Face Reader

Recently, I said something that a friend took completely out of context.  My statement was a bit of a "jab," yet I did not mean anything seriously or maliciously.  Unfortunately, he was really offended by what I said. This incident was a good check into being wary of what your body language might tell someone.   It is amazing all the small cues you can pick up or give off. 

I am currently reading Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port.  It goes over body language and getting the right message across.

"It's More Than Just Words - The 55/38/7 Rule

There are so many different way to articulate your message.  Don't just depend on your words to do it.  How you communicate goes far beyond the spoken message. Dr. Albert Mehrabian, a communications researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, reported in his book, Silent Messages - which was based on extensive clinical experiments on communication, attitudes, likes, and dislikes - that 55 percent of the way that people respond to you is based mostly on facial cues, 38 percent is based on your tone, and only 7 percent is based on what you say - the information you provide."

So much time can be lost in business if you aren't getting the proper message across. Always be conscientious of what your body might be telling someone else.

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Danger - Why Weak Passwords are Very BAD for You!

Today I'm checking in from lovely Kerhonkson, New York.  A quaint cove nestled in the Catskill Mountains of New York State.  The air outside is clean, crisp, and refreshing. It reminds me of Canada.  And when I think of Canada, I think of my good friend "Gnome." He is one of Canada's top ethical hackers and provides me with some of the best Internet security advice on planet Earth.

On Passwords . . .
Everyone has a password for something they do online or off.  Passwords represent the front line of defense against people who might look to access your personal or business information.  Identity theft is a very real threat. It is important to ask yourself "how secure are my passwords?"  Consider the comforting statistic below brought to you by the United States Department of Agriculture:

"Your computer password is the foundation of your computer security, and it needs to stand up against the tools that hackers have for cracking it. There are 308,000,000 possible letter combinations for a six letter password using all upper case or all lower case letters. A readily available password cracker can check all of them in only 2 minutes 40 seconds."

Pretty comforting statistics, eh?  Are you using a weak password to protect your sensitive information? You need to make sure you have the best password possible.

Example of a bad passwords:

  • bob1967 (Name and birthday)
  • Blueleaf23 (Simple words and numbers)

Great, Yet Simple Password Suggestions
Gnome told me to include a space in passwords. The default setting for many automated password cracking programs don't check for spaces.  Also use nonstandard symbols such as "%, !, &" and "MiXed cAse," plus numbers.  Obviously longer passwords are more difficult to break. Doing these simple things will ensure that your passwords are significantly more secure. Be sure that the system your using can accept "spaces" or nonstandard characters.

Example of good passwords:

  • 45g-$ sd
  • 2^hu4@1p
  • ds%3D26Cr

A Password Protocol
Aside from a good password, you should also adopt a password protocol.  Other people engage in the nefarious activity of social hacking. Social hackers are individuals who misrepresent themselves as agents for various companies. This involves trying to get people to unwillingly give up their passwords. Never give out your passwords to anyone over email, telephone, or otherwise.

Keep yourself "safer" on the online world.  Use a good password for everything you do online.

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Using 40 Million Dollar Words

Recently, an old web project came up in discussion.  Like any web site you work on, you learn something about a client and their services.  One would think after 25 hours of web development and reviewing a client's thoroughly their copy that I could tell other people about this client. In fact I can tell people what field the client specializes in, but I can't tell you any other details. Their web site copy was so far above my head, that I don't fully understand what services they offer.(My genius has been questioned by a few people - including myself - but still.)

Too many company web sites use "corporate verbiage" or other high end vocabulary for their web copy.  Remember that the user might not always use the same words or phrasing.  Web writing, like your web site, should be clear, concise, and simple.  There is no benefit in writing above the average comprehension of your users. In most cases being a vocabulary scholar confuses users and makes retaining information from your site difficult.   How many sites do you visit regularly because the writing is extraordinary?   I'm guessing not very many, if any at all.  You probably visit sites that provide high quality content.

Your site will keep people coming back if it offers high quality content that is easy to read.  Use a conversational style of writing.  Be informative and interesting at the same time.

Additional Resource:
Lower-Literacy Users

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Getting Listed In Search Engines

Have you ever been tempted to use a "Submit Your Site" service? Such services promise to get you listed in hundreds of search engines.  Unfortunately, it isn't always that simple.  They get your money and you end up wondering "what just happened?"

