A very happy 2012 to you and your business! You may be looking ahead and wondering how you can better your business and gain more leads.
We'd like to offer you a FREE online seminar, where we will discuss Online Marketing in 2012: How to Generate More Business, More Leads and More Customers by Increasing the Performance of Your Online Marketing.
Register here and join us this Tuesday, January 31st from 3-4pm AEST.
During this online seminar, you will discover...
How to generate business from the type of marke you want to deal with
How to drive laser-targeted traffic from Search Engine systems
How to grow your database of prospect clients online
How to boost your Google listing through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
We look forward to seeing you there, and helping your business grow. Limited spaces are available so register now!
Thinking is something that, I think most of us don't spend enough time doing.
I am listening to an audio book, after a recommendation from a speaker I heard recently, Craig Rispin from Future Trends Group. Craig is a Futurist. Which means he spends time THINKING about how the world will evolve in different niches, depending on who is paying him on that given day. So when he recommended the gathered business owners that we find a way to listen to or read the book What Would Google Do? by Jeff Javis, I took up the suggestion. Now I make the same recommendation here.
While it was released about 18 months ago, it is far from out of date (even in the era of speed). The books core concepts are on how to think about business in the internet age. It is not that the author is a visionary, spending much of the book quoting others, the concepts that he shares are like guide posts to a paradigm shift in thinking about your business and what could change. I'd encourage anyone in business to read this book, and think about how their industry could be changed with some 'Google like' thinking. What Would Google Do?
The term ‘Cloud computing’ comes from the diagrams that have been used in the past to depict the internet, with a pretty picture of a cloud, with lots of little computers around it, like this one;
Cloud Computing refers to Programs (applications) and Files (data) that are not installed on you computer, instead, they are stored on the internet and accessed, usually via a website, from your web browser.
Examples of this in small business include Accounting systems, Project management, Customer records and Email.
The advantages of this method of working include;
Scalable – the system and storage can grow with your needs, this provides wider options for smaller, lighter cheaper computers for your staff
Widely accessible – you can access your programs and data from any computer that has internet access. Meaning that you are at a lower risk if you lose your computer to theft or damage. Some applications even allow access via mobile phones and tablet PC’s.
Secure – Instead of having to worry about keeping each computer in your office secure with the latest firewalls and anti-virus, the vital company data is stored and secured by the vendor’s of your Cloud Computing applications.
Scope > functional spec > concept design > user testing > design > build > technical testing > soft launch > user testing > public launch > promote > user survey > New scope; start again.*
Stop wasting time and money!
I know there is a lot of conventional wisdom is the normal flow of projects, but I am beginning to doubt convention. I think the heart of the issue for me is the very beginning. What does conventional wisdom provide us with? A Scope. A Scope usually lists all the things that the project owner wants. Then we get a functional spec, which attempts to make sense of the Scope, and tells us how we are going to fulfil the scope, and so on down the line.
Don’t get me wrong, this type of flow has its place. Where the final product is set in time or stone and can’t be changed again without huge amounts of effort, then this is a great method that has ‘conventional wisdom’. My question is with web based projects where there need not be a final product that is set in stone. I think it requires the process to be turned on its head and perhaps, thrown out all together.
Well built websites are easy to change, add to and build on. They are not static buildings of bricks and mortar. Just like the content of a shop, we can bring in new advertising, new staff, and new products on a daily basis if we have the right plan. What worked and what didn’t work can be removed or changed easily when you have the right tools, right people and the right plan.
So how do you plan for change? Make ‘Change’ your best friend. Be prepared to work in collaboration with your designers, marketing people, technical people, project manager and decision makers with only clear results as the part of the puzzle that is set in stone. Don’t lock down a scope, instead, be open to new ideas that could reach the results you want sooner or better than you have now.
Most importantly, don’t stop. Keep going. When you realise one goal, set new ones. The evolution of a website is more like the building of a business, or the development of staff. It is a continuing, fluid growth process, that should be guided with care and a focus on the goal, not limited to one path that was decided months (or years) ago.
*Not all of these steps are taken by everyone as the convention, it is only an illustration.
If you want to find out more about evolving your website, contact Receptive Technologies on 1300 794 770.
There are plenty of services popping up now where you can synchronise your files with a server on line, so that you can access the files from anywhere. It usually creates two advantages. If you have your files online, you can effectively consider this to be a backup. Secondly, you can access the files from anywhere there is internet access, which can be very handy for some people.
Until recently, I was using SugarSync (http://www.sugarsync.com), which is a great service for Small Business, or where there is no need to have different access rules from each computer that has access to your account. They even offer the first 2GB of data for Free!
Personally, I want to share some of my files with staff, and other files with the home PC. I don't want all the people in the office to have access to all the folders, particularly for confidential staff information. So with a little digging, I have found and signed up for a service from Rackspace. (http://www.rackspace.com)
The service is Jungle Disk (http://www.jungledisk.com). A deceptively simple little program that can even be installed on a USB drive, that will give you access to all your files, synchronise them with any other computer you want, and manage your online backups.
