Aug 252015

It is amazing to discover the number of companies that are still using the old waterfall method of software/Web development.  They follow the traditional software development life cycle starting with intense planning and analysis to develop the perfect set of requirements followed by an exacting estimation of all the tasks, costs and precision timelines.  This can take 2 – 3 months or even 6 months or more on large projects.

The team has dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s and now development can begin.  If you are lucky you have some amazing technical leads and developers available to translate all the requirements into a detailed design specification followed by months of programming.  If you are again lucky, the business folks will leave them alone, but it is quite common that they forgot something and will ask how much it would cost to add this or that new feature.  Each major new feature might add another month to the schedule.

If the developers don’t have to shift gears midstream then they might get done in the next 4 – 6 months. Next, enter the software testers, and they begin testing the basic functionality.  They notice that the software doesn’t match up with the requirements too well and there are lots of little bugs.  The developers are informed of the problems and they begin making their changes.

The business folks are starting to get nervous as this is really taking a long time and they haven’t seen the software yet.   The business manager and development manager discuss setting up a demo.  The development manager pulls his team together  to fire up the troops.  The technical lead and developers agree to pull off a small miracle and have a complete demo of the new software in two weeks.  The business team gets wind of the demo and wants to invite more people.  The developers are in luck as some key business people can’t make the demo meeting and the meeting is pushed out another week.

Now, time for the demo, and the whole gang is there… developers, testers, business users, plus the business and development managers.  A bright young developer has drawn the short straw and he proceeds to give the demonstration.  Can you guess what happens now?  The business team asks lots of questions and it becomes abundantly clear that this is not what they envisioned.  The feature they really wanted is not ready yet.  The interface is confusing and the meeting concludes with a plan to meet again in order to update the requirements.

There is a better way.  Software companies have discovered a way to short-circuit this long train wreck called the waterfall method.  It is called Agile development.  Agile is a much different way of doing business in which the development is broken up into small cycles called sprints.

Agile is made up of a self-directed team consisting of a product owner, team leader and multi-disciplinary team members  with skills in software development.  The product owner creates a prioritized wish list called a product backlog.  The team evaluates each item on the list in relative term and then commits to complete a set of those items from the top of the list during a sprint (usually 2 – 4 weeks).  The team commits to fully develop, test and deploy a working piece of software during that time-frame.

The sprint produces business value in the form of working software that incrementally moves the product forward.  Through a series of sprints the team will be able to evaluate how well the functionality suits the business needs.  During each sprint, the scope and time period remains constant but the design, development and testing can vary in order to complete the sprint backlog of features according to the wishes of the team. Design and development issues can be addressed at any time. The product backlog can also be adjusted between sprints and in turn adjust to the changing needs of the business and market.  This results in software of higher quality and more closely aligned with the end user’s needs.

The bottom line is that through Agile development you develop working usable software much more quickly than with Waterfall.  Agile methodology also delivers a product often much more close to the needs of the business or a rapidly changing market.  Agile can often times save development costs as well.  The natural iterative nature of this methodology tends to rank order the most important features first.  Business users are often quite satisfied to stop development once they have the most important features completed.  In this way Agile development can save money by only building applications that are “good enough” and in production now rather than a year from now.

The Agile Alliance

The Agile Alliance

Silicon Valley has already recognized the advantages of Agile development.  It is high time that businesses everywhere recognize this superior methodology.  Business leaders need to recognize the new paradigm that Agile development provides by adapting to a more flexible way of creating software systems.  To remain competitive, businesses should raise the bar by adopting an Agile methodology.  There are a number of Agile methodologies, each of which, can be tailored to each business and corporate culture.  But be prepared to change your way of doing business as well… the results will be well worth it.  For more information, visit the Agile Alliance at .

May 142012

iStockphoto is one of my favorite sites for finding just the right image for a new Web page or Blog.  I have used iStockphoto for my clients as well as my own Web site.  iStockphoto has millions of images that can be purchased at a very reasonable price.  Their easy to use search feature makes the task of finding just the right photo simple and painless.

