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Archive for the ‘business’ Category

Sometimes you need to start over to get it right

by Matt Adams

When was the last time you used a company’s mobile app, and their desktop web site side by side and been shocked that the mobile is better? Yesterday I was using the ebay app on my ipad. I have buying and selling for years. Seriously, I think it drives my wife nuts. For years I have seen ebay upgrade their desktop experience, but also over complicate it every time.

Yesterday I spent some time listing a few things on the ipad app. Sure I shop and monitor from the ipad, but always assumed listing would be painful as it is on the main desktop site. I was pleasantly shocked.

With mobile apps, you are forced to start over, and re-think the process, the way you plan a user flow, and the interface for touch. So many businesses just continue to adjust the current version, but rarely do they tear it down to start over. The usual reason is time and money. But saving a little time and money by the company costs their customers time and money. This can lead to customer loss over time, and leave room for a competitor to come in and out innovate you.

Start over every now and then. Strip it back to the process and flow, and build something fresh. Use that experience and insight you have earned from the current version and make something better. Build the 2.0.

Why you need to host with a reputable server company

by Matt Adams

Last week a friend of ours mentioned he was having website issues. As we dug into the conversation, we found out that ‘issues’ actually meant his site had been offline for 4+ months. Yikes!  Now he hosted his site with a friend, who was “working on getting it back up”. But 4 months is too long for any level of friendship when it comes to business if you ask me!

 

So why do you need to host with a reputable company.

To avoid the horror story we just heard, here are a few things to make sure you have when finding a good web site host.

  • Server load. How many clients do the have on one server. Some of the cheapest companies have thousands of accounts on one server. Think of that like a roach motel.
  • Server access. Do you have FTP and control panel access?  You want to be able to log in, and manually save down files, run backups, etc. Maybe not you directly, but you want to make sure you have the access so you can hire someone else if needed.
  • Storage and bandwidth. Most businesses need under 1gb of storage, and 5 – 20gb of monthly bandwidth. Churches that podcast are a different story. You want to make sure you have a hard number. Companies that offer unlimited have a limit, they just hide it and decide on a case by case basis. I know far to many people with normal usage sites, that have been suspended for “resource abuse” by these unlimited companies. Frankly It baffles me that they can advertise this.
  • Support. Can you actually get a hold of someone when you need to? Many companies have amazing support, some make you wait hours. Find one you are comfortable with, because it hurts to have a massive site issue, and no one to talk to about it.
  • Backups. Do they run nightly and weekly backups? Are they offsite? Is the database included with that?
  • What restrictions do they have on WHAT you can host. More important, what are they keeping off the server that other users may be hosting. You never want to be on a server that allows porn, torrents, file sharing, etc. Its bound to tie up the server, and possibly get shut down.

So next time you need to find a great place to host your site, make sure you think through these points. And in case you are wondering, YES the factor1 severs meet all the above with flying colors and we are super picket who we host. We rarely, and I mean rarely host anything unless they are a client of ours.

Developing a strategic marketing plan

by Ryan Russel

Like life, emotion can also rule in our business lives, especially when it comes to marketing. Despite decades of proof about developing strategic marketing plans, we still let our gut instincts or the most powerful voice in the room dictate the paths for how to best engage with our audiences. Especially handicapped in the marketing arena, small organizations by their very nature, do not have a team that is dedicated to developing a strategic plan for how to connect with current customers and new prospects.

We all need a plan.

A plan that we have thought through, consulted, checked, double-checked and really worked on. The plan needs to aim at our goals and our dreams. But, working a plan is harder than running on emotions and “in the moment” results. It takes intentionality to get these end goals that we are each seeking.

The rewards of developing and tracking on a marketing plan are great. A plan can leave contingency for opportunities, spontaneity, and “going with our gut”, but a plan well developed can act as a compass or reference during these key moments. A plan influences how we spend our time, how we treat people, what we do and what we will not do. Achieving our greatest dreams and goals are the ultimate reward.

So what is your plan?

