Multi-language blog

RSSI am writing articles in French and English since october 2008, so I review my experience about multi-language blogging; what are the pros and what are the cons.

The major reason which you may decide to write articles in two languages is pretty simple and obvious :to reach more visitors. Especially in my case, as a French-speaker person, writing articles only in French is « limiting » me to much fewer visitors from 24 French-speaking countries. 

About 180 millions persons in the world, probably less because all this people don’t have Internet and have also probably no interest for what you may be writing… only few people are remaining to read your stuff!

Whereas English is spoken by « only » 300 to 400 millions persons as native speaker, but a lot of people that uses it as secondary language. I hate English, but I have no choice to recognize that it IS the international language. Blogging in English allows you to reach much more people, that’s a fact. I could easy say that if my blog was only in French, The traffic would be divided by half.

In addition to this, if you use social networks as Twitter and Facebook, to blog in English allows you to open your network to many English-speaking people. If you work as a freelancer, this could also help you to get an international job. Even for you regular (say French-speaker) customers, blogging in other languages makes you looking more professionnal and open on your world, on many levels : it shows you love and are able to speak about your profession, whatever the language.

BUT, I think many bloggers start a multi-language blog with their eyes closed, without thinking about what it implies. A blog, single language, needs you to put a lot of work into it. That’s simple : multi-language blog will need you to put multi-efforts into it! Don’t forget that translating manually an article may be quite difficult. We all speak and write English well or enough well, but it is often more difficult when you get to do it for a 1000 words text. In my case, I often do grammar mistakes and often use the same vocabulary, that’s a proof of it. All this shows how multi-language blogging may bring you more visitors but much more work. No doubt about it.

It isn’t all! If you are working on SEO of your blog, you’ll have to do the same with your english pages… yes you will. This is not all bad, because trying to rank your english articles opens you many websites in English you may use to promote them and get backlinks from : English directories, forums, digg-likes, dofollow English blogs, etc… It is useless to tell you there’s much more space in the English world for you to get backlinks 🙂

In addition to this article, I’d like to review some CMS solutions for your multi-language blog.

Joomla! : With component Joomfish, you can translate all your pages easily. It works well, but if SEO is important for you, you won’t be glad to see you have no control on URL rewriting for each language. The original URL is used for all translations, what sucks for your ranking. It is the most important reason why I ignored Joomla! for this blog, although you can purchase a professionnal version of Joomfish! which includes multi-URLs.

WordPress : Since recently I didn’t find any module to use multi-language articles + multi URLs + multi metas, but I have found module WPML which works perfectly. I think I’ll migrate to WordPress soon…

Drupal : With Internationalization (I18N) module, you can create single pages for each translation (and link them together), while you controle all SEO about them (metas, titles, URLs, everything). It is pretty nice to use, but it was hard to setup at the first time. I often make backups, because I’m not sure I would easily find how to do it again 🙂

As conclusion, I’d say that multi-language blogging brings lots of advantages to your blog, but you’d better be ready to work. As many Web stories, magic though isn’t. What do you think about it?

Will Facebook e-commerce replace online shopping websites?

With its 55 millions members, Facebook IS an interesting network to make your business move forward. Wisely used for right purpose, this network can be extremely powerful to increase your visibility, and probably your sales.

A new application (via Capitaine Commerce) providing online shops on Facebook is now available and retained my attention : Payvment.

Payvment allows you to create a little shop using Facebook; good news, because we’ll now be able to reach patheticest Facebook members which are lazy and don’t go outside of their favorite social network, offering them products directly on Facebook.

As Capitaine said, it would be a great idea to duplicate our online shops in Payvment version, and it would be easy. Design, layout, these are stuff you won’t have to care about because you’re stuck within Facebook’s design. This is good excuse to gain time, which isn’t bad for once…

I also think applications like Payvment are great solution for little sellers that only wish to sell 4 or 5 products, and that don’t want to invest time into learning e-commerce technics basics.

But… this kind of app brings a delicate question :

Will they replace traditionnal e-commerce platforms?

