Background Checks

Check your backgrounds images at the web host door! Most background images distract and detract, making the web page harder to read and maintain. Don’t use complex, patterned backgrounds that tile across the screen.

An actual web site for an actual business. Can you believe it? Notice that the backgrounds for the graphics don’t match and you can’t find, let alone read the text.

To see the difference a simple background makes, check a couple pages with a common, marbleized background pattern.

Or to see the difference it makes simply removing the background image from the AAR members list.

Background images can be used successfully, however, it takes much more skill and restraint to create and use effective background images. A simple, single, flat image may be useful to a page design, providing visual clues to navigation or sidebar information. A background images, however can not make up for a weak page structure, design or content. There is no good design with a background image that isn’t also a good design without a background image. If a large, flat background image is being used, limit the amount and size of other images on the page. Faster is better for your critical information pages.

Also remember that any other images must be made to match the page background image if one is used. This increases site maintenance and development complexity and costs. You save time, money and improve clarity by eliminating page background images.

Having said all of that, I confess to using background images myself for a number of my clients. The two most succesful and easiest ways to use backgrounds are the flat, narrow, horizontal image that creates a vertical pattern on the page or the large, single image on flat background.

The vertical pattern breaks the page into visual columns. These are usually matched to a table layout. Often the left-hand column effect is used for navigation.

Us News & World Report makes effective use of the sidebar background graphic. Near the top of the page it provides a clear distinction between the navigation and the text. Farther down the page, it can be used for clean banners and information tables.

The large, single image background goes in and out of fashion, but can be highly effective where there is plenty of open space on the page. A couple of effective examples can be found a www.lynda.com – The home site for Lynda Weinman, graphics designer and author.

To learn how to make effective background images without making your site fatter than glutton on January 1st, check out “Making It Big – Large Background Images”. Because of browser differences, using background images with style sheets calls for a little coding finesse.

HTML Definitive Answers

There are two books always within immediate reach on my computer desk; one is a dictionary, the other is HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide by Chuck Musciano & Bill Kennedy. Following publisher O’Reilly & Associates, Inc. tradition of animal line-art for the covers, this is the koala book. I have no idea why, unless it’s a subtle reference to the slow but methodical coverage the authors give their subject.

This book could be used to learn HTML and XHTML, but like most O’Reilly publications, it’s not a visual book. It’s more like an academic reference and can be a little intimidating looking at a sub-section headed with “9.7.1.1. The rows and cols attributes”. Butwhen you really want to know what’s the right way to code that table attribute or are trying to figure out why your HTML did THAT when you really wanted it to do this, HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide should be in your bookshelf.

The authors cover the basics and the actual HTML standard (at the time of publications, of course), as well as providing comprehensive information about browser-specific extensions to the HTML code — both in an overview and as they cover each tag and attribute. They also include the older tags, noting which ones have been deprecated in favor of the new standards, and the now preferred cascading style sheet methods. Yet they are often quite honest about the lack of consistent support even by browsers that support css and encourage coders to consider following a more moderate approach to the protocal support. Whenever I’ve been in doubt about using a deprecated method or following the new standard, these authors have cast the deciding vote. I don’t even bother with a re-count.

The coverage of XHTML and XML explains the advantages — and disadvantages — to Internet businesses in some of the clearest language I’ve found. They quickly persuaded me to meet the new XHTML standard as closely as possible. I only wish the programmers of the HTML coding tools and the professional coders working on the corporate sites would use this book!

The instructions are simple and clear, but if you’ve never touched HTML code, this is not a “learn HTML in day” book, despite it’s best efforts. In their goal to be complete, they sacrifice brevity. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a comprehensive reference to answer those niggling questions or want to progress in your coding to a professional level, add HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide to your library.

Web Hosting Hub Review

WebHostingHub Review

Operating out of the US, WebHostingHub is a subsidiary of Inmotion Hosting targeted at small and medium scale business owners. They have been in business since 1995 and specialize in providing hosting solutions through a number of brands to targeted customers. Inmotion brands include Inmotion

Hosting and WebHostingHub, these brands have been created to specifically cater to the needs of personal, small business, eCommerce and VPS websites. In addition to web hosting they provide a platform for partners and advertisers to launch products and services to over 5.2 millions of consenting users.

There are good reviews on HostingManual.net for comparison: WebHostingHub Review and Inmotion Hosting Review.

Plan and Features

They are the perfectionists in their field and understand their customer’s needs and requirements very well. Take for example the ‘first month free offer’ that sets them apart from the rest as it gives all new customers a lot of time free of cost to setup their online store and get accustomed to the hosting environment and the various features provided. As most of the customers are new to online business and even if some have previous experience the new tools and features that WebHostingHub provides may confuse them, therefore the one month provided free of cost is the most valuable contribution to web hosting by any web host in the past few years.

The basic plan on offer from WebHostingHub is good for small business websites. Comes with unlimited Web Space, Bandwidth, 25 MB File Size, unlimited POP/Webmail Accounts, FTP Access, HTML Editor, no Banner Ads guarantee, Site Builder, Site Templates, 80+ Page Layouts Options, Site Promotion Tools, Gift Certificates, Discount Manager, Product Specific Shipping, Credit Card Processing.

The special features on offer with the basic plan are: secure orders, automatic tax & shipping calculations, automatic customer receipt email, value stats package, page views, unique visitors, popular pages, raw logs, current visitors, top referrers, top search engine, top keywords, time spent on site, return frequency, top paths, top entry pages, top exit pages, page analysis.

Reliability

WebHostingHub means it when they claim to provide a reliable service to online businesses. They make use of the available best equipments and cloud technologies to host your websites. They have partnered with the best bandwidth providers like AT&T and Cable & Wireless to ensure that they have excess bandwidth in any case. Their servers are collocated in two world class Tier1 data centers which are connected through OC48/OC192 IP backbone, which is known to be the best backbone connectivity technology as of today.

What customers are saying:

WebHostingHub provides everything needed to sell products online and allows merchants to focus on building their business instead of managing their web site. WebHostingHub is our choice for Ecommerce Host of the Year.

Support

WebHostingHub provides a choice between submitting a ticket, live chat area, tutorials and documentation including cPanel video tutorials and textual documentation, coupled with this is web development documentation. All of that finds place in their member area making it really easy for you to get problems solved quickly. Additionally, the support staff is also available via phone and email.

Conclusion

Small business owners is a peculiar segment of customer base that requires the attention of specialists and not just another company that offers hosting for business owners among other services in order to rope in customers just for the sake of it. If you are a budding small business owner or a business owner whose business has suffered in the hands of another one of those hosting companies and have come looking for a specialist web host for your business you don’t have to look beyond WebHostingHub.