Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Ethics in the Web Industry

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Last Friday, I had the honour to speak at Western Australia’s premier web conference, Edge of the Web.

My talk, titled ‘Services, SItes & Snakeoil’ was a 45 minute run down on the state of the web industry, examples of possibly unsavory behavior amongst the industry, and suggested actions to put into place to encourage better ethical decisions in the future.

I also handed out paper, and requested people jot down some of their own thoughts, which I’ll be sharing here in the near future. Right near the end of the talk, I dropped mention of the wiki environment that a bunch of us have started, in order to work through the concept of a ‘Code of Conduct’ or some-such. I’d love to see you join us there, at www.webindustrycode.org

Please enjoy the presentation above, and if you like it, share it with your colleagues. Thanks to Matt Didcoe, Ashul Shah, Helen Burgess and the tram at Partner and Prosper for the great conference – it really was a fantastic event.

Feedback on my talk, or the slides above? Hit me up in the comments.

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Control that Inbox!

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Sun Pictures, Broome

Does it feel like email is controlling your life? Find yourself checking your email every 10 minutes during your waking hours? We all lead busy lives, and with increased pressure on productivity, we’re all looking at ways to save time. If you’re like me, you probably receive more than your fair share of email — I receive more than 100 emails a day on average — so how do you cope with increasing email loads?

I have a simple system that has worked for some time, and I’d like to share it. Basically, I tend to use my inbox as an email task list, with the majority of my day-to-day activities found here. I check my email every hour or so, depending on my schedule. I read new emails, then sort through older ones that still remain in my inbox.

“The five Ds” is what I call my approach. As I traverse my inbox, I complete one of five actions with every email:

Do
If the email requires a response or an action, and it will take me less than a minute or two, I’ll do it straight away. Otherwise, I leave it in the inbox for a second perusal.

Delegate
Many of the emails I receive are related to tasks that my business is undertaking. If the email can be handled by a team member closer to the project or topic at hand, I’ll delegate the response to that person.

Defer
If the action or response is going to take longer than the time I have right now, I’ll defer processing it and leave it in my inbox for later. Typically I set aside at least 20-30 minutes per day for those larger responses or tasks.

Drop
If I’ve dealt with the email or there’s no further action required other than me reading it, I’ll drop it into the appropriate subfolder. I typically keep my folder structure minimalist, with just about all email ending up in my “year” folder — for example, “2009″ for this year’s emails. That way, your inbox is compact and tidy.

Delete
If the email is spam or holds no future value for archiving, I’ll delete it. I do hoard emails though; the many gigabytes of email I’ve sent and received over the last decade — and still have — proves this. I tend to keep all emails relating to projects or clients indefinitely.

If you’re nodding your head and thinking, “That sounds a lot like Dave Allen’s Getting Things Done system,” you’d be correct. I haven’t read the book personally, and the approach is my own, but if you’re interested in learning getting, I’ve heard it’s a worthwhile read.

If you find that you treat your inbox like a task list, I’d encourage you to trial this method. Let me know what you think.

This post first appeared as part of Issue 450 of the SitePoint Tribune, a very popular email newsletter that I am co-editor of. Thanks to SitePoint for allowing me to reproduce the work here.

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Grow your own Sales

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Cable Beach, Broome

Many people I’ve spoken to recently have repeated the same words: new enquiries are down, because people are wary of starting new projects in the current climate. This is an excellent opportunity for you to increase your focus on sales, and there’s no better customer to sell to than an existing one.

Ask any successful salesperson and she’ll tell you — it’s cheaper and often easier to sell to an existing consumer, than to sell to a new one.

Think about it. With a new prospect, you need to build a relationship, gain their trust, explain the merits of your product or service, prove to them you have the skills and reputation, and that they stand to benefit from what you can offer. Then, you still need to procure that sale — a lengthy process indeed.

With an existing client, you’ve already achieved the above (I hope!). You can skip most of that, and jump straight to offering solutions to their requirements.

“But we only built their web site a year ago,” I hear you say. Start by looking at your current offerings, and see if there’s a service or product that you’ve developed since you last spoke to them that they may be interested in.

Then, consider what else they may need.

Perhaps they’ve created dozens of pages of bad content in the content management system (CMS) you installed for them. You could approach them and suggest you edit their copy. Maybe they’ve lost their way with search engine optimization, and you need to help tune their web site back to perfection.

Does the client have an email newsletter? You can design and develop a system for them to be able to send regular newsletters out. Maybe they started small on the Web, but now could be a time to speak to them about adding ecommerce or installing a CMS, so they can take care of maintenance themselves.

These may often seem small compared to your standard projects, however a handful of these jobs can easily fill gaps in your schedule, and help you touch base with a rejuvenated customer.

Let me know how you go. I’d be interested to see what products or services you create as additional extras.

This post first appeared as part of Issue 438 of the SitePoint Tribune, a very popular email newsletter that I am co-editor of. Thanks to SitePoint for allowing me to reproduce the work here.

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