Your graphics are honey to the bees, irresistibly drawing your worker bees – er, readers & fans – to your posts from all across the internet. Graphics are King! Don’t you believe me? You say, “It’s content.” Yes, you are right. Content is king, but only if you can get the attention of your target audience, and tempt them to click on a link to actually get to your content. A great graphic for your content makes it more shareable, more enticing to click on it and more successful.
Rebranding any company or entity is a difficult task on any level but rebranding a government agency requires precise attention to detail and tight coordination behind the scenes.
Florida’s job and unemployment agency – now called CareerSourceFlorida – started its rebranding in January to the current name from the former Workforce Development Board, known in Southwest Florida as SWFLWorks.
The online rebranding effort needed to be coordinated among and between the agency’s 24 regional centers. Pauli Systems, LLC, has been the contract website coordinator for the Southwest Florida center for a decade and worked statewide to restyle and reconfigure the center to its new moniker, CareerSource SouthwestFlorida.
All the work is intended to align Florida’s nationally recognized workforce system and improve customer awareness and use of system’s services and resources.
“A unified brand will help identify the world class talent available not only for Southwest Florida but throughout the state and help in their recruitment and expansion of the business” said Ken O’Leary, board chairman of CareerSource Southwest Florida.
Quoted: Southwest Florida Business Today
The new revamp was the fourth over the last 10 years. The new site went online on February 9th and was a team effort between Pauli Systems and the Workforce Board’s communications team with James Wall, Curt Bradbury and Priscille Chagnon.
A huge website revamp in 2013 laid the groundwork to make this follow-up rebranding possible without any disruption of services, without content migration or any major change for the content providers and that proved to be an invaluable step for the eventual 2014 effort.
The site is built on WordPress and Genesis Framework and, as a result, is highly flexible. For the revamp, the main task was to build another WP Child Theme incorporating the new brand assets into and existing content flow. Existing features such as FrontPage Slideshow, Featured Posts, One-Stop Career Centers Calendars and Hot Positions – Occupations In Demand look-up page were easily incorporated with the new design.
Pauli Systems Team members doing the heavy lifting included Blair Daly, PHP developer and server admin wizard and Karen Wegenhenkel graphic designer and WordPress theme genius. The project was managed by Pauli Systems, owner Birgit Pauli-Haack. The site was finished and rolled out successfully a day ahead of schedule.
Although the website and new domain for CareerSource Southwest Florida are now online and working for the public, behind the scenes there are still a few things that need to happen to retain Search Engine Ranking, make Analytics Data consistent, and provide redirecting of links posted on social networks and bookmarked in browsers.
We compared three web-based applications that support you in your quest to produce works for your various writing assignments. And, yes, nowadays everyone has writing assignments, from letters to clients, a seminar curriculum, a how-to blog post, or a story about your favorite non-profit. However, as soon as I sit in front of the computer, with all the windows open on my computer screen, (i.e., e-mail, browser, facebook, etc.), fighting for my attention, I get distracted. Sometimes, I just need to write and shield myself from the world. It seems I am not alone. There is, yet, another software available.
Here we start with DarkCopy. You can start using it from the very first page. Very quickly, I found the full screen mode button, so everything else on my computer screen disappeared, and I only saw my green on black letters, filling the screen. It feels like channeling a time traveler who is stuck in the eighties with a monochrome screen. I wonder, to myself, if I can change the green to amber? Nope.
No fluff, no features. Just go to the site, hit the full screen button, and start writing. Click on Save as file? and your text is saved on your hard drive. If your browser is set to save downloads into a default directory for download, that’s where you will find it afterwards.
No login, no registration. Easy, fast and focused. A rare, refreshing experience.
Next one up: Writer. Again with the neon green on black background retro look. And, again, the question, does this come in amber? Yes. Under Preferences, you can select different font colors, select from three different line spacing settings, and select from a list of a few different font families. OK. Go crazy, and procrastinate once more, (he, he, he).
The links on the bottom of the writing box disappear after a few seconds, until you hover over to explore and use them. Writer is a little more advance for the everyday writer. It gives you word and character count. I tested it for postings to the Twitterverse, however, this revealed that character count doesn’t help; it doesn’t count spaces, which do count towards your 140 limit in Twitter. It also gives you a rudimentary version control/auto-save on the bottom of the page. It prevents you from loosing your text in the heat of your writing frenzy. You’ll get a little more options, apart from the one click save we saw in DarkCopy. This one actually seems to save it on the site’s server and you can send it, download it, .pdf it (nicely done!), and print it right from the space there. On the bottom underneath the writing box you’ll find a running list of documents you created, with information on size, modified date and shared status. Shared? No, not social-media-shared. Keeping it easy, basic, it converts the document into a public web page.