I would like to save you some time and money in regards to getting listed in search engines for new sites.

Don't bother with all the extravagant site submission tools, especially paid submission and inclusion.  You'll spend too much time filling out forms and laying out cash with few measurable results.  Most searching is done on Google, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL.  Those sites account for approximately 90% of the Internet search market.   Thus, there is no need to "Submit to over 100, 250, or 1000+ Search Engines instantly!"

The best way to get search engines to find you is by getting another site to link to your site. Links from other sites to your site (Back-links) are worth a great deal. Recently a friend and I launched a web site. We were able to get indexed in Google in about a day, without submitting our site.

Google controls almost 50% of the search market as of the summer of 2006.  I start with optimizing for Google when posting a new site. You need to start with some links going to your site.  As opposed to spending a great deal of time searching for other sites to link to your site, use an existing site.  Most people have friends that maintain a personal web site. Ask him or her for a back link to your site. 

Make sure whatever site you get a link from has a Page Rank of 4 or 5.  A simple utility for determining Page Rank is the Google Tool Bar.  Higher Page Ranked Sites are visited more often by Google's search spiders.

Blogs and Forums
Consider leaving a comment on a blog or forum with a link to your site.  Most blogs and forums allow you to link your site when leaving a comment. Net etiquette note: In your comment, DON'T ask people to visit your site. Just make an honest comment to the post and leave a link to your site.   

There is one site that is worth submitting to: the Open Directory Project (OPD), better know as dmoz.org.  You need to be approved by an one of their editors to get into the ODP.  On occasion this can take a while, but you're index with higher quality sites.  One common mistake many people make is not getting listed in the proper category.

Visit the dmoz.org submission page for more information.

Keep building links to your web site!  It will save you the trouble of getting found by search engines. And you'll get better search engine rankings.  One of the biggest measures of where you fall in the search engine rankings is the number of links to your site.

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Your Company Logo Online

Have you ever tried to track down another company’s logo for a project? 

Such a scenario is created when companies are trying to cross promote brands, advertise, or are involved with sponsorships.  Perhaps you are on a tight schedule and you needed another company's logo hours ago

Having been through the experience of tracking down logos on numerous occasions "painful" is the first memory that comes to my mind.  The real fun begins when you are forced to redraw another company's logo because you can't find an acceptable version online.  You can spend hours doing something that should only take minutes or isn't even your responsibility.

Most people try to get another company’s logo via the web. Unfortunately the web is not an acceptable place to acquire a high quality version of another company's logo. My reference to "logo quality" specifically pertains to the resolution of a company's digital logo.  Low resolution logos look sloppy and unprofessional.  Many people try to pull logos directly off another company's web site.  Doing this is not good business practice.  Web graphics are rarely more than 72 dpi.  This might be suitable for very low quality printing, but not for brochures or high quality marketing packets.  Don't use a low quality version of another company's logo.  It diminishes the quality of that company's brand.

Online Media Section
Currently, most companies don't provide any way to easily access their logo online.  Your company web site should have an online media section.  As a security precaution, consider having the media section password protected.  You don’t want everyone on the web having access to your company logos or branding pieces. At a minimum have high quality versions of your logo in various formats available online for downloading. Formats should include:

  • Vector images .eps, .ai, or .pdf. 
  • Bitmap images .gif .jpg. or .tif.

Here is a link for more information on Bitmap versus Vector images

You should include at least one version of your logo in vector and bitmap formats.  Provide a version of your logo with a transparent background. This is useful for web purposes. For printing purposes be sure you include black and white versions of your logo.  Some companies include style and usage guides on proper use of their logo. Make sure you adhere to their recommendations. 

Save yourself and other companies countless hours of frustration by having a high quality version of your company logo online.  It saves times and money for all parties involved.

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The Client (Customer) Isn’t Always Right

Properly serving clients is by far one of my greatest challenges when it comes to doing Internet consulting.  Where do you draw the line between doing what’s right and doing what a client requests?  This specifically pertains to requests that go against good Internet practices.

Last year, I lost a prospective client because I took a hard stance on their request.  In my professional opinion what they were requesting was not in line with their online goals or good web standards. 

