A very wise man once said, "Keep it simple stupid!" Or if you prefer the same four letter acronym, KISS can be said to stand for "Keep it simple sweetheart." Which ever definition of the phrase sits best with you, it doesn't really matter. My basic point here is when designing web interfaces and how they flow to accomplish a given task, you have to keep your primary end user in mind. When I was a twenty-something software engineer fresh out of college and ready to take on the world, this fact was brought to my attention in a VERY clear and unforgettable way. Here's how the story goes as I remember it.
Everybody's dream is to own a business of their own. So why then, do some small business owners resist what being "online" means and stick with the former marketing mediums of yesteryear? The answer, I believe, is lack of understanding coupled with fear, a combination that may be lethal to some businesses. Read on to understand how today's hippest small businesses are creating boom businesses by using the digital world as their storefront.
The Internet has become one huge game of follow the leader. Companies are spending huge dollars to find out all about your browsing habits. For example let's say, you are in the market for some new sneakers. In your quest for the perfect pair of shoes at the right price, you fire up your trusty Internet browser and begin the process of sniffing out your quarry and sizing it up for the kill; with free shipping too! At this moment unless you take steps to ensure the sneaker manufacturers, distributors, and retail outlets are looking over your shoulder at every dark alley you browse down. So you say, "How widespread is this?" Or, perhaps you are thinking, "I didn't even know this was happening." Now, keep in mind there is nothing even close to scientific about this data, but about two weeks ago I started conducting a survey on the websites I visit regularly (and no I won't name them.) I found there are between 6 and 12 tracking tools showing up on every site. Actually, the counts didn't surprise me at all, but the next valid question is just what kinds of tracking are they sites doing.
A couple weekends ago, the Arizona Court Reporter's Association (ACRA) invited C2C Consulting, LLC to speak at their annual state-wide convention in Prescott, Arizona. Randy went prepared to speak about the benefits of a website for those individuals in the court reporting profession, but because of a topic covered at a meeting over lunch, he ended up expounding upon the topic of websites to the value of social media and technology as a whole to their profession.
Having been born and raised in the midwest, I've done my fair share of chores around the barn, some fun, some not so much. My family raised a small herd of dairy cows when I was a kid, and as most of you from that upbringing know, some of the cows would allow themselves to be milked by machine (the preferred method), and some would not. Not wanting the milk from those "rebels" to escape the production cycle, we milked those individuals by hand. One necessary item to complete this feat was the ol' milking stool. Now to be honest with you it was a complex contraption made by nailing two boards together in the shape of a T, but that tried and true design does not do anything to further the real point of this article, so you'll see my stool has three legs. Yes; now you can say you actually know a programmer / web-developer that can milk a cow and ride a horse, just in case the internet ever goes away!
One of the most common questions we receive from our small business customers is, "Do I need a Facebook account?" As with just about everything in the technical world, the true answer is, "That depends." I do believe there are some common sense steps to follow regarding a company's desire to incorporate social media into their marketing and sales efforts.