Internet Marketing Explained to My Niece

I help businesses grow and get customers via the Internet.

So if you Google something, my customers need to come on the top of the page. That is Part 1.

Then, when the customer goes to the website, do they like what they see? Is it easy for them to use the website? Does the website convince the customer that my client is what they need? That’s part 2

Part 3 is following up. After a customer leaves, you want him to come back. I make sure my customers do that.

And part 4 is the social media. Are you on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and other directories? Do you talk to your customers online? Do they know who you are? Do they like you?

My niece: wow thats hard work !

why does Apple not support Adobe Flash?

I was testing out Vimeo’s new HTML 5 video player that’s in beta. And I was thinking about how HTML5 would compete with Adobe Flash.

Came across this interesting tidbit on the HTML5 Wikipedia page:

The HTML5 editors are Ian Hickson of Google, Inc. and David Hyatt of Apple, Inc.[3]

Hmm, now that’s interesting. Could this be why Apple Iphones and Ipads STILL don’t support Flash player? Do the people at Apple think that HTML5 will eventually overtake any need for plugin based plays and other RIAs? It seems so. So they’re dealing with the temporary pain of not supporting something because they don’t think it’s the sustainable technology. If that’s the case, I support it too.

However, it also seems like it will be at least a decade before HTML 5 becomes a mainstream standard. So what’s a person to do in the meantime?

local languages on google maps don’t make sense

Google maps is awesome 90% of the time. But the few times that I’ve needed to look up addresses and places in other countries, I get so annoyed. When you zoom into a city map of another country, the labels are no longer in English. Instead they are in the local language of that country. This makes it impossible for me to use, and understand the map. Google: why woud you choose to do this?

If I’m signed in, and my primary language is English, why then, when I zoom into Greece, I’m confronted with Greek? That’s just silly.

increase your use of web tools to expand your influence

“Whenever a communication medium lowers the costs of solving collective action dilemmas, it becomes possible for more people to pool resources. And ‘ more people pooling resources in new ways’ is the history of civilization in …” Pause. “… seven words.”

Smart Mobs by Howard Rheingold, quoting Marc A. Smith, a research sociologist at Microsoft.

What mediums do you use now? (Phone, email, Twitter?)  When do you use them? Which do you prefer to use the most? And why?

In its most simplified and boiled down form, all these various “web 2.0” tools are communication mediums. They enable participation or history making, and in their use, will have varying effects on the intimacy, quality, and complexity of communication that you have with others.

If you only use a few mediums, consider adding something to your mix right now. Each medium will have a different level of effectiveness for you and the group you are targeting. Adapt to more and more new tools at the pace that you are comfortable with. And grow your influence.

an online presence and a presence online are different

An “online presence” and a “presence online” are not the same thing.

The former tells me that an entity has taken up finite space in the online arena. It is usually static, unmoving, unchanging. It will accomplish the primary goals of any online marketing endeavor, but soon grows old and cold. Conversions start to drop. Visitors exit quickly, like they’ve walked into a graveyard. They know. This website isn’t breathing.

The latter indicates a feeling of presence. There is activity, relevance, and freshness. There is some energy here. And movement. There are conversations happening, dynamic changes, and indicators of what’s hot and what’s not. This entity has branches everywhere; in social networks like Facebook or MySpace, event postings on Upcoming or Eventful, and user initiated reviews on Yelp and CitySearch. This entity continues to take up more and more space, and has a history. Like a lived in house, artifacts abound.

list of things I love and dislike about my iphone

Things I love:

  1. I loooove the intuitive multi touch interface.
  2. Navigation and interaction are a pleasure.
  3. Hands down best internet browser on a phone.
  4. Custom applications via Safari like Pickeview for MLB
  5. Music, email, video, photos, stocks, games and phone all in one package??? Awesome!
  6. Great reception on both phone and Edge network.
  7. Solid construction and feel.
  8. Truly scratch resistant glass front.
  9. Cool sound effects for transitions, interactions, and alerts.
  10. Beautiful display and colors.

