to integrate paypal payments in their sites. The paypal IPN integration class Visit through proxy helps you make use of it and start accepting payments in 20 minutes.

Editor Controls

I don’t have a problem to make changes to a site using phpMyAdmin or a simple text area, but when it comes to my clients I have to give them more than that. A javascript WYSIWYG editor is a perfect solution but as it requires countless hours to get it done I would suggest you to use the tinyMCE control Visit through proxy

Hope you enjoyed this list. If I forgot something feel free to comment above.

more details… 

Automating Photoshop; Actions and Batching Explained

If you work in Adobe Photoshop regularly, you’ll often find yourself engaged in repetitive loops that have a tendency to drain on your stamina and attention span. Today I’ll teach you how to use, and embrace the Action menu, a tool that will change the way you approach boring, monotonous tasks. Whether it’s mass resizing photos, embedding watermarks, adding filters, or perhaps something more or less complex, most of it can be automated.

First let’s open up the Actions menu and learn what it’s all about. It can be found under Window>Actions if it’s nowhere in sight on your workspace. It’ll look something like this:

more details…

Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design

1. Bad Search
Overly literal search engines reduce usability in that they’re unable to handle typos, plurals, hyphens, and other variants of the query terms. Such search engines are particularly difficult for elderly users, but they hurt everybody.

A related problem is when search engines prioritize results purely on the basis of how many query terms they contain, rather than on each document’s importance. Much better if your search engine calls out “best bets” at the top of the list — especially for important queries, such as the names of your products.

Search is the user’s lifeline when navigation fails. Even though advanced search can sometimes help, simple search usually works best, and search should be presented as a simple box, since that’s what users are looking for.

2. PDF Files for Online Reading
Users hate coming across a PDF file while browsing, because it breaks their flow. Even simple things like printing or saving documents are difficult because standard browser commands don’t work. Layouts are often optimized for a sheet of paper, which rarely matches the size of the user’s browser window. Bye-bye smooth scrolling. Hello tiny fonts.

Worst of all, PDF is an undifferentiated blob of content that’s hard to navigate.

PDF is great for printing and for distributing manuals and other big documents that need to be printed. Reserve it for this purpose and convert any information that needs to be browsed or read on the screen into real web pages.

> Detailed discussion of why PDF is bad for online reading

3. Not Changing the Color of Visited Links
A good grasp of past navigation helps you understand your current location, since it’s the culmination of your journey. Knowing your past and present locations in turn makes it easier to decide where to go next. Links are a key factor in this navigation process. Users can exclude links that proved fruitless in their earlier visits. Conversely, they might revisit links they found helpful in the past.

Most important, knowing which pages they’ve already visited frees users from unintentionally revisiting the same pages over and over again.

These benefits only accrue under one important assumption: that users can tell the difference between visited and unvisited links because the site shows them in different colors. When visited links don’t change color, users exhibit more navigational disorientation in usability testing and unintentionally revisit the same pages repeatedly.

> Usability implications of changing link colors
> Guidelines for showing links

4. Non-Scannable Text
A wall of text is deadly for an interactive experience. Intimidating. Boring. Painful to read.

Write for online, not print. To draw users into the text and support scannability, use well-documented tricks:

* subheads
* bulleted lists
* highlighted keywords
* short paragraphs
* the inverted pyramid
* a simple writing style, and
* de-fluffed language devoid of marketese.

> Eyetracking of reading patterns

5. Fixed Font Size
CSS style sheets unfortunately give websites the power to disable a Web browser’s “change font size” button and specify a fixed font size. About 95% of the time, this fixed size is tiny, reducing readability significantly for most people over the age of 40.

Respect the user’s preferences and let them resize text as needed. Also, specify font sizes in relative terms — not as an absolute number of pixels.

6. Page Titles With Low Search Engine Visibility
Search is the most important way users discover websites. Search is also one of the most important ways users find their way around individual websites. The humble page title is your main tool to attract new visitors from search listings and to help your existing users to locate the specific pages that they need.

