Putting Technology on the Map

TechcouverBack in the summer, we were asked by Rob at Techvibes to come up with a mini website with a Map of the Web 2.0 companies of Vancouver, aptly named Techcouver. Darren drew up the map mimicking the Transit Map and we went ahead and created this mini website over the course of a weekend. It was very well received, but hardly “Web 2.0” material. The site consisted of a static image which was impossible to alter.

Following a meeting with Cameron, we discussed the idea of creating a map to which companies could be added easily. Cameron worked on a flash version of the site and came with with version 2.0 of the map. Although much improved, the map did have limitations and grew crowded very fast.

Techvibes has also been growing rapidly these past few months and in an effort to cover more cities and different technology, we knew that a better solution was needed. The idea of using Google maps had been mentioned from the very beginning but we never had the time to implement it – until now.

This week we launched version 3.0 of our map. The title “Techcouver” has been dropped and we’ve added different technologies. Techvibes goal is to provide visitors with the perfect tool for locating technology service providers across Canada and eventually the US.

If you’d like your company added to the map, fill out the request form and we’ll get you on there. If you have any feedback on the process, please report back and we’ll continue to make improvements.

Web Directions North is a Wrap

There are many reasons why one should attend conferences. It’s a great way to meet new people, share ideas, learn from your peers and see what everyone else is doing. But more importantly, for me, the main reason is to convince myself that I’m not alone. Others have had the exact same problem and may have a solution that they can share. This year’s Web Direction North conference did just that.

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What is Branding?

Before answering this question we need to establish what branding is not.
Branding is NOT a logo and it is certainly NOT marketing.

Successful branding is a combination of an authentic promise with a clear, aligned and consistent delivery. Why it is needed is because the promise and delivery are what build trust in your company and increase customer loyalty.

A great brand is earned.
Building a great brand takes time and needs constant attention. What you promise and deliver directly affects your customer’s experience. From the feeling generated by a brochure to a conversation with a customer service rep, each and every encounter a customer has with your brand needs to be considered, evaluated and aligned with who you are as a company and where your company stands in the market.

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How is your website built?

I recently had a discussion with Mhairi about a possible project. Mhairi had a client who wished to add a blog to her site and she asked if I could provide her with a quote. Unfortunately, the website was built with ColdFusion and thus I told her that I wouldn’t be able to work on it because I’m simply not familiar with that tool. Mhairi was a bit confused at first and unsure why the code should matter.

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Web Marketing is about Serving Searchers

If you’ve read our blog for a while you might have noticed we often quote Gerry McGovern. His article Honest Marketing Works on the Web contains not only a good rant about the frustrations of airline ticket pricing, but some words of wisdom as well:

The Web shifts the balance of power away from the organization and towards the customer. It is the customer who searches. It is the customer who compares. It is the customer who evaluates. It is the customer who is highly impatient, with their finger always on the Back button.

Web marketing is not about finding fools. It is rather about serving searchers. We go to the Web because we have a question and we want an answer. Please answer the question, Mr. Marketer.

The importance of the text on your website cannot be overstated. You might be tempted to focus on how pretty or cool-looking it is. But if your text isn’t doing it’s job, there’s less of a chance that people will find the site in the first place or stick around once they get there. Here are some of the things we recommend to make the most of your site’s content:

  • Ensure the important text is visible to search engines in the way the site is built. Your site should be built with current web standards and including text alternatives to any images or flash that contain important text.
  • Avoid linking to PDF or Word documents, which the search engines can’t scan as well as a web page (if at all).
  • Consider using the services of a professional writer who’s experienced with writing for the web and search engine optimization of content.
  • Aim for a design that supports the text rather than undermining it. Part of that is making it easy-to-use: clear navigation, standard scrollbars, allowing the text to be resized without breaking the design, etc.

Let the music inspire you

Back in the old days of vinyl and 45s, people used to look at record albums for inspiration. CD covers just don’t seem to be as exciting, but the music industry as always been at the forefront of design. The folks at Tutorial Blog have put together a list of 30 music websites which are just beautiful to look at. If this is the look your after, you’re bound to find inspiration here.

Whooray Records

Don’t think that what you are seeing is what everyone else is seeing

One of the most difficult things about building websites is getting it to look the same on all browsers. This task can be very challenging and frustrating. Before trying to achieve the impossible and making your website look great on every browser, you may want to look at your audience and your stats. Looking at stats is a great way to narrow down your list of browsers that you should support. If you haven’t done it already take a look at Google Analytics or Mint and start collecting statistics.

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Finally the perfect web design showcase!

When designing websites there are always a few components that are more difficult to design. Navigation, icons, call to action items, forms and headlines come to mind. When setting up blogs, headlines, comment forms and the entry metadata is often just straight from the design template. Looking at different websites and blogs is a great way to be inspired but finding the right site takes a lot of time and effort. After reading Smashing Magazine article today, I came across Elements of Design, the alternative web design showcase. This wonderful resource is the design showcase of Christian Watson. Instead of displaying great looking websites, he provides us with snippets such as great icons, headlines, pull quotes, calendars, search boxes and even code display. I’m bookmarking this site right now and subscribing to their RSS feed!

Creating Newsletters Just Got Easier

Thanks to the folks at FreshView who brought us Campaign Monitor and MailBuild, you can now download ready to use email newsletter templates which have been tested on all major email clients, including Outlook 2007. These are a great starting point for your next newsletter.

Here is where you can find out more about the Campaign Monitor templates and the MailBuild templates.