In the world of web design, it’s pretty much established at this point that any site being built today is assumed to be responsive unless there’s a good reason why it shouldn’t be. When I say “responsive” in this context, I mean that a website is able to alter the way elements on the page are displayed in order to conform well to browsers on different sized devices. In other words, the same website will look different on my desktop browser than it will on my phone, but both versions are the same content, run by the same code. The site is simply responding to the device I’m using to view it.
For many years, the usual way to build a website was to tackle the desktop version of it first, and then deal with design for the mobile world later, but that’s simply not enough anymore. Mobile browsing isn’t just a niche, and it’s not a thing of the future either – it’s here, it’s established, and it’s only getting bigger. With that in mind, the concept of “mobile first” design is starting to pick up speed among designers and developers. The idea is that a website design is built with the simplest incarnation of the site – that is, the mobile version – in mind first, and the design is then enhanced to support larger or more capable devices. In other words, rather than building a design with all the bells and whistles that is able to degrade gracefully, we build a design that is basic and then progressively enhances.
What’s interesting is that the two approaches, degradation and enhancement, seem to be roughly equivalent on the face, but in my experience I have found that not to be the case at all. It’s too easy, when working on a site design, to take full advantage of what the desktop platform has to offer, and that makes it too easy to end up with a degraded version that looks like what it is – a watered-down afterthought. That’s not to say that the degradation approach doesn’t ever work, I’ve just found that in my designs, it’s much easier to start with a lean product, designed to load quickly and take advantage of smaller real estate, and then build upon that foundation. And ultimately, easier means less expensive, which is obviously the ultimate goal for everyone involved.
At SNQ, we’ve made the decision that every responsive site we build will take a mobile-first approach to design, and we’ve seen a lot of great feedback, both internally and externally, from taking this approach. It’s not always easy to walk into an exciting new project and think about exposing only the basics first, but in the long run I believe it to be the preferred method for building solid, lean responsive websites.
If you’ve ever read one of my blogs, you may know that one of my passions is client relationships. It’s the one thing in my job that makes everyday worth working. At Status Not Quo, we are proud to have worked with several companies since the ’90s and love the relationships that we’ve built along the way. I wholeheartedly believe that the main reason that these companies are still clients is because of these relationships and when employees move to other companies, the new companies sometimes become our new clients. It’s such a huge compliment!
All that being said, it is important to remember that even customers that would rate their experience with your company as “satisfied” may not remain loyal to your brand. This is why there is an increased focus on Customer Engagement. So what exactly is Customer Engagement? According to a Smart Insights interview with Richard Sedley of cScape the best definition of Customer Engagement is “Repeated interactions that strengthen the emotional, psychological or physical investment a customer has in a brand”. He also says
Customer engagement places the strategic emphasis on the creation of valuable relationships and encourages both parties to see mutual advantage in that relationship. Frequently this will mean that your tactics require a multi-channel approach incorporating the best of digital and traditional media.
I love this quote. ”Strategic emphasis on the creation of valuable relationships” is my mantra and fortunately having a technology consulting firm makes it easier to “incorporate the best of digital and traditional media”.
So let’s briefly discuss some some ways to incorporate the best of digital media. In the early days of the Internet, marketing was all about driving customers to your website so they could find out more information about your company, but there has been a shift and now and you need to engage current and potential new clients where they are at, not where you want them to be. Here’s a few ways to do that:
- Stop just trying to sell your product - begin to create an active, passionate online community around your product. You can do this by being part of the conversation. Listen to the customers that are already having conversations about the brands – both yours and your competitors. Then if you can, jump into these conversations in a very genuine way and begin building trust, respect and relationships with the people who are talking about these brands.
- Stop talking for the sake of talking – focus on the reason you are engaging customers. Are you trying to figure out ways to improve your offering, or is your main objective in the conversation to make a sale. If it is, make sure your objectives are clear, and provide your audience with a clear and easy path for accomplishing those goals.
- Take advantage of the situation you are in – if you meet someone and they express a need that your company is able to help fulfill, don’t hesitate to mention that it may be something you could help with and offer to buy that person a cup of coffee or lunch and discuss further. But stop there. Don’t try to sell them on the spot unless they continue the conversation. Remember, you want to build a relationship not be a pushy salesperson.
