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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Critical Success Factors

Whilst every one's visual tastes are different, there are several universal principles that successful websites embody. We've distilled these down for you into a simple list of critical success factors. As the web matures, visitors come to your site with higher expectations. Failing to satisfy those expectations can dramatically reduce the effectiveness of your website.

1. Quality Content

People visit your site to view content, so providing worthwhile content is one of the most fundamental issues that website owners need to address. The quality of your content not only plays a vital role in converting visitors into results, but also directly impacts your search engine rankings. Good content is time consuming to produce, so ensure that you make adequate allowances for content production in your planning.

2. Usability

Many sites on the web - even cool ones - fail because people either can't figure out how to use the site or couldn't be bothered trying to work out the innovative navigation that the web designer spent countless hours inventing. To ensure that visitors find your site easy to use, it is advisable to run some simple tests with a small number of people from your target demographic. Just ask them to perform some basic tasks on your web site (such as "purchase 2 widgets using this credit card"). You may be surprised at the results and the findings may vastly improve your website overall.

3. Accessibility

People access the internet in many different ways using an increasing number of connections, browsers and devices. From fast corporate connections to mobile broadband, blackberries and iPhones, speech browsers, old browsers through to old fashioned dial-up the range is enormous. Your site needs to be usable on any of the platforms that people are likely to access it from. The key concept here is "graceful degradation" which simply means that whilst a simple device might not display your web page in all its glory, it should still display in a respectable manner.

4. A Good Strategy

A good strategy is essential to gaining a good return on the money invested in developing your website. Our web strategy page covers 5 of the primary strategic reasons that organisations seek to achieve with their website. Ensure that you know why you have a site and what business outcomes you are expecting before spending any money developing a website.

5. An Appealing Design

Everyone wants to have the best looking site. Many web designers become obsessed with this - partly because it is fun and partly because it is an easy sell. Whilst your site should look great, its appearance is just one part of the puzzle. The key is to identify your target demographic and implement a design that they find appealing, but make sure that all of the other points mentioned above have been addressed.

6. A Marketing Strategy to Promote Your Site

Simply having a website is no longer enough. You need to actively build traffic by promoting your site. There's several ways of doing this such as Search Engine Optimisation, Pay per click advertising as well as the traditional offline methods such as print, radio or flyers. The important thing is that you have a strategy and execute it.

7. Give People a Reason to Come Back

Some sites only want people to visit the site once. Unless your site is one of those, give consideration to providing people with a reason to come back. Most people surfing the net visit so many sites in a day that they simply can't recollect all of the sites they've been to. To overcome this, your site needs to offer a compelling value proposition for people to revisit.

8. Use Analytics

There's some great tools around that not only track how many people visit your site, but what they do when they get there. This provides valuable feedback that can be used to improve your site by identifying bottlenecks and departure points. With that feedback based on real-world usage your site can be improved to enhance its effectiveness.

9. Regular Website Updates

With the continuing trend towards social media and social networking your customers expect to see fresh and up-to-date information. A well designed website is all about keeping the web pages fresh and current.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Website Strategy

To get a return for your investment, it is important that your web site has a clear, defined purpose. Simply having a website just because a business of our size "should" isn’t enough. Common strategic purposes for websites include:

Credibility Not every business needs to use their website to promote their business, however people considering doing business with you will often check you out on the web to gain a level of comfort that you’re a business with substance. Other businesses find that having a good website is essential for attracting good staff as most applicants will check out your website in preparation for an interview.

Promote Your Business

Promoting your business online is a great reason for having a website. With the high level of competition, having a website isn’t enough. You need a planned approach to not just building website traffic, but for converting that traffic into business results.P>

24/7

A website can provide around the clock customer service that may be too expensive to implement with human staff.

Improved Customer Service

In a society that craves instant gratification, tech-savvy customers value the option of being able to complete customer service tasks online with out the need to talk to a customer service rep. From mundane (but important) tasks such as reviewing billing histories or resetting passwords, a webstie that is connected through to your back end systems can improve the level of service that you are able to offer your customers.

Needing Less Staff

By adding self service capabilities to your website you may be able to reduce the load on your call centre, sales team and customer service staff. By reducing that workload your business will be able to efficiently service a larger customer base without needing to hire additional people.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sharing is not enough: why you need a content hub for your online presence.

Social media needs to be part of an overall sales and marketing strategy that includes your website, not something that is isolated from everything else you do to promote your business. It isn’t a one hit wonder that will magically drive people to your business.

Source: socialmediatoday.com

Sue Cockburn makes a great point on SocialMediaToday; and one that I’ve often seen underestimated: just like in ancient Rome, all your social media roads should lead to the center of your online presence, aka your website (as a matter of fact, I was highlighting it myself in a talk last week).

As she pointed out, one of the reasons for this is certainly the hype on social media (and its apparent simplicity).

With the Scoop.it team, we’ve been trying to identify the other reasons explaining that by observing many companies – small or large – implementing their content strategy:

- small businesses are often finding it difficult to integrate their social media publishing efforts with their own website in a simple way (hence our own efforts to integrate with WordPress, offer embeds and make website integration easy);

- larger companies can also face that (even when they have IT departments, they’re not always reactive and available for marketing-driven projects) but there’s another factor: very often, social media publishing was initially defined as a standalone role (and even if it’s a cliché, sometimes to the millenial in the team who “got it”). This meant it grew in a silo alongside other marketing activities such as SEO, content marketing or building up the WebSite to modern standards.

