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Why should my company blog?

By Matt Adams on October 22nd, 2012

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?

 


Email newsletters and you. A true story.

By Matt Adams on August 8th, 2012

So often we all get busy, and our once monthly newsletter goes the way of quarterly, then yearly. It’s okay. Admitting you have done this is the first step to recovery. No judgment from us, we have the same issues. But lets talk about why email newsletters are important, and how you can best manage your newsletters.

So why should you send an email to your customers / supporters / members?

In the world of social media, its easy to see email as outdated or obsolete. Email, especially HTML email, receives a bad rap in general, especially from web designers. For some, it has become a synonym for spam, thanks to the very real problem of mass unsolicited sending. Email done right, on the other hand, is a powerful tool that can produce real value for both the sender and recipient.

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5 tips to planning a website that works

By Matt Adams on August 1st, 2012

Planning a website can be a big task. All the content, users, ideas, and don’t forget the SEO and images.

Pretend your friend Tom just remodeled his house. An amazing kitchen, knocked out down wall and turned a spare bedroom into space for the master bathroom and closet.

Now you see how happy they are, and you want the same thing! Great, you tell your contractor to copy it, and you will be happy. So now you are done, but you remember you don’t need that much closet space, and now you no longer have a home office. And since you would rather just eat out, this bigger kitchen makes coffee and pours a mean bowl of cereal, but thats all it gets used for.

Sure the construction and materials may be top notch, but if the function doesn’t meet your needs who cares, you needed your own solution. It could be made with the finest materials in the world, it still won’t work any better for you.

So don’t approach your website with the same approach. Let’s start with some fresh thinking.

Who uses this site?
Silly question maybe, but really ask WHO. What are your visitors here for? Checking through your site traffic logs may identify key pages and where people spend their time. Maybe it’s research on a product or service, maybe it’s finding your locations, or maybe its to browse and buy your product directly online. Identify the top functions your site must do and do well.

Whats wrong with the old site.
By stepping back and identifying the issues, the pitfalls and things you need changed will help identify HOW they get addressed on the new site. Is it hard to manage? Are the gaps in content and shopping experience? Maybe it’s just out dated and dying.

Knowing the wrong will help identify the right fix.

How should your site work?
Don’t worry about the technical details. How do you think a user should find your site, navigate, and walk away with? Now look at your best customers, what did they do? Did they buy 5 products because the related product widget suggested it? Or did they view your entire portfolio before calling you? This is a harder questions because you may not have specific data to back it up, but knowing what worked for a good customer vs the way you think it should work is key.

How can you simplify?
No one wants to make something more complicated. Adding functions and features often leads to complexity. So in what ways can you expedite the site to fully meet the users needs with less clicks, less searching and less confusion?

Where can we be the best?
Not where can we do what that other site is doing, but where can you be the leader? So often we are asked to simply do what the other guy is doing. This rarely works out well. Recently we had a project for an organization here in Tempe, and they really broke down how their site would be the best site for their mission, vision and audience. They had clear answers on where their site would be the easiest and best communication tool for their organization. This was refreshing. The site is still in development and will be live soon, but its already a great site because they wanted to be the best they could be.

Now that you have some of the first 5 things to work on, you are on your way to crafting a better website.

Want to talk about these questions with a pro? We are here to help.


letting creative flow

By Matt Adams on June 1st, 2012

Just a great example of a big, giant, corporate site, having some fun.

Lowes.com has a promotional banner highlighting their new paint calculator. The focus is partially on wasting less. So what better way to highlight that message than show some wasted paint. Dripping down the entire home page.

 

I applaud their creativity and ingenuity in pulling this off in such a classy way. Well executed!

 


Where do I set my user photo?

By Matt Adams on May 14th, 2012

Many of our sites run wordpress. We loooove wordpress around here. But a common question we hear, is where does the users profile photo come from? In comments, author biographies, etc.

Easy answer. 

We rely on the Gravatar system created by wordpress. Gravatar, or a “Globally Recognized Avatar” is an image connected to your email address, and is actually used on any site also using the gravatar service.

Huh?

Head over to gravatar.com, and sign up (free). Here you can connect as many emails as you have, and upload a photo. Now, when ever you administer a site, comment on a blog, etc, if you use one of those emails, it will auto pull your photo. Need to update the photo? great, log back in, and change it. It will globally update all your past articles, comments and profiles.

It’s a great way to give a face to a name, and humanize the internet.


Walking the tight line

By Matt Adams on May 8th, 2012

Sometimes we get busy. Sometimes very busy. I can personally attest to this. I’m pretty sure most of March and April flew by me in a blink. Oh I know stuff happened. Projects, birthdays, trips, events, but it’s a blur.

Not sure about you, but when I get busy, I focus in. I skip social networks, networking events, follow up calls, little emails, etc. I’m all about the nose to the screen and get stuff out the door mode. Great from time to time, but if you hang out in this mode too often things suffer. New project leads, relationships, health, the weeds in my front yard, and even creativity. The busier I feel, the worse I sleep, the less Ii work out, the less I enjoy life. It’s a terrible cycle.

So take a moment out of your busy week. Say hi to some friends, thank some past clients, go exercise, spend some time with family, and enjoy life. If you work too hard, you may miss that life you are working so hard for.

P.S. Thanks to my awesome family and friends for putting up with me while I go crazy. We’ll get the life balance thing in order someday right?


Fire the committee

By Matt Adams on February 8th, 2012

Fire the committee. No great website in history has been conceived of by more than three people. Not one. This is a deal breaker. – Seth Godin.

This statement is true in so many aspects. Look at politics, giant companies, churches, and non-profits. The more brilliant people in a room, the more no one can decide a single focus, direction and executable project.


Sopa & PIPA. A Cause for Concern

By Matt Adams on January 18th, 2012

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 on December 16th, 2011

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/


Keeping things simple

By Matt Adams on November 29th, 2011

Funny thing in life, Simple almost always wins.

  • Myspace was complicated and too many things. Facebook is simple (kind of).
  • Blackberry UI is complicated. iPhone is clear.
  • Constant contact is deep in menus and pages. Campaign monitor is the good kind of shallow.

The more I use technology, the more I appreciate simple. I have owned way too many high priced bluetooth headsets. Funny thing is that the simple headphones / mic included with my iphone seems to just plain work, clearly, flawlessly, and without a need to keep a battery charged.

Where can you make simple cuts in your life, service, product and delivery.

P.S. Simple, not dumb, or lacking in core function.