Appointed Webmaster to the 009 Society

009 SocietyNow that the official announcement has been made in the December issue of 009 News, the official journal of the 009 Society, an international society dedicated to the small scale modelling of narrow gauge railways. I can now reveal that I have been appointed as theIe new Webmaster.

I will be responsible for all the Internet-facing activities for the Society and I am currently designing and producing a new website for them.  I have nearly 20 years experience of professional web design following a 30 year career as a research scientist and I am grateful to the 009 Society for this opportunity and their trust.

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A reason for slow WordPress page loading and a sneaky visitor tracking problem if using the JetPack plugin.

As a professional web site designer I use WordPress for a lot of client’s websites. I know a lot of people have their own, club or business websites and I thought I should highlight a couple of potential problems with using the WordPress CMS (Content Management System).

  1. If your site loads slowly then try this to.speed it up.

    Remove any plugin or menu that links to Social Media such as Facebook, Twitter etc. 

    My website was loading very slowly, as was one I am preparing for a client. I did some research and found that the social media connections were responsible, preventing the page loading until they had made connection to each of their servers. This was causing the site to take 10-15 seconds to show the first page on a new connection to the site. Subsequent moves within the site were quicker but were still taking a significant time. I removed al the social media plugins or menus that may be part of the theme and the speed of loading improved immediately.
  2. If site security and visitor confidentiality are of importance to you, remove the  JetPack plugin. I discovered JetPack was redirecting all photos on my site via its own proxy servers, changing the URLs to the images to point to their servers. You may think that is good because your image is via their proxy server but it slows your site loading and allowed JetPack to track the IP address of all visitors to your site and the pages they visit without setting a cookie, thus negating any attempts a visitor may make to use the ‘private viewing’ settings on modern browsers. It also meant that if you used the URL of an image on a JetPack ‘infected’ site to post that image on a site such as a forum you have then ‘infected’ that site as well!  Very sneaky in my opinion and not, as far as I am aware, explained in their terms and conditions of use. JetPack can then track the IP address across sites and lets them build up a profile of your visitors that they can sell. As one of my clients GDPR statement says that they don’t sell or transfer any user data to third parties then, in my opinion, the use of JetPack was negating that statement.
  3. If you find that you cannot suddenly enter your admin panel – use FTP to remane and disable the ip-geo-block plugin in the /wp-contents/plugins/ directory. it may be incorrectly identifying your country and banning you!

Unless you or your client’s website absolutely need JetPack, social media links or IP Geo blocking protection then remove them. This is also good advice for every unused plugin or theme on your WordPress site, get rid of them.  The fewer there are, the fewer to be possibly compromised by hacks and the faster your site can load.

So there you are, a few of my tips to speed up, secure and access your WordPress website.

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Retiarius now offer Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) in the High Peak Area

Retiarius Internet Design are now offering PAT testing for electrical equipment in business premises. Primarily for your office computer and AV equipment we can also test portable power tools, heaters and extension leads.

PAT testing is not mandatory but it is recommended so that you can prove, a rquirement of the Health & Safety Act, that you are regularly safety testing your office and works electrical equipment. PAT testing provides you with a traceable standard that all your electrical equipment, at the time of testing, was assessed for its safety.

We can do testing within 20 miles of Buxton, Derbyshire, please contact us for a quotation.

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Written by admin in: News from Retiarius Internet | Tags: ,

Rapid web page and Twitter implementation for Satimola Ltd.

We were recently asked by Satimola Ltd. to produce a landing page for installation on their server to serve documents to assist them with resolving a problem they were having with the Kazakhstan Potash Company Limited (KPCL).

We were able to design and implement the page at with a comprehensive visitor logging system within the short time-scale required.

As part of this request we also implemented a Twitter feed at  allowing Satimola senior staff to post updates as required.

Retiarius Internet have enjoyed working with Satimola Ltd. for over 9 years, providing technical support and web site development on a retained basis.

