Website Basics 101 : Website Jargon Buster

Know your website jargon!

There’s a saying, “a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing” … Well a complete lack of knowledge can be an overwhelming thing as well. Many clients come to me in this overwhelmed state, often from years of dealing with companies and people who throw jargon at them and keep them knowledge and understanding less. So let’s remedy this with a little website jargon buster for you. This article is aimed at non-techy people and not by any means exhaustive.

 

Website Jargon Buster

Website Jargon Buster

 

What is a website?

A website is simply a page or collection of pages accessible on the internet at a particular domain (web address or URL).

What is a blog?

A blog is simply a website or area on a website with dated entries (posts) displaying normally the most recent post first. Many years ago a blog was simply considered to be an online diary. Today the power of blogging is understood as being a far reaching and impactful addition to any website.

What is a domain, web address, URL?

These terms are used interchangeably and refer to a unique internet address where your website can be found, for example www.mywebsite.com.

What is a domain?

What is a domain?

What is hosting?

Hosting is where your website lives. Every website is hosted somewhere. Without a hosting solution, your website isn’t accessible on the internet. Some hosting solutions are free (e.g. Setting up a blog on WordPress.com) but most have a fee associated. Hosting solutions come with many different features and price ranges. Some important features to consider in your hosting solution are bandwidth, disk space, number of email accounts, database access.

 

What is hosting?

What is hosting?

What is e-Commerce?

e-Commerce is simply online shopping, these days almost everything is available to purchase online and certainly South Africa is one of the fastest growing internet economies today so online shopping is something familiar to most of us. It comprises a collection of product data on to your website, allowing people to view products, add these products to a virtual shopping cart and then checkout of your online store selecting from various payment options (via what’s called a payment gateway) and shipping options and completing their transactions.

What is e-Commerce?

What is e-Commerce?

What is a payment gateway?

A payment gateway speaks between your website and your bank and processes a payment for an e-Commerce transaction on a website securely ensuring the funds are deducted from the shoppers account and deposited into the merchants account.

What is a Web CMS?

A Web CMS is a Website Content Management System. As the name states it’s a system/program that allows you to manage your website content, creating, editing and deleting your website content and publishing these changes to your hosting server. Websites today are largely developed and maintained using a Web CMS. Examples of popular Web CMS systems are WordPress, Joomla or Drupal.

Of course, there are many other terms not discussed above, there’s a veritable dictionary of them in fact, but having a basic understanding of the terms above will at least give you an idea of what your website and hosting options are.  Armed with this, you will be better able to have a conversation with your Web Designer or Web Developer and have more input in your development.

As always, if we can assist in any way with your website, don’t hesitate to contact us here …

Working from home tips – the busy woman’s guide to doing it well

 Women working from home … Magazines and TV shows would have you believe this is a glamorous affair, freshly groomed and dressed casual but smart, these super women are never frazzled, have so much more time, and can whip up a soufflé one handed while closing a deal on the latest smart phone in the other manicured hand – oh and don’t forget the baby bouncing on one hip! Do yourself a favour and Google “woman working at home” – it’s very entertaining!

The fantasy of working from home

The fantasy of working from home

The reality – well my reality at least – is far from those images! So far in fact, that I have written this in the hopes I’m not alone and that this will resonate with other women working from home.  There really should be more articles with “working from home tips” as a topic! At the very least, take a break and have a giggle with me.