  • Have you thought through you target demographic?
  • Have you researched thoroughly what has worked for you in the past and what is working for your current competitor?
  • Do you have a list that is power-ranked of all the available marketing opportunities for your company?
  • Have you brought in any outside ideas, resources or professionals to elevate your ideas to a new height.
  • What about a budget? Did you scrape together some intentional money yet to attract new customers and retain your best?

Go get it!

Start developing a strategy for how you are going to get from here to there. Then work the plan and stay with it long enough so that you can give it a fair evaluation as compared with your goals.

Why should my company blog?

by Matt Adams

We build WordPress sites here at factor1. We love using it, and love what we can do with it. WordPress is most commonly known for its blogging tools, but has really risen to the top for Content Management Systems (CMS). I recently saw some stats that WordPress now powers 22+ million sites, and 40% of the top 100 sites.

Most of our WordPress development is for organizations, not bloggers per sé. These are mainly non-profits, churches and businesses.  While most of the sites we build are page focused, promoting products, services or general awareness, there is still the built in WordPress functions of posts and blogging. We get this question the most, and I thought blogging about it would be the best way to share the answer.

Why should my organization blog?

A notable close second: What should I blog about?

Blogging tends to have the mass public confused as to what it is, what it should be or why. Most often its associated with personal use. My definition of blogging is content that is clearly categorized, date and time stamped, and on a single topic. Blogging uses the the term ‘post’ to reference a single entry to the blog. A blog as a whole is a collection of posts. Much like a newspaper is a collection of news articles. The term ‘Blog’ has also become a verb, as one is often ‘blogging’ about a topic, in this case, it is synonymous with writing.

So why should we blog as an organization?

Search Rank
Blog posts are highly visible as new, relative content to google and other search engines. If you continue to offer free advice, tips, insight, case studies and relative industry information, google will reward you for that, for terms that align with each post based on their content.

Expertise
Users also see this content, and it can form the base of your credibility with them. Active blogging organizations win new clients, because the prospects see activity, growth, community, and openness.

Reference / Archives
The blog also because a great repository of reference material, and a location to house full articles you mention in conferences, emails or social media.

 

What should my company blog about?

Any content worth calling someone about to tell them, or mailing them a letter, is worthy of blogging. This very post is my clear example of what to blog about. We have insight and expertise to share, and we hope the people reading this find it informative. Would I call a client or send them a letter on this topic? YES, and it is our clients who ask about this topic that lead me to write it.

You can use your blog for:

  • Case studies
  • Testimonials
  • Industry news
  • Company news
  • Insight to your product or service
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Education on a topic your organization is passionate about

I don’t think you need to pick one of the above, but ALL of the above.

Any questions?

 

What if the personal experience stunk?

by Ryan Russel

Everybody loves apple.

Don’t they?

OK, let’s just say everybody loves Apple.

Everybody loves Apple but what if the personal experience stunk, just once? How many more times would you go back to their website, walk into the Apple store or buy more products? Would you keep going back if you loved the hardware but hated the people? Would you go back if you couldn’t get the help you needed? How many more units of merchandise would you buy if Apple nickel and dimed you at every point of interaction?

Seth Godin has some great pointers today about marketing. What stands out on his list is that most of the marketing that we can so easily do begins and ends with the personal experiences of our customers.

#reminders

Visual Information Moves People To Act

by Ryan Russel

We’ve talked before about info graphics.

It is an extremely powerful tool when you can take your data and simplify it into a easy to understand graphic that your target audience can read, see, experience and most of all, understand. Visual information moves people to act.

And now it seems that Pinterest is info graphics on steroids which translates into sales and also donations. Have you ever questioned the need to invest a little more in your marketing or in your digital design budget? When this article by Fast Company publishes I think it will be well worth our time to study and then translate into our businesses and nonprofits.

Consumers are shopping and they make decisions based on what they can see and understand.

More sales.
More donations.
Bigger impact for you.

Social Media is Wrong For Your Business

by Ryan Russel

More is better, or at least that is what we are told. We are also told there is no such thing as bad press. That simply isn’t true when it comes to social media. Your business could be in danger of just being a part of the noise. So how do you know when social media is wrong for your business?

