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Posts Tagged ‘good practise

If you want to participate in the kickoff of the holiday shopping season without feeling too much like a market-driven drone, check Small Business Saturday with the help of these social networking tools.

Between Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the unending onslaught of online deals, there is another holiday shopping day that might get lost in the shuffle: Small Business Saturday. This year marks the second annual such event, a new tradition that tries to steal some addition from chain retailers and big e-commerce sites and give it to local vendors.

And this year, the fledging ritual is getting some serious attention from social media sites. Facebook, Twitter, and Google have all pledge their efforts in support, offering and encouraging small business owners to use their sites’ tools to promote shopping this weekend.

Local retailers aren’t the only ones who stand to benefit this weekend. What happens to consumers who want the discounts but sans the chain names (that are sometimes attached to controversy) they go hand in hand with? Small business Saturday can fill that void along with the help of some geo-social applications.

Foursquare

amex-foursquareFoursquare has been at the top of the social-meets-location game since it began, and Small Business Saturday will be no exception. If you have an American Express card, sync it to your Foursquare account following these directions. Then when you check-in to shops who have partnered with the service via Foursquare on Saturday, you will see a button that says “load to card.” Then when you spend at least $25 or more at the participating store, you’ll get a notification saying $25 was credited to your Amex account. American Express is a sponsor of Small Business Saturday, so ratcheting up sales is in its best interest, but turns out they’re willing to compensate you for helping make the event a success.

 

etsy_iconEtsy

The purveyor of all things handcrafted is a natural fit for small business Saturday—and will appeal to those who want to buy “local” without leaving their living rooms. Just searching “Small Business Saturday” on the site brought up a slew of items that will be on sale this weekend, andthis blog catalogued some of the best e-shops on the site that offered discounts last year.

 

 

thedealmixDaily deal sites

While the likes of LivingSocial and Groupon tend to offer food and spa deals, the occasional local retailer pops up. Between now and Small Business Saturday, a minimal amount of homework and creating an account with one (or all) of these sites could save you some Monday. We’d advise getting with something likeThe Dealmix, which collects a large variety of all these local deals. Keep an eye out on any of these applications for vendor or shop deals in your area. Then make a call or check Facebook to see if they are participating in Small Business Saturday. Then add those savings to whatever discount the daily deal site was offering. Of course, you should check that you can use coupons during the Saturday sale.

 

 

 

Facebook

Facebook is offering a slew of tools for small businesses to take advantage of, but the site is also catering to consumers. Check out the Small Business Saturday Facebook page and you’ll have access to a variety of information, including city guides for optimizing your local shopping in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, as well as organized events in cities nationwide. Some of them include raffles, free gift wrapping, Santa visits for the kids, and community breakfasts.

 

 

 

 

smallbiz twitterTwitter

Be sure to follow your favorite local business on Twitter, if you haven’t already. We’re sure a great many of these sites will have implemented a Follow button (one of the tools in the Small Business Saturday kid), and will be using the hashtags #ShopSmall, #ShopSmallNov26, #SmallBizSaturday and #SmallBusinessSaturday to spread word of their discounts this weekend.

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Google Chrome wallpapers2

Between IE, Firefox, and Opera the choice might not be easy to make, but with our helpful guide, we will show you why we think Google Chrome stands out among the rest and deserves your attention.

 

In 2010, Internet Explorer for the first time dipped below 50% market share, an impressive slide from ten years ago, when nearly 90% of users decided on it. Part of the problem has been IE itself, as Microsoft’s development of the browser tends to be slow, but much of the blame for IE’s slide can be levied at the fact that there is actual competition in the form of Chrome, Firefox and Opera web browsers, all of which are now mature alternatives.

For the most part, users who abandon Internet Explorer end up joining the Firefox crowd, but not me. I’m a dedicated Chrome user, and have been since just a few months after its release. Despite the high-profile brand (Google) behind Chrome, only 13% of users choose it as their browser. I believe that’s awfully low, so allow me to help you become acquainted with the wonderful world of Chrome.

Google-Chrome-KingWhy Chrome?

Chrome’s development focused on two important themes. One was speed, and the other was excellent web page rendering. Many steps were taken to achieve this, among which was the development of the V8 JavaScript engine, which used new optimization techniques to achieve better performance.

Thankfully these efforts were not in vain. Though it’s been available nearly three years now, Chrome remains the unchallenged performance leader. Peacekeeper browser benchmark scores for Chrome are much higher than they are for other browsers – in fact, when compared to IE9, the latest version can almost double Internet Explorer’s score.

Compatibility is another strong point. In the Acid3 web standards test, Chrome can achieve a score of 97/100, which until recently was a leading result. However, changes to the Acid3 test now allow Firefox and Internet Explorer to achieve a 100/100 score.