Some of the feature, of course, can only be used after you create an account, so your choices can have a more permanent existence. The link “Lost your document?”, which is supposed to give me peace of mind, scared me a bit. Â Now, I need to download. The download ended up again in my default download folder on my hard drive, but only with the filename “document.txt” which makes it easy to overwrite as soon as I download another file. But, my browser is smarter, and it automatically changed the file to document(1).txt.
Creating an account, works painlessly. You don’t have to give out your e-mail address, type in your username and password of choice. No fiddling with password #%@%&*I rules. Despite the basic and prehistorical look, this program is more than a mere typewriter. If you write on a project for more than one session, it makes sense to register and create an account. Depending on the cookie settings on your browser and the state of the web, you might loose your fragmented text, brilliant thoughts and collection of ideas, otherwise. This was also a pleasant experience. With just enough customization options to not be a big complicated application, it is also very focused in letting you do your work.
Now the last one, seems to be the odd one out. On the first screen/page of the application, I can read all about how simple it is supposed to be, and what I can and can’t do. And, for attention holding purposes, there are some icons next to each bullet. Well, it’s not that easy. After DarkCopy and Writer, I was spoiled, I wanted to get down to the writing matter immediately, and be able to do it. Not with this one. First, have to have a Google account in order to use it. On login, I was assured not to worry about giving my Google password to this developer, as it wouldn’t be shared with the application, and only my e-mail address would be saved. Although, I knew about the Google App Engine, and that this is very well the case, but anybody else would not be so sure if she proceeded at this point. This assurance feels a little creepy. Now, that wouldn’t be all that bad for a simple application, but this is way too much hassle. And, I noticed I am not able to test it while writing this review. I am already a hundred words into my thoughts about the start up before I am able to do what I came to do: just write.
Once logged in, I have this space, and, at first, I missed it the retro eighties monochrome look. In comparison to the silent dark space, where my lettere appear magically in neon color, this black on white is very bright. It comes back to the early web days, when it was considered too bright to use white background, and one considered light letteres on dark background much easier to read. I haven’t thought about this for a long time. It seems it’s still true, when you want to concentrate on words. It has big buttons like Save/Print and revision history, which remind me of the document writer in Google Apps, and if I am that far, I would rather use that.
When I tried to use the full screen mode, it wanted to open a new window, and, of course my pop-up blocker busted it. And, that was it. My text file is not in the league of the other two programs, DarkCopy and Writer, which support the mere writing task. It does get in the way a lot. This is a total disappointment.
Just writing this post, while reviewing the three web applications, made Writer by BigHugeLabs.com the clear winner. It gets out of the way quickly and the set of features is exceptionally well balanced. Just enough to make me feel at home, and not too much to get me all distracted with a large number of decisions to make. It is a role model in application development: focused, direct and complete.
The web isn’t the only place that houses ˜distraction free writing tools”, and it’s not everyone’s favorite environment.
Here is a list of desktop applications, also free of charge.
Which Blog Software is right for me? How do I get started? Who can help me?
These are all valid questions! And there are no easy answers.
Most of the time your decision will depend on a few variables you will need to consider. And, sometimes, after writing (blogging) for a year or so you may decide your original assumptions are out of date or have changed.
What does one do then? Start over? Shell out more money to convert your original site?
Our team deals with a variety of different software writing/blogging packages – and we’ve tried many more. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. The world of Internet communication is filled with trade-offs.
So let’s get started…
My number one software for about 3 years is WordPress. It lets you start out as a small site, get up and running fast and keep growing. With the help of the community of this open-source platform, you are able to grow and increase the features set and sophistication of your web presence.
In 2012, there are 60 million websites built on top of WordPress. Fifteen percent the new domain names (URLs) set up last year use WordPress. It’s an easy choice when you have a new business and need a website: build it on top of WordPress, self-hosted.
But what if you have had a website and don’t have the time or funds to convert the site? Using a subdomain (blog.yourdomain.com) with any of the free services will get you started. When the time and circumstances are right, you can migrate the whole site into one content management system.
WordPress.com & WordPress self-hosted (WordPress.org) come from the same stable of open-source developers and migration from one to another is easy when your site matures.