Social media is wrong for your business when:

Your website is stale.
Don’t rush to be online with twitter or Facebook when your website isn’t up to date or a hub for all of the essential things that people really need to know or would want to know about your business. Social media can very easily distract you from being excellent at the core aspects of your marketing plan because it has a way of sucking up so much important time every day. Do the basics first, then focus on additional online conversations and arenas.

The conversation stops suddenly.
Often times social media for companies seems like speed dating. Well intentioned people rush into a conversation and then get distracted and quickly move on to something else. Cultivating a respected voice or dialogue on your area of business will take time. Don’t jump in if it’s just going to be a Friday night fling, because it will harder the second time around for you to get people interested if you drop the ball on the first go around.

There isn’t a reason for people to keep coming back.
What you do or what you sell is always more interesting to you than it is to us. So ask yourself the hard question, “why would people continue to pay attention to what my business has to say?” Are your going to offer regular FREE advice in your area of expertise? Coupons? Great deals? Irreplaceable insights? Profound teachings? You need to be incredibly unique or niche for us to stay engaged.

Bottom Line: Social Media isn’t for everyone and most who attempt it fail miserably. Truth is that google is still the #1 place that people go when looking for goods or services that they need or want. So evaluate first, how are your doing with your website and your local marketing plans?

Effectively Spend On Marketing

by Ryan Russel

As part of our monthly work with UMC Boulder City, we are currently engaged with them on developing a comprehensive marketing plan. UMC Boulder City is a smaller church in a smaller and aging community.

Are you a small, locally based organization or business?

Their pastor sent me her team’s initial marketing plans and ideas. I have to say that I am impressed with the thought and research that they have done. So much so that I thought I would share their categories with you and also give you an idea about how you could effectively spend on marketing, just $250 a month to start experimenting with what works for your organization or your business. Take a look. Keep in mind that you can try 2-3 month experiments and then move money around into different categories until you find the right blend of marketing that works for your team.

Effectively Spend On Marketing

Needless to say, we are excited to work with such an aggressively minded organization that really wants to get the word out about what they have going on for their community. It will be fun to help them develop both their print collateral, their messaging and their online marking presence.

 

Website Content, 5 Important Reminders

by Ryan Russel


Why these reminders about your website content?
Because content is king!

We are having a lot of fun around here with a new project for one of our longtime client’s, Amy’s VIP Events, because it’s another opportunity to go deeper and help them receive maximum impact on their site, generating more new sales leads than before. A big step forward on this project will be SEO work focused through website content.

Here are 5 things that you need to know about your website content:

  1. Words matter. There are 1,000′s of webpages not indexed properly with Google and worse yet, 23% of all websites are still coded in flash, making their website content not mobile compatible nor search friendly. Read it straight from apple.
  2. Your words must be your own. You might be in a market with a lot of common phrases, definitions and terms, but the bulk of your website content needs to be original. Google knows plagiarism and just like in school, when you copy other people’s work it hurts you more than it helps.
  3. Do Your Research. There is a lot of competition on the internet, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is stiff competition. Chances are very good that you might find a search rearm or two where there is a lot of opportunity because it they are being overlooked for more obvious terms that have many more competitors. Be sneaky and try related SEO terms where your website content can be a winner.
  4. Stay focused and patient with your words. Believe it or not, everything on the internet isn’t instantaneous. Stay consistent on developing your content using your search terms. Keep writing, some results will come quickly while changes will slowly have impact. It can take up to three months for google to recognize all of your hard work and for your to properly dial things in.
  5. You are never done. Write, write, re-write, watch your performance, adjust, continue on. Writing good copy is an ongoing process. Keep your site current. Never take down old stuff, but rather archive it or hide it, keeping it live but never gone. Google likes a lot of text and it helps the more pages that you have on the relevant topics you are trying to reach.

A piece of encouragement, writing good copy and content for your website is hard work, so don’t be frustrated if it takes you some time.
Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some of Amy’s SEO and ad placement results and also some (but not all) of our key processes. Amy’s VIP Events specializes in delivering custom Masters Tours and awesome pricing for daily Masters Badges.

