Archive for web site ideas

Mormon.org Widget

// May 31st, 2012 // No Comments » // web site ideas

Mormon.org Widget: “

Mormon.org has announced a new tool for bloggers and website owners to help them easily share the gospel online. The Mormon.org web widget was created to provide a simple way to engage others in learning about the Church and highlight some of the unique members of the Church. It also includes a function that allows those learning about our faith to chat online with the full-time missionaries. You can embed this widget on your blog or personal website. For more information and to get the embed code, visit the Mormon.org Widget page.

Mormon.org Widget

How to respond to online haters

// June 1st, 2011 // No Comments » // web site ideas, Weird or Interesting News

How to respond to online haters: “It’s an empirical fact: There are people out there who hate you.

 

How to Make Animated GIFs of Your Own Face

// February 23rd, 2011 // No Comments » // Tech Notes, web site ideas

How to Make Animated GIFs of Your Own Face: “

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Liana making cat face in animated gifWe’re living in the era of the GIF. When any brief snippet of video can be turned into an endlessly looping animation that becomes a facsimile of thoughts and emotions in online forums.

This year has already given us a treasure trove of new GIFs. On Funny Or Die, James Van Der Beek updated his infamous ‘Dawson Crying’ GIF with a series of new animations called ‘Van Der Memes.’ And the web circulated GIFS of shirtless U.S. soccer star Benny Feilhaber, snatched from a YouTube video titled ‘Benny Feilhaber Mimes ‘No Air.’

But we know how frustrating it can be browse the web without the perfect GIF in your arsenal. We’ve created a couple of GIFs of our own, and want to arm you with the ability to do the same. Here are the steps we took.

How to Make Animated GIFs of Yourself

1. Record video (we used iMovie)
2. Edit the clip until you have 2-5 good seconds
3. Export .mov files
4. Upload your files to Gifninja
5. Attack the internet!

Liana’s GIFs

 

1. Eye Roll 2. Safe for Work

 


3. OMG 4. ZOMG

5. Heart 6. Heart Attack


7. Whip My Hair 8. CATS!

Nick’s GIFs


1. But Why? 2. Look of Disapproval


3. Dreamworks Face 4. Happy Hands

5. LOL Face 6. OMG What?


7. Trollface 8. You Da Man!

Christine’s GIFs


1. I’m Confused 2. High Five!

 

3. Nope. 4. Nose Pick


5. Raise the Roof 6. Say It Into My Good Ear


7. I Sharted 8. You’ve Grown So Much!

 

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How App-Like Design Can Turn Your Site Visitors Into Customers

// January 21st, 2011 // No Comments » // web site ideas

How App-Like Design Can Turn Your Site Visitors Into Customers: “

 

design image

Lisa Wehr is the founder and CEO of Oneupweb, a leading digital marketing agency representing some of the nation’s most recognized brands for more than 15 years.

 

We’ve all heard the expression ‘The customer is always right,’ but what about making the customer experience on your website so thoughtful that they don’t ever feel unappreciated, forgotten or neglected?

According to AnnoyingDesign.org, the average time a user spends on a site is only 56 seconds. You have just 56 seconds to turn your site visitors into customers. Is it possible? Certainly, and app design shows us the way.

What’s the cornerstone of app-influenced design? Action-oriented design components, which create immediate functionality. It’s the purposeful construction of obvious pathways that creates user friendly navigation. Focusing on visuals, placement and interaction can transform your site and your business.


Visuals: Symbols and Icons and Pictograms, Oh My!


Take a look at the two major printing sites shown here. The first site’s homepage is heavy in text and provides only its logo as imagery. The company’s product selection is displayed in a simple column on the left-hand side of the page, providing some sense of organization, but is it user friendly? Unfortunately, it’s not. The content-dense site may be highly visible to search engines, but it’s time-consuming to navigate, which is likely costing them business.

 

 

 

The second company’s site follows the same structure — listing its popular products in the left navigation — however it outdoes the first company by having a much more accommodating design. The site offers visual icons (very similar to apps) for each of their services. The main navigation consists of miniature color-coded pictograms (images used in place of concepts, objects and actions), which also provides app-like usability.

 

print place image

 

 

Apps are all about pleasing the user by making navigation easier so people can achieve results faster. It’s more engaging and effective for a user to view primary navigation and action paths with supporting pictograms, as opposed to those that only contain text. For instance, the pictogram of a shopping cart on a navigation menu translates to ‘view order,’ which resonates with users instantly. Not only are pictograms instantaneous, they’re also usually independent from language, allowing a global audience to confidently carry out tasks.

