I’ll never forget the day I discovered Wordle. Colourful, uniquely arranged words, sized according to popularity… beautiful!

In September 2007 WordPress 2.3 launched with tagging built-in. The WordPress tag clouds are a great core feature but fall well short of looking as good as Wordle clouds.

Fancy looking tag clouds aren’t for everyone but if you feel your WordPress tag clouds are looking a bit ordinary, read on.

A few weeks ago I met with programmer Neil E. Pearson to discuss a need to make WordPress tag clouds look like Wordle clouds. Collectively, we produced FatCloud. We are in beta release and are seeking help from other WordPress tag cloud users to iron out any bugs before we officially submit it as a plugin to WordPress. Please download and install FatCloud using the link below. We look forward to your feedback.

Download and add FatCloud as a WordPress plugin : http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/netlifes-tag-cloud-fatcloud/

Our flash tag cloud plugin ships with a few skins for you to choose from however you may like to create your own. For those wishing to create their own skin we have made available the .fla and supporting .as files, available as a developer pack here : Developer Pack. Note: font files are not included in the developer pack. While the fonts used in our skins are free to use, it was not known for certain whether we would be entitled to offer them as a download from our website.

FatCloud Example

FatCloud by Netlife

FatCloud Settings

FatCloud Settings

FatCloud Settings

Wordle Theme Settings

Wordle Theme Settings

Wordle Theme Settings

Synchronise customer (or client) contact information between Harvest and Highrise APIsThere appears to be an online application for everything these days… and thank goodness for that. 37signals have charged ahead and produced some wonderful online applications such as Basecamp, Backpack and more recently Highrise – a relatively lightweight CRM for small business. And if you are looking for a trusted time-tracking and invoicing application, try Harvest by Iridesco.

Small businesses often don’t have the budget to pay for an all-in-one accounting, project management and CRM package. Instead, small businesses often outlay nominal monthly amounts for 2 or 3 online applications, typically offered by different companies. While this is a very cost effective solution, one must not forget that significant time must then be spent updating common information across the chosen applications. The information most common across applications for business, is customer (or client) contact information.
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Links are the fabric of the web.

In this post I discuss the importance of link styling, and in particular, text links. I emphasise that link styles form a core prerequisite in designing a great user experience.

Users love well designed link styles

But lets not kid ourselves… users are unlikely to turn to their friends in a bar and say ‘did you see those links, they were hot’. No, but they might say ‘That website is great’. In many cases a website is ‘great’ because it is easy to use, with well designed, intuitive link styles.

Users want the following things from a link style:

  • links should be easy to recognise : a user should be able to quickly and easily scan and identify links within a web page
  • links should be responsive : links with hover states provide further visual confirmation that the text is a link
  • links should communicate behaviour : if a link is pointing to an external site, than the link should be styled in a way that indicates this

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An indoor Meraki wireless access pointI recently took delivery of a Meraki access point. I didn’t really need another access point but the hype eventually got to me. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what it would do. All I knew, was what I had been told…

If all this talk doesn’t yet have you convinced, then maybe my experience with a Meraki will. Read the rest of this post »

It has been hard in the past to publish video on the web reliably, for a number of reasons, low bandwidth being the larger of the limiting factors. But there are many more users with fat bandwidth and big monthly quotas then there were 12 months ago. In November 2006 Australia’s largest internet provider Telstra, launched ADSL2+ and uncapped its ADSL1 services. Accordingly, the appetite for broadband has grown. Various reliable sources report :

  • internet usage increased by 4% in 2007 to 74% of the population (ITU)
  • there are approximately 5 million broadband connections australia-wide (OECD)

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It’s now been 12 months since the release (via automatic updates) of Internet Explorer 7 (IE7). 79% of visitors to our client sites are using an Internet Explorer browser (a reduction of 3% from when last we posted stats 9 months ago). Firefox achieved a 14% penetration.

Browser penetration breakdown across Fatpublisher client sites:

Internet browser penetration statistics

Internet explorer version 6 versus 7 :

Internet explorer version 7 vs 6

And for the screen resolution junkies:

screen resolution usage statistics

Until next time… happy designing, happy programming.

Google bought Urchin Web Analytics in 2005. Since then we have seen some major changes to the original Urchin software. Earlier this year Google upgraded their analytics offering significantly. Google Analytics is now a very popular and powerful website reporting tool.

Fatpublisher have up until now offered a customised version of webalizer to all clients. We now simply recommend and configure Google Analytics accounts. Webalizer continues to be available however we have found that as soon as our clients begin using Google Analytics they very rarely refer to webalizer anymore. Read the rest of this post »

We are always looking for ways of accurately reporting the success of websites in the search engines. Screen scraping the search engine result pages is not always an option since they often lock you out after a certain number of queries. We devoted some time to developing a web based log analyser that charts the number of referrals from the major search engines: Google, Yahoo and Live Search.

Check it out, feedback welcome : siterake

Siterake Sample Report

Ever heard a radio announcer read out a website address “double u double u double u dot sydney restaurants dot com dot au”. It really takes a very long time to say ‘www’. So why do it? Why do we put a ‘www’ on the front of a domain name if everyone has it? The time has come for web hosts and site owners to drop the ‘www’. By all means, still allow people to reach your site using ‘www’ but make the necessary changes to your server settings (.htaccess etc) and redirect the ‘www’ to the blank host record equivalent.

Read more about how to do it here: www is deprecated

We have recently began submitting forms via AJAX rather than the traditional full page load approach. It is working very well. The challenge now though is to make this approach as accessible as possible and set focus correctly when the returned markup is rendered. So much to consider! But rather than discuss accessibility here, I thought I’d offer for general consumption some AJAX activity loaders for use in your next wizz bang application. Read the rest of this post »

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