technology

This Week In My Brain: June 25, 2013

On this ridiculously hot day in my life, please appreciate some things that have made me think… and smile online in the last week or so. Mainly courtesy of Pinterest:

computerlesspowerful

 

 

change

 

 

bossvsleader



atleastonepersonpleased

 

If you like these, there is more on my ‘For Thought’ Pinterest board. And if you like my taste in everything (not just quotes but housewares, cool gifts, slightly offbeat sense of humor) you can follow all the boards!



Some Thoughts On Being A Female Run Business In A Male Dominated Industry

The last conference I went to had a record number of women… 23%.  This was a statistic that people were impressed with (as in ‘Wow, there’s a lot of women here!’) but, as even the author has acknowledged, we have a long way to go.

female-symbolIt’s true that 78% of web developers are men and I know that women in male dominated fields like science and engineering can also identify with me: It can be a little hard not seeing a lot of people ‘like you’ out there.

I’m annoyed that, in 2013 as an established professional, I am still dealing with sexism. I can think of the prospective client who said after I asked if he’d sign a work agreement ‘Do you have brothers? Because you seem really aggressive.’ (I ‘lost’ his email.) Men (yes plural) have commented on my looks during a video conference. My weight and whether it has gone up or down has been discussed… in front of me.

Sometimes the sexism is a little more hidden. As the only woman on a conference call, I am asked to take notes. A man will find wonder out loud if I am able to ‘handle’ a certain kind of technical project.

What I really want to say to all this is, “Would this be happening to me if I was a dude?” but I don’t.  Because I am supposed to be sweet after all.

I will say that most of this is thankfully by older men. Over time, there will be less of them to contend with. (OK, maybe that last comment wasn’t so sweet.)

I will also mention that there are plenty of people (both men and women) who are completely respectful of my skills and expertise. But here are a few rules I play by:

I can’t be arrogant. 
I can’t say I’m ‘the best’ at something without people thinking I am cocky. This trait is rewarded in men but humble is my only way to play the game. One of my clients wanted to say he was ‘the best’ at something. I told him it was gutsy but really what I meant was, ‘I can’t get away with saying anything like that.’

I can’t nag.
When men do it, it’s called ‘following up’ or being aggressive. I have to get what I need from someone very carefully if I need to ask for it repeatedly or else I will remind them of their wives, girlfriends, or any other female who has asked them for something over and over.

I can’t show any lack of knowledge.
If I admit I don’t know something, I see people’s confidence falter. I feel like if a man admits the same thing, he is being ‘honest’. Because of this, I overprepare for every meeting and overresearch every decision.

I’ve wanted to bid on a few web projects as ‘Nick’ just to see what would happen… but I think instead I will chose to work with people who don’t mind working with a girl. 🙂

Women in male dominated industries, are you playing by unspoken rules too? Men, have you accidentally been sexist without realizing it? Everyone, am I overly sensitive to this divide? I’d love your thoughts about all this!

The post that inspired this: http://choycedesign.com/2013/02/04/women-wordpress-the-web/

 

 

 

New Website Launch: Ellsworth Public Library

We were very fortunate to be trusted with redesigning the Ellsworth Public Library’s website.

Like many of the libraries in Down East Maine, the Ellsworth Public Library (EPL) was still running a basic HTML site. When it was built years ago, it was top of the line.

Since the site was built, not only has the library changed, but its patrons have changed too. The typical library patron five years ago didn’t even have a home computer, and now the average visitor to the EPL not only has a computer, but a smartphone, tablet, and or eReader as well. Serving these customers with an old website platform was becoming increasingly difficult.

The library staff really wanted to be involved with their new site so they could easily add current information, and also they wanted their new website to represent the ever changing and growing community they serve.

The old website had about ten static pages, so in that way, it was fairly easy to navigate. But there were some limitations. For example, some pages didn’t provide navigation so you had to use your browser’s back button to find the menu again. Email addresses to library staff were visible on the staff page, inviting spam. And most importantly, it required a knowledge of HTML for any new information to be posted there. Despite these frustrations, the library staff felt that the overall look of the site well represented the library, and they wanted to stay close to the theme.

To stay with the same feel with the website update, a similar color palette was chosen to provide the consistent look:

The old and the new

Homepage 

While the old website was static, the home page of the new site offers four areas for the visitor to interact:

  • Slideshow of images helping users navigate to resources, see event information, and view important content that the library continually changes.
  • News- Updates of library news including upcoming events and new resources
  • Library Resources- Links to some of the library’s most popular offerings
  • Recent Events- Displaying participation and photographs from past events
The new logo that the library had decided on was also incorporated:

 Menus and Sidebars

While the main navigation menu stays regardless of location in site,  the sidebars reflect the area of the library the page represents. For example, if you are looking at the Kid’s page under Youth Resources, the sidebar offers up links that kids or parents will find helpful.