Below, Domino’s Pizza illustrates exactly this notion of making a task more enjoyable and better yet, faster (even speed readers combine symbols with text). Dominos.com requires specific user information from individuals as they complete online orders. The pizza company focused on the pragmatics (relations between the meaning of symbols and their users) as they made the often tedious task of filling out location information more visually appealing and less time consuming for users.

 

dominos image

 

 


Placement: Laying Down the Obvious Pathways


‘Location, location, location’ is key real estate, and should also be the golden rule of your homepage. As soon as your site appears on a user’s screen, they’re ready to go… but where?

Make all key actions on your site clearly accessible from the homepage. Unlike an app, your website is larger and has more room to fill. The main navigation of your homepage should be an ultimate go-to zone, so visitors don’t have to scroll down to find what they are looking for. The American Red Cross illustrates this tactic below. In the upper right-hand side of AmericanRedCross.org, users are provided with a search field [Figure 1], donation button [Figure 2], location finder [Figure 3], and various primary navigation items directing them to popular motives (in this case: ‘Give Blood,’ ‘Volunteers,’ ‘Take Classes’ and more) for visiting the site.

 

red cross image

 

 


Interaction: Give the User a Bit of Control


Apps give users a feel of piloting — whether it is customization or creative routes of gathering desired info. Biggby Coffee offers customization by letting users choose the background skin of Biggby.com. Look to Adidas.com as an example of letting users run with their curiosity while still providing fast results.

Adidas’s homepage is filled with imagery, which visitors can scroll over to view multiple options [Figures 1 and 2], like voting on favorite sports players, connecting to Adidas’s social channels and shopping Adidas sportswear. And for visitors who have a precise agenda and aren’t in the mood to gallivant on Adidas.com, the company has wisely created a main navigation with pictograms for users with straightforward missions.

 

adidas image

 

 


Looking Ahead


Good websites in 2011 will be all about task-accommodating design, just like apps. Get ready to see revamped websites that are more visual, easier to utilize and more accessible. Here’s to a happy and user-centric year in design.


More Dev & Design Resources from Mashable:


4 Predictions for Web Design in 2011
HOW TO: Get the Most From Crowdsourced Design Competitions
HOW TO: Get More Out of Your Fonts
10 Predictions for Web Development in 2011
5 Free Annotation and Collaboration Tools for Web Projects

Disclosure: Oneupweb is a Mashable sponsor.

Image courtesy of David Salafia

More About: business, design, web design

For more Dev & Design coverage:

 

 

16 Handy iPhone Apps for Better Blogging

// November 30th, 2010 // No Comments » // web site ideas

16 Handy iPhone Apps for Better Blogging: “

 

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

 

The statistics indicate that small businesses with corporate blogs receive 55% more web traffic than small businesses that don’t blog. That’s why it is so important for companies to explore the possibility of adding blogs to their marketing and social strategies.

Blogging isn’t just writing posts. You have to choose images for your posts, monitor your blogging platform and analytics, market your blog and constantly think about new post ideas.

To keep your blogging activities flexible, there are several iPhone apps that you can use. This allows you to keep up with your blog no matter where you are.

These 16 apps will help you do just that. Add your favorite apps for blogging in the comments below.


Blogging Platforms


BlogPress ($2.99) provides complete mobile blogging, including text, images and video. It supports multiple platforms such as Blogger, WordPress, TypePad and many more.

 

 

 

 

If you don’t need to have multiple platforms at your disposal, there are some apps for specific blogging platforms available. And many are free.

WordPress for iOS (free) allows you to moderate comments, create or edit posts and add images or videos. You can use this app with both a WordPress.com or self-hosted WordPress.org site.

 

 

 

 

And if you have a Squarespace site, there’s an iPhone app (free) to create and manage your Squarespace site entirely from your iPhone. It also offers ‘seamless importing’ from WordPress, Blogger, TypePad or Movable Type sites.

 

 

 

 


Images and Video


Strong images or videos increase reader interest and engagement, so they’re an important part of every blog post. And there are several apps that can help you find, format and insert them on the go.

Photobucket Mobile (free) allows you to upload photos and videos to your blog, Facebook or Twitter. The app also provides access to a searchable media library, with uploading capability and album management.

 

 

 

 

Adobe Photoshop Express (free) provides one-finger photo editing. You can crop, adjust, filter and add effects or borders on the go.

 

 

 

 

CellSpin ($1.99) offers the ability to capture video, photo, audio or text and upload it simultaneously on all of your social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc. This could be an easy way to send out photos of the team at a company event to your entire network (at one time!).

 

 

 

 


Marketing Your Blog


Once you have your blog up and running, you have to start marketing it. Some of the best ways to market your blog are via other social media sites.

Twitter (free) provides you with the same real-time search and trending topics you enjoy on your desktop.