Things I dislike:

  1. No instant messaging.
  2. Finicky and sometimes slow transitioning between applications.
  3. Low quality speakers for phone/music.
  4. I get my own sent messages via email.
  5. No custom ring tones. (Yet?)
  6. No multi-contact or group text messaging!
  7. No calendar syncing via RSS. It’s got Edge and wireless, no reason I shouldn’t be able to subscribe to a calendar.
  8. No ability to delete just one text message.
  9. No mode where I can silent all alerts except incoming phone calls. (So I can keep it near me at night and not get disturbed by mail messages.)
  10. No physical UI for alerting. Like a blinking light for example. I have to slide on phone to see if I received a message.
  11. If I’m on a call, and I get an alert, my ear gets a buzz from the vibration. That’s annoying.

why are there no well designed humidifiers?

I haven’t found a single one yet. There is no “the best humidifier” out there. You have to settle for one that somewhat meets your needs.

And reviews for humidifiers fall into two categories. One type are about how much the humidifier in general helps with dryness, and not actually about the quality and specifics of THE humidifier they are using. The person writing the review would probably have made the same review for any other humidifier. The other type of reviews are complaining about something the humidifier lacks, or the experience of it, and how it annoys the person.

Here’s a list of wants:

  1. A water tank that is easily refillable without me having to remove the tank and/or bring the humidifier to the sink.
  2. A tank and fan resistant to calcium and bacteria build up.
  3. A chemical to put in the tank to keep it clean so I don’t have to wash it so often.
  4. A water tank and parts that are dishwasher safe for cleaning.
  5. No yucky wicks or filters. A wickless or filterless system that works.
  6. A fan noise level that is a soothing whisper. No rattling. No grinding. All I should hear is air.
  7. No expensive parts that need to be replaced so often. Every 6 months is okay. Yearly would be excellent.
  8. A humidity control that actually works. It shuts off when appropriate, and turns on when appropriate.
  9. An option between auto on/off or always on setting.
  10. A timer setting.
  11. A tank large enough to work for 2 days without needing a refill.
  12. A subtle visual signal that the tank needs refilling when it is almost empty.
  13. A safety feature that turns off the machine when the tank is completely empty.
  14. A stable base that sits equally well on carpets, tables or wood floors without scratching.
  15. A cord that is at least 5 feet long.
  16. Optional: An option to buy a humidifier with an air purifier. And the ability to turn them on and off independently from each other.
  17. Optional: Attachable wheels on the base for very large capacity humidifiers.
  18. Optional: A setting to blow the humid air in a fan like manner like a car AC.
  19. Optional: (This is the killer option). An option to get cool mist in the summer, and warm air in the winter.

Where o where art thou my dream humidifier?

how many passengers?

Why is “0” ever an option for this question in an online reservation site? You can’t move forward with an answer 0!

Here let me help you. Get rid of 0 as an option. Make the default answer 1. One less way to possibly make an error.

painless way to backup your most important documents

1. If you don’t already have one, get a Google Account.

2. Go to: http://docs.google.com/

3. Upload all word documents and excel files here.

Done.

in the future: the person will become the portal

I wrote this in response to a post on Zaadz on web 2.0 and networks. This relates to what I’ve been thinking about with regards to empowering each person as a portal to create exponential value in networks and communities…

This wave of attention on sites such as MySpace, Friendster, and yes Zaadz too, has just peaked. People will eventually find social network sites limiting, as they did their Hotmail or Yahoo account…. ALL these network sites limit an individual’s identity and creative expression. (The only possible exception I see with some promise are the 43 network sites.) An individual’s identity is partially dependent on the digital spaces they inhabit and interact in. And yet my identity on Zaadz (or any other social network) does not exist outside of Zaadz. If Zaadz were to go down, I would go down with it. This does not follow the way we network in the real tangible world.

Let’s say Zaadz were an actual physical place where our community got together to interact. When I leave Zaadz, I retain every single aspect of my identity (my body/thoughts/content/etc). It does not “stay” at Zaadz. I can also take that same identity to any place of my choosing, and connect with other people outside of Zaadz. The way these social networks sites are structured does not allow for this kind of interpolation or interconnecting. This does not mirror how we interact with people in physical spaces.

If I go to a Starbucks to meet a friend, Starbucks does not own or retain my identity in any way. My choice to interact with another person at a Starbucks does add to my identity. The very experience of actively being there does inform and influence my identity. (E.g. I hear a song they play, buy the album, and become a jazz fan.) My choices as to what I can consume there may be limited. And the experience of the environment may be specific. But the individual expression of my own personal identity is limitless and unbound.

