easy

Beyond The Printer: Why You Probably Need An Online Form

I think a lot of us (myself included) think of ways to do things that are easier for ourselves versus easier for our customers.

Here’s a great (not me) example. Derrick blows glass and he was invited to enter one of his pieces in a contest. He was sent to a website link for this contest so he clicked from his email. On the webpage was information about the contest and then a link to click on to sign up. So Derrick clicked again.

Two clicks in, Derrick thinks he is going to get to an online form… but it’s a pdf. He’s on his phone, which is how 50% of Americans now access the internet. All he can do is look at the tiny writing and think ‘I guess I need to get on a computer to do this.’

Yeah this is a form I can't fill out, let alone read, on my phone. *sigh

Yeah this is a form I can’t fill out, let alone read, on my phone. *sigh

In addition to being on his non-pdf friendly phone, Derrick, like many of my non-business owning friends, however, doesn’t even own a printer anymore… and feels guilty printing personal stuff at work.

‘Why didn’t they just make it an online form?’ he asked me.

No doubt he will turn this in and someone will have to type his application into some kind of spreadsheet or database that will track all the artists entering the contest.

This what I think happened. The person in charge of the contest made the pdf of the application and sent it to the web department, saying “Can you put this online?” Because most website people feel like they should do exactly what someone asks or seem like they are being difficult (and because they are usually busy people), they took this statement to mean link the pdf on the website, not take 20 extra minutes and build a custom form that gets emailed to the right person or people.

Derrick's simple glass order form. You can fill it in on your phone and he'll make you glass. Bam.

Derrick’s simple glass order form. You can fill it in on your phone and he’ll make you glass. Bam.

Why I love forms:

  • They work on mobile devices and regular computers.
  • The answer goes to the right person in electronic format- less typing for you if you get a form submitted.
  • The person filling out the form feels the immediate sense of accomplishment of having ‘done’ it.
  • Forms can apply to all kinds of businesses and non-profits, service-based and product-based sectors.

Will Derrick eventually have an online cart? Of course. But for now he can take requests… and was able to process a $100 order from a woman two weeks ago he had never met via this form.

Can you create an interactive pdf form? Of course. But in terms of mobile friendliness/readability (not to mention impressive technology), consider converting that pdf on your website you want people to fill out into an online form!

 

How Do I Control What Comes Up In A Google Search?

I got an excellent question via email from a friend of mine. She went through a divorce and has recently started dating again. One of her dates found her divorce details via a Google search. While she is not trying to hide anything, she also understandably doesn’t want this to be the first thing that comes up about her online.

Now I used to work in the internet department of a newspaper and people would call and ask us to take out items from police reports, divorce listings, property transfers, etc. for many reasons. In all cases, the answer was ‘no’ since they were part of the public record. Even if you couldn’t find it on our particular website you could find it on the state of Maine website and other places like it. You can pretend to put out a fire by fighting it in one room of a house but really you’d have to eliminate it at the source (like the local courthouse) to truly make it go away.



If the information isn’t true, you can try contacting the website administrator, print some kind of retraction, or find out more about your rights and acceptable actions against online slander. I’m not going to pretend to be a lawyer here but know that there are steps you can take if someone is saying something online that can be defined as slander.

If the information is true, this will be a bit trickier. Sure you can still contact the website administrator but they legally don’t have to do anything about it.

What you can do is push that item to the second or third page of Google but adding some new information for Google to find about you. Think of it as adding positive things you can control to the online space. Here are some ideas:

Make LinkedIn and/or Facebook profile.
If someone Googles your name, what better thing to come up then your resume? You can create other social media profiles as well but these two are particularly effective since one page of results will show all ‘Nicole Ouellette’s on a SERP page and one page will show you. See Exhibit A:

When you looked up my name a few years ago, it was some HR person in Massachusetts. Guess who it is now?

When you looked up my name a few years ago, it was some HR person in Massachusetts. Guess who it is now?

Play nice with Google.
Google owns Google+, Blogger, Youtube, and lots of other websites. Most of these websites allow you to create free profiles. Play nice on Google-owned websites by creating profiles  since those are likely getting preferential treatment by that search engine. (sure there’s nothing offical that says this but come on, if it was you, wouldn’t you do it too?)

Guest post on some blogs.
When I look up my name, I see websites where I’ve either been interviewed or wrote an article for. If you are, say, in the medical field, offer to guest post on a related blog. Contact the blog owner and let them know you have an idea for a post. This site has a list of blogs open for guest posting: http://myblogguest.com.