Working from home – stark reality for a busy woman:

  • You actually end up work longer hours because you live in your office. Of course everyone thinks you actually work less because you are home after all!
  • As time passes, you get lazy with your appearance, why dress up to walk to the other side of your house?
  • Distractions are all around and un-ending, “house wifey” distractions … Everyone needs your attention from the domestic worker or gardener to the animals and kids (fortunately I don’t have kids right now)!
  • You tend to work through illness, tiredness, “leave”, etc. because you’re at home anyway, so there’s no “going home sick”!
  • You don’t take breaks, lunch, etc. because again you’re home, where you want to be, so breaking to boil an egg or put some cheese on biscuits because it’s 3pm and you’re ravenous is the equivalent of your “lunch break”.
  • People dump all sorts of errands and favours on you because after all you have the time (in their eyes) … You don’t work … You “work from home”!
Real woman working from home

What working from home really looks like

So what is a busy woman who works from home to do?  Read on for my working from home tips  to get you through your day efficiently…

Let’s start with some sound BUSINESS working from home tips for women:

  • To do lists are your friend – use them and tick them off … This is supremely satisfying and achieving those small goals keeps you positive and moving rapidly through your day.
  • Alarms are also your friend – if you get focused to distraction, set alarms to get you out of your focus-mode and on to the next task. Of course they help you remember meetings and help you to arrive on time for them too!
  • Saying no – this is key in all areas of your life, learn to say no firmly and if necessary learn to say F$&k off nicely too!
  • Saying not now – this is vital, especially for over achievers, you can’t do it all now … So learn to say “yes but later”.
Learn to say "No"

Learn to say “No”

  • Networking – unless you want to forget how to communicate with others, and become some sort of strange dirty-haired recluse, get out there and network for some interaction and perspective.
  • Take meetings out of the office – find a local coffee shop, library, mall or in fact several spots you like and meet clients there rather than in your home office.
Have your meetings in coffee shops

Have your meetings in coffee shops

So you have your business life working (because in a perfect world you’ve followed all the working from home tips I’ve given so far!) but what about the practical personal stuff? The “woman” stuff?

Here are my practical PERSONAL working from home tips for  women:

  • No need to wash your hair everyday, it’s amazing what a Tangle Teazer and Invisibobble will do! In fact, keep an Invisibobble on your wrist at all times! High slicked back pony tail or bun for the win!
  • Tinted moisturizer! Two steps in one – excellent! Every minute counts and it prevents you scaring the domestic or delivery man with your makeup-less self!  My one of choice is Dermalogica’s Sheer Tint – it’s freeking awesome and so good for your skin!
  • EOS lip balms! You will never catch me without “lip ice” … And these EOS (evolution of smooth) Lip Balms are so clever because they’re funky round balls with a flat bottom that can stand anywhere and be left all over the house and office! They’re too big to get lost in a handbag, or bottom of a drawer, and they’re also organic and all that good stuff! And they taste delicious!
  • Tank tops with built in bras! Oh. My. Goodness. Lifesaver! Whilst I absolutely LOVE my Liza Clifford bras and won’t leave the house without one on, when I’m home, I want to be slouchy comfy! Check out the Woolies range of tanks with built in bras, and their camisoles with hidden support, the tanks with the built in bra do the job surprisingly well, even if you’re well endowed.
  • Cotton pants, linen pants, slouchy pants! Don’t do it! Don’t do track pants and become THAT slouchy in your home office! Cotton or linen pants offer that slouchy comfort but can see you amply out the door to the shops or to that meeting as well! When you find a pair that works for you, buy them in every colour!  I have these Woolies ones in all 3 colours!
  • Fancy “slops” – beaded, embellished, whatever works for you. Holster are my brand of choice and also keep me comfy in the house and see me out the house just fine too! Also check out Sweet P sandals.
  • Fitbit Flex or any other step counter – when your work at home involves sitting in front of a computer or at a desk for hours on end, this will remind you to move that ass! Or at the very least show you just how in-active you are, hopefully one day this will inspire me to get more active!
  • Water – keep a jug around all the time – flavour it is you must with scented teas, lemon slices, etc. Next time you yawn or are hungry, try a big glass of water first, 8 out of 10 times you were actually dehydrated!
  • Weimaraner puppy – or any other puppy or needy animal of choice – when you’re too much in that focus-mode, having a puppy that jumps on you periodically and demands your attention will keep you laughing, silly and will remind you not to take yourself and your business too seriously!

Stop and smell the roses periodically and remind yourself why you’re working from home!

