Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Don't Litter in Cyberspace

There is an awful lot of clutter on the web. There ought to be a fine for littering in cyberspace. You've seen the kind of junk I'm talking about here and there: content that is there for the sole benefit of search engines, such as white keyword text on a white background, people who spam in blog comments, and even the harmless pages of nonsense that grows like weeds on each of our websites.

In June I tightened ship on my own website. I've implemented some new security on the blog software, notably reCAPTCHA, a captcha project by Carnegie Mellon University. Captchas use images containing distorted text that you have to re-type into a form field. The reCAPTCHA project uses portions of scanned/OCR'd books that failed to be recognized easily by computers to test users. Once the text is verified to be read by a human, it helps add books to electronic libraries. So using this method not only foils spammers, but helps with online literature projects.

I'm also working on editing down my website. I am guilty of using my ability to create web pages so easily as an opportunity to be too wordy. Some websites don't have enough information, and you leave disappointed that you couldn't find what you needed to know. Others are too wordy: "Welcome to (this website). We're so glad you came... have a seat. Would you like some tea while you're waiting for real content? The bathroom is down the hall." I'm guilty as charged, in a court of my own self-examination.

I altered the navigation on the site, so it should hopefully make more sense to someone at least passingly familiar with websites. I started out with really obscure labels for the links, now I'm back down to the basics. Practice what I preach: I'm always telling my clients what should be on their homepage, how their navigation should be labeled. I have finally followed my own advice.

As a new service, I'm helping clients with their website "talk" -- a website needs to be the executive summary of a longer proposition. The longer proposition can be there, behind the scenes, and you can bring on the content in layers that are carefully crafted to build detail into the subject. However, people don't need to be hit over the head with a heavy sales pitch, proposal, or autobiography from the get-go.

Tightening up the wording, reducing babble, using bullet lists for main points, taking advantage of proper linking, and proper keyword integration.

People don't have time to sit through a long reading: they came with something in mind, even if it was just to learn more about you, and then they're going to go on to the next thing in their life. I'm working on other ways to increase website traffic to my client's site other than the stinking, lying, cheating ways that some search engine optimization businesses have taken up. It's a definite art, and it's easier to do on content that you didn't write yourself, so for me it's slow going between projects, and for clients, hopefully it won't be as slow and inconsistent.

Some of my new philosophies about optimization of websites were covered in my second workshop at the QED Business Edge conference yesterday: "Who's your website for?" It went over well. More about it later.

Because I'm expanding my business into content development and website planning, I'm starting to subcontract some design work out so I can make room for adding new services to my business. To see what this looks like, see the Rhthym and Rhyme Childcare and Simply FlawlessFaces websites.

Entering the 4th Dimension -- uh year.

Can you believe I founded this LLC in 2004? On August 24th (or was it 25th?) it will be the anniversary of Eclectic Tech, LLC. Officially 3 years old, I'll be entering my 4th year of business. Oogie. I can see ghosts of business past already.

My next several weeks are going to be hectic. Post-mortem of yesterday's conference, all the business meetings normally held 3rd week of the month, all the meetings and business I put off so I could handle last-minute tasks and stress before the conference...and getting my kids back from Mother before packing them off to school again.

And I've said this before, but there's always time for you. I love helping people out.

Today I sent someone to ICANN to see if they could recover their domain name -- why would I take someone's money to scramble to replace their website at a new domain name when they might recover that name legitimately?

I have a few appointments to help my client Linda Borghi of Abundant Life Farm to network in the region and gain clientele. I'm training two clients. The normal networking events like the Orange Networking Alliance. And I'm trying to remember where I left off when I put my business on pause for a moment.

The conference, on the other hand, went well. I'm so glad I didn't have to handle every detail. I thought, the night before the conference, "Oh, no, I need evaluation forms for my workshops!" and had to give that up -- no time. When I was there the next day, there were evaluation forms. I have to thank Susan (QED, LLC website coming in the future...) for handling details without needing me [I have a serious "If you want something done right..." complex!]. And Joe, her husband -- I would think we either took turns keeping Susan sane or took turns doing things that needed to "just be done". I like that synergy. People with focus getting things done. I could go quietly insane for a week and no one noticed :) Linda Borghi unknowingly helped keep me sane. It was better to focus on someone else's needs than the billion things I should have been doing, but would only have stressed about and never accomplished anyway. I had honest moments of peace in the tsunami of anxiety.

I apologize if I missed a phone call, missed returning a call, missed a hint that someone wanted me to do something, or somehow made a commitment that I didn't keep. What a month! I could list the accomplishments, such as the 92-page Business Edge website, but then you'd think I was bragging. :)

And I thank all the people who helped out at the conference. Thank you!!! I had a WONDERFUL time and didn't have to run around taking care of "stuff" all day. Joe & Susan & Frank Lowell and I think the other woman was Andrea at the registration made my day terrific by taking care of all the minutia.

[tags]clients,education,gratitude,life,local business,networkingn,new client,organization,personal,rant,time[/tags]