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Prioritization – how do I know what to do next?

April 10, 2014

The ability to correctly prioritize your to do list is a skill that develops gradually.  How many times have you made a to do list, started ranking the tasks as A, B or C level with the A’s the top priority, and realized that you have a list that’s 90% or more comprised of A’s?  With maybe a few B’s or C’s thrown in as you notice the trend?  And when you have a continually evolving list that never goes away, knowing what to do next gets very problematic!

Here’s a great method to not only rank your to do list, but also determine what you should actually be working on next:  Assign two scores to each task.  Each task gets an importance ranking and an urgency ranking.  Let’s face it – we often have tasks that really aren’t important in the scheme of things, but seem urgent (usually due to someone being quite vocal about it).   Forcing ourselves to assess both qualities helps keep the list prioritized correctly.  To keep it simple, each score can be a 1, 2, or 3.  So if the task in question is super important, and needs to be done this week, it would receive an importance ranking of 3, and an urgency ranking that’s also 3, for a combined score of 6.  An important task that doesn’t have an official deadline may get an importance ranking of 3 but an urgency rank of 1 for a combined score of 4.

If you keep your list in a spreadsheet, and track the scores in three columns, you can sort by importance (1 to 3), urgency (1 to 3), or the combined score (2 to 6).  And the combined score lets you know just what you should be working on next.  Even if you don’t want to track that formally, just factoring in both qualities when you’re evaluating a task will help you prioritize more efficiently.  And by the way, those tasks you rated as 2’s?  Accept that they’ll never make it high enough on the list to be handled by you, and either delegate or delete them – and move on.

Website trends for 2014

March 31, 2014

This is a topic fairly overused by this point in the year.  I’ve recently run into a multitude of articles and blog posts with a very wide range of trends in web design for 2014.  Some are written very well, and arguably spot on from my perspective, while others seem as though they were written for a different year (or decade) altogether.  However, frequently in both cases there is little focus put on the “why” side of the reasoning as it pertains to the users themselves – i.e. the customer.

Here’s a short list of trends I feel are very important as it relates to the customer experience:

Responsive design

Long story short, this is a website that has been designed and programmed to dynamically adjust itself based on the browser resolution on which you’re viewing.  Very importantly, we’re not just talking about a website scaling to different resolutions – for example a web browser versus a mobile phone browser.  That is important, but an excellent responsive experience also dynamically adjusts the presentation of the same content base to target the information the user needs – all based on the device they’re using (and even based on location!).  For example, a PC browsing user may be looking for much more detailed research information including graphics, lists, and more; however, a mobile browser may be simply looking for contact information, reviews, or an abbreviated description of something.  Customer value: a seamless device-agnostic experience.

Content that delivers value

Today’s users have much higher expectations, and very short attention spans.  That means that content needs to quickly answer a user’s questions and immediately deliver value.  In addition, as critical as today’s users may be, today’s search engines are even more critical.  Google has spent the last 12-18 months completely turning the SEO industry on its head.  Google’s algorithms are sophisticated enough to know whether the content you write provides value to users – even down to the grammatical correctness.  Customer value: unique and concise answers.

Infographics

The Internet can present an overwhelming deluge of data.  Continuing along the trend of providing value in a unique and concise manner brings me to Infographics.  An infographic is a graphical representation of a collection of ideas, statistics, facts, etc.  A well done infographic can help a website (or other medium) to quickly convey what would otherwise be an overwhelming and potentially boring collection of content.  Ideas such as Infographics will be more crucial than ever in capturing a user’s attention long enough to get the message across.  Customer value: innovative presentation and engagement.

Wrap-up

This is a very short list of concepts already making a splash in the web and digital marketing industry.  SNQ is extremely focused on providing high customer value and engagement, and these concepts are a great place to begin.  As always, think outside of the box and dare to be different.  Be not quo!