 

 

 

 

If you are looking for more organization, Tweetdeck (free) provides the ability to create groups, manage multiple accounts as well as sync to your existing desktop Tweetdeck account.

 

 

 

 

Facebook (free) gives you access to not only your personal Facebook account but any company Pages to which you’re assigned administrator access, as well. So you can check your Pages and respond to comments.

 

 

 

 


Analytics


After spending time marketing your blog, it’s only natural to want to see the traffic numbers. Analytics App ($6.99) provides complete mobile access to Google Analytics.

 

 

 

 

Analytics Pro ($6.99) also provides access to Google Analytics, along with features to export data into reports, as well as grouping and sorting of accounts. In addition, it provides an intuitive date picker for setting the date range.

 

 

 

 

For a quick check on numbers like subscribers, Twitter followers and page views, Ego ($4.99) offers a single dashboard to check the statistics that matter to you.

 

 

 

 


Idea Gathering


Bloggers are constantly looking for their next post idea. To make sure you don’t forget your best ideas, consider a note-taking app.

 

Evernote (free) allows you to create text, photo and audio notes that will sync with your PC, Mac or Web. A nice feature is Evernote’s search capability, so you can store and catalog a lot of thoughts without losing them.

 

 

 

 

If you’re already using Microsoft OneNote, MobileNoter (free) can be used as a standalone app or synced with OneNote. It allows you to create notebooks and share your information. This could be very handy if you have a multi-contributor blog and want to exchange ideas among several people.

 

 

 

 

As the name implies, Simplenote (free) offers a straightforward, easy note-taking app that syncs with your computer. It’s a great place to jot down a list to reference later.

 

 

 

 

And while we’re talking about ideas, don’t forget to set up Google Reader on your iPhone so you can read your favorite blogs when you’re out of the office. Other blogs are a great source of inspiration.

 

 

 

 

Writing a blog is hard work. But it doesn’t have to be a burden. Finding a few apps that can make managing your blog a bit easier makes all the difference. What apps are you using to manage your blog? Leave a note in the comments.


More Blogging Resources from Mashable:


15 Excellent Corporate Blogs to Learn From
10 Tips for Corporate Blogging
10 Free Drupal Themes for Small Business
20 Free Social Media Icon Sets For a More Shareable Website
5 Hot Design Trends for Aspiring Bloggers


Reviews: Evernote, Facebook, Google Analytics, Google Reader, LinkedIn, Simplenote, SquareSpace, TweetDeck, Twitter, TypePad, WordPress, YouTube, blogger, pages

 

More About: Adobe Photoshop Express, Analytics Pro App, blogger, blogging, Cellspin, corporate blogging, evernote, facebook, google analytics, google reader, iphone, List, Lists, microsoft onenote, mobile blogging, photobucket, photobucket for iphone, simplenote, squarespace, tweetdeck, twitter, typepad, WordPress

For more Apple coverage:

 


 

HOW TO: Use Social Media to Enhance Your Event

// November 22nd, 2010 // No Comments » // web site ideas

HOW TO: Use Social Media to Enhance Your Event: “

 

Meaghan Edelstein has gained national media attention through her blog, I Kicked Cancer’s Ass, which she started to document her battle with end stage cancer. She is an attorney, the founder of the non-profit organization Spirit Jump, and works for the Real Time Marketing Group.

 

Using social media to enhance events might seem like a no-brainer, but many conferences — even social media ones — fail to take full advantage of the low-hanging fruit that social platforms offer, like ways for attendees to communicate with each other, broaden their participation, share information and have fun. If you’re planning a conference, here are some ways to incorporate social networking into your big day.


1. Help Attendees Connect With Each Other


An important part of any conference experience is connecting with other attendees. Whether for the purpose of making business connections, making friends or building brand exposure, conference networking is key. SXSW, the annual music, film, and interactive conference and festival, recognizes the value of connecting – so much so that it is launching SXsocial for its upcoming event. SXSW CTO Scott Wilcox reveals the event’s new platform.

‘For 2011, SXSW is embarking on the creation of a new platform called SXsocial to help registrants network with each other by leveraging their social media relationships on networks and sites like Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, LinkedIn and others,’ Wilcox says.

SXsocial will enhance how attendees already use social networking sites at conferences. ‘Registrants can build an extended profile including a photo, bio, links to their profiles on other networks, and tags of their interests both professional and personal. Users can search for other registrants based on this criteria and flag their favorites,’ Wilcox says.

Helping attendees form relationships benefits both those buying tickets and the event organizers, SXSW has found. ‘Overall, SXSW aims to have a simple but smart way for registrants to connect with other registrants one-on-one before, during and after the event in a way that forms lasting relationships,’ says Wilcox.