We can make your site perform better too, so contact us!

Do Not Be Afraid Of Awesomeness

by Ryan Russel

You hear the crap all of the time. Why? Because you run the place. Every biting email, phone call or walk-in eventually makes it’s way to you. Yet, you can not be all things to all people. So please, do not try.

Specialize.

Remember what makes you great. Think back on the dreams that you had when you began. How were you going to be revolutionary, different, and possibly even extraordinary? That is what your business needs to be about. Make it special. Do remarkable things. But remember, you can not do it all, so you might possibly need to stop trying.

How can you do this?

Eliminate underperforming services. Can a marginally profitable product. Remove a feature of your company that takes up way more time than it should have a right to take.

Focus.

Zero in on your best ideas and your best opportunities. Find the items that will set you outside the normal expectations. Create beautiful work and services that others will pay a premium to receive or donate to if you are a nonprofit. Dream big. Execute daily. Ignore that complaints that you are not “all things to all people”.

Your Future Must Involve Change

by Ryan Russel

I want to create change, make money and work on stuff that matters. So do you. That is why you are dreaming, working, investing, planning, sweating, pushing, losing sleep and hopefully doing lots and lots of learning. Can you envision a future for your company or organization that is better than the one that you are experiencing right now? I hope so.

Business is a process. As a leader you know all too well that you can not wake up each morning and do exactly the same things that you did the day before. You must press harder into the profitable areas. You must let of things that take too much time without the requisite return or impact.

This thought process applies to your marketing and your online presence too. It can not be static. Do you know how your online presence is performing? Are you asking your users for feedback? Are you tracking your most clicked areas? Are you thinking through what your customers really NEED versus what you are putting in front of them? Do you have any idea how many potential customers are hitting your site via mobile devices as compared with desktops or laptops?

Ask 5 new people to go on your site and give you honest, real feedback. Ask them is they can find the information that they would want to find or hope to find. Ask them about their “experience”. See what they remember 24 hours later. Find out if they are impressed by your website or thought it was very unremarkable or even cheap.

Don’t be afraid.

Start asking!

Add Humanity With Your Technology

by Ryan Russel

We have all experienced the disconnect between what we see on the internet or in a advertisement and what we experience in real life. Who hasn’t drooled at the most amazing looking cheeseburger only to arrive at the restaurant and experience the worst, cold, slapped-together reheated piece of $#^! we’ve ever eaten? You and I have been disappointed and when the disconnect takes place, we are very likely to never return to that restaurant ever again.

 

So it should go without saying, your presence on the web is vital. Additionally, it is hyper-critical that what someone experiences, sees, reads and learns about via their browser actually lines up with the human touches of your organization.

So here are some simple pointers that you already know in your head or in your gut:

  • Use pictures of real people. Real employees. Real Customers. Real Interaction. Do your best to avoid stock photography and staged, ‘high-school-senior-year-book’ images. (Yes, this might require you high a semi-professional photographer.)
  • Convey actual quotes from your customers.
  • Share true stories from the impact of your work.
  • Remember, unless you are doing an incredible volume of online sales, we may need to talk to an intelligent person on the phone who speaks our native language.
  • Cut the fluff and get to the point. Extra info is great, but highlight the most important aspects of what you do!

 

To make you (and I) a little smarter, take 10 min. to see the coming future of technology merging with the real world.

Why Your Website Is Still The Center Of Your Online Universe

by Ryan Russel

Strategies vary. So argue if you would like to with this article. What is for certain is that you need to have an online marketing strategy. If you are a non-profit, your strategy is just as important for you as it would be it you were leading a for-profit enterprise.

Here’s the baseline: In order for you to be successful, people need to be able to connect with the core story of what you do.