Scott Capistrano

President

Status Not Quo

The Importance of Being Mobile

March 27, 2014

As mobile devices become more advanced, desktop and laptop computers become more and more antiquated. Users want to be able to substitute their computers for more palm-friendly iPad minis and cell phones. This makes the importance of ensuring that your business’s website is mobile friendly is undeniable. If you are a business, the last thing you want is a website that potential customers consider inconvenient or difficult to navigate.

Mobile App

As we are so used to such a convenient lifestyle, we naturally expect that shopping online will be as easy as possible. When this isn’t the case, we don’t even waste our time because we know that there is a more convenient place to spend our money. When your website isn’t responsive, meaning it adjusts to fit whatever device it’s being viewed on, you lose a significant amount of potential profit. Having a developer make your website responsive isn’t too costly and can pay for itself after just a few new customers.

Another great way to increase a mobile clientele is by developing your own mobile app. Consumers are downloading app, upon app, upon app, to make their shopping experience more lax. An added benefit of having an app for your business is customer retention. By them downloading your app, you become visible to them every time they check their phone. It’s almost like a form of advertising when your logo is constantly on their home screen.

Apps also tend to turn virtual shopping interactive. You can offer coupons, forums, rating systems, etc. Your app can be whatever you want to make it.

The idea of developing an app may put you into monetary cardiac arrest, but there’s little steps you can take to make developing one as cost efficient as possible. To save money, make sure you already have a logo designed and only include the features that are necessary to your business. Besides, plenty of users appreciate simple apps that aren’t confusing to figure out. You may think it’s a good idea to make a DIY (do it yourself) app to save a few bucks, but if you aren’t a seasoned developer, you may not produce the most optimal app. Our advice is to consult with a developing firm that has a team of experts, like us at Status Not Quo, to make the coolest app you could have imagined.

If you would like more information about developing a mobile app, visit our website to contact us.

SEO: What is “Quality Content”?

March 14, 2014

Google has made it very clear that in order to achieve a high ranking status; your website must contain high quality content. Well, that’s great but, what does it mean? How do I know whether or not my copy is of “high quality”? Well you can follow these simple steps:

  1. Simplify it! It’s easy, actually. To Google, quality isn’t measured by the complexity of your words or the quantity of your paragraphs. It’s all about how engaging and user-friendly your content is.SEO Factors If your copy is information rich, easy to digest, and engaging, Google will give you praise. Put Google’s crawlers in the perspective of a user. They need to be able to look at your content and determine who you are, what you do, and whether or not they can utilize your services. By simplifying your content for the user, you are, essentially, simplifying it for the crawlers as well.
  2. Use Information Density! “Information rich” isn’t synonymous with “type out as many sentences as you possibly can”. You should be able to take a the most important information about your site, products, and services, and fit it into a few sentences . Also think about the willingness of your customer to read about you. Will they really sit there and read an essay about Management Consulting or will they skim through the first few sentences? Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and make the content geared toward their reading behavior.
  3. Engage Your Customer! If your content is boring, nobody is going to want to stay on your site. Google is looking out for their searches. When somebody spends very little time on your site it means they were not satisfied with what Google provided them. If this is a frequent occurrence, Google will view you as irrelevant to the search. By creating entertaining content, you can retain your viewers for more time. This makes you more reliable in Google’s eyes.

One of the most important things you must always remember is to be honest with your content. If you spam your content with key phrases and links, Google will penalize you and you will find it very difficult to increase your ranking. Use only white hat techniques. When in doubt, if what you are doing feels shady, you probably should play it safe and stop.

Of course, my greatest piece of advice would be to consult with an SEO expert who specializes in your field.

Status Not Quo

Expert SEO Consulting 

Managing Negative Online Reviews

March 11, 2014

If you were a consumer in the 90’s, you might ask your friends or family for a business referral or suggestions on where to dine before you spend your hard earned money. If someone made a positive suggestion about a specific restaurant, you may have felt more comfortable about trying it for the first time. Similarly, if you had a place in mind that but somebody told you about a bad experience they had there, you might decide not to try it. Nowadays, more people are turning to online reviews for suggestions instead of the “word on the street”. It’s important for business owners to recognize this. Your business’ online reputation can have a detrimental effect on its overall success.