Any other factors that explain this that you came across?

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A Basic Guide to SEO

SEO may be one of the biggest buzzwords of the decade, but what is it and why does it matter? SEO, also known as Search Engine Optimization, has become a critical component to the way that companies do business on the Internet. This guide will help you understand the definition of SEO, why it matters and how you can measure it in terms of your own business.

What is SEO?
The acronym stands for Search Engine Optimization, but there is more behind these three letters than you may think. Search Engine Land defines it as the process of getting traffic from “organic” or “natural” listings on search engines. Tech Target states that SEO is the practice of manipulating features of a website to improve its rankings on search engines.

When you look for a definition of SEO, “search engine” and “rankings” are words that are likely going to appear. In short, SEO is all about making sure that your website is front and center when an individual types in words pertaining your business (also known as keywords) and submits them to a search engine. Bing, Google and Yahoo are the big players in the world of SEO.

How to Achieve High Rankings
Everyone wants to have the website that appears at the top of the page when a search query is submitted, but there can only be one. To increase your chances of being included in the handful of websites that people initially see, there are a few factors you’ll need to consider.

First, it’s important to take a look at the HTML and content that is going into your website. This is what search engines digest and use to rank websites accordingly. Content that is unique is more likely to perform well on a search engine such as Google.

Similarly, including informational third party links within content can help your website’s cause. Google specifically looks for link diversity within pieces, making it a prime area of focus for those concentrated on SEO performance.

Next, it’s critical to incorporate industry-specific keywords into your content. Keywords can help ensure that your site instantly pops up as soon as an individual inputs a search query that is relevant to your business. There are several free tools on the market that can help you determine which keywords are ideal for your company, including the Keyword Tool by Google. By using this resource, you can determine which keywords have historically improved website traffic.

Finally, interlinking all of your webpages and redirecting traffic through social outlets can help you substantially improve your SEO ranking. This means every time you send out a tweet, you should try to incorporate a link that directs to one of your webpages, which includes links to all of your other sites – it’s like one big network that loops back to itself. These are variables that you can control and manipulate to enhance your SEO potential.

How to Gauge Your Performance
Once you begin implementing these SEO tactics, you are going to want to monitor the performance of your website to identify where more improvements can be made. That being said, there are multiple tools on the market that can help you get a better idea of how your efforts are paying off. Here are some resources you may want to consider:
  • MOZ Pro: MOZ Pro is an all-in-one SEO management tool that delivers everything from information on social media performance to keyword rankings. Additionally, MOZ has data visualization capabilities, which can help you put your information into easy-to-understand graphics.
  • Majestic SEO: Majestic SEO can be a valuable tool to those who want to be able to gather information on items like backlinks, indexed URLs and external references. The company also offers different subscription levels, meaning you don’t need to purchase a membership that comes with every single feature doesn’t fit into your budget.
  • Raven Tools: Raven Tools is an option for companies that would like a simple dashboard that they can log into to view SEO stats on a whim. With Raven Tools, users can manage keywords, analyze site performance and size up the competition right from the program’s main page.
  • SEO PowerSuite: SEO PowerSuite is an in-depth program that offers you multiple tools to research keywords, determine their rankings and optimize the HTML of your website to improve SEO. It also includes helpful tips for improving your link building strategy, as well as the content on your site.
  • Advanced Web Ranking: Advanced Web Ranking is another simplistic SEO program that helps you conduct competitive research and stay on top of search engine updates that may be impacting your strategy. AWR has both a cloud and desktop version.
It’s important to keep in mind that it is a combination of features that help you improve your SEO ranking. Focusing on insightful hyperlinks, for instance, will not help you increase your performance if you are ignoring other factors that play a role in SEO.

How to Avoid SEO Pitfalls
Once you grasp the basics of improving your website’s SEO ranking, you may start to incorporate dozens of keywords and hyperlinks throughout your page to drive traffic. However, this may be a fatal mistake as search engines strive to weed out websites that are designed for the sole purpose of increasing traffic (rather than providing insight).

One big pitfall to avoid is being blacklisted by Google – the biggest search engine on the Web. You may be banned from search results if you stuff keywords into your site, as well as ALT tags behind pictures. Google naturally assumes that your website is not designed to provide worthwhile information if you have a slew of SEO tactics but nothing to show for it. You can learn more about how Google detects “bad” SEO in this article.

Another SEO mistake to avoid is creating a poor meta description and title tag. This is what shows up when people come across your company in search engine results. Ideally, your title tag should be no more than 70 words, while your meta description should be a maximum of 160 characters. Additionally, each webpage’s meta description should be unique.

Redirects are another problem that can hurt your website’s SEO. Links should always redirect individuals to valuable, rich content, whether or not it’s another area of your site. Furthermore, hyperlinks should be audited routinely to ensure that none are broken.

The bottom line is that there are plenty of mistakes that you can make to hurt your website’s SEO value. That being said, you will want to check out this article to create your ultimate guide to SEO and avoid these pitfalls.

Conclusion
The rules of SEO are constantly changing, and they only become more complicated as search engines make updates to provide the best results to Web surfers. However, understanding the basics can give you the foundation you need to help your business establish a presence on the Internet. For more information on SEO and how you can create a strategy that fits within your budget, review this insightful article. There is always more to be learned about this ever-evolving concept.


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Must Read Report: The Internet’s Latest Disruption – Knowledge.

