The Mender

Metamend's Web Site Optimization and Marketing Newsletter
Issue 7
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Welcome to "The Mender" #7
Happy 2001

Each month we feature tips, tricks and techniques for improving the marketing and promotion of your website, plus breaking news at Metamend and valuable resources for the serious web marketer.

What's New at Metamend?
Welcome to all our new clients! Welcome aboard!

Administrator's Chalk Board: How To Choose the Right Hosting Company for your Website.
- Part 2 FTP Access -
With so many hosting companies on the market - over 5000 under various guises in North America alone, how do you choose the right one for your needs?

If your provider doesn't offer you FTP access, you'll probably want to find one that does. Without access, you are limited to what you can do to your site. Think you would like to add a really cool graphic? Would you like to add a link to a friends page, or to a new alliance partner? Without FTP access, you cannot do any of this yourself.

FTP access stands for File Transfer Protocol. It's one of the oldest and most popular methods of sending files across the Internet and accessing files on remote systems.

It is also the most efficient means of moving files over the Internet. The login consists of knowing the correct address of the destination, and a username and password. The username and password can be global in nature or with strictly limited rights depending on the set-up. FTP access allows you to access the files which make up your website. This includes your HTML files, as well as your CGI scripts.

Most of us will not want to play around with the cgi scripts, that's for the programmer or webmaster to worry about. However, if you want to change a link or a graphic or make basic changes to the layout or look of your site, you will require FTP access. Without it, you are always dependent on others to do your work for you. You will always paying someone else to maintain parts of your website which you are probably more than capable of working on yourself.

Without FTP access, you can never properly do this work yourself. Without FTP access, you're depending on others to make sure your business, which really is a reflection of yourself, is properly presented.

Another important reason to have FTP access is so you can work on your metatags or have a company like ours optimize them for you. FTP access is like having a key to the door. Would you rent a store in the mall and not ask for the key? If you do not have FTP access to the directory where your website is hosted, change hosts!

Next issue: Part III - Allowing outside access - Who should have access to your files?

Webmaster's Corner: If in Doubt, Throw it Out!
Once in a while, you create something so fantastic for your website that you have no choice but to sit back and marvel in your genius. But what happens, say, if you start getting comments like, "Looks good, but what does it DO?", or even worse, "Looks bad, and it's supposed to do what exactly?"

If it's not possible (using your genius-like powers of persuasion) to come to a unanimous decision with your critics, what do you do? Do you persist anyway, hoping they will eventually bend? Or do you give up, hands in the air, and throw a tantrum? I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

In the restaurant industry, there is a little saying in the kitchen, "If in doubt, throw it out!" My opinion is that same logic applies to most aspects of website design. This doesn't mean throw out the whole idea entirely. With graphics and aesthetics, it's hard to convince people what looks good. Often times just changing the color or font size is enough to convince even the toughest critics. It's usually something you "knew" was going to be a problem anyway.

In my opinion, it's far better to give the person who is flipping the bill the benefit of the doubt. You will most likely culture a better relationship with them if you just listen, and they will trust you more. If, on the other hand, you are doing exactly what the client asks for and they still don't like it after two or three attempts, then I always use the above rule... I refer them to another website designer. Remember that if the person you are designing for isn't living up to their end of the bargain, you have just as much right to cut your losses and move on - a valuable lesson I learned the hard way!

Techy Tips: Vitamin C?
If you're confident in languages such as Perl, PHP or CGI you might be thinking "What other languages should I know or learn?" Well, you might be surprised to find that while Perl and PHP are quick and dirty and will likely do most of what you want and need for web based applications, there is another alternative that can improve performance and enhance security - A language called "C."

Have you ever wondered why your web applications can take a long time to execute? Well, this is mainly because your code must be compiled every time it is run. As you might guess, this takes valuable seconds, and can be the difference between quick and lightning fast! Imagine an application consisting of 5000 lines of Perl code - this could take several seconds to compile and then several more to actually execute. The beauty of C is that you create pre-compiled binary executables. In other words, when you call your C code from you web application it doesn't need to be compiled first, just executed. This can shave valuable seconds off load times.

Another added bonus with pre-compiled C code is that the resulting executable is a binary file, meaning the code is encrypted. This prevents anyone from having direct access to your source code - a great security feature to protect proprietary code. So, if you're looking for a way to improve the performance of your web application or tighten security over your code, consider giving your web applications a shot of Vitamin C - I believe you will be very impressed with the outcome.

Web Resource of the Month
This month's featured site: Gebbie Press

A very plain website with a goldmine product, which proves you don't need all the bells and whistles when it comes to marketing your product. Mark Gebbie offers The All-In-One Media Directory. Every Media address in the U.S in text form or on CD ROM. A publicity person's dream. Free marketing tips are available for the asking. Check it out.

Like to see your site featured in a future issue of The Mender?
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Todd Hooge
Director of Operations
Metamend Automated Website Promotion
Toll Free: 1-877-307-2701

Metamend: Innovative web site optimization and marketing service which automatically corrects keywords and meta tags increasing web site relevance and popularity within search engines.