Even so, I find that Chrome’s web rendering is superior to either, particularly Firefox, which has presented trouble with text on some high-resolution monitors. Chrome has always rendered images and text smoothly, and because of its speed, zooming in and out of pages is quick as lightening.

Installing Chrome

To demonstrate Chrome’s focus on speed, the installation process has been made simple and fast. When you visit the Google main page on a computer without the browser installed, you’ll see a prompt on the page asking if you’d like to install it. You may have banished this, already – so you can also access the installer by going directly to the Google Chrome website.

When you click the install or download button, you will be prompted with the terms of service, which you’ll need to accept. Then, the installer will download and installation will begin. On an average desktop or laptop the process will take only a couple minutes from start to finish.

Chrome, unlike many other browsers, doesn’t require that users re-download the browser when new updates are made available. Once you have it installed, you will never need to re-install it unless you’ve purchased a new computer or reformatted your hard drive. Updates are pushed out automatically, so you don’t even have to click a button to obtain the newest version.

Understanding the Chrome Interface

When Chrome was released, the interface was bold and new. Tabs are used to manage multiple browsing sessions, a concept that was still gaining steam when the browser was released, and the drop-down menus and large interface icons that used to dominate browsers are gone.

Now, this has actually become the norm. Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome have all homogenized at least some of their interface elements, so users will find some familiarity between them. They all use tabs that are managed at the top of the window, they all have just a few, abstracted icons, and they all tuck bookmarks under the URL bar.

However, all the browsers have very different menus for managing critical browser options. In Chrome, you will find the browser options by clicking on the wrench icon in the upper right, then navigating to Options. An options page will open like a web page in a new tab. Every single function of the browser is managed from this one area except for Bookmarks, Downloads and History.

Otherwise, there’s not much to understand about the basics of the interface, because there’s simply not a lot of interface there – but let’s take a closer look at some individual features.

Bookmarking

In Chrome, adding a bookmark is best accomplished by clicking the star icon on the right hand side of the URL bar. Once you click it, a small pop-up menu will ask you which folder you’d like to store the Bookmark in. This can be changed later, of course.

Sites that are bookmarked will from then display a yellow star icon (instead of the standard, uncolored icon) in the URL bar when you visit them.

Users have the choice to display or not display bookmarks in Chrome interface. This can be turned on or off by opening the wrench menu, going to bookmarks, and then de/selecting Show Bookmarks Bar. The bookmarks bar can contain both folders full of bookmarks or individual bookmarks, and can be edited directly by right-clicking.

There’s also a Bookmark Manager found in the options, but I doubt you’ll have much need for it. Since the Bookmarks Bar can be edited, the Manager is only needed by users who choose not to show the bar, or who prefer that interface for management of very large bookmark folders.

Downloads

In the toolbar menu you’ll find Downloads. Clicking on it opens the download manager, which appears like a web page in its own tab. There’s not a lot to comment on here. All of your recent downloads will be shown in chronological order. There is no option to filter them by name or size.

The only way to find a specific download is to either search for it, which is effective as long as you know the file name, or bypass Chrome by clicking on Open Downloads Folder. This will simply open your Windows download folder.

Extensions

Add-on software to Chrome is called an extension, and can be managed by going to the wrench menu, clicking on Options, and then going to Extensions. Users have the choice to disable or enable extensions through this menu, or uninstall them completely.

Google-Chrome-Extensions

Official extensions can be found at the Chrome Web Store. Recent updates have made this site very similar to the Android marketplace. Most of the extensions available are free, but developers can charge if they choose, and there is also support for in-app payments.

In addition to extensions, Chrome also supports “apps.” These are vaguely defined as web services that can be accessed through the Apps section of the Chrome homepage. At the moment, most of the apps are just than links to websites. Installing the Gmail by Google app, for example, does nothing more than install a new icon that takes you to the standard Gmail interface. However, there are some true apps available, including games like Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies.

Security and Privacy

When you open a new tab in Chrome via a right-click, you have the option to open the tab in “incognito mode.” This is a built-in private browsing feature. When a tab goes incognito, it doesn’t record the browsing or download history of that tab, and all cookies related to that tab are deleted when the tab is closed.

Sometimes users misunderstand incognito mode, thinking it provides some protection against keyloggers, spyware, or other such threats. It does not. The main purpose is to provide on-the-fly private browsing. Let’s say, for example, you want to research some Christmas gifts. Incognito mode lets you do this on the family computer without tipping anyone off.

Another important security feature, this time related to extensions and apps, is permissions. In order for the extensions that you install to function, they sometimes need “permission” to perform certain functions, such as access location data or information from a certain site.

You can find the permissions needed by going to the Details section of an extension on the Chrome Web Store. Unfortunately, permissions are not shown in the Extensions section of the Options menu.