Now, iStockphoto ( is making it even easier to find and use the right photo.  They have just introduced the iStock Adobe Plug-in.  This plug-in works with Adobe Creative Suite 5 or higher.  Now you can browse, download and edit images directly from Adobe Photoshop®, InDesign® and Illustrator®.  To get the full functionality from this convenient plug-in you will need to setup a free account at iStockphoto.

You can find out more about the plug-in file and instructions on how to install it here.  This plug-in is sure to be a great time saver for those of us using Adobe Creative Suite.  And best of all, it’s free!

May 032012

The financial news networks are abuzz with the news that Scott Thompson, Yahoo’s CEO may have lied on his resume.  The story goes (Source: Jay Yarow on Business Insider) that Scott Thompson overstated his credentials by saying he had a Computer Science degree.  Apparently Mr. Thompson said that he double-majored in Accounting and Computer Science but only has an Accounting degree.  Dan Loeb, a hedge fund manager and founder of Third Point LLC, discovered this discrepancy and wrote a letter to Yahoo’s Board of Directors thus blowing the whistle.

If this is true, this would result in a great deal of turmoil at Yahoo.  Executive credentials are included in a wide variety of documents collected by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and could lead to legal issues.  Plus, this would be just plain wrong.  People look to their leaders for honesty and integrity. Being fast and loose with your credentials (something easily checked) also shows a great lack of judgment.

I only hope that this isn’t true.  If it is true then we may see a new CEO in Yahoo’s future.  The lesson here is to always be honest in your business dealings and you won’t have to worry about such matters and let down the people who have given you their trust.

Apr 092012

Pinterest ( is one of the fastest growing Social Media sites.  According to comScore (article here), ranked in the Top 10 fastest growing Web properties and surpassed 10 million unique visitors in January. This growth is amazing considering it is still in beta release.  This means you’ll need a friend to invite you to join in the fun or request an invitation from Pinterest on their site.

Pinterest Logo

Fun?  Yes, you’ll have fun creating a visual pinboard with photos and videos of things that interest you. You can add the Pinterest “Pin it” button to your browser and use it to select images and videos from any Web site.  The site allows you to upload media directly as well.  Once uploaded you’ll need to place the images and videos into a pinboard organized by the subject of your choosing.  Of note, there is no nudity allowed on Pinterest so this should be a family friendly site.

As mentioned, to sign up and post your own pinboards you will need to get an invitation.  You can set it up to login using a Twitter or Facebook account.  Friends can follow all of your pinboards or just one of them.  They can also re-pin one of your images or videos to add it to their pinboards.  Users can also “like” your photos and provide comments as well.  By following you will be notified of new images.  By liking images the “pinner” will be notified that you like their image.

Pinterest provides tools to help promote your pinboards.  You can add a button to your Web site so that others can pin your images or simply follow you on Pinterest.  Pinterest works on all major Web browsers and there is a Pinterest iPhone app.  Other mobile devices can access Pinterest through their mobile URL: (

To learn more about Pinterest I would suggest starting here.  The jury is still out on how this site could be used for business. If your target market is starting to use Pinterest then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a business presence there to display your products or samples of your work.  The creative ways in which this new site can be used to share your interests seems to be endless.


Mar 162012

The only thing not so great about the new iPad is the name.  For a creative company like Apple to miss with the name is a bit puzzling.  Be that as it may, this a truly wonderful device.  The crowds lining up at Apple stores today must agree.

New iPad

Image via Apple

Well, what do you get with the “New iPad”?  Here is a quick summary of the new features:

  1. Retina Display (2048 x 1536 pixels, 44% increase in color saturation) – This display is so high resolution that your eye won’t be able to detect the individual pixels… stunning.
  2. Eye sight camera (5 MP with autofocus/white balance, 5 lenses, face detection) – A nice camera but nothing close to a digital SLR, still not bad.
  3. HD Video (1080P) recording capability with image stabilization – Fantastic in such a small device that does so much more than a camera.
  4. 4G LTE network capability for super-fast downloads – Great for the ability to download movies and watch streaming media as long as your carrier does not throttle your bandwidth.
  5. Voice dictation – Just like on the latest iPhone.