So how do we manage our reputation on review sites such as Yelp once it’s been compromised?

Man Typing

  1. Stay calm. It’s important not to respond to a nasty review until you have cooled down and taken time to understand the review. Try not to be reactive and research the incident by communicating with your staff to hear their possible side of the story prior to replying to the review.
  2. Ensure that you respond to the customer with tact. It’s only natural to feel hurt or angry when someone posts a negative review about your business, but responding defensively will only make things worse. Never blame the customer. When communicating with them, keep it professional. Make sure to thank them for visiting your business and apologize for the negative experience.  If possible, correct the problem. Sometimes you just need to improve a procedure, so ask the reviewer for their input. In other situations, you might offer some kind of compensation or a special invitation at a reduced cost, but don’t bribe.
  3. Stay consistent. Your response to negative reviews is a great opportunity to show customers that you take full responsibility for any concerns or dissatisfaction that your customers may have.  When responding to negative online reviews, other potential customers will see that you are engaged and that you care about your customers. Responding and resolving a bad review can turn into a positive outlook for your business.

In the growing world of technology, consumers are relying more and more on the internet to provide them with the information they need to carry out their daily tasks. The most effective way to correct any negative online reviews is to prevent them from happening. Through exceptional customer service, you can ensure that your business’ online reputation isn’t something you’d have to defend.

Where Does Your Business Fit in Social Media?

February 28, 2014

With social media becoming as popular as it is, it seems like hundreds of new social networking sites are born each day. While they all serve the same root purpose, like people, each social networking site has unique characteristics. This is important to understand when trying to engage your customer through social media.

Sure Facebook is the quarterback, but maybe your target audience prefers to hang out with the linebacker.  There are plenty of social media sites that might bring you more clients than Facebook.

If you are looking to optimize your engagement on social media, the first thing you need to do is determine which site your target audience is most present. Research what features each site has that may hold the most benefit to you. For instance, if you are a local music producer, your niche may be within Myspace. Another example would be if you were a technical consultant, you may find that Reddit holds a stronger audience for you.

Setting up a strategy before you embark on your social media engagement campaign is crucial. You need to determine your business’ personality, your target audience and determine the right social media site. We’ll help you learn a little bit more about the personalities of each major site.

Social Media

  • Facebook: Facebook is the leader of social media. It is home to over one billion users. With this many users, any presence on Facebook is a positive one. Even if your target audience isn’t greatest on Facebook, you should ensure you at least have a Facebook page for your business. Your main goal on Facebook is to introduce consumers to the members of your business. Facebook users want to know that there are actual humans behind the logo. Facebook is best for local businesses like boutiques, dentists, restaurants, etc.
  • Twitter: Twitter is very specific. Sure there are a lot of users on Twitter, but it does not do somebody like web designer as much good to engage on Twitter as it would… let’s say a politician. Twitter is all about sharing what’s going on in your mind. And let’s face it, if you run a business, people don’t care all that much if your prefer cheese over pepperoni pizza. Twitter is most optimal for personalities. Don’t spend time engaging on Twitter if you are not a public figure or if you are not trying to share a coupon for your business.
  • Pinterest: Pinterest is all things pretty. It works best for hair stylists, restaurants, boutiques, and any other business whose products/services look “cute” in high definition pictures. Let’s face it, nobody is going to re-pin a screen shot of a Global Ajax Event Handler you used.
  • LinkedIn: It is all about being professional. LinkedIn is full of executives looking to network with other executives. This is where businesses like consultants and computer specialists do well. There is the most opportunity for these types of businesses here.
  • Google Plus: Google plus is another site for professionals. Not a lot of people are going to go to Google Plus to actively search for dentists, boutiques and restaurants. They’re more looking for business to business related services. However, it is important to note that Google now tweaked how search results are displayed for certain business categories. Before if you searched for a “dentist” you would see Ads followed by Organic results. Now you will see Ads, Local Google Plus profiles, then Organic results. It is very important to have a Google Plus page to appear locally. If you are a more “professional” company, you might do well on Google Plus.
  • Reddit: Reddit is all things clever. As a forum for discussion, companies like Microsoft and Apple tend to have “Ask Me Anything” forums. It is a good site to answer professional questions about your field. Tech-based companies will do well here. You might also do well here if you have a strange obsession with The Walking Dead or American Horror Story.