My best working from home tip?

Remember to work smarter, not harder!  Of course, with my business being websites, I have to ask you the question, how much more work could your website be doing for you?  I have a web-based invoicing system, my lead generation comes from word of mouth and web only, and my website is a 24/7 sales person for my business – showcasing recent projects, client testimonials, relevant articles and even allowing clients to book time in my calendar!

What is your website doing for your business?

If your answer is “Not enough”, then contact us to find out how to make your website work more for you, so you can work less!

Website Development – How to get yours done quickly

Website Development

Website Development

 

Without fail, whenever we ask our clients how soon they want their website development completed, they answer, “Yesterday!”.  Having got websites out in anywhere from 2 hours to a couple of days … let me assure you … these projects can be done quickly and effectively but…

There’s a HUGE “BUT” in this one!

And that rests solely with you, our client.  We can only go as fast as you equip us to.

The websites we are able to get completed and published quickly are the ones where our clients are organised, where they provide us with good quality images and content and clear instructions about what they need their website to accomplish.

So if you want your website yesterday, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I have good quality logo to use?
    Your logo is essential to the look and branding of your website.  If you have a terrible quality logo, it brings the whole design down and looks very unprofessional.
  • Do you know what functionality you need and want on your website?
    We will meet with you and discuss this, but its worth writing down what you hope to achieve with you website and how you think you can achieve this.  Check out your competition online to get an idea of what they are doing well or not, etc.
  • Do you have your content together?
    Whilst we are excellent at what we do, clairvoyance is not one of our skills, nor are we likely experts in your field, industry or company.  We therefore need you to write down what you want to advertise about your business.  What are your standout features, who is your team, what products or services do you offer, do you have written testimonials, etc.  We will design you a gorgeous website, but it is meaningless and useless without effective content.
  • Are you in a position to pay your deposit?
    We cannot start working on your project until we receive a deposit.
Questions?

Questions?

Agree a timeframe

Once all the questions asked have been answered and you and your designer and developer have a plan together for your website, be clear on your timeframes.  If you have a large or complex website, agree timeframes for specific areas / functionality on the website.  Responding quickly to requests for further clarity, content or feedback during the development of your website will help the developer move quickly on your project.

How long should your website development take?

This is a little like asking how long is a piece of string.  Here’s a ballpark to give you some guidelines … if your website is a brochure style website with a small number of pages and all your content and logo, relevant images, etc. have been provided to your designer and developer you should expect your website development to take about a week.  If you have a large or complex website with for example e-commerce, many products, complicated functionality, custom written functionality, etc. your website development can take anywhere from a month to several months.

Website development is an exciting process … we LOVE every website we work on and want to complete your project as quickly and expertly as possible!  Give your designer and developer the correct tools and you too will LOVE the process of having your website developed.

If you would like more information on website design and development, feel free to contact us to discuss this further.

Email Spam – What is it, How to Avoid it, How to Report it?

Email Spam

Email Spam

There are few things that rile me up more than some IDIOT (and that is the kindest word I can think of right now!) sending unsolicited bulk email out to myself and several hundred others with all our preciously guarded email addresses in the “To:” field so dozens of other IDIOTS who received that spam mail can all copy and paste my email address and send me more unsolicited bulk email!

If you are a business person and you use this tactic, beware!  You can be found guilty of an offense and liable for conviction of an unspecified amount or up to 12 months imprisonment!  Just recently a South African company was fined R65,000 for continuing to send spam after being cautioned to stop, so although spamming isn’t strictly speaking illegal in SA, you can see the courts do have some teeth to enforce serious fines if you send spam.

Here is some relevant information and links for more info:

What is spam?

Spam is any email, SMS or Instant Message sent to a number of recipients without their consent (in other words they haven’t opted in to receive your mail electronically).  These mails usually advertise a product or service.  If you cannot prove that someone has joined your mailing list and opted in to receive marketing material from yourself, don’t send it!   It is estimated that email spam forms  about 60% of all email traffic!  That is a staggering percentage … what a waste of bandwidth!

