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RF Cafe Has a New Look ... with More to Come!

RF Cafe Has a New Look ... with More to Come! - RF CafeYou might have noticed a new layout for RF Cafe this morning when visiting. It is something I have been wanting to do for a long time, based on the information available from major search engine companies and the plethora of 'experts' regarding expectations and requirements for modern Web users. The term used for optimizing website structure and page content is 'Search Engine Optimization' (SEO). Many of the most highly recommended tactics have not been possible because of the fundamental structure of RF Cafe, which has been necessitated by commitments made to advertisers and by long-held preferences of my own. The time for major change has come, and it began a couple days ago.

Being more Mobile friendly is a prime necessity, and that means placing primary content against the left page border rather than having advertisements or website navigation information there. You will see that the two 120x600-pixel banner ads that were in the border are now located immediately to the right of the main page content. The 160x600-pixel banners ads now sit to the right of those. Another preference for Mobile friendliness is serving a separate version of the website for the smaller screens on smartphones. I'm not there yet, but eventually will be.

As you might expect, there are about as many 'must not do' rules as there are 'must do' rules. One of the things to not do is place content in inline frames (iFrames) since doing so causes a loss in contextual relationship between the host page and the content in the iFrame. Creating hyperlinks between pages on your own website is essential to receiving a high page rank score, and equally as important is making certain that the pages contain 'high quality content.' In other words, the search engines are smart enough to know whether you have created a page whose sole purpose is to spoof the algorithm into thinking the content is unique and related to the overall theme of the website. Back in the 'old days' when meta tag keywords were heeded by search engines, a popular spoofing ploy was to include terms like 'Brittney Spears' or 'Pamela Anderson' (those names illustrate how outdated it is) in the keyword list for every page. Not only doesn't that work anymore, but the search engines will demote your website for it or in extreme cases completely de-list your website. How does that make iFrames bad? Let me explain how it pertains to RF Cafe.

The menu structure I used previously for RF Cafe is one I devised a long time ago that simulates a tabbed page. It permitted the presentation of many web page topics without cramming them into a tiny space, and to separate them into topic areas. That menu system resided in an iFrame. It was fast, did not bog down the server, and was foolproof; that is, it worked every time on any version of browser. I assiduously avoided drop-down menus because nearly all are implemented in some form of JavaScript that is, even in 2014, highly dependent on how a particular browser implements code execution. I despise a slow-to-expand menu or even worse, one that fails to collapse after moving the cursor away from it. The code severely bloats the HTML file size, and at least one additional call to the website server is required to download a .js file that contains the menu operation code. RF Cafe is slow enough without being hindered by poorly executing JavaScript.

Drop-down menus via Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) styles has been possible for many years, but CSS suffered from some of the same inconsistencies as JavaScript, although not quite as severely. Nowadays, implementation of CSS functionality is very reliable, so I figured out a good way to implement the new RF Cafe drop-down menu system. The new menu is implemented entirely in simple CSS code. The benefit of doing so over the old iFrame scheme is that all of the keywords and internal hyperlinks in the menus are embedded in every page where the menu appears - which is 'pert-near all 11,000+ pages. I tested the CSS-based menu system on my Airplanes and Rockets hobby website, and it has worked flawlessly for over a month. Its contents will be tweaked over time as new material is added and to provide variety. Oh, another advantage of the former iFrame menu system was that I could change the menus and only have to re-publish the iFrame pages since that is where the information resided. Now, with the drop-down menus, the information is embedded in every HTML page so even the smallest change results in the entire website needing to be re-published. There is a way to accomplish the same result using the Server Side Include (SSI) system, but the editor I use (Expression Web) does not automatically track changes in the relative path for finding the SSI page. I don't believe that Dreamweaver has the capability, either.

But wait, there's more. Beginning January 1, 2015, you will see that all the private advertising (except for a handful that are pre-paid into January) is gone. That means all those small company logos in the upper right border will disappear, as will one column of banner ads (the 160x600-pixel column will remain). Fewer large graphical ads will result in less clutter and faster page load speeds. Many great companies have paid for a presence on RF Cafe for many years, and I very much appreciate their support, but having an obligation to people who have generously paid to be represented has limited my ability to experiment with RF Cafe's layout, focus, and content. Unless I change my mind later (which could happen), RF Cafe will be entirely supported by 3rd-party advertisers like Google, GlobalSpec, Bing/Yahoo, and Amazon. It will be up to you, dear visitor, to support them as much as possible by visiting their advertisers and purchasing their products and services. At least give them a fair chance by seeing what they have to offer.

Since many companies want to maintain a presence on RF Cafe after the private banner slots are gone, I have arranged with Google to have what are called 'Targetable' banner slots whereby advertisers can specifically designate RF Cafe (or any similarly participating website) for receipt of their ads rather than simply permitting Google to determine on which website they should appear. If your company is interested in participating please visit my RF Cafe Advertising page.

Finally, since every element of a web page requires a separate fetch operation from the host server, I decided to eliminate the auto-changing daily RF Cafe logo in the upper left page corner since it used JavaScript to do so. Instead a static version of the original RF Cafe graphic is being used. It has a larger file size than the dynamic logos, but it takes less time to request and download that larger graphic file than it does to execute the JavaScript code and make another trip to the server for the smaller logo. I also replaced the JavaScript-driven 'day in history' content with manually updating the text and hyperlinks every morning since automation required a trip to the server to get the text file content. Automating the task assured that visitors anywhere in the world would get the correct date, but faster page load time is more important. Websites can be a lot of work.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Hopefully, RF Cafe will enjoy many more years as "Absolutely the Web's most Unique Engineering Resource for RF & Wireless Data."





Posted  September 30, 2014

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