Brass Tacks Web Design ident

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The latest news and updates from Brass Tacks Web Design, including new websites, features and offerings available to organisations and individuals.

MySpace & Tumblr Passwords Leaked

Tuesday 31 May 2016

If you have a MySpace or Tumblr accounts it's time to change your password, even if you don't use your account.

Hundreds of millions of hacked details are being sold online, although the leak may have happened a numb er of years ago. However, it's still a good idea to change your passwords.

You should also follow good password techniques and guidelines. People often use the same passwords across a numbre of accounts and if your MySpace or Tumblr password is the same as your email account then you are particularly at risk.

From BBC News:
MySpace & Tumblr hit by "mega breach"


Tempted by a .london domain?

Saturday 26 March 2016

In the Summer of 2014, the new .london top level domain was launched. This allowed organisations and individuals to register domain names ending in .london, such as 'mybusiness.london', instead of the typical 'mybusiness.co.uk' or 'mybusiness.com'.

The value of this new top level domain (TLD) is questionable. Whilst it's being talked up by many people with a stake in it's success, not least the companies selling them, they have yet to gain any real foothold and the advantages of using .london seem to be negligable. Google has stated that all top level domains are treated the same and that using the new TLD will not help search engine ranking: 'Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search'. The cost of a .london domain is also more than a typical .com or .co.uk.

If you're thinking of investing in a new .london domain name we suggest you do some research to establish if the new TLD will provide any real advantage over conventional endings.


Forwarding Email Is A Bad Idea

Friday 26 February 2016

Many people like to forward their domain email to a webmail service such as Gmail or Outlook (formerly Hotmail). This can be useful if you want to receive a number of different email addresses in one place or want to take advantage of Gmail or Outlook's spam filters. Whilst this may seem convenient and easy, it is regarded by many system administrators as a very bad practice that can ultimately lead to your server or domain being blacklisted.

Consider the following example: Andrew has a website and email address that use the domain "mybusiness.com". His website is at "www.mybusiness.com" and his email address is "andrew@mybusiness.com". So that he can receive email on a number of different devices such as a PC, tablet and mobile phone, he forwards his email to his Outlook webmail account. This means that when "sarah@anotherplace.com" sends him an email, it arrives in Andrew Outlook account having been sent not by "anotherplace.com" but from "mybusiness.com" - so the sender's domain and the domain that the email was received from don't match. This can cause Outlook to question that authenticity of the email and may result in it getting classed as spam. If this happens too olften it could untimately lead to mybusiness.com's server being blacklisted (many email providers use third party lists of blocked servers). Once a server is blacklisted it can be difficult and time-consuming to have the block removed.

Another potential issue is if a spammer spoofs "andrew@mybusiness.com" and uses it to send out thousands of spam emails. Many of the target email addresses may be old, invalid or just non-existent and could generate large numbers of rejection emails from the target servers, which will then inundate Andrew's Outlook account - all being routed back through and appearing to come from the server hosting "mybusiness.com". This, again, could lead to the server being blacklisted.

In both of these examples, Andrews’s mail server is seen as a source of spam, and as a result the reputation of the mail server is affected. 

So what is the solution? The best way to address this issue is to use the POP functionality of your mail provider (Gmail, Outlook etc) to collect your domain email, rather than the domain forwarding it. This works in the same way an an email program installed on your computer, which contacts your mail server and downloads your email. Webmail can do the same thing - connecting to your domain email account and retreiving your messages.


Choosing Colours For Your Website

Tuesday 16 February 2016

The first thing to consider about your website is the colours you're going to use. Are you going to use a single colour, maybe with matching shades, or would you prefer a pair of complimentary colours, maybe with an accent colour?

Colour Combinations

Ideally, your site will feature no more than three colours (in addition to black and white). This avoids overwhelming the visitor with too much colour. As well as choosing colours, think about how you'll use them together.

  • You can use a single colour - this will be the primary colour. You might want to feature two or three shades of the same colour.
  • If you chose two colours, you could use them as a primary colour and either a secondary or accent colour. An accent colour is used sparingly, whereas a secondary colour might have a larger role.
  • If you use three colours, you would use them as a primary, secondary and accent colour.