The person wanted me to do some Search Engine Optimization (SEO) work on their web site.  Nobody could find their web site searching with Google. They insisted on having a Flash animation on their home page. At the time they had no back links or HTML text on the home page. Both of these are important to proper SEO. I told them it would be a liability doing all Flash on their home page without concentrating on back links, page titles, proper search keywords, and HTML text. They further insisted on Flash and I responded again with my concerns.  I wasn’t about to take their money for something that would not benefit their business online. Because of my stance they decided to use someone else.

Many clients or perspective clients can get caught up on the latest and greatest Internet trinkets.  Trinkets are synonymous with cool web sites.  People see something neat or cool on a web site and want the same for their web site.  My belief is that it is more important to have a useful web site rather than a "cool" web site.  Google is our favorite example.  There is nothing cool about Google, except that it is easy to use and is worth billions of dollars.

This forces me to ask the following: Are clients paying you to do what they request or are they paying for your skill and experience?  When a client insists on doing something that won’t benefit their site what do you do?

You should always treat the customer professionally and provide them with the best service possible.  Deliver them value in everything you do.  But, I don’t believe you should do something the customer requests because they are “paying you to do work for them.” 

Work with people who value your opinion and take your expertise for all it’s worth.  My favorite clients are those who give honest feedback on our advice and willing to try new things with their web sites. They are also the same people whose sites outperform the sites of people demanding something their way.

Why do you have a web site?

Have you ever asked a small business owner why they have a web site?  Based on their response, I can quickly tell if a company is knowledgeable about the online world.  There are far too many companies that have a web site for all the wrong reasons.

My web site philosophy is centered on B2B and B2C web sites.  I don't hold personal web sites to this standard.  I encourage everyone to have fun with their personal web site.  But don't forget to balance your fun with usability and design standards.

B2B and B2C web sites need to be held to a much higher standard.  Personal web sites usually don't have to worry about a bottom line.  Whenever I ask a business owner, "Why do you have a web site?"  I usually get the following answers:

  1. "We have a web site because someone inside the company thought it would be a good idea."
  2. "Our competition has a web site, so we need a site."

The above justifications are probably two of the worst reasons to have a web site.  Yet, most small business owners and companies respond with similar justifications.

Your company web site should be based on fundamental business practices.  My core beliefs about a company web site follow these key objectives:

  1. "My web site saves our company time"
  2. "My web site saves our company money"
  3. "My web site increases our company's revenue and profitability"

They key objectives listed above are what I encourage every business owner to accomplish with their web site.  In tandem with these key objective, the smartest companies can outline a set of online strategies and goals.

In 3G Marketing on the Internet by Sweeney, MacLellan, and Dorey, you can find their recommended  "Formula for e-Business Success."  It looks like this: "The Right e-Business model + The right Web site + The right Web site traffic (and lots of it) = e-Business Success."

Are you accomplishing your key online objectives?  If not, it might be time to rethink your online strategy.  The information presented above is only the "tip of the iceberg."

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The Written Word

Here is an honest admission: I've never been the best at writing thank you cards.  But, I also believe it is never too late to start.  There are some good friends of mine from Florida who inspired me to write on this topic.  They do an excellent job of sending hand written birthday cards to all their friends year after year.

What do birthday cards and the Internet have to do with one another?  Everything . . . well almost!

In today's chaotic world of Internet, movies, TV, radio and everything else, it becomes easy to forget the simple things in life.  Hand written cards are becoming a lost art.  For most people, it is far easier to open up our email program and write a thank you letter.

Be different! If someone does something above and beyond the norm, send them a written thank you card.  The positive impact of a written card is far greater than any email. You can achieve far more impact with less words.

Here is what someone told me after receiving a written thank letter: "Thanks for the card, I didn't think people did that any more."

If you get a chance, write a hand written thank you card. 

Additional Resource:

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Web Usability: The Importance of Balancing Content and Graphic Design

In the web development world, supremacy battles are waged between visual designers and those who create content.  Visual design is the work of a graphic designer.  When I talk about "content," I am specifically referring to text or the written word.  Unfortunately, when a good balance isn't maintained, it is the user of the web site who ultimately loses out.

