Your web site

English

Regardless of where you are in the world, we are keen to design (or redesign) and create your website. We are software and web developers operating in sunny Nelson and Wellington, New Zealand. We understand how to make your website reinforce traditional sales and marketing principles to make your organisation successful.

For us, there is only one good outcome from your visiting our site - that is you contact us. You might glean something from these pages and admire the lovely photo at the top (Nelson and the southern tip of Tasman Bay from near the summit of Fringe Hill), but that's no use to us at all. We want to talk with you! Hopefully you will have confidence in what we are saying and get in touch. That is why we have sprinkled many contact us links around!

There is a lot of information about website development in these pages. We assume you have arrived here because you are establishing or improving your web presence. If there is anything we can clarify or expand on, please contact us.

We design web sites so that:

Visitors find your site -

  • easily on the major search engines for relevant key words.
  • fast to load even on "dial up".
  • easy to navigate.
  • appears consistent, attractive and enhances your "brand", regardless of the browser being used or screen size (resolution settings).
  • shows attention to detail and a sense of responsibility to users' privacy by having a "privacy policy" and "terms of use" statement.

Owners/administrators of your site -

  • have a site that sells!
  • find it easy to amend and add content and photos.

Technically, all sites use current best practices, i.e. -

  • use of html 4.0, html 5, xhtml 1.0 or xhtml 1.1.
  • separation of content and presentation by using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets).
  • all pages should validate with zero errors using the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) validator.
  • no email addresses shown that could be harvested by spammers. Visitors can email you by filling out a form.
  • no use of deprecated tags (e.g. <font>)
  • security issues are addressed.
  • accessibility issues are addressed.
  • all pages optimized for search engine optimization (SEO)

Contact us now for a free no obligation chat about your web presence.

Mobile / Smart device web sites

English

Currently a significant percentage of website visitors are using small devices, mobile phones and tablets. At the same time desktop screens may be large. Flat screens of 22" - 30" are available and affordable.

  • Small device usage is predicted to increase and within a few years will exceed laptop/desktop usage.
  • Small devices lack processing grunt and may rely on 3G data transfer so page loading needs to be fast (pages must be lean).
  • Small devices do not usually have a mouse so the concept of "hovering" is not available. One implication of this is that drop down menus will not work so site navigation must be designed appropriately.
  • Having a "fixed width" design may not be the best option considering the variation in the size of viewing devices being used.
  • Recent CSS and HTML5 standards provide features (media queries) so that the designer can change what is shown to the visitor depending on their screen size.

This site uses a fluid (or liquid) layout so that the display adjusts according to the screen size in use. If you are viewing this on a laptop or desktop try altering the browser size to see how things change as the width decreases.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss these issues, maybe its time for a redesign?

They even have Android phones in China!

android advertisement in China

Website Redesign

English

Today, many websites need revamping. They were built years ago and don't compete very well. People browsing the web are using smaller mobile devices and larger monitors. An old "fixed width" layout of 760 - 800 pixels can appear ridiculous on these modern screens. We are happy to re-vitalise your web presence with new ideas and modern techniques.

If you answer "no" to any of the following, please get in touch with us.

  • Is the site fresh and up to date?
  • Is it user friendly?
  • Is it a "fluid" width layout thats looks good on mobile / smart devices and larger high resolution monitors?
  • Does it create a professional image?
  • Is it search engine friendly?
  • Is it creating leads and/or sales?
  • Is it fast to load (even on dial-up)?
  • Is it web standards compliant?
  • Is it easy for you to alter?

A web site redesign can make a big difference to your business. Other questions you may think about are:

  • Why do visitors come to your site?
  • What can you learn from your competitors?
  • What is the mood or emotion you want to convey?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • Is your content up to date?
  • Will your visitors believe you?
  • What can you learn from your site statistics? (Do you have statistics?)
  • Is your site's navigation up with the play?
  • Do all your visitors speak English? We develop multi-lingual sites.

Content Management Systems

English

Manage your own content.

We recommend three free open source Content Management Systems (CMS) Drupal, Wordpress and Concrete5 They are written in the PHP programming lanuage and use the MySQL database. Depending on your requirements, one system will be the best fit.

