Jan 142010
 

The news lately has been dominated by the devastating earthquake that took place in Haiti.  It is hard to write about Web design and online marketing and all the wonderful technologies we can use to make money when our neighbors to the south are just looking to survive.  But thankfully, it is nice to know that those same tools and technologies can be used to collect money to aid in the Haitian relief efforts.

How you can help:

Check out the Fox News Web site article, Haiti Earthquake Aftermath: How to Help, for a very good list of charities providing relief. 

You can text your donations through your mobile phone and the donation will show up in your next phone bill.  You can also donate through each of the Web sites listed.  In addition to those in the article the following are also good ways to contribute:

Baptist Global Relief

Lambi Fund

WhiteHouse.gov

Beware of Scammers:

Donating through legitimate charities or your local church or synagogue is the best way.  Unfortunately, with every disaster comes a group of low life scammers trying to make a buck off the tragedy of others.  If you are contacted by someone that you are not sure is legitimate then you are probably right.  Be sure to check them out with your local Better Business Bureau or your State Attorney General.  Look out for text messages and emails from people you don’t know and trust.  Beware of new Web sites with catchy domain names.  It is possible that they are legitimate but you will need to do your homework.

Better Business Bureau Charity Investigation Page

Thanks for your help in helping others!

Dave

Dec 302009
 

This is the time of year that everyone’s calendar is full.  Between work, family and all the organizations that everyone belongs to it is hard to keep things organized.  If you aren’t familiar with Google Calendar then you should check out this great tool.  It helps you to keep and share your calendar with work, family and friends.

About Google Calendar

Google Calendar can also be integrated with your Web site.  One of my clients, Lee McCready with Kart19.com, uses Google Calendar to share his Kart Racing team schedule with his family and friends.  People can sign up to get calendar event reminders in their email.  This is a great way to promote any event that your company, club or organization is planning to have.  And this calendar is free!

Dec 222009
 

Losing control of your domain name can happen to anyone.  As was seen last night, Twitter.com, lost control of their domain name for a short while.  Someone calling themselves the “Iranian Cyber Army” managed to redirect the Twitter.com home page to a different page.   “How can I prevent this from happening to me?”, you ask.

You need to take care in not sharing your DNS (domain name server) user name and password with anyone.   The DNS setting tells the servers that make up the Internet how to translate your domain name to the IP (Internet Protocol) address of the host server for your Web site.  If someone changes these settings then your domain will display the home page of a different server and you will no longer have control of the content.

According to the Twitter.com Blog, this is exactly what happened last night.  The problem was noticed quickly and resolved within about 90 minutes.

You also need to choose a user name and password that isn’t easily guessed or discovered through trial and error.  You may not have a choice in the user name, but you can usually choose a strong password that makes guessing or using brute force methods more difficult.

Some tips for developing a strong password include using upper-case, lower-case, numbers and special characters, making long passwords and avoiding the use of easily discovered personal information or words straight out of the dictionary.  And finally, don’t store these passwords, memorize them if possible. For a more thorough list of tips please check out the US-CERTS  Web site.

Dec 092009
 

Cyber Monday, the Monday following Thanksgiving, proved to be strong despite the lackluster economy.  According to comScore, Inc., Cyber Monday 2009 had online sales of $887 Million vs. $846 Million a year earlier.  This represents a 5% increase since last year.  The number of online buyers increased 6% to 8.7 Million and similar results have been seen for entire holiday shopping season so far.

Internet retailers are drawing in buyers through convenient shopping and great deals.  According to Yahoo Search Marketing, online advertisers are beginning to master aggressive marketing campaigns that entices consumers to shop online.   Online sales promotions are largely handled through paid search advertising such as Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing and Microsoft AdCenter.  Microsoft continues its efforts to improve its search capabilities with such innovations as the Bing.com search engine.

Savvy online marketers understand that paid search (aka pay per click) advertising works.  You are in complete control of the message, keywords, bid amounts (costs) and attributes such as geographical location to help in precisely targeting your audience.  The news continues to get better for advertisers as competition is starting to heat up with the announcement that Microsoft and Yahoo are joining forces in their search and online advertising technology to take on #1 Google.  Yahoo and Microsoft, just this past week, have worked out the details of their partnership that is likely to be approved by government regulators in early 2010.

Dec 022009
 

After years of recommending to others that they should start a business blog, I finally found the time and inclination to create one of my own.  I have gone so far as creating a number of test blogs on Blogger.com and GoDaddy’s Quick Blogcast, and developing a soccer team Web site using Geeklog.  I decided to go with WordPress which I think they should rename “ImPress” because of the impressive feature set, theme choices and myriad of developers contributing to this Open Source success story.  I have helped others tweak their WordPress sites in the past but the latest version is incredibly powerful and has gotten a lot easier to use.

Dare I say it, “Static Web sites are going the way of the dinosaur”.  I have seen the writing on the wall and traditional Web design is on its way out.  Starting in 2010 I will be shifting focus completely away from static site development.  Dynamic sites are far more powerful and more interesting for me as a designer.  People will always need help setting things up, creating unique designs and developing solutions that fit a particular business.  People are far less likely to need me to type in the content of their pages and posts.  I can’t say I’ll miss that aspect of Web design since it reminds me of the old typing pools of 60′s and 70′s.  For you youngins, rent an old movie like “9 to 5″ starring Dolly Parton and you’ll get an inkling of what a typing pool is.

Getting back to why I started a blog… it just makes too much sense.  Blogs are cheap; you can host it for free or get a low cost hosting account and garner complete control.  Blogs let you express yourself and demonstrate your knowledge to your peers, clients and hopefully, future clients.  Search engines love blogs due to all the fresh content and keyword rich posts and comments.  Blogs fit together nicely with all your other online activities such as social networking, email, business Web sites, SEO, Paid Search advertising, analytics, etc.  Blogs are easy to use.

Just because it makes a lot of sense doesn’t mean I’ll be the next Matt Drudge.  That’s not my goal.  My goal is to reach out to my Web design clients, social network contacts and others in order to share what I know and in turn learn from the responses I receive.  If it helps business, great.  If not, perhaps I can learn something and improve my writing skills :-)