Category Archives: internet

Google Translate on the go!

From yesterday Android users could download Google Translate to their mobile. Why would you want to do this?

Translate without the internet or 3G/4G

Android users on 2.3 or above can download Google Translate which allows them to ‘speak’ in a foreign country, such as, on holidays, or a quick city break, for example.

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Google Reader retires

In a blog post yesterday Google announced that Google Reader would retire on 1st July 2013. It said they wanted to focus on fewer products to improve the user experience, as well as highlighting that the number of people using Google Reader has declined recently.

Obviously Google Reader is not the only RSS reader but it does make one think about the future of RSS feeds. Do you think they will be used in, say, five years’ time?

Cookies and UK law

Cookies, identified and explained in a what are cookies post, can be used by UK (and European) websites so long as the website notifies a user that cookies are being used. In a nutshell, cookies are text files which contain information on a specific computer and should be explained to the user of your website via a cookie policy, for example.

Cookies: what is it all about?

If you use cookies you will need to let your website users know what they are and why you use them. You can do this by developing a pop-up window, or using a header bar. You will also need to consider creating a cookie policy, or have a cookie section within your privacy policy. The law was created in Europe, which must be implemented in the UK, to allow each website user to have an awareness about what information is stored about them and for what purpose. Most users will not object to using cookies, so do ask them to give their consent.

In order to understand this topic I thought it would be best to try to summerise the other cookie information to help you, the creator, developer and user of technology.

Important things for the user

User’s have the right to know what cookies are being used and for what purpose. User’s also have the right to accept or deny cookies. A free and basic cookie widget can be found on OpenGlobal’s website.

It is important to know the rights of the user because your website, through the unauthorised use of cookies, may be breaking the law.

Information on cookies

The best way to display information to users is by splitting it into two categories:

  • Snapshot information (quick, short, everyday definitions and brief use)
  • Detailed information (detailed, technical definitions and exact use)

Snapshot information allows the user to quickly understand the concept of cookies, so iconography, for example, is very suitable to briefly explain what cookies are in plain English. Detailed information, on the other hand, can have a webpage of its own. This page can include a list of what cookies you are using (e.g. performance cookies), what category they fall under (e.g. category 3).

What does the ICO recommend?

The ICO, an organisation in the UK which focuses on information rights, gives excellent advise on how to gain a users’ consent. For the purposes of this short post, I will focus on three forms of consent:

  1. Accepting terms and conditions
  2. Obtaining consent as users select website settings
  3. Notices via pop-up windows, or choice technology, such as a header bar, for instance

Browsers and consent

In short, do not rely on browser options as giving user consent. Strictly speaking the e-Privacy Regulations will allow browsers to give consent, but this is not recommended by the ICO. I suspect that web browsers will be improved for cookie use within the coming year, or so.

Good cookie practise

This law can be seen on every large organisations’ website. E.g. Flybe, Out-law’s notification bar and Tesco all offer cookie information. By looking at these websites you may get ideas about what option works best for you.

Think of a cookie page like any other page: have excellent content, easy to read, well researched….

If you would like me to answer a specific question, please feel free to send me an e-mail / comment below.

Back to basics: What can I do to improve my seo?

There are so many websites offering advice and guidance on how to improve your website’s rankings. This post touches on the basic things you should consider to improve your rankings.

