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Posts Tagged ‘matt adams’

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.

Add value before all else

by Matt Adams

Dont get me wrong, I’ll be the first to look at a new idea and ask if we can make money from it. Where are the expenses, and where is the profit. But I need to remind myself and others often, to have value first.

Try not to become a person of success but a person of value. ~Albert Einstein

Lets take a look at twitter’s newly announced plans of advertising in twitter for a great example. This week twitter announced how it will be selling ads within twitter. Its a pretty unique method. But lets step back for a second.

Twitter was free of ads, and free to users for a few years. They built up a customer base, and refined their systems. They kept it lean and mean by only offering one core service—updates. No photos, elaborate profiles, member pages, or other things that have hurt others in the past. Just updates, and a way to follow others. This added a large value to its base, and probably one key factor to its growth.

So back to present day. Twitter built value, and a customer base as its first goal, income streams came later. Did they always have plans for a revenue stream, I hope so! Sure it may have been a rough outline or a few sketchy ideas, but I am sure they did, and their investors saw it too.

Here are some simple questions to answer as you launch a new business, new product, service, or idea.

  1. Who is my customer for this product & what is their need?
  2. How will this address their needs?
  3. Where is my competition on this new product?
  4. Where can this under promise, and over deliver?
  5. What is the opportunity for growth after we launch it?
  6. Where do we see this product in 1, 2, and 5 years?
  7. How are we going to make sure we keep up on the times
    (value now, with outdated needs in a year is no value!)
  8. What if we fail to offer value now, can we innovate and change? or is the product dead?
  9. How will we gauge & measure the value created?
    (It’s not always sales numbers, especially early on)

We at factor1 are always coming up with new things to help our clients. We clearly outline the goals, benefits, costs, target customer, and where the money is. We often will beta test and give out some freebies to make sure the value is where we expect it.

What tools do you use to measure your value?
Who do you turn to for advice on your new products, service, or ideas?

the dirty on your web budget

by Matt Adams

webprices1

The number one concern in any organizations quest for a new website is the cost. Everyone generally wants the best work for the cheapest price. I would say we see 4 out of 5 clients base most of their decision on the price. Sure some things like features, quality, and experience come into play. It just seems price always outweighs the others for many clients new to professional web design.

I wanted to take a chance to openly discuss how we come up with our prices.

Good web design costs good money. There is no way around it. Just the other day we picked up a new client, who thought our first proposal was too high, and went with a friend of a friend for a fraction of the price. You know this person, its your mom’s-co-worker’s-son’s-friend’s-cousin. They always swear that they can do $3000 worth of web work, for $500 and a smoothie. Here is the issue we hear time and time again, they get started, the project gets rough, and they walk away.

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Bacon? What’s Bacon have to do with Factor 1?

by Matt Adams

We like to make sweet apps that help you out.
So today we made up some Bacon. Wait. What? Bacon?

email bacon

We are excited to publicly launch our new email marketing service called Bacon. Why Bacon you ask? Because Bacon is always good. and it makes everything better.

Let’s think about it:
Burgers = good; bacon burgers = better.
Lettuce tomato Sandwich = boring; BLT = tasty.
Eggs and pancakes = good breakfast; Bacon, Eggs and Pancakes = now we’re talkin’.
pigs = ehh; Bacon = yes!

see. I told you.

So go, check out Bacon
EmailBacon.com

emailbacon

the cemetery business model

by Matt Adams

So recently in the news, there was a chicago cemetery moving old graves, to make room for new ones. This got me really thinking about the business plan of a cemetery. And how it applies to other businesses.

cemetery

So I had to lay it all out.

  • The Family pays a fee for burial services and upkeep. Lets call this $10,000.
  • the cemetery does the burial service, and so on.
  • The Cemetery management company continues to keep everything green and pretty for ever and ever. or do they?

Here is where I get lost in why anyone would want this responsibility. It costs money to water, and maintain all that grass. To keep things clean and pretty. At some point, the money HAS to run out right?

If the cemetery ran out of plots to sell, at some point, there is no more income coming in. at all. Sure they could have been saving from all the years they sold plots, to pay for future upkeep. but even that has to run out. then what????