The new iPad will start at $499 which is the same price the iPad 2 was selling for.  Below is a summary of their pricing.  You do need to beware that you will pay a premium price to get the full 4G LTE capability.  Apple has dropped the starting price of their iPad 2 down to $399 and intends to keep it in their product line for price sensitive consumers and educators.

Pricing with network / memory configuration:

New iPad with 3G Network
($499 – 16GB, $599 – 32GB, $699 – 64GB)
New iPad with 4G Network
($629 – 16GB, $729 – 32GB, $829 – 64GB)

In case you were wondering, the battery life is going to be about the same for the new iPad.  You are going to get 10 hours of battery life from the 3G version and 9 hours from the 4G LTE version.  Also, Apple has released upgraded versions of their iLife applications including Garage Band, iMovie and iPhoto). Many other vendors are releasing upgraded versions of their applications to take advantage of the new capabilities.  Apple says that all your old iPad apps will work just fine (backward compatibility is very nice) except have a greatly improved display.  Some hard core Apple enthusiasts may be a little underwhelmed by the new features but Apple and the late Steve Jobs always set such high expectations.  I believe most people will fall in love with the new iPad.


Mar 072011

Facebook Account SettingsBecome the Page

Facebook recently released new design and feature changes for Pages.  If you already have Business Page(s) on Facebook then this may impact you.  This will certainly impact those of you considering developing a Business Page.   For the past month, Business Page owners have had the ability to login as their Page.  So this means you will be able to Like and make comments as the Page throughout Facebook.  Page administrators will be able to switch back and forth between their identity as the Page or with their own personal profile.  Facebook has indicated that this should make for better overall communications.  Assuming you have already setup your new Page on Facebook, you can access this new feature under the Account drop-down box.  Choose “Use Facebook as Page” and then select the Page for which you have administration rights by clicking the “Switch” button.  You easily switch back under Account settings as well.

More Images

Businesses will be able to display featured images at the top of their Page in the center column.  You will also notice graphic images of the Pages you like displayed down the left column along with images of you Page administrators on the right column.  The images of people or other Pages that Like your Page are also displayed on the right column.  Speaking of columns, the new format now emphasizes columns along with vertical menus that have replaced the horizontal tab menus.

Sorting Changes

Facebook has added a new feature for sorting your Page’s Wall information.  There are two options:  1) Top Posts; and 2) Most Recent.   Facebook attempts to put the most popular posts at the top when “Top Posts” is selected.  “Most Recent”, as expected, just puts the posts in chronological order.

Preview Time is Running Out

If you have not made any changes to your Facebook Page then it should still be displayed with the old format.  You can preview the new format when you go to your Page by clicking a Preview button.  You also have the option of upgrading.  Upgrading will no longer be an option on March 10, 2011.    At that time all Pages will automatically be upgraded.

I would strongly suggest previewing your Page and then making updates as desired.  For instance, you will probably want to take advantage of the images displayed over the center column.  You will just need to create one or more photo albums and experiment with what looks good.

FBML Changes

Facebook Markup Language (FBML) allows Page administrators to create custom Page tabs.  According to Simon Cross, Facebook’s  Platform Partner Engineer in Europe, FBML will be replaced by iframes on a Canvas tab.  He indicates that Page owners/administrators will be given about a month to make the transition from FBML to iframes sometime in Q1 2011.  Existing FBML pages will still work but you won’t be able to create anything new without using iframes.  Business owners will need to talk with their Web/Facebook developer to see what impact this may have on any future changes you had in mind for your Page on Facebook.