Know or die: risk and opportunity of Knowledge 2.0
“And the web stormed the enterprise and disrupted roles, tasks and jobs: it cast speed, openness, flexibility and efficiency throughout, sparing no business processes: manufacturing, logistic, accounting, customer relation management, lead generation…”

The digital mutation is also profoundly disrupting how knowledge is acquired, organized and shared. Knowledge is an intangible, yet strategic asset of any enterprise. With businesses becoming more virtual and dematerialized, its value is patently and rapidly growing.

How does the enterprise adapt its Knowledge management practice to the digital age? Did the web annihilate the older knowledge management paradigms? How can the enterprise benefit, and not succumb, to a web-driven, pervasive and real-time knowledge? We at Scoop.it have noticed amongst our business clients a growing concern regarding the evolution of Knowledge sharing; we’ve run a survey (500 respondents) to better comprehend the challenges, objectives and stakes. Let’s share some insights.

But first, what exactly is knowledge and why should large enterprises care?
Some languages offer two words to translate knowledge, and the difference is interesting: for example, the French distinguish between connaissance and savoir. Connaissance refers to objective data and information, acquired by means of learning and understanding. Savoir refers to subjective collections of connaissance, aggregated and contextualized through a specific experience.

In a sense, connaissance is raw content while savoir is curated content: carefully selected, subjectively enriched.

While no such two substantives exist in English, this subtleness is nevertheless captured by two adjectives: I’m cognizant of a fact but I’m savvy in my field.

How is it relevant to the enterprise? Connaissance (raw data) is of course necessary to the enterprise but it has become almost trivial, commoditized. What is strategic is savoir: contextualized, field-specific, actionable knowledge. Being cognisant is table stake; being savvy is the objective! Knowledge sharing strategies are required.

How did the web disrupt Knowledge Sharing?
From Benjamin Franklin (“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”) to Bill Gates (“How you gather, manage and use information will determine whether you win or lose”), there is no shortage of wise people reminding us the value of knowledge. This is not web-specific. How we acquire, organize and share it: this is web-specific. The enterprise knowledge sharing strategies need to adapt to the new paradigms.

Notably, the web changed (hm… rather pulverized) the following barriers:
  • Time barrier
Knowledge is now real-time; by the time your enterprise will just think of producing a formal piece of knowledge, the web will have produced – and made obsolete – hundreds of related pieces. Organizing yearly training session is good: we all need synchronization points. But on-going education is way better.
  • Internal vs External barrier
There is more knowledge is the outer web than you will ever produce – even about you! Of course, the enterprise will always possess this secret sauce, these patented know-how that will remain unique and private. But the rest of the world also produces lots content relevant to you. Open up, listen, use, repurpose!
  • Functional barrier
Everyone is an expert. Everyone has access to social media, blogs, wikis… and appropriate tools to filter and monitor. Knowledge dissemination is no longer one-to-many. Leverage your experts where they are (R&D, support, sales, HR) to capture knowledge. Share knowledge across the functional silos.

What do we do? From cognizant to savvy via social curation
The new knowledge sharing paradigm in the enterprise is real-time information, in an open world, with pervasive expertise.
The enterprise needs to adapt… or die.
It’s a matter of will, procedure and tools. Decision might be sometime hard to take, but implementation is easier than it seems. The key is to adapt the mentality and forget the time, space and functional barriers that collapsed. New organization, procedures and tools can easily be deployed, that will:
  • Enable employees to monitor relevant content (from inside and also from outside the company) so as to acquire real-time knowledge, on an on-going basis
  • Empower experts to curate (capture, enrich, share) the most relevant content; Expert curators are the enterprise social brain that distill raw data into enterprise-specific, relevant knowledge
  • Make knowledge easy to consume: easy to access, palatable, intuitively organized, visual, contextualized. Your enterprise scarcest resource is your employees time: make them crave for and love knowledge; not struggle to find and digest it
  • While the system must be as open and flexible as possible (passing through the internal-external and functional silos barriers), keep control of the distribution process: some knowledge is public; other has a restricted, controlled audience
  • Gamify. The knowledge sharing process must be easy, engaging and rewarding, so your employees will be involved. To quote Benjamin Franklin again: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn”
The benefits of a Knowledge Sharing solution
Recognizing the ever more strategic value of knowledge sharing; adapting the enterprise to web-compatible paradigm and deploying a consistent solution that involves (most) employees and leverages expertise through the time, space and function barriers: this yields lots of tangible benefits:
  • It increases the performance of each individual, by means of personal education; it is the most effective way to develop the enterprise human capital
  • It increases the performance of each group within the enterprise, by means of collaboration; and also through better understanding of each other, by better synchronization of the various levels of knowledge throughout the enterprise
  • It increases the global business intelligence of the enterprise, by means of better monitoring and better filtering of real-time web content
  • It increases the amount of relevant content available to the enterprise content strategy. Indeed, qualified knowledge is quality content and can be redistributed externally to demonstrate thought leadership, feed a community and an audience. And every enterprise needs lot of it.
  • It helps detect, develop and reward internal thought leaders
  • It helps nurture brand advocates
And it does not cost much resource, since every one in the enterprise is already an expert who discovers, reads, analyzes, filters lots of content… it is just a matter of adding this clever, pertinent little effort to capture and share the best of it!