2. Broaden Participation


Social media platforms provide a unique, zero-cost marketing opportunity to expand conference participation beyond the confines of a venue. Twitter spokesperson Carolyn Penner says Twitter can get people who aren’t even at the event involved.

‘When an event happens offline, whether a conference, sporting event or concert, the conversation around the event is happening online in real time on Twitter. This offers a unique opportunity not only for attendees, who can interact with each other and see what other attendees are saying, but also — and more interestingly — for people who aren’t there. They can become part of the event without actually being there — with hashtags, photos, videos, and other content being shared on Twitter. And, the new version of Twitter makes it even easier to follow the conversations and see media via the details pane,’ Penner says.

Facebook’s live stream box can also be a powerful tool for broadening event participation. With more than 250 million people connecting on Facebook every day, it’s the perfect space to reach out to millions who may not be in attendance. Live streaming via Facebook gives anyone who has access to the Internet the ability to get involved.

The use of Facebook’s live stream box during President Obama’s inauguration is a perfect example of how effective this feature can be, according to Randi Zuckerberg, Facebook’s head of consumer marketing. Working with CNN, Facebook built a live stream box that resulted in unique status updates by more than 2 million people and 26 million live streams on CNN. During Obama’s inauguration, CNN saw half a billion viral updates linking back to its site.

You can also broaden conference participation on social networks with commenting on the conference’s Facebook Page, answering questions posed by speakers, tagging pictures and encouraging attendees to vote by ‘liking’ the best wall posts.


3. Encourage Attendees to Share Information


A great wealth of information can be garnered by using social media platforms during your conference. Attendees can leave and receive tips about particular speakers, share what they think about the venue, post pictures, find other attendees quickly and, of course, share the best places to eat. Organizers, in turn, can use these same social platforms to – almost immediately – address any concerns, enhance those things that are working and ultimately build an even better event.

Foursquare is one of the hottest social tools for sharing tips. Foursquare spokesperson Eric Friedman explains the site’s many uses related to events.

‘Setting up a Foursquare venue at a conference, event or trade show, and encouraging people to check in, lets the organizer see which areas of the event are most popular and lets attendees find each other and meet easily.  There are a myriad of reasons and opportunities available to event organizers, and we try to make the system as easy as possible.  You can get great feedback from people who come by, track stats and see the breakdown of your visitors, as well as reach out to people.  Individuals can see who else is around them, as well as what events are ‘hot’ and see comments.’

But don’t limit yourself to just one social platform; each has unique abilities, and often attendees have a favorite network where they prefer to express themselves.


4. Provide Recreation


If you’ve ever attended a professional or academic conference, you’re probably well aware they can be made of long days and sometimes dry lectures. Use social media to create some recreational activities to increase the energy and ameliorate the tedium. Try creating games and contests that get attendees involved.

For instance, you can encourage participation by employing social media platforms that use rewards.  Event organizers must be creative in this endeavor, though. Monetary prizes aren’t necessarily the most effective. Consider what might motivate the attendees of your particular conference. Face time with speakers or a celebrity at an event could be valuable to attendees.  Try giving away what might be desirable collectables or memorabilia to your particular audience.  For example, people attending a writers conference might value a signed book by a presenting author, and attendees of a social media conference love access to the newest technology.


5. Put It All Together


Blogworld takes advantage of a multitude of social networking platforms like, Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Plancast, Sched.org, USTREAM and Plixi to amplify the conference experience. According to founder and CEO Rock Calvert, the company’s use of social media prior to, during and after the the world’s largest social media conference and trade show is ‘…light years ahead of other conferences.’

Prior to the conference, Calvert uses various social platforms to inform people about the event, accept speaker applications and make announcements. In addition, Blogworld allows attendees to socially pick sessions, as well as invite and tell people that they are attending.

During Blogworld’s three-day conference, social platforms help facilitate and encourage attendee participation. Facebook is used to create polls, allow for public comments and encourage suggestions from attendees on how to improve the event. Organizers also encourage attendees to micro blog, which gives readers the opportunity to experience the event from numerous vantage points. Calvert credits these tools with ‘keeping the Blogworld experience transparent.’

How does social media make Blogworld better? In 2009, Blogworld set a Guiness World Record for the distribution of the largest mass message through social media, with a #Beatcancer hashtag. The campaign also raised more than $70,000 for social good efforts. In addition, Calvert tells us, ‘Social media creates social attendee lists, starts conversations, encourages meet ups, [and] allows conference organizers to react to issues immediately…. Incorporating social into our conference simply makes the experience better.’


Conclusion


Whether customizing your conference on the fly to meet the needs of your audience, creating media buzz or engaging participants, one things is clear: social media has revolutionized events. If done right, your conference or event can become a global experience.