So, if you run an AC/cooling company, your core products, services, and company characteristics need to be readily and easily available online. If you head up an orphanage in Africa, the same is true for you as well. Give us pictures, insights, compelling, life-change connections to the children that you are caring for. Let us know how by connecting with you that ultimately we are getting the most impact for our dollars. This is an ultra-competitve marketplace. I can get my AC repaired by anyone. Your service, pricing and reputation must be ‘out there’ for us to evaluate. There are hundred’s of non-profit orphanages in Africa that are vying for our dollars. Your organization must be clear and compelling. It’s your story and you want and need us to connect with it

Story telling begins on your website. It’s is the center of your online universe. It is the hub of your wheel. It is what makes everything else goes around. To steal the analogy from this hotly circulated picture (below)… your website is your bakery. Use it to put out the product that you connect all of your social media and advertising portals back to. Central to everything you do is your web real-estate. Make it mobile friendly, simple to read, intuitive to navigate, and have a domain name / url that easy to remember. Keep your content fresh and current. Have purchases or donations be smooth as silk online. Connect, link, reference, promote everything back onto your website.

 

 

 

Sopa & PIPA. A Cause for Concern

by Matt Adams

Lets pause today for a copyright, legal rights, and the internet conversation. We are creators of content, hosts of sites, and believers in free speech. So first off, we don’t normally take political sides, and neither bill is specific to one political party. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) bills circulating Washington DC have us very concerned for several reasons.

You learn about sopa & pipa here.

or watch this:

Here are some key issues.

1. No Due Process. The US Government can choose to shut down funding, and even block the site URL from us search engines and DNS.

2. It doesn’t stop the issue of illegal content. IP addresses will still be accessible and so will the content.

3. It sets precedent. What other countries will follow in our paths if this went through? Can you imagine a world with a very disconnected internet? Countries like North Korea, Iran, and China already filter internet for a variety of reasons. They shut down free speech, conflicting views and organized political opposition. This is not what we want in the US.

Tell Congress if you agree with any of this.

http://sopatrack.com/

http://sopastrike.com/strike/

The importance of mobile friendy websites

by Matt Adams

The internet use on a smart phone may be one of the fastet growing modes of communication and consumption we have ever experienced. The overall adoption rate is growing faster than radio, tv, and the internet experienced. In some countries the internet is really only available on mobile phones, like in sub sahara Africa for example.

Here at factor1, we have the strong opinion that there is no difference between mobile web and what you get on your computer. There is only one internet, just different ways to view it.

So all sites we build are mobile friendly at a minimum. And often we build more advanced sites that are responsive to the screen size and displays the content as best possible for the size of the device.

Some fun mobile facts to think about.

  • 39% of people use mobile phones while using the bathroom
  • 33% of people use mobile phones while watching television
  • 87% of people use mobile phones while on the go
  • 400% increase in mobile phone use over 2011

Based on the below InfoGraphic, What can you do to connect with people via their mobile devices?  What does your company do to reach people via smartphones?

 

Graphic via http://visual.ly/

Your business does not need a phone app

by Matt Adams

You heard me. Your business does not need a phone app in the apple or android app stores. More than likely.

Last week, a client of ours was super excited to tell me all about this new web app they are “creating”. By creating I mean they paid some phone app company a set up fee (usually $250 – 500) and $50 a month for. When I asked what the app would do, they rattled off all the amazing features. Features like a home page, news, about us, contact, directions, and product info. So I asked to clarify, that this is indeed an “app”, Yes, they proclaimed! It will be free in the apple and android app stores.

Here is my giant issue. Please hear me very clearly here.

If your app is no more than basic content found on your site, its a waste of time, money and your efforts.

Yes apps are all the rage. All the cool kids are talking about apps. Trust me, no one is going to be browsing the app store, and think to themselves, “sweet! a company I have never heard of has an app about their company / service / product, and its free!”. No, no one will think that.

Save your money, time and app lust. I have a fix for you. Build a site that is mobile friendly. We have a few ways of doing this. One is responsive. Take our site for example. Resize your browser window smaller. Bam! It re-organizes itself to fit the screen size. Navigations get touch friendly, fonts remain clear and readable. Another alternative is a seperate mobile site with the core info, that we have an auto detect script set up on. Basically if the visitor screen size is less than 640px wide, send them to the mobile site. Give them an option back to the main full site. Yes, you can still use a QR barcode to direct people to your mobile site. They can call you, map your location, and learn more all from the mobile web, with no need for an app.

