Archive for ‘Website Design’

June 10, 2011

BuzzBoost for Feedburner

Use Google BuzzBoost for additional opportunities for your FeedBurner feed.

Crossposting

Cross-promote content

Cross-promoting

If you publish more than one site, BuzzBoost makes it easy to cross-promote content from one site on another site. You can configure your BuzzBoost script to include short plain-text excerpts.

 

 

Mobile

Publish a mobile edition of your feed:

Mobile feed view

Mobile View

Aggregate

Combine multiple BuzzBoost scripts (and feeds) on a single web page or browser home page:

Aggregated content

Aggregated content view

Enjoy the data richness!

via BuzzBoost Sample Applications

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April 2, 2011

Blogger now supports dynamic views

Blogger became dynamic! Sort of. Blogger introduced five new views for Blogger  *.blogspot blogs yesterday. I was pleased to see the Tumblresque mosaic style was one of them.

Blogger website screen shot

Blogger sign in page

There are two separate versions documenting this new functionality, for blog readers and blog authors.

How to use dynamic views

The basic idea is to access the dynamic view through an extended URL. For example, I have a Blogger blog with URL http://ellieaskswhy.blogspot.com.

To view my blog so that I can choose any of the five dynamic views, visit http://ellieaskswhy.blogspot.com/view

If you already know which view you want, and wish to see it directly e.g. the mosaic view, visit this URL instead   http://ellieaskswhy.blogspot.com/view/mosaic

*Blogger is a Google product. Google acquired it about four years ago, and is now making some much-needed upgrades like this. Dynamic views are supported in modern browsers only. They will not work without HTML5 support, which is included in Chrome and Safari browsers, as well as Internet Explorer version 9.0 and the latest version of Firefox (probably 4.0).

March 7, 2011

Authentication and Authorization

Access control has two components, referred to collectively as auth.

Third-party applications often require limited access to a user’s Google Account… all requests for access must be approved by the account holder.

via Authentication and Authorization for Google APIs.

Authentication services

Authentication refers to the process of allowing users to sign in to websites. In the context of this blog, it also refers to sign in to applications using a Google Account, or an OpenID 2.0 based protocol. When Google authenticates a user’s account, it returns a user ID to the web application. This allows user information to be stored and collected. Open ID also allows access to certain user account information, with the user’s approval.

Authorization services

OAuth Logo

OAuth

Authorization is often confused (by me, maybe others) with authentication. Authorization lets a user authorize access by applications to specific data associated with the user’s Google account.

OAuth 2.0 Protocol

The OAuth 2.0 open-standard protocol allows users to authorize access to their data, after successful authentication. Google supports the OAuth 2.0 protocol with bearer tokens for web (and installed) applications. Regular Google account data and Google Apps account data are accessible with OAuth 2.0. OAuth 2.0 relies on SSL for security instead of direct cryptographic signing that would otherwise be necessary for such access.

Note that OAuth 2.0 has not been finalized, according to IETF (version 13). Google cautions that it’s OAuth 2.0 support is in an early preview and may change at any time, or as the final specifications evolve. Google considers OAuth experimental.  However, “experimental” does not have the same tentative connotation associated with Google Labs projects.

OAuth 1.0 Protocol

There is also an OAuth 1.0 for web applications. OAuth 1.0 can be used for authorization to user data by all Google API’s. Google continues to support OAuth 1.0.*

* OAuth 1.0 is sometimes referred to in documentation without version number, only as OAuth.

Other protocols

The OpenID-OAuth hybrid protocol provides authentication and authorization in a single-step process. Open ID provides authentication services, and OAuth provides authorization to Google APIs.

AuthSub API is Google’s proprietary protocol. It is mostly used for Google APIs. AuthSub is similar to OAuth. OAuth is more generally applicable and Google recommends that developers use OAuth instead of AuthSub API.

Registration

Registering a web application is optional. It is also free and straightforward. Web applications that are not registered with Google can still use OAuth 1.0 or AuthSub interfaces. However, registered web applications are recognized by Google and receive a correspondingly higher level of trust designation. This is communicated to users on the login screen.

Example of access request screen for OAuth or AuthSub web app

Sample Google access request screen for unregistered web application

Summary

These are the three levels of registration:

  1. Unregistered These applications conduct transactions at a lower security level.  Google flags the user login page with a precautionary message.  See image above with yellow-shaded advisory.
  2. Registered and recognized but not configured for secure requests
  3. Registered with enhanced security These applications have a security certificate and can use secure tokens.
January 17, 2011

Google Buzz for users, web sites and developers

Logo by Google

Google Buzz Logo and Button

Help people share stuff from your website using Google Buzz! Google Buzz buttons are the easiest way to allow people to share content from your site using Google Buzz.

Post to Google Buzz

Configure the Buzz widget for your website or blog. Choose one of three different Google Buzz button styles. Select your preferred language.

The Google Buzz widget is only offered in a JavaScript version.  Google does not offer an HTML-only Buzz button. This is both inconvenient and puzzling. Why?

Many web sites and digital publishing platforms do not allow JavaScript due to security concerns. In fact, WordPress does not allow JavaScript on WordPress.com hosted blogs. The Google-owned Blogger blog product does allow limited use of JavaScript.