We published last week an info graphic by WPBeginners that illustrated the main differences between a WordPress.com and a self-hosted instance of WordPress for your website. Read more here:
So the two top spots, in our view, are taken by WordPress self-hosted (WordPress.org) and WordPress.com.
There are two more free services that have a long history as well as a lot of users. One is Blogger, the blog engine run by Google, which just recently received a total overhaul and is now equipped with small business level features, like integration of AdSense and site analytics as well as some great layouts.
Blogger was, a long time ago, the distant cousin in Google’s software family. It’s one of the oldest blog engines and has had a large following, especially among individuals and personal blogs. Only recently with the arrival of Google+ has it experienced a major feature upgrade and was integrated with other Google services. Various themes are available but, of course, not as vast as for WordPress.com or Tumblr. Whoever stuck it out on blogspot.com has been rewarded with an interesting upgrade. For serious businesses, connecting it with a domain should be obligatory.
The other free Blog service that made it onto this list is Tumblr which had its greatest year in 2011 when it went from 11 million users to 90 million users. Tumblr is a blog engine with a restricted set of features but what it lacks in options or integration it makes up for with social network integration, ease of use, mobile integration for visitors and contributors and search engine visibility. The themes are mostly customizable with a few clicks and settings. The range of out-of-the box features allows for a fast set-up and wide distribution over the social webs. It also has a great array of social features called like”? and “reblog”? to spread the work.
Yes, you can integrate it with your own domain name or subdomain of your exisiting website. Our Social Media Bootcamp blog is built on Tumblr and helped us assess the blog engine in a real life setting that requires rapid updating from various locations.
Compare 17 individual features to find the right solutions for you.
All four blog engines allow you to update and post via mobile applications, be it from your smartphone or tablet. That feature is important these days and, for us, is a serious qualifier for this list.
Below, you will find a list of features, an overall comparison of the four engines. We have the three onsite free services stacked up against the WordPress self-hosted installation.
A comparison table features/ advantages and disadvantages for Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr. If you see the symbols, (++) ,next to a feature, it means you shouldn’t start a blog without it, even if you work with your web developer, who might have a different preference. When you see this link, (How?), the link will take you to a page that explains how to implement a particular feature on the blog platform. I didn’t research all features for their ease of implementation but I was curious about a few and checked them out. Underneath the feature matrix you’ll find brief explanations for each feature listed.
What do the features listed entail and why they are important?
The costs mentioned here are the initial set-up fees. Depending on your level of comfort with configuring your own account settings and the settings of your blog, you still might need to hire a professional for the initial set-up. The costs referred to here are only the initial costs to have an account and start a blog. Some of the other features mentioned in this comparison chart will incur additional charges.
Are essential and needed to reach the widest possible spread of your posts around the internet. Either your integration service set-up will use them or your readers will use them. Around this blog and on Above the Noise we have a whole series of RSS related posts. On your blog, you will need to have categories in smaller groups to help your readers find relevant content. (++)
As a business owner, you need to make sure that all your online activities support your brand and market your domain. Even if you use one of the free systems, you should invest in your own domain and connect it to your blog on WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr. (++)
A Blog becomes much richer if you include others from your staff and or associates as authors on your blog. The burden of coming up with new content can be spread around and for your readers the experience is so much richer when they can hear multiple sides of an issues or different ways for problem solution or just different opinions. All blog software allows for multi-author set-up. All you need is an account, either on the service or on your self-hosted WP, for example. ‘
Most people won™t have a need for multiple blogs. It’s hard enough to fill one blog with good, relevant and engaging content. But, sometimes as a business owner in a niche market it might be useful to team up with strategic partners and create a multi-topic blog and be great resources to each other’s customers. It also is helpful when you are part of a networking group with a decent online presence that you can guest post on the networks site, i.e., also on the same system.
Post via Email:
Sometimes it’s just easier to think about writing an e-mail than posting to the web where you have to login, get accustomed to a new interface, when technology distracts from the thought you want to jot down. WordPress programmers recognized this very early on and built in a way to post to our blog via e-mail. (++)
In order to make posting to social media less of a chore after you posted to your blog, you might be able to add your twitter account and your Facebook account to the settings page and authorize your site to post as you to the social networks.