It is said that content is king in the online world.  Relevant high quality content is the one universal that every user seeks.  In today's video blogging and picture sharing world, it is more difficult to find high quality content.  Content becomes the first thing compromised on a web site. This is because of the need to post anything online regardless of quality.

In Robert Bly's book, The Copywriter's Handbook, an excellent point is made about content and graphics.  Mr. Bly points out a web site should be able to stand on its own without any graphics or pictures. 

You can't do much online without the following text: click here, buy now, login, search, etc.

Does it Make Sense without Graphics?
To illustrate the point, do this short exercise:
Go to Google.com and search on your favorite web site.  I'll use "Yahoo" as my example.  When the results page appears, don't click on the link.  Look at the description of the page you are searching.  Under the link to the page and description, you should see a line like this:

www.yahoo.com/ - 74k - Cached - Similar Pages

Click on the Cached link for your results.  Doing so will bring you to a page showing when the site was last viewed by Google's spiders.  Within the block of text that comes up there should be a link for, "Click here for the cached text only."

Finally click on the cached text link.  This will display the page without any graphics. 
Can you understand  your favorite web site without any graphics? 

Graphic Design
"Don't I want my web site to look good?" My answer to this is a resounding yes!  But, you need to be careful and not go overboard with graphics. Users enjoy visiting visually appealing web sites.  Visual appeal goes beyond just pictures on a web site, it encompasses all aspects of graphic design.  This includes, but not limited to the following elements: navigation, pictures, typography, etc.

Does your web site portray a consistent look and feel?  A uniform design and layout complements and reinforces user comfort and appeal.  Yet, many graphic designers confuse visually useful design with the opportunity to showcase their artistic skills.  The need to be artistic has little benefit or value for the client or users.   

A few years ago Flash driven web sites (all Flash and no HTML) were all the rave.  It was a time when multimedia and graphics were in overdrive.  Today there are far fewer Flash driven web sites.  Users have shown that they won't tolerate web sites with irrelevant visual design. The same thing applies for irrelevant content.  An appropriate use of pictures, animations, and graphic elements should complement and support the transfer of information.  The best graphic designers are those that strike a good balance between visuals and information.

Strike a Balance
Your web site should balance visual appeal with information. Effective web sites achieve a balance between useful information and a rapidly loaded aesthetically pleasing design.

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What is Web Usability? And Why You Should Care . . .

When I tell someone that my specialty is “Web Usability,” the response is usually a confused look.  To most people web usability is a foreign concept. Yet, usability is a critical component of any successful web site.

What is web site usability and why is it important to my web site? Web usability focuses on making web sites simple and easy to use. If a web site is simple and intuitive, people enjoy their online experience. If the web site is complex and convoluted, people can't use the web site effectively.  How often do you return to a web site that is difficult to use?

Ignore the Experts, Listen to Your Users
Contrary to what many “experts” might tell you, it is not the web site developers who should be determining the content of your website.  The users of your web site should determine your content. Users dictate the online path they wish to travel and what information is important to them.  Many web sites become extinct, because developers believed they knew better than users what type of content should be included on the site.  Developer and Artist centric design still runs rampant in on the Internet.

Hitting a HOME RUN
When it comes to usability, we subscribe to the concept presented by web usability guru Jakob Nielsen.  His concept is older, yet still holds true today.  In his book, Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity, Nielsen’s concept is summed up with the acronym HOME RUN. The most successful sites have High quality content, that is Often updated, with Minimal download, are Easy to Use,  Relevant to the users needs, Unique to the to online world, and Net-centric to corporate culture.

HOME RUN is a simple methodology, yet highly effective. Make sure you hit a HOME RUN with your web site.

Additional Resource:
Jakob Nielsen's UseIt.com

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Proofing your Work On Paper

There I was ... in the beautiful town of Hasselt, Belgium.  If anyone is looking for a nice getaway just east of Brussels, this is the place to go!  In the middle of winter the smell of Belgian waffles fills the streets.   On weekends, people from all over Europe come to Hasselt's wonderful boutiques to shop.

