Not a nobody no more

A long time ago I wrote a post with a question.. how do people find the way to my blog (and why would they want to find my blog as it contains mostly personal stuff)? At that time I had a vague notion about search engine optimisation – SEO – but no real knowlege. I read up on a few things, saw the numerous amount of scams around that promiss top rankings within hours and I also read that in this day and age Google pagerank is less important in terms of search engine visibility than it used to be. So I mothballed my thoughts on SEO.

Then we started with our tutorial site Of course it is no fun to write tutorials if no one ever reads them. So I read up again, found some very useful pages explaining that SEO is no magic but mainly comes down to a good layout, good content and hard work. I just made sure that the template on VSD was as friendly for the human reader as for the search engine bot – I checked the generated XHTML with the text browser Lynx. As the site runs on Joomla! I enabled mod_rewrite on the server and installed the latest GPL version of sh404SEF to create search engine friendly – SEF – links to all pages.

I started to add page specific meta tags – apparently also less important these days – but I figured it takes minimum effort and won’t harm. I did *NOT* write keyword targeted articles. I absolutely see no use in luring people to a site finding a generic 250 word article that appears as a useful site in the search engine results but contains only superficial information. What I did was the otherway around – I wrote an article, a tutorial, and cherry picked a few keywords from that article and put those in the meta fields. I have not optimized my articles and keywords, which is an effort that I should start about now too.

Link building is another effort – and I can tell you that I suck at it. I am in general way to busy to go around and put my name and website in a zillion other blogs. But I do follow quite a few good blogs and where I thought comments were appropriate I added them using full details. I then also learnt about “do follow” and “no follow” links. VSD has “no follow” links by default in the comments section, so has this site. But I am contemplating in changing that. The comments on both sites are moderated and if someone with a website to cheap crap links with an unrelated comment or just “awesome” – I am free not to publish it 😀 – in the mean time it would allow me to link properly to sites that are useful and do contribute to a better web.

Anyways.. there is now a nice daily flow of visitors to This is mainly because of the Spiro Swirls tutorial for Inkscape – which has been visited over 28000 times – the site got noticed and some awesome sites linked to either the homepage or directly to the tutorial page. The Alexa ranking is going up daily, and since this week we have a Google Page Rank of 4 on the Very Simple Designs home page and quite a few tutorial pages. The index page for tutorials and other resource pages such as Photoshop Brushes got a PR of 3. And the funny thing is that this blog receives more visitors too, altho the number is quite modest and it got a PR of 2. I am not a nobody anymore (at least not according to Google’s pagerank algorithm).

Exciting week and more coming…

Job Hunting

I really enjoy my life in Oz and I have enjoyed extreme freedom in doing freelance work and creating our resources site And whilst my partner encouraged me to continu my solo ventures, I thought it would be good to look around for a cool job that at least brings in some steady money too. I am a bit too picky to relay on others for that – tho my partner keeps telling me that is the sole reason why some girls marry. Well.. I am a kinda independent girl I guess. Anyways, we talked it over and he told me please don’t go for a high profile job again, you will be all stressed and forget to enjoy life and sure will have no more time for all the cool creative things you do now. So I started looking around for a job that would teach me new things, allow me to develop some skills further and would consider me even tho I might be unqualified for some things (skills that are not much developed yet) but overqualified for others (work that I have done for many years and can do during sleep).

Web Designer/Developer

After a few days I came across an advertisement for a junior web developer/designer for a very company that is known for its search engine optimization work. I have done quite some website design and development, but on a different platform and mainly to provide access portals to adminstrative information systems. So this would be a new area, developing for WordPress and most exciting – learning more about SEO optimization. I wrote a lengthy application letter, included my CV and said there might be a win-win situation – and yes I know it is an entry level job – money isn’t everything (not in my book anyways). We talked about it, I got a technical interview and I ended up with a new job. The very cool thing about this job is that there is no office, except for a virtual one. That cuts 10+ hours travel time out of the working week and should leave me enough time to continu creative work. The contract says that I am bound to work for them exclusively and not to undertake any work in a competitive field – so the freelancing webdesign is put on hold.

