Drew Rattray : Design vs. Functionality
Drew Rattray
| News and views on design vs. functionality balance across the communications and technology space.

Web Development

The Misconceptions about SEO

April 14, 2011

I have a love/hate relationship with SEO.  I probably spend about half of every day researching strategies from around the Web and analyzing my own data to adjust company strategies.  I spend the rest of that day either consulting, or actually getting in the trenches and hammering out some physical Web elements to boost internal efforts.  It’s invigorating trying to solve the puzzle, but the inconsistencies and what I call “Search Engine Mood Swings” are infuriating at a level only a married man can relate to. 

IE6 Needs to Go

August 11, 2009

I seriously dislike Microsoft products for the most part.  Especially their browser.  As a web designer, Internet Explorer has been a thorn in my side for the better part of a decade.  But, as sad as it is, the world needs Microsoft.  What we no longer need is IE6.

If you've read any of this blog, you know that I am a big proponent of using the next best thing.  Moving forward with technology, ideas, solutions, and standards.  Right now, supporting IE6 specifically is the biggest hurdle I have to overcome on a daily basis.  It's old technology that doesn't support current web standards, yet 15-20% of web users still use it as their primary browser.

No one wants to build a site that doesn't work properly for 1/5 of their target audience, but the time and money wasted on building a site that holds up in today's markets and is IE6 compatible is ridiculous.  It's 2009!  Designers and programmers should not have their creativity and ingenuity handcuffed because people still choose to use a browser that doesn't support advanced CSS or XHTML.  The research, the hacks, the workarounds, the extra lines of code, the extra processes that slow the site down... they aren't worth the money spent by companies and developers. Especially when their user base can upgrade their IE browser for free.  Yeah that's right, it's FREE.

Afraid of upgrading your IE browser? Upgrading your OS to Vista left a bad Microsoft taste in your mouth?  I don't blame you.  OK, here's another solution then.

Cancelling eFax, sort of

July 7, 2009

I had a need for an internet faxing service earlier this month and after a little research, I decided to try the eFax trial service.  Basically, you sign up for a full eFax account, give them everything including your billing information, and if you decide you don't want it, you cancel your account before the 30 days are up.

Today, I decided it's time to cancel before I get nailed with a fee.  While eFax proclaims "Easy Faxing Anywhere", it should also state "Canceling Near Impossible".  There is nowhere, I repeat NOWHERE, on the eFax site that gives you an option to cancel.  After much frustration, I decided to try contacting eFax to get it done.  On the top navigation on the site, I went to "Contact" and then clicked the live chat link.

This is the conversation I had with a delightfully blunt customer service representative.  Actually with the speed of the replies, it might have even been a bot:

Please wait for a site operator to respond.  You are currently number 1 of 1 in the que.  Thank you for your patience.

You are now chatting with 'Soi'

Soi: Welcome to our sales chat.  How may I help you?

Scott Bouchard:  Hello Soi, I'd like to cancel my eFax account and can't seem to find the option on the website account page.

Soi: I am sorry to hear that you wish to leave us.  We have a special support team to assist you with the cancellation process.  Please use the following webpage to get Chat support for cancellation.




Soi: Thank you for contacting the Sales Team.  Hope you found the session helpful.  Goodbye!

Chat session has been terminated by the site operator.

Well... I tried the link, and it didn't work.  I tried on Safari, Firefox, IE... none of the browsers were able to launch the chat after I filled in my name and e-mail.  Fun times.  So I decided to try the "FAQs" option at https://www.efax.com/help/faq.

In the search I typed "Cancel" and received 2 choices for an answer.  I chose "How to Cancel your eFax Account (2901)".  This page stated the following:

How to Cancel your eFax Account

If you are considering cancelling your eFax account because you are having a problem using the service, keep in mind that the solutions to many common problems can be found in this "Help" section.

If our online help is insufficient or you wish to cancel your eFax account for another reason, please click the blue "Chat Now" button below or click

HERE and a Customer Service representative will assist you.

Michael Jackson Dies and Takes the Internet with Him

June 26, 2009

A handful of the largest sites were brought down last night by the surge of traffic that ensued after news of the death of the King of Pop hit the wires.

Google went down for over a half hour for some users due to the weight of traffic, and many were receiving the message "Your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application".  The search term "Michael Jackson Died" had bombarded Google's servers so fast, so frequently, and in such a volume that it's automated system shut down the keyword.  It wasn't until the term was manually released that users could receive their news on M.J.'s death again.  Google trends described the "Hotness" of the search term as volcanic: http://www.google.com/trends/hottrends?q=michael+jackson+died&date=2009-6-26&sa=X  7 of the top 10 searches had something to do with Michael Jackson throughout the day.

The Michael Jackson Wikipedia page also had to be brought down do to the increased traffic and the bombardment of requests to update the page. 

Bing Isn't Too Friendly to Other Search Engines

June 16, 2009

I found an interesting feature of Bing this afternoon.

First, go to Google and do a search for Bing.  My search found about 47,800,000 results and displayed the first 10.  Now do a search for Yahoo!.  This search turned up about 2,460,000,000 results for me. 

SEO for Bing

June 15, 2009

Hooray another search engine... sorry "decision engine" according to Microsoft.  What's does Bing mean for people like me?  New rules, new headaches, and more importantly new research.  While it's still a fledgling at this point, Bing has sparked enough interest to make me actually care about trying to devote extra effort into gaining ranking somewhere other than Google, which still holds 60% of the search engine market share.

Don't get me wrong, I always try to rank everywhere. 

Poor Web Design

June 12, 2009

What is poor web design?  How can you tell it's not good?  Why does it matter?  How do I fix it?  These are a few of the questions I'm asked on a weekly basis by clients and sponsors. 

Twitter Needs Filters

May 1, 2009

I jumped on the Twitter wagon a month or so ago and like almost everyone else in marketing, I used twitterfeed to abusively spam topics of interest across the Twitter interface in an attempt to gain exposure and social prowess in my field of expertise. I've had a change of heart.

While now unethical in my eyes, my strategy worked.  I basically set my Twitter on auto pilot. My twitterfeed would pull from 5 or 6 of my favorite rss feeds every hour or so. 

Twitter Trash Icon Missing

April 8, 2009

Study Says I'm Wrong About Social Networking In The Workplace

April 6, 2009

So, today I learned something.  Studies from top universities don't apply to the real world.

A recent study from the University of Melbourne has "concluded" that those who surf the Internet for fun during office hours actually increase their productivity.  Read more about their ground breaking research here (yes I rolled my eyes when I typed that, but I refuse to use an emoticon).  Essentially there is conclusive research now that goes completely against one of my earlier entries titled Facebook is Killing Productivity.

Dr Brent Coker, from the Department of Management and Marketing, says that workers who engage in 'Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing' (WILB) are more productive than those who don't.

That quote alone disqualifies this study for me. 

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