Do cemeteries close? go bankrupt?

In looking at other business models, the same process seems evident. Even in factor 1.

  • Chrysler offers unlimited milage warranty, for unlimited years.
    They are banking on you selling it before 3 years, as the average new car buyer does. And the warranty is non transferable. But what about that guy who keeps his car 15 years. Could be a pricey fix. but probably not a money pit in the big picture.
  • Corsair Ram company offers lifetime warranty as well.
    They bank on the fact that computers dies after a few years. Speed, and technology changes happen so quickly, that the actual life of the product ends long before this ram chip should. So replacements and service should be slim to none.
  • Factor 1 (yes, even us) offers lifetime tech support on our website CMS.
    We assume most people only need to be trained a few times, and upkeep is pretty painless most of the time. And we bank on the fact that most sites need a revamp every few years. But sure, we could be in trouble if someone kept it 10 years, and server technology really changed.

Im sure there are others. and while Factor 1 and Chrysler (the last time i will ever put us in the same sentence together) are probably okay, since we have a end of product life cycle at some point. What is the end of life cycle for a cemetery? Does the management company just go under, and the graves go unkept?

Am I the only odd one thinking about this news story from a business side of things?

Maricopa Chamber of Commerce

by Matt Adams

We are super excited to launch this site. It’s the all new site for our local Maricopa Chamber of Commerce. Factor 1 (specifically I, Matt Adams), have been heavily involved with the chamber marketing board for a number of years now. We have aided in the planning, creation, and execution of several programs, events, and marketing pieces. All aimed at increasing local business exposure.

This new site will tie in all our past work, and goals. We have found that the user experience of a large site is key to the sites success. With the user in mind, we created this site.

Maricopa chamber

It was an amazing site to plan out, and work on. We spent the last few months really refining the user flow, menus, and having fun with great photography.

Terri Kingery, Chamber Director had this to say:

Matt Adams and his staff have done a wonderful job in ensuring the transition process from our old website to our new one was seamless and error free.  Their knowledge of social media and the incorporation of Twitter on our home page has, in my opinion, helped increase our traffic by 30%.  I would recommend them without hesitation to any Chamber, or business looking to redesign their website.

Visit the Chamber website:

MaricopaChamber.com

Trying too hard

by Matt Adams

This is what trying too hard looks like.

voltage

the new terrible chevy volt website

So clearly Chevy is trying their hand at social media integration. Lets count up all the “apps” shall we.

  1. videos
  2. facebook link
  3. ohh i can create my chevy account
  4. a foum
  5. a blog
  6. photo feed
  7. news
  8. polls
  9. events
  10. twitter tweets
  11. and a site share stuff at the bottom

Wow. all on the home page. This site does NOTHING to promote what the volt is, why its cool, or why i should care. Instead it blasts me with its attempts to get me to engage. Unfortunately I dont really want to subscribe to the blog, be their friend on twitter, because I dont yet care about the car, or the site.

For me, the home page is overwhelming, and over the top. I appreciate the video, i think videos are cool. And a blog / news updates are good. The layout and presentation is so far behind the times. We used to see sites like this in the late 90’s.

The volt is a cool car, and should really be impressive for chevy to launch. this site is more in the way of other marketing efforts than anything.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll offer my solution. What are your thoughts? Am I being too harsh here?

are you making your products or services sexy?

by Matt Adams

do you have a typical boring product? like say a printer. sure it prints in color, and printers are always getting faster / better / fancier. Still, advertising a printer has been semi-boring. HP has always had pretty good luck making a printer cool.

Check this out.

This is actually Student work. Found via my friend across the pond David Airey

Filmed, edited and directed by Matt Robinson and Tom Wrigglesworth.

The two designers are recent graduates from the Design Communication degree course at Kingston University, London, and they’re currently looking for experience within the creative industry.

Good luck in your search, guys. Love the video.

HP – invent on Vimeo via Johnson Banks.

Music © Round Table Knights.

Have you thought of all the ways you can make your product or service sexy?

Zune marketing the car lease model

by Matt Adams

83249-zune

What do you think of the new Microsoft Zune ad? They say it costs $30,000 to fill an ipod. Check it out.