The survey we ran recently with Business and Enterprise clients of Scoop.it clearly confirmed these benefits, with overwhelming statistics: According to our respondents, sharing of third party content in the enterprise:
  • Educates employees for 96%
  • Makes organization more efficient for 87%
  • Helps convince teammates for 69%
  • Helps convince clients for 84%




Conclusion: Knowledge Sharing makes you stronger. Adapt. Don’t die!
The benefits of Knowledge Sharing in the enterprise are numerous; it contributes to the excellence and to the sheer power of the enterprise, in many functional processes, including Business Intelligence, Human Resources, R&D, Marketing and Sales.

The enterprise certainly needs to invest some efforts to adapt to the web-driven knowledge cycle, which made the old barriers (time, space, function) obsolete; but the opportunity to grow stronger and faster is proven and the returns are substantial and tangible. And, given the appropriate procedure, mind-set, and tool, the benefits are easy to harvest. By entering the enterprise, the web forced it to evolve… but for the better.

Want to know more about Scoop.it KS solution? Contact us.

15 Things You May Not Know WordPress Can Do

Jacco Blankenspoor


We all know WordPress as the perfect tool for running a blog or regular website. But due to it’s open architecture, WordPress is much more than just a CMS, with many developers taking it to a whole new level.

Making WordPress into something more than a CMS is typically done with themes and/or plugins. In this article I’ll show you 15 alternative uses of WordPress (plus 2 bonuses). I will be taking a broad look at what’s possible with WordPress, in the hope of inspiring you to use it in a way you hadn’t thought of before. For each use, I’ll show you a working example, and how it’s done.

1. Amazon Shop

2. Forum

3. Coupon Site

4. Directory

5. Twitter Look-alike

6. Job Board

7. Issue Tracking

8. Booking System

9. Memberships

10. Customer Feedback

11. Support Desk

12. Real Estate

13. YouTube Look-alike

14. Quora Look-alike

15. Classified Ads

 READ MORE HERE


It's OK not to use tools

Recently I did a little side project to improve the website for a non-profit animal shelter in our town. The existing site was an outdated Microsoft FrontPage menagerie, so basically anything I did would be a big improvement.

I spent around 20 minutes creating a simple design in HTML, and then several hours editing, rewriting, and refining the copy. In the end, I reduced a scattershot 25-page website down to about 8 focused pages written in a friendly tone.

My next instinct was to apply our great modern web toolset to the site. Let’s add a static site generator or a CMS! Let’s add Sass and a grid system! Let’s do more fashionable things!

Then I started looking at those tools critically. A static site generator usually requires knowing Markdown and esoteric commands and configuration. A typical CMS will need setup, logins, security patches, templates, and maintenance. Even hosted CMSes have a lot of cognitive overhead, and the content is trapped away inside someone else’s system.

These are tools made by geeks, for geeks. Why do we need a CMS for an 8-page site? And for that matter, why even bother with Sass? Regular old CSS can do the job just fine.

Who knows who will take over the site in the future. I’ll hang with it for a while, but someday someone else might have to work on it. It would surely be easier to do that with 8 simple, straightforward HTML files than with some custom WordPress installation that’s several versions out of date. So what if I have to repeat the navigation markup 8 separate times? It’s not that hard. We used to do it for much larger sites!

Today, a basic HTML/CSS site seems almost passé. But why? Is it because our new tools are so significantly better, or because we’ve gone overboard complicating simple things?

As builders, we like tools and tech because they’re interesting and new, and we enjoy mastering them. But when you think about the people we’re building for, the reality is usually the opposite. They need simple designs, clear writing, less tech, and fewer abstractions. They want to get stray animals adopted, not fuss around with website stuff.

Remember when the web was damn simple? It still can be. It’s up to us to make it that way.

Jonas Downey wrote this on

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

5 Ways to Improve Your Website

Creating a website is a fantastic way to promote your business or cause, but encouraging people to visit your site and making it stand out requires knowledge, skills, and time you may not have. Here are five great tips for improving your website, store or blog—and some resources available in case you need help putting these ideas into action.
1. Graphic design

The truism that you have only one chance to make a good first impression definitely applies to your site, and that first impression is always visual. Basic themes, fonts and page styles are the perfect place to start, but you’ll also want an attractive logo and some high-resolution graphic images that support your messaging and show off your products. Not a graphic artist? Think you can’t afford to hire one? Don’t worry. In today’s Gig Economy, you can find affordable designers and graphic artists who can help you make your site look just the way you want: professional, fun, elegant, you name it.

2. Written content

Once visitors are interested in your site, you need to give them a reason to stay—and that means engaging content. What kind of written content can you present besides your product and service descriptions? A well-written and regularly published blog is one of the best additions to your site. It provides a forum for you to repeat your messages and encourages visitors to come back again and again. You can also create customer success stories, offer history and trivia related to your topic or industry, provide a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs), and include links to related sites. If you aren’t a great writer or don’t have the time to write, you can find great writers on service marketplaces, freelance job sites and by checking with friends, colleagues, and customers for references of writers they rely on.

3. Videos and Animations

Another form of content is high-quality video and animation. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a few seconds of high-quality video and animation may be worth 2,000 or even 10,000 words. A professionally crafted video reflects the care you take with you products and services. Whether it’s a video of your product, a customer testimonial, or even just you speaking about your cause or passion, video engages visitors and encourages them to stay on your site. Whiteboard animation is also great for explaining complex ideas in a way that is highly engaging and fun.

4. Social buttons

Now that your visitors are engaged, you want them to tell others about your site. Don’t forget to leverage social buttons that will encourage people to share your site on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. And while you’re at it, you may want to create your own social accounts on these sites and participate in relevant communities.