By the end of 2012, it’s estimated over 50% of mobile subscribers will have smartphones, it’s imperative that your website/blog is recognizes when a mobile device is used to access your site and presents a different view of the site, optimized for mobile viewing. (++)
The big advantage of using free and low cost services is the feature set includes provisions to pack-up and leave when you find a more viable system or when you reach the point that you move on. In our 10 year experience as web consultants, the biggest hurdle to successfully moving on is the difficulty clients have in untangling content from the stronghold of hosting services or web developers. Setting up initially on WordPress.com and, later, moving to WordPress/self-hosted (WP.org) is definitely the easiest transition path. The export from the Tumblr, or Blogger will have its challenges.
At first it might not be all that interesting for small business to have ads on their website. But it might prove beneficial if you participate in affiliate marketing or for a publishing company that decides to monetize parts of the site.
As a user on the networks of WordPress.com, Tumblr.com and Blogger.com you can follow other users, like their posts and re-blog their posts with a few easy steps. You will not be able to recreate easily this kind of on-site connectivity with a stand-alone self-hosted wordpress site or other content management systems.
A row of icons on the bottom of each article that allows for on-click sharing on the most popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and also some of the lesser known ones like StumbleUpon, Reddit or Delicious. (++)
Spam Filter for Comments:
Your blog won’t be able to survive long without enabled comment spam filter. This can be accomplished with a built-in feature or by allowing a third-party service to monitor your comment section or prevent spam from being posted. (++)
Allow third-party comment system:
For a richer comment administration, you can consider using an external service for your site. Disqus.com, Livefyre, IntenseDebate are the most popular systems, and provide their own community of people engaging on different kind of sites.
Itâ€™s the opposite side of moving between the worlds. One part is the export of existing content and then you need the new software to have mechanism to import your content from another system
Post via Mobile Apps:
Your site might benefit from real-time posting while you are on the road or at an event. Mobile apps on the smartphone or tablet platforms will make it possible to post photographs right from your camera to your website/blog.
Please make sure to post your questions and thoughts in the comment section and what your experience is using any of the mentioned systems. Are features missing? What else would you need to know?
We can be thankful for Google, who is doing a great job keeping us on our toes! The latest curve ball is the preview feature on the search results page. As an example, we typed in â€œNaples Restaurants’? , and received the results page below:
First, we see that the listed sponsored links are not web pages, but Google Places entries in the heart (city center) of Naples. Next to each entry, there is a little magnifying glass; by clicking on it, the visitor is able to see a preview of the website for that particular entity.
This is really great, as it gives the visitor a first look at the site, without leaving the list of search results. He or she can decide, upon first glance, if it is a site they would be interested in. It also shows the full page from the entity’s website, and not just the part that would be visible on your screen, if you visited the actual website, (in other words, the preview shows that there is information “below the fold”). This is all good for potential visitors. And, as a frustrated internet user who has a hard time finding relevant information, this helps me to evaluate search results without actually going to the website. I can “triage” my options.
Check your own site!
The bad news is that now, more than ever, web design matters; since your visitor is not able to see the words in the preview, the overall look at feel is veryÂ important. So, how is the preview window processing the information on your site? The above example is one of the good views. I clicked through the other six restaurant sites, and here is what I found:
5 out of the seven websites show, mostly in the center of their site, a missing puzzle piece in some sort of grey section in the preview screen. This marks the spot where the website contains a Flash file, intended to spruce up the site and showcase mostly photos of the restaurant. The sites in question already have a hard time in the world of iPads and iPhones, which are devices that do not support Flash sites. Now, they are really in for a surprise when they check out their view on Google. However, with this first search, I am also very suprised that it is such a high number of sites. How does your site perform under this very useful new Google feature?
Take a look at your website through the eyes of Google, and make sure that your site looks halfway presentable in the preview window.
Since we started our Above the Noise blog in May 2010, at the half-year mark, it’s time to take a closer look at the content you, our cherished readers, read most often. Through Google Analytics, it’s fairly easy to create a list. Some of you joined us just recently, and we hope that the list of the Top Ten will motivate you to also browse our archives and read our earlier articles.
We work with a great group of customers that have a fairly large quantity of content to update on their websites; some with at least one update per week, but most with three or four updates per week. In terms of the fragmented internet, we should not forget that e-mail is the most ubiquitously available and used tool, (by 93% of internet users), on a daily basis. In our case, we have seen increases of 3 to 4 times the page views on days following an e-mail broadcast.
