185. Innovate

Paul Boag

On this week’s show: We talk about Google Chrome Frame, how to be an innovator, and measuring the success of your website.

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Housekeeping

Win Pitches, Charm Clients and Get Signoff

Being a great designer or developer is only half the battle. You also need to be able to promote and sell your services. Unfortunately many web designers and freelancers struggle to engage with clients.

The problem appears to be so big and I get so many questions on the subject that I have teamed up with the guys at Carsonified to run a full days workshop on the subject.

It takes place on the 23rd of October in London. If you book soon the price is £375 although if you quote the code CWPB_09 you can get an additional 15% off.

Book Your Place Now!

Shopify Design Competition

Shopify (who sponsor the show) are running a design competition to find the best designed Shopify store.

They want your help picking a winner and so are giving away either a 15″ Macbook Pro or one of 20 iPod Nanos to encourage you to participate.

All it will cost you is a quick tweet and an opportunity to look through some stunning ecommerce websites. It is an excellent source of inspiration if you are considering adding a store to your website.

To vote go to win.shopify.com.

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News

Google Chrome Frame

Google have just released Google Chrome Frame for IE in an attempt to improve Internet Explorer. But will it have a real world impact?

Read my thoughts on whether it will make a difference.

The latest issue of A List Apart is a bumper edition with three well considered posts on various aspects of search.

What makes these articles particularly interesting is that they are not about search engine placement. In fact they are not about external search engines at all. All three posts are about making better use of your internal search engine.

My personal favourite is “Internal Search Analysis.” This post focuses on the wealth of information that can be gathered by monitoring your internal search engine. By looking at what people search on, when they search and what they do once they have searched, you can learn a huge amount about your users and the effectiveness of your site.

However, the benefits do not stop there as “Beyond Goals: Site Search Analytics from the Bottom Up” demonstrates. The emphasis of this post is on how analysing internal search can dramatically alter your approach to content.

The final post is “Testing Search for Relevancy and Precision.” This focuses on the fact that site search is often not developed with the consideration and care it deserves. It provides methods for establishing the most important site queries and then checking that those queries lead to relevant content.

Together these three posts provide an excellent introduction to site search and should be required reading for anybody running a website.

How social marketing is changing business

There is a lot of BS written about the subject of Social Media. To be honest I am not a great fan of the term. However, it is changing the way we interact online and in particular it is changing the way organisations are interacting with their users and customers.

Mashable posted an article this week entitled “4 Ways Social Media is Changing Business” that really drives home this point. What is more, if this post is to be believe social media is changing business for the better.

The author identifies 4 positive changes that social media has had on business. These are:

  • A move from trying to sell to making connections
  • A shift away from large campaigns to small acts
  • An emphasis on being ourselves rather than controlling our image
  • An effort to be constantly available to users

The one that interested me the most was the “small acts”. Facebook, Twitter and other social media websites allow us all to reach massive audiences, and so the need for million dollar campaigns are increasingly a thing of the past.

At the same time users have the ability to make their experiences of interacting with you heard by a large audience quickly and easily.

This means it is the small acts of excellent customer service that matter. Get those right and you create a passionate enthusiastic following who will do your marketing for you.

Anyway, it is an inspiring read and if you are struggling to “get” social media, you might want to take a look.

Prototyping and the design process

With websites becoming increasingly complex and expensive to build, the need to prototype is paramount.

Unfortunately there are so many ways to prototype a design, from simple hand drawn sketches to entire working prototype. It is often hard to know which is the best approach.

Integrating Prototyping Into Your Design Process” is a post on Boxes and Arrows that seeks to bring clarity to the different way of prototyping a site.

The post talks in terms of fidelity. Visual Fidelity, which refers to how close the prototype looks to the final design. And functional fidelity, which is how closely the prototype reflects the way the site will work.

The post goes on to identify different types of prototyping and where they fall within this spectrum. For example design comps have a high visual fidelity but a low functional fidelity, while an interactive wireframe will have a lower visual fidelity but will be functionally better.

However, the majority of the post is taken up comparing and contrasting the benefits of different prototyping approaches and asking when these are best used.

It is a useful post because it helps you pick the right tool for the job. Even the smallest web project can have some form of prototyping and so it is applicable to everyone.

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Feature: How to become an innovator

Whether you are a website owner, web designer or web developer you need to innovate. But how do you make it happen?

Read ‘How To Become An Innovator’

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Listeners feedback:

Measuring success

This week I twittered the following little fact I found through macworld:

43 per cent of UK companies admit that they have no quantifiable method of measuring whether their website is effective.

Shortly thereafter Stelian responded with the following tweet:

How can you measure if your company’s website is effective for the business? if you don’t own an online shop.

It is a good question. Its easy to establish measurable goals when you building an ecommerce site. However it is much harder if it is an informational or service based site. Nevertheless it is not impossible.

Every website should have an objective that the owner wishes to achieve. It might be to communicate an idea, rally support or generate leads. Whatever the case these objectives need to be converted into calls to action. What is it you want users to do?

These calls to action will vary depending on the type of site. However, typically they include things like:

  • Picking up the phone
  • Completing a contact us form
  • Signing a petition
  • Subscribing to a newsletter
  • Watching a product demo

The list could go on. What is interesting is that almost all calls to action are measurable. If a user completes a contact form, that is trackable. If a user watches a product demo, that is trackable.

The hardest calls to actions to track are those that leave the website. Typically these are phone enquiries or going to a physical location. However, even these are trackable with some careful planning. Discount codes or free gifts are a great way of getting users to identify they came from the website. For example:

Print this voucher and take it to one of our stores for a free t-shirt.

The phone is even easier. In this case you can have a unique number that is only found on the website. If the user calls that number, you can be sure they came from the website.

The point is every website should have measurements by which its success can be judged. Without these success criteria it will be largely directionless and will certainly struggle to justify further investment.

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