5. Online Marketing

To propel your online presence into the 21st century, it’s essential to use various forms of online marketing. If you feel you don’t have time or enough knowledge, you can seek help from experts who offer these services at affordable prices. Whether you are looking for an in-depth SEO optimization report, tips to increase traffic, or a virtual assistant who can take on tasks such as data entry, research or accounting, the ability tap into outside experts can help take your website to the next level.

5 Steps to Market Your Business Page on Facebook

Before you start marketing on Facebook, think about your marketing goals. Do you want people to buy a t-shirt from your brick and mortar store? Looking to help people discover your photography business for the first time? Or just purchase some of your custom jewelry online?

Once you’ve set these goals you can use Facebook Pages to reach the audience you need to achieve them.  Here are the 5 things you need to do to get started.
1. Create a Page

Pages are what companies, non-profits, and public figures use for their presence on Facebook. It's free and fast to set one up and it creates an instant presence on desktop, mobile, and tablet. Facebook recently announced a new, more streamlined look for Pages so it's easier for visitors to find what they're looking for about your business.

2. Invite People to Connect

It's not about the number of people who like your Page, but that your business Page is connected with the right people. Invite friends who'll be interested in your Page, or upload your customer email list to send an email letting people know about your Facebook content. You can do all of this from the Build Audience section at the top of your Page.

3. Post Compelling Content

Compelling content can take many forms. Tell your story through product photos or share links to upcoming sales and relevant industry articles. Reach more of the people you care about by boosting your posts. You can also get inspiration from other businesses like yours here.

4. Measure

Check out Page Insights to see what kind of people connect and engage with your Page. Is it mostly men? Women between the ages of 18 and 24? Do posts with photos perform better than text-only updates? You can answer these types of questions from the Insights tab at the top of your Page.

5. Download the Pages Manager App


If you own a business you’re going to be busy.  If you find yourself away from the computer and need to make an update, the Pages Manager app can help you manage your Page on the go. You can publish content, edit your Page, boost posts, and view Page insights straight from your phone. Get it in the iTunes Store or Google Play Store.

Choosing a domain name

A domain name is the first step towards starting your online business. Don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s a simple case of registering your company name with “.com.au” attached to the end. There are many considerations when purchasing and registering a domain name, some which you may be aware of and others that don’t present themselves as obviously.
 
Before we go into the processes and considerations of purchasing domain names, let’s look at a brief history so there is an understanding of how the domain name system was developed. Reaching a machine by domain name started much like dialing a telephone. You may have noticed the word machine in the previous sentence. This is because in the early days of the internet (the late 60’s and early 70’s), two machines being linked by cable were used to transfer files to each other. These connections were the commencement of the early internet, spurring on engineers and computer programmers to make better, faster and more reliable connections to even more machines. In 1969 ARPANET, a network of computers set up by US Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) and Bolt Beranek and Newman (the company who won the government contract to work on the project), were used to send email between each other, proving to be the most popular application within the ARPANET network. By the middle of 1969 ARPANET had 62 computers attached to its network, the very beginnings of our online, digital world. In the early 1980’s a system was implemented to allow users to connect to machines by human-readable names, instead of the physical address which is represented by numbers (an IP address). Shortly after, American Paul Mockapetris proposed a Domain Name System (DNS) architecture that remains essentially the same today. This allowed people to type in a name like George or Washington to connect to a machine instead of using an IP address. This concept remains pretty much the same today with the addition of extensions like .au or .uk. In Australia, the .au Domain Administration Ltd (auDA) is responsible for the regulation and policy authority of the .au domain name system. This is the body that accredits and licenses registrars; companies that wish to sell domain names, receive consumer complaints and initiate consumer safeguards regarding Australian domain names.
http://www.auda.com.au/

Different types of domain names

First you will need to think about the domain name(s) you are going to purchase. The obvious choice to start with is http://www.yourcompanynamehere.com.au/ but there are other considerations. There are many extensions of the .au:
.edu .org .asn .info .gov .net .biz Some of these are used for government and associations etc, but there are different variations of the .au that may suit your business.
For more information about the different domain name variations and what they mean, please visit http://www.auda.org.au/domains/au-domains/ . The .com.au is the most recognised and widely used extension in Australia, with most businesses opting to use this, so if possible attempt to register your business name under the .com.au domain name to help protect your online identity. It is noted that to register a .com.au in Australia, the registration needs to be attached to a company.

Trademarks and domain names

Before you register your domain name it is advisable that you check to make sure there is no potential trademark infringement by doing so. As the domain name applicant it is your job to ensure that the domain name you want to register does not infringe trademark legislation. If you intend to trademark your business/domain name, you should search both www.ipaustralia.gov.au/trademarks , IPAustralia’s trademark database and http://www.ausregistry.com.au/ for .com.au, org.au, asn.au, id.au and gov.au names to make sure they are not already registered.

What constitutes a trademark infringement?

auDA explains it as this:
“By using a domain name that is identical to, or deceptively similar to a registered trade mark, there is a risk of trade mark infringement, particularly if the name relates to the same or similar goods or services covered by the trade mark registration.”
For more information about trademarks in Australia go to http://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/ . To register a .com.au you will need:
  • Company name
  • Business name
  • ACN
  • ABN
  • Address details
  • Contact details
  • Credit card details if you choose to purchase online.

Thinking of a domain name for your business

Keep it short

Trying to remember a series of several terms instead of two to three memorable words creates unnecessary complexity for potential customers. Keep your domain name short and punchy.

