Thoughts on marketing, social media, and web strategy

Mike Templeton is an experienced marketer with a history in building community on the web.

For Mike's reactions to what others are writing about social media, visit Mike Memos.

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Technology


Ninja CSSing

As a member of the internet that embraces the ideas of openness, transparency and sharing, I am always looking at other websites, blogs and services as an opportunity to expand my own knowledge. For the most part, all of my HTML, PHP, CSS, etc. skills have been self-taught. That means I’ve bought and read through how-to guides, watched numerous online tutorials and asked other experts in the field. Each of these represent great tools for the beginner, but my favorite way to learn is still to just dive into the source code behind a website and figure out how it works.

Tonight’s learning experience came via my task of updating the logo for my blog (at the suggestion of this video). I wanted to use a graphic for the header logo, but I also still wanted the text-driven headline for search engine purposes.

By default, WordPress adds the name of your blog (in my case, Mike Thoughts) into an H1 tag at the top of the page. The title of the blog, as listed in the Settings tab of WordPress, is what gets broadcasted across the web whenever new posts are added or when you get listed in Technorati. That blog title also determines what goes into the header of the browser window you are using, so simply changing it to “mikethoughts.com” probably isn’t the best idea.

With some ninja CSS code that I scooped from Bright Kite’s stylesheet and source code, I was able to replace the title with a graphic that resembles my URL exactly, keep the actual blog title the same and include an H1 assigned header tag for the official blog title that will help me out when people start searching for my site.

The source code for the page looks pretty normal. It has a header wrapper, a logo tag, the link for the logo and the website headline, just like we wanted. But how do you get your logo to show up instead of the headline text? That’s where the ninja CSSing comes into play.

The logo is handled fairly standardly, with an id tag and attributes for hyperlinks (the “a” part of the tag). This syntax tells the website to insert the masthead_logo.png image wherever the #logo div is included with an a href tag. The second part of the solution, and where the magic really happens, is the simple inclusion of a span tag with display: none as the attribute. Wrap this span tag around your blog title headline and it will disappear when viewed in the browser, but will reappear when viewing the source code.

Now that I’ve explained how Bright Kite got it to work, take a look at my files and see if you can’t figure out how I got my blog title working with the rollover image and hidden H1 headline.

Thanks to Daniel Scocco for making the YouTube video that spawned this small project and thanks to Bright Kite for helping me learn a few new CSS tricks to add to my arsenal.

Slight URL Malfunction

Not really, but if you’re reading this post that means you must have found the blog at its new URL, http://mikethoughts.com.

Earlier this afternoon I was migrating some RSS feeds from my Bloglines account into Google Reader and I got to thinking about the name of my blog. Most of the (good) blogs out there have catchy names and URLs, but I’d never come up with anything for my own. I went with the easy http://miketempleton.info and just had “Mike Templeton’s Blog” listed as the title. Sure it works, but as a marketer and creative thinker, I thought my blog deserved better than that.

Deciding to think of something creative is much easier than actually coming up with something creative though. As one of probably millions of Mike’s in the world, most of the great domain names have already been scooped up. Not to be discouraged, I dove deep into thought and started punching ideas into my GoDaddy search bar. One idea after another, they were all taken.

Next I started examining what my blog was about. It is a personal blog, but I try to keep it on somewhat informative and useful topics. Most of my entries are things I am thinking about during the day or while driving to work, but the blog allows me to type them out and share with others. These entries were my thoughts spilled out on the keyboard. They were “Mike Thoughts.” And so my new domain and blog name were chosen.

I’ve still got the http://miketempleton.info domain and will probably turn it into an information lookup about myself (contact details, account names, services I participate in, etc.).

I ended up having to rework my permalink structure and reset the Google Analytics, but luckily my blog had only been running for a few months, so the damage will be minimal. I ended up purchasing the domain name, adjusting my nameservers, moving WordPress and setting up the domain map all in about 30 minutes. GoDaddy is very quick during normal business hours and I’ve got to thank them for that.

Please adjust your bookmarks, blogrolls and RSS feeds and I promise I’ll stay on track moving forward. :)

Networking Overload

Up until recently I was much of a networking hermit. I’d heard about all the advantages of joining clubs and special interest groups in college, but I never took the plunge. I just didn’t see the value. Now things seem to have changed.

In the past several months I’ve participated in more networking groups and activities than in my entire college career:

  • #dmtweetup – local Twitter users who meet irregularly and talk about technology, social media and the like
  • Central Iowa Bloggers – Des Moines-based group of bloggers that meet the first Friday of every month to discuss happenings in the blog community, etc.
  • Company of Friends – group of readers of “Fast Company” magazine and similar media; meet once per month to discuss articles
  • IowaBiz.com Business Building Breakfast – panel of bloggers share their knowledge and expertise with IowaBiz subscribers and community
  • dsmBUZZ – grassroots initiative that exists to promote the efforts of locally owned businesses in central Iowa
  • AMA Iowagroup of marketing professionals dedicated to advancing the theory and practice of marketing

Though it seems as if my calendar can’t allow for one more event, these days I make time to schedule in opportunities like these.

Maybe my brain was so consumed by schoolwork while in college I just couldn’t grasp the inherent benefits of groups such as these. Now that I’m out in the free world, however, I realize that the connections and contacts I make at these functions are invaluable.

Also, if you’re looking for a good way to organize your schedule in a format that’s easy to access and manage, check out Google Calendar. I just set mine up today for the first time and it’s proving to be wonderful.

Die, Outlook! Die! Die! Die!

The title of this post pays tribute to Tom Foremski’s post on SiliconValleyWatcher, a topic I’ll dig into another time.

As part of my own guidelines around websites, domain names and email addresses, you can never have too many. Having several domain names helps to protect your livelihood and your brand on the web, while having multiple email addresses to tie to those domains builds trust amongst your recipients. But what happens when you try to manage it all? Chaos. Ands lots of hair-pulling.

Before I finish this story, let’s start with how it begins. Earlier this week I Tweeted to my Twitter followers looking for a reliable, all-encompassing, web-based email client. My criteria was that the interface needed to be user-friendly, it HAD to be accessible from anywhere with an internet connection and it had to be able to handle lots of different email addresses effectively. And why was I looking for such an interface when I have Microsoft Outlook? BECAUSE.

The solution to my problem was suggested by @webboy, a local Des Moines Tweep I’ve met through the DM TweetUp events, and it was Google Apps. Google explains that Google Apps for your domain (GAFYD) bundles several “applications including Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar and Google Docs.” If you own your own domain, you can sign up for the FREE version of GAFYD and create a central organizing point for your business, school or organization.

I filled out my details and went to work right away with my Dosovo domain. After firing up the GAFYD version of Gmail, all I had to do was load my various POP3 email accounts and I was up in running in under 15 minutes.

The process went very smoothly and I’d recommend Google’s GAFYD product to anyone looking to consolidate their mess of email addresses into an easy-to-use, web-based client.

In addition to consolidating multiple email addresses into one central space online, GAFYD helps mobilize all of those old emails sitting in Outlook on your machine AND makes them searchable with Gmail’s inbox search feature (which blows Outlook Inbox search out of the water). What more could you ask for?

For more on GAFYD, check out the Technorati tag and Zoli’s Blog (which I used as a step-by-step guide for loading my archived mail into Gmail.)