Use a unique title and description
It is surprising how many people avoid using the title tag. Sometimes, in fact very often, people put one word into the title tag, but it should be used in full. What is the subject of this page? How can I say what this page is in one or two short sentences? Use these questions to make full use of the title tag.
Keep the title and description clear, concise and written with an interesting angle. Does the title and description grab a person’s attention? Would a person click through the search engine results page (SERP) and visit this page?
Strictly speaking a title tag is not meta data, or data about data, but search engines do use it. If search engines use it, you should too.
Use proper semantic code
There are lots of websites offering tips on how to write good HTML (semantic code). As a tip, use proper tags. If it’s a paragraph, tag is as a paragraph. Equally so, if it’s a main heading, tag it as a heading 1 tag, a sub heading, tag it as a heading 2 tag….
Think about the page layout. Does your site have an excellent structure? Is it clear? Do you help ‘scanners’ (i.e. include bullet points)? Does your HTML code follow best practices (i.e. do you only use one h1 tag? Followed by h2’s and h3-4s)?
Think about the user of your website
Would you say your site is user friendly? Do you put the user first, followed by seo second?
Search engines are getting clever because they recognise what most of the content is on your site. They do not mine all of it, but they have a fair idea what a webpage is actually about (i.e. term frequency etc). If you have good content, and semantic code relating to this content, you are putting the user at the focus of the site. Search engines like user focused websites.
If you are bored and want something to do, read your own website. Does the writing make sense? Is it easy, be honest, to navigate and read information? Do you ask a question as a heading, for example, and answer it in the body of the text? Is this answer clear? These sorts of questions allow you to start putting the user as the focus of your site.
Images and other ‘hidden’ content
Search engines cannot see pictures. For this reason meta data is important so search engines can read the pictures on your site. Does each image on your site include targeted keywords within the image’s name? Do you use alt text to explain what an image is?

I hope to expand on this post in the near future. I hope it was useful. Why have a great website if no one can find it?!

This post was updated on Sunday, 10th Feb 2013 (20:05) after an experienced visitor commented on my content (and points).

What is the Web?

What is the Internet? What is the Web? Is their a difference?

People use the terms Web and Internet interchangably, but they are in fact very different.

“The World Wide Web, or Web, is in fact just one of a number of ways information can be exchanged over the Internet, another being e-mail” (Murphy and Persson 2009:4).

The internet, on the other hand, refers to the physical makeup of how we communicate (i.e. the cables that carry the images, the switches that receive the signal of these cables).

Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented HyperText Markup Language (HTML) and allowed people to use if for free. HTML is the backbone of the Web because it allows everyone to participate in the communication of information.

So the Internet refers to the physical network(s), whereas the Web allows us to use the Internet as a means of communication.

Are there different types of Web?

In short, the Web is all the same; however, how we access (and interact with) it differs. For this reason the Web is full of information which can be accessed in so many different ways, so much so, people refer to different sections of the Web. To give you an overview of all of these references/names, see the list below:

  • Opaque Web refers to files that can, but are not indexed (Sherman & Price 2001).
  • The private Web is tecnically indexible because it is protected by passwords.
  • Proprietary Web requires users to agree to special terms before you use their service (e.g. NYTimes).
  • Invisible Web refers to parts of the Web that cannot be accessed, such as, social media.

The fact that there are so many different names for the Web gives it a true global scale: The Web is a huge place and people are still unsure just how big it actually is.

References

  1. Murphy, C., and Persson, N. (2009) HTML and CSS Web Standards Solutions. USA: Apress and Friends of Ed.
  2. Pedley, P. (2001) The Invisible Web. London: Aslib-IMI.
  3. Sherman, C., & Price, G. (2001) The Invisible Web. New Jersey: Info Today Inc.

Take Action: Add Your Voice to Keep the Internet #Freeandopen

Take Action: Add Your Voice to Keep the Internet #Freeandopen.

A different take on the internet

The Internet refers to the physical structure (cables, nodes etc) of how we can connect to one another online. Whereas the Web is how we interact and communicate with the Internet (e.g. e-mail, or an internet browser).

Who controls the Internet?

As you already know, I am completing a dissertation on search engines. One of the latest readings is from Goldsmith, J., Wu, T. (2006) ‘Who controls the internet?’ Oxford University Press: New York.

I thought these points were interesting

information overload easily occurs on the online world (p. 52)
This is because anyone can publish information online. WordPress is a good example of this because it shows that anyone can publish a blog, even without knowledge on a given subject.

Does this mean that their is a lot of rubbish online? Maybe!
The Internet is a personalised medium
Goldsmith and Wu (2006) use a good example of Amazon.co.uk as an example of personalisation because most visitors are greeted by name on their homepage.
Does personalisation make the Internet a better place? Or, does it allow us to make our way through all the rubbish, clearing a path for you online?