Do you believe this doom and gloom story? Are you now thinking that an ipod is a bad idea and you should “rent” your music for $15 a month?

Here is my issue. Nothing to do with the apple fanboy in me, but I tend to call shenanigans on any advertising that is unrealistic and confusing (yes, I sit at home and call out these ads for the new windows laptop hunter ads, most ads for beauty products, ads for hyundai saying its better than BMW, etc. Just ask my wife.)

  1. most people own cds, already completing some of their library.
  2. once you buy a song, you own it. for life. until you delete it or toss out that CD.
  3. who really ever fills up an ipod?
  4. the people who CAN fill up an ipod, usually “borrow” (read: steal) music.
  5. renting with the Zune pass is really throwing $15 a month away. Stop paying, and your music is gone. All of it.

So really, this ad is comparing apples to oranges. well, apples to microsofts if you want to be funny like I do.

This ad is like saying it costs $30,000 to buy a small car, and drive it for 3 years. but instead you can rent one for $350 a month. Ohh wait, that’s a lease. So maybe, just maybe, this Zune ad is genius?

Any thoughts? Does this ad make you want to toss your ipod and use a Zune pass?

The art of making a plan

by Matt Adams

Planning a big project is like planning a trip. The bigger it is, the harder the plans become. 

Recently (okay this week), I spent some time packing for my trip to Ethiopia. We have been slowly planning for many months, and it all seemed to be rolling smooth. That was until it came time to pack our luggage. See I am in a unique traveling situation, where my wife and I are not just traveling to Ethiopia, we are traveling to bring back our adopted twins. The issue: I have to plan, and pack for not only myself, but two 6 month old boys as well. Basically once we arrive, they are all ours. So we have to bring diapers, clothes, and all the kid junk that goes along with it. Being first time parents….woah it’s a lot of stuff. 

 

So what does this have to do with web or marketing?

I know what it feels like to step into something new and big. If you have never had your own web site, from scratch before, or are just starting a marketing plan, it can feel like a lot. Sure at first it looks easy, but we all know getting from start to finish on a large project may have hundreds of tasks. 

So breathe. look at the list, “pick off the low hanging fruit” as Ryan likes to say. Work on it, set goals, and react as needed. 

Me, I’m back to trying to pack and stick to the plans / packing lists we laid out.

Design matters. Your visitors say so

by Matt Adams

Would you let your customers see a showroom / lobby / office in a complete mess? Piles of paper on the floor and desk? Broken lights, missing ceiling tiles, stained floors? No! You dress your best, your employees dress their best, and you keep your showroom / lobby / office in tip top shape. Or at least I think you should. Your website should be no different.

The demand for good web design is increasing, revealed a recent Webcopyplus online poll. Almost 25% of web users indicated “poor visual presentation” as the number one element that drives them away from websites. Only 6.6% of web users who participated in a similar 2007 online poll indicated “poor visual presentation” as the main reason to abandon a website. That equates to a 267% increase during the two-year period.

From Webcopyplus:

Our web content specialists believe the increased desire for quality design comes from the fact that Internet users have become increasingly sophisticated. Consequently, more of today’s Internet users understand that a well designed website makes it possible to achieve more, with less time and effort.

A total of 318 web users were asked what’s most likely to drive them away from a website.

graph

  • 50.9% indicated “slow load times”
  • 24.8% noted “weak web copy”
  • 24.2% specified “poor visual presentation”

In the 2007 poll, 51.2% of 258 participants indicated “slow load times” and 42.2% noted “weak web copy” as their biggest turn-offs.

 

So what does all this mean?

A website won’t fix your slow business. UNLESS your site is well done. Work with your designer / developer to address all of the above issues. Your website is often the first thing a potential client / customer sees. They are judging the quality of your organization, products, service, and reputation based on 30 seconds of face time online.

So make those precious page views count!

Paying customers to take a product?

by Matt Adams

Yep. Hyundai is paying people to drive their cars

picture-1

Now I am not really a big fan of these cars. I usually hear about the loans outlasting the car. It can’t feel good to be paying $250 – $350 a month on a car that is falling apart.

But is this the new way to sell cars? Or is this just the little guy trying to make some waves in the pond?