I was in Hasselt to keynote at the European Air Show Council Convention.   After my presentation, I was feeling really good about the information delivered to the delegates.  A British gentleman approached me afterward with a few comments.  He pointed out an error on one of my slides.  My first reaction was, "is this guy joking with me!?!?"  My presentation had been proofed several times. "There couldn't be any mistakes."  But, there was indeed a grammatical error on one of my slides.  It was an embarrassing moment.  I spent weeks preparing my presentation. It had been double, triple, and quadruple checked.  How did I miss such an obvious mistake?

Has something similar ever happened to you?   Or, have you launched a brand new web site, only to have someone email you about a mistake?  It happens far more often than we'd like to admit.

I believe the problem is that too many people try to proof their work on the computer screen.  Our eyes are not optimized to proof materials on a monitor. Computer screens induce significantly more strain on our eyes.

What's the solution?   Proof your articles, web sites, or presentations on paper.  Print a hard copy, grab a pen, and check your work.  I can read something a dozen times on the screen and completely miss a simple mistake.  When I check it on paper, it's much easier to detect errors.

Be sure you build redundancy into your proofing.  After you've completed any corrections, enlist the help of friends.  Send friends an email and let them check over your work.   In many cases, your friends will take some time out of their work to help.  For them, it might be a nice break from their daily routine.  Your friends are looking at your work with a fresh set of eyes.  When you look at something too many times, it becomes routine and you easily miss mistakes.

In conclusion, be sure you review a hard copy version of your work.  After you've completed your review, get some friends to help you double check the work.  In doing so, you can probably save yourself some embarrassment in the future.

Additional Resource:

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"The Most Fun You Can Have with Your Clothes On"

Do you do something so amazing that other people don't believe it could be true?

This video has never been released to the public until now!

We are all passionate about something.  Here is a video that nicely sums up my biggest passion, flying! Some of the most unique experiences in my life are courtesy of my aviation adventures. In the flying world, I get to be my alter ego “Az.”  Most of my friend's don't believe half my air show stories.  I assure you, "Hollywood can't make this stuff up!"

“Az” doesn’t enjoy straight and level flight.  He craves flying inverted, looping and rolling, while having his body slammed against the seat at 4-7gWhat's "g"? (off-site link)

I’m very thankful to the people who have provided me a path to such a unique journey. Most of my adventures come courtesy of the air show experience. The air show industry can be summed up in one sentence: “It isn’t about the airplane you fly, but it is all about the great people you meet.

The clip comes from my friend, “Wilbur.” The theme is FOD (Foreign Object Debris) in the cockpit.  You don’t want any FOD in the cockpit. If you are spinning around or upside down, it can become a danger.  There is nothing like getting a piece of FOD in your eye, and trying to keep your airplane under control.  Regardless of some occasional FOD in the cockpit, Wilbur was able to do some pretty amazing things and remained the consummate professional.

In the video, you will see Wilbur zoom down the runway, inverted, going 400 MPH, all of this at 150 feet off the ground. Did I mention in some instances he’s only a few feet from his wingman?  "Wilbur" is a testament to the people who give so much to provide us our freedom. Currently, Wilbur is serving on the front lines in Iraq.

What is the business lesson?

If you can make your passion part of your work, you’ll never complain about going to work or how long you have to work!

Additional Links:
Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team
(Canada's only civilian formation aerobatic team.)

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The Event Promotion System
Get Your Free Event Promotion & Marketing Video Training

Flash is Growing Up ...

It is nice to see that Flash has finally grown up.  One of the biggest advantages that came with Flash  was the enhanced ability to do video.  YouTube.com delivers hundreds of millions of videos with Flash.  A number of top news sites deliver streaming video with Flash.

Being a proud pundit of web usability, I always encourage some restraint with clients who "need" Flash on their web site. Recently, a client requested Flash on their site.  We tried to tactfully talk them out of the idea, but were unsuccessful.  They spent over 30% of their web budget on a cool Flash masthead.  It looks great.  Was it worth the investment?  In my professional opinion, I would say "No." We presented the option of using Javascript to accomplish a similar outcome, with little or no additional cost, but they insisted on Flash.  The client invested a significant amount of money that won't bring them an appreciable ROI. 

