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Are you Modern? Take the test!

modern.IE Logo

Two pro-Microsoft posts in one week? I know, Right?!

Clearly we are not masters of fate or IT news, so today’s headline is covering the new modern:IE Test Site setup to assist web developers with creating IE compatible site content.

Wasn’t it like, two days ago that I just pointed out that the big flaw with IE is that the old versions create a web design nightmare? *tap tap* .. Apparently this thing is turned on?

What does it test?

Actually the tool is a suite of tests with some specific test cases for IE browser specific issues.

Here’s a list of categories it will test and report on without setting up a ‘Site Owner’ account:

  • Fix common problems from supporting old versions of IE:
  • Known compatibility issues
  • Compatibility Mode
  • Frameworks & libraries
  • Web standards docmode
  • Help this webpage work well across browsers, across devices:
  • CSS prefixes
  • Browser plug-ins
  • Responsive web design
  • Browser detection
  • Consider building with some new features in Windows 8:
  • Touch browsing default
  • Start screen site tile

If you plug your URL in the page will test all these areas and report back to you where improvements could be made.

Additionally there is a direct link to the ‘Pinned Site Tile’ testing/design tool.

This tool lets you select an image (144×144 pixel PNG) and text for your website when a Windows 8 user wants to ‘Pin’ the site to their start menu.

My experience with the tool wasn’t great, likely due to some caching, but if you test your code against sites that do work properly you can still sort out the needed meta tags quickly enough.

Other Goodies?

Included in the suite is a link to the Internet Explorer Test Drive site to compare HTML5 features and performance with other browsers..

Technically, I ended up short on time to cover more, so if you dive in and start to wonder why we didn’t point out something new/interesting, feel free to let us know, we’re always open to feedback. :)

SEO news blog post by @ 12:20 pm on January 31, 2013


New Google Reader GUI Gets Bad Press

Just in time to make your candy hangover even worse, Google’s decided to fiddle with the layout/appearance of it’s Reader product. Naturally the squeaky wheel gets the up-votes, so most of the reactions getting attention are going to be negative. Let me break that trend and explain why with this post.

Google Reader Logo getting Club'd

Over on the official Google Reader Blog, Alan Green had the task of explaining the new look and improvements. The first image posted is ideal, great use of space, very use-able and very little room for improvement:

New Google Reader Layout

Sure there’s a bit of ‘padding’ in the header, and there’s a bit of white space going on, but as you can see, a well used reader account won’t be staring at gulfs of great white spaces that most folks seem to be taking issue with.

The next common point of ‘contention’ is the display of news items, and the amount of screen space that the actual text is getting on the reader screen:

Complaint about reader space

This really seems to be coming from the ‘more is better’ camp who only have 19″ screens. If you put things for me to read stretched across my screen from edge to edge, I would take longer to read it, and my neck would get sore from panning my large displays. If I was making this observation on my home setup it’d be even worse than my work displays.

Plus there’s already a ton of CSS hacks you can apply to change/tweak the layout to fit your needs. A Google search will dig up tons of these, I don’t need to sponsor any particular solution but the first I found did a great job of tightening up the UI.

So with all the negativity aside, what was the Google Reader update all about? Well I can sum it up with one word “Google+”.

To quote the official reader blog:

The ability to +1 a feed item (replacing “Like”), with an option to then share it with your circles on Google+ (replacing “Share” and “Share with Note”).

Integrating with Google+ also helps us streamline Reader overall. So starting today we’ll be turning off friending, following, shared items and comments in favor of similar Google+ functionality.

So it was a needed update, with a bit of give and take. The authors of the post knew there’d be feedback, negativity, and the usual ‘quiet riot’ around the changes. They even suggested, to anyone that doesn’t leave over the update (their words not mine), that comments and concerns would be great to hear. Plus they also gave a handy link to the import/export settings so your decision to stay doesn’t have to be marred by concerns of how to make the switch.

Now we move on to discuss the new GMail UI changes.. Does it ever end? :)

SEO news blog post by @ 12:18 pm on November 1, 2011


Chrome XII Released

If you’re not too busy playing around with Google’s tribute to Les Paul’s 96th birthday..

Google search logo tribute to Les Paul's 96th birthday may have time to check out some of Chrome 12′s new features.

Chrome’s never been big on fluff, and most users upgrading to the version 12 release are going to have to look carefully to see anything new. Part of this is due to the very speedy release cycle that Chrome adheres to.

Some of the changes include:

  • Proactive alerts on malware detection to avoid downloads
  • Full flash integration with local shared object management
  • Hardware support for accelerated 3D CSS transforms
  • Small tweaks like the new default favicon: Chrome 12s Favicon

H.264 is still in place even though many speculated that the next release would be dropping H.264 to pave the way for more open standards with HTML5 like WebM and Theora.

The flash integration gives access to cookie management and more:

Flash management screen in Chrome 12

Release 12 wouldn’t be a new version without some issues, and much like the recent performances by the Canucks this latest version has a few failings:

  • Proxy support is broken. If you need to use a proxy, there is a fix. Check here for updates.
  • The version jump has enraged numerologists around the globe to the point where I couldn’t resist busting out the Roman numerals. Version 20 next week?
  • Native HTML5 Netflix support is still not working for everyone

So while it could have had a bit more time on the ironing board, it’s here now and we can try it out. If you wanted to see the 3D CSS transform upgrades try viewing this HTML5 video demo before and after you upgrade.

