Category Archives: Technical Tips

What the April 21st Google Update Means to Your Business

Google has been rolling out lots of changes to apps, Google Play and the presentation of mobile search engine results all in preparation for a larger algorithm release that is scheduled to be released on or around April 21st.  As we learned from past Google algorithm changes (Penguin and Panda), these updates can greatly impact where your site ranks in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

The update set to be released on April 21st is focused on providing a better search experience for mobile users. To accomplish this, Google will be “expanding its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.” So what does that mean to business owners? If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, your mobile search engine rankings could take a hit.

In an email sent to Webmasters, Google has indicated that they are looking at the following factors when determining if your website is mobile friendly or not.

  1. Content not sized to viewport – This means that the content of your website is not resizing to match the width of the viewer’s screen. This will result in text that is challenging for user to read and may cause a horizontal scroll bar making site navigation a challenge for the user.
  2. Touch elements too close – links and buttons that are clickable on a mobile device need to be approximately 12-20 pixels apart to make for easy touching on a smaller screen. Having your buttons, links or other touch elements too close together will cause a usability issue and will  make your site not mobile friendly in Google’s algorithm.
  3. Flash usage – Most mobile browsers do not render Flash-based content. Therefore, mobile visitors will not be able to use a page that relies on Flash in order to display content, animations, or navigation.

The first thing you should do if you are concerned about this update, is run your website through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly). If you get the following message, you are good to go.

awesome

 

 

 

However, if you get a message that looks something like the one below, then you’ll want to take immediate action.
notfriendly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The nice thing about this update, is that Google is giving webmasters exact tasks they can do to make sure their websites are not negatively affected. If your website turns up a not mobile-friendly message, here are the actions you can take to course correct and avoid a decrease in mobile ranking after April 21st.

  1. Check with your webmaster – it’s possible that your website just needs a few tweaks to make it mobile friendly.  Make sure to get a couple examples from your webmaster and run them through the Google Test above. If they pass, there is a good chance your provider can help make your website mobile friendly as well.
  2. Find a new provider – if your current provider cannot create a mobile or responsive site for you, it’s time to start seeking out a new vendor. If you are looking for a new provider, make sure you find one who is well versed in Search Engine Optimization. You don’t want to create a new site with a mobile solution only to jeopardize existing desktop rankings with non-optimized titles and a changing URL structure.
  3. Test and test again – once you have a mobile solution in place it’s important to check every page of your site to make sure all links work and that pages are loading properly.

Though it may seem reactive and hurried, website owners are going to have to adapt to the new mobile-centric digital marketing universe. Since Google is the industry leader, when they give a command, it behooves business owners to follow.

What is your plan for the Google Mobile-Friendly Update? Let us know in the comments below.

Leaving an Effective Voicemail Message

I recently responded to a dealer’s question as to whether or not he should leave a voicemail response when making a prospecting phone call. My gut response was: “Why wouldn’t you?”. Then it occurred to me that question behind the question was really: “Why should I leave a voice mail when it is unlikely that I will get a call back?”

Based on that question, my response would be the same, but with some additional information. Why would you take the time to make a call and then hang up when you go to voicemail? Of course you want to leave a voicemail message! But, understand that you may not get a call back after the first call. Just make sure that the message you leave provides a compelling reason to call you back.

Cold calling can be hard, but, if done correctly, it can help move the prospect to want to do business with you. Calling to touch base is a wasted call – for you and for your prospect. Recognize that his time is valuable, too, and your message is an unwanted interruption in his day. If you do not have something compelling to say, you are deleted before you even get started. If you are not providing immediate value to the prospect in the first few second,s your opportunity disappears with the flick of a finger.

Remember that, in a world where everyone has more things to do than hours in the day to get them done, you must emphasize value at each touch point. The more value you provide, the more touch points you will be granted. If you have had previous contact with the client, use information gathered in that meeting to move forward in the sales process:

“Bill, you mentioned that your primary lead-generating tradeshow is just a few months away. If we are going to maximize your results at this year’s show, we need to put into play the strategy we discussed right away. Let’s get together and discuss implementation plans.”

