Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Remember the troops;
The wounded, the fallen;
Those who served;
Remember the mothers;
The ones who waited;
Who loved, who mourned.

Remember the children;
Fatherless, Motherless;
For a year or two, forever;
May we always guard what
They suffered for;
Hold freedom dear;
Remember them.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Don't forget your Favicon

If you're currently getting a web designed or are planning one, don't forget to include a Favicon request in your bid. A favicon is the tiny icon that appears next to the favorites in your favorite list. This icon also appears on your web tabs next to the title of your page on your browser as you cruise the net.

A favicon can further assist your visitors or customers to identify your company and brand. Favicons should be simple; they are very small, only a few pixels at most. But they pack a big punch and they're well worth asking your web designer about.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Paying to Come Out on Top

I was recently told by a company that they were paying (what they considered to be) a bargain rate of around $10 per day to stay on top of a major search engine. The CEO of the company was quite pleased when the employee that had suggested the expenditure proved that, sure enough, the money was well spent, there they were right on top of the search for those exact keywords.

There are a few points to consider if your company is planning to throw marketing money at a major search engine. First, there is more than one search provider and each handles searches a little bit differently. You can position your company on one search provider and it won't make a bit of a difference on the others. Often customers don't realize they are using Google over Bing over Yahoo and don't care.

Secondly, your company can hit the top without the extra outlay and search optimization should be part of the cost of the web design and deployment and strategy.

Or you can continue to pay a princely sum to the search engines... 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ready for your own Logo?

If you've always dreamed of having your own logo for your business you may want to check with your web designer.

Logo's and web design go hand in hand; often the same tools go into the design for each.

A design can be specially made to encompass web and print colors so that no matter what you plan to do with your logo, whether letterhead or email, tiny Android Ap or billboard, the logo will shine in any media.  

Your unique and personal logo will make your business stand out in the crowd and help your customers remember your unique brand of business.   

Monday, May 16, 2011

New Web Regs up for a Second Round

Protect IP Act is up for a second round in congress and is worth watching. The bill is designed to protect copyrighted work and has the support of the music and movie industries and other people who offer their copyrighted work on the web.

But, as is always the case when the government steps in, there are issues that could complicate matters for those having legitimate sites on the web. The bill is worth watching as it goes through the congress and can be found here at the Open Congress Website.  

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

More on Pictures

When taking product pictures be sure to get in close and show all the great details as well as all the patina on vintage articles if you want to make an online sale:

And add some interest with an odd angle and some different colored background:


Monday, May 9, 2011

Product pictures

Taking pictures of your products to post to the web can be challenging. Here are the top issues that need to be considered.

  • The pictures need to show true color: No editing here. Pictures need to be taken in daylight if possible. If the product can't be moved to good light then invest in some good lights that represent daylight.
  • The photos need to be clear. Don't skimp on this. Make sure that even if the customer zooms in the picture remains clear.
  • The photo should be close enough to give your customer a good view of your product. And, ideally, all angles should be covered. Customers like to know what they're buying. Even if you are selling antiques with patina be sure to show the patina.   
  • The background should be uncluttered and not distracting. And make sure the product doesn't blend into the background.
  • Products should sparkle. Take a closer look at pictures on the web that catch your eye before all others. Sometimes the pictures are taken at odd angles or with other artistic license. Experiment for some eye catching results.
With fantastic pictures, you'll be selling products in no time.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Finish up your Site

Don't forget to finish up your site. While getting your products listed and shopping carts working may be your priority other items are important to your online customers who may not know you quite as well as those customers that have visited your physical location. Don't forget the following:

  • Privacy Policy --Customers want to know that you are going to protect their information and not sell it to the highest bidder.
  • About us ---Here's the place to introduce yourself, your staff, and brag about all that experience you have. Don't skimp.
  • Contact Us--Provide an actual person with an email address at your dot com, not a generic hotmail or gmail account. 
  • Return policy --Best to make this as specific as possible. Keep in mind that your online audience has to trust that your pictures and item descriptions are correct when you develop your policy. Also online customers can broadcast positive as well as negative experiences to a wide range very quickly. Often customer feedback that occurs online is difficult to take back once posted. You need to keep these folks happy and satisfied.

 Be sure to finish up your site so that customers feel comfortable and protected in making online purchases from your business.  

Monday, May 2, 2011

When it's time to turn to a professional

The proliferation of templates for building websites makes it easy for the small business person to build a website. Templates are great for getting your business up on the web. Some also allow you to set up virtual shopping carts to sell products, in addition to forms that provide your customers with a way to contact you.

Templates can be a great, cheap way for a business to start out on the web. But websites are time consuming. And templates are not designed to go beyond the typical cookie cutter framework.

I often hear the same story when I'm out consulting. A business owner is enticed by a template and starts building a website. More often than not, the site that is planned is a larger one than would be recommended for a beginning webmaster. The business owner runs into time constraints. The template either does not meet with needs, can't be adjusted, or stops working all together so the business owner hires a student to take over the site. The student has a bit of coding knowledge but no practical business experience or expertise on the particular template. As the owner gets more impatient with the project, the student takes off to bigger and better things and the site is left undone, in limbo, halfway on the net, costing money but making a poor representation of the business online. Half done sites can pose a business risk.

A tech savvy business owner can develop a professional looking site. It takes time and patience. A small site that offers customers a contact form but doesn't offer online sales can take a minimum of 40 hours to design, code, and test properly.  It may mean calling in a professional for help with placement, advice, and photo optimization. Search engines need to be notified and site maps need to be made.

In the end it may be better and more cost effective to call a professional to set the foundations properly and get the site you dream about.