Being cool with your web site isn't always desirable. After a few visits, the novelty of a cool web site starts to wear off.  Look at web sites that don't have all the bells and whistles.  There is nothing cool about Google, Yahoo, or any of the top news sites.  Yet, they are the most popular sites on the Internet. Top Internet sites provide high quality content, mostly in HTML text.  Always remember, users seek content, not cool.  If you want to be cool, strike a balance with useful.   

My issues with Flash is how people use (abuse) it.  If you are going to use Flash, use it in moderation.  A few video files or online presentations are a nice addition to any site.  I don't recommend designing significant parts of your site's architecture around Flash, especially navigation.  Make sure you have plenty of HTML text.  Search engine spiders eat up HTML text.  The same spiders don't do well with Flash.  The lack of HTML text makes it very difficult for them to interpret Flash.

Flash definitely isn't going away, so if you are going to use it, use it wisely.

Additional Resource:
Flash: 99% Bad

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Web Site - Browser Testing

Have you ever been to a site that didn't display properly? A simple mistake web developers commit is failing to rigorously test web sites on multiple browsers and platforms. Numerous web sites get out to the public without being properly tested.  The end result is pages that don't look right.

Why should I test?

I run across web sites on a regular basis that don't render properly.  This can create havoc and significant frustration for users of your web site. A site might load properly in Firefox.  Yet, if you load the same site in Internet Explorer a blank screen appears.  In more severe cases, a web site can instantaneously crash a browser.

Test your site in as many browsers and operating systems as practical. Below you will find a list of browsers and operating systems to test.  Ask family or friends to help.  Most people have friends who use the listed browsers and operating systems. Send out an email with a link to your web site.  Attach a screen capture to illustrate how the site should look. You should be able to tell if there are any issues in a short period of time.   

Test in these browsers:

  • Internet Explorer
  • Firefox
  • Netscape
  • Safari
  • Opera

Test on the following Operating Systems:

  • The Windows Family of Operating Systems
  • Mac OS
  • Unix and Linux (If you have some who uses these)

If there are issues, have your testing participants document what software version they are using and what occured.  Their feedback can be in very simple terms, "I'm using Firefox 2.0, when I try to load the video on your site it doesn't play." Pass the information to your web developer or IT department.

More people are getting PDA phones with Internet access, you might want to consider testing for the mobile user.  If you decide to test your site on mobile phones, consider the test an experiment. Don't get overly concerned if you site doesn't render as expected.  Most sites won't display properly unless they are built to be displayed on mobile phones.  The sites that fair the best are those built with significant HTML text.

You won't be able to guarantee perfection for ever user.  The browser and operating system variables are endless.  But, you can test your site with a few users to ensure the greatest compatibility.

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On Being Late . . .

I'm sure everyone has been late to a meeting.  Having been through the experience on more than one occasion, I thought it may be helpful to pass along some observations.  You can always make more money in life, you can't make any more time.  Make sure you hold other people's time in the highest regard! 

If you know you are going to be late, do something about it!
This is the most important rule, and by far the most effective. As soon as you think you aren't going to make your appointment on time, let the person know immediately.  Over the last ten years, nobody has ever been upset at me when I called ahead and informed them I was runnning behind.  Most of the time the person was very amicable, "You're gonna be late, no problem ... I need a few more minutes anyway ... thanks for letting me know!"  When you know you are going to be late, call at least 30 minutes ahead of time.

Plan accordingly
How many times have you been headed to any appointment and thought to yourself, "oh no - I'm going to be late."  In an attempt to make it on time, you become a lead foot and speed through a number of yellow/red lights.  In order to avoid this, think about the drive ahead, well in advance of when you should leave.

  • Is there going to be traffic? 
  • Any construction along your route?
  • Are there going to be weather issues?

Plan your meetings when traffic won't be a concern.  If you plan accordingly, you can eliminate some of the challenges of getting to your meeting on time. 

Be on time, neither too early or late
I'm a firm believer in being on time.  Too early is just as frustrating as late.  One colleague of mine would show up to meetings 15-20 minutes early.   When I was running 5 minutes late, he'd complain that he had been waiting for 25 minutes.  In a different, but all to common scenario,  job interviewees are notorious for being way too early.  Yes, show up to a job interview a few minutes early, but not 20-30 minutes early.  Make sure you are at your meeting location, plus or minus five minutes of your scheduled time.