If you have not had prior contact, then share insights and knowledge about the client’s business. Your client wants to work with knowledgeable people who can help him, not the other way around.

“Jim, a number of my customers are also printers, and they report a steady decrease in the quantity of items that they are printing for their clients. I’d like to share with you a couple of ideas we have implemented for them to not only stop the slide of revenue, but actually increase their gross revenues and bottom line profits without adding expensive equipment or requiring additional staff. When would be a good time to get together?”

At times, your client may seem to have no good reason to not move forward, yet they still hesitate. In these cases, you cannot tell what she is thinking. There may be myriad reasons why they have not pulled the trigger. One of these may simply be “the devil you know vs. the devil you don’t.” In these cases, you simply must empathize and continue to educate your prospects. A message like:

“Sally, I know that you have limited time and resources, that you feel you are already overworked, and that the thought of developing a new service offering may be overwhelming to you right now, but I wanted you to know we are here to help you every step of the way. I am sending you our process overview to help you see that what we are providing goes along well with your current processes. Let’s set up a time to discuss your concerns.”

If you are not leaving meaningful and relevant messages, then you are simply wasting time. You must provide value to your customers today in order for them to continue to want to do business with you or to switch from the status quo.

As an executive with a good memory and excellent tonal recognition that gets too many sales calls from people who simply want to sell me their products and/or services, I thought I would share with you some of the biggest mistakes I encounter from people attempting to talk to me.

Here are the top 5 voicemail mistakes made while prospecting:

1. Pretending you have called before when you haven’t.

2. Not planning your message in advance.

3. Talking about your products/services, instead of a problem resolution that matters to me.

4. Not leaving your name and contact at the end of the message. Better yet, leave it at the beginning and end so that a prospect does not have to listen to the whole message to copy the information. Also, speak slowly; this is not the time to see how quickly you can leave the information. If your message is of interest, nothing kills that interest more than having to hit replay a dozen or so times trying to figure out what your number is.

5. Giving up too soon. Most prospects won’t return your call until you have tried them more than 9 times. I am no different. Even if I am interested, life may prevent me from returning your call at that moment and I am not going to look for your number when I am ready.

Use these tips to improve your calls and messages. These strategies for leaving a message are even more important when you do get through.

Let me know your thoughts – agreements or disagreements – and anything that has worked well for you.

Every Social Media Icon You’ll Ever Need

Since we started posting directions on how to add social media icons to various email client signatures, we’ve been getting request to post icons for other social media outlets.

So here it is! Just about every social media icon you could ever want!

Note: Type in the code from the image below. Sorry you can’t copy and paste it. The code should be all on one line. Line breaks in the images are arbitrary due to the size of the page.

If you need to copy and paste – download the PDF to copy the code.

Web Browsers 101

Web Browsers 101

 

What’s the difference between Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox? How often should I update my browser? How do bookmarks work? What does that button do? Ok, now I’m just having fun, but with so many different browser options out there, it can be easy to get confused or frustrated, especially if you have to use more than one. The solution: Browsers 101, all the basics in one simple guide. Let’s get started!

 

Continue reading

The C.R.A.P. Principles

C.R.A.P. (terrible name, infinitely useful) is an initialism which stands for contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. The term was coined by Robin Williams (author of The Non-Designer’s Design Book: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice) and has become a basic principle of design. Utilizing the C.R.A.P. principles allows even the most inexperienced amateur designers to avoid the dreaded wall of text and instead create dynamic and attractive web content.

The basics of the C.R.A.P. principles are:

Contrast – Elements that aren’t supposed to be the same should be very different. Making the only slightly different confuses the eye and causes the reader to see a relationship that doesn’t exist. Using differing elements on a page draws the eyes to appropriately grouped elements and allows for proper scanning.

Repetition – Continuing formatting and styles for the entire document to create and maintain a cohesive feel.

Alignment – Everything on the page needs to be visually connected to something else, nothing should be out of place or distinct from all other design elements. Clean lines create peace.