Be Specific

Obscure names and references can confuse and disorientate users when trying to recall your domain name. They may also go to a more relevant site-name when searching for your product or service in any of the major search engines. There is also a term called ‘type in traffic’ – this is the type of website visitor that is looking for shoes or home insurance and will type in http://www.shoes.com.au/ or http://www.homeinsurance.com.au/ to their internet browser so having a specific domain name can help pull these types of visitors in.

Make it easy

With such a time-poor world, simplifying and reducing the amount of work a consumer needs to do to spend money with you brings you one step ahead of your competition. Remember, your competitors are only a back button away, so “keeping it simple online” is sage advice.

Don’t use difficult words

People are lazy consumers. We want something close by, easy to find at a good price with the least amount of hassle and pain. This attitude juxtaposes itself into the online world as well. Just because your marketing company is called “Guerrilla Entrepreneur Hierarchy Systems” don’t expect your potential customers to try to spell these types of words when there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other companies whose names are easier to remember selling your service or product.

Plain English

If possible, try to avoid using the number 0 in your Domain Name. This can often be mistaken for the letter o. Likewise, try and avoid using 2 for ‘to’, 4 for ‘for’ and the letter u for ‘you’ as these terms can confuse your visitors.

Register more than one

You are able to register multiple domain names and this can sometimes prove useful from a marketing and search engine optimisation perspective. If you are a software company called SoftwareNOW Pty Ltd that develops content management software and online learning software, you may want to consider registering http://www.contentma/
nagementsoftware.com.au and http://www.onlinelearningsoftware.com.au/. Doing this may also prove to be successful in creating better rankings for those keyword terms in search engines.

The generic equivalent of your product or service

When registering a domain it’s always a great idea to see if the generic equivalent of your product or service is available to purchase. As mentioned above this will help with search engine rankings as most people look for the generic equivalent i.e. hamburger as opposed to your brand i.e. McDonalds™. If you also use this address when asking people to link to your website, this will give search engines a better idea that your website is about the product or service within the domain name. For example, if I was a florist in Manly, I would look for the domain name http://www.floristsmanly.com.au/ or perhaps http://www.manlyflorists.com.au/ .

Look at old domains

Sometimes looking at old and expired domains can help you get your site ranked better in search engines. For example, an old domain may have several hundred links to it. Pointing this old domain to your website may increase the speed of your website getting crawled and indexed and may help in search engine rankings. (More on this topic in the Search Engine Optimisation section.)

Different countries

If selling internationally, buy that country’s extension if possible.

Make it memorable

Sayings or combinations of words that infuse themselves into our language and become colloquial are part of our everyday life therefore, these types of addresses can usually be recalled without having to think. See example below. (Note – this is only an example designed to help you choose your own domain name that best suits your company type and industry.)
Example: Richards Lawncare & Garden Services Pty Ltd
Potential Names
http://www.rlgs.com.au/
http://www.richardslawncare.com.au/
http://www.lawn-and-garden-care.com.au/
Possible Name
http://www.mowthelawn.com.au/
Whilst this address may not reflect the company name, it’s a saying that permeates its way through every household in the Australian summer and can be easily recalled by almost everyone. With savvy marketing efforts, this name could be easy for your visitors to remember.
Is your domain already registered?
Many people think the registration of your business and company name automatically restricts the online equivalent from being registered. This is incorrect. Domain names are issued on a ‘first come first served’ basis so it makes sense to get in quickly and register the best possible name for your business. To check if the domain name you want to register is available, go to http://www/ .

What to do if your domain name is already registered

If you feel that there is no alternative name that suits your business and you want to register a similar name to one that is taken, there are some variations that might be available. For example:
  • try adding a hyphen to the name
  • try adding a combination of hyphens
  • abbreviate or use acronyms
    This method should be used as a last resort as there are still plenty of domain names available for the creative site owner.

I have my domain name – now what?

Make sure you keep the details of your domain name registrar. These are the people you will need to deal with for all your domain name issues including pointing your domain name to your website when it is created and re-registering your domain name. It’s worth pointing out that you don’t actually own a domain name. You license its
use for a set period. This is very important to remember because if your registration lapses, someone else can rightfully register your old domain name.

Domain name scams – don’t get caught

Making sure you keep your domain name information in order can help to ensure you do not get caught out by domain name scams. One of the more popular scams has been conducted by gathering information about domain names from publicly available sources like WHOIS and then sending letters to the owners of these domain names telling them that they are required to re-register their domain name otherwise they could potentially lose it. The unsuspecting owner pays this renewal to a company they don’t know and have never dealt with. These types of scams typically only ask for a small fee of between $50 and $100 to avoid suspicion. Many people have been duped by this type of scam. Make sure you know who your domain names are registered through and keep all your paperwork so you can cross reference this with any suspect information you may get. Once your domain name is registered you will need to find a hosting provider for your soon-to-be-created website.

Avoiding Simple Design Mistakes

Many of the world’s websites suffer from mistakes that can dramatically impact their effectiveness. We’ve compiled a list of the 17 common mistakes with helpful advice on how to avoid them.


Many of the world’s websites suffer from mistakes that can be easily avoided. It is our hope that this list will help you to ensure that your site is not similarly afflicted. Some of these problems merely result in irritation, whilst others will inhibit or prevent visitors to your site from accessing the material or functionality that you have placed there.