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Sending Blog posts with images captured wirelessly from a camera using an Eye-Fi card and Shuttersnitch on an iPad

This image was captured via wireless using the iPad App Shuttersnitch on the iPad from my Fuji HS10 using an Eye-Fi Pro card.

Shuttersnitch allows you to send various size images of the original by email. This will be very useful if you use the remote publishing by email facility that the WordPress blogging system provides.

Unlike the very poor Photos app on the iPad Shuttersnitch allows you to create folders on the iPad and delete them with contents and move images between folders etc. This is essential for professional photographers wanting to use the iPad as a backup store and image preview system.

So far so good with the Eye-Fi card, I just now have to see if I can get it to work in my Olympus E1 using a CF/SD card adapter that should come in about a week.

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Written by admin in: Web site design techniques |

Browser usage trends and the implications for web designers

Internet browser usage trends

Browser usage trends – click to enlarge

It has long been the accepted guidance that any web site must comply with the ‘standards’ that Microsoft use in their Internet Explorer range of browsers because they are the market leader due to it being issued with every copy of Windows.

It may surprise some of our readers that this has not been true for several years!  Data collected by the w3schools site clearly shows a continuing downward trend for Microsoft from 86% of market share in 2002 to 19% in 2012!

Mozilla’s Firefox was the main cause of this loss of market share for Microsoft but the introduction of Chrome by Google, and its adoption as the browser on many Android phones and devices has now stemmed the rise of Firefox.

There have been rumours that Google, who are currently financially supporting Mozilla through advertising revenue on the Mozilla site, may pull the plug on funding Mozilla (see this BBC report)  and this would leave Chrome being the largest browser being used.

I hope that Google continue to support Mozilla but, with Google’s predatory and monopolistic underskirts already showing with regard to its continued infringement, and support for infringement of copyrighted material to sell advertising space on their search engines, I think that may be a forlorn hope.

I hope that Mozilla can find alternative funding because I think that if we thought Microsoft were wrong to have a monopoly, Google may well prove to be the bigger evil.

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Frames and SEO – NO, NO, NO!

Recently I was looking for an email address for a company for which I had the full company name. Easy-peasy you say, use Google!

So off I went and Googled their company name ( I won’t say whose, I am not in the habit of ‘outing’ poor web designs by other designers).

The company website was not in the first 1000 hits on!

There were plenty of hits to sites such as Applegate which had brief details of the company, but nothing for the company’s own, and probably expensively produced, web site.

And why was this?  Quite simply FRAMES!

The company’s  site, and as I subsequently discovered, all the sites in the group of companies, had been constructed in an identical manner using framesets. There was only the frame wrapper page title and almost non-existent keyword lists for Google to find and index. There wasn’t even a valid site description on the index framepage, no <NO FRAMES> statement, or any attempt to use descriptive title and alt statements on the few navigation elements.

A major problem with using frames is that if the navigation elements are in one frame, and the site content is displayed in another, then the site content, even if it does get indexed by search engines following a page-specific link from another site,  is indexed as a separate page element totally divorced from the site’s navigation elements. This means that the search engine bots cannot crawl the rest of the site.

I don’t know when the sites in question where designed but, as the problem of framed sites and SEO has been known for at least 10 years, there is absolutely no excuse for using frames on business sites which should be fully indexed to capture new clients.

In my opinion any site still using frames for its formatting is one that is not maximising its SEO potential, and for a business site that is throwing good money down the drain and any so-called ‘web site designer’ still advocating frame-driven sites to his/her clients does not deserve the title.

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Written by admin in: News from Retiarius Internet |

Leading London Cosmetic Botox Clinic uses WordPress for their new site

Capital Aesthetics, a leading London cosmetic treatment clinic have commissioned Retiarius to build their new web site.

The brief was that the site’s owners would like to be able to modify and maintain the site themselves with minimum effort.  This required the use of a form of content management system.