Personally, and I dont want to sound like a snob here, but they would need to pay me double that, for a longer period of time to drive one. Otherwise I’ll stick to my used 03 and 04 toyotas with 80k+ miles each.

Twitter as an Organization – tip #4

by Matt Adams

In Continuing our series on twitter tips, I present tip #4

So you want to use twitter as a company / organization. In following our other tips, i’ll keep this short. 

  • create a company account (nothing special, just an account reserved for professional stuff)
  • only tweet the big things
  • keep @replies to a minimum
  • avoid linking to things out of your control (but DO link to your own stuff as often as needed)
  • Follow your new company account from your personal, and vice versa. 
  • follow other businesses, employees, organizations you belong to, and industry leaders. 

twitter tip #3

by Matt Adams

In Continuing our series on twitter tips, I present tip #3

Avoid twittering just for the sake of twittering

Nothing to say today? this week? Thats okay.

twitter tip #2

by Matt Adams

In Continuing our series on twitter tips, I present tip #2

Would you call a customer to tell them this tweet? even email it to them?

If not, dont tweet it. 

Posting relevant, important, news is good. Silly is okay some times if it fits your company culture. Just dont tweet when you used the restroom, something you ate, what you did off your to do list, etc.

Twitter tips

by Matt Adams

In a new series, I’d like to share tips on using twitter effectively as an organization. Small, short and easy to swallow tips on twitter. 

the first tips to kick off the series:

DO NOT feed your twitter posts into your blog.
People reading your blog dont care to see your @replies. 

DO feed your blog posts INTO twitter. 

How would you fix it: Sprint/nextel

by Matt Adams

So a few weeks ago i posted some questions regarding the newspaper industry, and how to fix it. I think I have some solid ideas, that I will post later. But that post got me thinking. A new series of blog posts, on what would you do to fix a company or industry. Could be a fun exercise in creativity. 

So today I ask: If Sprint came to you for marketing / business help,

How would you fix Sprint?

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Do you tweet responsibly?

by Matt Adams

So we have been really exploring the use of twitter as a tool around her for Factor1 (follow us here factor1). The jury is still out on it being useful for us.

In my 2 week exploration, i find some people are litteraly just brodcasting white noise. Twittering to twitter, even if they have nothing to say at all. Its pretty annoying, and I un-follow those people quick.

Are you one of those people? Here is a quick tool to help you know. 

www.followcost.com

Monitor your buzz online

by Matt Adams

Ever feel like you are the last to hear about something? Maybe somone is talking about you or your organization online and you dont know about it. 

Here are some great tools to keep an eye on things. 

You can never have too close an eye on whos talking about you. Listen, adapt, react as needed. But dont become obsessed about it. 

Any tools i missed?

the real world review

by Matt Adams

iPhone rocked the phone industry with a revolutionary PDA / phone / smart phone. Ever since every phone manufacturer has been trying to be the next iPhone. 

I was really glad to see this today, Palm is asking for volunteers to review their phone. Palm, who has an upcoming device titled the “Pre”. Its touch screen, and has a keyboard, with a new lightning fast OS. In their pre launch stages, Palm is engaging the real world by asking for reviews to use the phone, and blog, twitter, and facebook their opinions. 

This is great. They are taking away their marketing control, and letting the masses say what they will. 

This takes Guts. 

Are you so confident in your product or Service to ask the real world to review you as loudly as they can? Do you want to know the results?

iPhone baby shaker app

by Matt Adams

In case you havent heard, some yahoo made an application for the iPhone, called “the baby shaker app” that uses the motion sensing hardware for the user to shake the phone, to get the baby to stop crying. Disturbing yes. It seems the Media is blasting Apple for allowing the application / game to be sold on its stores. 

Why is it apples fault for some whack job who created an application like this? Isn’t it wrong that people bought it? How is this application any different than a rap song that promotes violence, drugs, killing cops and other illegal activity on the iTunes store? Is this application any different that a retailer selling a video game when the player is to kill someone for points?

Apple has since pulled the application. And I am glad they are trying to keep their store clean, but I still dont see why there is so much blame on Apple for the application. 

