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October 2009 Features » Adobe InContext Editing, AdWords Conversions, IE 8 Web Slices

Nancy McCord, Owner of McCord Web Services LLC.Dear Friend,

I am just back from a wonderful trip to the San Francisco area to see my husband graduate from the Navy Post Graduate School's MBA program. You can visit my Facebook Fan Page for all the photos from our trip. California is really beautiful at this time of year.

Best Regards,

Nancy McCord

Connect with me online on Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Plaxo | Naymz

Adobe InContext Editing | AdWords Conversion Problems |IE 8 Web Slices Explained

Adobe's InContext Editing Reviewed

We've looked Adobe InContext Editing over carefully.Over the past several months I have really been running Adobe InContext Editing through its paces. I wanted to share with you my thoughts on this new product from my real world use and client testing.

First, Adobe InContext Editing is now ready for client implementation. This is an excellent and exciting new product. It is one that I think, after you read my review, that you may want to consider implementing on your own website.

What does Adobe InContext Editing Do?

This is new online service allows website owners to update their own website content without a webmaster. It is not for everyone, but for some clients it will be an excellent new tool. If you make regular content and image changes to your website, want to have total control over your wording, change your wording when it suits you, or if you want to save money on webmaster services for routine changes, Adobe InContext Editing is perfect for you. At this time, the service is free for developers, but we do expect that in the near future this will change. Your web developer may bill you about $20 per month or so for access to this online application. Set up fees are typically billed by the hour and most sites, that are not over 25 pages, will run about one hour or so to set up the code to allow you to do your own edits. Allow about 15 to 30 minutes for online training to be ready to take over doing your own future webmaster updates.

What can you do to your site with InContext Editing?

You can add, copy, change or delete text on a page at will. You can add images and in general make all of your own website content updates yourself with Adobe InContext Editing.

If you want to add or delete rows in a table (that holds data or images) on your website you have that option.

Additionally, based on the editable region set-up done by your web developer ahead of time, font colors, styles and font sizes can now be under your control as well.

You can also easily install images by browsing your computer, your website, or the web and insert them on the fly. Resizing your image within the application is easy too.

How is InContext Editing Implemented on My Website?

For developers, set up is pretty straight forward. You configure access in the InContext Editing control panel as you do a typical site for FTP access. The client's website pages need to be modified to allow for editing. As the developer you can assign editable regions, repeating regions. Font style settings can be detailed for each region. These editable regions are similar yet different to regular Dreamweaver template sections. These special regions carry a special InContext Editing descriptor and a special JavaScript script is installed on your page as well to allow the application to make changes to the page.

I have found that it is best to use Dreamweaver CS4 for setting up the editable regions. You can still hand code in the needed elements in Dreamweaver CS3 but Dreamweaver CS4 makes it much easier and allows you to edit these editable regions you have set up from with in Dreamweaver when changes need to be made. For me, this was worth the $199 upgrade from Dreamweaver CS3 to CS4.

Anything else I need to know?

Adobe InContext Editing gets a thumbs up from McCord Web Services.Adding images does require the end user to understand that they need to click "Advanced" or "Additional Options" on the top right to add a vspace, hspace, no border and an align attribute to make the image look good with in the text.

I have found that the application is easy to use by clients but a bit of online training is needed to help them feel fully comfortable with the interface. That being said, the application is easy to use, intuitive, and for many clients the perfect solution for their webmaster needs.

It is important to know that the end user does not have HTML source code access to the page that they edit inside InContext Editing. If they want to install a snippet of JavaScript they will still need a regular webmaster to install these elements for them into the HTML source code. Additionally, many developers will not allow the client to edit layout items, navigation or other page elements. The developer decides which elements the client can safely edit on the page in advance preventing the website from being inadvertently broken by the client while doing an online edit.

Who should NOT use Adobe InContext Editing?

That is hard to say, most template driven websites that do not allow a developer access to the source code or hosting server would be precluded from using this application. If a developer can access the source code files and can access the server using FTP just about any website can use this product.


My overall impression is that this is an excellent new product and one that will be a "game changer" for webmasters, web developers, and clients. Clients want to save money, they want control over their website and now web developers and designers can make it easy for clients to have the appropriate access.

This application allows for a custom designed website to have many of the features of a online template driven website or the ease of use of a site with a content management system installed without the programming headaches. There will always be reasons for a client to have a webmaster make a special change on their site, but with Adobe InContext Editing easy text updates will be at the client's fingertips now using their own browser.

From a web designer viewpoint, designing for InContext Editing use does require a bit of a refocus but not a major change. Editable sections need to be set up and enclosed in div tags with unique IDs.

