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Choosing between JPG, GIF and PNG image types

Calendar Posted 27th August 2010 | Category: Web Design | Feed Icon


These three image types are used throughout websites but understanding when to use each image is essential for having fast website load times and crisp graphics. In this post I will not go into how these images types work but instead just concentrate on when to use them.


JPG (or JPEG) stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. This graphic type is used for images that contain colours blending into each other, for example a gradient fade using multiple colours or a photographic image. It generally creates files of a larger size than gif but smaller than png images. In graphics packages you can usually reduce the quality of a jpg image by up to 20-30% therefore reducing the image file size and see no difference when used in a browser. The main issue with jpg images is that they do not preserve any transparency. Read more...

IE8 cleartype font opacity solution

Calendar Posted 26th August 2010 | Category: Web Design | Feed Icon


One of our current projects required a news ticker that faded in and out with new headlines appearing against a background image. Obviously this is an easy enough effect to implement and relatively quickly, we had a solution in place using the MooTools framework to apply the fade. All seemed fine until we looked at the results in IE8. Firefox, Opera, Safari, IE7 and even IE6 rendered the effect consistently, but IE8 pixelated the font when manipulating the opacity.

It seems that the cleartype anti-aliasing of the font was being removed as the text faded in and out. In the end the solution was simply to tween the colour of the font rather than the opacity. In this instance we could replicate the fade by simply tweening to white and then back to the font colour as we had a solid background behind the text. However, if you had a non-solid background this effect would be more of a headache. Read more...

5 ways to better search engine results

Calendar Posted 24th August 2010 | Category: Web Marketing | Feed Icon


We've been building websites and getting them on search engines for almost 10 years, and we've boiled all that experience down to five simple steps that don't require any technical knowledge.

1. Research your keywords

Don't make assumptions about what search terms people will use to find your website. For a small investment of time and as little as £10, you can find out which are the most popular terms for you to target.

Set up an account with Google Adwords, create a simple ad and add your keywords. You want to be a big fish in a small pond so choose specific keywords that will get you the most relevant customers. Create lots of variations by looking at competitor's websites, thinking of your own list, and using the "Keyword Tool" in your Google Adwords account. Examples for our website would be "web design cheltenham", "website design cheltenham", "web designers cheltenham". Read more...

Designing a Web App

Calendar Posted 23rd August 2010 | Category: Web Development | Feed Icon


Here at Bluelinemedia we're known for our user friendly web development but from time to time we need to be creative and get stuck into Adobe Photoshop/Fireworks.

We currently use an internal web app that allows us to track sales and time spent on individual projects. This gives us a better idea of how much to quote, as well as a handy way of keeping everyone on the same page.

Over the next few months we plan to revamp this software and as part of that I decided a new design was in order. I have played around with web design as a hobby for few years now but had never designed a web app. Read more...

Comparing JavaScript to Flash

Calendar Posted 23rd August 2010 | Category: Web Design | Feed Icon


It used to be so simple - when you wanted to add something more, well, flashy to your website you used Flash. Where JavaScript was clunky, no good at transitions or animation and was riddled with cross-browser inconsistencies, Flash was smooth, presentation rich and as a plug-in was consistent across browsers. However, with the advent of frameworks such as MooTools and jQuery and increasing browser functionality, the decision is no longer straightforward. Perhaps now the starting point when implementing a whizzy feature should be 'why can't we use JavaScript?'.

Statistically speaking

Whilst it's difficult to ascertain accurate figures for both the install base of Flash and the number of browsers with JavaScript enabled, it seems that most sources agree both are available to 90-95% of users. In both instances, it is most likely to be large corporations with locked down internal networks that block both the execution of JavaScript and the installation of 3rd party add-ons. Bearing this in mind there is no in-built advantage in terms of market penetration for either of the two protagonists.


Another area of concern with both methods is the accessibility of content. Flash has a reputation for being rather flaky in this area, but in a lot of instances this is due to lazy production techniques. By the same token, whilst JavaScript manipulates standard HTML, badly-written code and CSS can still obfuscate the accessibility of content. Read more...

Sending SMS text messages from a website

Calendar Posted 17th August 2010 | Category: Web Development | Feed Icon


One of our clients recently contacted us and asked if it were possible to send SMS messages from their website straight to their users.

Knowing that this was possible we we looked into a variety of options and decided to use the services provided by FastSMS.

FastSMS provides not only an online interface to send SMS messages directly from their website but they also provide a feature rich developer API that allowed us to integrate Read more...

What professional experience does a web developer need?

Calendar Posted 13th August 2010 | Category: Web Development | Feed Icon


There are many different skills and experiences required for being a web developer, but if we look at the skills and experiences that we would look for based on the technologies we use.

  • Ideally a developer will have 2 years experience working in PHP, if this is commercial experience then that would be more beneficial
  • Working in frame works
  • Working with MySQL databases, setting up and managing existing databases
  • Basic knowledge of JavaScript
  • xhtml and knowledge of webstandards
  • Good problem solving

Most of the projects we undertake require a team of developers to work together on designated tasks to ensure deadlines are met. A web developer would need to work well in a team as well as on thier own for smaller projects. This also involves good time and task management all contributing to efficiency.

As our work is predominantly technical development there is a low level of graphical knowledge needed, although a good knowledge of Photoshop or Fireworks or a similar graphics editing package in order to rework imagery would be beneficial. Read more...

Why online marketing works better

Calendar Posted 10th August 2010 | Category: Web Marketing | Feed Icon


It's no secret that the trend of advertising spend is moving to the internet (as struggling newspapers and commercial TV stations are well aware). This isn't to say that offline marketing doesn't work, but moving marketing to the internet is about more than just following the audience. Web marketing has several advantages which especially favour the small business.

Timing. When someone searches for your product or service and clicks on a free or paid link on a search engine, you are in the unique and powerful position of presenting your business at exactly the point someone is looking for it. Most advertising is a numbers game, where only a tiny portion of readers or viewers are actually interested in what they see, but with search engine optimisation and pay-per-click advertising, everyone is interested.

Information. Probably the most important marketing tool because it tells you what's working and what's not. Email marketing tools can tell you who's read your email, when they opened it, and even what links they clicked. Google Analytics tells you how your web visitor found you and what actions they've taken. You can decide how to spend your money, and importantly for small businesses, you can start with a low budget and only increase when you know it's working. Read more...

Using frameworks for web development

Calendar Posted 9th August 2010 | Category: Web Development | Feed Icon


Frameworks appear in most programming languages and there is often many different types per language. The idea of a framework is to provide a certain structure that the programmer must follow. This structure will usually include functionality that can just be called upon rather than the programmer having to write it from scratch. A lot of this functionality will be based around the mundane or highly replicated programming tasks enabling the programmer to concentrate on the core elements of the software that is being developed.

Frameworks are incredibly useful and can significantly speed up the development process. Due to the programmer having to follow a specific structure the end product should be a lot easier to maintain, have less bugs and use less code.

One major issue with frameworks is the time it takes to learn them. To get the most out of the framework you need to understand its full capabilities and structure which is very time consuming. They are also often limiting if you have not written it yourself and sometimes you will find yourself using part of the framework and then bolting on your own code. Read more...

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