Proximity – Proximity creates related meaning: elements that are related should be grouped together, whereas separate elements should have enough space in between to be easily distinguishable. Never underestimate the use of white space.

For more information and examples, visit:
http://www.webcredible.co.uk/blog/revive-the-crap-principles
http://thinkvitamin.com/design/how-crap-is-your-site-design/

Servers down…

Our Data Center performed a physical move of our servers last night. The maintenance window was to be from 11 PM Pacific until 1 AM Pacific. With an expected down time of 20-30 minutes. Had all gone as planned this window is the lowest traffic window for our servers.

Unfortunately, all did not go well. And one the Windows Apps server did not reboot. Technicians are working on the problem but I do not yet have an ETA for the servers to be back on line. The contingency plan is to install a new server but that will take time to bring on line as all of the sites will need to be restored from backup.

We will let you know as soon as we figure out the failure point.

Sorry for the inconvenience this is causing you.

Please check back here as I will be posting as more information is available.

Adding a Favicon to your ProFusion Ultra IS

We frequently get asked how to add a Favicon (favorites icon) to the Ultra IS. Unfortunately, adding a Favicon is not somethng you can do directly from the application as it requires FTP access to the Root directory. If you send us your .ICO file via the support center we will place it for you. Your Favicon should be no larger than 16 x 16 pixels. You may want to check out the following link if you are unsure about how to create .ICO files: http://www.photoshopsupport.com/tutorials/jennifer/favicon.html

The Favicon appears as a mini-icon next to your web address in most browsers. It also appears next to the website name in your favorites list.

Buckets inside of buckets — an HTML primer

Have you ever tried to edit part of your web site, only to find that the more you try to fix it, the more everything seems to spiral out of control?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told “The editor doesn’t work!” by a desperate co-worker. Usually, this is followed by, “You’re a programmer! Fix it!”

But the problem almost never turns out to actually be a broken editor. And the problem almost never turns out to be something that requires a programmer to fix.

What it requires, is somebody who knows HTML.

What is HTML? HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. It’s the language of the web. Go to any web site and use your favorite browser’s “view source” command. That bunch of confusing text you see? That’s HTML. That’s what your browser takes, interprets, and displays in the visually pleasing manner we’re used to.

You don’t have to learn everything there is to know about HTML in order to use one of our editors. But if you want the best results possible, a basic understanding of HTML and how it works helps a lot.

Each HTML document is made up of a number of elements. I find it helpful to think of these elements as containers for content. The content might be text, or it might be an image, but the content has to have somewhere to be. It has to be inside of a container.

Each container begins with a tag — a special code word enclosed in angle brackets like <div> — and ends with an end tag — the same code word preceded by a forward slash, like </div>. For example:

<div>Hello world!</div>

This HTML will look like this in your browser, and in the standard editor window:

Hello world!

But, here’s the tricky part. The following HTML:

<table><tr><td>Hello world!</td></tr></table>

Will also look like this in your browser:

Hello world!

What’s the difference? The difference is the type of bucket. Different types of buckets have different functions and different formatting rules. They might look the same under some circumstances, but not under all circumstances. For example, the following HTML:

<table><tr><td>Hello world!</td><td>One</td></tr><tr><td>Two</td><td>Three</td></tr></table>

Actually looks like this:

Hello world! One
Two Three

What are you looking at? A table bucket (<table></table>), which contains two table row buckets (<tr></tr>), which each contain two table cell buckets (<td></td>). Each table cell bucket contains text, your actual content.

Buckets can also have attributes. For example:

<table width = “100%”><tr><td style = “width:50%;height:60px;border:1px solid red;” valign = “top”>Hello world!</td><td>One</td></tr><tr><td>Two</td><td style = “font-weight:bold;color:green;padding:10px;border:1px dotted gray;” >Three</td></tr></table>

Will look like this:

Hello world! One
Two Three

Width, visual style and vertical alignment (valign) are all attributes that can be assigned to the different buckets. It’s important to understand that not all attributes can be assigned to all buckets in all arrangements. For example, the first cell in our table is defined as being 60 pixels high and fifty percent of the total table width. That means that the cell immediately below it has to be the same width, and the cell immediately to the right of it needs to be the same height.