We decided to use the excellent WordPress blogging software as a content management system. There wer several reasons for his:

  • The base software is free
  • There are many excellent themes for this software that can be adapted to get the look and feel required by the client.
  • WordPress can be extended to incorporate powerful SEO plugins that increase the SEO of the site with minimum extra effort.
  • The use of an industry  standard software base provides proven upgrade and extension features.
  • WordPress is easily read by Google and other search engines
  • WordPress can easily incorporate the Google Analytics trafiic measurement system

The client has expressed his satisfaction with the design we have produced which, in his opinion, closely approximates the look and feel of his original site whilst providing the flexibility he needs.

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From Google oblivion to page 1 in 2 weeks for homeopathic vet site

Retiarius Internet Design recently were commissioned to upgrade and redesign the site of, London’s leading homoeopathic veterinary surgeon Lise Hansen.

A careful redesign, optimising keyword density, meta statements, page titles, page names etc, whilst retaining the look and feel of the original site, has achieved the required page 1 listing in for the search term “homeopathic vet London” in a remarkably short 14 days!

The page 1 status achieved for this site is a vindication of the methods employed by Andrew Jeffcock of Retiarius Internet Design.  Andrew employs a holistic approach to web design which marries, amongst other things, meta statements, page names, titles, keywords and keyword density to produce a site optimal for search engine spidering.

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Top 10 must have add-ons and plugins for WordPress

WordPress is one the most popular blogging platforms in use today. It has many advantages for site owners wanting a search engine optimised web site.

  • It is free, open source and therefore secure. Just download WordPress free from here
  • It is easy to use and maintain
  • It runs on Apache web servers
  • It has many fantastic free themes that can be used and modified to produce a look and feel for your site that suits your business.
  • It is almost infinitely customisable by web site designers by using the extensive free plug-ins and widgets to ad functionality and ‘eye-candy’.

This post is about the plug-ins and widgets that I think are the most useful. So here they are in alphabetical order.

  1. AddThis Social Bookmark
    Help your visitor promote your site! The AddThis Social Bookmarking Widget allows any visitor to bookmark your site easily with many popular services. Sign up for an account to see how your visitors are sharing your content–which services they’re using for sharing, which content is shared the most, and more. It’s all free–even the pretty charts and graphs. By The AddThis Team.
  2. All in One SEO Pack
    This plugin will optimise your WordPress blog so that your posts and pages are indexed more efficiently by the search engines. It is fully featured and lets you single out individual pages for optimisation.
  3. Akismet: the best comment spam protection available. It fortunately comes pre-installed, though you’ll still need an API key from This system will prevent your site being deluged with comment spam. If some should get through it makes it easy to kill the offending comments and also notify the Akismet system so that others are protected, just ast they are protecting you.
  4. Events Calendar
    This plugin and wdget makes it easy to embed appointments and events into your blog.  So if you are organising exhibitions, conferences or training days this plugin is for you. It can automatically produce a blog post from the data you input for the event and so save you time when working on your blog.
  5. FeedBurner FeedSmith: Steve Smith originally wrote this plugin to make it easy to use Google FeedBurner for syndicating your blog. Google FeedBurner has taken over its maintenance. Very easy to use.
  6. Google Analystics for WordPress
    This plugin makes it simple to add Google Analytics tracking to your WordPress blog. Google Analytics is a very powerful incoming click tracker, allowing to deep  analyse the performance of your site and see where your traffic is coming from.
  7. Google XML Sitemaps
    If you don’t know how beneficial Google Sitemaps can be to your blog then read my articles on SEO. Once set up this plugin will inform Google of any changes or additions made to your site automatically. You can download Google XML Sitemaps from here
  8. Share This: Alex King creates incredibly useful plugins and this is one of them. If you want to make it easy for your visitors to share your posts on bookmarking or social network sites, this is the one plugin you need.
  9. NextGen Image Gallery
    This plugin by Alex Rabe makes the production of in-line image galleries in your blog posts easy and effective. The in-built slideshow widget (helper application) aloows you to embed an auto-rotating  image slideshow into the side panels of your blog.
  10. WP-Cumulus
    Flash based Tag Cloud for WordPress. A bit of eye-candy which displays a graphical representation of post tags.

So there you have my current top 10 plugins and additions to WordPress.

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