Be careful about using garish or clashing colours. Anything that distracts your visitor's attention should be avoided.

There are a number of websites that offer suggested colour schemes, such as www.colorcombos.com . You could also buy a colour wheel, which gives simple guidance on colour matching and allows you to use different methods to match colours. You can buy these at any good art shop or online for around £5.

Light or dark?

Another thing to consider is whether you want to use bright or dark colours. Or maybe you'd prefer pastels. If you're going to mix tones and shades, how would you like to use them.

Personality?

The colours you use on your website can reflect the personality or values of your business or organisation.

Let's take a look at some of the percieved meanings of colours:

Red is mostly associated with boldness, excitement, desire, passion, love, strength, power, energy, leadership and excitement.
Blue is associated with patience, peace, tranquility, trustworthiness, love, loyalty, stability, coolness, dependability, professionalism.
Yellow is associated with liveliness, happiness, optimism, curiosity, amusement, ideas, intelligence and brightness.
Orange is associated with energy, cheerfulness, creativity, friendliness, confidence, playfulness, courage, steadfastness, flamboyance.
Purple is typically associates with power, nobility, wealth, wisdom, royalty, independence, nobility, luxury, ambition, dignity, magic and mystery.
Green is the color of harmony, nature, healing, life, youth, health and money.
Brown is the color of reliablility, relaxation and confidence. Brown means earthiness, nature, durability, tribal, comfort, reliability, etc.

In discussing the meaning of colour, you should bear in mind that if your website is aimed at an international community, some cultures might view some colours in a different ways. For example, it is well documented that using orange can be a controversial in Northern Ireland because of its political and historical associations. In Egypt, the colour yellow is associated with mourning, as is blue in Iran. So if your're dealing with an international audience, you might want to do a little research into how other cultures react to colour.

At the end of the day, the detailed complexities of colour theory are beyond the scope of this simple guide. If you want to know more about colour theory before choosing your colours, please refer to the web resources below. However, if you're happy to make a choice based on instinct then hopefully I've provided enough guidance to help you decide.


Autoplaying Media - A Bad Idea

Tuesday 12 January 2016

Some of my clients are in the creative industries and occasionally require audio or video media on their website. This can sometimes lead to a discussion about the wisdom (or otherwise) of playing media automatically as soon as the page loads. 

This is regarded by many people as poor web design and something that should be avoided. It's regarded as obtrusive and distracting, not to mention downright rude. When someone visits a web page they're usually expecting passive content  - words and images. Automatically playing unsolicited sound or video may be inappropriate for their environment - it might be the middle of the night, or they may be at work or in a library. They may be listening to their own music, so your unwelcome intervention might not be appreciated. By suddenly playing your favourite song or a helpful video you're showing disrepect for the visitor, not only to their setting but their bandwidth. Many will quickly seek out the pause button, or if they can't quickly find it, the back button, which means they're leaving your website.

In all such cases the user should have control. By all means offer them the content but allow them to choose when to play it.


Resizing Images For The Web

Tuesday 28 October 2014

We have a number of clients who buy webspace from us and maintain their own websites.

On a few occasions these clients have quickly used up their webspace allowance by uploading full sized images, such as high resolution images from a digital camera. These images use a significant amount of disk space and are typically far larger than those you would normally use on a website. Not only do they use up webspace but they also waste bandwidth when visitors visit a site, escpcially if they are mobile users on a data plan.

In layman's terms, a full sized digital image from a camera would typically occupy an area over four times that of an entire dektop monitor, and over nine times the area of a laptop screen. For this reason, images need to be resized for web use. 

There are any number of tools available to resize images, but our favourite is Irfanview, a free image editing application available from www.irfanview.com. Using Irfanview you can quickly and easily downsize images for web use.

A typical image from a 12 megapixel camera will be over 4000 pixels wide whereas for web use you probably wouldn't want anything over 1000 pixels wide - the width of many fixed width web pages. This will use up less web space and download a lot quicker.


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