Author Archives: Joshua Strebel

The value add of Google Analytics.

Will the real obu please stand up, part 2.

google-analytics.jpg Google Analytics is a pretty slick package offered by the big G that is free to use. It gives you tombs of website visitor and traffic data to poor over. The obvious benefit is to track visits and visitor behavior on your website. But deep into a long session of analyzing data I stumbled upon an additional easter egg not advertised in the brochure.

Look at the highlighted regions of this next image. On the surface you say big deal. Wait for it…


These highlighted pages DO NOT EXIST on our website. So this then begs the question, why is our Google Analytics report showing pageviews of pages that are not present on the website.

It seems that in the act of stealing our website, a few wiseguys neglected to remove the tracking code.

Examples. (these are ripoffs of our old layout pre May,1,2007 see below)

This is a real bad rip off of our old site.

This web designer even took credit for his bad ripoff

This UofA student is probably upset with us because he was pulling our CSS file which we moved.. so all his layout went bye bye.

We had problems with this guy before

And Finally this guy

I don’t make a habit of pointing things like this out. But It really really bugs me when someone steals our stuff and passes it off as thier own. And do it poorly at that. Another good tool to use to find content thieves is

So finally here is one more way to spot interesting visits in your Google Analytics. Click Content > Content by Title, if you see any page titles that do not look like yours, grab them and then do this search in Google: allintitle:<page title> and the first or second result it probably the culprit.

Here is the real question, Does this hurt our website? We know that Google tracks all this stuff for their own reasons. They give Analytics away so they get behind the scenes access to your website, and mine that data for all sorts of Google projects. So if they are tracking data on that does not match the REAL, are we getting slammed?

Be a good client.

This blog post I am about to link to is rather tongue in cheek, and in no way reflects my feelings toward our beloved clients. It is however very representative of the types of prospects we see everyday. Thankfully our clients are not like this, because we only take on work from good folk that understand the value of our services.

If I had a nickel for every time I heard #1, I would have retired many years ago. Be a good client, your web designer will love you for it.

Read: Nightmare web design clients.

I will follow up with the clients perspective one of these days to be fair.

Web 2.0 Design hurting users?

In a recent article I found on Digg, Jakob Nielson attempts to make the point that current design trends with all their promise are actually hurting users.

Describing Web 2.0 as the “latest fashion”, Mr Nielsen said many sites paying attention to it were neglecting some of the principles of good design and usability established over the last decade.”

I have to agree with this statement.  Many sites are simply high on “cool” and low on substance.  If you have used Myspace, you know how terrible it is from a UI perspective.  But lets not through the baby out with the bath water.

We have gone through a few iterations of, the first of which was a showcase in cool web2.0 UI  and browser tricks.  We made the mistake of focusing on the cool over the actual use of the website, which is to plan parties. However that iteration was key to our development plan as we were testing new methods of organizing and displaying data [read innovation].

These new websites like flickr, facebook, twitter, etc. are the leading edge of web application development.  In an effort to push web applications to resemble a desktop application with the same ease of use familiar to many, web design firms have to explore new ground in website design.

“Good practices include making a site easy to use, good search tools, the use of text free of jargon, usability testing and a consideration of design even before the first line of code is written.”

Again I agree. Yet with today’s “launch early, launch often” mantra in web development, sometimes the basics in the traditional sense do not apply.  Mapping out a multi-layer UI for some new world changing whiz-bang website simply cannot follow the existing mold.

What’s it mean? Don’t forget that the user is still the most important stake holder in the website design equation.  Creating an interface that is easy to use is paramount, yet trying to apply old standards to new technology may not work as Mr Nielson is trying to do.  Also there is an air of web2.0 backlash going around that always happens whenever a trend hits the peak of the adoption curve.

Flowers and European cars: how do they relate to web design?

Good question right? I have been asked that quite a few times over the last year or so since we re-branded obu. Why does this website have rotating images of flowers and fast cars. Well here is/are the answer(s).

  1. They are reflection of me, the designer. I am a bit of an amateur road racer, and so my interest in the sport bleeds over into many aspects of my life. (Ask my wife who has to listen to me). I like cars; fast cars, and admire the lines and symmetry of car design. And flowers, well I cannot say I have a flowery disposition but I cannot ignore the natural beauty of the world around me.
  2. Together they are a perfect analogy of web design. As a web design company we are tasked with crafting a visual message using technology. The flowers are the desire to create a visually pleasing and memorable design, the cars are the use of modern technology as the medium of that message. Or said another way: We make pretty pictures with computers.
  3. The web itself is organic and mechanical. The (ready for this archaic term) world wide web is a living, breathing ecosystem that is expanding every second. The energy powering this expansion is both organic (human’s creating content) and mechanical (the power lines, server clusters, switches, etc). Without the mechanical you have limited access to information, without the organic you have a very boring and static repository of information
  4. It’s all about sensory perception. Drive a Honda Civic, then drive a BMW 535i. Inhale the aroma of a fresh picked flower from the garden, and then take a wiff of warm cabbage. We are trying to invoke a positive mental state in the viewer. If you have driven a BMW, Audi, or a Koenigsegg, or ever wanted to: the imagery creates feelings of desire, happiness, exhilaration, etc. We want you to think that way about our company. And who doesn’t like flowers?
  5. They provide visual balance. Light and dark, text and pictures, color and the absence of color (black).
  6. It’s a chance to open a dialog. Use the comment’s section and share your thoughts.

What does this really have to do with anything? Well I was taught in my college studies that you cannot have graphic elements just for the sake of having them. If the element does not serve a purpose, it should not be there. After being asked so much why I chose the imagery I did, it really made me think about it and I came up with better reasons than “it just feels right”.

Site Reboot. New CSS Design, New website that rocks.

We are happy to unveil the new design for As part of the Annual May1reboot and the CSS Reboot, we thought it was a good time revamp the already award winning We opted to keep the same feeling, yet attempted to clean up the layout by adding spacing, and removing some elements.




Well you are looking at it. Comments, Thoughts? Please share them in the comments section. Also if you feel so inclined please go the following 2 sites and vote for us.

Vote at

Vote at (search by name, find obu)

Back to your regular scheduled programming. on the move…

So our little project is moving forward in a big way.  Just in case you dont know what it is, is an online party planner that will help you plan your next party.

We have come to an agreement with some local talent and will be executing our phase 2 plan.  The additions to the website over the next 6 months will be fairly significant and really add value to our special event advertisers and users.  Keep and eye on the website over the next few months as we re-define what you know about event planning.partyplanning.jpg