No matter how well or how poorly your site is implemented, by far the largest mistake occurs when the website’s role in the overall strategy of your organisation has not been well thought through. Only once the strategic purposes and role of the site are understood can the site be built in a manner that achieves those objectives. For a pilot, this is akin to bringing your plane in for a nice, smooth landing only to find out that you’ve landed at the wrong airport.
1. Lack of Accessibility
Accessibility refers to the ease with which a wide spectrum of users can access your site. On one level it can relate to the specialist web browsers that are used by people with a disability – a significant market in their own right. It also refers to the vast array of equipment, operating systems and browsers that are used to surf the web. Some examples to consider include: Visually impaired people surf too: Does the font size on your site increase if a visitor changes the text size from “medium” to “largest” in their browser? Does the page layout of your site fall apart when a visitor changes the text size? Small devices: What does your site look like when accessed from a PDA or mobile phone? How long does your page take to load at GPRS speeds? Other Operating Systems: Microsoft’s Internet Explorer doesn’t run on the Mac or Linux. How does your website design look on Opera, Safari or FireFox? Old Browsers: Believe it or not, there are still plenty of users running browsers that are 4 or 5 years old. A good website designer will take advantage of the formatting and presentation capabilities of the newer browsers, whilst “gracefully degrading” when viewed with an older version. Screen Sizes: There has been an explosion in the variety of screen sizes. Your site needs to be able to display appropriately on different sized screens, and it can’t be assumed that the user will have their entire screen allocated to their browser.
2. Infrequently Asked Questions
Have you looked through an FAQ page and been irritated by the irrelevance of the questions? Have you wondered if the questions had ever been asked, let alone frequently? If so then you’re not alone. Many sites no longer have FAQ pages and have instead updated their content to provide that information. However the point here is not so much about how fashionable the FAQ is or isn’t - the point is that all of the content on your site needs to be relevant to the people who are likely to visit the site. Relevant content will give them a good impression and will increase the likelihood that they will take the next step towards becoming a customer.
3. Can’t find contact information
We’re constantly amazed by sites that make it difficult to find physical contact information. For small and medium businesses this is critical as your contact information provides a key link to reality, giving customers confidence that they are dealing with a real business rather than a scammer. Contact information should include conventional contact methods such as phone and your business address.
4. Click Here To Enter Site
Don’t waste your home page with a “Click here to enter site” link or a gratuitous splash screen. Your website visitor is already here, so reward them immediately with useful, relevant content.
5. Audio
Audio should be used sparingly on any website and it should never be played automatically, especially if you are trying to reach users in a corporate setting. The best sites that use audio require the user to click a “play” icon. For sites that need a voiceover, you will dramatically enhance your organisation’s image by having the track professionally recorded.
6. Too Much Flash
Flash is great when used sparingly and tastefully. Flash can add excitement and movement to your site, adding capabilities that are difficult or impossible using only HTML. Unfortunately it has two key detractors: not everyone has flash and not everyone has the bandwidth to support flash. If you have decided that it is appropriate to use a sizeable flash component on your site then make sure that the user receives visual feedback while it loads.
7. Too many meaningless graphics
The graphics on your site should enhance the user experience. This needs to be kept in balance – enough to ensure that the site is attractive and functional, but not enough to create clutter and slow down the user experience. Site graphics need to be optimised to ensure that the site is displayed at a respectable speed.
8. Search Engine Unfriendly
Whilst having a search engine friendly site won’t guarantee you high rankings on your favourite search engine (that’s a discipline called Search Engine Optimisation), there’s no excuse for not having done the basics. These include having a site map, concise and relevant content, use of standard mark-up tags that are recognised by search engines as well as meta tags such as keywords and a description.
9. Welcome to Our Website
Commence your content with something a little more compelling that “Welcome to our website”. Such an opening appears amateurish and communicates to a visitor that the site is in no hurry to provide them with useful information.
10. Poor Navigation
Navigating through your site should be intuitive. This means that the site navigation should be organised and presented in a manner consistent with accepted web navigation conventions. Stick to standard techniques and standard locations for navigation elements such as links and menus. Links should look like links. It should be easy for a visitor to find the “home” and “contact us” links. As well as having navigation elements that are easily recognised, it is important to think through the logical organisation of your site. One useful metric to keep in mind is the average number of clicks required to find a piece of information or to access a page. Another key aspect is how easy/obvious is it for a visitor to find out which link to click on. For example, to find “double sided tape” on your website, should they look under “Art & Craft” or “Office Supplies”?
11. Poor Colour Schemes
A poor colour scheme will distract visitors from your message. At worst, the message will become unreadable. It is also important to keep vision impaired users in mind, so if your site features coloured text on a coloured background then it would be wise to offer a high contrast option. This can easily be done using style sheets.
12. Expecting that people will read your Web Pages
Very few people read a web page in its entirety. Rather, people scan web pages looking for relevant information, zooming in on the elements that catch their interest. It is therefore important that information be well ordered and easy to locate on the page.
13. Pop-up Windows
Unless you have a very good reason, avoid pop-up windows. They are irritating and many browsers block them.
14. Dead Links
All of the links on your site should work. Having users visit your site and encounter broken links will look unprofessional, cause frustration and undermine the confidence of visitors in your site and hence your organisation. All links on your site should be properly tested. Links to external sites that are not under your control should be tested on a regular basis, especially if they link deep into the content of that site.
15. Requiring That Surfers Install Software
Generally, users will not want to install software to view content on your site. By default, most browsers block websites from installing software. Exceptions to this rule are some extensions/applications that have gained widespread acceptance such as Acrobat and Flash.
16. Pages that are slow to load
Web surfers are notoriously impatient and will punish slow sites by leaving them. A good site will load in no more than a few seconds. Reasons for slow loading pages often include such factors as overloading a site with pointless graphics, sub-optimal graphic formats and hosting factors such as using an overseas hosting company or a “backyard” hosting company. If there is a legitimate, unavoidable reason for having a slow site, then provide visual feedback for the visitor while it loads.
17. Not monitoring your site
There are numerous tools available for monitoring your site. They can provide valuable insights into the behaviour of users on your site, allowing you to determine where they come from, how they found your site and the kind of content that they are interested in and which links are the most popular. With excellent tools available free of charge, there is no excuse not to monitor who is visiting your site and what they do once they arrive.