We will develop modules (plugins/widgets) for special features you may require. Usually, we configure the CMS, design and build the theme, set up search engine optimisation factors, set up content and images to suit you, test, upload, and train you how to use the system. We would also add Privacy Policy, Terms of Use and Disclaimer pages if required. We will explain how you should solicit links for best search engine ranking. This will provide you with these benefits:

  • A web standards compliant site.
  • Content and images directly under your control for ease of updating at any time.
  • Ability to amend your site from anywhere there is Internet access.
  • Visitors can locate content by word or phrase  "search" and/or by viewing content from categories you specify.
  • A "breadcrumb" trail so your visitors can see where they are.
  • Ability to easily create sub-domains for other aspects of your site. Sub-domains have their own content and presentation and appear to search engines and visitors as completely separate sites. This is a significant feature for future diversity.
  • Site optimised for agreed key words/phrases for improved search engine ranking.
  • Visitors can email you without publicly exposing your email address, leaving your website or assuming there is a suitable email client (e.g. Outlook) on the computer being used.
  • To prevent malicious automated posting to public parts of your site, visitors posting can be asked to recognise and enter a few characters displayed over an image (captcha). If the entry does not match the characters displayed, the posting is rejected.
  • To prevent unseemly words appearing on your site from public postings, a word filter can be provided to censor any words you specify.
  • An updated Google sitemap can be generated whenever Google requests it.
  • Your site may be multi-lingual for international marketing.
  • Visitor statistics may be obtained from an analytics service such as Google Analytics.
  • Additional features such as blog, newsletter, poll, survey and forum etc can be easily provided when they are required.

Which CMS?

English

In the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySql and PHP) hosting arena where most websites begin life, there are several popular CMS's (Content management Systems) to choose from. In our opinion these are Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla and the upcoming Concrete5. Each has their strengths and weaknesses and the decision on which one to use will be based on several factors such as the user's intention and ability to edit content and what extra features are required. For e-commerce Magento is a strong product or there are commerce modules for the previously mentioned CMS's.

We have experience will all these CMS's as well as PHP MVC frameworks that are not specifically CMS's. When performance is crucial we use the Yii framework.

Incidently PHP is the most used server-side language on the Web, powering 77% of all database-driven websites including Facebook and Wikipedia.

Multilingual websites

English

Currently the main language of the  Internet is English. However English is not the language spoken by most people on the planet. According to Wikipedia it comes in third place behind Chinese (Mandarin) and Spanish.

This site is multilingual, it can switch between English and Spanish. There is no "marketing" reason for this, I don't think I will gain clients from being multilingual. It is an example and quite affordable with any competent Content Management System, in this case Drupal 7.

New Zealand is a particularly mono-lingual country. Our education system (apart from Te Reo) offers languages other than English quite late (usually secondary school) and the languages provided are not useful in terms of our major trading partners. Few websites in the tourisn sector are multilingual, congratulations to those who have made the effort. I believe there is a good case for tourism operators to consider selling themselves to people whose first langauge is not English. Site visitors would be impressed and more likely to take up the products/services offered.

Assuming the entire world understands English is not true and probably impolite.

Please contact us if you would like more information about making your site multilingual.

Search Engine Optimisation - SEO, Search Marketing

English

Get found! - we create search engine friendly sites that assist your search marketing. To briefly thumbnail this extensive subject, there are two main aspects to SEO. Firstly (the easy bit), on page optimization is the area where you have complete control. There is a way to construct pages in terms of hierarchy, meta tags and content fine tuning, which can have a direct affect on search ranking.

Secondly (the hard bit), having other web sites linking to your site. This can happen naturally when other site managers like your site and voluntarily link to it. It can happen by reciprocal linking, a trade between two sites. You can buy links, or offer inducements (a free something) in exchange for a link. Collecting links is time consuming hard work. You can do it yourself or pay someone to do it. Note that the text used in the link is very important. We can collect links for you, or advise you on how to do it yourself. Additional points:

  • Keyword research is a vital part of search marketing. It is necessary before any optimisation can take place. This is often overlooked.
  • There are a lot of "snake oil" products offered to help your SEO. Be wary.
  • Search engines are all about relevance. They need to offer the searcher the most relevant results for the key words used. In order to do this, you must make your site relevant by having good content that is frequently updated.
  • Links from "directories" are probably useless.
  • You cannot trick the search engines, they are very clever, and any attempts to deceive them could result in being banned.
  • The old adage of "a picture being worth a thousand words" doesn't stack up with search engines. They only process text. You can still use images and flash, but you must have text too!

Here's an image from a well known search engine relating to our javascript editor and validator. On 7 Dec 2011 it ranked #6 (out of  192 million matches) for the keywords "javascript validator". This search was on www.google.co.nz. We are quite proud of this result.

google search for javascript validator

Let us help you get noticed!

