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Month: November 2010

The Most Important Parts Of An eCommerce Website

Photography It’s shocking to me how hard it is to get merchants to actually spend money on photography, when the only thing that will allow a potential customer to trust you enough to purchase a product sight unseen is a picture! Think about it: would a customer buy something off your website without a photo of the product? Nope. Spend the money. Get some photos taken that show every grain, nick and scratch on the products you’re selling. It shows that you’re honest and instills trust in your potential buyers. Copywriting Right after that photo, what’s the next step? You have to explain the dimensions, features and benefits of your product in a way that is convincing. It’s one of my biggest frustrations, when I’m a customer online, to be viewing beautiful photographs of a product I feel may be worth buying, only to find that some of my most important questions aren’t answered. Is this device compatible with my computer? Is it going to fit my car? If I buy it and it’s the wrong model, can I return it? Are you going to charge me a restocking fee? Whatever my questions are, I need all of them answered before I actually buy it. Otherwise, I’ll go to another website that answers all my questions. Copywriting is often thought of as taking boring copy and making it flow and...

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Google Wave – The Email Killer (Not)

I’ve found the recent commentary on Google’s decision to shut down Google Wave rather entertaining, and sometimes annoying. For several reasons. Here are a few:   I wasn’t impressed with Wave in the first place. I watched the big overblown video announcement at Google I/O, and I was excited at the time, but amidst all the hype and chatter about how “exciting” it was, I couldn’t figure out what the heck it was. What is Wave? What does it do? Why should people care? None of these questions were answered sufficiently in that initial release, or soon enough afterwards....

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Video: Interview With 37signals’ Jason Fried

I like studying. I like listening to audiobooks, reading books and watching interviews. I especially like getting the input of a select few brilliant minds in the tech world who actually make sense to me. There are very few “dot com” companies that make sense—and I think the term “dot com” is thrown around carelessly as an excuse for poor business practices. (And that’s coming from me—whose company name ends in “dot com”!) 37signals is one of the very few businesses I’ve seen that does it the right way. Their two main players, Jason Fried and David Henemeier Hansson, are both brilliant. (It’s actually a secret goal of mine to work at 37signals someday in the future). I like them for several reasons, not the least of which is that I use their software and really like it. There are a lot of interviews with Jason Fried out there, but this one I found is excellent. It’s about half an hour, clear, and to the point. (And on a less important note, this is some of the best videography I’ve ever seen for an online interview.) This interview is great because Jason talks about the core values of 37signals, things like hiring, bootstrapping your startup, marketing, cloud computing, and their take on the “free” model. And his business sense is keen: as a former hiring manager myself, I’m pleasantly...

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Looking Back: One Year As A Business Owner

It’s been just over a full year since I took my web design company full-time. As I was driving home from a customer’s office tonight, I had a few thoughts about past year and think about the things I’ve learned. Here’s a short list of a few particular ideas I think are worth sharing. If you’re going to college, get your degree in whatever you want When I was in my teens, I had no idea what I wanted to do professionally. All I knew was that I didn’t want to work outdoors. Aside from that, I had no career track in mind. Would I go into Medicine? Business? Education? Who knew. Secretly, my passion was music. But even as a young teen, I figured that I couldn’t get my passions wrapped up in my professional track. To me, passions were hobbies and things you do “after hours.” So I figured I would do something sensible and get a business degree. You know what I’ve found though? Most small business owners I know either don’t have a degree at all, or have one that’s completely unrelated to their business. My old boss builds custom homes, and he has a bachelor’s degree in Geography. Has that ever helped him in business? Never. My old manager oversaw that same construction company, with a degree in biology. My Realtor has a degree...

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Does Anybody Use Tag Clouds?

Recently I’ve really been trying to view websites through the eyes of users, and not as a web designer. As much as possible, I always try to ask myself “would users find this helpful?” Sometimes I see trends that are very helpful to users (example: phone numbers front and center on the homepage) and sometimes I notice things that were probably designed to help users but only serve to impress fellow web designers and other techies. But if you’re building a website, it’s your responsibility to do what’s in the best interest of your client‚ and what’s in their best interest isn’t always the coolest or most advanced features. Sometimes it’s just making things simple to use. Tag clouds have been on my mind recently, and I had never really noticed them that much until last week. I visited a website that had, on the right hand of the page, the most unappealing tag cloud I’ve ever seen. That got me to wondering… does anybody even use tag clouds? Here’s my answer: yes. Web designers and bloggers do. That’s it. But that’s the wrong question. The real question should be: do users ever click on tag clouds? Nope. Users don’t like tag clouds. Why would they? They’re obnoxious, hard to read, and far more confusing than they are helpful… which is bizarre, because the idea is that they’re intended...

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