Syncing

Google likes the cloud, most likely because they offer a lot of cloud services. Chrome does, as well, in the form of its sync feature. You can find this feature in the Personal Stuff section of the Options menu.

What this does is save your Chrome settings using your Google account. Once saved, these settings can then be loaded to Chrome on any other computer by going to the Personal Stuff section once again and entering your Google account information.

google-chrome-bookmakrs-sync

You can choose what to sync, including everything from passwords to extensions to bookmarks. If you make a change to your settings on any of the now synced Chrome browsers, it will be migrated to all of them. But you don’t have sync everything if you don’t want to, and you can pick-and-choose. You can, for example, choose not to sync extensions if you like to customize your extensions for each PC.

To protect your privacy, sync data is encrypted while it is sent. Normally the encryption passphrase if your Google account password, but if you want extra security, you can enter a different passphrase manually.

Tab Management

Chrome tabs can be moved about at your leisure by click-dragging them. When they are moved inside an open Chrome window, a tab’s position can be re-arranged. But you can also click-drag a tab away from the Chrome window in order to open another, separate browser window. Likewise, you can click-drag tabs from separate instances of Chrome into a single browser window to combine them.

New tabs can be opened using keyboard shortcuts or the small “+” icon beside the last currently open tab. All new tabs that are not opened to display a link will instead display the default home screen, which consists of a tile display of recently visited websites and installed apps. You can also access a list of recently closed tabs from the menu in the lower right hand corner.

There’s no hard cap on the amount of tabs you can have open at once in the browser, but once you go past about twelve, the titles of open tabs become difficult to see because so little space is available. If you need to frequently use a large number of tabs, you may want to download a tab management extension from the web store.

Important Shortcuts

Like any browser, Chrome has a number of keyboard shortcuts that can help you navigate the user interface. Here are some of the most important ones to know.

Ctrl+N – Opens new window

Ctrl+Shift+N– Opens new incognito mode window

Ctrl+T – Opens new tab

Ctrl+P– Print the page

Ctrl+S– Save the page

Ctrl+F5 – Reloads the page

Ctrl+D – Saves page as a bookmark

Ctrl+Shift+D– Saves all open pages as bookmarks

Ctrl+Click a link – Opens the link in a new tab in the background

Ctrl+Shift+Click a link – Opens the link in a new tab and switches to the new tab

Ctrl+Shift+T – Reopens the last closed tab

Ctrl+Tab– Switches to the next tab

Ctrl+Shift+Tab– Switches to the previous tab

Alt+For Alt+E– Opens the wrench menu

Ctrl+Shift+B– Toggles the bookmarks bar on and off

Ctrl+H– Opens the History page

Ctrl+J– Opens the Downloads page

Shift+Esc– Opens the Task Manager

Ctrl+Shift+Delete– Opens the Clear Browsing Data dialog

Come to Chrome

These are all of the basic features that make up the Chrome web browser. It’s an impressive suite, and generally better than what other browsers offer by default. But some of its biggest advantages – such as its speed – are only apparent after using the browser for a few minutes.

If you still feel a little overwhelming, try taking a look at Google’s official Chrome FAQ. There’s a nice introduction there that advanced users will find too fundamental, but newcomers may appreciate.

 

Provided by Matt Smith

Is your website meeting the needs of on-the-go mobile users?

When you’re developing your first mobile site, you may be at a loss. That’s understandable—a mobile website is an entirely different animal from a traditional website.

Given that, it’s important to keep some best practices in mind as you develop your mobile presence.

What follows are 9 best practices you can use to ensure your mobile site is as good as it can be.

About Mobile Users

But before we dive into the 9 best practices, it’s important to keep one thing in mind—the person viewing your site is mobile.

That may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many people forget that simple truth.

When someone is mobile, they’re expecting an entirely different experience from the one they’ll get on your standard website.

For example, a mobile visitor is typically looking for a few key pieces of information: directions to your office, a click-to-call phone number or a map of your store locations. What they’re not looking for are lengthy staff bios, information about your corporate philosophy or PDFs of your latest press releases.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the 9 best practices for mobile website design that can help you create a site that puts your best foot forward.

 

#1: Simplify. Then Simplify Again. And Again

The first step in creating a mobile site is determining what content you’ll include. Given the restricted amount of screen space, it’s important to figure out what key pieces of information your visitors will probably be looking for.

A store locator? Probably. A “Contact Us” form with 13 different fields to fill out? Not so much.

It’s also important to keep the steps involved in going from entry point to purchase as simple as possibleFandango does a great job of this by eliminating much of their non-essential content to quickly bring their consumers what they want: movie times.

fandangoFandango does more than just provide a simple mobile web design—they provide a mobile ticket, too, thus completing the sales cycle.