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Straightforward Domain Name Purchasing Guidelines

Are you thinking of purchasing a domain?
Be sure to review the previous post, Time to Register a New Domain?  It contains valuable information to determine if you should consider purchasing a new domain.

If you are ready to purchase a domain, here are some recommendations:

  • Keep Your Domain Short and to the Point
  • Ensure Your Domain is Easy to Remember
  • Make Your Domain Name Easy to Spell
  • What's Value of your Domain Name?

Make sure the domain is short. Try to keep it less than about 20 characters, not including www. or .com. The name of the site doesn't need to be your company name.  Make your domain name unique. It could include industry terms or a play on words.  Putting keywords (event marketing, event promotion, event promoter, etc.) in your domain name can help you with search engine rankings. Just remember there are other important variables when it comes to SEO and search marketing.

Make your domain name easy to remember. Look for a domain that's easy to remember.  Here's an example from the dating market . . . DoubleYourDating.com. There is little ambiguity to the previous domain name - you know exactly what you're going to get. You don't want to have a radio advertisement featuring your domain name and then have people forget. If you are doing traditional advertising, remember to repeat the domain name at least three time in your advertisement - especially in radio.

Your domain name should be easy to spell.  If you are thinking of registering a new domain, get family or friends to write it out on a peace of paper.  Ask them to spell out the domain names you're thinking about. If they can spell it without difficulty, you should be in good shape. This might seem trivial, but trust me . . . I spent years trying to explain to people our domain UsabilityMatrix.com. Yet, they continued to pronounce both the company name and domain name, USA (pause) bilitymatrix.com.  Stay away from hyphens in domains, it makes the domain even more difficult to remember. Keep your domain name simple.

Try for the .com, first, but it isn't always an absolute necessity.  Look at del.icio.us or craigslist.org.  Both companies have very popular web sites that use the .us and .org extensions. These domains are also good examples of a powerful brands that have been built over the years.

Domain Valuation
Gone are the prosperity days of domain name brokering (for the most part). Actually, I don't know if anyone prospered except registration companies.  Looking back, would a reputable business have paid billions ten years ago for Google.com or Yahoo.com?  No way! The domains didn't have any value at the time. A web site’s value is determined by what the web site offers its users, not necessarily by the name of the domain. 

Use the above guidelines to help you select the right domain for you.

Additional Resources:

Use the above guidelines to help you select the right domain for you.

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Time to Register a New Domain?

As the price of domain registration continues to decrease, it might be time to consider registering a new domain or re-branding your existing domain. In this post we'll look into considerations for registering a new domain for your web site.   Some of the things you need to take into account are your existing domain, links to your domain, and domain name registration companies.

A few considerations:

"Why should I register a new domain?"
Did you originally get the domain you wanted the first time?  Because of domain availability at the time, you might not have registered your first choice.   Or, you may have recently thought of a simpler version of your existing domain name.   Several domain names become available every day due to expired registration.

Some Fun Internet History ...

Ever Heard of EchoBay.com?

"Originally, the site belonged to Echo Bay Technology Group, Pierre Omidyar's consulting firm. Omidyar had tried to register the domain name EchoBay.com but found it already taken by the Echo Bay Mines, a gold mining company, so he shortened it to his second choice, eBay.com." Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EBay

Many people bought domains thinking they could "cash out" with domain name brokers.  One person I know spent tens of thousands of dollars buying domain names, their ROI was ZERO.  Nobody bought any of the great names they purchased.  This is the case with 99.9% of people who buy domains hoping to score big.  Don't waste your money. The value of your domain is not in the actual name, but in your web site and your brand.

If you are thinking of re-branding your domain, look at  your existing links.  Your web site is indexed within search engines with your current domain.  If you change the domain, you'll lose all the backlinks.  Links are the gold standard for high search engine rankings.  If you have over 50 backlinks going to your existing domain, you might not want to change so quickly.  You can check your backlinks, use the Google Toolbar.

Here is a real world example: An anonymous professional sports team registered a new domain and immediately deactivated their old domain. If you went to Google and typed in related sports search terms all the listings pointed to their removed domain name.  If you tried to go to their web site, via one of the search engine results, you were greeted with an error message.  It took their web developer over a week to correct the problem.

