May 25, 2012

QR Codes with Style

We have all seen these new little bar codes invading all forms of printed and online marketing materials. QR (Quick Response) codes are a two dimensional bar code originally developed by Denso Wave (a subsidiary of Toyota) in 1994 to track vehicles during manufacturing. They can hold a relatively large amount of data and can be scanned at high speeds. In terms of practical marketing use, they have proven somewhat underwhelming in the United States, but I believe with a little style tweak via Adobe Photoshop, QR Codes can be a nice addition for re-enforcing your branding efforts. Keep in mind that 50.4% of the US population now has a QR Scanner in the form of a smartphone on them at all times (Source: http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/?p=31688). […]

Every social media platform on the Internet today has security problems of some sort. Typically, the more popular the platform, the bigger the problems. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and similar social media are all lucrative hunting grounds for spammers, phishers and hackers because they have large – and usually pretty relaxed – user bases.

Experts in the online security industry frequently moan and groan about all of the problems with social media. True, some services aren’t as sharp about protecting user privacy and other digital defense measures as they ought to be. A lot of them try to plug as many security holes as they can, but it doesn’t matter how top-notch their development team may be — there will always be one big security flaw that they can’t counter.

You.

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A surprising number of small businesses avoid E-commerce because they believe credit card information submitted via the Internet can be easily compromised. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, if your E-commerce is properly implemented by a skilled developer, your customers are safer using an online interface than they are handing their card over to the staff at their local coffee-shop. […]

Does your business really need to have a website that’s mobile-friendly, or perhaps even a separate version of the site that’s dedicated to mobile device users? That’s a question that a lot of business owners are wrestling with as they watch the mobile operating system (OS) market continue to grow at an amazing rate.

There’s no big secret to understanding the utility of a mobile-friendly website. When mobile device users search for goods or services in your market and find your website, you want to provide them with the information they need to do business with you. If you don’t help them out with pages that work for their mobile device, it will take them about two seconds to move along to one of your competitors who does. […]

Toward the end of April, Facebook took a stab at upgrading its security efforts by announcing a partnership with five major anti-virus software vendors: Microsoft, Trend Micro, McAfee, Sophos, and Symantec. The partnership is a sort of one-two punch security effort. Facebook will use the URL blacklists provided by the software vendors to augment its own URL blacklist service. At the same time, they’re offering free versions of five leading anti-virus software packages.
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When you start looking through all of the statistics regarding your website, it can be hard to sort out what’s important from what’s merely interesting. Web stats reporting packages can confront you with a staggering variety of reports. There are as many opinions on what you should worry about as there are crackpot theories about The Government hiding what’s really happening on the far side of the moon. […]

If you’re a super-hero like Spiderman or The Tick, a secret identity can come in handy. When you’re running an E-Commerce website, however, shrouding your company details in mystery can ruin your business.

One of the main disadvantages of E-Commerce is that consumers can’t see, touch or feel the actual products offered on your website. People like to know what they’re buying. Fortunately, it’s a disadvantage that can be overcome to a degree by including plenty of good product-specific content like photos, videos and reviews. Another disadvantage is that consumers can’t see you — or your business — and gain a sense of trust from that contact. As much as people like to know what they’re buying, they also want to have confidence in who they’re buying from. […]

In most of the website usability studies that I’ve read, poor legibility is by far the most frequent complaint encountered. It’s generally a sin of comission on the part of web designers, because web-safe typography by default is designed to be both legible and flexible.

A website gets into trouble when its design diverges from online typographic standards. Often, the issue begins with a site owner — or the site owner’s print marketing designer — who wants the fonts and styles on a website to mirror those the business uses elsewhere. While it may sound like a good theory from a branding perspective, it’s often a train wreck for usability. […]

If your website is built on a content management system (CMS), you’ve got a powerful tool in your hands. You can use your CMS to keep all of the information on your site up-to-date, provide fresh and engaging information to your site visitors and manage all of your site’s resources to maximize your search engine results. As with most tools, however, content management can be used for both good and evil. It’s the “evil” part you want to avoid.

Poor content management practices can kill your website’s search engine rankings in a short amount of time. Conversely, follow a few simple guidelines every time you post or edit content and you can improve your site’s search engine optimization. Use these recommendations as a sort of checklist to stay on the SEO straight-and-narrow: […]

Websites offer a seemingly endless amount of space for your content, especially compared to traditional media like print or broadcast. For a relatively small hosting fee, you can literally publish entire libraries of text. An average 500 MB hosting account has enough room for more than 150 copies of Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” 400 copies of Melville’s “Moby Dick” or 600 copies of James Fennimore Cooper’s “Last of the Mohicans.”

When you’re passionate about your business, the temptation is to use as much of that space as possible to share your enthusiasm and expertise with potential customers. But it’s all a trap, a painful deception. The truth of the matter is that your customers have a lot less time than you have space. […]

Contrary to what some people might think, website statistics were not invented by the Brothers Grimm. They’re not fairy tales, nor are they numbers pulled out of thin air by College Johnnies who want to show how smart they are. Website statistics are built on real-world data, and they can tell you a lot about what your website is — or is not — doing for your business. […]

Juniata Valley RV, of Mifflintown, Pennsylvania, has launched a new website using NetSource’s exclusive dealer website content management system, EZ-Site. The website features new and used RVs for sale and select RV units for rent, powered by online inventory tools from RVUSA.com.

Located in central Pennsylvania between State College and Harrisburg, Juniata Valley RV offers a full range of RV repair and maintenance services. Customers can find Juniata Valley RV’s entire inventory of new and pre-owned RVs on their new website at www.juniatavalleyrv.com. The browser-based EZ-Site system lets the dealership staff easily update and maintain the website without the need for any special software. […]