- When your customer wants to engage with you, make sure the tools you provide are easy to use and intuitive to use. They should be easy to use, highly accessible, and relevant to them – offering the ability to engage in different types of conversations. Do they have a question they need answered? Do they want to give your company a great review? Are they looking for technical or customer support? Are the tools you are providing giving them the opportunities to engage in a variety of ways?
- Remember, customer engagement is a two way communication tool. Not only do you hear what your customers are saying and are able to make adjustments/improvements based on their needs, but the customer is being heard and feels like their opinion matters to you and thus they will gain a respect for your brand. This is one of the the most important aspect of engaging your customers.
I hope that this will give you a little guidance to start working on creating Top-Shelf relationships and building a brand that customers want to experience for decades to come.
Thanks for reading!
For many of us, shopping is not just procurement of property. Whether you need a commodity or a validation of your hunting prowess (read skill at bargaining), shopping is a wholesome experience. Man has come a long way since the time of Barter System. Many of us don’t even carry currency notes in our wallets anymore. In a world that is moving towards digital currency (Bitcoin), the ease of having the world at our finger tips is here to stay. And so it is important to create an e-commerce web site that brings the world to the potential buyer (or at least the part of the world that the buyer is looking for).
Mobile commerce consists of (but is not restricted to) content purchase and commodity purchase. A huge share of mobile users, 29% according to a BI Intelligence report, has used mobile to make purchases with their phones. A lot of this is driven by marketing strategies like SoLoMo (which is essentially social, local, and mobile) that delivers localized results to a mobile shopper. Make sure you are locally “visible” to make it to your SoLoMo customer.
In a world that does not consist of a lot of personal communication, word-of-mouth recommendations flow through online channels. These can be via social media websites (Facebook, Twitter etc.) or online shopping groups that help fellow customers with experiences from their purchases. A good e-commerce website also concentrates on its social presence rather than being shy and closed.
A lot of online shopping is generated from search engines. Google’s Product Listing Ads, for example, drives a lot of traffic to the products you intend to sell. Again, like in your website, ensure that your ad feed is error free and has good quality images. Adwords and negative keywords need to be chosen carefully, as well.
This is something that e-commerce giants like Amazon have already excelled at. Have you noticed the “You may also like” that Amazon adds to your home page once you make a purchase? The website analyzes your shopping habits and feeds you with options for future purchases. Pinterest is another website that has managed to capture activities and give the user a personalized experience. Making a website tailored to a user’s need drives more people to it.
1) Responsive website themes
Make sure your website looks and performs seamlessly in any given resolution, be it a desktop, laptop, mobile phone or tablet. A website that looks like a disaster is more often than not going to be off-putting for the customer.
2) Impressive pictures
A picture is worth a thousand words. In a website that is restricted in space, one picture is all you need to draw people. Think wisely and make a splashing impression.
3) Ease of transaction
The basic requirement of an e-commerce website is to let the user complete a transaction in the way he desires. Remove all glitches in the process. Make it as smooth as it can be. Add every option you possibly can: credit card, bank transfers, PayPal, Google Wallet to name a few. E-commerce is a global phenomenon with the major surge happening in Asia and Asia-pacific region. Ensure foreign currency transactions are as seamless as domestic.
4) Product page content
This is pretty straightforward. The page needs to have every detail that the user is looking for – clean descriptions, price, specifications (dimensions etc.), informative pictures etc.
5) Website health monitoring
Do not wait for a user to complain about a sour experience. Be proactive and find out how the website has been serving. Be aware of potential issues 24×7 and be ready to handle immediately.
In general, take note of the trends that consumers all over the world have begun to love and admire and make a killer website that caters to the global audience. With a bit of planning and strategic execution, you can create an e-commerce website that can become the talk of the town (or the topic of discussion in a social shopping site or a hit in SoLoMo, or whatever…you get it).
The subject of leadership and what makes a good leader is a source of never-ending discussion. Great leaders are often discussed in light of their actions during a major event, such as the Tylenol recall of 1982, where James Burke, the company’s chairman, was lauded for his leadership on the handling of the event. [ http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/23/your-money/23iht-mjj_ed3_.html ]
But what about the common work day? What makes someone stand out as a great leader when it’s just business as usual?
A leader knows their team – and not just what they’re working on, and how it’s progressing. They know what’s going on outside of work because they’re interested in the person as well as the product, and they ask. No one wants to be treated as a cog in the machine, and someone genuinely interested in you, your aspirations and interests in addition to what you can produce is someone who makes us feel appreciated (it can also positively impact how someone can be managed!). In turn, we appreciate them, and are more willing to go that extra mile to deliver. A relationship exists.