When you think to it, it’s quite frightening … but I would be surprised if this happens.. because :

  1. On every e-commerce website, customer experience is different and variety of experience is great. I prefer to buy an iPod on apple.ca than on Payvment Apple’s page (if there’s one).
  2. Such applications will keep few options because of Facebook framework environment.
  3. Not everybody likes Facebook and its habit to make your personnal informations its own. If it becomes as easy to profile your buying behaviour (because these shops are on Facebook), don’t you worry about it?

Anyway, Payvment is an interesting solution that I’d like to try soon. It cool be great to offer its integration to customers that use Facebook for promotion… but, as I said before… it won’t replace a true e-commerce website!

What do you think about it?

Magento : How to show new products in category list

In any normal e-commerce website, it is a good thing to obviously show which products are new. This way you attract attention of your regular visitors and maybe you sell more and you extend the lifetime customer value. Anyway, it is pretty normal to put these new products in front of others in the catalog, or at least to make them conspicuous.

Although Magento allows you to configure start and end dates for a product in order to show it as new, the default Magento template doesn’t show it. This is the goal of this mini-tutorial : to show you how to show new products among old ones in a category list.

In fact, this is not complicated, you only have to know how to do it. This information I’ve found on this forum (french) doesn’t seem to be well known over the internet, but giving such informations might help a lot improving the Magento Community. Anyway. I’ve summerized it, put it in a real example, and even provided it as a download for lazy developers.

First, in the product page of some product in Magento’s backend, insert starting and ending dates for its newness state. To do a test, put (of course) a date before today’s date, and a date which is later as today’s date.

The code to add to access newness dates of a product is the following :

load($_product->getID())->getNewsFromDate();
$newToDate = Mage::getModel(‘catalog/product’)->load($_product->getID())->getNewsToDate();

// Date and time (now)
$now = date(“Y-m-d H:m:s”);

if($newFromDate < $now && $newToDate > $now) {
echo “nv”;
}
?>

Variables $newFromDate and $newToDate get start and end dates of the active product during the loop. This data is only available if you did insert dates values in your product page. If you don’t see any change when you’ll reload the page, you may have not did this 🙂

The path of the file where to insert this code is named list.phtml is the following (just replace yourtheme by name of the theme you’re using, default is default one) :

/app/design/frontend/default/yourtheme/template/catalog/product/list.phtml

To add code for « list » mode, go to line 47, after this start of loop :

For « grid » mode, go to line 93, after the same code as for « list » mode, or almost.

In both cases, you can place the code wherever you want, as soon it is within the loop. Here is what end of loops look like :

If you followed this tutorial correctly, you should see at list a product with mention « This is new! ». If it doesn’t work, you still can download the file (Magento v1.3.2.4) down this page or ask help in comments of this article!

Typographic rules in Quebec and France

Many differences are dividing French-speaking countries for all what is about language level and spelling rules. Belgium, Switzerland, France and Quebec province – if you give me the right to include it as a country – possess their own language specific rules.

What about ponctuation typographic rules? Still, many differences. I have seen it a lot while writing a plugin for typographic rules for Joomla!.

If you give importance to typographic rules in printed media, you also should take care of it on Internet. It seems to me that it’s also very important…

Because these rules may be pretty confusing sometimes, I’ve written a table for it. This table doesn’t include English typographic rules yet, but this is to come in near future. This table isn’t very complete, this is rather a start that will be completed each time I get new information and I think to include it here.

Replacements fr_CA fr_FR
:

nonbreaking space before
If numerical time – no space

Example : This is an example.

Example : It is 21:42.

;

no space

Here is an example; semicolon has no space.

nonbreaking space before

Here is an example ; semicolon has a space.

?

no space

This is a question?

thin nonbreaking space or nonbreaking space before

This is a question ?

!

no space

This is an exclamation!

thin nonbreaking space or nonbreaking space before

This is an exclamation !

$

nonbreaking space before sign

You owe me 50 $

£
  • « »
  • (non breaking space after opening quote mark)
  • (non breaking space before closing quote mark)
  • « Between quote marks »
  •  %

nonbreaking space before

I’ve got 80 % at my exam

  •  /

nonbreaking space before and after

this / that

( ) [ ] nonbreaking space before and after
. normal space after
,

Thin spaces : In Quebec, if the software you use allows it, put a thin space where rules says to put no space, else no space. Thin space helps lisibility.