Why is spam damaging?

Sending spam will negatively impact your business and brand.  The recipients of your spam simply get irritated by you and will be LESS likely to actually take advantage of your product or service.  Worst case scenario, you will be reported and prosecuted.

What laws address this topic?

In South Africa there are two laws that specifically address spam – The Consumer Protection Act and The Electronic Communications Act.  There are even lawyers who specialize in cyber crime now as this area of the law is a growing area.

What to do when you receive spam?

If you receive unsolicited mail and do not wish to receive any more from the sender, look for an “Unsubscribe” link and use it.  Failing that reply to the email clearly stating you wish the sender to stop sending you spam.  Should they continue, report them!

Where can you report spam?

The Internet Service Provider’s Association (ISPA – http://ispa.org.za/ ) regulates email spam and they have a complaint form online here …  Their website is a great source of further information, should you wish to educate yourself with respect to this topic in a more detailed way.

If you are receiving SMS spam and wish to identify the sender to take further action, you can visit this page to identify the sender of your SMS spam …

Don’t join the Hall of Shame!

To view ISPA’s Hall of Shame of senders of email spam, click here … and do try to avoid finding yourself on that list!

How can you send email marketing ethically?

Having heard the “what not to do’s”, how can you send your marketing materials ethically and effectively?  If you aren’t savy with regard to all things social media, for goodness sake, get help!  Get a company to set up your database and mailing list for you ethically in a program that can track things like opt-ins,  and unsubscribes.  This is probably one of the most cost effective and also most effective marketing tools out there, so do do this right!

There are many companies out there who can point you in the right direction, ask your current IT service providers or contact us here should you require an assessment and quote of your company’s situation.

Social Media Marketing Fees – don’t get ripped off!

Social Media Marketing Fees : Beware of rip offs!

Social Media Marketing Fees : Beware of rip offs!

Social Media Marketing is one of those specialist fields which a lot of people don’t understand and are therefore quite scared of. There are literally hundreds of companies out there offering these services and not all at the same level either. Some of these companies just sign you up to exorbitant monthly contracts, charging an enormous amount in social media marketing fees, and do very little or in some cases nothing for your brand. I’ve heard business owners complain about their social media agencies posting incorrect details to their social networks, offensive comments, it is like the wild west out there for some! And because the client has limited knowledge, they just pay and hope the pain will go away.

I don’t know how many of you saw this article in the paper yesterday in Durban – R500k for just 10 days’ work? Do yourself a favour and have a read … it makes me so angry to think this is what we are all paying rates, fines, electricity and water tariffs, etc. for in Durban – to have the Municipality pay a ludicrous amount of money to a Social Media Company for 10 days work that could be undertaken by ANYONE in this industry if the posts so far are anything to go by!

A friend of mine in this industry penned a rant in response – and what he wrote says it all … have a read here …

This when the Communications Department already employs 50 experts, some in social media, web, etc.

Talk about the gravy train!

So … as always … buyer beware … keep your wits about you and don’t be ripped off with crazy social media marketing fees by your agencies.

I must say this thing has made me so angry it makes me want to boycott the #welovedurban campaign rather than support it!  It gives an industry I love and that does so much positive for so many businesses and brands a terrible name!  Rest assured we are not all like the company in the article!  Some of us do good, passionate work for a fair fee!  Don’t judge us all by this example.

I wonder am I the only one?

 

Hashtags – what are they and why should you use them

Hashtags - essential to your #socialmedia campaign!

Hashtags – essential to your #socialmedia campaign!

Hashtags are essential in any social media campaign if you actually want to grow your following or make your content easily accessible to people who aren’t already fans/followers of you or your brand.

