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Jun 102012

Kirby “a text based CMS”

I’ve been playing with Kirby over the last couple of weeks, and am really quite impressed so far. The whole idea is based around a flat directory structure within the Kirby folder structure with no database (just text files).

This offers advantages in terms of weight of CMS (much lighter than wordpress) and ease of backups etc – backing up the site means you have everything, so no need for a db backup as well and it has the added advantage that you don’t need to know how to administer a database.

At Kirby home page along with some sample themes and various extensions etc

Installation is dead easy, simply copy the whole of kirby into your target folder and then run the “index.php” file which tells you what else to do (this is basically just edit the site/config.php file to tell kirby where your site is and whether rewriting is on or not, again all this is described by the install page – I just copied and pasted the stuff from the web page into my config file).

Running from a sub folder is slightly different as you will need to change the .htaccess file to point to the subfolder via the RewriteBase entry; because mine was in a root subfolder I edited the line to be:

RewriteBase /customers/kirby-cms-diakonia

And made sure that the config.php file had rewrite set to true (I believe this is a kirby default, but I had to change it on my local version to get it to work in IIS). This all then gets the URL rewriting to work so you get nice friendly URLs.

The content all lives under A folder called content and is split into sub directories all named NN-text, so for instance an About Us folder might have in it:

  • 01-about-us
    • 01-who-we-are
    • 02-what-we-do
    • 03-staff
    • about.txt
    • etc

The sub folders prefixed with digits then become sub-pages to the About Us page; the “about.txt” file is the content of the about us page (written in “kirby text” which is a mixture of flat text and HTML etc – still learning that).

Folders that aren’t prefixed with digits become hidden folders, and can be used for other assets etc. These would need to then be defined in your templates.

An assets folder contains your own site written assets, like css, javascript and any generic images like logos etc (or whatever you want). In the example I’ve been developing my assets folder looks like this:

  • assets
    • css # css used throughout site, linked via “header.php” snippet
    • js # javascript (includes colorbox lightbox plugin; and some other stuff I use including some simple “show/hide” stuff)
    • images # images like site logo, stuff that goes on the header/footer etc

Snippets are pieces of PHP that you use for whatever, the default kirby theme ships with a couple of snippets for the header & footer of each page (header.php, footer.php) these are then used in whatever page theme (template) you wish to develop. Snippets live in a folder called snippets under the site folder site/snippets

For the stuff I’ve been playing with I rewrote the header & footer snippets and then added some additional ones of my own namely:

footer.php # amended version of page footer snippet
header.php # amended version of page header snippet

I scrapped their menu & submenu snippets, because I wanted to have a drop down style menu and their versions didn’t do that so I wrote my own and called it:


I then also wrote some library routines to do things like read all the image files in a folder etc (using the kirby classes etc) and put that in a snippet called:


I also included the standard kirby breadcrumb snippet although I haven’t used it yet.

This is where you put all the snippets together to create a web page. This is probably where the flexibility of kirby comes in, for any site you can easily define multiple templates (in fact each page could easily have a different template).

The default template is called “default.php” and is used whenever there is no specific template for that page, the other templates can be named whatever you want and any page that you want to use that template needs to have a text file called:

[template name].txt

So for instance I wanted a profile style template (basically it had text on the left and 250px images on the right picked up automatically from the folder) so I created a profile template for that, and then in the folder the web page content was in a file called profile.txt

I wanted my own gallery, so wrote a gallery template (called gallery.php) and in any folder where I want a gallery I just have a text file called gallery.txt – it all makes sense once you start using it. The templates that I’ve currently got are:

default.php # default page layout
home.php # my home page template (pick up first visible page)

Like snippets, the templates folder lives under the site folder site/templates

On the Kirby website you can view (and download) a few demos including a couple of blog themes, the “Slacky” theme is a good one to download as you can look at the code used in their templates to get a good idea of how the thing works.

The site documentation is pretty good and there is a really helpful cheat sheet for kirby functionality (again available from the kirby site) etc. There is also an extensions library which includes stuff like RSS feeds, twitter etc – but haven’t used any of these yet.

I have written a demo live website using kirby, the URL is so if you want to see it in action have a look there.

If anyone wants a copy of the site, including the code that I’ve tailored, simply comment on this post with an email address and I will send you a link to a ZIP version and then you can pull it apart for yourself.

* I have added quite a lot of comments to my code and templates so hopefully it will make sense *

Finally kirby also offers a CMS admin/maintenance panel which allows users to edit content, upload images etc and the download to that plus install instructions are also available from the kirby site. I’ve only just started to use this but it seems to work ok.

Have a play its a simple, very flexible, CMS and as more people use it, it will only get better; download the demos and just try it (free to try, £30 €30 to buy).

 Posted by at 11:11 pm

Subdomains vs Subdirectories

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May 302012

A decision to use either subdomains or subdirectories may arise when a company is looking to implement and integrate a live blog to their site. They would toss over or Both are very different and treated very different. The first option, is a subdomain and is seen as a separate domain independent of the root domain, On the other hand a subdirectory like is basically a folder that is on the same root domain. It is treated the same as the root domain but just a categorizing folder. It is like a label to say everything with this subdirectory is similar in a certain way. In the above example if we decided to use a everything in that directory would be a blog post.

From a SEO perspective subdirectories are much better as they are seen as folders within a root directory and will share the hard earned page rank and link juice. The page rank and link juice diminishes as you go deeper into sub directories so it is best not to create too many directories within directories. At most I would recommend going no further than 2 subdirectories deep. Subdomains are treated separately to their root domains and is considered a different site altogether.