We are often asked if we do SEO (= search engine optimization). The answer is yes. However, most of the time, people expect an automatic get-rich-quick pitch, because tha’s what you find around the internet and in your e-mail inbox. We published two videos, one 5 minutes and the otherÂ 1 hour, that feature the most trusted source, Google’s Matt Cutts, who talks about the rationale behind Googles Page Ranks, and how he and his team see search engine optimization.
This was actually our most linked article on the internet (with the most inbound links), reviewing three web-based programs that support your content production, concentrating on the writing part and keeping distractions on your computer, (i.e., music, video, e-mail, Twitter, Facbook, etc.), away from your view, so you can concentrate solely on your text.
A Roundtable for Busines Owners on Internet Technologies. Over the last few months, we have been presenting on various internet topics for the Small Business Development Center, and participated in events as a member of the Small Business Resource Network. We realized that thereÂ are a lot of mysteries, anxiety and confusion about how to set-up a website, promote your business online, and how to get control of your business’ online information. With the advent of the second decade of the 21st century, having and managing a robust online presence is not an option anymore.
56% of small businesses do not have a website, and 82% of all purchasing decisions start with an online search. If you don’t have a website, you don’t exist! This roundtable/webinar series will provide business owners with relevant information about the internet space, separate the wheat from the chaff, and you will learn which matters you need to take care of yourself, and those that you can delegate to various consulting partners.
Update 2018 – We discontinued the business ownere roundtable, but not our Above the Noise newsletter. You can subscribe here
We know you have technology issues and questions. Everyone does! And we also know that you may not have access to the people and resources who can answer those questions and resolve those issues. That’s why we’d like to invite you to our monthly online business owners’ roundtable,ORBIT, designed to help small businesses like yours blast their online presence into the future. Sign-up here, it’s free
ORBIT provides a fun, informal and congenial online forum for business owners (beginners to advanced) to openly discuss ANY and all web and technology-related issues specific to their small business. Maybe you have a question about search engine ranking, or how to integrate e-mail marketing into your existing online presence, or maybe you just have a general technology problem or question that you’d like to “put out there” for feedback.Bring your questions and you’ll receive concrete feedback on how to make the web work better for you and create a web presence that rocks!
Each month one participant will have the opportunity to submit their website for review by the group, and engage in a roundtable discussion format that explores that particular websiteâ€™s usability, search engine ranking, local marketing, and more.
The next ORBIT sessions are scheduled for Thursday, October 28th + December 30th, from 3:30 PM until 4:30 PM, and will be co-hosted by Birgit Pauli-Haack, Founder & CEO of Pauli Systems, LC, and Jane Freitas, Director of Operations, Pauli Systems, LC.
Login information for this online session will be sent the week prior to the scheduled date, to all registrants.
As a beta tester of Fast Company’s new business community site, I am fascinatedÂ on what they are trying to do, it’s a little bit of everything: LinkedIn,Â Facebook, iGoogle. So far it seems it works for me, its interface is intuitive,Â I understand what goes where and where I would find things and the differentÂ things find me. Of couse, for those of us that have been around long enough,Â know itâ€™s the second generation Fast Company community site, after Company of Â Friends.
This Site has everything you would want of a great community site of theÂ second generation. A job very well done! What I very much appreciate is that IÂ am not bombarded with advertising on every page, and the ads are are notÂ animated/video ads, that flicker in front of my eyes and I am able toÂ concentrate on the content – very much a plus. Now I just discovered that I am ableÂ to create my own blog on the fastcompany.com domain, which I find quiteÂ generous. The â€œbetaâ€ in front makes it bit geeky, and for a techie like me,Â there is no downside to it. (Google had their Gmail site in beta for aboutÂ three years, before they went public with it, hadnâ€™t they?)
After about five month intensive explorations on Facebook I am now relievedÂ that I am again allowed to keep my business content organized on one site.Â Bookmarks, newsletters, feeds, and contacts: everything is about business, businessÂ technology, business ideas. Now these things donâ€™t intermingle anymore with myÂ private and semi-private and my charity interests like they do now onÂ del.icio.us or on Facebook. I still am very much able to have them â€˜bleedâ€™Â through by using the feeds but the collections and the administration is now separate. And I very much like that. Fast Company I like that the â€œCompany ofÂ Friendsâ€ are back! Thank you! And this Blog will not only be about Web 2.0,Â which many people still have not embraced yet, but also about how Fast CompanyÂ is a major player in shaping Web 2.0 for business people of Gen X and Y and hopefully a bit of the Boomers, too.