Recent Blog Posts

By Mike Gifford on 03/02/2016

This article originally written for

Optimized websites are better for the environment. Why? They are significantly faster, more usable, with content that’s optimized for SEO and user experience. This means that both computers and users spend less time waiting for the page to load.

Back when I first was creating websites, back in 1995, the Internet was considerably simpler. People were using the web at that point, but it wasn't embedded in our lives...

By Mike Gifford on 07/01/2016

This article was initially posted on Dec 22nd, 2015 in the Hill Times.

If you have been on a federal government website in the past year, you may have noticed that it looks a bit different. Or you might not. The differences to the look and feel of the sites are a bit subtle for your average user. Almost all Canadians are unaware of the imminent  plans to shift these sites to a proprietary content management system hosted in the US.  

The move from having government...

By Mike Gifford on 07/01/2016

This article was initially posted in on Dec 29nd, 2015 in the Ottawa Business Journal.

Most of us are more connected to the Internet than ever before.

Not only do we have phones, tablets, game consoles, and televisions that are connected , but we also use the net for shopping, civic engagement, social and archival purposes. New appliances, cars and devices use the Internet without many of us even knowing it. So much of our lives are tangled up in the Web, and all...

By Mike Gifford on 04/01/2016
Green roof at Algonquin College

This article was written for the 2016 Masdar Blog Contest.

I’ve been passionate about sustainability my entire adult life, all of which we have surpassed the earth's carrying capacity.

When started my business, OpenConcept Consulting Inc., my initial inspiration was to build collaboration within the not-for-profit sector. It was clear to me that many of the organizations world could be more effective if they were able to better collaborate. I saw open-...

By Mike Gifford on 26/10/2015
Drupal 8 accessibility logo.

The W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative has recently (24 September 2015) released it's recommendations for Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0. The process for releasing W3C guidelines is a long and arduous process. A Canadian institution, the Inclusive Design Institute, has taken a leadership role in creating these guidelines. If people were still hand crafting pages in raw HTML like I did when I started OpenConcept, this wouldn't be needed. Fortunately, almost everyone uses...

By Mike Gifford on 23/10/2015
Wind and solar farm in California.

Stephanie Daniels sums it up well, "Optimized sites are better for the environment. That’s because they’re significantly faster, more usable, with content that’s optimized for SEO and user experience. It’s my belief that Drupal has all of the tools in place to create sustainable websites…if you just know where to look.".

If only I had Drupal back in 1995. That was the year I built my first website for a Fair Trade Retailer called Bridgehead. Back at this time, the Internet was...

By Mike Gifford on 23/10/2015
Drupal 8 accessibility logo.

You may be familiar with the alternative text (alt) attribute that appears in <img> tags. The purpose of alt attributes is to provide a description of the contents of an image file. This description will appear when a user cannot see the image in their browser, when the image is searched on search engines, and in screen readers. But it is very easy to forget to include this text in your images and that is bad news for accessibility and SEO.
In Drupal 8, alt...

By Mike Gifford on 21/10/2015

Many of the accessibility changes that have been made in Drupal 8 are pretty subtle. Most people probably won't realize that there is a deeper blue in the header and probably won't care. There have been a lot of little changes in Drupal 8 though to improve colour contrast.

Many contributors to Drupal 8 Core check to see that Drupal adheres to accessibility standards. Colour Contrast is one of those standards. The Colour Contrast Guidelines are provided to assist those who are color...

By Liz Pringi on 20/10/2015

   Google Analytics is a great tool to see where people are browsing on your site, to monitor traffic, and possibly some other perks I'm unaware of.  ;)  So it's important to make sure it still works when you're upgrading the Google Analytics Tracking ID and updating the Google Analytics module, or just updating the module.

   Why would you want to do that?  Well: The 1.x branch of the Google Analytics module is now no longer supported, so if you want security updates you'll...

By Mike Gifford on 19/10/2015
Drupal accessibility logo.

Remember those pesky divs you typically saw on a lot of Drupal sites? Wouldn’t it be great if you could actually understand what each of those divs actually meant? Well worry no more, Drupal 8 Core comes packaged with HTML5 optimized markup!

If used HTML5 before, you’ll already know how big of an accessibility advantage this is. For those who haven’t, this blog is for you. Essentially the big difference between HTML5 and previous versions of HTML is semantics - how understandable and...

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