Recommended times to use subdomains

  • Completely different information or product – You may choose to use a subdomain when you have a website that has multiple different themes, ideas or distinct product lines. This is a good way to separate content and organize information in a logically and clear manner for users to interpret. An example of a use of a subdomain for this purpose is Their news search is a completely different product that they offer so they have decided to host it on it’s very own subdomain.
  • Multiple listings in SERPs – With subdomains it is possible to have your site rank multiple times for a single query. Google will display a maximum of two URLs from the same domain for any given query. With subdomains you are able to rank more than twice and potentially saturate the SERPs.Remember search engines treat subdomains as being separate so it is possible to rank more than twice for keywords, especially brand related searches. SEObook does an excellent job with this for the keyword “SEObook”. They use subdomains such as and
  • Target Particular Keyword – You may want to use a subdomain if you are looking to aggressively target a particular keyword. For example if you run a pet store and you want to try to rank for the keyword “dalmatians” you may set up a subdomain – You will need build quality links to this new sub domain preferably with the keyword, dalmatians as the anchor text. With the appropriate resources you are able to become more competitive for keywords that you target with multiple subdomains.

Recommended times to use subdirectories

  • For smaller sites – Subdirectories are more appropriate for smaller sites as it keeps all content in one place and just categorises them by basically putting them  into folders.
  • Keep all page rank and link juice – Probably one of the strongest arguments to using subdirectories is all content shares the same page rank and link juice from the root domain. In the short term it gives the content in subdirectories a much better chance of ranking. Any link building to the content within subdirectories benefit the site as a whole. Subdirectories allow site to grow in authority much faster
  • Site Organization – Subdirectories are a good way to organise content on a website. Subdirectories allow you to group similar pieces of content or information. It is similar to a folder structure on a computer and can be treated/used in a similar way.

As you can see both subdomains and subdirectories are treated very different by search engines and have completely different effects on SEO. In most cases subdirectories will be most beneficial as you are building authority and strength to the single domain with all your efforts however there are times when subdomains just make more sense.


 Posted by at 10:09 pm

How much you can make on SEO

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May 052012

Well you know you need to make a living from webdesign. I am mixing web design and SEO and it is working well. I start with improving sites that are live and new work just falls off it without networking hard or spending any money on advertising. Current fees are about £600+ a month from SEO stuff. I will put more tit bits up. Worse bit s you have to hack other designers work and that is time consuming and everything breaks !! Best bit you learn from others mistakes!!!!!

 Posted by at 12:06 pm

29th February – ‘Social Media and Communities’

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Apr 252012

Today the subject was ‘Social Media & Communities’. Pricilla began with her presentation about ‘Communities and Forums’; this was followed by Aimee, who talked about ‘Facebook for Business’. James then presented further information about these subjects.

I found the presentations today very amusing and I learnt a lot of information from them.

Later we were taught about what you can achieve on Twitter and that it is very similar to Facebook. We were also told about the search widget for Twitter, which would show tweets for all different subjects.

Then we talked about YouTube and its benefits, such as that the videos come up at the top of Google searches. Because of this it can be a very good way to advertise your business. It is also ok to embed other people’s videos in your site (if they are available to do so), but one down-side to this is that it may not communicate your name as well.

It is becoming popular to include links to social media pages, so that people can sign up and then post things on there and share it with others. and are two good websites that can also help with this. They add the extras of being able to email or share parts of the site with other people.

Also having a link back to your site from Tumbler, Flicker, or more especially Facebook and Twitter can bring more people to your site.

22nd February – ‘Revenue Generation Models’

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Apr 252012

Today’s lesson subject was ‘Revenue Generation Models’. There were three people giving presentations. First was Gary who covered site advertising, and next was Imran who presented Subscription Websites. Finally Olan presented Freemium and James ran through some extra information afterwards.

I found all of the presentations very interesting and learnt a lot of information from them.

When advertising is included on a website it will be important that thought goes into the positioning of the ads. Then this will make sure that it is still attractive for the users. It is also important that you think through if your website is in a subject that is appropriate for advertising.

Advertising can be a very useful way of generating additional income from websites. However, it is important that the ads do not dominate the site and therefore drive away potential customers.

We were then informed about the different advertising pricing models. There are CPM, CPC, ECPM, CPA, Tenancy and CPS. I didn’t realise that there are so many types! CPM is costs per thousand (mille) impressions; CPC means cost per click, ECPM means effective cost per thousand (mille), CPA is cost per action. Also tenancy is a flat rate that is agreed and CPS means cost per sale.

We then talked about ‘Hard paywall’ ‘Soft paywall’ and ‘No paywall’ areas. ‘Hard paywall’ means sites which require paid subscription before content can be seen. I would say that we all agreed that most ‘Hard paywall’ sites e.g. The Times and Which Magazine are not going to last much longer. The reason why could be because there will be other competition out there, usually some for free.

‘Soft paywalls’ let customers view a specified number of articles and then demands paid subscription to read further. Where as ‘No paywalls’ are when the website will always be free for users to visit and read the information.

One of my favourite things of the day was the sponsorship on or I will definitely look into using them for the future. Near the end, James mentioned that sometimes people may not like having to subscribe for a site (and it is not needed on his). I think that I would give people the choice –a free area and an extra  subscription to view more detail.