Recent Blog Posts
A recent article in the Daily Telegraph “Internet ‘fuels procrastination and lowers productivity‘” started me thinking about my own experiences (I’ve been developing and using internet technology in business for over 30 years), so I thought I would post my guidelines for using email.Read More
There are many myths about the internet, not least of which is the one about web design. Most people think that in order to be successful you simply need to design a website that looks great. Some businesses spend a fortune with a web designer in order to get a website that looks fantastic.
Let me let you into a secret. These days, with content management systems such as WordPress, designing a nice professional looking website is easy and well within the capabilities of most people who can find their way around a computer……Read More
Need a website? Looking for a web design company to design it for you? Stop.
Don’t go any further until you have read this article
Traditionally, web design companies work like this.
- You approach them and ask them to develop a website.
- They then ask you for you requirements. Sometimes this will just be a set of verbal questions; sometimes they may have forms to fill in.
- They will usually ask what kind of site you want: brochure site, eCommerce, blog, content managed etc. They will probably ask you about colours, some idea of layout, numbers of pages, and possibly ask you to give them some examples of similar sites that you like.
- They will design the site and they will require you to provide the content in the form of text and graphics.
- They then go away and build the site with dummy content and show it to you for your comment.
- After tweaking it to you liking, they then take your content, add it, test it all and, hey presto, job done.
Can you see the flaw in this?
When you approach the web design company, what you actually want is something that will get you more business, and therefore more profit, by using the internet.Read More
Developing a eCommerce website is pretty easy. eCommerce platforms, such as Zen Cart or OsCommerce, make the job little more than a load and configure operation. What’s more they are free.
But I’m afraid that’s not what you really want. What you really want is to be able to trade online and that’s not the same thing as setting up an eCommerce website. So how do you do this?Read More
Traditional, or “outbound marketing”, involves sending out messages about your products or services to potential customers. Outbound marketing uses methods such as advertisements in newspapers, periodicals, radio, television, telemarketing and cold calling. The key characteristics of outbound marketing are an advert and an audience. You effectively push that advert in from of the audience.
But people are now becoming immune to this kind of marketing. Do you watch TV adverts and get a message about the product or company? Or, like me, switch off and ignore it? What do you do when you get a cold call about mobile phones or anything else? You probably find them irritating or down right annoying. I do.
Outbound marketing is becoming increasingly ineffective. So what can you do? Enter inbound marketing.Read More
One essential component of any good blog is to use correct language. Bad spelling or grammar will make your blog look cheap. Here’s a tip that will stand you in good stead for blog writing and writing in general.
Many of us have difficulty knowing when to use I and when to use me. Take for example these two sentences.
- My son held a birthday party for my wife and I.
- My son held a birthday party for my wife and me.
Which one is correct?Read More
“Britain’s small businesses could be losing more than £800m of sales a year by not taking credit and debit card payments”.
So says a news story that is currently doing the rounds. Whether or not you believe the figure of £800m, the fact does remain that many small businesses such as, corner shops, local tradesmen, market traders, and numerous mobile businesses, can’t take card payments.
These businesses an only accept payment in cash or cheque. I don’t know about you but I rarely carry much cash around and I never carry a cheque book so, no card payment, no sale.
On the other side of the fence, I hate it when customers give me a cheque. They put a cheque in the post, which can take who know how long to arrive, given the vagaries of the Royal Mail, and then it takes another 5 days to arrive in my account after I’ve paid it into the bank.
The excuse for not accepting cards has been that card payments are expensive. But that’s not true any more.Read More
It is so easy to waste money and effort on marketing that turns out to be ineffective. The key to good marketing is to measure and then improve, then measure again and improve again, etc. But how many of us actually does that, or even knows how to do it, particularly from our online marketing?
If you send out bulk email campaigns, can you determine how many visitors to your website came from the campaign you just sent out? Perhaps you use paid search – Google Adwords? If so can you determine how many visitors come from Adwords? Can you determine how many came from specific keywords on your Adwords campaigns?
Let me guess. The answer to all these questions is probably no? You probably use Google Analytics or something similar to get the basic visitor stats from your website, but did you know that there is a way to get the answers to all the questions I posed above? Let me tell you the secret.Read More
Recently Google announced, what it described, as a “complete overhaul of its search algorithm”. Codeworded “Hummingbird”, the update is aimed at making search results much more relevant to users. Hummingbird seems to have created quite a stir so I though I would give you my take on it together with some practical advice.Read More
A client recently called my for some advice on the best way to archive emails from Outlook. This particular client had a number of separate client folders under his Inbox and wanted to archive each onto DVD for storage and, possible, restore at a later date.
The best way to do this in Outlook is to create a new Personal Folder for each of the client folders, copy each of the client folder from the Inbox into its own Personal Folder, then copy the personal folders onto DVD, and finally remove from Outlook.
Any one, or more, of these Personal Folders can be copied back and re installed into Outlook if required in the future.
You create new personal folders by clicking the Data File Management option under the File tab. This opens a window where you can add new Personal Folders, and remove existing ones (note this only removes them from Outlook, it doesn’t delete them). This window also shows the location of each Personal Folders which you can use to locate and copy the files.Read More
Recently I realized that my notebook, which I use for email, stopped automatically going into sleep mode. Not a catastrophic problem, I know, but it’s better to have devices go into sleep or standby when not in use to avoid unnecessary heat build up. Why had this suddenly happened I wondered?