"What's the lesson?" When you change your domain name, keep your old one active for at least a year, if not longer.

Remember to consider the reputation of the domain name registration company.  If registering a domain is too inexpensive to believe, go elsewhere.  Look for a company that is reputable and make sure they have a good management interface. Top domain registration companies include: GoDaddy and Register.com.

Last, plan when you domain is going to expire.  Domain name registration and web hosting are usually handled by two different companies.  In most cases domain registration companies disable your domain the day it's due. You are then left with an inaccessible web site.  Keep a spreadsheet or notebook to remind yourself.   

Keep your domain contact information up to date.  If you registered the domain with an old email, you won't get renewal notices.

If your domain does expire, unless otherwise noted, you typically (but not always) have 30 days to renew.  If you don't renew a set time frame, your domain can be purchased by someone else.  I can recall horror stories of companies that forgot to renew and someone else picked up their domain.  There are people waiting to do that to you right now, don't let them!

Next time, some guidelines for choosing the right domain name.

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Marketing via Voicemail

Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Away Message?

I am amazed how few businesses use their voice mail or phone system to market their web site.  Both systems are on 24-7.  Are you using your away message as an excellent opportunity to market your web site?

You can add the following to your phone message, "Visit our web site, whatever-site.com, for more information."  Use a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on your site to answer common questions.  Doing so, helps you avoid having to respond to very simple questions about your business or product.  When your web site answers your visitor's most common questions, you get more time to work on other things.

If you record your voicemail message, be sure to use a land line.  The sound quality of most cell phones and portable phones is not very good.  Record your message in the highest fidelity possible. Be sure the person recording your voice mail message does so in an appealing manner and tone.

Is your domain name short and easy to spell?  If your domain is difficult to spell or hard to remember, be sure people can find you through one of the major search engines like Google, Yahoo, or MSN.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

Web Page Statistics - "Hits" versus Visitors

"We had 180,000 hits on our web site last month!" - Unsavvy Business Person

Business people and web site owners trumpet the number of "hits" they receive on their web site all the time.  Hits are no longer a viable metric to measure web traffic. Companies that report hits are unintentionally misrepresenting the number of people coming to their web site.

Hits versus Visitors
Most people don't know the difference between hits and visitors.  There is a large difference between 100,000 hits and 2,000 visitors a month.  In some cases, they could be pulled from the same data and mean the same thing.  How you present the data makes a difference.

"Hits" and why they don't accurately portray site performance . . .

Hits are an indication of how many pieces of information load on a single page of your web site.  Specifically, how many individual images(a significant number on each page), Style Sheets, or text files, load on a each page of your site.

If a single visitor loads only your home page, it could register as 2 hits,34 hits, or 90 hits.  With 90 hits per page, a 100 visitors might fetch you 9000 hits or 2000 visitors get you 180,000 hits. Hits aren't a good metric to use.

A more accurate statistic to describe performance of your web site is the number of visitors or unique visitors. Visitors are the number of people coming to your web site.  Unique Visitors measure how many people visited over a set period of time.  "I had 3600 visitors to my web site this month!" The person saying that, knows their stuff!

Here's my anticlimatic close - Ultimately, it's not about Hits or Visitors . . . It's about getting the right traffic to your web site and getting them to take a specific action, regardless if that traffic is 100 or a 1,000,000 visitors per month.

Here are some Additional Resources:

Borat's Guide to Marketing

Disclaimer: The views expressed by Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen) do not represent the views of this author.  I in no way condone his actions or beliefs.

Who's Borat?
(Warning: Borat is NOT Suitable for minors or people that are turned off by inappropriate humor!)

Now that we've established Borat as completely over the top and inappropriate . . .

I believe Borat's New Movie, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," will become the biggest dark horse comedy of the year for the North American Box Office.

What does Borat have to do with Internet Marketing?
In my opinion, Borat (Cohen) is a Internet Marketing Master.  He has taken a little known film and brought it into the mainstream.  It's been mainstreamed with an inexpensive video camera, a web site, video blogging, and social marketing.  He is achieving many of the same feats that Howard Stern accomplished in the 1980-1990s.  The biggest difference is that Borat is doing his marketing in a far shorter time frame, just a few months.