Category Archives: Web

Debugging Server Calls and SiteCatalyst

Doing a SiteCatalyst implementation and having trouble figuring out what’s being sent to SiteCatalyst servers? Here’s an Adobe page that contains a list of tools including Adobe’s own Digital Pulse. This page is also awesome because it defines all of the values that you may see in a request – so if you’ve ever wondered what AQB and AQE are, you’re in luck.

Personally, I’ve had limited success with Digital Pulse, particularly with JavaScript / AJAX / web applications. Digital Pulse doesn’t always pick up on changes, requiring shutting the pop-up window down and restarting it. The good news is when you do this, the last sequence of requests is preserved. The only gotcha is the order appears different in IE (latest at the bottom). All other browsers I develop with (Safari, Chrome and Firefox) list the latest server call first. Be warned – using Digital Pulse could cause you to follow a wild goose chase if you forget these problems. That said, if you’re trying to figure out what server calls are being made to a variety of Adobe products – SiteCatalyst and Test&Target – you’ll have immediate visibility to what’s being set while you’re trying to verify or debug your work.

Since I do most of my work in a web application, I live by HTTPFox and FireBug (Net) for validating requests. The same can be done in IE and Chrome’s developer tools. The great thing about HTTPFox is you can filter out all other requests. This is particularly useful if your page or application is making a large number of server calls for images, other tracking pixels, app data, etc… For my implementation of YouSendIt’s SiteCatalyst tracking, filtering by “metrics” allows me to see the image requests being made to the SiteCatalyst servers. Clicking on “Query String” displays the data that is transmitted. This technique works for both page and custom link tracking. This obviously requires you to have an understanding of your implementation, variable settings, etc… but if you’re relatively new to SiteCatalyst and ever find yourself questioning if values are being set correctly, you’ve got the basics of how to validate your tracking calls. BTW – this works with all other web analytics tools 🙂


Modifying the onClick value in javascript

I was trying to figure out an easy way of changing the onclick value of a click-able element in a project I’m working on and found this solution — so incredibly simple, and it works in Safari, FF and IE…

document.getElementById(‘clickable-element-id’).onclick = function() {functionname(parameterlist);};

10 UI Design Patterns You Should Be Paying Attention To

Smashing Magazine has a top 10 for design patterns that should be normal practice for commerce sites. These include Lazy Registration, Progressive Disclosure, Forgiving Format and more. If you’re a UI designer and don’t know what these are, take a look at the article.

In a practical sense, these types of patterns allow visitors to your site to complete their shopping tasks and move on to purchasing – the key to success for visitors to painlessly make purchases increasing your number of successful purchases.

Flock 2.0

It’s been a while since I’ve used the Flock browser. If you’re not already aware, it’s a “Web 2.0” friendly browser that centralizes your online life into a single tool. It identifies various types of feeds, as well as integrates into some of the more common online applications like popular e-mail sites, as well as places like Facebook or your own blog.

Now that I’m getting back into a lot of the social networking stuff again, I find myself repeatedly going to Flock because of its integration into “the cloud”.

What’s really nice is its ability to aggregate a lot of information I care about into a single screen — “myworld”.

I’m finding that it beats staring at RSS feeds or jumping from site to site to keep up with all the “important” stuff 🙂

Flock 2.0

Interesting thing about small businesses the web…

I’ve been noticing more and more that people who try to set-up a business on the web tend to fall into 3 categories:

  • Savvy — they understand the potential that the web has to offer
  • Indifferent — it’s just a means to an end
  • Institutional — the web is a big scary thing and that only a select few are able to participate

What I’ve found is a safe approach is a combination of the three. There’s a bit of a ying and yang to the whole thing that requires that each of the 3 categories be recognized.

Being savvy about business on the web requires thinking beyond traditional boundaries of normal commerce. This includes being proactive in communicating both brand and product to potential customers.

Being indifferent typically results in a mediocre presence — in organizations that are indifferent, this is where brochure-ware tends to occur. There’s lots of information to present about great products, just too much of it ends up on web pages… unfortunately, most of it is simply traditional sales speak that most consumers are all too familiar with… in a bad way.

See the web as institutional tends to make people who are establishing a business on the web to be overly cautious, that every element of doing business on the web is available to a select few. The reality is that conducting business on the web can be done quite easily using existing sites like eBay if you don’t have a storefront, and/or PayPal.

While there are lots of services and businesses that are available for most people at a premium, a small business can easily get launched on the web with very little money and very little time. However, doing it right should be regarded as a task that will take time.

Setting up a business on the web will require recognizing how savvy you can be in marketing your goods, differentiating the business and the goods from the competition while recognizing that indifference leads to mediocrity. Seeing the web as an institution will prevent you from being creative — it’s not a scary place that should be feared. If the web were a sandbox, the various available services are the tools, tools that can either build a simple sand castle, or an incredible work of beauty.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome - YouSendIt homepage

I installed Google Chrome on both my work PC and my home PC to play around. It’s extremely high the the geek factor because it’s a multi-threaded app with “tab protection”, meaning each tab runs as a separate process on the PC, so if one tab were to crash, or to get bogged down because of say, javascript hanging, or other browser funkiness, you can continue on your merry way. No hiccups, not stalls, no killing processes in the task manager. More as I play around it with…