Contact us for a free no obligation consultation.

Tag(s): 

Going Live!

English

For a web site to be accessible to the billions of surfers out there, several things must happen. You need:

  • a Domain Name
  • hosting
  • to transfer your site to the host
  • to get noticed by the search engines

We can do all of this for you, or you can do all or some yourself. You can pay upfront or pay a monthly amount, we are very flexible!

Domain name

This is the address of your website, the bit that usually looks like "www" dot "yourSiteName" dot "yourPreferredExtension". "yourSiteName" should be your business name if possible, there are good and bad ways to deal with this, we are happy to advise. "yourPreferredExtension" is the type of site and the country code, eg .org.uk indicates an organisation located in the United Kingdom. Again, there are pros and cons to various extensions, we are happy to advise. Sometimes the domain name you want is not available, so you have to compromise. Its important to think about this carefully. Once you have chosen a Domain name, it needs to be "registered". There are hundreds of domain name registrars in the world. Prices and support vary widely. Your Domain name is valuable and needs to be registered with a trustworthy registrar. You may feel more confident dealing with a local registrar rather than one on the other side of the world. There's no such thing as a free lunch, so be careful of the low price registrars. Having said that, there are low price registrars that are completely reliable, talk to us.

Hosting

If you are a small company/organisation, you will probably start out on the web using "shared hosting". This is where the web server is shared amongst maybe 1000 clients. This may sound like too much for one web server, but it depends on hardware, software and loadings. Reliable hosting companies would never overload a server so that your site appeared unduly slow or unresponsive. Like Domain name registration, there is a wide variety of hosting pricing and quality. Hosting companies usually offer "reseller" plans which suit web developers who then claim they have their "own" hosting. Just be aware that hosting offered in a particular country may be "reselling" hosting domiciled in another country (typically the USA). You need to ask probing questions to avoid being taken advantage of. If you have too much traffic for shared hosting, you can use semi-dedicated (or virtual private server) hosting or have your own web server. This can be housed at a web hosting company (telehousing) and controlled remotely, or you can have your web server physically on your own premises connected to the internet. If you run your own server, you will need advice on security and how to have minimum outages, we all expect 100% uptime!

Transferring your site to the Internet

Usually, a new site is developed on a local computer and moved to the web server when it is time to "go live". This involves transferring files using ftp (file transfer protocol), setting up robots.txt and maybe .htaccess and if necessary loading database tables.

Get noticed by Search Engines

You can submit your site to search engines or have another site that is already being spidered link to your site. For google, we believe the best way is to submit a google sitemap. If you are not too comfortable with this sort of thing, we can do it for you, just ask.

Web 2.0

English

Web 2.0 is at term coined to describe the "second generation" of web sites. Although regarded as hype by some commentators, we agree with the general thrust of Web 2.0. Web sites are becoming more sophisticated, and to be competitive, a site needs to engage the visitor. This means a dynamic site with features such as polls, surveys, newsletters, and a discussion forum. It is also common now for the owner to maintain a "blog", a web log or diary. Briefly, Web 2.0 means:

  • It is about "you", the user! You can generate content and participate in this "social media".
  • The Internet is no longer a web of documents, it is a web of data.
  • Internet users are not passive, they respond and communicate.
  • Sites should be web standards compliant (W3C - World Wide Web Consortium).

For example, Amazon allows their visitors to write book reviews, which they publish. These reviews may be highly critical, which you may think would hurt their sales. But Amazon is doing more business because they are seen as a more trustworthy company. Amazon has harnessed the book buying community to increase their business in an innovative way.

Web standards

English

We think adhering to standards is a good idea. Standards exist in many aspects of life, usually to ensure safety and minimum quality. The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) provides online validators where any site's markup may be checked. Rolls-Royce is a brand name that oozes quality, they produce luxury cars and ultra-reliable jet engines. This was the W3C's verdict on the Rolls-Royce web site on 7 Dec 2011.

Rolls-Royce W3C validation

Now this looks worse than it actually is, often fixing the first error eliminates many following errors. Many well known sites produce hundreds of errors. Does it matter, they seem to work OK and appear well ranked in search engine results?

Relating cause and effect regardng things on the internet is notoriously difficult, but we believe if all other factors are equal, then standards compliant sites rank better than non-compliant ones. This is our validation on 24 December 2007. Yay!

Purple Oar Software W3C no error validation image

In December 2011 this site was upgraded to use html5. Currently, the W3C validator finds errors with most html5 sites. Checking by using other validators confirms that our site is valid html5.

