Meme Week: Google Maybe

Meme week continues and while earlier this week we did social media stuff, we’re branching out a bit with this next couple of posts. If you like what you see, share it on the interwebs. We appreciate it!

Hey I just Googled you, and this is crazy, you aren't on page one, update your website maybe.

Meme Week: Pinterest Maybe

Hey I tried to pin you, and this is crazy, that website has no images, so upload one maybe.

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:

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.

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This Week From The Interwebs: Texts From Hilary, Corgis, and Things To Buy For One Billion Dollars

I think I’m going to start a semi regular feature called ‘This Week From The Interwebs’. I see so much fun stuff online (‘interwebs’ being a funny, old-timey way of saying the internet) that I can’t share it all so here’s a repository for things I find interesting, in hopes maybe you think they are interesting too.

Here’s the song and video I can’t get out of my head, first and foremost:

You’re welcome for that. And in other news:

Texts From Hilary
This Tumblr blog was all the rage the last week or so. Inspired by an image of Hilary Clinton texting, it’s fake correspondence via text between Hilary and other famous people, some political (Barack Obama, Joe Biden) and some not so political (Ryan Gosling, Mark Zuckerberg). Whether you like Hilary or not, it’s pretty funny. This week, they’ve shut the blog down since they actually got a text message from Secretary Clinton herself. If you want to know how to say goodbye on a blog, the last post is a pretty fun and classy exit.

Apps From Social Media Breakfast Bangor
So I recently gave an ‘Appy Hour’ talk at the Jesup Library is Bar Harbor and the day after, I got this great link with more apps that I’d never even heard of. If you want to do more with your smartphone or tablet, here are some cool things you can do:

Youtube Is Now Letting Everyone Monetize Videos
It used to be Youtube only partnered with channels that got a lot of traffic but now, you too can have ads with your video that could potentially generate revenue for you.

Facebook buys Instagram for $1 Billion
A twelve person company dividing up $1 billion. Not bad math any way you do it. I just can’t quite believe the size of this deal (though the baseball deal this week was bigger, wasn’t it?)

33 Animals That Are Extremely Disappointed In You
This may be the funniest thing I’ve seen all week. Scroll to the end of the post (worth it) and you will understand my not-so-secret dream to have a pack of corgis follow me around all day. 

Have a good weekend, on and off the interwebs!

Some Non-Nerdy Thoughts On Joomla Day New England

To all of you who think I’m smart, thanks. You know how well compliments work on me.

That said, it’s important to keep whatever awesome things you think about yourself in check. Every day I’m humbled about my brain power by dealing with people much smarter than myself (Matthew Baya, Tom Beal, Jeremy Mason, Ogy Nikolic, David Charron, and several others come to mind very easily). Mainly, I deal with my smart friends over the internet or phone on a one on one basis. Very seldom do I find myself in a room of 100 people who are all blowing my mind.

The group of smartypants people. Good luck finding me, I'm kind of hidden in the back. Photo via

Welcome to Joomla Day New England, a yearly gathering of Joomla enthusiasts in Brattleboro Vermont. For those of you unaware, Joomla is an open source content management system. 2-ish% of the world’s websites run on Joomla and, if you consider all the options that are out there, that’s a pretty robust number. There are Joomla Days all over the place but this is the closest one to my corner of the world.

(Aside: But wait, Nicole, didn’t you fly in from Europe less then 24 hours before repacking your suitcase and doing a 6 hour drive in each direction for this one day conference? Why, yes I did! My friend and former coworker Mike drove which is the only reason this was even possible. Thanks Mike, who is also on that list of smart people but I don’t get to deal with too often sadly.)

You super nerds will notice looking at my source code that while I did attend a pro-Joomla event,  I am writing on a Wordpress blog. Basically I’m the web development equivalent of this guy at first glance:

So can I really talk about Joomla websites when I run Wordpress on my own site? Yes, and here’s why:

It’s about choice, and the right tool for the job.

I began life as a blogger. Wordpress began life as a blogger. Joomla has some blogging extensions but at the time I was picking blogging software, Wordpress was the best choice for blogging.

Can you blog on Joomla? Absolutely. I just preferred the taste of Wordpress. I still work on and can appreciate a Joomla site…. much like you can enjoy Coke or a Pepsi, much like I can speak French and English, life is all about variety.

As long as your website is open source, I love it.

Whether you go with Joomla, Wordpress, or Drupal is of little consequence to your website developer, or to your website visitor. As someone keeping your site up to date, I need the access information on your site. (If I can’t do something, there are forums, experts on Twitter, LinkedIn groups, and lots of places online and off for me to learn anything I need to.)

Your website visitor needs to find the information they need to find. Most of them won’t even know what software you are running. Like at all.

Open source website software is free to download and you pay a designer/developer to customize it. This means for the money you spend, you are getting closer to the website you want than you would be otherwise. It also means you aren’t stuck  your website designer. Open source software systems are used worldwide so you can always find someone to work on your site, not just the person who designed it. I tell people to stay away from ‘custom CMS’ whenever possible. ‘Custom’ is code for ‘only we can work on it’ and you should only be married to your web designer if you are in love with them. ;^)

FMI: Here is a cheesy post I wrote about website options:

FEMI: Here is why I will talk you out of a Flash website any day of the week:

We can all learn from each other.