It’s also important to get the buckets right. For example:

<table><tr><td>Hello world!</td><td>One</tr><tr><td>Two</td><td>Three</td></table>

This has tags which are not closed, which is like punching a hole in the bucket. This might look okay, but it can also cause your content to shift in unpredictable ways. Sometimes it will look okay until you make a seemingly unrelated change — like adding a second table — and then suddenly everything’s out of whack.

Buckets with actual holes are rare in HTML created when using the WYSIWYG editor. The editor automatically closes any bucket it creates. However, it is very common to end up with buckets that contain too many other buckets, or buckets that contain the wrong thing, or buckets that overlap improperly. For example, if you tell the editor to insert a table within a line of text, you might get something like:

<h3>Hello world<br /><table><tr><td>Here I am!</td></tr></table></h3>

The <h3> tag is a headline tag, which browsers expect to be a line of text. The H3 tag is not supposed to contain a table. It’s the wrong type of content for the bucket. Browsers aren’t expecting the content to come that way, and how they display it is unpredictable. The HTML above might display like this:

Hello world

Here I am!

Or it might display like this:

Hello world

Here I am!

It will vary depending on the browser, and on the styles applied to your website, and sometimes on the other elements on the page.

I hope this helps explain why your content formatting can get crazy. But the real question is, how to fix it? Usually, when the buckets get too messy, the only way to fix them is to take your content out of the buckets, get rid of the buckets that are there, and start over with new buckets. This is usually easiest if you follow these steps:

  1. With the editor open, highlight your text.
  2. Copy by pressing ctrl+c or command+c on a Mac.
  3. Open a plain text document editor such as Notepad.
  4. Paste by pressing ctrl+v or command+v on a Mac.
  5. From the text editor, copy the text again.
  6. Paste into the editor.
  7. Apply new formatting.

Because it is so fast to format text with the editor, starting over is nearly always faster than trying to fix what’s already there.

However, if you want to take a look at the HTML, most WYSIWYG editors have a “view source” command that will show you the HTML. On our editor, it looks like this:

For a complete HTML reference, see the W3 Schools HTML Tutorial.

Great Custom 404 Page

Every once in a while we come across something a little unexpected. This 404 page certainly fits into that category. Thanks to Peg for finding this page http://www.racetothesky.org/pagetool/?name=index

This is great for 2 reasons. First, they have a sense of humor. That is always a good thing. Second, they created a custom 404 error page instead of putting up the same ugly old 404 error page you see in your browser. A custom 404 error page definitely creates a better user experience for your web visitors in case they come across a broken link. Obviously, the first choice is to just not have bad links on your site, but if you have made some changes on your site and you think that some page names may have changed which resulted in a broken link, definitely put up a custom 404 page with a link to your sitemap. Way better user experience this way.

All of our sites on the ProFusion Ultra IS website application have editable 404 error pages. So it matches the look and feel of your site and gives you the opportunity to keep the visitor on your site should they encounter a bad link.

How to add Smartermail Pop3 to Outlook 2007

1. Open Outlook
2. From tools, click on Account Settings and you will get a screen that looks like this:
Step #2

3. Click on New
4. Select Microsoft Exchange/SMTP/POP 3 and click next
5. Type in your name, email address and password. Be sure to check the box that says “Manually Configure server settings” at the bottom as shown below, then click next.
Step 5 - Enter your details

6. Click on Internet E-Mail and click next
7. The fill out the following information on the next screen:
Step 7 - Insert Details

8. Your incoming and outgoing mail servers are the same.
9. Then click on More Settings… and click on the outgoing server tab
Final Step

10. Check the box that says “my outgoing server requires authentication”
11. Then click ok.
12. Then click test account settings.
13. You should get 2 green check marks. If you don’t go back and make sure you have spelled everything correctly.