So just a few easy ideas to make some good news appear higher on web searches. Remember, time heals all wounds, in life and online. Eventually bad news does fade away, even if you wouldn’t do anything and the latest of what’s going on with you will appear prominently. So get to doing the things in the life that you’re proud to have online. :^)



Too Cute Tuesday: Peepshi

Editor’s Note: Too Cute Tuesday Saint Louis sent in this post. Thanks to Sarah for sending it in and keeping the crafting going in the Midwest!

Tada.

Tada.

We here at Too Cute Tuesday St. Louis love springtime (even though mostly it has just beenrainy here). And with springtime comes Easter, and with Easter comes PEEPS! We neededto do something with those delicious marshmallow animals covered in brightly coloredsugar.And that’s when we came across peepshi, the wonderful notion of sushi made of peeps.Perfect. (Peepfect?)

The final products look as good as the original blog entry. Go Saint Louis TCTers!

The final products look as good as the original blog entry. Go Saint Louis TCTers!

Kiri, Keith, and Sarah enjoying a little merge of American and Japanese traditions. Yum.

We used the directions here. http://www.seriouseats.com/



Supplies:

  • marshmallows
  • rice krispies cereal
  • fruit roll up
  • Peeps

1. Discuss how long it has been since you’ve made rice krispies treats.

2. Make rice krispies treats – you want a high marshmallow to cereal ratio for easiershaping.

3. While it is still warm, pull the rice krispies treats to make a rectangle sheet. It might helpto just make enough for one roll at a time.

4. Cut the fruit-roll-up to the appropriate size and layer it with the treats.

5. Slice up the peeps as you would sushi filling, in strips.

6. Roll it all up. This part is easier if the rice krispies treats are a bit warm. If the rollbreaks, no problem, just mold it all together again.

7. Take a sharp knife and slice up your roll into bite-sized pieces.

8. Let your imagination go crazy! Regular rolls. Inside-out rolls. Nigiri. Hand rolls. Thesugary possibilities are endless!

Cutting Peeps down the middle? Crazy stuff!

Cutting Peeps down the middle? Crazy stuff!

9. Eat one. Or two. Talk about how very very sugary they are. And how much you wantregular sushi now.

Aren’t you crafty? And ready to take on the Annual Peep Show? Check it out: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/photo/gallery/070402/GAL-07Apr02-69859/index.html

On a roll...

On a roll…



Too Cute Tuesday: Mustache Mirrors

Mustaches on sticky paper, how much more fun did you have this Tuesday?

Mustaches on sticky paper, how much more fun did you have this Tuesday?

I am going to call this early and say 2011 is the year of the mustache in terms of pop culture America (I would have to say it’s sharing its title with bacon though). Had I planned this a little better, we honestly could have had a month of mustache related crafts.

Sue's visiting friend Amy came by and enjoyed the ridiculousness of the evening.

Sue’s visiting friend Amy came by and enjoyed the ridiculousness of the evening.

Mirror mirror in my hand, who's has the fairest 'stache in the land?

Mirror mirror in my hand, who’s has the fairest ‘stache in the land?

You may remember when we made mustache pacifiers. This last week, our friend and occasional crafter Jen hung a mustache mirror in her house so we thought we’d try to make our own after seeing them not only in her house but in several gift magazines. You know us, if we think we can make it, we’ll try!

Now you can go two routes with the mustache mirror:

1) Use etching paste in a mustache shaped stencil to create frosted mustaches. (Kind of like how we did the etched beer mugs awhile back.)

2) Use opaque, sticky paper to print the mustaches out on and stick them to the mirror (that’s what we did).

The most labor intensive thing we did was finding out which mustaches we wanted to try to recreate!



Materials
Computer
Printer
Sticky printer paper
Mirror
Black Sharpie (for touch-ups)

Cocktail of the Night: Pear Brandy Sidecar (ironically, when I went to the grocery store to get the ingredients, I actually see a motorcycle with a sidecar on my way into the store!)

1. Search Google images for your mustache of choice. Concentrate on finding a shape that will work, you are going to use Photoshop or GIMP to size the image later.

Amy and Sue went with mirrored compacts while Dorrie and I did bigger scale mustaches.

Amy and Sue went with mirrored compacts while Dorrie and I did bigger scale mustaches.

2. Open your favorite image program and make the mustache the right size for your mirror. Consider the distance you’ll be holding it away from your face.

Getting that Dorrie mustache picture was a bit tricky, a behind the scenes shot.

Getting that Dorrie mustache picture was a bit tricky, a behind the scenes shot.

