Nik's Technology Blog

Travels through programming, networks, and computers

Web Design Considerations

  • Are the pages printable on A4/US letter paper?
  • Does the site work on all browsers? (Cross-Browser functionality) (Netscape and Opera as well as Internet Explorer etc)
  • Does the site work on Apple Macs, Unix and PCs etc? (Cross-Platform functionality)
  • Can you see the whole of the site in common screen resolutions (800x600, 1024x768) without scrolling?
  • Have you stuck to common fonts such as Arial, Lucida, Verdana and Georgia? (Some fonts won't be installed on visitors' machines)
  • Can the text on the screen be read comfortably? Try to avoid clashing background images and colours as it will be difficult for the visually impaired to read.
  • Is the navigation intuitive? If you are using images as navigation do they have ALT tags? Try adding text navigation at the bottom of the page; this will help if the visitors' connection is slow as they will still be able to navigate the site.
  • Are the images optimised and quick to download? Have you used GIF and JPEG formats for the right type of images?
  • Have you used web safe colours? (Some screens can only display 256 colours) Web safe colours

HTML Forms - Usability

Making HTML forms easier for the user is no easy task.

Make good use of Radio buttons, Check boxes and drop-down menus within the form instead of text boxes where possible to keep the users typing down to a minimum.

Use the "Tabindex" HTML form attribute to set the tabbing order if your HTML forms are large and complex.

Make clear which elements of a form are compulsory with and * or similar, stating what the asterix is for at the top. If you think any of the fields might be filled in wrongly, then think about adding help pages (pop-ups) for the form.

If your form is asking for personal data, then link to your site's privacy policy on the page. Information such as Credit Card details should only be submitted over a secure SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) connection, you will need to set this up if you don't already have one.

If you already have data on the user then pre-populate the fields and ask for confirmation where necessary, this will save the user re-typing them.

Finally you will be able to judge your forms usability by how many badly filled forms you receive.

HTML tabindex

SQL Server Login Change

If you happen to install Microsoft SQL Server under a Windows account you later want to change to another Windows account you will have to login to Windows using the account it was installed under (Go to Control Panel>Administrative Tools>Services to find this out). You should then stop all SQL server services (MSSQLServer, SQLServerAgent, Microsoft Search, Full-Text Search, Distributed Transaction Coordinator etc). In Control Panel, click on Administrative Tools and then Services. For every SQL service you have installed you will need to view and edit the logon properties, changing the account for each one. A reboot should then complete the process.

SQL DTS Designer -

Currently working on trying to automate the bulk input of web log files into a MS SQL database with DTS Designer and Active-X script.

Managed to concatenate fields and perform VB commands on the data prior to input. However running through a directory of files to input is somewhat more difficult.

Ideal DTS import solution

Adding Contraints to SQL tables

Constraints are important within a database structure as they insure database integrity.

This useful SQL command shows how to add constraints to existing SQL tables.

In this command a constraint between 2 tables (tblCountries and tblCompanies) is being created called FK_tblCompanies_tblCountries.

alter table dbo.tblCompanies add constraint FK_tblCompanies_tblCountries foreign key (ISOCountryCode) references dbo.tblCountries(ISOCountryCode)

SLANGUAGE - The New Text Messaging?

According to T-mobile the new form of mobile phone communication will be a combination of pictures, sounds and slang phrases. These will produce a new abbreviated language which will be unique between groups of friends.

This news comes as the UK networks finally become MMS cross compatible. Enabling users of different networks to send picture messages to one another is seen as key to the take up of MMS.