This plan for the sidebar grew as we got to know the Ellsworth Public Library better. With every conversation, we learned more about what information they wanted online, and they learned that there were possibilities that they hadn’t thought of to make their jobs easier. For example, twelve contact forms each get distributed to a different department or staff member, ensuring information gets to the right staff member quickly and efficiently and that they collect the information they need from patrons.

 

 

The primary goal of  the new website is to offer more information, resulting in more pages and in depth navigation.

  • A current events and news area, where the staff of the EPL can post.
  • Online services offered through the library, with links and  instruction pages are provided on how to use these resources.
  • Contact forms on the website, which connect users to the appropriate staff members at the library, streamlining the communication process between patrons and staff.
  • Links to other social media sites
  • Individual department pages
  • Visual elements like navigation buttons that make scanning a page for information easy
  • Current photographs of staff and the library itself

Because the site needed to be interactive, it was build the site in Wordpress, which has a very user friendly Dashboard set up. This makes training people (even the so-called non-technical ones) easy, allowing them to make new pages and update existing ones. Like most open sources CMS systems, Wordpress has a thriving community of people who are constantly improving the platform. Plugins which allow interaction with other technologies and sites, such as Facebook and Flickr, help keep the time spent on website maintenance down. The library already does a lot of work on these platforms so connecting them with the website cut down on time staff was spent posting information and allows them more time to do what they love: helping library patrons.

We’d like to thank Charlene and the rest of the staff for being a pleasure to work with. Nicole and I enjoyed learning more about the library’s resources, in particular the digital ones. Congratulations EPL on your new website!

Do you want to know more about your website options? Here’s our short guide on different kinds of websites. Want to support the great work of the Ellsworth Public Library? Like them on Facebook or join them on any of the other social media sites they are a part of.

Early to rise makes you technically wise

7:30 am, Wednesday April 25. You were probably still in your PJs enjoying your morning coffee while 30 MDI business owners were filling their bellies with eggs and their heads with knowledge at the mini-tech boot camp sponsored by the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce. David Charron of Comp-u-sult and Nicole Ouellette of Breaking Even Communications were on hand to give a lively and informative discussion on what you need to know to keep your business current with computer applications and online marketing presence.
David started with key points on how to manage your data and your computer. Wondering what the Cloud is? David explained that the Cloud is just the internet – and it is actually safer and more economical to have your data backed up online with a third party company such as Mozy or Carbonite. The sites are encrypted for protection, and your data is safely stored offsite.

Also discussed was the importance of strong passwords. “Everyone knows about using 3s instead of Es, you need to be more stealthy now.” David recommend using pneumonic that only you will know. “my dog barnaby jones like ice cream cones”  would translate to MDBJLICC.

David talked briefly about how all those pesky software update reminders you get, are actually software companies trying to protect you from malware. Software manufacturers and hackers are constantly leap frogging each other with updates, and if you have the latest software, you computer is the most secure. As well as updating your software, David talked about the importance of maintaining a clean computer – defragging, emptying the garbage, and scanning for viruses will make your computer happier and faster.

Both Nicole and David then discussed ways to manage your files and information in a way that you and your co-workers have easy access to information. Google Apps is an easy, free, software bundle – available on any web browser, that you can share and co-author documents, spreadsheets, calendars, and more. Google Drive is now combining the features of Google Apps and File Share servers like dropbox: for more details, this is an excellent article: http://www.mercurynews.com/larry-magid/ci_20488331/magid-taking-google-drive-spin

After this discussion of computer and data sources, Nicole stepped up to talk about how to reach customers who are savvy to the internet, and interest them in your business. Traditionally business spend big dollars advertising on television and print media, but with the internet you can reach more of your target audience, and for less money.

Nicole talked about the importance of having a mobile section of your website. People over 50 are the highest growing market for smartphones, and 50% of American adults have already have one. In an area like Mount Desert Island – which largely depends on tourist dollars – making your website accessible to potential customers who are traveling and depending on their smartphones, is certainly going to help your business.

Facebook as a marketing tool was discussed at length. As Nicole pointed out – your website is a static location that depends on people taking the initiative to visit it. A Facebook page allows your business to interact with people on a daily or weekly basis, depending on how often you post updates. Nicole recommends no more than 3 posts a week for business since more information could overwhelm fans.

She also explained the difference between a personal Facebook profile and a business page. Facebook business pages offer a great opportunity for you to access data about your customers  such as age, location, and common interests. A Facebook page also offers your business another opportunity to show up in a google search. Win win win.

Nicole then talked about the new Facebook Timeline, and gave a quick tour of what it has to offer including designing the cover image (the large scale photo on the top); customizing the display of applications installed on the Facebook page; creating milestones that illustrate the history of your company, and being able to ‘pin’ important news to the top of your page and have it remain for up to a week.

She then spoke about some new social media kids on the block, Fiverr, Pinterest, Kickstarter, and Google+. She pointed out that right now Google and Facebook are the A game, but things change very quickly and it’s important to keep up with the ever-changing world of online networking.