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO WANT TO START YOUR OWN BLOG

There is some point when someone wants to start his own business in the internet that requires him to buy a hosting and a domain name. There are a lot of free hosting services in the internet if you want to search. Domain names are the same. A lot of free domain names available for free in the internet. I always recommend for first timer to search and try free services available in the internet, like free blog at blogger.com or wordpress.com. Even Friendster also offers a free blog service.

There are free domain names available in the internet like .co.cc or .co.nr. I still remember the first time I use .tk as my domain name. All of those free domain name and web hosting are cool and worth to try, but like I said at some point we will need a paid service.

There is a good Website Hosting service called Namecheap. While originally it is UK hosting company but it also gives service globally. The most important thing you will look for if you choose a web hosting service is the support (choose those who has 24×7 support via phone, chat and email), uptime guarantee (no company can guarantee 100% uptime, but the more the better). The other factor like price and features can be compared among the other services and it depends on what you need.



ADVANTAGES OF FREE BLOGGING SERVICES

Are you new to blogging? People often ask me about how to start from the very beginning. Should I buy my own domain and look for a paid Web Hosting service to start blogging or just sign up for an account in a site that offer free blogging service. Well, there are two kinds depend on what your aim in the future. Here below are the advantages and disadvantages between those two.

The advantages of free blogging service:
It is easy to set up. You even no need to set up. Just sign up for a free account and your blog is ready to go.

Free blogging services are usually easy to use.

They are completely free, no need to pay for a domain name and hosting service.

The disadvantages:
The features to customize your blog are usually limited. You have to follow the terms and conditions of service from the company which provides the free blog service.

The URL is not as good as your own domain. Usually you will get yourname.blogsite.com while with your own domain you can have yourname.com.

It looks less professional.

But whatever you choose is depend on what your purpose in making a blog. Which one is better is according to you.

Here are the sites that provide the free blog service:
Wordpress, Blogger, Blogsome, Lifejournal and much more.


Fix slow workstations with this tune-up checklist

Date: March 1st, 2010 
Author: Erik Eckel
·   Optimizing a slow-performing system requires a number of diagnostic and repair steps, often with interruptions along the way. This basic checklist will help you cover all the bases.
·        

·         Slow performing workstations trigger numerous help desk calls. The complaint is common within IT departments and among most every IT consulting client. Culprits, however, are as varied as users.
·         Sometimes slow operation is due to a failing hard drive. Sometimes active virus or spyware infections are to blame. Still other performance issues can be tied to too many applications being installed, fragmented hard disks, or corrupted installations.

·         Isolating problems and correcting slow-performing desktop or laptop systems could be easy. If that were all IT professionals and consultants had to do, the process might actually even be enjoyable. But it’s not. The process is frustrating, sometimes vexing, and occasionally maddening.

·         While you’re trying to remove a Trojan infection with surgical precision to save reinstalling an OS, reloading seven applications for which the user or client no longer has installation media or registration keys, and re-creating a host of undocumented but intricate and critical settings, the phone is ringing. Projects are falling behind. Printers are failing. Servers are crashing.

·         Most small companies, and certainly most small businesses, don’t have libraries of disk images that can be used to redeploy client desktops when such troubles arise. Instead, many IT pros have to go old school and manually repair systems. That’s when a strong checklist comes in handy. A simple one-page document can prove incredibly helpful in quickly addressing the most commonly required tune-up tasks.

·         This is especially true when you have to repair a slow-performing system while also juggling multiple other tasks — which is nearly always. I’ve yet to meet a support technician worth his or her salt who repairs only a single workstation at a time. Most professionals repair six to 10 PCs simultaneously. And if you’re forced to repair a system onsite or in a user’s office or cubicle, said user may insist on making small talk, or more likely, will ask you to answer numerous complex technical questions while you work.

·         Distractions are problematic when performing tune-ups or trying to isolate viruses and spyware. It’s easy to overlook important steps (such as performing a quick check disk operation to verify data and hard disk integrity). Unfortunately, real-world distractions are plentiful. You’re not likely to have the luxury of a few uninterrupted hours to complete a tune-up, system optimization, or malware removal session.

·         One good way to stay focused amidst competing demands is to use TechRepublic’s Tune-up Checklist. Clients and users can chat all they want. The phone can ring, and email notifications can momentarily command your attention. By working through the checklist, you won’t forget critical steps. From leveraging common repair tools and utilities to remembering to confirm proper backups are in place, the checklist covers all the important tasks and processes. And you can record notes and other information as you go, providing valuable reminders for follow-up work or quick review sessions with end users and clients.
 
 
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