Busy times at Bluelime Media

Things have been very busy at Bluelime Media, which would explain the lack of posting during September. I can’t believe September ended last week! How did that happen?

We’re currently working with UBC Library on the UBC Vault website. Phase 1 has been launched but much more is yet to come. Working with Johnny from Avenue Creative has been delightful. His design skills simply blow me away.

Tzaddi is working on a huge WordPress project which we hope we can show you soon. Just a few weeks ago we launched the Shelley Morris Business Services website. We’re very pleased with the website. Tzaddi did a great job on the design and, as always, Louise’s content is a delight to read.
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Help the people of Burma

The web is a great way to raise awareness and call for help. This week via Darren‘s blog I found out that a petition is circulating to call for an end of the violence in Burma. Here is what they have to say:

After decades of military dictatorship, the people of Burma are rising – and they need our help. Marches begun by monks and nuns have snowballed, bringing hundreds of thousands to the streets. Now the crackdown has begun…

When the Burmese last marched in 1988, the military massacred thousands. But if the world stands up and supports their struggle, this time they could succeed. We’ll send our petition to United Nations Security Council members (including the dictatorship’s main backer China) and to media at the UN, while also alerting the Burmese to our support.

I just signed the petition and encourage everyone to do the same.

8 Reasons for Using Facebook for Business

Its seems like everyone is flocking to Facebook and other social networking applications these days to keep in touch with friends, make new ones and generally hangout and socialise but people are quickly realising that these applications can prove valuable as business development tools. Following a recent discussion in Facebook I thought I would share with you some of the ways people are using Facebook for business today:

  1. Networking – the obvious reason, people are using Facebook to connect and maintain relationships with existing contacts.
  2. Research – Facebook can be used as a research tool – you can easily create polls asking Facebook users a question pertinent to your offering and have them answer. This a great tool to enable market research within specific communities.
  3. Driving traffic to your website – By adding a link to your Facebook profile interested parties will click through to your website. Interestingly enough, my website gets more click thru’s from friends profiles than my own.
  4. Lead generation – Facebook can be used to establish contact with new prospects. This seems particularly popular with real estate agents.
  5. Collaboration – many companies are using Facebook as a forum to collaborate. Facebook is a great place to brainstorm with like minded professionals in decentralised locations.
  6. Advertising – some companies have set up Facebook profiles that simply advertise and promote their offering – its amazing how many friends Pepsi Platinum has.
  7. Content Distribution – I use Facebook as a forum to distribute blog content and others use it for music – video etc.
  8. Branding – folks on Facebook can add “favorites” to their profile. These “things I like” can be products or services and many companies have posted their logo or band image. Each time a person looks at these on someone profile the brand is being reinforced.

We are seeing an evolution of social networking as people begin to recognise that its applications reach beyond simple youth networking. New applications are being added regularly that enhance Facebook as a true business development tool. I envisage membership to social networks like these will burgeon as professionals and business people become aware of the possibilities and reach these offer.

To Email or To Blog?

I sometimes get asked “Now that our company blogs do we really need to be sending out e-mail newsletters?”. Sorry to those you were hoping to get off lightly but my answer is always yes. Email newsletters and blogs are both tools in a company’s arsenal to help spread the message effectively but each serves a different purpose and is aimed at reaching a different audience.

The best use of a newsletter is to keep in touch with existing contacts and clients. Newsletters are about retention rather than new opportunity. What you’re really doing when you send out a newsletter is to say: “Hi, remember us. We’re still here doing great things we want to tell you all about them, think of us next time you need…..”. The purpose of a regular newsletter is to keep your company at the forefront of the minds of clients and contacts so that they will continue to generate business and referrals.

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Highlights from An Event Apart Seattle

One of the things I love about being a web designer is that there is always more to learn, be it from other web specialists or your clients. Last week at An Event Apart Seattle Tzaddi and I had the chance to learn from some true experts. The speakers were not only masters in their fields, but engaging and generous with their knowledge.