So how does a “web 2.0” site start? First of all you must own and host your own domain. (E.g. ThisisPashmina.com) Then you build or find the tools and services you need to express yourself and include them on your own domain. (E.g. WordPress, Flickr, Del.icio.us) I would add a quality factor to all the tools of your choosing, and add that they must all allow for easy publishing, importing, exporting, porting/pushing/pulling of any kind really.

Now the second part takes some thinking. (I think this is the killer biz opp.) Once you have your own website (your own digital identity), how do you connect to another website? Certainly not through these old methods, where you’ll need over a gazillion different logins/passwords for each type of service…yech! There must be some overall one meta-identity that I can use, as say my agent. And that agent knows who Michael is, and always grants Michael certain privileges that I deem appropriate, no matter what services we are using. And that same agent should also allow for connecting Myspace with Zaadz. Or Google photos with Flickr. And on and on…

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technology problems where I can bring value

Does this sound like you?

  • Your department or team faces one or more of these challenges: information disorganization, stunted or bloated collaboration, loose or no accountability, difficulty building consensus, fragmented silos barely held together by a product manager, lack of innovation.
  • Your company and employees face one or more of these challenges: lack of community, difficulty sharing and building common knowledge, lack of learning and networking, lack of communication between departments or divisions, inability to take advantage of the talent and potential of each person in appropriate ways.
  • Your IT or technology team seems to be: barely able to support your basic needs, constantly behind and overwhelmed, unable to accomodate requests from other departments such as marketing/sales, too distant or removed from the needs of the managers, costing more money than any other resource with minimal returns.
  • Your product or website design efforts face one more of these challenges: unclear goals, unclear audience or ‘elastic user’, costing too much time or money, no awareness of market demands/wants, unable to prioritize features.
  • Your development is facing one, or more of these issues: constantly stalled development, what seems like excruciatingly excessive processes, a need to constantly revisit and revise your ‘specs,’ a lack of prioritization, a lack of transparency, a divide between the designers/content producers and coders/developers.
  • Your website or online application faces one, or more of these challenges: poor usability or ease of use, lack of cohesive branding, overwhelming technical support issues, poor navigation, hard to use or hard to understand administration panel, inflexible and hard to change information or design, inextensible and hard to add new features or functions, poor design, a lack of depth or quality that you are looking for.
  • Your online marketing efforts face one, or more of these challenges: poor site optimization and search results, little or no growth in your customer base or mailing lists, confusion or difficulty assessing the ROI for your online advertsing, inability to expand your market, inability to generate leads, inability to effectively convert leads into sales, confused potential customers, unclear call to action.

get the best movie recommendations – guaranteed!

When you’re surfing online for good recommendations for movies, what do you do?

Go to IMDB? Or Metacritc? Or another movie review and repository site like Rotten Tomatoes? Or perhaps you’re a fan of a lesser known movie fan site, of which there are hundreds more. Either way, if you’re anything like me, then those sites don’t actually help you pick out a movie, just sift the good ones from the bad.

Here’s a new way to get a better movie recommendation, and from your very own friends no less! If you use Tribe, MySpace, Friendster, Zaadz, Connexion, or any other social web service, go there now. Peruse your friends’ favorite movies list, and presto! You’re sure to find at least one movie that you haven’t seen yet.

It’s so simple and obvious, most people don’t even think about it!

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simple web interfaces for great user experience

Don’t Make Me Think : A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (2nd Edition)

by Steve Krug

This book lays out some clearly effective principles of usability that I would surely to look over before tackling interface design. Krug reminds us that ‘ease of use’ is what most often makes or breaks a website. “It’s a fact: People won’t use your web site if they can’t find their way around it.” Here we get proof again, that user experience is the key to any successful type of website.

While some of the stuff may be obvious, (or maybe just obvious to me,) I found his style to be amusing and enjoyable to read. He gives us a reflection of what really goes on in the head of the designer when it comes to the art of designing, and the politics that surround it. His axioms are helpful for any beginners trying to rehaul a horribly designed website, but they don’t help with any complex problems of interaction design. Perhaps Steve Krug will explain those in another book.