You may have a need for an app. If your idea is functional, helps a user, provides them a beneficial resource for planning, searching, researching, or tracking something. Great, go for it! Verizon has a great app to track my minutes used on my iPhone.  Starbucks has a store locator, with info on menus, amenities, and wifi. E-trade has an app to search, research and watch over your trades. Catch my drift here?

Make it useful, keep it relevant, and make it a benefit to your users (not just you). Or dont do it at all.

What the small business can learn from the iPhone 4s

by Matt Adams

Like many of you, I followed the rumor mill around the iPhone 5 for months. Oh the high hopes, wishes and dreams. So many crazy ideas and cool concepts. When the iPhone 4s was announced some of us may have been let down. But I think there is a lot to be learned and a lot we can model our own products, services and marketing after.

 

A good thing made better.

Apple knows a thing or two on how to improve a product. Their desktops, laptops, iPods, and phones have all been improved so much over time. I think about the iPhone 4s, and I think wow, they took a great product, and made it so much better, without a drastic overhaul. The outer shell remains the same, familiar design with high quality materials, design and size. Better from the inside rather than out. That’s okay by me. I mean what good would a new design do if the insides don’t change.

 

Speed.

2x faster. Looking at my own tools, services and creations, when was the last time I made something 2x better, faster, or easier, without a design overhaul? It shows you took great care and consideration for your users  to make your message / medium and product 2x better without rocking the boat of a new form factor.

 

Optics.

Apple added new camera hardware and software. As we create or communicate, we too need to take new views into account. Has our audience changed? Community around us? Maybe the industry? How can we better change the perception and views of our own marketing or branding with some simple viewpoint changes? Maybe the logo remains the same, we just find a new way of telling the story. Maybe our website remains the same, but some updated copy, photos and fonts really would help a user connect on a deeper level.

 

Signal.

the iPhone has dual chips, better anteneas , and world phone capabilities. Again, in the same design. As we grow our sites, products and brands, how can we better make sure that we too reach the world with out message? Maybe if we are in an area of multiple languages, we set up some web site content to better reach a spanish speaking audience.

 

I’m excited for the iPhone 4s, I’m glad that a great man like Steve Jobs lived the life he did to push our technology, ways of thinking, and the industry forward. His inspiration will be missed. Let’s take the legacies he and other great minds have left us to challenge ourselves to improve our messages, products and services.

 

Grown-up Homework

by Ryan Russel

I hated homework that wasn’t anything more than busywork. Trust me… this isn’t that. In business you gotta keep growing or you die, there are no other viable options. Here are two great reads that are practical in application for your growth as a business on the web.

The Thank You Economy – Don’t roll your eyes because it’s primarily about social media. Seriously, take the time to read it. Better yet, download the audio book. Gary V. will excite you, give you practical steps, tell you how social media can pay off for your company and help you overcome your skepticism (or your boss’s). TIP: The 1st 3 chapters will be enough for you to work on for months!

31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo – I just started this one last night on my iPhone Kindle app. but it’s already proving to be very practical and insightful. You don’t have to blog as a company, but if you do, this e-book will certainly be a great asset for just $5.

More Of You, Less Of Who You Think You Ought To Be

by Ryan Russel

A tension exists between who you are, who you want to be and who you perceive you ought to be. No, this isn’t a psychology blog. This is about business and this is a real tension in business. It’s also a tension in marketing. A company run by under normal operating conditions goes through a checklist of sorts making sure that they:

_ list with yellow pages

_ pay for ads in local papers

_ get a website

_ design website with areas & content found on demonstrated on competitors websites

_ open a twitter account (although you don’t know what you will do with it)

_ pay for 3 months of google ads (this money goes into outer-web–space very fast)

_ open Facebook account

_ create Facebook page

_ harass friends and family and all of their friends on Facebook

Great businesses design who they are going to be. They know the ‘playbook’ for business as usual, but they decide intentionally to take their own paths. It doesn’t mean that they refuse to be on the web, but what it does mean is that they are purposefully creating their unique presence on the web. It also means that they are creating their unique business culture as well as striving for excellence in their planned and purposeful way.