A leader keeps the focus on their team and what they collectively deliver. If the team produces a stellar outcome, a leader will highlight the team’s work and credit them. If it’s a fail, a leader will step up and take responsibility, because they didn’t get it right as the leader. And no, this does not mean that poor performance is ignored, but leaders don’t throw people under the bus – they handle performance issues offline. The result is trust, and can lead to a willingness to step out of the box and grow, or follow a scary path, because again, a positive relationship exists.
Bottom line, leadership is all about relationships: good, bad and indifferent. With the first, people are willing to follow. With the latter two, things get very problematic. And if no one is following, how can you lead?
The technology analysts at Gartner recently released a list of their 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014. I encourage you to go take a look at it. All 10 items on the list are interesting and I think that we may indeed see many of them take off in the coming year. However, today I want to focus on just one of the items that is on their list. They call it the “The Internet of Everything”. The idea is that the Internet is rapidly expanding into both enterprise and consumer devices such as, TV’s, Cars, and even eye ware (i.e Google Glass).
Businesses will need to realize that going forward everything will be digitized. For example magazines, newspapers, television networks, cable channels, movie studios, and the music industry have already had to dramatically change they way they do business and in some cases rethink their entire business model. For instance, Vince Gilligan, the creator of ‘Breaking Bad’ gave credit to Netflix for keeping the show on the air past the second season. Additionally, the music industry is being forced to move away from the idea of albums.
If you think that entertainment is the only thing that will need to change know that in a recent study it was determined that 30% of adults in the US get their news from Facebook! As astonishing as this number is to me I have to believe that it will only go up over the next year.
These are just a few examples of how the face of business has changed in the wake of the Internet. If we listen to history then it only stands to reason that going forward more and more businesses will be forced to rethink not only how they interact with their customers but how they provide their goods and services to them.
Inspiration. Much has been written about the subject. Where does it strike? When you’re singing in the shower … a weekend getaway … when you’re fresh in the morning? When does it happen? 3am … when you’re driving … when you’re bored? Unfortunately, the difficult part of all this is the randomness of the circumstances. You can’t force inspiration … or can you?
I’ve always been sensitive to things that trigger inspiration. It definitely is a combination of elements: change in mind-set, stress level, location, what you’re eating or drinking, time of day, music to which you’re listening, even specific events like coming off a successful project, meeting, or your day in general.
I believe these triggers can absolutely be identified, and while inspiration cannot necessarily be “forced”, it can certainly be helped along. Learning how your mind works, identifying these triggers, and then being ready and wiling to take advantage of them can be the first step in changing your entire perspective, and bringing out an entirely new side of your intellect. One that is innovative, strategic, and goes a long way towards providing self-motivation – not to mention motivation for those around you.
Take the first step – experiment with different scenarios outside of your normal “routine”, and when inspiration does hit (for anything really), take note of the circumstances. Then see if you can repeat it.
Halloween is just around the corner, and I feel like a good trick would be just the treat for me. Here’s a fun one, and you don’t even need to put on a costume for it (though of course, you can if you want to).
If you have ever imported data into Salesforce, you know that tying new records to existing ones requires an ID number for that particular record in that particular object. Let’s say, for example, that I have a list of products for which I need to add prices. I want to conduct an import of the price list into the standard Price Book, but I need to associate a price with each existing product in order for the list to import successfully. At this point, the logical process would be to generate a report that includes all of the desired products, and include the field for “Product ID” on the report (the Product ID is a 16-character value that serves as a unique identifier for each product). After all, this is what we always do when dealing with Contacts, Accounts, and other objects. Once I have this information, I can use Excel to combine the price list with the Product ID’s, and import the new list.
But what is this? The Product ID field has disappeared! Is it some sort of incognito field, disguised in unrecognizable developer code? Or did it vanish altogether? The secret is that the Product ID field exists, but is not visible to users when creating page layouts, and therefore is not available when generating a report on the object.
Now for the trick: go into Setup, and in the Product object, create a custom formula field that simply equals the Product ID field. Make it a text field, and when you are creating the syntax, the Product ID field will be selectable from the dropdown list. Then just add this new custom field to your page layout, and it will be available for use on reports!
Making secret codes materialize can be scary for some folks, but you will certainly be a hit at the office party! Happy haunting…