Shameless plug… If you don’t yet have a Facebook Page for your business then please give me a call.  If you are curious as to what a Facebook Business Page looks like then please check out our page here:

Jan 302011

Looking for a quick way to boost the traffic to your business Web site?

Increase your Web Traffic

Increase your Web Traffic

It may have been a while since you added your business to Google Places.  Google Places is where you can manage your business listing displayed on Google Maps.  Perhaps you didn’t even know you could get a free ad listing for your business on Google Maps.

Well, if you build it, they will come.  People love Google Maps for getting directions and finding places of interest.  For instance, if you are looking for a Web Designer in Lebanon, Ohio (shameless plug coming) then you can go to and type in “Web Designer near Lebanon, Ohio” and find our listing (ranked 2nd as of this blog post).

Here is what you get with your free listing:

  • Basic information including business name, address, phone number, email & Web address
  • 200 character description and up to 5 business categories
  • Service areas served
  • Hours of operation and payment options
  • Up to 10 photos and up to 5 videos
  • Any additional details you want to include such as discounts and free estimates

Once created you will have a nice display on Google Maps.

Web Street USA on Google Maps

Here’s how to get your ad:

  1. Go to Google Places (
  2. Create a Google Account if you haven’t done it already.
  3. Login to your Google Account.
  4. Click the “List your business” button.
  5. Select Country and Phone number then click the “Find business information” button.
  6. If your business is found then you can click the “Edit” button.
  7. If your entering a new business then click the “Add a new listing” button.
  8. Enter your basic business information such as Company name, address, email and Web address.
  9. Be sure to add a good description of your business using lots of keywords that people might use to find you.
  10. Select a business category.  Do this by starting to type into the category field and Google will make suggestions for you that can be selected.  You don’t have to use the ones they suggest.
  11. Enter additional business categories.  You get up to 5 categories so I would suggest using all of them as these categories can contain keywords that will help draw traffic.
  12. Next enter the service areas and locations if this is applicable to your type of business.
  13. Enter the hours of operation (this is optional).
  14. Select payment options.
  15. Add some photos of your business.  The first photo will be used on your map listing (see sample to right).  Up to 10 photos are available so you use this to show just about anything related to your business.
  16. You can also add videos to be displayed with your listing.  If you have videos you would like to use then make sure you upload them to YouTube and then enter in the complete Web address for that particular video.  Use the YouTube link here ( to find out more information about this free video service.
  17. Next enter any additional details about your business.  This is where you can enter a detail category followed by the associated details.  For instance, on my listing, I display how long I have been in business, veteran discounts and free estimates.

For future editing be sure to log into your Google account.  From most Google pages you will be able to click on the “Settings” link and go to the Google account settings.  Go to Google Places to see and edit your ad plus see how many people viewed your ad and clicked on the listing.  This is all great stuff and it really is free.  It shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes to setup a basic business listing.  I hope you found this information useful!

Sep 082010

SearchToday, Google announced the implementation of their new search enhancement called “Google Instant”. Google Instant shows results as you are typing and tries to predict the keywords as you type.  Type a single letter and you will get a drop-down box that changes as you enter more letters.  If you were online yesterday and noticed Google’s logo made up of moving balls you might have wondered what was up.  They would only say that it would be a good week.  Now we know why.

The predictive nature of this search feature works very quickly.  Type in one single letter and you get a list of keywords and phrases in a drop-down box below the cursor starting with that letter.  It is supposed to be tied to the user’s search habits but I haven’t noticed a difference whether I am logged in or not.  Perhaps the search preferences are tied to a cookie on my machine that does not matter whether you are logged in.  More research will be needed to see if that is true.