To close the meeting, a brand new Kindle Fire was raffled off, and awarded to Sheila Ward from the Inn at Bay Ledge.

By 9 am everyone was happily sipping coffee and congratulating themselves on how smart they were for learning how to use technology more effectively in their business and personal lives.

Want to learn about more upcoming presentations and workshops? Sign up for our email newsletter and hear about it before just about everyone else on earth.

Marketing Monday: QR Codes

First of all, I was MIA last week because I was sick in a way I still can’t quite believe. After sleeping 14 hours a day and being supermedicated the rest of the time, I’m finally feeling better. In other words, the blog is back on! Thanks for those of you who called or wrote to see where I was. Nice to know someone reads these!

Every Monday, Breaking Even talks about a business, website, or non-profit doing something cool to market themselves.

I first heard a lot about PR codes from this link from Hall Web shared by Marc Pitman.

I had seen one in a magazine a few months ago for a free music or short movie download but I didn’t know how it worked.



A QR (Quick Response) code is a sort of bar code that can hold information like a web address or contact information. It can be read with any smartphone (after downloading a QR reader application). It looks like this (scanning this will take you to the Downeast Learning website):

A QR Code I generated in about five seconds online. Have you seen one of these before?

A QR Code I generated in about five seconds online. Have you seen one of these before?

It has a lot of applications for print media/advertising. Many print companies like GreenerPrinter will generate them for you as part of their services but you can also find many free online QR  generators online. That’s how I made the one, stage left.

Some ideas I’ve read for QR codes are on temporary tattoos at an event, on business cards (holding the person’s contact information), and on flyers/ads to hold additional information that can’t fit on the printed page.

To read more articles about QR codes, check out any of the articles linked above, this Fast Company article, and this Mashable article.

Now if only I can get a client to try this out!

Marketing Monday: Nike plus

Every Monday, we check out a cool new marketing technique used by an individual, business, or group. Want to be featured? Contact the BE Blog.
I’ve noticed my online friend Lynn Cyr (an artist among other things) has been posting her runs on Facebook via the Nike website. I clicked through to see the partnership with Nike and iPod that not only encourages people to work out but think about music at the same time. I asked Lynn a few questions about her running and how she uses her Nike+.
1. Do you have the special shoes with your Nike+ or do you just clip it on?

Lynn Cyr, artist/web developer/user of cool running technology

No, I don’t have the special shoes for it. They now sell clips that you can use, but when I started using my Nike+, there was no such thing. So I came across this blog post that showed how to attach it to any shoe… and that’s how I’ve done it since!
2. How long have you been using the Nike+? Do you feel this device has improved your workouts?
I got the device as a birthday gift (at my request!) from my husband in March 2008. I started using it the very next day! Before that, I never exercised… let alone RUN! As I went on my runs and saw some progress (faster pace, longer distances but same duration, etc…), it really got me hooked! I can honestly say without a doubt that this tiny device is what got me started as a Runner! I’ve used it fairly consistently ever since, except for breaks I would need to take because of injuries (bleh!!).
Not ONLY did it turn me into a Runner, but I even trained for my very first 1/2 Marathon that first year!! My friends in Quebec convinced me that I should train, even though I’d never run before (except for a 5K race I did like 15 years ago – and even *that* was a very short-lived period of running). I trained and trained, but didn’t end up racing, since I ended up with an injury (not related to running). But I did run my first 10K race in Boston, though!
3. What are your favorite workout songs to get you pumped to keep going?
I’m a Rock chick at heart, so I always go for the Hard Rock and Metal “screaming” songs. LOL!! Nothing whips your butt into shape like some metal rocker yelling in your ear! But I do mix it up a bit. I have a “Cardio Mix” playlist on my iPod, which is what I use to run. It includes Rock, Country, and even some Dance tunes. But still, my all-time favorite song that really gets me going is “Lose Yourself, by Eminem.
4.

I see that you share your results on Facebook in addition to on the Nike site. Has this further motivated you? Do you think doing so has motivated others to get running?
Knowing others are “watching” me, so to speak, definitely helps. It doesn’t stop me from slacking off every once in a while, but seeing the comments and “Likes” after a run really make me feel good. It usually sets the tone for the rest of my day 🙂
As for motivating others, I can’t tell you how many times I get asked “So hey, what’s that Nike+ thing I keep seeing on your Wall”? After I tell them all about it, they’re all gung-ho and get one for themselves. I know at least 3 people for sure that bought one because of my direct recommendation!
5. Have you met other people from sharing the results on Nike’s website? (I’m always interested in how interactions in a specific arena like this translate into other interactions, online or in real life).
This, to me, is the best part of the Nike+ system!! It’s allowed me to meet so many folks online who share my passion for running!! A few of them have become Facebook friends too now… and in fact, I’m meeting one of my “Nike+ friends” in person NEXT WEEK for the first time!! I’m headed to Toronto to visit my family, and we’ll be getting together for lunch since she lives there too! We’re both really excited!

+ Read More

1 2 3 4