SEO news blog post by @ 5:15 pm on June 9, 2011

Categories:css,html 5,web design


Debunking SEO Myths – follow up

As a follow up to my previous post (Debunking SEO Myths – part 1):

After getting some flak for my less-than-aggressive stance against the use of html tables for webpage layout and reading through a great article from: HotDesign ( about why using “Tables for Layout is Stupid”, I felt I should reconsider my stance on the use of tables. I still maintain that tables can be used to hold tabular data. At least that is what they were intended for. The problem arises when you start using tables for layout.

As the web continues to evolve and html 5 becomes commonplace, related technologies need to grow and adapt as well. CSS is the evolution (revolution?) of web design. The above article did a great job in clarifying this point and really driving that point home to me.

To those of us trained in the usage of html tables, they just seemed to make sense in using them for page layout. Sometimes it seems easier to stick to what is familiar then to accept that there is a better way to do things (something this writer is guilty of :-)). The above article mentions that there are some things that are just easier to do with tables. However, if you were to list the pros and cons of both, tables for layout fall tragically short.

Tables were never meant to be used for layout purposes. They were only meant to hold tabular data. Using them in such a way is now actually interfering with building better, more accessible and flexible websites. Not only that, but they can and do interfere with SEO efforts (gasp!). Many sites are now forced with a daunting task of going back and re-coding all of their legacy websites in order to bring them up to new standards…especially with the advent of mobile websites (hey, no one ever said that the web was static right?).

The simple fact of the matter is that the benefits of using CSS are certainly not limited to its use in table-less site design. It is time to throw out the old school thinking and move towards a brighter future of low-bandwidth, table-less website design. This writer is now a full-fledged convert. No longer will I use tables…CSS all the way!

SEO news blog post by @ 1:14 am on January 27, 2011


Learning SEO: Five Site Design SEO Faux Pas

No one ever said that designing a website was easy. If they did, they were probably trying to sell a CMS (content management system) to you. Some of the biggest web design/seo faux pas are listed below. Not only are they problems from an end-user experience, but from an SEO perspective as well.

Granted these are just the tip of the iceberg, but many of us who have been involved with site design for any length of time have probably been guilty of at least a few of these practices ourselves. In my opinion these are five major ones that should be avoided:

  1. Splash Pages: Nothing says the year 2005 like a large graphic on a useless page. Typically these are graphically intense; textually-light pages that only have a few links in to your site. Not only do these large graphics (and usually Flash animations) slow down load times, but they also keep people from getting immediately to the information they are looking for.
  2. Frames: In a perfect world (or perfect Internet), frames would have been outlawed many years ago. Despite the logical organizational benefits, this archaic practice looks to bots as multiple pages and cause very difficult problems for them trying to parse the linking structure between them.
  3. Bad Code: This one can’t be stressed enough. Keep things light, clean and simple and semantically defined ( ). What is valid code? Any html document should be able to pass through the validation service provided by the W3C ( ). This ensures that Google’s bots will have the easiest time possible parsing your website data. It also helps to ensure that the page will load as quickly as possible due to the fact.
  4. HTML Tables: An increasingly outdated practice is the use of tables to format the layout and structure of html documents. At this point in the game, everyone should be using only CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) for all page layouts and formatting of text.
  5. Flash: Flash created a revolution in terms of site design. No longer were we destined to look at boring static html pages. Now we could have animation, lights, glam and pizzazz! It was a web design trend that many wannabe web designers got caught up in (including this writer).

The Sad fact is that Flash has next to 0% SEO merit. There are times and places were the interactivity of Flash aids in site flow or user experience, but use it sparingly. Even though the user feels they are browsing a site of many pages, the truth is that Google only sees it as one big page, devoid of content.

Surprisingly, many people still incorporate many of these design/seo faux pas today. Most of these practices are out of antiquated and have been replaced by better technologies and practices. Yet much to my chagrin, I still come across many newer sites using these practices.

Remember to always ask yourself: “WWGD?” (What Would Google Do?)…or more importantly, “WDGL?” (What Does Google Like?).

SEO news blog post by @ 10:06 pm on September 30, 2010


Googe Fonts

Have you ever wanted to use a font on your website and weren’t able to simply because it wasn’t a web-safe font?  Perhaps you wanted a beautiful scrolling heading but knew that doing so would require creating an image heading and really – that’s just not good SEO is it?

Last week the solution to this issue was brought to my attention by Jacob Gube over on the Mashable site in his article on the implementation of Google’s New Google Font API.  Basically this is a standardized mechanism for pulling in external font definitions into IE, Firefox, Safari, etc. allowing designers and website owners to finally use the fonts they feel would best work with their design.

I’m not going to bother outlining how it works, Jacob does a great job so head on over to the article on the Mashable site at

SEO news blog post by @ 9:28 pm on August 4, 2010



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