You can also read the blog our good friends over at Dental Digital SEO posted on Social Media Engagement from an SEO perspective.

Status Not Quo (SNQ)

Exceptional turnkey creative and production digital media services


 [NC1]Add link directly to DDS blog post

Making life easier with WordPress Plugins

January 30, 2014

WordPress is a powerful tool to create a blog or a website. A brand new business or e-commerce website can be created in no time with no necessary knowledge of HTML, CSS etc. But what makes it more exciting is the ability to use plugins to help the website to work and feel like it was developed with a lot of expert programmers. Some of the plugins that are really worth looking into will be reviewed here.
All in One SEO Pack

The All in One SEO Pack by Michael Torbert is one of the most used plugins out there. Adding a sitemap, google analytics, titles, descriptions and canonical tags are all a breeze with this. Most of these are generated on their own and there is little or no effort on the website creator’s part.

all-in-one-seo

http://wordpress.org/plugins/all-in-one-seo-pack/

 

Contact Form 7

Every good website needs a good contact form that does just what it says. Contact Form 7 (Just another Contact Form) is a simple plugin to create an easy form on your website without having to deal with the HTML or programming. It has Akismet spam filtering and also supports CAPTCHA to keep your website safe.

contact-form

http://wordpress.org/plugins/contact-form-7/

Slideshow Gallery

This is the easiest way to create a very pretty showcase for pictures. The JavaScript based plugin is seamless and very user-friendly. You can add or edit pictures and captions and customize it the way you want it to look.

slideshow-gallery

http://wordpress.org/plugins/slideshow-gallery/

Print Friendly and PDF Button

The Print Friendly & PDF button automatically creates printer friendly and PDF versions of your pages without the hassle of having to create a print CSS file. It also gives your user the ability to remove images and paragraphs of text, so they really only have to print exactly what they want.

printer-friendly

http://wordpress.org/plugins/printfriendly/

Simple Pull Quote

Simple Pull Quote WordPress Plugin provides an easy way for you to insert pull quotes into your posts and pages. It adds an easy-to-use “Pullquote” button to both the HTML and TinyMCE editors.

simple-pull-quote

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/simple-pull-quote/

JetPack

JetPack is a pretty awesome plugin that brings a lot of functionalities all under one plugin. Some of the major ones are:

  • WordPress Stats
  • Sharing
  • Contact Form
  • Shortcodes
  • Extra Sidebar Widgets
  • Enhanced Distribution

jetpack

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/jetpack/

WPTouch

WPtouch is a mobile plugin for WordPress that automatically enables a simple and elegant mobile theme for mobile visitors of your WordPress website. The theme also includes the ability for visitors to switch between the theme on your mobile WordPress website and your website’s regular theme.

wptouch

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wptouch/

WP Google Drive

This plugin used to make backups of your WordPress files and mysql DB with Google Drive. Google Drive for WordPress is a plugin that provides backup capabilities for WordPress. Backups are ‘zip’ archives created locally and uploaded to a folder of your choosing on Google Drive.

google-drive

http://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-google-drive/

Shareaholic

This plugin adds an attractive social bookmarking menu and related content widget to your posts, pages, index, or any combination of the three.

shareaholic

http://wordpress.org/plugins/sexybookmarks/

W3 Total Cache

Easy Web Performance Optimization (WPO) using caching: browser, page, object, database, minify and content delivery network support.

w3-total-cache

http://wordpress.org/plugins/w3-total-cache/

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