3. Print the mustache on the sticky paper. Cut out and stick.

Honestly, it was super easy and Amy, our guest crafter/Sue’s childhood friend kept saying ‘This is pretty ridiculous!’ and laughing the whole time.

The mustache mirror is a great tongue in cheek gift for that friend who has everything, or a fun addition to your entryway. Jen has her mirror set up so you can draw your own mustaches on it with a magic marker. However you do it, looking back at yourself with sophisticated facial hair will put a smile on your face.

Aren’t you crafty, and looking a bit more like Tom Selleck?



Too Cute Tuesday: Homemade Twix Bars

Just when you think you’ve got your crafting planned out, suddenly you see something on Twitter.

Our bars, with the exception of Andrew's really perfect one in the middle there, were a bit less than perfect. But delicious. Sprinkle sea salt on top for artisnal touch.

Our bars, with the exception of Andrew’s really perfect one in the middle there, were a bit less than perfect. But delicious. Sprinkle sea salt on top for artisnal touch.

In my case, ‘homemade Twix bars’ with a link to beautiful snacks made of four delicious ingredients created by a fellow blogger and crafter I follow on Twitter. We had to try them. Full disclosure, her pictures are way better than ours. Here’s a link to the original post.

Once assembled the dipping was a bit messy but definitely fun.

Materials:
Carmels (I learned from my friend Hope after we did this that today was National Carmel Day– could we be any more accidentally psychic?)
Chocolate (we used semi-sweet chips)
Rold Gold honey wheat pretzels (you’ll see why so specific in a moment)
Nutella
Cutting board and knife
Plastic bag
Scissors
Parchment paper
Small saucepan
Fondue forks



Cocktail of the Night: Iced Tea
1.  Cut caramels in half. Squish so you make a little caramel sheet that’s thin.
2.  Line up two pretzels one next to the other, wrapping the caramel on the sides a bit. If your caramel sheet is too big, cut it down.
3. Using Nutella in a plastic bag with a hole cut in the corner, pipe Nutella in the crack created by where the two pretzels meet. Smear.
4. Melt some chocolate (use a microwave if you got it, doing this on the stove is a bit of a pain). Dip using the fondue forks if you are using a deep pan.
5. Place on parchment paper to dry. If you are Jen and impatient, put them in the freezer.

This week, we were joined by Amy, a new TCT participant. We originally became friends on the suggestion of my accountant. Thanks for looking out for my social life, Ron!

We ate our ‘mistakes’ and found that too much caramel wrapped around the pretzel combined with the warm chocolate made things slightly gooey-er than we meant for them to be.

But all taste testers agreed ‘These are so good!’ The pretzel, has a bit of sweet in it and the salt with the caramel, yum. “I think these are even better than regular Twix bars!” Andrew said. And they are, also it helps they are really easy! Thanks for the hookup, Twitter.

Aren’t you crafty, and now slightly covered in chocolate?



Too Cute Tuesday: Homemade Butter

It’s been a busy week already so yesterday, I had an email conversation with Sarah, who heads up Too Cute Tuesday in Saint Louis because I was feeling a bit more uninspired than usual. “Making butter is always fun.” she said, and her group did this a couple weeks ago. That Sarah, she’s good!

Materials
Whipping cream
Jar
Marbles or popsicle sticks
Willpower
Blue food coloring, maple syrup, honey, salt (optional)



1. Pour whipping cream in a jar (about half full) and stick in a few marbles or popsicle sticks. (The marbles or sticks may help get the butter agitated quicker, though in our field testing, having the marbles didn’t seem very significant in terms of getting butter quicker.) If you are feeling a little silly, add a few drops of blue food coloring.

2. Close jar and shake for a really really long time. What will happen is after awhile, most of your cream will become butter and the rest of it (more milky in texture) is buttermilk. To get best results, sing “Shake it like a polariod picture” over and over again. P.S. This video is hilarious involving both the Outcast song and an otter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LClXK59VP0Q

3. Pour or strain out buttermilk and immediately pour the butter back into your jar. Stir in anything you want for flavoring. At the very least, you’ll probably want salt but you can also make it fun, like honey, maple syrup, and more.

4. Put in the fridge to chill if you want it a bit harder, or spread and enjoy fresh.

Nate has promised me to send photos of the blue butter on his bread which I’ll post on the Facebook page for all to see.

Aren’t you crafty, and like a pioneer?

Too Cute Tuesday logoToo Cute Tuesday is a weekly craft night involving friends, projects, and cocktails. To learn more, check out the Too Cute Tuesday archives or find us on Facebook.



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