Nonbreaking spaces for Web : HTML entity &nbsp; is your friend.

Sources : 

  1. Règles typographiques dans MS Word, Bétel – OQLF – Mai 2003
  2. Banque de dépannage linguistique

Magento – Remove price in layer navigation

On a website that uses Magento as CMS, the price will show up (by default) in layer navigation, left column. Price layer navigation is a nice feature of Magento, but it may not always be something you need for your e-commerce. Especially if most of your products have a similar price.

Here is a mini-tutorial to know how to remove prices in layer navigation!

To get rid of the price list in the left column is really easy to do. As usual with Magento, you have to know where to go. No need to make some dirty hack in Magento’s core, you can do it from the back-end!

Go to Manage attributes page : Catalog > Attributes > Manage attributes

Click on price attribute (Price, not Price view!) which is located on the second page. If you don’t find it at all, try the Reset filter button, if you messed up with list filters on that page before.

In Properties page (it will show up by defaut), under Frontend Properties tab, select No for the field labeled Use In Layered Navigation.

That’s all, prices won’t show up again in the left column! If you don’t notice any change, just refresh the cache in Cache Management page.

If you like Magento, I would advice you to learn how to make Magento SEO friendly!

2009 Graphic design graduates of Quebec

This year again, lots of new graduates in graphic design will arrive on job market.

Lots of new fresh talents… just have a look at their work, you’ll agree with that for sure. Enjoy work of several graduates from Quebec schools :

Université Laval, Le fragment forme le tout
Online portfolio : http://designgraphique2009.com/

UQAM, Point final
Online portfolio : http://www.design.uqam.ca/pointfinal/

Cégep Ste-Foy, Ambidextre
Online portfolio : http://www.cegep-ste-foy.qc.ca/departements/graphisme/

Collège Ahuntsic, On déménage
Online portfolio : http://www.ondemenage.ca/

Cégep Marie-Victorin
Online portfolio : http://graphisme.collegemv.qc.ca/expo2009.html

Collège Dawson
Online portfolio : http://dc37.dawsoncollege.qc.ca/graphics/

Some of those expositions are finished, but most of them are currently in progress; you’ll find all the relevant information on their websites. Please note that Université Laval’s website will only be available on the 23th of May. Congratulations to all 2009 graduates!

Check email address format (PHP & Javascript)

Here are two code snippets to verify email addresses, which is quite useful when you wish to validate a form with Javascript or PHP, avoiding users to write anything as email.

Verify email format with Javascript

Insert this code between <head> and </head> tags of your HTML document :



Insert a form between <body> and </body> tags :



Eventonsubmit calls checkMail() function and gives him text value of email field. Email field is identified by ID email.

Try this script online

Verify email format with PHP

This little PHP function allows you to check if the user wrote a valid email address that may exist. You call this function when you’re checking POST values after form submission.

function validMail($addr) {
if ((!ereg(“.+\@.+\..+”, $addr)) || (!ereg(“^[a-zA-Z0-9_@.-]+$”, $addr)))
RETURN FALSE;
else
RETURN TRUE;
}
// Use :
if(!validMail(‘infoaddress.com’)) {
echo “Your email address is invalid!”;
}

It won’t prove real existence of the email address, but it will avoid the user from writing stupid stuff.

SEO for Magento

Magento is a great e-commerce CMS, with tons of incredible possibilities.

Most of time, we would prefer simplier e-commerce scripts than Magento, because Magento needs a lot of ressources to run, and it’s made for gigantic online shops, else it could be hard to take advantage of all its performance.

I’ll have many occasions to talk about Magento later on; I’m starting a e-commerce project. The goal of this article is to give a useful link. When you’re running a e-commerce, SEO is interesting you even more : here is a great Magento SEO guide, that looks not too complex. Some people say Magento is not SEO-friendly, but you can do pretty well with this article!

