31 Jan 2018

Why redirects are so important in website redesigns

When websites are redesigned or restructured, one mistake I come across a surprising amount of the time is a failure to use redirects properly. I’ve recently seen this happen on a large, authoritative website for a public sector body. Why are redirects important? Well, when a website changes the address of content or a resource, often as a result of a redesign, then existing links to those resources from other websites, search engines, and social media platforms, will break – unless a redirect is put in place. For example, a webpage address may change from: www.examples.guide/important
08 Sep 2017

How big is your union website in 2017?

A couple of years ago, I looked at the sizes of the websites of all the TUC affiliated unions, to see how they compared. I’ve found myself coming back to this analysis quite often. Various unions have wanted an idea of how large their website is compared to others, or have wanted to judge how their website has changed since a redesign. As a result, I thought it would be useful to update these metrics. For the sake of this comparison, only pages publically indexed in Google are included. It is impossible to include members’ only pages, so please be aware of this limitation. Also, some pages may
14 Jun 2017

The rise of the semantic web

If ten years ago you were asked what the next major trend in website design would be, not many people would have mentioned ‘responsive design’. With the iPhone yet to be launched and the iPad another three years away, people were still happily building websites that worked on a fixed size. It took quite a few years for website development companies to start adopting the practice of making websites that automatically adjusted to the screen size, a now well-established technique called responsive design. Throughout that time, I saw some organisations spend large sums on websites that missed this
30 Mar 2016

Beware the Google personalised search trap

I do quite a lot of work on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), which is the art of helping websites appear as high as possible in search engine results. Sometimes this is because a company wants to sell more of their products or services, as appearing higher in search results usually leads to more visits and sales. Other non-profit organisations, such as unions, recognise that performing well in search engines means wielding greater influence on the internet, the dominant medium for retrieving information and news. In order to judge how well a website is performing, most people will simply
08 May 2012

Search Engine Optimisation & trade unions

I’ve been doing a lot of work on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) recently. It’s a skill that is growing in demand as more and more organisations realise how much traffic they can generate through search engines. Having worked at Prospect and still working with union clients regularly, I thought I’d take a look at how effectively trade unions in the UK optimise their websites for search engine traffic. For those of you unfamiliar with Search Engine Optimisation, it’s the art of making a website appear as high as possible in the ‘organic’ search engine results. This is as opposed to the
06 Mar 2012

Can you Google ‘privacy’ please?

There has been a lot of coverage recently regarding Google’s new privacy policy. The company will now have access to more data regarding the searches individuals make; information they will use to target adverts aimed at each user. However, campaigners and governments alike have raised concerns about the implications for privacy and the legality of the move. Google have been collecting information about our searches for a long time now, and already use it to target the adverts that we see. So what’s changed in the privacy policy? Basically, Google are merging all the results from their
15 Feb 2012

Now YaCy it!

Google dominates the search market. Bing has made an impression and Yahoo still has a loyal following, but Google is king, especially in the West. However, a new search engine has just been launched, and it does things differently. The new search engine is called YaCy (pronounced “Ya See”). Heavily backed by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), an organisation that advocates digital rights and online freedom, YaCy aims to de-centralise search by using a ‘peer to peer’ approach. It’s not just a website you visit; YaCy is a piece of software that you can choose to install to become part
21 Oct 2010

Too much of a good thing?

For many of us, technology has changed our lives considerably over the last few years, most noticeably through the use of the internet. But has technology also changed our minds? There is a growing belief that our dependence on the Internet is affecting the way we think and even the fabric of our brains. Nicholas Carr brought this to prominence with an article in Atlantic magazine entitled ‘Is Google Making Us Stupid?’ (July/August issue, 2008). His argument wasn’t that the search engine itself was affecting our intelligence, but rather our concentration and the way we now access and use
06 May 2010

Google News, Bing and Wolfram Alpha

The web is huge, and it’s growing all the time. There’s a lot of useful information out there, as well as a lot of junk. But how can you find what you want? That’s where search engines come in. Internet search engines have been around since 1990, when ‘Archie’ was first created by Alan Emtage. There had been a central list of webservers held at CERN, but it simply could not keep up with the number of new websites, and so the internet search engine was born. Archie was soon followed by other systems like Gopher and Web Wanderer. In the early days of the web there were also Search Directories