The page title is contained within the HTML tag and is almost always used as the clickable headline for listings on search engine result pages (SERP). Search engines typically show the first 66 characters or so of the title, so it’s truly microcontent.</p> <p>Page titles are also used as the default entry in the Favorites when users bookmark a site. For your homepage, begin the with the company name, followed by a brief description of the site. Don’t start with words like “The” or “Welcome to” unless you want to be alphabetized under “T” or “W.”</p> <p>For other pages than the homepage, start the title with a few of the most salient information-carrying words that describe the specifics of what users will find on that page. Since the page title is used as the window title in the browser, it’s also used as the label for that window in the taskbar under Windows, meaning that advanced users will move between multiple windows under the guidance of the first one or two words of each page title. If all your page titles start with the same words, you have severely reduced usability for your multi-windowing users.</p> <p>Taglines on homepages are a related subject: they also need to be short and quickly communicate the purpose of the site.</p> <p><strong>7. Anything That Looks Like an Advertisement</strong><br /> Selective attention is very powerful, and Web users have learned to stop paying attention to any ads that get in the way of their goal-driven navigation. (The main exception being text-only search-engine ads.)</p> <p>Unfortunately, users also ignore legitimate design elements that look like prevalent forms of advertising. After all, when you ignore something, you don’t study it in detail to find out what it is.</p> <p>Therefore, it is best to avoid any designs that look like advertisements. The exact implications of this guideline will vary with new forms of ads; currently follow these rules:</p> <p> * banner blindness means that users never fixate their eyes on anything that looks like a banner ad due to shape or position on the page<br /> * animation avoidance makes users ignore areas with blinking or flashing text or other aggressive animations<br /> * pop-up purges mean that users close pop-up windoids before they have even fully rendered; sometimes with great viciousness (a sort of getting-back-at-GeoCities triumph). </p> <p><strong>8. Violating Design Conventions</strong><br /> Consistency is one of the most powerful usability principles: when things always behave the same, users don’t have to worry about what will happen. Instead, they know what will happen based on earlier experience. Every time you release an apple over Sir Isaac Newton, it will drop on his head. That’s good.</p> <p>The more users’ expectations prove right, the more they will feel in control of the system and the more they will like it. And the more the system breaks users’ expectations, the more they will feel insecure. Oops, maybe if I let go of this apple, it will turn into a tomato and jump a mile into the sky.</p> <p>Jakob’s Law of the Web User Experience states that “users spend most of their time on other websites.”</p> <p>This means that they form their expectations for your site based on what’s commonly done on most other sites. If you deviate, your site will be harder to use and users will leave.</p> <p><strong>9. Opening New Browser Windows</strong><br /> Opening up new browser windows is like a vacuum cleaner sales person who starts a visit by emptying an ash tray on the customer’s carpet. Don’t pollute my screen with any more windows, thanks (particularly since current operating systems have miserable window management).</p> <p>Designers open new browser windows on the theory that it keeps users on their site. But even disregarding the user-hostile message implied in taking over the user’s machine, the strategy is self-defeating since it disables the Back button which is the normal way users return to previous sites. Users often don’t notice that a new window has opened, especially if they are using a small monitor where the windows are maximized to fill up the screen. So a user who tries to return to the origin will be confused by a grayed out Back button.</p> <p>Links that don’t behave as expected undermine users’ understanding of their own system. A link should be a simple hypertext reference that replaces the current page with new content. Users hate unwarranted pop-up windows. When they want the destination to appear in a new page, they can use their browser’s “open in new window” command — assuming, of course, that the link is not a piece of code that interferes with the browser’s standard behavior. Cartoon – woman (at car dealership): ‘How much is it with automatic transmission?’ – sleazy salesman: ‘I’ll give you a hint – it’s an EVEN number…’</p> <p><strong>10. Not Answering Users’ Questions</strong><br /> Users are highly goal-driven on the Web. They visit sites because there’s something they want to accomplish — maybe even buy your product. The ultimate failure of a website is to fail to provide the information users are looking for.</p> <p>Sometimes the answer is simply not there and you lose the sale because users have to assume that your product or service doesn’t meet their needs if you don’t tell them the specifics. Other times the specifics are buried under a thick layer of marketese and bland slogans. Since users don’t have time to read everything, such hidden info might almost as well not be there.</p> <p>The worst example of not answering users’ questions is to avoid listing the price of products and services. No B2C ecommerce site would make this mistake, but it’s rife in B2B, where most “enterprise solutions” are presented so that you can’t tell whether they are suited for 100 people or 100,000 people. Price is the most specific piece of info customers use to understand the nature of an offering, and not providing it makes people feel lost and reduces their understanding of a product line. We have miles of videotape of users asking “Where’s the price?” while tearing their hair out.</p> <p>Even B2C sites often make the associated mistake of forgetting prices in product lists, such as category pages or search results. Knowing the price is key in both situations; it lets users differentiate among products and click through to the most relevant ones. </p> <p><a href="http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9605.html"><strong>more details…</strong></a>

775 px, make it your default webpage width

When designing a web-page, your hope as a designer is to have your work look the same on everyone’s computer as it does on your own. Wake up. That is not happening. All browsers don’t get along, and sometimes, it’s the web-pages that are the victims. Here is how you can help:

Start using CSS to manage every element on your web-page.