Introduction to Webdesign

You’d like to invest yourself in Webdesign skills?

Here are some ideas to avoid committing common mistakes.


The goal of this article is to give advices to those who may feel lost in what we may call "the web creation processus". I also give my opinions about webdesign.

If you think I’m wrong, on any point discuted in this article, I’d be glad to read your opinion in comments, and discuss about it. What I say is not about established "facts", or the only one truth in this world about webdesign; I only say what I think about it, and god knows I may not be right

What’s your target?

When you design a web template, you should always know where you’re going. Keep in mind what should be the final result of your work, and how it’s going to work for real.

Before starting to work on your concept, be sure to have the most information you can have about it. Tastes of the customer and what how he sees the project, of course, but also a detailed plan of website’s structure, which technologies are going to be used (flash, html, javascript, CMS, etc.), and necessary functionalities.

Webdesign has nothing to do with Web development, languages, will you tell me? Quite the contrary, you’ll design a template in a whole different way if you know all technic details of a project. You’ll certainly work better if you really know what’s going to be the final appearance of the website, not only a bunch of layers in Photoshop. Webdesign is more than that, it’s all about interactivity!

Some people would probably start designing a template on Photoshop, and then having a look to site’s structure and content, etc.

It’s, in my opinion, a big mistake; design must be accomplished after having had a deep look on lots of these questions. Webdesign is not only about esthethics, it’s also about the website in its whole idea, from the beginning to the end, including all facets of ergonomics, information structure, etc.

Ergonomics

Never value an effect, a filter, etc., over ergonomics. Ergonomics is extremly important, always think about it when you’re creating a design. At any step of development, put yourself into a visitor’s shoes, never ignore ergonomic deficiency by lazyness.

Flexibility of the layout

Some designers, when they’re creating a website, completely forget about the use of their layout design in real life. They won’t have necessary thought about its flexibility. Here is a typical example :

If a template is designed in a Photoshop file 1000px large, what will happen if you’re having a look to this "future" website on a giant screen? or a very small one? Did you think about it? Your design will be very different, depending on which background is used beyond layout zone. Is the website centered, aligned to left, aligned to right ? etc.

Use of web typography

The main tool of Web is text. For instance, don’t design a menu made of images, if the font you used is called Arial, black on white! To play with real text and good CSS could lead you to a very different and much better solution. The text will always be readable no matter what the browser and the platform of visitor are. It’s pretty nice for SEO, it’s natural and it’s downloaded within a split second.

Web typography is beautiful and wise, because easy to use. To decide using a menu made of images, the use should be justified and the font should’nt be a Web font.

Web is not print

Old generations still think that Web is the same as print media… that’s a enormous mistake; Web allows you to live a wonderful experience, because it’s an application, interacting with a user, himself being somewhere in its own different environment.

it’s possible to adapt print media to Web, but you must take the time to do it. To adapt doesn’t mean to copy and paste.

Animated stuff : Flash

Really a lot of people think animated stuff is incredibly sexy. Beside that, a normal HTML website looks dead, boring. Lots of proof are there to proove that animated elements are often distracting the user during his user experience. Sometimes, it’s really getting on their nerves (loops, music), especially when they come back a second, a third, a 20th time on the website. The best example for that is Flash intros, what a pain in the ass!

Always ask yourself if Flash is really needed on your website. Flash must not be decorative, it must bring a big user experience advantage, that justifies all its inconvenients. If you use Flash to do something you could do with HTML + Javascript, it’s suicide.

Flash isn’t pretty SEO-friendly. Google is now able to read text in Flash files, but cannot if there are dynamic imports, and there are some other problems like that… It’s possible to simulate HTML pages with Flash, but still there, that much trouble must be justified by very good reasons!

Do you agree with things discuted in this article? What’s your opinion?

Get inspiration everyday

Like everything, you will not reinvent the wheel. Lots of directories are dedicated to nice CSS websites and nice Flash websites. Could be a good idea to have a look on a regular basis, to see what are last fashions, it’s not evil.

Here is list of CSS galleries :

Note : it is a RSS feed, so it keeps updating alone.