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Marketing, design, and technical resources for making your digital and print communications more effective.

Google Can Index Flash – But Use With Caution

November 15th, 2010

Google and index FlashGoogle’s ability to “see” text content and links within Flash sites has dramatically improved as a recent post on Google’s Webmaster blog highlights. It used to be that any content and links embedded within Flash were like black holes in terms of visibility and accessibility to Google. However, starting a couple years ago, Google has developed the ability to overcome this limitation and it can now index and follow buttons, menus and hyperlinks coded within Flash.

This is definitely good news, but it’s not a green light to go out and develop you entire Website in Flash. In fact, our strategy for utilizing Flash within Websites has not changed from when it was not viewable at all by Google . . . we  never create a self contained Flash Website but rather use Flash selectively as an option for dynamic content to be embedded within a rich HTML Website framework. This helps insure a  optimal environment for Website performance, accessibility, usability and SEO.

Use Flash with Caution

One of the biggest caveats for using  Flash at all is the hatred that Steve Jobs seems to have for the medium. He is adamant about keeping Flash from working at on the iPhone and IPad which as you know have significant and rapidly growing market share within a high-value demographic. In fact, he personally posted a manifesto against the use of Flash on the Apple Website which is oddly captivating to read.

There are other good reasons for limiting the use of Flash within a Website as well which go beyond the scope of this post. As Website Magazine states in a November 12th article on this same topic:

Flash remains a problematic medium at best for publishing content online. The lack of unique URLs, page titles, link anchor texts and content hierarchy are only some of the common issues and factors that make Flash content far more difficult to classify and work with for search engine optimziers. Compare this with HTML content and it’s obvious that the two cannot compete on a level playing ground.

Conclusion

Regardless of what Steve Jobs might think, there is not one stock answer to the question of whether and to what degree Flash should be utilized on your Website . . . that answer will ultimately depend on a number of factors unique to your situation including the specific functions, goals and user profile of your Website and the alternate options available for dynamic functionality. The most important thing is to work with an informed and objective Web development firm (hey, that sounds like us!) to get a clear and objective picture of the pros and cons of Flash vis-à-vis your specific situation and goals.

Another good reason to get rid of IE 6

October 13th, 2010

The article referenced below provides another compelling reason why you should keep all the Web browsers in your company upgraded to the most recent version of Web browser.

BBC: Two million US PCs recruited to botnets
The US leads the world in numbers of Windows PCs that are part of botnets, reveals a report. More than 2.2 million US PCs were found to be part of botnets, networks of hijacked home computers, in the first six months of 2010, it said. [read full article]

See also these prior blog posts of ours:

Adding HTML email signatures to Gmail

April 9th, 2010

As you may know, Google’s Gmail is the most popular, and arguably best featured, free email service available. One of the challenges that I’ve encountered with it however is its default text-only email signature when composing emails via the Web.

The Best Solution

For Gmail users who would like to utilize graphic/html email signatures, the best solution is to link your Gmail account to a POP client Link opens in seperate window (like Outlook or Entourage). You can then install a custom designed html email signature. If you’re a client of ours the instructions for installing the custom email signature in Outlook or Entourage are posted in our FAQs.

This means of course that to have your custom HTML email signature inserted in outgoing messages, you’ll need to compose those messages using Outlook or Entourage.

If you would still like to use the Web based Gmail as your primary email platform, simply click on “Settings” in your Web Gmail account (in the upper right hand corner), then choose the “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab, and select “Enable POP for mail that arrives from now on” then on the next option select “keep Gmail’s copy in the Inbox”. Make sure and hit the “Save Changes” button when you’re done.

Now all your incoming and sent email (including that you send from Outlook) are accessible on your Gmail Web account. You won’t have to worry about going back and forth from Outlook to the Web to find old emails, they’ll all be on the Web.

Custom Email Signatures When Only Using Web Based Gmail

There are a few existing solutions for achieving this, the best probably being the Better Gmail Firefox extension Link opens in seperate window. The downside here is that this only works with Firefox and with the “older version” of Web based Gmail. The newer Better Gmail 2 Firefox extension for the newest Gmail version (as of 1/9/08) does not seem to offer the email signature feature of its predecessor.

The other existing option is to drag-and-drop/cut-and-paste a section from another open HTML file displaying the formatted text and images of your email signature into the compose window of your Gmail account as described in this post at Digital Inspiration Link opens in seperate window.

Using the Google Tool Bar to Send HTML Emails or to Insert HTML Email
Signatures

A third option that I don’t think is documented on Web anywhere is to utilize the Google Tool Bar’s “Send to” button to send HTML formatting/graphics via Web based Gmail.

Note: I’ve tested this for Firefox on Windows XP and IE7 on Windows Vista. I does not work for me using Firefox on Windows Vista.

Here are the steps:

  1. Download and install the Google Toolbar by visiting: http://toolbar.google.com/ Link opens in seperate window
  2. Close and restart your Web browser.
  3. In Firefox go to “View”, “Toolbars” and make sure there is a checkmark next to “Google Toolbar”. If using IE7 go to “Tools”, “Toolbars” and insure there is a checkmark next to “Google”. You should then see the Google toolbar in your browser, similar to the screen-shot below. Then on the toolbar, go to “Settings”, “Options”, “More” and make sure there is a checkmark by the “Send to” button.

    google toolbar

  4. The HTML file you want to include in your outgoing Gmail message will need to be uploaded to a Web server. If you plan on adding the same HTML to outgoing messages on a regular basis (such as is the case with a HTML email signature) just book mark that URL.
  5. To send a Web based Gmail message with the HTML formatting, open the bookmarked URL (e.g. http://risingline.com/sample.html) then click the “Send to” button on your Google Toolbar and select “Gmail” from the drop down menu. You should see the HTML formatted page, simply type you message above that and hit the “Send” button.

    HTML formated Gmail email

Additional Notes:

If you’re a user sending a HTML page or email signature that was already developed for you, ignore the below.

When coding the HTML page to be sent. Make sure the path to graphics are absolute, insert a non-breaking space in the title tag (otherwise a hyperlink of the page title will appear above the HTML), and add alternate text to images for those email clients that block graphics. Here’s the code used in the above example:

HTML code for Gmail email siganture

Amazon Ends Support for Internet Explorer 6

March 17th, 2010

As an addendum and emphasis to my recent post about importance of upgrading from IE 6, Amazon posted the following announcement to their seller accounts on March 11th:

Internet Explorer 6 no longer supported

Mar 11, 2010

We would like to inform you that as of the end of March 2010, we will no longer develop Seller Account pages to be compliant with Internet Explorer 6.

Internet Explorer 6 is no longer supported by Microsoft and is widely considered to be obsolete. It has multiple security flaws and is considerably slower than recent browsers.

This decision allows us to use all modern web development technologies and create an up-to-date user experience.

Although existing seller tools might continue to work for some time with older browsers, if you are still using Internet Explorer 6, we strongly recommend updating your browser to a more recent version now to make sure all Seller Account pages work properly on your computer.

If you are unsure which browser version you are running or how to update your brower, please contact your local system administrator or help desk for assistance.

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