 

Tag(s): 

Software development

English

We do contract software development, using object oriented design and programming where possible.

  • Php, especially Drupal modifications, new modules
  • Javascript
  • Delphi
  • Visual Studio .NET, VB or C#
  • SQL

For dynamic web sites, we are familiar with Javascript, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), the jQuery library, the Drupal Content Management Framework, Wordpress, Concrete5, PHP and MySQL.

Contact us for a free no obligation chat about your software requirements.

Offshore development welcomed. Our low hourly rate, the weak NZ$ and our "English as first language culture", means we are an economic and "easy to communicate with" option you should consider. Although India offers incredibly cheap software development, the difficulty in communicating your requirements can be overwhelming.

Remember the old saying:- "Of course it is foolish to pay too much, but it may be unwise to pay too little!"

Tag(s): 

Drupal consulting

English

We are familiar with the Drupal CMS (Content Management System) and offer competitive Drupal developer consultancy. Drupal is an extremely flexible CMS, that we can quickly tailor to your requirements. We configure the site, enable and configure approriate modules and modify themeing to suit. We use CCK and views extensively for structured content.

Because it is such a flexible system, it often seems complicated when first encountered. There is a learning curve for newcomers.

With our years of experience, we can efficiently deploy a Drupal site giving you a "state of the art" CMS.

Additionally the Drupal open source project offers -

  • Continual improvement, new releases of Drupal incorporate the latest web features
  • An active user community helping solve problems
  • Hundreds of extra modules given back to the community, there is a good chance there is already a module to solve your specific need

We are active on the Drupal forums, assisting where we can. As early adopters, our drupal.org  user id is 28,nnn and dates back to 2005. A new user today gets a user id above 1,600,000.

Tag(s): 

Portfolio

English

This portfolio is small because we mostly build sites as contractors for web designers.

Sites we have developed:

Food Safety Works Wellington New Zealand
(Drupal)
food safety works new zealand web site thumbnail
Touring New Zealand
(Drupal module for deal finder, not the front end design)
touring new zealand web site thumbnail
DrLife UK (Drupal) drlife web site thumbnail
ScrypTik Javascript editor
(Drupal)
scryptik web site thumbnail


 

Alarm bells!

English

While being involved with web sites, we have come across several situations that you should be wary of.

  • If any web developer attempts to charge you, say every six months, for "submitting to search engines", then you are being ripped off! Once you are in the search engines index, you will stay there unless something disastrous happens. This could be a serious loss of hosting, your domain name expiring or being banned by a search engine for dubious content. In fact, repeatedly submitting to a search engine could annoy them, not a good idea.
  • You may be tempted to get your site developed by a friend/neighbour/relative who has learnt a bit of HTML and makes really cool looking web pages. This is probably a bad idea, because a web site should be regarded holistically, everything counts. Amateurs forget about search engine optimisation, keyword research, identifying your target audience and what the site is for. Remember our slogan - "Ensuring Your Web Presence Contributes", looking pretty is not enough.
  • Often, a web hosting package includes a free domain name, and this seems attractive. However, if or when you want to change host, you may find because they control your domain name, you have difficulty doing this. It is better to register your domain name yourself, and get hosting separately. That way, you have more control.
  • When negotiating with a website supplier, ask about their client's search engine rankings. See what keywords were targeted and do your own google search to see for yourself where the site ranks. Its easy to talk about SEO, its hard to actually achieve results.

    Books

    English

    We find these books incredibly useful.

    • Persuasive Online Copywriting - How to Take Your Words to the bank, Bryan Eisenberg, Jeffrey Eisenberg, Lisa Davis
    • Ca$hvertising 100 Secrets of Ad-Agency Psychology, Drew Eric Whitman
    • Don't Make Me Think, Steve Krug
    • The Long Tail, Chris Anderson
    • The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell
    • The principles of beautiful web design, Jason Beard
    • Web Design for Developers, Brian P Hogan
    • Web Standards Solutions - The Markup and Style Handbook, Dan Cederholm
    • Eric Meyer On CSS, Eric A. Meyer
    • Pro Drupal Development, John K VanDyk and Matt Westgate
    • Drupal Multimedia, Aaron Winborn
    • Pro Javascript Techniques, John Resig
    • PHP 5 Objects, Patterns and Practice, Matt Zandstra
    • jQuery UI 1.7, Dan Wellman
    • Inkscape 0.48 Essentials for Web Designers, Bethany Hitola
    • HTML5 & CSS for the real World, Alexis Goldstein, Louis Lazaris, Estelle Weyl
    • BUILD MOBILE, Earle Castledine, Myles Eftos & Max Wheeler
    • Beginning Android Application Development, Wei-Meng Lee
    • Wordpress Bible, Aaron Brazell
    • Professional WordPress Plugin Development, Brad Williams, Ozh Richard, Justin Tadlock
    • Yii 1.1 Application Development Cookbook, Alexander Makarov
    • Beginning MySQL Database Design and Optimization, Jon Stephens and Chad Russell
    • High Performance MySQL, Jeremy D. Zawodny & Derek J. Balling
    • Pragmatic Version Control using Subversion, Mike Mason
    Tag(s): 