It does this at the same time as providing folder level permission management. What that means in English, is that I can choose to share my personal photos with only wife, Client files with only my sales and project staff, and my accounting files only with the accountant (and probably my wife too).
These files are magically stored on either Amazons "S3 online Disks" or a similar service called Rackspace Cloud Files. So at just US$4 per user per month, I get access to 10GB of disk space!
First impressions for me were that I thought it was more complicated that it actually ended up being. The sign up process could probably explain your setup choices much better than it does, but once I was up and running, I found it to be very simple. Luckily all the settings are easily changed after installation. The help video's and help system also seem to be designed for people who are already familiar with their system, leaving the outsider wondering which setting to choose next, and saying "could it really be that simple?"
The services can be split out into a couple of different parts:
File Sync and Sharing is great. The files are easily accessible from multiple methods. You can view the files by installing the little bit of software and creating a 'network drive' just like you would in a normal office/server situation. This is ideal for any desktop that is permanently connected to the internet, but if the specific PC you're installing on will be doing lots of work, it will probably be faster, and save file transfers in the long run if you set these PC's to "sync" the data. This also allows for file searching from your favourite desktop search.
Using either a USB Device, or installing the software on a home PC lets you map the network drive, but you may choose to avoid the synchronisation for these computers as it may not been needed to have a copy of all your files on these computers. The USB option is especially useful if you jump from PC to PC regularly.
There is also a Web based interface, which is nice to use, but it is lacking a file search feature, which I think should be essential, but I have not seen this option in any of the other services either...
You can even set the system to keep old versions of files each time you make changes - offering some level of backup.
Legacy backup was probably the only backup that was once offered by jungle disk, (guessing from the name). The problem with it is that it is not an efficient user of disk space, so I have switched this one off to rely on Vault Backup.
Vault Backup is a true, online backup service. You select the folders you want to backup, and (after the first backup) the system takes care of the monitoring of changes so that only changed data is uploaded. It can even handle open files (if you are using a newer computer that has something called 'NTFS' - ask your nearest geek to explain that one) and is scheduled to run at intervals defined by you.
I am still un-decided whether I need file sync AND Vault Backup, but there are certainly files that I don't need synced but would like to know they are backed up... so I will run both for the time being.
One more suggestion; choosing Rackspace for data storage means you won't have to pay for data transfer.
By Brendan Byrne
Adendum, I just found out that SugarSync do now offer business services with similar functionality, although marginally higher costs to Jungle Disk, just a fraction too late for me thought...
*Suggestions and recommendations made on this website are just that, you should investigate and consult your own IT person before implementing any of our suggestions.
We are looking for an enthusiastic person, who enjoys working with internet and web technologies to deliver a great customer experience.
The person needs to have strong customer focus and enjoy solving customer issues. Internet usage experience - very confident on webmail, information gathering, analytical and problem solving skills. Very organised, excellent written and verbal communication skills, team player, professional, flexible and project management experience.
If you have, internet marketing, design, programming, these skills will be an advantage.
We are experiencing strong growth, providing web design and internet marketing services. Our Sydney office is based in Manly Vale, and we employ full time staff in Indonesia. Our clients are business owners/managers, graphic designers, other web design companies and marketing agencies. The office is a friendly and fun place where we share facilities with another business.
The Chief Economist from Google is recorded here explaining Adwords. This is well worth the 9mins 12seconds if you ever wanted to understand how much you are going to pay for your ads. Very simple to understand and kind of funny to see too - a real person, using a whiteboard - in Google!
I have been using Toodledo for about 4 months now. I loveit because I can view it from my iPhone, and it is also one of my home page tabs on my computer.
Toodledo is a free task organiser that keeps track of your tasks that you can go back and see what you completed day by day. It is where all your tasks are permanently stored and easily accessible. Toodledo is a simple but useful to-do list management tool and you can register for free. You can create folders, assign due-dates for tasks, add tags, goals, notes, and more. This will allow you to relax and know that you won’t forget anything.
Toodledo's hotlist , email and sms reminders, calendar and sortable online to-do list are some of the features that you’re bound to use. Those looking for more features, including a file storage system for group to-do collaboration, as well as an analytics system that crunches through your task history to find trends, can be had with their Pro and Pro-Plus packages which require a yearly fee. Toodledo has a special scheduling tool that analyses dates, priorities, time estimates, and other characteristics to create a customized schedule of the best use of your time.
You can get Toodledo on your mobile phone, in your email, on your calendar, in your RSS reader, via Instant Messenger, and integrated directly into your web browser. You can even print up a special printable, foldable to-do booklet that will fit in your pocket. The booklet, which occupies a single sheet of letter-size paper, contains your hotlist, up to 110 tasks and a section for written notes. A few strategic folds and a single scissor cut are all it takes to turn the printed sheet into a pocket-friendly, disposable booklet.