I did notice that the search results appear to be tied somewhat to your location.  Here are the single letter suggestions that I discovered for the alphabet.  A = “Amazon”,  B = “Best Buy” and so on… Craigslist; Duke Energy; Ebay; Facebook; Gmail; Hotmail; Ikea; Jungle Jims; Kings Island; Lowes; Mapquest; Netflix; Ohio BMV; Pandora; Quotes; Reds; Sears; Target; USPS; Verizon Wireless; Weather; Xavier University; Youtube;  Zoomtown.  You may be able to tell that I live near Cincinnati as some of the these suggestions are not national search terms.  Jungle Jim’s is a very unique local supermarket and Kings Island is our local amusement park (great coasters, by the way).

Google Instant isn’t available everywhere just yet.  Google is starting its roll-out to users on Google domains in the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Russia who use the following browsers: Chrome v5/6, Firefox v3, Safari v5 for Mac and Internet Explorer v8. Users on domains other than can only access Google Instant if they are signed in to a Google Account. Google will add new domains and languages over the next several months.

The benefit to Internet searchers will be that the people who hunt and peck as they type will be able to skip a lot of typing and click the phrase they want.  Google believes this will raise the bar by providing searches more quickly.  I believe the real benefit will come when Google Instant is available on a mobile platform where typing can be unbelievably slow and predictive search terms would be a tremendous benefit.

For Google AdWords customers, your ads will be displayed when a user stops typing for 3 seconds, the user clicks the search button or by simply moving the mouse onto the page outside the search form.  This may lead to an increase in the number of impressions you receive for your ads.  It is hard to predict what this new way of searching will do to the popularity of certain keywords.  I think Amazon and Best Buy should be pretty happy judging from my test run above.  It will be interesting to see the impact of this change as marketers begin to study the impact of this innovative new search feature.

Jan 262010

Headlines are Critical 

Headlines are critical to the effectiveness of your Web site, especially on your home page. 

The headline is like an ad for the words that will follow.   It is important to the reader (human) and to the search engines (computer).

It needs to stress benefits and help answer the key question, WIIFM? 
(What’s in it for me?)

The You-Focused Opener

An opening headline like “Welcome to XYZ” isn’t going to cut it.  The home page must focus on the visitor and why they might benefit from your Web site.  The home page should emphasize the top benefit and motivate them to read on and take an action.  You must never forget that a Web site is there to please your visitors.  Put yourself in their shoes.

Strong Motivation is Needed – Pain or Gain!

The headline should introduce a cure for the target audience’s pain or fear of loss.

Or, the headline can hit on your most important benefit and how your target audience can gain by reading further.

Targetted Headlines are Best

The headline should be very important to your target visitor.  The more targeted the better.  And it needs to be a short, sharp and benefit-laden punch line.

What Professional Copywriters Say… 


  1. Write several headlines before choosing your perfect one.
  2. Address the needs of your target audience and dramatize the benefits.
  3. Stir emotion by getting the reader excited, fearful or protective.
  4. Use the present tense or better yet, the imperative tense. The use of “you” often works well.
  5. Use strong and essential action verbs.
  6. Use short words that create an image in the mind of the reader.
  7. Eliminate most adverbs and adjectives.
  8. Write headlines that stand on their own.
  9.  Write headlines that foreshadow the message that follows it.


  1. Don’t write about you… write about them.
  2. Don’t write headlines that create curiosity without stressing benefits.
  3. Don’t be “catchy” or “cute” unless your target audience appreciates that type of headline.
  4. Don’t worry about losing visitors that aren’t in your target audience.  That is to be expected.
  5. Don’t use jargon unless you are certain that everyone in target audience will understand it.

 Other Suggestions:

  1. Use words and phrases that evoke emotion…
              You, Now, At Last, Free, Finally, Profit, New, Secret,Ultimate, Fantastic,
              Guarantee, Today, First, Amazing, Discover, Yes, Best, Instant, Powerful
  2. Ask a question.
  3. Make your promises credible.
  4. Put your headline in quotes for extra credibility.
  5. Challenge the reader. (ex. “Only for Businesses Who Want to Increase Profits”)
  6. Test your headlines to see which one works best with your target audience.
  7. Test some more. 
    (Check back soon for an article on Web analytics).