20 Years a Web Developer

Twenty years ago this month — and very possibly this week, though I’m not 100% certain of that — I entered into the very nascent industry of digital marketing. At the time, the project had been little more than a simple idea, something to possibly prove my own abilities, a problem that sort of needed solving. And yet, little did I know at the time, it would send me down a long and sometimes disturbingly windy path.

It’s also a milestone where one does need to consider … well, everything. Honestly, a bit of reflection and introspection is needed from time to time, but the decade markers seem to have a certain extra amount of importance. Though to be honest, that’s just a perceived thing; there’s no legal or social reason that I’m aware of. It’s more about having a well-defined chunk of time to really take that step back and say:

“Ye gods I’m getting old…”

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Marketing Red Herring: QR Codes

I’m in digital marketing. I spend a lot of time dealing with ways of people visit websites to get them to spend money. (That’s the short version. The really short, and moderately soul-suckingly depressing version. The long version is … an entire career.) So I deal with a lot of different ideas, tools, methodologies, and directions that — in theory — make everyone’s lives easier.

Every so often, we get hit with buzzwords. Sometimes, they’re tech-related, like DHTML, AJAX, and HTML5 (remember, I deal with these things every day — I know what they really mean). Sometimes, they’re things like “progressive enhancement” or “responsive design” (yes, buzzwords — they can grossly over-simplify reality). And then there’s the Big Shiny™ stuff that distracts from simplicity.

Let me tell you a few things about QR Codes

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Why you should use Google Analytics

For anyone out there trying to do any form of semi-serious work on the internet (notably with websites), you often end up asking yourself: is what I’m doing having any effect whatsoever? It’s an important question — especially if there are monetary values attached to the work you’re doing — and it’s not always the easiest one to answer.

That’s where analytics packages come in handy. They can tell you who is visiting your site, where they’re from, what browser they’re using, their navigation path, search terms, etc. From a metrics perspective, it’s  indispensable  information. And there’s a lot of packages that’ll help you get all that.

But only one of them will get you into Google’s search index almost instantly.

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2010, A Year in Review

Man, it feels like a year ago since I last wrote one of these … oh, wait.  (Yes, it’s a stupid joke. You should know me by now…)

2010 was the year we made contact … wait, sorry, wrong catchline. 2010 was the year my family welcomed new members, notably my youngest, a daughter (code)named Choo Choo. It was a year I changed my career outlook (yes, again), and found that I’m not (completely) useless. This was a year of family, for me, and that’s perhaps the most important aspect.

But despite all that, I hesitate to call it “a year of change”.

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Get Geeqee

Back at the beginning of the year, I took a different direction in my career. Until December, I’d been a career man — work for one company. Work your butt off, be the cog in the machine, and do the best you could to stay safe. It was what I knew, and it generally worked well. Or rather, worked me well. (I’m sure you know what I mean…)

Things changed, and I went the route of contracting, something I hadn’t really done since I left university. Initially, it was with my friends over at Evans Hunt Group. The result was VisitCalgary.com. Since then, I opted to take a vacation, and now it’s time for me to get my own little consultancy off and running.

It’s time for me to Get Geeqee.

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Visit Calgary: You’re Very Welcome!

When we returned from Costa Rica, our plans had been pretty simple: take off the month of December to get settled, and then head back to work in January. Plans changed shortly after arriving back home, and suddenly I found myself without a job. Bills still had to be paid, food purchased, and because we live in a city that is far too unfriendly to public transit, we also had to buy a car.

A few years ago, this probably would have put me into a panic. And a few years ago, it would have been just me to worry about. Now I have a wife and two kids (well, one at the time, and one on the way) to support. Really, that should have put me off the deep end. Having lived through a significant amount of adversity over the last couple of years, though, I found myself not even concerned about the prospect of unemployment.

I attribute that to having kept contact with just the right people.

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How to move your website

Okay, so you have a website. But somewhere along the line, you’ve realised you need to change your hosting vendor. It could be any number of a million reasons: Your company got really successful and your old vendor can’t handle the load, your old vendor closed down, your old vendor is a shady bastard and you don’t trust them anymore, and so forth.

So here’s the scary part: How do you move your website without the fear of losing business? It’s not overly complicated, but unlike launching your website for the first time, moving your website has a number of dependencies, and you should do certain things in a certain order.

It’s not too hard, but you need to be patient. And careful…

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How to host your own website (the simple version)

I’ve been around this internet thing for a long time, and I’ve set up probably far more than my share of websites (both for myself and my clients). After a while, setting up websites becomes largely a by-rote-memory thing and you don’t have to put a lot of effort into it.

But that belittles the reality: it’s not really that easy to set up a website if you have no idea how it’s done. And let’s be honest, here, I’m not talking about MySpace. I’m talking about using your own domain name (e.g. mytotallyawesomewebsite.com)  as a way of branding yourself, your message, and hopefully standing out from the crowd.

One thing I can assure you, though: it’s also not that hard. Really.

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