Celebrate Freedom On The Web

by Ryan Russel

So much of what we do on the web is often dictated by what we see other people doing, not by what really needs to be done.

“Twitter! Oh, my gosh, have you seen twitter?! We have to have a twitter account! Every corporation has a twitter account.” Or so goes the reactionary logic in the board room. So, like @UPS, you might be tempted to go out and create thirteen twitter accounts will no real concept about why you are creating them or to what end those twitter accounts will be positively effective in accomplishing your goals.

Celebrate the freedom you have as an organizational leader. You don’t have to be or need to be on every web platform. Your site does not have to be like everyone else’s in your industry. It can and should be unique. Tailored to your needs and goals. As simple or as complex as it really needs to be.

Here are two excellent, familiar examples at opposite ends of the spectrum.
SIMPLE |  COMPLEX

So, dive into your web strategy and celebrate the freedom you have to do what you need to do, not just copy what everyone else is doing.

 

Don’t Forget What You Do.

by Ryan Russel

What do you do?
It’s a typical and common question. At a dinner party you can boil it down quickly to a sentence can’t you? So why not on the web and with your marketing materials? The web is chatter, chatter, chatter, chatter and it is becoming quite exhausting trying to sift through it all.

Be straight forward.
Have a sense of style and humor.
Make it easy for a customer to find your pricing, your products and your professional qualifications.

Sure, there is so much more that you could say about you, your history, your family legacy, the superiority of your product, etc. etc. etc. … no one is taking the time. Give us the basics, try to make it easy and possibly even passingly interesting. That’s is all of the most critical information for your website.

The Process Of Mastery Isn’t Just Learning

by Ryan Russel

Learn then try.
Learn then try.
Learn then try. try. try.
Enjoy the returns.
Try something new.
 

My sons, 9 and 11, took instruction this year at a very good skateboarding center. It was once a week for an hour. The coaches were old enough to have experience, young enough to be cool and sharp enough to be good with kids. (Who ever is doing the hiring has their pulse on the ideal type of candidates for staffing.) Each session consisted of 3-5 kids in their group and a coach. The group rotated through 4 different sections of the skate park working on specific skills in each rotation. The coach demonstrated, explained and then asked the kids to go for it. Sometime the coach employed the use safety matts for their protection, be inevitably, the kids had to fall, get up and try again. It’s the process of mastery. Especially important to the process is practice. If the kids only worked out 1x each week when they came to class, they wouldn’t progress very quickly at all. Always apparent is which kids were skating on their own at home or at the local parks in between training sessions.

 

Why the little story?
Because we are starting to get it backwards. With the internet, the growth process for business has somehow become:
Learn.
Learn.
Learn.
Try a bit.
Learn.
Learn.
Learn.
Only try when I am certain I won’t fail.
Take no risks.
Reap no great returns.
Ask where the learning has failed.

This new process for “mastery” will doom us to failure.
 

The medium is changing

by Matt Adams

Do you remember when news was only in print and on the TV? Then came the internet. CNN.com would have all the latest news on demand, a simple click or two away. Things are changing faster than ever. This week I have been really thinking about blogs and RSS feed readers. For a few years I was really big into google reader, and I subscribed to 200 or so RSS feeds. Designers, Firms, Gallery sites, Businesses, Authors, etc. Anything I found useful or insightful consistently, I would subscribe.

In the last year or so, my RSS readership loyalty has dropped like a rock. I went from checking in to google reader a few times a day, to a few times a week, to now maybe 2 – 3 times per month, usually out of some odd self obligation. What’s interesting, is that the content hasn’t become less interesting, I’m just overwhelmed with information. The mediums have changed. Twitter and facebook feeds now dominate the landscape. I don’t think I’m alone either.