How have you used social media to enhance your own events? And, how have you used social media, as either an attendee or from home, to participate in an event? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


More Social Media Resources From Mashable:


HOW TO: Organize a Mashable Meetup
11 Essential Apps for Managing Your Real Life Social Networks
5 Captivating Personalities From Across the Social Web
5 Big Brands That Are Rocking the Social Media Space

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, coolmilo,KLH49


Reviews: Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, Internet, LinkedIn, Twitter, foursquare, iStockphoto, ustream

More About: blogworld, blogworldexpo, Conference, event planning, Events, facebook, foursquare, how to, Live Stream, social media, social networking, sxsw, twitter

For more Social Media coverage:

 

 

HOW TO: Manage Your Presence on Google Maps

// October 11th, 2010 // No Comments » // web site ideas

HOW TO: Manage Your Presence on Google Maps: “

 

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

 

Did you know you can use Google Maps to promote your business? Many of the features that you might normally associate with Yelp are actually included in what Google calls Place Pages. And since they’re integrated tightly with the hugely popular Google Maps, you won’t want to ignore them.

Even if Google already lists you, you’ll want to claim your page and make sure all the information is accurate. Either creating a Place Page for your business or acquiring its existing one is easy if you know how to do it.

Below is an introduction to using Google’s provided tools to incentivize would-be customers or clients to stop by. It will get you started with managing your presence on Google Maps, but for the deeper cuts you might eventually want to refer to Google’s vast guide to Google Places.


Claim Your Listing


 

 

 

The first step is to check whether your business is already listed on Google Maps. Simply go to the Google Maps website and search for your business. If it comes up, click on its placemark or listing in the left panel. In the pop-up that appears, you’ll see an option to ‘Edit’ the business details (it might be hidden behind a ‘More’ link). Click it.

If the business is unclaimed, anyone can edit the details. Think of it like Wikipedia. Since you’re planning on curating your presence on Google Maps, click the ‘Claim your business’ link. You’ll be prompted with three options: ‘Edit my business information,’ ‘Suspend this listing,’ or ‘This isn’t my listing.’ Suspending the listing will remove your business from Google Maps. Choosing ‘This isn’t my listing’ will start the process for adding a completely new listing for your business. ‘Edit my business information’ will claim the current listing.

If your company doesn’t already appear on the map, go to the Google Places home page and click ‘Add a new business.’ You can manage up to 100 listings on your account.

In any of those cases, Google will have to verify that the business is actually yours; the company will send you a unique PIN number via snail mail or telephone.


Add Information About Your Business


This is the most important part — and the easiest! You’ll want to start with name, address, phone number, website, hours of operation and which payment options you accept. Then you can upload photos directly or videos through YouTube.

It’s also important to choose categories to describe your business, as they’ll help people find you with keyword searches. You can create your own fields under ‘Additional details’ if you want. You can even specify your delivery range if delivery is a service that you offer.


Go the Extra Mile: Offer Coupons and Advertise


You can give Google Maps users coupons as an incentive to actually stop by your business. You can put whatever you want on the coupon, and Google provides the tools to format and distribute it.

To create one, log in to Google Places and click on the ‘Coupon’ tab. The creation tools are easy to use and self-explanatory for the most part. Just save your coupon to make it appear on Google’s website. Would-be customers can print it off and bring it when they visit.

It’s also possible to make your business stand out from the crowd on Google Maps using advertising. You can either use Google’s AdWords program or a relatively new tool called ‘Tags.’ The latter makes your business stand out on the map by marking it with a very noticeable yellow tag.

 

 

 

Users who investigate the Tag will see coupons, photos or other special content you want to highlight. You can sign up at Google’s Tags web page for $25 per month; the first month is free.


Measure Your Success


It’s important to make sure that all this actually works for you and to tweak your strategy to see what’s most effective. Google hosts a Dashboard for business owners (you’ll see it when you log in) that displays data about how often your business is appearing in users’ searches (‘impressions’) and how frequently those users are actually clicking through for more info (‘actions’).

This information can be very helpful, particularly in finding out whether the categories you selected are actually getting your business info in front of more eyeballs. With some tweaking, and trial and error, you can optimize your search presence.

There’s just one thing to remember: These search analytics reflect a period of 30 days ending about 48 hours ago. That is to say, you won’t see any changes right away. So be sure and give Google time to collect the necessary data before making judgments!

If you’ve already begun managing your business’s presence on Google Maps, add your own tips in the comments below.