Yet Google Sites, the replacement for Google Groups, does not allow JavaScript. As a result, Google Sites users cannot include the Google Buzz widget on a Google Site!

Follow on Google Buzz

Allow users to follow you on Google Buzz without needing to leave your website. Promote your own Google Buzz account with the follow on Google Buzz widget and button for your website.

The Google Buzz API lets you syndicate Google Buzz posts, connect sites to Buzz, and more.  You do not need pre-approval to use the Google Buzz API or Google Buzz buttons or to promote the API functionality on your site using the provided buttons.

Google Buzz Branding Guidelines

Google has specific branding requirements that must be observed if developing an application using the Google Buzz API:

  • Give your application or website a unique name with unique branding and logos.
  • Include a disclaimer that your site is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by Google Inc.
  • Do not use the Google Buzz logo or buttons as the most prominent element in the logo or icon for your application, nor as the most prominent element on your web page.
  • Do not include “Google Buzz” in the name of your application, domain name, website title or name.
  • Do not use the Google Buzz logo or buttons in a way that implies sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement by Google.
  • Do not display the Google Buzz logo on any web site that has or displays adult content, promotes gambling, promotes violence, contains hate speech, involves the sale of tobacco or alcohol to persons under twenty-one years of age, violates other applicable laws or regulations or is otherwise objectionable.
January 3, 2011

Reading Level Search Filter

Google added a new search option earlier this month. Find it on the advanced search page.

Check reading level for websites

These are the options. Full documentation on use of the feature is available on the Google web search help page for reading level.

by rustybrick of Flickr dot com and Barry Schwartz of seoroundtable

Google Reading Level Search

On December 10, 2010, Search Engine Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz wrote a nice article, Google+”Reading+Level”+Search+Filter demonstrating some amusing ways to use the feature. He also provides many helpful screen shots for using the filter options.  Image above is the work of Rustybrick of Flickr.

Who should use the reading level filter and why?

The reading level search filter is a valuable tool for bloggers and small businesses. Generally accepted standards for web design show that in order for a web page to be accessible and pleasant to use, the reading level should be tenth grade or below. There were several reading level checking services before Google released this. However, the Google reading level search filter is free and probably has superior availability. It also checks the entire website, not merely a single URL, a limitation of  other services.

Whatever reading level check one uses is not that important. What’s important is periodically doing it, whether on one’s website, or for each blog post. Confirm that the level is well-matched to your website’s target audience.

There’s never any reason to make a web site more complicated than necessary

I’m guilty of doing this. It isn’t by intent, it’s just my writing style, and the way I was taught to write. I’m aware of it and continue to improve.

Straightforward is better

That applies to website design as well as content. And it’s true whether one is selling a product or communicating an idea.

November 5, 2010

Spam Fighting at Webmaster Central

How to identify web spam, via the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog

Webmaster Blog for Indexing and Crawling Sites

Today’s Webmaster Central Blog post gives the following as an example of a probable spam site.  Not surprisingly, it reads as “all gibberish”:

Gibberish site example

The post also includes information for submitting a compelling spam report. This is certainly important, in order that the report will be acted upon. In fact, Google’s criteria can be used as the basis for best practices guidelines for submitting spam reports in general, anywhere, not solely in the context of Google website-related spam reporting:

  • Submit the URLs of the pages where you see spam (not just the domain name).  This makes it easy for us to verify the problem on those specific pages.
  • Try to specify the issue as clearly as possible using the check boxes. Don’t just check every single box–such reports are less likely to be reviewed.
  • If only a part of the page uses spammy techniques, for example if it uses cloaking or has hidden text on an otherwise good page, provide a short explanation on how to look for the spam you’re seeing.
  • If you’re reporting a site for spammy backlinks rather than on-page content, mention that.

Google actually provides the following criteria for the type of website-level spam of greatest interest to them as an organization:

  • the cached version contains significantly different (often keyword-rich) content from the live version
  • you’re redirected to a completely different domain with off-topic, commercial content
  • the site is filled with auto-generated or keyword-stuffed content that seems to make no sense

These are just a few examples of techniques that might be potentially spammy, and which we would appreciate seeing in the form of a spam report.

Here’s Google’s evaluation and action procedure after reviewing these reports:

After reviewing the feedback from these reports (we want to confirm that the reported sites are actually spammy, not just sites that someone didn’t like), it may take a bit of time before we update our algorithms and a change is visible in the search results.

Keep in mind that sometimes our algorithms may already be treating those techniques appropriately; for instance, perhaps we’re already ignoring all the hidden text or the exchanged links that you have reported.

Submitting the same spam report multiple times is not necessary. Rest assured that we actively review spam reports and take appropriate actions, even if the changes are not immediately visible to you.

via Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: How to help Google identify web spam.

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November 4, 2010

Make your websites run faster


Google Development Blog Icon

Make your websites run faster, automatically!  Try

mod_pagespeed

for Apache.

October 27, 2010

Web Elements

Google Web Elements seems to be a collection of fifteen applications that enable Google products for display and use on personal websites. It is unclear if these applications are for Google Sites only, or Blogger too, as it is a Google property, or non-Google sites too.

via Google Web Elements.