Cute Kittens

Also as you may remember our cute cat passed away last month. There was a litter of kittens at a neighbour’s house and my mate came home a few weeks ago and asked carefully if I would be interested in one of those little critters. I thought it would be a bit too soon, but I had to confess I miss a cat around the house. I grew up with cats and have held cats almost all my life. Last Saturday it became clear that all the cats from this litter had found a home already. Sunday we went to the RSPCA – we just went for a look at the kitten home and were sold immediately. There was this cute gray little lady screaming her lungs out to please take her home with us and a few cages down was a cute playful lady that might make a good playmate. We talked to the caretakers and the cats were put together to see if they could make good mates. We went home with both of them. The gray tabby has cute little spots on her belly, we named her Dax. The dark tortoise is 3 weeks older, a bit more dominant but surely the wisest of the two, we named her Moogie. You got to be a Trekkie to see the resemblance.


Talking about redesign

When we started with last December, we did things low profile as we were frantically going through our designs to decide what could be used for download, what could be turned into a tutorial and we were not really sure what direction to take yet.

Thing is that we design stuff from logos to stationery and fabrics, but also create illustrations and digital art and as we are both techies, we do website design (front-end and back-end) as well.

I am quite familiar with CMS systems, but when we decided to use Joomla for, I had to learn a lot of new things. And as we just wanted to get the site going, we decided to use a freeware template, install some plugins and that was that. No big publishing campaign, so not a lot of visitors, which gave us a lot of time to sort things out and add some content to the site. We had some plans for reworking the design, but sofar it has just been plans. Today we started to talk about actually changing things.

We like the current layout. It is distiguishly different than most other websites – that conveniently use 2.0 to indicate their style, but we all know that again is just a buzz word. I like many of those layouts, but somehow one looks like the next and the next again. We do however need to redesign the website, to allow for more modules, get the breadcrumbs working properly, depend less on plugins, and optimize the site further for SEO. The site is quite easily found by most search engines, especially now all our image are slowly being indexed, but we sure could use a few more proper links. We are considering a link exchange page too (realizing that we are not that interesting yet, but at least we can support the sites that we consider to be cool).

So template design for Joomla, we keep the purple but I do not know where it will take us next. We also will finally implement forums so we can create better interaction with our users.

Lots of plans that will keep us busy for a while again.

Last day of 2009!

Living in Oz means that you’re ahead of the world. Not technologically or socially or so.. but in time. There are only a few places earlier, as we all know from the millenium celebrations.

So how to spend the last day of 2009? I promised I would bring some “continental style” desserts to tonight’s party – so some work ahead there. I checked the website and thought it would be nice to have a “hello 2010” post with a nice design. So hopefully I’ll find the time to complete that.

And starting tomorrow I will work on a new Joomla template. The one we use now is based on ‘Colorfall’ by [ Anch ] Studio. It is a bit too limited for our purposes, even tho I really like the layout. Nowadays all high profile websites seem to use the same clean cut design style – 13 in a dozen, and if a CMS is running the show, container styles are typically in use. That is why I like this template: it is different. And I applied a bold colour purple to it, changed the graphics and it certainly looks different.

Down-side: it has a hidden tag on each page to link back to the authors website. From SEO point of view: not smart. So today I sorta reluctantly removed it – and tomorrow proper credit will be given but on a weblinks page. Other things that sorta bug me: only 2 user modules, no header, breadcrumbs and so on. No place to implement a store element as the user modules are only available in the outer right columns. And the CSS is quite limited – not all elements are styled which can result in some horrifying layouts – for example- when I switched on pagination for a long article.

It does not really matter – I should have done a proper template from scratch – but I was a bit too focussed on getting the website online and to have an outlet for some of our work. So even tho I do not make New Year’s resolutions, I am quite resolute in doing a re-design of the template. Just to keep me busy *winks*