Better still, Fandango completes the sales cycle by providing a QR code that acts as a mobile ticket for the purchaser. Just bring the phone to the theater and have them scan the code there—it acts as the purchaser’s ticket.

 

#2: Plan Your Site Layout

Mobile web pages will load slower than traditional web pages, so it’s important to keep the number of pages to a minimum. In addition, users won’t have the patience to click several pages deep on your site. Given that, it’s important to keep the site layout as streamlined as possible.

One technique I encourage people to use is to think like Steve Jobs. As you know, Jobs is famous for creating user experiences that are streamlined and intuitive. Put on your Steve Jobs hat to remind you to keep things as streamlined as possible. By doing so, your visitors will have a better experience when they’re on your site.

Domino’s must have been wearing their Steve Jobs hat when they developed their mobile site (and their brilliantly designed app). Instead of creating a cluttered site with confusing options, they simplified their site and limited it to the items people would most likely be searching for.

dominosDomino’s used the Steve Jobs approach to website development—it’s an uncluttered site that provides limited navigation. Surprisingly, this minimalist approach improves the customer experience.

 

#3: Match the Branding Elements From Your Standard Site to Your Mobile Site

Even though your mobile site will be much more streamlined than your standard site, you’ll still want to incorporate the same branding elements on both sides of the equation.

This is important for two reasons. A mobile site is a brand touchpoint and, like any other property, should reflect and promote your brand essence. Also, for users who are already familiar with your company, a similar design will make them feel like they’re visiting an old friend, which is an important consideration for your most loyal customers.

mobile sitesKeep the color palette and the brand imagery consistent between your mobile site and your standard site.

The 60 Second Marketer site uses the same bright color palette and iconography in both the standard and mobile websites. The result is that a user who is familiar with the standard site will have a similar experience on the mobile site, too.

 

#4: Utilize White Space

When designing any website, it’s a natural tendency to cram in as much information as possible. But fight that urge. Not only does white space give a cleaner, more sophisticated appearance, it also ensures that users can easily click the button they’re aiming for.

msnbcThis mobile site for MSNBC does a good job of keeping enough padding around all of the text to ensure that the user is able to accurately select the content he or she is looking for.

 

#5: Avoid Flash or Java

The obvious reason for avoiding Flash is that Apple products do not support Flashand have declared that they have no intention to do so in the future. Because iPhones make up about 30% of the smartphone market, a significant portion of your audience may not be able to access your content if you use Flash. Similarly, many phones do not support Java, and even if they do, using Java can be a huge drag on load time.

 

#6: Reduce the Amount of Text Entry Necessary

Do you suffer from fat-finger syndrome, which makes it difficult to use a smartphone keyboard? Most of us have trouble typing on tiny keyboards. When possible, use dropdown menus, checklists and pre-populated fields as a means of data entry. This helps minimize the challenges people face when typing text into a smartphone.

Take a cue from FedEx’s mobile site. Even though a lot of information has to be entered into the site to accomplish the user’s goal, the use of checklists and dropdown menus cuts down on the amount of text a user must enter.

fedexFedEx pre-populates text fields to make data entry easier for their visitors.

 

#7: Do Not Use Pop-Up Windows

Navigating between multiple tabs and browser windows is more difficult on mobile and can cause slow load times. If you need to open a new browser window, make sure you alert your user so that they know how to navigate back to the original page.

 

#8: Use Mobile Redirects

Once your site is designed and ready to go, make sure to put redirects in place that will sniff out when a visitor is using a mobile device and direct him or her to the mobile-optimized version of the site. For a more detailed description on how to do this, check out 5 Simple Steps to Getting Started With Mobile Marketing.

Once your redirects are in place, any mobile user who types in your web address or clicks on a link in a search engine will be sent to the mobile-optimized version of your site.

 

#9: Allow People to Visit the Full Site

You’ve worked hard on your mobile site. You want people to see it and you want people to love it. But the fact of the matter is, even if you’ve done a good job paring down your content, there will likely be someone who wants information you’ve chosen not to display.

As such, make sure you include links on multiple pages that allow the user to return to the full version of the site. You can see this feature on most mobile websites including USA Today, the Geek Squad, the Home Depot and Target.

geek squadHere the Geek Squad allows users to return to the main site at any point with a link at the bottom of the page.

Because mobile sites are a new landscape for most marketers, designing and building them can be a bit of a challenge. However, mobile sites also bring an awesome opportunity to showcase your brand and your creativity. As long as you keep the user’s needs top-of-mind, stay true to your brand and follow a few simple rules, you will have the hang of it in no time.

What are your thoughts? Have you created a mobile website for your business? What works and what doesn’t? Leave your comments

 

Provided by Jamie Turner