More Business Resources from Mashable:


3 Social Sites for Demonstrating Your Business Acumen
15 Twitter Lists for C-Suite Execs to Follow
How 12 CEOs & Founders are Leveraging Web Video
How Small Businesses Will Use Social Media in the Future
HOW TO: Add Multimedia to Your Blog


Reviews: Google, Google Maps, Wikipedia, Yelp, YouTube

More About: business, entrepreneurs, google local business center, Google Maps, google place pages, google places, google store views, how to, listings, local business, smb, tips

For more Business coverage:

 

 

HOW TO: Nail Your Elevator Pitch

// October 8th, 2010 // No Comments » // web site ideas

HOW TO: Nail Your Elevator Pitch: “

 

elevator_pitch

 

 

Nailing down a short pitch for why someone should invest in your business will come in handy at some point, even if you never actually end up in an elevator with the venture capitalist of your dreams.

For about 30 startups at the Web 2.0 expo in New York last week, that point was Thursday’s Startup Showcase. Attendees, which included Tim O’Reily of O’Reily Media Inc. and Fred Wilson of Union Square ventures, had 50 minutes to check in with each startup and decide on a favorite. O’Reily, Wilson and a popular vote each decided on one startup that conveyed its idea best and in a short time. When Food52, Gympse and hour.ly were selected, they had a chance to give their pitches on stage.

It was, in short, an elevator-pitch bonanza. If contestants didn’t have advice about how to improve an elevator pitch before they started, they sure did by the time their 50 minutes were up. Here is what seven of them had to say.


Describe the Problem Your Company Solves


  • ‘Keep it short, and make sure your lead-in deals with the problem you’re trying to solve.’ — Jeff Evans, Co-Founder of MindSnacks

    Since Evans’ company makes mobile language learning games, he started his pitch by explaining that current language learning programs can be dull, expensive, and time consuming.

  • ‘People have to have an idea of what the problem is and what the current solution is and why yours is better.’ — Carl Leubsdorf, CTO of hour.ly

    Leubsdorf’s approach apparently paid off, as hour.ly was voted ‘people’s choice’ at the showcase. Since hour.ly helps connect hiring companies with job seekers, he uses his elevator pitch to explain how the service is superior to something like Craigslist.


Get to Your Point


  • ‘Know what you have to say and say it fast.’ — Ben Hughes, Director of Technology at NabeWise

    In NabeWise’s case, this includes an explanation of why there is a demand for information about neighborhoods and how the company would monetize this site by charging real estate agents to be ‘neighborhood experts’ and selling advertising.

  • ‘Really brief.’ — Patrick Swieskowski, Co-Founder of Ninite

    We guess there’s something to be said for practicing what you preach.


Interact as Much as Possible


  • ‘It doesn’t work quite as well in an elevator, but the way I describe the problem is to show a picture of my first apartment in New York. It helps people understand why storage in New York is a necessity, not a luxury.’– Daniel Hughes, Founder of StorageByMail.

    StorageByMail offers cheaper storage than is typically found in a big city by allowing customers to mail their storage to a warehouse outside of the city. Showing a crowded New York apartment helps investors visualize why there is a need for the service.


There’s No Replacement for Finesse


  • ‘Practice, practice, practice on new people every day. You can’t develop an effective pitch by yourself…Everyone in my family has heard my pitch 100 times, and when their eyes glaze over I know that I’m doing something wrong.’ — David Bloom, CEO of Naama Networks

    Bloom’s current pitch for his online food ordering site mentions that the first e-commerce transaction was a pizza, but that since then restaurants haven’t done a great job selling online. It’s an interesting tidbit that prevents eyes from ‘glazing over,’ as he put it.

  • ‘Go for it. ‘Pretty good’ won’t hack. Pretend you’ll be rated on a scale of one to 10 after your pitch. Only a 10 matters. One through four is a one; you’re done. Five through nine is a five; they might remember you and say ‘interesting,’ but you’re done. Only a 10 is success, and hopefully opens the door to the 10 or 60 minute pitch. It’s not about batting average, it’s about home-runs.’ — Bryan Trussel, co-founder and CEO of Glympse.

    Glypse is another company that clearly followed its own advice, winning Fred Wilson’s pick at the showcase. Trussel says part of his successful pitch involves interacting as much as possible with the pitch recipient. For instance, he’ll often ask for the person’s phone number and send a Glympse to his or her phone as part of the pitch. ‘In 10-15 seconds, I’ve demoed the product, illustrated our key values…and had the person interact with our product on their personal phone,’ he says. ‘And, they now have a permanent, visual reminder in their inbox or text queue for reference.’


