Archive for June, 2006

30Jun

Webpage Validation is a wonderful thing – making sure that your webpage says what you want it to say. Which brings up the need for standards whereby a validation, for adherence to these workable rules (standards), can be done. Every technology and language has standards, and IT’s have to keep up with terrific changes. The standards have to reflect W3c’s goals – trying to make a more workable system from the chaos of new developments, but without slowing the trial of new developments in a development-driven world.

Validating a website is the process of ensuring that the pages on the website conform to the norms or standards being used. Validation is important and will ensure that your web pages are interpreted in the same way (the way you want it) by various machines, such as search engines, as well as users and visitors with different browsers and settings, etc.

Conforming to standards and regulations is one of the many ways you can make your website universally understood, your codes and styles validate across the board. That means they have to meet the “strict” standards set by the W3C Organization and pass a variety of validation tests for CSS and XHTML.

Not all validators check for the same things. Some only check CSS, others XHTML, and others for accessibility. If you really want to present standardized pages to the public, test them with several validators. The World Wide Web Consortium hosts a variety of web page validators.

In simple terms, validation ensures that your website complies with the standards accepted by most web designers. Which means that your website will be accessible to more people – a hallmark of good web design practice. So having a validated website has its good points.

Validators detect problems in your web page and style sheet. It could be a tag that was opened and never closed. It could be a misspelled piece of code or forgotten element that the tag or style requires to work properly. You become a detective, hunting and solving the little problems, but the validators make that job a lot easier. Or, you could just ask your friend to tell you how it looks on their monitor.

I wanted to check with webpage templates providers to see if their pages validate. I decided to ask at BoxedArt.com and Templatica.com, although I haven’t purchased anything from either of them. Templatica stated that all their templates validate. With BoxedArt I had to submit a “ticket” to ask the question by email form, to which I have gotten no answer. I have recently purchased a WordPress Template and a Webpage template from Template Monster and put them through the validation pages at W3C.org. Both templates went through without a single problem and Template Monster states all their templates validate.

The devil’s in the details, but so are the answers, all you template people.

Arthur Browning

29Jun

I believe Free Templates Online wants our business. They are giving away a very nice business template, one of the new and frequently added templates that they provide.

“Premium Quality. Professional looking. Ready-to-use. Easily customized. Absolutely free of charge. Our aim is to become the best and the most popular free templates resource ever to be
found online. And we are very close to achieving that.� Free Templates Online goes on to say that they add one or two free templates each week.

Another comment here: “25% discount for Template Monster products – action prolonged until midnight 6/29/2006. Yesterday we announced a joint promo action for our newsletter subscribers. Show us the web page created with our free template and receive a 25% discount for a premium quality professional web template from Template Monster – a world-renowned template provider.â€? Then TM explains “we were pleased to receive 53 responses – our templates seem to be really popular. Everyone who showed us the web page designed from our template received a coupon for 25% discount on any of Template Monster’s products.â€?

However: “ . . .we received several messages today from the people saying that their e-mails were bounced back when they tried to apply for the discount. We’ve investigated that and made a decision to prolong the discount till midnight 6/29/2006 to make the chances equal to everybody who wanted to participate.â€? So, today’s your last day for the 25% discount.

More information is available on FreeTemplatesOnline.

I believe they deserve some credit for offering real value in Webpage Templates.

Arthur Browning

28Jun

I do my share of shopping – and buying – as a dedicated consumer in the great economic scheme of our country and world. When I buy anything I usually get what I pay for. But, after you’ve been around the block a few times you know that not everything is as good as it looks. Templates are no exception. If you feel the product is unworkable, or clumsy you have to think about what you expect from a product – or a seller. Technical products and services based on them always need tech support and customer care. How much or how effective it is makes a lot of difference to a lot of buyers.

Some webpage templates can be easily adapted to one project and not another. Designers, and amateurs as well, are faced with the constant appearance and demand for new products or systems. Learning to use these products – even if they are as dependable as they are said to be – is time consuming. In addition to technical complexity the designer faces the unexpected – or in this case the unmentioned problems or exaggerated performance of any given template.

This means customer care and tech support become the last stop before real frustration – and finding a new template vendor. How do customer care departments stack up? I would like to know YOUR opinions – please send them. I see various reports on customer satisfaction from time to time – I have heard about Dell’s legendary support, on which I can personally report 100% satisfaction. But Webpage Templates will be purchased many more times than a single computer system.

I recently received a report – old business actually – that would typify the kind of complaining everybody hears about tech support (or non-support) and customer care indifference. In these notes you see familiar frustrations. In fairness I believe there are always at least two sides to any story, so I contacted Boxed Art . They emailed back a response:
” . . . If this is legitimate, then this person would have a ticket number by which I can search for the user, however your ticket is currently the oldest unanswered ticket in our system, so it is not possible that this user submitted a ticket requesting support and did not receive a response. As for the second posting . . . all terms and conditions are stated up front on BoxedArt. As for what BoxedArt’s terms are, they require users to use the templates as a starting point for clients, which does require changing the look of the templates, as otherwise users could simply download and distribute the templates under the guise of ‘client work’. No changes are required on templates when users use the tem[plates for their own websites. . .”

We all draw our own conclusions, and I have added one, based on one of the complaints, by Hateripoffs “. . . There are no phone numbers to call, and no one but an email form to write to. I’ve been sending them multiple requests and still nothing. So be aware… I will never purchase online without a person to talk to. Should’ve known better. . . ” .

In retrospect I must add that the biggest problems I have encountered have come from companies without a phone.

