Sunday, February 15, 2009

Track your visitors

If you have a blog or a website, one of the most important things to you is to know how many people are hitting on your website. The more you know the more you can focus on the user when you manage your blog.

Since I am working on my website I needed to put some tracking in.

I hate to use little trackers that show you how many people have been there right on the site. Why would you do that? I don't know. And for many of those you have to pay.

I use Google Analytics. It really is a very useful way to keep track of your site.

It is rather easy to use. I just wanted to be sure, when I put updated the tracking code for blogger that I do it the same way, and found a useful blog to do that with, called CeoXi DeSign.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Web site development - your measuring stick

Anyone who is developing content for the Internet needs to consider who is going to read it, and what they are going to get out of it.

To that end, as I am developing a website, I have done a lot of reading on usability. I am very interested in creating the best website that I can.

There are several URLs that I keep going back to. They are my measuring stick to see if I am on track. I will not say that the website is perfect. Certainly not. But I think it has been very useful to look at things like this. Here are some links to super useful stuff before you publish anything on the Internet, read:

Usability 101: Introduction to Usability
A definitive source of information about making your website work for an audience on the Internet.

50 Web Usability Tips that Help You Attract and Retain Visitors to Your Website
It is on the DoshDosh blog, which itself is worth following if you are serious about your presence on the Internet, especially if you are blogging. Each time I start to work on something big on the Internet, I come back to this post. I find it one of the most useful I have read on the Internet.

The other thing is your own common sense. If you are blogging or doing a website for a specific audience, perhaps you know more about the reading habits of that audience than those 'usability' experts do. If you are in a very academic field, for example, your readers may read more of the content of the website than the norm on the Internet.

Lastly, use your friends. Other's eyes can be great to help you find and weed out the obvious mistakes that you missed. The most important thing to ask them is, did you actually read it all. If not, delete some, make it more readable, break it up more with useful headers and so on.

What I am up to

Well, I haven't done anything to promote this site. It isn't even linked to my profile yet. But somehow people find it. So I must post in it. I was hoping that it would live in a secret corner of the internet until I had put in some really useful posts.

Seriously, I will not post to often. It's more an outlet, and when I have something that I am working on, their will be occasional floods of stuff.

So currently I am building a website. Frantic Naturalist Nature Tours Directory. I am having a lot of fun with it. HTML (and CSS) is so much like Lego blocks. You can build what you like. I hope to at least post a provisional bit of the site by tonight (in about 10 hours from now.) If you live in Africa you become all to aware that many people on the internet are in different time zones. Actually, I guess that goes for a lot of the world??

Anyway, when the website is up, and you would like to have a look, you should find the HTML very fairly easy to understand. I comment a lot. If I use id or class or whatever tags, the names I make up usually make sense (as opposed to stuff done on a html editor.) I coded the whole thing in a text editor (Notepad.) So it is really basic.

It's a really fun website for me to run, as it's sort of a combination of my interests - computer stuff and nature/travel stuff.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The progression

How to get into the whole thing. You want to learn to be a hot shot programmer, but you know nothing about it at all. Or perhaps bits and peaces, but it doesn't fit together.

Everyone is different, and you'll hear different advice, but my recomendation is this.

First, get a blogger account. This is free through Google. You don't really need to know a thing to set it up. Then start to play with it. Set up RSS feeds, maybe place some adds. Start to look at the code, and get a feeling for how it fits together. You can break it, it's okay. It's for learning.

Blogging itself is fun, and can involve advanced programming stuff if you take it all the way.

Then next thing is to learn HTML. This is the mark-up language used by browsers to understand what to write on your page. We'll talk more about it later.

Then get into more web stuff, like CSS and so on.

Now your have had a feel for a bit of how programming might feel, but you haven't really programmed yet. Now it's time to change gears. I recommend the next step should be learning Python. I have made my way well into Python and will share what I have learned.

Then, I think the next step is to learn C++. This is really the serious stuff. From there you really can learn anything.

So, if you want, you can take a wonder with me and this blog, while you work your way through this progression.

Non Nerd Hacking - About

What's our blog all about? It's my journey as a tour guide and nature person, into the world of blogging, computers, internet, web design and some programming.

I am hoping that my journey into this world is of some use to others who are doing the same. I will give you the websites that helped me, advice and perhaps some tutorials. As I fumble my way in, I will try to use this blog to help others by sharing what I have learned.

The main topics to begin with will be:

Blogging, HTML, CSS, PYTHON and C++

Hacking in the sense of serious programming. I am not sugesting that you, or I are yet hackers. Just using the word to refer to getting serious about doing things under the hood on your computer.