I don’t claim to be a SEO expert in any shape or form. I’m a web designer/developer first and foremost but like any other Designer or Developer I want the sites I build to be at the top of the Google search results. I recently built a college basketball fan blog for the ETSU Basketball team. I originally built the WordPress theme with a tag cloud in the sidebar because I thought it would be helpful for users to easily find specific topics when visiting the site. The site has been up for several months now and one thing I was struggling with was the fact that it was not performing well in the Google search ranks. However, it was performing how I wanted in Bing and Yahoo. Both search engines were putting the ETSU basketball blog on the first page of their search results with the most important search terms but it was a different story on Google. I wasn’t seeing it until about the 3rd or 4th page on Google and sometimes lower than that.
So one day when I was working on the site I started thinking how valuable was that ugly little tag cloud in the sidebar? It wasn’t really receiving the kind of click thru’s I thought it would, mainly because the demographic of the blog wasn’t really geared at tech minded people. So most of my visitors probably didn’t really understand it’s purpose and likely wouldn’t miss it if it was gone. To be safe I started digging around on some WordPress and SEO blogs trying to determine if removing the tag cloud would hurt or improve my search rankings. Well I found a pretty revealing video on the subject.
After watching this video I removed the tag cloud. The next day I checked my search rankings in Google and bam! I went from the 3rd page to the first page in Google practically overnight. I couldn’t believe something so small could affect my search rankings on Google like that.
With that being said, my advice when it comes to tag clouds on your WordPress theme, don’t use them unless you believe or have evidence that your users need them. It might hurt your page rank in Google, especially if you have a lot of tags.
I’m going to have to with Dan Gilbert’s letter to the fans. Unless you are 10 years old Comic Sans should never be used for anything and ever then I would argue against using it. I just can’t take any letter seriously from a grown adult that is written in Comic Sans. You would think that guy would know better.
In the case of Avatar, I felt that Papyrus at least somewhat fit the theme of Avatar. Yes you would think they could have found a better font but it worked.
The 6th and final season of LOST is winding down, as much as it pains me to say that. A few nights ago Charlie made his first appearance since “LA X” in the Desmond centric episode “Happily Ever After”. As they were riding in the car Charlie’s crappy band Drive Shaft came on the radio and I was quickly reminded how awful and annoying that song is, “You all everybody”. Nevertheless, the next day I received an email from my favorite t-shirt shop, busted-tees, saying that I could actually buy a Drive Shaft T-Shirt!
So of course I purchased it, even though I hate Charlie’s band. With my favorite TV show coming to an end I thought I might as well try to stock up on all of the memorabilia as I can. It’s the least I can do for the greatest Sci-fi / Drama ever!
I also found another LOST t-shirt that I had not seen before while browsing around BustedTees. The Found T-Shirt
I love reading various different design blogs as it fuels my creativity, gives me inspiration and a source for research in future projects. So besides the major ones like Smashing Magazine and PSD Tuts, I am listing 10+ creative design blogs that are in my RSS reader that you may be unaware of.
I have to admit whenever I began redesigning my portfolio a large part of me was doing in hopes it would get featured on some of the top CSS galleries on the web and help drive new traffic from passionate designers all over the world.
Well to my pleasure, over the past couple of weeks I have submitted Eric’s Empire to some of the top web gallery sites on the web and many of them has added my site to their galleries. As a result I am getting hundreds of new visitors per day and emails from some great designers around the globe. Not only that but other sites and blogs that I never even submitted to are linking to me as well.
As a designer I highly recommend submitting your site to as many galleries you can find. Because it gets your name and work out there and it brings a perfect opportunity to meet and network with other designers around the world.
I decided to make a list of the sites that are giving Eric’s Empire some love and linking back to them in this post. I’ll update the list if more come in.
CSS Mania – Probably the #1 visited CSS gallery site on the web
I recently finished reading
Designing the Moment: Web Interface Design Concepts in Action by Robert Hoekman, Jr. It’s a book about designing for good user experience. I had read positive reviews about the book and thought I would give a shot. I have to say as a designer it was one of the most helpful books I’ve ever read. I recommend that all Web Designers and Developers read it as I am confident it will help you and also inspire you in future projects.
When designing Eric’s Empire I used several tips from Designing the Moment to make my site more usable and consistent. In chapter 2 “Showing Your Personality”, Robert explained how using characters that serve as metaphors and visual hooks can help unify your design and make it more consistent. I paid close attention to that when designing Eric’s Empire. As you can tell I used the grunge style star all throughout my site. I’m using it as a fav icon, imagery in page headers and as rollovers in my main navigation. Not only does it add personality to my site but it also gives it a sense of consistency.
In chapter 22 “Designing the Obvious Blog”, Robert gives three ways to create a better blog. He talks about the benefits of using “trackbacks” and offering a RSS link. While most blogging and tech nerds know what those are, the common blogger may not, so when designing you should always remember to include the word “subscribe” when linking to your RSS feed, rather than just throwing a random RSS button on your page.
The book also goes into other important usability topics such as making forms more usable, which is a big one for me, and designing navigation. Overall I thought it was an excellent book and it will defiantly be sitting on my desk for a while as a reference whenever I am working.
Whenever I begin creating a new design whether it is a Print or a Web Design, one of the first things I always research are Photoshop brushes. As a designer I believe that having both a solid font and Photoshop brush collection is essential for any design. Even the design for Eric’s Empire involved several different brush sets. Continue Reading…
If you haven’t heard of Busted Tees, it is the greatest t-shirt store you’ll ever find and they have a pretty sweet looking website too, but that’s beside the point. Anyway they essentially sell joke t-shirts. A lot of them make fun of stuff in pop culture, politics, quotes etc. I get a weekly newsletter from them every Tuesday where they usually give me this weeks sale or new t-shirts that’s been added. Well they have managed to top themselves this time around with the
Desmond is My Constant T-Shirt!
Right now you are either laughing or thinking “what the hell does that mean?” Well if you ever watch Lost then you know exactly what I am talking about and you are ordering the shirt as you read this post. However, if you’ve never seen Lost then you should seriously think about renting the DVD’s because it is only the best dramatic series on TV right now!
Even if you hate Lost and have no idea what Desmond is My Constant means (I would explain it to you but it might take a while) you should still check out BustedTees For The Funniest T-Shirts Around. because I am confident you’ll find something there to make you smile.