Browsing the Internet, whether for business or personal aims, can be rewarding, entertaining, enlightening and downright fascinating. Unfortunately it can also be a negative experience - not only because of the amount of dubious material and 'in your face' advertising.
Let's look at a few examples where the browsing pleasure can be marred.
1) Between 25% and 33% of Internet users have their screen resolution (the number of dots across and down the screen) set to 800 x 600. For sites that have pages greater than 800 pixels in width, viewers have to scroll horizontally - something we don't like doing.
Although the majority of the rest have 1024 x 768 resolution screens, an increasing number (currently 10%) have still bigger screens. Many sites are fixed in width at 800 pixels. People viewing them on larger screens often end up looking at blank areas of their monitors whilst the web page sits in the top, left-hand corner. If these sites adopted 'fluid' designs, where the content wraps to fill the available space, instead of fixed-width designs we'd see a better use of screen space. As it's easier to design for fixed width web pages though, that's what we often get.
2) I've got broadband, and so have the majority of other businesses in the UK. That's not the case with home web surfers though. Although the number is dropping daily, between 70% and 75% of UK home Internet users still use modems to connect. For them, Flash, multimedia and sound are just a pain in the backside. If your target market is the general consumer, be careful with what you put on your site. If you're selling to other business users you have much more scope.
3) With the increase in the use of popups, banner ads, tracking cookies and spyware it's no wonder that Internet users are arming themselves with an increasingly sophisticated set of counter-measures. Microsoft and other browser companies are moving in to help them too with a variety of updates to the current and future versions of Windows. If your site uses any of these methods you need to be looking at alternative methods to get your message across or to track your visitors' actions.
In this edition of the newsletter I'm going to look at e-mail marketing and specifically newsletters. I'll talk about some of the benefits and you can see how it's done. Click here for the full article marketing via e-mail and newsletter.
Business news magazine - The latest Business Essentials magazine is now available on Business Link's web site. It's also available in printed form. You can subscribe on-line at the site. This edition has articles on exporting, late payments, making customer relationships count and Internet fraud. They have a related, electronic-only publication called E-link.
Sharing Broadband - If you want to share your broadband connection around your home or office, you can do it for less than £100. This buys you a wireless router or gateway for providing the link between the broadband connection and the home network. In addition you get at least two wireless network cards to fit PCs or portable/laptops. If you already have a broadband modem then you only need a wireless router. If not, you can buy a wireless gateway that incorporates the modem. You may be restricted to certain models depending on whether you have ADSL (BT etc) or cable (NTL/Telewest etc). Details can be obtained from most computer suppliers such as Scan, Ebuyer and Novatech.
Aerial views of locations - If you've used sites like Multimap, Map24 or Streetmap to find a location or directions, you might have come across the facility to see an aerial view. In the same vein, Google have launched a similar facility with . Although it's a US-based site, their coverage of the UK is quite good, albeit a little uneven. You might find that some rural areas are covered in greater detail than some towns and cities!
Tip 1: Ever wondered how a web server works? Here's an article that explains it.
Tip 2: If you're au fait with the optimisation of your site for Search Engines you'll already know the importance of inbound links - those from other web sites to yours. This article explains it in a non-technical way.
Tip 3: When you need to capture images or screenshots from your PC, here's the perfect tool. Snagit allows you to vary what you capture from the screen and how, and let's you output it in a number of ways including, saving to disk or clipboard and printing. It costs only $39.99 and can be downloaded.
Tip 4: For those wanting photos for your web site, brochure, marketing material etc, it's possible to get them taken by a professional. It's also possible to buy some from professional photography sites. The first option might be the best but is usually (relatively) expensive. The same can be true of photos bought from professional photographer's sites. An alternative is to get them from one of the many stock photography sites. The photos are usually provided royalty-free. This means that when you've paid to download the photo, you need pay no more and there's often no restriction as to how you use the photo. Istockphoto are one of the best of these and charge between $1 (yes, one dollar) and $3 per photo depending on it's quality.
Tip 5: At some point you'll come across an Internet term that you don't understand. When that happens, try my Internet Glossary and see if it helps.
Contact Grill Company
You'll have come across the George Foreman range of 'healthy eating grills' so if you can imagine one of them on steroids, you'll have a good idea what a commercial contact grill is. Clive's been selling contact grills for over 10 years and can now count some of the big high street names as his customers. Anyone who caters for staff or customers and needs food cooked quickly will appreciate how a professional contact grill can benefit them.
Not everyone needs the build quality and longevity of the top of the range grills so there are a variety of types and sizes of grills on offer. Although essentially the same thing, Panini grills are also a popular seller. Panini grills have the ribbed cooking plates on one or both surfaces to give the finished item that familiar, striped look. Clive also offers waffle grills/bakers too. They are used to produced the belgian-style waffles seen on breakfast tables and, with the right cooking plates, ice cream cones.
Clive and I met at an FSB networking dinner. It was the only dinner I ever saw him at so it worked out well for the both of us. He's planning to sell other commercial catering equipment and the web site is in development as we speak. The trouble is, Clive's too successful with the Contact Grills to be able to finish it! Ah well, there's something to be said for success.
If you provide food for staff or the public, why not give Clive a call on - or visit his web site at www.contact-grill-company.co.uk/