More Startup Resources from Mashable:


5 Ways to Use Google Voice for Your Business
3 Business Tools to Spice Up Boring Work Tasks
Life After Microsoft: 15 Startups Founded By Ex-Employees
5 Beautiful Tumblr Themes for Small Businesses
How Businesses Are Unleashing Their Employees’ Social Media Potential

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, tomazl


Reviews: Craigslist, Ninite, iStockphoto

More About: advice, business, Food52, Glympse, hour.ly, how to, List, Lists, mind snacks, MindSnacks, naama networks, Nabewise, Ninite, Pitch, small business, startup, startups, StorageByMail, tips, venture capital

For more Business coverage:

 

 

9 Free Resources for Learning Photoshop

// October 8th, 2010 // No Comments » // Tech Notes, web site ideas

9 Free Resources for Learning Photoshop: “

 

This post originally appeared on My Life Scoop, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about using social media and technology for a more connected life.

 

If, like most people, you haven’t ‘layered’ since last winter and only ‘merge’ at speeds of 60 mph and over, getting accustomed to the lingo and layout of Photoshop can be daunting. These nine free resources are good places to learn how to lasso, dodge, burn, paint, filter or do whatever else you need to in order to accomplish your desired photo editing task.

If we didn’t mention your favorite Photoshop tutorial, add it in the comments below and let us know how it helped you in your design endeavors.


1. Adobe Tutorials


 

 

 

For a thorough introduction to the basics of Photoshop, starting at the source might be your best bet. Adobe provides tutorial videos that include everything from basic tool tours to step-by-step instructions on how to create a panorama. The commentary is a little vanilla, but it gets the job done.


2. You Suck at Photoshop


 

 

 

Mix together a healthy amount of sarcasm, a handful of cuss words, a narrator apparently bitter about a recent divorce, and Adobe’s tutorials, and you get the more entertaining and appropriately named Photoshop guide: You Suck at Photoshop. Using creative examples (like how to Photoshop a ‘treacherous commitment band’ wedding ring out of a photo), Donnie Hoyle gives step-by-step instructions for practical Photoshop tricks.


3. YouTube


 

 

 

If there’s a Photoshop feat you’re hoping to conquer, chances are there is a YouTube video that can help you. These ten videos will get you started.


4. Toolkit Tutorial


 

 

 

Photoshop icons can be mystifying to the uninitiated, but it’s much easier to figure out how to work in Photoshop if you start with an awareness of its basic tools. This tutorial teaches you what all those little Photoshop graphics mean and when to use each tool.


5. Keyboard Shortcut Cheat Sheet


 

 

 

Learning the keyboard shortcuts for the most frequent operations will save your time and your wrists. Print out a cheat sheet to keep by your computer for easy reference as you memorize.


6. Photoshop Forums


 

 

 

Sometimes it’s best to ask. If you have a question about Photoshop, find it in an existing thread or create your own on this forum.


7. Special Effect Tutorials


 

 

 

Bored with cropping and color correction? Jump into dramatic layouts and artistic effects — like ‘How to create a space girl photo manipulation’ — on this site.


8. Free Brush Roundup


 

 

 

Like painters, Photoshop geeks choose different brushes to create different effects on photos. Brushes determine the shape of the line that the paint brush tool and eraser create. Experiment with the free brushes that are rounded up on this site. This tutorial will teach you how to install them, and this tutorial will help you ‘brush up’ on potential designs using brushes.


9. Troubleshooting Photoshop for Dummies


 

 

 

Like most large programs, Photoshop occasionally freezes, freaks out or otherwise ignores what you want it to do. Follow the steps in this free troubleshooting guide to fix the problem or to bail by shutting the program down.

These nine resources should have you on your way to being a Photoshop pro. Let us know which Photoshop tutorials and resources you recommend in the comments below.


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Image courtesy of Flickr, Shermeee

More About: adobe photoshop, design, Photoshop, tutorial, tutorials, video tutorial, web design, web design tools

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8 Quick Tips for Developing a Facebook Marketing Strategy

// October 7th, 2010 // No Comments » // web site ideas

8 Quick Tips for Developing a Facebook Marketing Strategy: “

 

Antony Mayfield is iCrossing’s Senior Vice President, Social Media, leading the company’s services and innovation efforts related to the social web. You can find him on iCrossing’s blog or on Twitter. This article is based on an iCrossing research paper of the same title.

 

When Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook was ‘almost guaranteed’ to reach 1 billion users, there were few that doubted him. The social network has become a mainstay of the web experience for so many people, and many would argue that it’s second only to Google in its importance to online marketers. This rapid rise means that the site is constantly presenting marketers with new challenges and opportunities — some that can be overcome, some that just need to be accepted, and some that could change the way people use the web.

Here’s a look at what brands face when it comes to marketing on the largest social network.


1. Facebook Will Compete with Search Engines


Search is about making sense of the web. Google has traditionally done this by using links as a sign of authority. Facebook aims to do the same with ‘Likes.’ Facebook isn’t a search engine itself, but it is a different route to making sense of the web. Moreover, Google is increasingly adding real-time social media content to its index in tacit acknowledgement that it sees itself being outflanked by the social media platforms.

