the internet ideas blog

Monday, July 30, 2012

Adapt or a spoiler alert will be issued . . .

In light of the recent gaff by NBC in trying to hype up the Olympics in a time when technology has the score before prime time it has become screamingly apparent that it's time to adapt.  In case you don't know what I'm writing about, let's just say the twitterverse already knows who won the gold medal in whatever event is airing tonight - hours before NBC puts it on TV.  But that's just one example of a practice that's behind the times.

People are more "with it" than ever before and our ability to adapt is challenged every day.  It used to be that email was the best way to share photos with relatives, now it's Facebook.  A few years ago you could find just about anything out about a company on a search engine alone, now you read the reviews on Yelp or ask a twitter friend for a reference.  Traffic was measured by footsteps into a place of business, now it's measured by check-ins on Foursquare.

And all this seems to be happening at a lightening pace.  Each new day here brings another new, cool technology that we want to try.

But some companies are lagging behind, failing to see the need to "catch up."   Last year Netflix nearly lost it all by trying to put together a pricing model that didn't make sense to anyone all in a quest to make their services more accessible.  While at the same time, cable television companies keep raising rates while they lose subscribers to more affordable, easily accessible services.

I remember when we went to all email invoices.  A full year later I still had customers asking me to "mail" them a "print copy." *huh?*

When I first started in this business it was about getting a website, then it became about finding your website, now it's about getting more people to do business with you via your website (which, by the way, I think should have been the goal all along).

Today, more than ever, you have to be able to adapt.  Whether you change the way you do business to suit today's customers, change the way your company uses technology, or just change your own way of thinking about things.  How will you be adapting?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Inspiration

So I'm sitting here on a Sunday morning doing what I always do, play catch up.  This is the day of the week that I look back on what I didn't get accomplished and try to get it done.  Content for clients, wait for design inspiration and have a few minutes to focus uninterrupted on client strategies.

While catching up on some of the blogs out there I found some interesting inspiration that reminded me that some of the greatest successes came out of some of the most dire economic times.
"In 1876 the US was in the middle of a six-year recession. It was in this year that Thomas Edison established General Electric, now the third largest company in the world. A garage in Palo Alto at the end of the Great Depression was the launching pad for Hewlett-Packard. Harvard University dropout, Bill Gates, founded Microsoft in the recession of 1975. Existing companies have also been able to set the stage for great success in the midst of economic turmoil. For example, Burger King launched its now famous Whopper during a recession in 1957." (Whitestone Partners Inc blog)
Really cool to think that we are living in great times.  Yes, I mean now.  With all the cool technological advantages that have changed the way we communicate, keep in touch, and do business I know the next great thing is happening right now.  It's happening in the world today.  I think about how far the world has come and it's exciting, I'm excited.  I hope you're excited too!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Don't BCC Me!

Several times a week I receive email that has been sent to a rather large group of parents ... all of us are copied in the "bcc" field of the email.  BCC stands for "Blind Carbon Copy" - a throw back to when we actually used carbon paper to copy all correspondence (yes, I'm actually old enough to remember that!).

The idea behind using the BCC field is that no one else can "see" who is on the list.  Well that's not really true.  In fact, with very little effort, I can see every name and email address that is receiving the same email.  In gmail (which I love) all I have to do is ask it to show me the original of the email and I get the full list.  In Outlook, it's as easy as "view source."  I mean really, it's extremely easy to find out if and who has been "secretly" tagged to receive the email.

Some people may say that it's no big deal but I personally consider it an invasion of privacy.  Here's why:
Just like I can see those addresses, so can everyone else.  The intentions of the other recipients may not be as respectful as mine.  For example, on a similar list with parents of the gym where my daughter cheered I suddenly began receiving solicitation emails from the woman who sold jewelry through catalogs and home shows.  There was no "unsubscribe" option but a check of the source (as above) and I found she had BCC'd every single parent on my daughter's team along with the rest of the gym.  Why did she think it was okay to suddenly start sending me email to buy jewelry, I had never requested this information from her.  Now my email address was spread to even more people I didn't know.  I also got insurance solicitations in the same manner.

To me, when you give someone an email address it's like giving them your private cell phone number, you only give it out when it's okay for someone to call you.  If a telemarketer got a hold of your cell number and shared it you would be pretty upset.

The best thing to do is use a broadcast email service! Everyone's email is private and the message still goes out. As a bonus, you can see who received, opened and clicked in the email so you'll know that your large group is on board.

Monday, July 09, 2012

To Avoid Dan's Rambling, Scroll To The End

This isn't me but he reflects what I've been feeling this morning!

Dan's Monday Blog Disclaimer: This is a blog and not a professionally written article, just my ramblings, so remember that when you're scratching your head thinking “What the heck is Dan talking about?”. I'm trying to explain the way websites should be written and pages ordered and linked together.

The internet brings most visitors to your site via 2 methods, search results and direct links (typing in your web address).

We all know how to “google” something we are searching for information on, this is called a search. Search results are a list of links to pages on many different websites all put in order by what best fits what you typed in the box, but where how does the search engine find all these and know which are most relevant? I couldn't begin to tell you how they determine what's most relevant (I know some of it but it doesn't really make sense), but I can tell you how they find the pages! Search engines have “spiders” (don't reach for the Raid, these are good spiders) that “crawl” all the pages of your website and read it, that's right, they read the actual words, so using pictures with words really hurt your website from coming up in search results. After they have crawled your site, which takes place anywhere from once a month to every 4 to 6 months (depending on how often you make changes), the pages and text are indexed, resulting in all the websites in the world being read and indexed. When you type in “Dan Hansen, Wichita”, the search engine looks for these 3 words occurring on the same page and puts a higher rank when they are used together. The search engines of the 21st century also take into account things like where you are and give you results accordingly (you wouldn't want to see results for Miami if you are in Seattle searching for “hot tubs”. Back to where I was going, the search results link to a specific page on your website, so the results most likely aren't linking to your “home page” but to other pages that contain the actual information, thus bypassing your home page. This is the major reason that you should optimize all of the pages of your website and make sure that if someone “lands” on a page that isn't the home page, that they still know where they are (your company), what they can do (contact you, order an item, or request information) and direct visitors to other relevant pages on your website.

Now for the 2nd method, direct links (don't worry this part is shorter). When you direct people to your website, either through putting your web address on your business card and brochures or by those expensive TV ads you run with your web address at the bottom, you are sending them to a particular page, usually your home page (I'm not going to get into landing pages). So, let's say you have 10 products for doing 20 different things and you have a page on your website for all 10 items and all 20 applications. When people land on your home page and they know you make products that seal plastic bags, they are probably going to be looking for links that say “plastic bag sealing” if you have that link then awesome, they will click on that and read about bag sealing, but here's where some people make mistakes, from this page you should have a link to the 2 pages of machines that you have that seal bags. Some sites just have a page links to what their products do and a page that list all of the product, so you have to guess at which machines do what applications, because they know that search engines are bringing traffic to the pages but don't take into account the connections to other parts of the website.

In a nutshell I'm emphasizing the need to optimize all pages of your website as well as have a logical flow and connection of the pages within the site.
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