bjorn-vandervoo-2014Hi, I'm Bjorn van der Voo, I'm a webmaster, digital champion, and marketing manager based in Portland, Oregon.

Formerly focused on magazine and trade publications, my work has evolved into web publishing strategies for a broad range of clients. My four main focuses are webmaster services, digital marketing, project management, and print publishing.

I help businesses with a range of services in the digital realm, from content creation to web system setups to marketing outreach. I can also help identify emerging revenue streams and foresee ways to keep processes flowing long after my work is done.

My plain-speaking manner enables me to work with a wide variety of clients and make complex projects look simple.


Back from the dead

Last week I started working on a website for a family member, another van der Voo. While creating their database name, I entered the first thing that popped into my head: "vdv". The system kicked back an error, informing me that "hey dummy, you've already got a database named that." So I said, "oh yeah, that's the database for my website," And I moved on and came up with another Db name.

I moved on and didn't get too much farther on their site. Then I came onto my site early this week to post an update. Lo and behold, the whole website was empty. Gone. Zip. Nada.

What?! I grabbed my guts and headed into the trenches, looking under the hood, and checking with the host company if there had been an attack or a hardware malfunction, etc. While I was waiting for their reply, it started to slowly dawn on me: I had tied the two different websites into the same Db.

No wonder it was blank. I had started a new blank website and swapped out all my content, here on this site.

Well, long story short, I had to do some resurrection from the dead. Thankfully I had all my bak_ Db files, and the site lives on!

Just Like Indiana Jones

Today I swapped out the architecture and bones of in the first phase of an editorial transition. I felt a little like Indiana Jones, swapping in a bag of sand to steal the gold idol. Except, y'know, not as bad-ass, and probably vice versa. I was placing gold and getting rid of the bag of sand.

Phase two will be an overhaul of the CSS, typography, colors and graphics. While not the worst CSS I've ever seen (or caused), it's starting to sag under the weight of its age, almost four years. It will be a fun challenge to start over.

Fascinating site design

Popular scifi and entertainment website just gave itself a site overhaul, and I find myself just mesmerized by its construction. On first blush, it doesn't appear like that big a deal: main column 640 pixels, right column 320 pixels. Gee, big whoop.

But check out that right column. In my Mac Firefox browser, the right column has an infinite scroll... without scrollbars. I'm a big fan of the scrollwheel (or scrollswipe as it were these days), so having the hover activate my scroll is joyous. The right column now goes on into infinity, and clicking an item loads it into the main column without effecting your position in the right column.

I haven't had time yet to do a cross-platform test, or break down its construction. It's entirely possible that it's based on the dreaded frame-designs that were so popular in the Internet's hey-day, which would be pretty funny for me to be gushing over a multi-frame-design.

But if so, it's come a long way, and if it maintains great SEO, has found a great way to inspire infinite inter-site web surfing.

UPDATE, FRIDAY FEB. 11: Turns out has announced they will be adding scroll bars to the right column. While this makes perfect sense, design-wise it makes me a little sad. It sure was pretty cool while it lasted! But for those with no scrolling interface, probably not so much...

UPDATE UPDATE, MARCH 9: Turns out is part of the media empire, and the entire web platform for all sites was upgraded. The site redesign was a huge mess, as this blog will further delve into. Somewhat more amusing in a train-wreck kind of way is the CEO's memo, which reveals little tidbits like the construction does mess up their SEO with Google (see above original posting/I-told-you-so) and that the web dev team is in Budapest.

Best Tech Support Reply Ever

For the past year or so, the tech support at my web hosting company had gone down a dark path. If I reported slow downs or non-responses from their server, their responses started trending towards UE (user error).

The messages usually went on about 10 paragraphs and covered all the ways that my sitebuild is most likely the problem. Needless to say, this got pretty frustrating. While I completely understand that my sitebuild impacts response time, if the server is broken, the server is broken. No matter how awesome my MySQL Db is tuned, it's not going to load a website if the server is busted.

Well, all that said, this is the Best Tech Support Reply Ever. I reported a server problem and a request that I don't receive a reply about my sitebuilds:


Your site-builds don't suck. Our engineers have been on this since shortly before you reported it and are seeing response times improve after they put a fix in place.Your sites should start loading within 15 minutes, if  the problem hasn't already cleared up for you. We apologize for the inconvenience."

Upgraded entire company to Adobe CS5

It took about 10 months, but I've finally updated the company to Adobe Creative Suite 5.

There were many obstacles along the way, from hardware to the necessary budget to pay for it. The first step was getting the whole team on Intel-based Macs. This included the writers, and it was hard to find the necessary equipment. Their PowerPCs were perfectly fine for writing on, but wouldn't handle the upgrade to Adobe InCopy CS5. However by juggling around equipment as people came and went over the course of the year, rather than just purchasing them right off the bat, I was able to get all the machines up to specs under-budget.