Jacco Blankenspoor is a website developer from the Netherlands, and is currently involved in job sites built on WordPress. You can see him in action at his current pet sites: Heathrow Airport Jobs and its successor Airport Career, which is often used in his articles as a demo.

Jacco's articles

  1. 3 A/B Testing Tools Compared

    In my recent article that covered Google Analytics alternatives, someone asked a question in the comments about A/B testing. In response, two tools were mentioned: Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer. In this post, I’m going to review these in addition to another one called Google Analytics Content Experiments, which offers simplified (but free) A/B testing functionality as part of the Analytics suite.

    If you’re new to A/B testing in general, I recommend Kerry Butters’ articles Are Most Winning A/B Test Results Misleading? and The Designer’s Guide to A/B Testing, both of which include more basic info on what A/B testing is and why it’s important.

    Now let’s go on to the reviews.

    Optimizely

    Let’s start by looking at Optimizely. They offer a decently priced entry plan with 2,000 visits per month, which is enough to run a few tests (or one large test). Optimizely requires you to insert a snippet of code in your header (which gets confirmed by email, which is nice) after which you can use their dashboard. You just add a new experiment, and a guide takes you through all the necessary steps.

    I prepared an experiment to test whether Google Adsense link units should be put below (how it currently is) or above the navigation links. You can see the real page here to get an idea.

    I can easily select the related code and make the switch. This is just a test, but if it was a real analysis I would also need to generate new Adsense code to measure the impact in earnings. But for now it’s the concept that matters.

    Optimizely in action

    If you run a very popular site, you can add one or more conditions to filter your traffic (like coming from a specific URL), as shown below:

  2. 5 Apps to Enhance Google Analytics

    After looking at 5 Great Google Analytics Alternatives in a previous article, we thought it would be useful to look at services that allow you to enhance your existing Google Analytics data.

    It is quite easy to connect your Analytics account to a third party app, and to look at your visitor data in a different way. This can be useful for SEO purposes, or for a deeper drill-down into your visitor data.

    To show you what can be done, I’ve selected 5 services that allow you to enhance your Google Analytics data — all you need is a working Google Analytics account.

  3. Magento vs. X-Cart (+ Screencast)

    It’s been a while since I did my last Magento comparison, and the sad thing is: Nothing much has changed since then. Magento still looks and works the same, and in this industry standing still is the same as moving backwards.

    True, Magento has moved on from version 1.7 to 1.8, but that was mostly rolling out bug fixes. And it still has some serious flaws which haven’t been addressed. Any real progress seems to be stalled while awaiting for Magento 2.0, the version rumoured to be heavily influenced by eBay, its new owner. This should be a real leap forward and should make Magento the top dog again. But the fact remains, 2.0 is still far from being ready.

    And then there is X-Cart 5. While it technically follows up on X-Cart 4, it is a rebuild version of this decently successful shopping cart. Basically X-Cart 5 is to X-Cart, what Magento 2.0 should be be to Magento 1.8. And with X-Cart having a rapid development cycle, this could mean X-Cart 5 takes the lead – at least for small- and medium sized business, which is where X-Cart is at its best.

  4. 5 Great Google Analytics Alternatives

    If you manage a website, there’s a good chance you are using Google Analytics (GA) to keeping track of your visitors, or you are considering using it. GA is an excellent product, and given the fact it’s free makes it a very viable and attractive solution to many website owners.

    But it has its flaws and imperfections, some of which are:

    It’s Google
    They already know so much about you, should they know your web site stats too?

    Real-Time
    GA does have a feature to view real-time stats, but it could use some improvement so it can be more than just a fancy counter.

    Time spent on page
    GA can’t really keep track of time spent by a visitor unless he or she moves forward to the next page. This means, according to GA, if a user closes the browser tab, the visit length counts as 0.

  5. WordPress Hosting Compared, Part 3: Cloud & Shared

    Welcome to part 3 in our WordPress hosting series. In part 1 I explained the various options, and in part 2 I showed you how to install WordPress on a VPS (Virtual Private Server) and on WordPress.com. In this part I will take you through the steps needed to install WordPress in the cloud, and […]

  6. WordPress Hosting Compared, Part 2: WordPress.com & VPS

    In part 1 of this WordPress hosting series, I showed you the differences and benefits of four different solutions. In this second part I’ve prepared a screencast in which I show you how to set up a WordPress.com based site, and I install WordPress on a VPS (virtual private server). WordPress.com As you can imagine, […]

  7. WordPress Hosting Compared, Part 1: Overview

    If you develop WordPress websites, you have probably come across WordPress hosting. This can be hosting your WordPress(.org) site with a specialized provider or using a specialized set up, or hosting it on WordPress.com itself. In this article I will explain what exactly is WordPress hosting, and when you would probably need it. In the […]

  8. Why You Need Transactional Email

    Introduction Transactional email is all around us, but you quite possibly don’t recognize it as such. Also referred to as app-based email, it is the little mail you receive after performing a certain action, or an action is taken for you (more on that later). Sounds easy right? At first it seems so, until you […]

  9. Taking Windows Azure to the Next Level

    In my previous tutorial I showed you how easy it is to set up a simple HTML site or Magento web store on Windows Azure. Now it’s time to take it a step further, since these examples only touched the a minor part of the Windows Azure feature set. I will now show you how […]

  10. How to Use Windows Azure

    You’ll no doubt be aware of the great contest SitePoint is currently holding in conjunction with Windows Azure. Push the Web Forward invites you to take on one of three challenges that involve uploading an app or website to Windows Azure. There are plenty of cash prizes, up to $5,000 for the toughest challenge. The […]