While I wouldn’t necessarily refer to the book as a valuable resources for design, I do believe that it is one way to bridge understanding between designers (like myself,) and non-designers. In fact, I came up with this 1-page summary of his book to educate some of my colleagues. Here it is below:

Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug – Some Key Points:

Three facts about real-world web use:
Fact of Life #1: We don’t read pages. We scan them.
Fact of Life #2: We don’t make optimal choices. We satisfice.
Fact of Life #3: We don’t figure out how things work. We muddle through them.

Designing pages for scanning, not reading:
> Create a clear visual hierarchy.
> Take advantage of conventions.
> Break pages up into clearly defined areas.
> Make obvious what is clickable.
> Minimize noise.
> Make choices (w/ wording or graphics) obvious.
> Omit needless words.

Designing navigation:
> Allow the user to browse or search.
> Always provide a way back home.
> Tell the user what the site contains and where they are.
> Tell the user what their options are and where to begin.
> Name each page prominently and place the name in the right place.
> Provide a “You are here.” indication.
> Use breadcrumb navigation where appropriate and appropriately.
> Use tabs. They are wonderful indicators of space and self-evident.

Acid test for good navigation:
> What site is this? (Site ID)
> What page am I on? (Page name)
> What are the major sections of this site? (Sections)
> What are my options at this level? (Local navigation)
> Where am I in the scheme of things? (“You are here” indicators)
> How can I search?

Designing the home page and why it’s so hard:
> It must accommodate: Site identity and mission, site hierarchy, search, teases and promos, timely content, deals, shortcuts, registration.
> Abstractly it must also: make things users are looking for obvious and expose things that users might be interested in.
> It must establish credibility and trust.
> It must convey the big picture.

Five questions the home page must answer:
> What is this?
> What do they have here?
> What can I do here?
> Why should I be here – and not somewhere else?
> Where do I start?

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Six Key Elements to Influence or Change the Behavior of Website Visitors

– Scarcity
– Commitment
– Reciprocity
– Social Proof
– Authority
– Liking

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web development process

Almost 4 years ago, Jesse James Garrett came out with The Elements of User Experience. It was the first book I read where I said, “Yes! This guy understands the big picture. He understands the context of being a user experience practitioner.” Jesse’s model is still relevant as ever for anyone involved in web development. I’ve been a proponent of it ever since I first started using it, although I’ve found that it isn’t absolutely necessary to go in a set order from abstract to concrete. Below is my 1-page summary of Jesse’s book that I often send to others as an introduction to the model.

STRATEGY > SCOPE > STRUCTURE > SKELETON > SURFACE
The Web Development Process Using the Five Planes

These 5 planes go from abstract to concrete. The critical point often comes during the development of structure. Here the team must be able to bridge abstract ideas and paper requirements to tangible prototypes.

STRATEGY:
PART I: What are your site objectives?

What do you want to accomplish with this site?
What do you want your users get out of it?

PART II: What are your user needs?

What do your users want from this site?
Develop personas to better understand needs.

SCOPE:
PART I: What are we building?

Know what is being built so you can launch in a given timeframe.
Prioritize requirements for now and decide what gets developed later.
Develop success metrics.

PART II: Brainstorm feature sets from requirements.

Develop user scenarios for the primary and secondary personas.
Define what is being implemented in a specifications documents.

STRUCTURE: (MACRO)
Take the pieces above (the feature sets: content and functions) to form a cohesive whole.
PART I: What’s the best way to organize the content and functions?

Create the information architecture for the site.
Ensure consistency in nomenclature, definitions, and language to describe what’s going on.

PART II: How does the user interact with the system? (interaction design)

Create a system that works for the personas with appropriate user behavior cues and system responses.
Develop conceptual mental models for error handling, and aim to increase efficiency of tasks.

SKELETON: (MICRO)
Take the large structural issues of information architecture and interaction design and apply it to every step, every page, every screen.
PART I: Assess the best solutions that combine interface design, navigation design, and information design.
PART II: Address these three: DO THINGSGO PLACESCOMMUNICATE IDEAS at all times.

SURFACE:
PART I: Create visual representation that can be evaluated using aesthetics and the following:

Eye Tracking – following the movement of eyes on a page
Contrast and Uniformity
Internal and External Consistency
Color Palettes and Typeface
Style Guide and Templates
Graphics and Animations that fit the brand identity

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