Imagine if there was only one brand of soft drink. Would there be any incentive to improve the product? Market it better? Probably not.

Open source CMSes are all learning from each other. Getting a sneak peek at Joomla version 3.1 I thought I could definitely see some Wordpress inspiration. On that end, I see Wordpress needing to get more intuitive on  publishing widgets to selective parts of the site (I see some plugins kind of doing this but not intuitively) and both CMSes needing specific user permission levels a la Drupal. Maybe I’m not putting some of these improvement ideas as elegantly as I should for the smarter-than-me people reading this but my point is all software has limitations, and because of that there is room for improvement everywhere. Sometimes improvements can be inspired by other companies in our space.

Smart translates.

My favorite talk of the day, an introduction to responsive web design for mobile websites was given by Jason Mark, a knowledgeable but accessible professional…. who mainly uses Drupal. Was he booed? Did people throw tomatoes? No, we packed a room to hear what he had to say.

My point is that as web developers, no matter what software we use, we are concerned with the same things for our clients and ourselves: the increasing power of the mobile web, how search engine optimization is changing, our place in the web development process as tools for web design become cheaper and more user friendly. Most of what I learned at this conference can be applied to a Joomla, Wordpress, or Drupal website.

What I liked about this conference was that it was a humble group of collaborative people, showing each other fixes and projects and asking good questions. I even got to share baked goods and conversation for a few minutes with the head of the foundation that governs Joomla Paul Orwig, which kind of felt like playing foozball with the CEO of Coca Cola.

So if attending a Joomla conference makes me a Pepsi driver who drinks Coke, guilty. But anywhere where I can learn something, and anywhere with a group of people that’s smarter than me about what I do for a living is somewhere I should be… even if it does involve jetlag.

Why Flash Websites Stink

People ask me sometimes: Do you do Flash websites?

I don’t. And I have better reasons then being too lazy to learn Flash.

For those who don’t know, Adobe Flash (formerly Macromedia Flash) is a multimedia platform used to add animation, video, and interactivity to web pages. (Thanks Wikepedia.)

If you want to see some websites that run on Flash, here’s some examples: (Which is actually Herbal Essences, you couldn’t tell from the URL there)

If you look up ‘flash websites’ in any search engine, you’ll see there are plenty of beautiful looking Flash websites out there. So why am I a hater when it comes to this technology?

It’s expensive (and usually overkill) for the average website.
Most people I work with are small businesses who can’t afford to pay a lot for a website. When a Flash website loads, it’s basically like running a mini movie in which every frame has to be thoughtfully put together. You need special software, and expertise. Flash websites cost double (or more) than your typical CMS website.

If you have an interactive game or a vodka empire to fund your website design, go for it. But if you are a small business owner who just wants your website to be findable by the average person, Flash is likely too flashy for you.

It’s not search engine friendly.
When a search engine like Google looks at your website, it’s not looking at your pretty fonts or your bold color choices. It sees how your site is organized as well as page tags, titles, descriptions, and written content. Search engines have a hard time reading Flash websites (you have to go out of your way to make them search engine friendly). And since search engines are what drives a majority of website traffic for many businesses, few people want to decrease their likelihood of being found.

It’s not customer friendly.
Flash websites can take 2-5 times as long to load as regular websites. And most people don’t like to be kept waiting. Here’s one company that switched away from Flash just for that reason.

Also some devices can’t even load Flash (like Android phones, though there are some workarounds), alienating a whole group of customers for you. Only recently has Flash become supported on iOS devices (re: Mac). HTML and CMS websites show up on any device that can access the internet.

Flashy can equal sketchy.
Flash websites to me kind of remind me of those people who get really excited about Powerpoint’s features. You know, every slide is a different background, they have a different transition for every slide, etc. As your potential web developer, I want to spend the time making your site clean-looking, useful, easy to navigate, and informative. In other words, the information on the actual slides are what’s important to me, not how clever you can be about it. I think part of me just thinks things that are overly filled with bells and whistles are trying to conceal something, like the flashing lights on some Vegas venue trying to cover up a decaying facade. My personal bias but certainly a reason.

Proprietary stuff is not something to build on.
There is lots of software on the internet that is open source: OpenOffice and Wordpress are great examples. The obvious benefit to open source is the whole free (or really cheap) aspect but something even better than that: there are hundreds of thousands of people all working on making it better.

Adobe owns Flash. If there is a bug with some Flash update, we have to all wait for Adobe to fix it. Bug in your favorite open source software? Gets fixed almost instantly (or post it on a forum and someone will tell you a workaround).

Experts in the web development field don’t like Flash.
When I don’t like something, sometimes I wonder “Is my judgement bad?” But when enough other innovative people don’t like something, I feel better.

Why Steve Jobs Didn’t Like Flash:
Why Google doesn’t like Flash:
Why designers hate Flash:

You don’t need Flash to have a dynamic website.
You can have, say, a Javascript slideshow. You can have video on your site. You can have drop down menus. There are plenty of ways to have some ‘cool’ factors on your website without using this software.

So if you are considering a website or a redesign, please know that friends help friends say no to Flash.

More information on website types can be seen here:
More on website costs in this month’s Website Magazine:

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