Here are some highlights:

  • Watching Eric Meyer write CSS (you know you’re a geek when…)
  • Jeffrey Zeldman’s talk on “Writing the User Interface” confirmed my experience: the words in a web design matter much more than you might think and can really make a difference in how visitors use your site. So long as it invites clicking, it matters more what a button says than what it looks like.
  • Peaking into other designer’s processes, from beautiful sketchbooks to user research.
  • I enjoyed Jeff Veen’s succinct message which shows the benefits of doing your design research up front vs. the cost of changing your mind partway through the build. He also discussed why web design is so much more complex now than it was in the early days of the web, when everyone using the web were of the same type (geeks).
  • Shawn Henry shared insights for ensuring your site is accessible to varying abilities; from folks who read the web with braille or speech readers to limited vision users — who magnify screens to an amazing degree, but want the same site that was designed for regularly sighted users. Bottom line: there is no substitute for engaging disabled users in the design process if you want to build truly accessible sites. Her book on accessibility is free online.
  • Andy Budd shared how a delightful user experience is worth more than the sum of it’s parts in the loyalty that can create.

Links – The More the Better

Improving web positioning is a constant challenge to companies using the Internet to do business. One way to improve your standings with the search engines is to have as many sites link into yours as possible and having a regular blog is a great tool to enable this as it gives people a valuable reason to link back to your site.

The two most utilised means to facilitate linkbacks to your website or blog are trackbacks and pingbacks.

Trackbacks allow you to track sites that refer back to your site. You’ll find them listed at the end of a post next to comments. Trackbacks are very useful for users as they allow interested readers follow the thread of a blog topic through different blog articles. For a great pictorial explanation of trackbacks see Plastic Bag – its an old post but still relevant. The downside to trackbacks is that they tend to attract spam because the links aren’t authenticated.

Pingbacks also allow you to track links to your page but unlike trackbacks, these are not displayed on the blog page so users can’t click through to other posts. Instead, you receive notification within your blog engine that another site has linked in. Pingbacks are more simple to set up than trackbacks (many blog engines automatically track pingbacks) and they attract less spam because the links are verified.

There’s something very narcissistic about trackbacks – they are the ultimate way to blow your blog horn but beware the less trafficked site; trackbacks will only draw attention to your limited audience. Pingbacks on the other hand are more subtle but still achieve the ultimate objective of attracting links back to your site and what are blog search engines for other than tracking blog threads anyway? Seems with all the spam and hassle getting set up, trackbacks may be more nuisance than they’re worth.

Five Tips to Keep your Blog Content Fresh

Struggling with your next blog post? Need some motivation and ideas on how to keep your blog active and fresh. Darren from Blogged out has written a great article with valuable tips on how to get new ideas and inspiration.

His ideas will help you keep your content fresh and unique.

Blog Titles Made Simple

The title is the most important aspect of any blog post and its worth taking time to get it right. When writing a blog its always the first thing I do: this gives me time to play with it and enhance it as I am writing the piece and it allows for collaboration with other writers.

Good blog titles are key to strong search engine positioning so think about how you can effectively use the keywords you want associated with your blog in the title. Use the most appropriate keywords and don’t try to use too many. If you do this well your blog’s standings will improve.

According to CopyBlogger only 20% of people who read a blog title will read the rest of the post. One of the best ways to get people to read your blog articles is to use a compelling title. The title is always the first thing people will read when they find your post, if the title isn’t appropriate or is boring, dull or too long people won’t click through to read the full post. So keep it simple, short and to the point – the title should be a burst of information that is pertinent to the subject of the article encapsulated in seven words or less. It should grab people’s interest and make them want to read more but it shouldn’t be too blase or kitsch.

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Tag Abuse and Misuse

abuse carries with it some sense of harm;
misuse refers to an incorrect use that may not lead to harm

Selecting Tags has been described as the most important social contribution an individual can make. Bloggers are the ones who come up with these tags and these are after all just normal people. When working on blog articles, most of us don’t spend too much time thinking of our category classification. Sometimes these are just assigned as an afterthought.

The temptation for tag abuse is great. Lorelle reported a few weeks ago about a blog that used totally irrelevant tags on one of their post. If we are to believe that tag selection is the most important social contribution that we can make, then abusing tags is not helping the blog community. If I was to tag this post with the words, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, people looking for these words, would probably be dissapointed to find this article.

When setting up a WorPress blog, the category “uncategorized” is automatically created and set up as your default. Many bloggers, simply leave it there, write articles, and just publish articles as “uncategorized”. In this case the tag isn’t abused but instead, is misused.

Leaving your post in the uncategorized category is like putting your item for sale in a giant warehouse full of items just like yours. Chances that buyers will rummage through the whole wharehouse until they find your item are very slim. By assigning a relevant category to your post, you’ll be providing search engines with another keyword they can track and helping them out.

Stop the abuse and misuse of tags and help your post be found.