    Purple Oar Software

    English

    Purple Oar Software is Paul Roper, previously a tutor at a provincial tertiary Institute of Technology, who is available to provide Information Technology consultancy. I work closely with other independent peers (such as copywriters and graphic artists) as required. The use of "we" throughout this web site means appropriate associates and myself. I have taught a range of Information Technology subjects at Diploma and Degree level and have a particular interest in web site development. Recently I have delivered dynamic web development courses in China.

    My profile on google+.

    Website development requires many skills such as:

    • programming
    • database design and administration
    • network administration
    • correct use of the English language (grammar, spelling and appropriate style)
    • knowledge of HTML and css
    • graphic design.

    Purple Oar Software is expanding through recommendations from satisfied clients. I am available on mobile phone and email virtually 24/7 to provide client support. A Javascript authoring tool developed and sold by Purple Oar Software has its own website. This site operates in a niche market selling a product used by web developers worldwide. ScrypTik has sold in the USA, Canada, Australia, UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, India, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and New Zealand. Sole traders through to large corporates such as IBM, Bellsouth and The Bank of Ireland use it.

    This acceptance of ScrypTik is testimony to our technical competence, however the most significant factor with the ScrypTik web site is how we rank highly in search engines (particularly Google) for a range of key phrases. These search engine optimisation skills honed by Purple Oar Software in developing this site, are applied to all client sites. Note, we have never bought advertising or links for ScrypTik. We sell advertising using the Google Adsense program on the site, and Google pay us.

    Static v dynamic web sites

    English

    Overview

    Note, I recently blogged about an unusual aspect of this topic, you can read the entry about long tailed keywords here.

    At the user level, many people surf the web to get information, send and receive emails, shop, transact their banking and book travel. All these activities are presented in a way that is friendly and understandable. At the technical level, configuring web servers, implementing security, administrating and designing databases and web programming are complicated. It is the role of a web developer to shield a client from these technical issues, and to deliver the "user friendly" and effective web site that the client requires. Web sites are sent across the Internet as plain text data that contain "tags". These tags carry invisible messages to browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox etc) describing how to present information. Actually, they are not totally invisible, you can see them if you "view source" in your browser. For example, enclosing text inside <b>lorem ipsum</b> tags causes the text to be displayed bold - lorem ipsum. There are many types of tags, some apply to layout and presentation, and others specify some things about the page itself. This plain text is called HTML, Hyper Text Markup Language.

    Difference between Static and Dynamic

    With static web sites, requests for pages are handled by a web server delivering the content of these HTML files, "as is". They are called static because they don't change very often. With dynamic web sites there is a difference, requests for pages are a bit more complicated. For each request, the page (the HTML) is constructed from information stored in files (such as images), information stored in databases (textual content) and programming logic (both server side such as PHP, Java, ASP etc and with "Web 2.0" more client side - Javascript). All really useful sites (Amazon, Trademe, online banking etc) are dynamic. It would be completely impossible for them to be anything else, as what they are providing is constantly changing and/or the content is dependent on what the site visitor actually asked for.

    Which type of site do I need?

    Static is good for a one-way flow of information, from your site to the visitors. This suits some situations perfectly. Dynamic will invite your site visitors to become involved and engaged. This generally leads to a stronger relationship with the visitor and there is more likelyhood of your visitor buying your product/service or becoming a member of your community. They are also easier for the webmaster to maintain, you can amend content from anywhere there is an internet connection, without special web authoring tools.

    Confused?

    We will help you choose the most appropriate type of web site. Contact us now for free no-obligation advice. While developing a web site, we encourage clients to take on tasks they feel comfortable with. The client's involvement is mutually agreed, dependent on their enthusiasm and ability. We are used to dealing with various levels of client over (or under) confidence! Obviously, the more a client is able to do reduces costs.