Arthur Browning

27Jun

Same colors, centered text areas, larger print – I feel better. Let’s see how it goes.
Arthur Browning

27Jun
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Not so Best Laid Plans

I decided the new skin had great color but poor readabilty and feel. So I am redesigning the skin and may be done soon. Meanwhile please be comfortable with the old skin.

Arthur Browning

26Jun

Everybody wants a bargain. Why not? So what about BULK Templates? I thought it might be a good idea to review these bulk templates offers because many template sellers have them. I’ve been shopping again, just to get the best deals on bulk webpage templates. Results are a bit sketchy. In fact, dear readers, I need your feedback, as a sort of poll, as to who is reputable out there and who is not so reputable. After searching the web and thoroughly going over the websites of nine sellers of “Bulk” webpage templates I am left with a lot of questions.

There is evidently a huge range in pricing: from “10,000 templates for $19.95″ to “15 for $300″

There is a lot of variance in display of samples of the Bulk packages on various seller websites. Some show a few thumbs with no enlargements and some say you can select from the entire stock of templates for one year’s membership.

There is a lot of variance in information available about the templates before you have to “buy” the templates or pay for a membership. Some sellers give specific details of a few pages, others give no details – just a bulk number, others state how many of this type and how many of another type are included in the package. None of them gave me the kind of info I would want to make a purchase, unless I was prepared to take a risk at a one time purchase.

I have recently read complaints from some buyers of bulk packages of webpage templates that the membership was cut short, that the templates had poor coding, that licensing was in question, that they had to be customized in major ways to avoid infringments, etc. So far, I haven’t seen reports on seller support effectiveness, but I would like to see that.

My conclusion on Bulk packages is that I need recommendations. We need to share some experiences in bargain buying.
So please READERS send me a comment as to how your Bulk package purchase went – I will publish it. I believe all readers will appreciate this kind of information as much as I would.

Arthur Browning

23Jun
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More Freebies!

Happily, there are more sources for freebies on the web. As I was searching along for Webpage Templates I found three in particular that seemed to offer the most choice.

Free Templates Online offers 60 different Webpage Templates. They are attractive and easily downloaded. By the way, they offer about 8 WordPress themes too.

Open Web Design offers 1645 different Webpage Templates. Some are attractive, many by amateurs or new designers, but they downloaded easily.

OSWD offers 1688 different Webpage Templates. Most are by new designers, some amateurs. These downloaded easily as well.

Many of the amateur and new designs would make it for small personal websites but would probably be a questionable choice in the eyes of a for-profit organization, and might not project a “professional” image for the viewer.

Arthur Browning

23Jun

Well, I think a blog about Website Templates has to to be template conscious. And besides I felt the old one was routine in appearance. After all we need to be interesting but easy on the eyes for you visual-others. I can’t say I have the bottom line on aesthetics but a fella has gotta try.

So, tell me, how does it look? If you want to comment just describe your blog reading experience and don’t hold back. I chose this WordPress theme for several reasons: easy on the eyes, interesting contrast in colors and light versus dark areas between articles,
good spatial considerations. Yes, I looked around and I got a killer deal at Template Monster on WordPress theme#11296 at templatemonster.com.

The transaction and download went very smoothly with Template Monster and customer support was right there with me the whole way. Hope your shopping experience is just as much fun.

Arthur Browning

22Jun

The web can be a beautiful place. But to some of us there are fears involved: wasting time, being told we need a suspicious download, being given too many ambiguous choices. For the novice this is a bad scene, especially if transmission is slowed. Flash Intros offer a lot visually, but there can be a wait, or a download, or (drat!) an ambiguous choice to make.

To weigh the values and offsets of Flash Intros don’t forget the novice or those cursed with slow hardware. It’s true that most designers are sensitive to these matters, but a customer needs to know his limitations, or his website’s limitations. Customers who come with a Flash Intro request, full of sound and fury, may later rue the traffic reports.

How does a designer break the news? Check out this article and then weigh the differences. State of the Art Flash Intros can be found at 2advanced.com or neostream.com, just look at their portfolios or customers for Flash Intro at its finest. Two of 2advanced.com client Flash Intros are at Ford and at City of Weston. Two of Neostream’s client Flash Intro websites are at Samsung and at James & Taylor. And, if money is a factor then consider a Flash Intro Template (click here to view the theme). Template Monster has 184 hot choices that are priced right. Here are two examples of TemplateMonster’s Flash Intro templates: flash intro #10806 (available here) and flash intro #6454 (available here).

And Flash is afterall read equally well by all browsers.

God Bless those “skip intro” and “non-flash version” buttons and the designers who add them. And remember that Flash is in the eye of the beholder.

Arthur Browning

21Jun

Charity concerns are growing in number and by web presence in this kinder, gentler world we find ourselves. Probably due in part to increased media coverage of almost any specific or newly discovered problem in the world. There are plenty of websites that inform and solicit for donations or other involvement with charity organizations. Yes, I had to do it, find Website Templates for charities.

I did not realize how saturated the web has become with charitable organization pages. Charitable organizations certainly need to inform donors of their mission and convey honest dedication to get funding. The web is important to this kind of activity, and it provides a cost effective means to accomplish these goals. Speaking of cost effective, who is providing templates to the web designers employed by charities? The results of a quick search are listed below:

  1. Template Monster has a NEW category, Charity web templates, offering 18 visually attractive templates, great prices.
  2. Template Rover has no “Charity” category but under “Organizations and Associations” there are 6 or 7 templates that might be workable.
  3. Boxed Art has no “Charity” category but offers 1 with or without Flash.

Charity website designers can rest a little easier at night now.

Arthur Browning

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