A friend of mine digs at me often about my liberal use of #’s – he appends everything with #GetALife – clearly he doesn’t understand what hashtags are and what their benefit is so I don’t begrudge him these digs. His digs certainly won’t stop me using hashtags anytime soon, because I’ve seen and know the effect of their use on the reach of my social campaigns. And why are we taking the time to post to these social networks after all if we don’t want as much reach as possible?

Okay – so first of all – for those who don’t know what hashtags are – here is a non technical explanation in layman’s terms:

What are hashtags?

Hashtags are any word or phrase (with no spaces between words) beginning with the symbol “#” for e.g. #FoodPorn (click on this link to see #FoofPorn in Twitter) or #100HappyDays (which is quite common at the moment and you may have seen recently … click here to see #100HappyDays in Facebook) or the latest big one #OscarPistorius (click here to see #OscarPistorius on Google +) which is being used extensively during the Oscar Pistorius murder trial currently on in Pretoria.

What do hashtags do?

Hashtags enable people (both followers and not) to find and see your posts or content. So if you have posted a photo of your food at a restaurant with the hashtag #FoodPorn anyone, anywhere in the world on that social network who clicks / searches on #FoodPorn will be able to see your post (of course there are some caveats here depending on your privacy settings in Facebook for example but we’re speaking generally here).

Why do you want people who you aren’t friends or who aren’t following you to find you?

Well, this is the whole point of networking! Both in the real world and online, we want new people to find us and use our services. Social media just allows you to cast a larger net and reach far more than you can face-to-face. And using hashtags allows you to target your market. So for e.g. If you are a legal eagle hoping to grow your network or extend your reach or become known as an industry expert you’d start tweeting on Twitter using #OscarPistorius about now – people will start seeing your profile and after a few tweets may start following you (step 1 – gain followers) – as your followers grow, you get more clout and as you continue to post good content with that hashtag the media houses start noticing you so suddenly you’re invited to comment on an article for a popular news website (step 2 – you’ve become an industry expert) – due to this comment you gain further clout and when the local TV station is preparing their slot for the news or a popular actuality program, their producer or researcher finds your hashtags, sees you’ve been quoted in popular media already and invites you to comment and be featured in their segment on Oscar Pistorius! This is a very real world example of how simply using hashtags can lead to your business being raised to the next level almost overnight. Suddenly people who aren’t even on social networks are watching you on TV or reading about you in the newspaper. Who doesn’t want that kind of exposure?

#UseHashtags #ThatIsAll

Social network selection – what will work best for your business?

What's the secret to effective social network selection?

What’s the secret to effective social network selection?

Social network selection can be completely overwhelming for any small business.

Which social network do you choose?

There are so many after all, how do you choose between Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, or any of the other networks out there.

This can lead to paralysis by analysis for any small business owner.

Where do you start in your social network selection decision-making?

  1. Who is your customer / client?

    The first question to ask is who is your typical customer or which clients do you wish to attract?  Once you have a “demographic” clear in your mind, the selection of social network becomes more obvious.

  2. What is your product / service?

    Do you sell products?  Are they visually appealing?  Or do you sell an intangible – like a service of some sort?

  3. Do you have time to post?

    How much time can you dedicate to generating content?  Do you have capacity to write articles or blogs?

  4. Do you have a budget to allocate to online marketing?

    What budget do you have to spend on you social network marketing?

Once the above questions have been answered the answer should become more obvious and make social network selection easier.  Some general guidelines follow:

  • Facebook

    This social network appeals to MOST users and therefore suits MOST businesses.  The reason being – any advertising you do on this network can be specifically targeted based on any demographic e.g. Age, Gender, Marital Status, Interests, etc.  Facebook can be used both for image intensive marketing and information intensive.  So really, every business should be on Facebook and if you are going to choose one to start with, this should certainly be the one.  Huffington Post published some very interesting stats in 2012 already that indicated that 80% of Facebook users prefer to interact with a brand on Facebook over any other medium – including the brand’s website!  And that was over 18 months ago!  That’s quite a statistic!  And a clear indicator that no business can afford not to be on Facebook.  Generally speaking posting only once a day on this network is ideal for most businesses or brands.