On one ending note, I have to say that as Adobe has tested this product it has done a remarkable job in its contact with developers and in their support forum. This unparalleled level of participation with the professional community to create a product that will help developers and consumers alike is most unusual and a mark of Adobe's level of service excellence in the creation of web applications. I believe that Adobe InContext Editing deserves your careful consideration.


PayPal Wreaks Havoc With AdWords Conversion Tracking

I wanted to bring to your attention some issues in using PayPal and tracking conversions on sales on Google AdWords in this issue.

PayPal QuestionsRight now with PayPal, if the user selects to purchase with their PayPal account they will be automatically be redirected back to your selected landing page in which you have embedded your Google AdWords conversion tracking code. However, if the customer selects to pay by credit card (not the one tied to their PayPal account), they will no longer be automatically redirected to your landing page accruing a conversion. For this type of user, your buyer must now click an orange button to return to your website on their order confirmation page.

If they perform this action, they will go to your landing page and a Google AdWords conversion will be recorded. If they choose not to click the orange button to return to your site, the sale is recorded, but a conversion for Google AdWords is not recorded. This is a very big problem for any client who is using PayPal and then marketing these services on Google AdWords and really needs to know conversion statistics.

As a Professional Google AdWords Account Manager I will not be recommending that clients use PayPal if they are promoting their items on AdWords unless they are using a third party PayPal Web Pro integrated shopping cart. As an account manager, the recording of conversions is one of our biggest tools to understanding if the advertising spend on AdWords is an investment or an expense.

So what can you do if this is a problem for you?

1. In your PayPal settings you can force all users to use either their PayPal account or set one up. This means they will be redirected at the completion of the order to your conversion tracking landing page.

2. You can move to a different credit card processing program – I use Sage Payment for my online credit card transactions. Although PayPal makes it very easy to do online transactions, the issues in regards to accurate conversion tracking may force you to use an alternative service.

3. You may even want to test, for two weeks or so, forcing customers to use their PayPal account for transactions online and see if you receive complaints. The reality is that most people who do buy online at some point have set up a PayPal account, but for some reason may not want to use it. If tracking a conversion is crucial to your business, you may need to force them to use their PayPal account to shop on your site.

It is easy to change this one setting (forced use of the buyers PayPal account) in your PayPal account settings and easy to undo as well. If you choose not to do this, you and your AdWords account manager simply need to be aware that some sales simply will not be recorded as AdWords conversions. If that is the case, AdWords conversions and overall sales should be evaluated together when reviewing the success of an AdWords program. The big draw back to all of this is that your statistical data on which keywords convert for you and which do not will not be accurate.

I wish these work arounds were not needed, as the redirect issue has not been an issue before, but for some reason PayPal has decided to make these important changes in the order confirmation page that impact conversion tracking forcing us to look for alternatives to their service.


IE 8 Web Slices Explained

IE 8 has a cool new feature that some websites can and should use, it is called a web slice. In essence a web slice is a small section of your page that you update either manually with HTML or dynamically with a script and allow a reader to subscribe to that snippet.

By subscribing to this special snippet, readers can see any new entries you add to your web slice section in their browser instantly when you add to or update them.

Here is an example on one of my own pages. On the right of the content you will see a gray box that says "MWS New QL Template Features". If you mouse over this box and have IE 8, a green icon will show to the top left of the content. Additionally, take a quick look in the browser bar and you will see a new green web slice icon has also been illuminated. If you mouse over the slice box in the content you can choose to subscribe to this snippet. IE will place a link to this snippet over just above the tabs on your browser pages.

Web SliceOnce you have subscribed, anytime I change this section on my site, add a new link, a new photo, etc. your browser link will show the new updated content. You can view the content on demand. If you ever want to remove this code snippet. Just right click the item above the tabs and select delete.

I have to say I spent a few hours learning how to set up and style the snippet initially to make it look good. Here is a great tutorial on how to make the code that I used at CODE Magazine. The code is pretty straight forward. What took time was to figure out how to style the snippet that showed in IE.

I found the first div tag controls the font color, size, and background. If you do not style this first div tag IE will pick up your own website body tag background and coloring which in some cases can be a problem. Testing and tweaking to style it properly may take a bit of time using trial and error, but once you get it, you will be able to quickly add the same syntax to other pages or web slices on your website.

How would a website use web slices?

Well, the possibilities are endless! Some sites may choose to show current coupon codes, showcase new features, highlight new products, introduce specials or other timely information. You don't need to programmatically insert information. Once your "shell" is styled and set up to your liking you can embed this on any page and just change the content using regular HTML.

Take a look at my web slice page, subscribe to it, and see what you think.


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