EJM Designs Limited Blog

Friday, February 27, 2009

Jaguar Grooming in Cincinnati, Ohio

This is not so much a clever and humorous blog post about jaguar grooming in Cincinnati, Ohio, as it is an experiment and an example to all those who have this one specific question about Search Engine Optimization: How do I pin down my niche?

Say, for example, one of your niche specializations was the grooming of jaguars - whether wild jaguars or the (?) domesticated jaguar - and you wanted to focus on gaining clients locally in Cincinnati, Ohio. Does OH have a lot of jaguars? I know not, but I'd start by putting together a slick, kickin' ad with the proper name and alt tag:

Jaguar Grooming Cincinnati Ohio
Jaguar Grooming in Cincinnati, Ohio is HOT!

Now, with my sweet ad - sans real contact info should one find this image not on this blog but on Google Image Search and want to have their jaguar groomed - and my informational blog post about how to get your jaguar grooming business up and running in Cincinnati, Oh (with requisite keyphrase density, variations, and misspellings), you now have a veritable trampoline with which to bounce your niche business into the lead on a Search Engine Results Page.

Just please be careful when grooming jaguars: they bite.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Stop Looking at My Internets!

I've got this gig filling out surveys that earns me a $25 GameStop gift card every couple months and whilst earning a nickel or two towards that goal today, I came across this question:
On the average, how often do you look at or use the Internet in a typical month?
This, of course, gets one thinking.

The internet, by its very nature, cannot be seen. It cannot be touched. Hell, to be real about it, myself and other designers and developers deal daily in an unmanifest impermanence that could be completely wiped from the face of the Earth with a couple well-placed EMPs.

You need an intermediary tool - like a computer with a browser - in order to interact or "use" the internet. But you do not "look at" the internet. It can "look at" you through your webcam, but that only becomes an issue when the internet becomes sentient and then, well, SkyNet and all that. Now that I think about that I probably shouldn't have purchased a laptop with a built-in webcam.

So what did the person who put the survey together really mean by that? Granted, the response "Jacked in 8+ hours per day" was not an option, so I had to go with the toned-down "5 or more times per day." But if we're counting "look at," do we count when I glance at the computer screen as I walk by with my Hot Pocket to let my dog, Gracie out? If I hear TweetDeck "blllruug!" at me and glance up from the other room, is that considered "looking at" the internet?

Realistically, I don't care. It was a silly survey and I'm guessing an English language barrier is to blame. Even the Southern usage of "look at" meaning "watch" ("We were looking at a video") doesn't fit. But there is a point to all this speculation and rambling:

Communicate clearly!

Granted, if you are conducting surveys of your customers, you should not be doing that yourself, but in all your communications whether through email or on the phone or in person, your best reception is only as good as your worst grammar. Be clear and deliberate in your communications, and - perhaps most importantly - make yourself available for any questions, comments, or clarity.

Do it right the first time and if you flub it be accountable. That goes for many aspects of business, but communications especially.

And always remember that there is nothing to fear but fear itself, velociraptors, zombies, and, of course, SkyNet.

Watch them watching you looking at the internet.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Marian Call Accepted Your LinkedIn Request...

Marian Call is a brilliant artist out of Alaska. Yes, Alaska. And one of the last... okay, the only album I purchased in the last two years.

Yes. That good.

Because of my social marketing panache, I connected to her on LinkedIn. Of course, that's not where you'll get to experience the love.

Marian Call's MySpace

Listen. Taste. Love.

She's a geek just like all of us.

Now if we can just get her all the way to Cincinnati....

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bad Design: Put Down the Mouse and Step Away from the Computer

(please note: this post will be devoid of specific examples because, while appealing and satisfying, that's just completely unprofessional. I also realize that this post will not solve the problem.)

I am appalled every single day by the amount of awful websites that are out there. I understand that sometimes it's easier to hand it over to Nephew Jimmy who just took a web class and afford yourself a little peace of mind: "Eh, we've got a site. S'good."

That is not good enough. Not anymore.

What makes me sad is the instances where there are companies or individuals out there that are convincing other companies to buy horribly-produced sites. What makes me sadder is that those businesses buying are only a step beyond the Nephew Jimmy solution and don't know any better - or won't entertain a realistic pricing model - and will hand over a couple hundred dollars to a mediocre pixel-slinger.

That is not good enough. Not anymore.

85% of American adults have regular access to the internet. The Yellow Pages are all but defunct. Especially since the internet can now deliver a stylish, representative page that gives users an experience on par with visiting your store.

It can.

What if you were to travel to a store that sold widgets - because, hey, who doesn't need widgets? - and you walked up to the store, but you weren't sure you were in the right place? First off, even though Google Maps said it was there, it took you a while to find its exact location. And once you did, you weren't even sure it was a store: Bright green spraypainted plywood made up the walls, you couldn't really see through the windows, and - wait - Is the roof made of styrofoam? Or feta?

Assuming you were completely mad or morbidly curious, say you actually entered the store after fumbling around the building to find the door. You may be there for widgets, but when you enter you immediately notice that the chairs and couches are stuck to the walls, the cashier has melded with the front desk, and a bear is relieving itself in the middle of the store.

Unless that store is selling batshit crazy, I'm leaving.

Of course the example is humorous, but it's not okay for a brick and mortar store to be a complete visual and functional disaster. And because a website is your potential client or customer's probable first touchpoint with your business, why would it be okay if your website is not in the absolutely best shape possible?

Unless your goal is to drive people away and make less money, it is not.