Apple’s real issue on their hands: They are being held responsible (even if its just by the media) to sell quality content. No record store, and video game store has been held responsible like this in the past. I mean come on, have you seen grand theft auto games, which award points for driving over people. So Apple, for what ever reason, is supposed to be the morality police when it comes to games they sell for iPhone. 

How to fix it: I guess embrace the fact that the media thinks you are the morality police. But now they need a stricter process for approving applications. We need a human to review all new applications, and follow a rigorous check list to make sure its not a potential PR issue for Apple.

Sure it will slow down the app approval process, and developers will have to wait in some sort of que to be approved. But it should avoid further PR issues.

another earth day post – newspapers

by Matt Adams

Since the dawn of the internet era (the mid 90’s), experts have speculated that the world of paper would go away. Everything would be digital. No newspapers, magazines, brochures, even business cards. 

While a lot has shifted to the web, I still dont think the world of paper will go away 100%. 

Both the New York Times, and Seth Godin mentioned recently that newspapers are dying. Godin went as far to say that by 2012, no significant newspaper will be printed in news print. 

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eradicating child sex slavery in phoenix

by Matt Adams

It’s hard to follow a title like that. This is a hard hitting, local project focusing on a broad issue in the world today. Child sex slavery is real, and here in phoenix. We are very excited to be part of such a bold project.

We have been working with Food for the Hungry’s City Initiatives team on their new project here in phoenix. On top of some marketing and overall project brainstorming, we were able to build two websites for this project. It’s semi complicated, as there are two orginzations running two arms of this project. FH (international aid organization) is over the Branded side, and Christ’s Church of the Valley (one of the largest churches in the metro phoenix area) is over the Streetlight side.

So working together, they are going to eradicate child sex slavery in phoenix.

Here are their two sites designed & built by factor 1

picture-2  picture-3

Yes, they are very similar to intentionally show unity in the project and to contrast the two parts of the problem. Branded focuses on the awareness (since most people don’t really know what the problem is, or how big it really is), and Streetlight, which is dedicated to the care and safety of the young men and women involved in child sex slavery

So check out the two sites

brandedphx.com

streetlightphx.com

Join their causes on facebook, share with a friend, and help us eradicate child sex slavery in Phoenix, and the world.

Personal News around the office.

by Matt Adams

There are a lot of things going on around here, I thought maybe I would share. 

1. Shannon (our rockstar resident web designer) is getting married tomorrow.
Congratulations Shannon & Spencer!

2. Ryan (business development partner & marketing guru) and his family will be moving to Seattle at the end of May to pursue starting a church. Ryan will still remain a partner here at factor 1, and be working with internal and client projects the same as he does now. But now we can say we have offices in Phoenix & Seattle. Should be a very cool experience for all of us.

3. I (matt, creative director, IT guy, janitor, & former head designer) and my wife Stephanie (factor 1 accounting gal) are adopting twin baby boys from Ethiopia. We should be home with 6 month old Noah & Ezra in early June. 

Thats the big news around here. What’s new with you guys, our faithful readers?

User control

by Matt Adams

Most of the sites we create for our customers are based on a content management system (CMS). This allows them to log in, add, edit and remove pages. This is a great tool for our clients to keep their sites up to date, without having to pay for, or wait on a web designer to edit the page. This also allows multiple users. 

Having this kind of access is dangerous. I mean really dangerous. A rouge user could delete every page on your site, or worse, put up inappropriate content.

User control is key. Here are my questions and thoughts for good user management of your site.

  • Who needs access to FTP and server Control Panel?
  • Who should have access to the CMS?
  • Should some users be restricted to a designated set of pages?
  • Is there a review system for approving content posted by other users?
  • Who is the master admin?
  • Review users every 6 months (delete any inactive ones asap)
  • Problem with an editor? Nip it in the bud now! Don’t let a user go rouge too long. Online updates can happen in seconds.
  • Soon to be Ex-employees? Remove access before firings to avoid any retaliation. 
  • How often do you review the admin log (or do you have one). Our admin log knows all movements, clicks, and edits made by a user, with a date and time stamp.
  • Is there an emergency plan in place to pull the site offline asap?

I hope that helps. And yes, this post was inspired by a panicked email I received today from a client with a rouge editor on their hands.