For the moment, Google remains the place where consumers go to find things, but Facebook’s ability to capture eyeballs means that it should now be a primary focus for any online marketer.

It’s also worth noting that Facebook has chosen to embed Bing search results from the web alongside queries within the network. Marketers, take note: Facebook is positioning itself not only as a place for in-stream, friend recommendations, but as an all-purpose hub with both traditional and social search value.


2. Ignore the Anti-Hype


There has been a backlash against Facebook in the media, focused predominantly around the privacy debate, with speculation about whether this means users will leave the site. For brands, the question is always, ‘Is it safe to invest in what could be a short term, MySpace-style fad?’

But the media backlash has been just that — a predictable response to a company that’s enjoyed a spectacular honeymoon with the press. In terms of real users, it seems that there’s less to worry about. Some early adopters have left in response to privacy concerns, and some of the younger demographic might be tempted away by new social gaming platforms, but the mass market is here to stay when it comes to Facebook.


3. Live with Community Pages


 

 

 

The introduction of Community Pages has been one of the most significant developments for brands on Facebook. These automated pages are intended to pull together content around topics to create information resources for users. In the real world, they have largely served to clog up Facebook search results with hundreds of overlapping pages containing posts of indifferent value to users.

It’s hard to spin community pages as a positive for brands, since they compete with official brand presences and can serve to promote negative comments in a forum where responses can’t be made. However, many now hope that consumers will quickly recognize that community pages aren’t serving their needs and so will focus their attention on the official brand Pages.

In short, make sure your official Facebook Page is full of relevant and up-to-date content so that it’s clear to consumers where the interaction should be taking place. If current trends continue, Community Pages will likely not stay relevant enough to be a threat.


4. Facebook Can Be a Dangerous Place for Brands


Brand Facebook Pages seem like a no-brainer these days. They’re a cheap and effective way of connecting with fans. However, some have found that it’s not so simple. Take Nestle for example.

An on-page dispute over environmentally sound purchasing practices and alleged misuse of Nestle logos quickly escalated into a global PR crisis. However, the potential for backlash shouldn’t keep you from having a Page; it’s simply a matter of training and preparation.

Before you build a Page, you need to think about whether you have the resources and strategy to manage it properly. Can your agency offer you expertise in community management? Have you established a set of best practices to guide your Facebook Page managers? Do you have a Facebook plan in case of a crisis?


5. Build It and They Won’t Come


There is an assumption among many marketers that Facebook is a free medium that will deliver hundreds of thousands of new customers. That’s not the case. It has a massive audience, but that audience isn’t necessarily on the site searching for brands. There are few brands out there with the clout to spontaneously generate an audience, so you need to think about how you’re going to proactively build your fan numbers.

The obvious options are Facebook ads, which can be cheap and effective, and promoting your Facebook page on your dotcom site. On top of this, you can leverage your employees to include the brand’s Facebook address in their e-mail signatures and get them to tell their friends. On top of that, look at it as any other marketing campaign; reach out to bloggers and journalists, e-mail your best customers and put signage in your retail stores.

These might seem like resource-intensive options, but marketing is rarely free. Facebook has the potential to reach a massive audience, but it’s a competitive marketplace for attention, so you need to fight for your fans. Of course, once you’ve got your fans, you’ve got to make sure you use them well. A massive fan base left disengaged can quickly lose interest. However, with the right community management strategies, your Facebook fan base can be a powerful tool.


6. The Changing Face of Facebook


One of the constants of Facebook is change. Social marketers are used to waking up to find that something has changed in the way that Facebook works without warning.

Whether it’s the new ‘Like’ button, the social graph protocol or the recently announced new Facebook Groups, the fact is change and adaptation are at the heart of Facebook marketing.


7. Facebook the Retailer


While the world has been debating Facebook’s privacy procedures, the site has been quietly preparing an assault on a new battleground: e-commerce.

Commerce isn’t new to Facebook. The 200 million people who play games on the network every month are already paying for virtual goods. However, Facebook is targeting a much broader audience. An e-commerce Facebook app, Payvment, is already in use by 20,000 small retailers. It’s in its early days, but no retailer should ignore these trends. With the average user spending something like seven hours a month on the site, and with many already ‘Liking’ commercial brands, there’s a real chance that retailing might soon shift away from dotcoms and over to Facebook’s social graph.


8. A Facebook Page Isn’t a Social Media Strategy


A Facebook page isn’t a social media strategy. It might be an important part of one, but being connected socially means engaging with customers, fans and critics wherever they are. People talk all over the web, and being connected is about being part of those conversations. Your social strategy should be about putting a little bit of social into every move your business makes.

What are some of your own key tips when it comes to planning a Facebook strategy? Let us know in the comments.


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