The reason, I eventually discovered, was Windows Update. From time to time Microsoft issues updates to its software which, if your computer is set to do so, will be automatically installed on your machine. Sometimes these updates don’t always do what Microsoft intended and have side effects. In this case my problem turned out to be down to an update that had the effect of preventing my notebook from sleeping automatically.
The solutions was simple. I did a system restore to revert my machine to the state it was in before the update. (See this article on how to do a system restore.)
In order to avoid similar, or worse, problems occurring in future, I then switched off automatic updates and set Windows to simply inform me when new updates are available and I will then choose to install them manually. If a problem then arises, I can revert back to the original state with system restore immediately. (See this article on how to configure an use automatic updates.)
The moral of the story. Don’t put your systems, and your business, in the hands of a 3rd party even if it is Microsoft. Keep control yourself.Read More
I recently came across this amazing story about a 16-year old , Jack Andraka, who recently devised a revolutionary medical test for detecting the almost always fatal disease, pancreatic cancer. I urge you to watch the 10 minute video below. It will blow you away.
The reason I want to share this with you is because Jack, having no previous medical training and not even knowing what a pancreas is, managed to produce the test by extensive research on the Internet.
I’ve previously expounded, in this blog, about the power of the Internet but Jack’s story illustrates this to a tee. A mere thirty years ago it would have been almost impossible for a layman such as Jack to achieve such a feat.
If the internet can do this and enable Jack to produce such a result, just think what it can do for your business.Read More
Twitterfall is an app that lets you monitor new updates to Twitter.
Those of you who’s business relies on the most up to date information in your field or those that just have an interest in the latest trending topics on Twitter should check out Twitterfall (www.twitterfall.com). The application runs in real time and filters tweets based on search criteria that you define. You can search on keyword and geolocation to narrow down your search.
So for example, let’s say you want to find out about the latest Apple announcements at the forthcoming Consumer Electronics Fair in Berlin, then you could search on “apple, consumer electronics fair, berlin” and see all relevant tweets in real time.
Twitterfeed is used by professional journalists working for organizations such as the BBC and Daily Telegraph. For any business owner, it is an ideal tool to help you stay one step ahead of the competition.Read More
Clients often ask me what they should write about in their blogs.
- Don’t write sales pitches. A blog should be informative not a platform for sales pitches. So stay away from blog posts that try to pitch your products. The purpose of your blog is to attract interest and, whilst you might be interested in the latest variant of your xyz widget, most of you blog readers won’t. The only exception is if you’ve just brought out something so different, or even revolutionary, that it will immediately attract interest.
A client recently called me to ask how he could put shortened versions of links to specific web pages into documents.
His specific problem was this. Some of the pages on his website had links (URLs) that a contained many characters. For example http://www.examplesite.co.uk/index.php/team-building-a-activities-for-groups/activities-for-groups. Occasionally he needs to respond to client inquiries and direct them to pages with URLs such as this. He wanted to know how he could use a shortened version of such a link to make his reply document look tidier.
One obvious was was to use tinyURL to provide a shorter version but, whilst this results in a URL that is much shorter, it still doesn’t look the neatest.
A much neater and simpler way is to use a word or phrase and embed the link behind it. So, using the example above you could write “activities for groups” and then embed the link so that when clicked it will take the user to the specific web page.Read More
Are you bewildered by some of the terminology that computer geeks like me use? If so, read on.
As someone who has been in the IT industry for many years I tend to use words that, to me, are commonplace. However, for many people who have only got to grips with technology recently, or who are still trying, many of these terms are baffling.
So I thought I would start a series of posts to try and explain some of this terminology in layman’s terms. This first post in the series is really just an introduction. Future posts will go into more detail.Read More
As I posted on this blog back in March this year, Google reader is being withdrawn by Google after 1/7/13. Google’s announcement claimed that the number of people using the product has declined and Google wants to focus its efforts on fewer product offerings. Despite protests from users of the product, it seems that Google is still going ahead with the closure. So what’s the alternative?
I looked around and finally settled on InoReader (https://www.inoreader.com/).Read More
Do you wear the same things that you wore 10 years ago?
The answer is probably not because, the fact is, that fashions change. Not just in clothes or movies of TV programmes; fashions change in website design too; and changes in the online world tend to happen a lot faster than in the offline one. To give an example, I came across this interesting site to show how some popular websites have evolved over the years.
But the change is not just down to fashion. With web design, technology plays a largepart.Read More
Most websites are useless, a complete waste of money and don’t do a thing for the businesses they serve. But it needn’t be like that.
You may think that, as someone who develops websites for clients, I’m shooting myself in the head by coming out with this statement. But the fact is that I hate to see my clients wasting their money and that’s exactly what I see when I look around the web at many of the websites out there.
The simple fact is that a website is a tool that will enable you to communicate your marketing messages to existing and potential customers in a way that, if done properly, can be extremely effective in terms of results and cost saving. But to do this involves investment in terms of money and time.
I’m continually contacted by potential clients asking for minimal sites (I’ve even been asked for one page websites) in the belief that this will give them a presence on the Internet on the cheap and magically start bringing in business. Well I’ve got news for all the people who think like that. Don’t bother.Read More
In this article I’m going to explain what a website is and how it works. The article is aimed at people who view websites but have little or no understanding of what happens behind the scenes. So I make no apologies for the fact that I explain the terms and processes involved in very simple terms.
Take a look at the following picture which illustrates the what happens when we sit down in front of our computer screens to view a website.
To explain what happens let’s go through the process step by step as follows. You can refer to the definitions at the end of the article for further explanation as you read through the steps.Read More