So what does this have to do with design, the web and small businesses or non profits? Everything. So as I was analyzing this over the week, I was thinking about the content. The content is still there, just the method changed. First I used to visit sites for updates, then RSS, now its twitter and facebook. Here is there interesting fact, with each change, the content headline, the call to action gets less visually stimulating.

Back when you manually checked a site for news, you had photos, graphics, buttons, etc. Then in RSS you still had some of that, but only what was IN the post. No pretty site frame, logo or nav bar. Now, you hve the headline and maybe a small intro in 140 characters or less. That’s a big change to entice your dedicated traffic to actually reading your content.

So what about my site? Well I am still a firm believer in a well designed, well planned and well constructed site that meets your needs and goals. But more importantly these days your content matters more than ever. The headline, the sub headline, the first few sentences all matter 10x more.

So as you have us make your awesome website, remember we can’t write killer content for you. We can work with a copywriter to help shape it, but ultimitly the source of info is you. Want people to read your stuff? Well, think about the headline, in 140 characters or less, and what the call to action is to get the user to read on. Your users attention span is smaller than ever.

The Future Killed Blockbuster

by Ryan Russel

The Blockbuster on the busy corner near my house just closed. As my kids and I rifled through their used videos I was struck by the how high the slashed prices seemed and by how little I am willing to pay to own a DVD these days, let alone rent one. (In fact, I don’t want the DVDs taking up any space in my house… a whole different topic.) Certainly we all know that Netflix, OnDemand and Redbox have dramatically changed the movie watching landscape. But, the most fascinating question to me is how did Blockbuster, the once undisputed heavy weight champion of DVDs, get so far behind the progress curve?

So many analogies and principles can be built off of this observation, but ask yourself this simple question, could this happen to you in your own industry? Are you so busy doing the work of selling DVDs through a corner retail store that you don’t take the time to look up and look out into the future to develop the next, new, more inventive line of business? And will this lack of attention to the future (which could really just be a few weeks away) end up being the obvious blind spot that knocks you out of the competitive business and into the new dinosaur age.

Matt and I ask ourselves this question often when we think about Factor1Studios. What does the future hold for us in business? What does the web look like as it continues to evolve? What trends are momentary fads and what changes are permanent, representing the new way things will work? And most importantly, what current and future realities most impact our clients when it comes to communicating with your markets about your organization or business? Seeing the future isn’t a magic trick or a hoax, it’s a necessary skill if you plan to move beyond survival.

 

cheap hosting

by Matt Adams

Everyone wants the biggest bang for their buck. Im as frugal as I possibly can be, and find ways to be more frugal each year.

On a pretty regular basis, we find customers who refuse to pay real money for hosting. Sure they just spent thousands on a nice website, but $3 a month hosting is in their sights.

We have a customer, who I wont name, who uses one of the “best rated” hosts for cheap. Unlimited storage for $6 a month. Guess what. in 2 years we have had to fix their site at least 2 times because of massive server failures. Most recently, because the entire server security was compromised, and a hacker fiddled with almost every account and file they could. Nothing too terrible, but hours of work to undo.

On top of the issues and time needed to fix the issue, this client spent hours on hold trying to have tech support reset the password, and a request to secure the server.

Lets do the math. In this clients case, they save about $10 a month in hosting vs what we would charge for dedicated server space. one year =$120. Our bill for fixing this latest issue. $350. their 1 – 2 hours of time on the phone with their host support: $100 – $200 (guessing what their time is worth). Ohh and the site was down for 3 days. Lost sales: $500 – $1000.

So to save $120, they spent $450 – $1550.

Cheap hosts fail. its not if, but when.

Cheap cars, shoes, couches, plumbing, brochures, laptops, cell phones, etc. they all fail. And the bigger picture here, those failures all come at a price.

Suck it up, and buy the best service level you can afford. It may cost you a bit more each month, but when your site runs smoothly you wont regret it.

yes, factor1 hosting has rock solid dedicated servers with great support, backups and uptime. But we wont host just anyone. Interested in hosting with us. Call or email, and we’ll think about letting you in. We have strict rules about what you can do, for the sake of our other customers.