The Lowly Hyperlink

Did you ever think about online links, and how dependent we are on them? We don’t really think about it much, but we all link dozens or maybe even hundreds of times a day. (In fact, you just clicked on a link to get to this article.)

We call them links, but the correct term is hyperlink. I recently landed on a CBSNews article from 2002 where British Telecommunications PLC wanted to enforce their 1976 patent on hyperlinks and was suing a U.S. internet service provider named Prodigy Communications Corp. The article doesn’t say how much money was at stake, but states that BT wanted to get paid every time someone clicked on a link. I’m pretty sure BT lost that one because we all click numerous times a day without any fees.

All this made me go back and check on the history of hyperlinks. Apparently the concept goes way back to 1945 and was originally conceived as a way to link one piece of microfilm to another, so you could have a thread of related microfilm information that you could follow.

I don’t know that the microfilm linking but was ever developed, but I do remember seeing a demonstration of HyperCard, a database system for Apple Macintosh computers whereby you could click on a link to go from one piece of data to another. At the time—late 1980s—I didn’t see the real value of it, but when the World Wide Web came about in the early 1990s, their usefulness became quite apparent.

So we click here, click there, as something very natural. Someday we’ll look back at how revolutionary that little linking thing was.

Five Basic Goals for any Website

We’ve just started re-building the website for a new client in the seaport business. So many websites out there need the same basic fixes, and that drives our goals for this project:

  1. Understand your target audience. In order for your website to be of value to your target audience, you need to understand what they are interested in. All aspects of your website should be driven by the needs of your target audience.
  2. Be easy to find, and have visitors landing on the right page. People rely on search engines to find what they are looking for, and they want to land not only on the right website, but in the right spot on that website. The trick is to make it be your website.
  3. Be mobile friendly. People expect a positive user experience on all types of devices and not just a desktop computer.
  4. Be interactive. This is where it pays for us to have programmers working with designers. More and more, websites and online business apps become one and the same thing, and that’s a good thing.
  5. Be easy to maintain. Having your website built on a user friendly content management system will give you the power to easily keep your content up to date. This will result in added value for users and improved search engine performance.

There’s more, but I believe those are the five big ones. Take care of those and the website will reach a larger audience, and the right audience.

Nova Scotia Community College Hits a Sweet Spot for IT Education

It’s summer and, as Nat would say, time to roll out those lazy hazy crazy days of soda and pretzels and beer.

Well, maybe not so much the soda and pretzels, but certainly all the rest of it. And what better time to talk about… school!

In particular I’d like to talk about the Nova Scotia Community College and their Information Technology diploma program.

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Ruby on Rails Makes Programmers Happy

So my Chief Technology Officer walks into one of our Friday meetings and tells me he’s started a special interest group for users of Ruby on Rails.

Who, on what? And for that matter, why?

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Social Media can Enhance a Fine Tradition Like Christmas Daddies

Our favourite charity at Nicom is Christmas Daddies, an organization that has been dedicated to helping children throughout the Maritime Provinces since 1964. No doubt most readers have seen the telethons at one time or another, proceeds of which are distributed by the Salvation Army to needy families.

For a number of years now, we have been managing the Christmas Daddies web site and this year it is going through its fourth design. Besides giving it a new look and feel, the new design incorporates many Social Media aspects and for this reason I thought it would be of interest to my business readers. I met with Matthew Carleton who developed the site to discuss the objectives for the new site, and he told me some very interesting things I’d like to share with you.

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