  • Twitter

    This social network does appeal to more technologically advanced users.  You need to be able to say what you need to say in limited characters as well.  So no long posts.  Since introducing images to the network – “tweets” with image links tend to be engaged with twice as much as those without.  As do tweets featuring hashtags (more about that in a future blog post).  And here’s a very interesting statistic – the fastest growing demographic on Twitter is 55-64 year olds!  So no longer is this social network only appealing to young and tech savvy users.  Twitter does need far more interaction with the followers.  Regular tweets and more devoted interaction is required here.    Read more surprising Twitter stats here …

  • Pinterest

    Women, women, women.  If you have a product or service that appeals to women, you should really be on Pinterest.  80% of Pinterest users are women.  50% of Pinterest users have children.  This social network is obviously also totally visual – so your product / service needs to have visual appeal.  If so, this social network could work even better for you than Facebook and needs to be considered.  You should post to this network several times a day ideally.

  • Instagram

    Instagram is a great easy to use tool which can feed easily and successfully into all your other social networks … it can post to your Facebook and Twitter profiles and has simple to use tools to make those quick photos you take on your phone look incredible.  You would obviously need to have a business where you have something to photograph.

  • LinkedIn

    LinkedIn is essential for any professional looking to connect with other professionals or corporates.  You can set your profile up to pull your Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, Google+ posts, etc. to your LinkedIn so once setup, LinkedIn can be left to generate leads and won’t be required to be logged in to too often.

  • Google+

    Google+ has rapidly grown into one of the top 3 social networks.  With more people becoming aware of the Google ranking benefits, any business who wants to get more visitors to it’s website or other pages from Google needs to consider a Google+ Page.

Understanding social network user behaviour

Its important to realize that many users choose only 1 or a couple of social networks to interact on.  So if you choose to only have a Facebook Page for example, you will not attract the many Twitter users who choose to not use Facebook at all and only use Twitter.  So whilst certain social networks may be more obviously geared towards your business or brand – don’t discount the value of having a more fully encompassing strategy.

Choose a network and get posting!

If your chose is clearer with respect to social network selection, make it and get posting!

Yes, your business DOES need social media marketing

Need Social Media?

Need Social Media?

Most large business brands already appreciate the value and need of online social media marketing – and many of them allocate considerable budgets to these avenues of marketing due to the tangible positive effects it has on their businesses.

I find that small business owners however, don’t often understand the value that this marketing strategy can have for them.  Usually they are multi-tasking and performing several roles in their own businesses already, they have limited budgets and they often don’t have the skill or interest in setting up or maintaining a company Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, or whatever the latest social environment is.

Sometimes enthusiasm will hit briefly when someone points out to them that its “FREE” marketing, and they’ll go ahead and create a page, post furiously and ineffectively for a few weeks and then lose momentum and give up because it “hasn’t worked”.

Social media marketing is definitely not free!  No, there are no costs to register on the platform you want to use, you can set up your profile free, brand it, and that’s where the “free” ends.  Maintaining a SUCCESSFUL social media marketing campaign takes time and knowledge and if you lack either of those you most certainly need to pay someone to do this marketing for you.  The cost of this marketing though is affordable to every company, regardless of the size.  Much like managing your traditional marketing budget, you can get creative and use your budget effectively to get the most “bang for your buck”.

Done correctly, a website and social media marketing campaign becomes a full-time 24/7 highly effective sales and marketing resource!  Think about what that would cost you if a person was doing this for you!  Think of the effects that person would have on your bottom line!

Yes, your business absolutely does need social media marketing!  If you have the time but lack the know how – get some training and do it yourself.  Failing that, find an online marketing company that gets you and your brand and speaks your language.  There are a lot of us out there, find your match and start your journey.

Deciding you need social media marketing for your business is just step 1, the next question would be which platforms.  We will be answering that question in our next blog.

 

Cooked Media

Cooked Media