This page for instance, is laid out using CSS only, no tables. Yes. It’s true. But I’m not here to talk about CSS; I’m here to tell you about 775 px wide. The least you can assume is that people are browsing the Internet at a minimum of 800×600 resolution. For those of you who have it below this, get off of the Internet and think about what you did wrong. Then come back and increase the resolution of your computer.

Whether you are using tables or CSS to layout your design, you should set the width to 775 pixels wide. This way, if people are browsing at 800×600, your page will fit perfectly in any browser. Nobody likes to scroll left or right when viewing a web-page. I have seen a few sites that have gotten away with it, but this is rare. Do yourself a favor and avoid designs that have people scrolling horizontally.

And for those of you who follow in the myspace trend, please stop it with your enormous pages. It may look cool on your computer, but for those users with a lower screen resolution, your site can be a nightmare to navigate. Stop with the huge images too. They can totally skew your web-page and drive users up a wall. Consider reducing the size of big images using any imaging software.

The other (maybe not so) obvious option is to use percentages for the widths of tables (or layers if your going the CSS route). In the event that you have created your own interface with graphics, this really can’t apply.

And remember:
Scrolling horizontally on a web-page = crappy design

details…

Slicing Tutorial: Photoshop

Slicing Tutorial: Photoshop
1. Here is a few simple things to watch out for when using ‘Slices’ for your web designs/layouts.

Click here to Preview the Mock Layout.
2. Organization and Naming Conventions

The above is an example of a single page layout.

Iv’e got all my layers organized into Folders for easy management. And i also have them properly named so that I can easily find them.

The naming also helps in the final stage of slicing. Any future changes of any particular layer will have to be considered in the final html page, because Photoshop/ImageReady automatically generates the proper javascript as you specify with your slices.

You can also ‘Color Code’ each ‘Layer’ for further organization, by simply right clicking (Mac: Shift Click) on a ‘Layer’ (or ‘Layer Set’) and choose a ‘Color’ from the ‘Layer Properties’ dialog. (Color coding a set automatically sets the color code to the Layers within that set.)

more details…

Slice your layout and export images using Photoshop

Let us begin with the slicing tutorial. We need to slice the layout to save the necessay images in web format and use them in html. Click here to view the layout we are using on our 4 part tutorial on creating a website. Follow these steps to slice your layout.

1. Open the file you want to slice clicking on File>Open. You can open the above layout.
Important : You have to organize your layout in such a way that you should be able to put them into rows and columns in a table in Dreamweaver.
You can write down how you are going to slice your layout to get the idea. Anything that is text and backround colors can be done easily in Dreamweaver. Only images and graphis have to be sliced in Photoshop.
2. Here we will slice only 3 images i.e. the logo, banner and the graphics on the right. Now you can start to slice your layout. Select the slice tool and draw a box to define the area you want to slice. We will first create a slice for the logo. Next, use the slice tool again to drag across the banner and create the next slice. Repeat for the graphics found on the right with the dotted line. Create one slice for all the 3 images. View the completed layout to check the slices.
3. Next, we will name the slices. Go to the slice tool in the menu palette and select the Slice Select Tool. Now double click on the slice. A screen named Slice Options will come. Enter the type of the slice, as an image and name of the slice. For the logo slice, give the name logo. Repeat this step to name the banner slice and the graphics slice. You can name them banner and pic_right.
4. Go to File > Save for web. A screen named Save for web will come. Select the logo slice and choose gif from the drop down menu. next, select the banner and pic_right slices and select JPEG and maximum from the drop-down menus.
Tip : Remember photographs should always be exported as JPEG and solid colors can be exported in .GIF formats Adaptive Colors 256.
5. Now the slices are ready to be exported. Select the 3 sliced images in the save for web pop-up box by using the shift key. Click on Save.
6. A screen named Saved Optimized As will appear. Save your slices in your website folder. Make sure your image file is in the same path as your work file. Choose the following options for the rest of the options:
Save as type: Choose Images Only
Slices: Choose selected slices.

more details…