the internet ideas blog

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hi! I'm Chris! I program the websites...

Hi, it's Chris. I hardly ever post, but I've made a New Years resolution to more actively engage myself with our blog. I can't even pretend to know what I'm going to write about over the course of the next year, but I can promise it won't always be work related. If I'm going to write blog posts they're going to have to be about things I want to talk about, and while I love web development, enjoy working with Teajai, and the clients who employ us... I don't want to spend my time talking about it too.

So anyways.. I guess an introductory post is in order!

My name is Chris Keefer. I guess here's where I try to sum myself up in a brief synopsis. So let's see here...

I'm a programmer. In the context of the web that means I'm the one who creates and implements the solutions to your internet problems. Shopping carts, content management systems, user login systems. I build those. Favorite Language: PHP

I secretly want to be a chef. Only problem is I can't cook. I've been working on it, very recently really the time and spending some focus points on really applying myself in the kitchen... Favorite Food: Chicken Fried Steak (with pan gravy of course...) 

The hobby that really soaks up the majority of my time, when weather permits, is automotive mechanics. I work on friend's cars. My car. Friend's friend's cars.. It's just something I love to do when I have the time (and money!). I've had a run of bad luck with my most recently car, so I'm really considering dropping it for a new project. We'll see how it pans out. Just waiting for warmer months so I can get back out there and start tinkering. Favorite Car: Datsun 510

I'm a dog person. I don't hate cats or anything, in fact Teajai's cat Prince may be my favorite animal of all time. But if I ever have a furry friend of my own, it'll be a dog. Favorite Breed: Australian Cattle Dog

Lightning round: I'm right-handed. My two best friend's names are Angel and Jesus (LOL!). I'm sort of a movie snob. I wish I was more artistic. I used to play video games competitively, attending tournaments across the country. I've never been able to successfully use chop-sticks. My favorite color is Orange. I chew on ice & straws... always.. I've never left the country. I have friends I keep in regular contact with living in over 20 states (and Canada land!). I never met a pizza I didn't like. I hate getting haircuts (I always look dumb!). I love the smell of race fuel (but don't sniff it.. that'd be bad). I once BOARDED a plane going to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina... My destination was Jacksonville, Florida... I like pineapple on my pizza.. and I ask Santa for a giant tortoise every year so I can put aviator goggles on him.. Santa never delivers.

I hope this was enlightening.... Probably not.. But at least we know each other a little better.. Or.. you know me better..

Whatever. I'll find a real topic of discussion for my next post.. I promise.

I hope everyone's Christmas/Kwanza/Hanukkah or otherwise awesome December-based holiday is going/went/will go great. It's a cool time of year, but I know a lot of people get wrapped up in the hustle & bustle of it all. So don't forget to spend some time reflecting on what's truly important in life.

As always, if there's ever anything we can do.. I know TJ and I are happy to oblige.. Merry Christmas to everyone. I hope you and yours are safe, happy & healthy, and if I don't talk to you before, enjoy your new years. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

As hated as a visit to the dentist . . .

Blogging doesn't have to be like pulling teeth!
Some people think of blogging the same way they think of going to the dentist - not pleasant and to be avoided at all costs.  But this year I've had more clients start blogging (and I'm ghostwriting more blogs) this year than any year in the past. Why? Because more people are seeing the benefits of blogging like how blogs get the attention of search engines because of the fresh content and the way a blog gives you a platform to showcase expertise.

If you are still struggling with blogging here's a few things I've learned that will keep things on track.

  1. Give yourself a blogging due date and stick to it.  Like an appointment on the calendar make sure you have your "homework" done by that day each week.  When I've set a due dates for the client's I'm coaching we get it done 9 times out of 10.
  2. Keep a notepad handy so when something you read or talk about sparks an idea for a blog post you can jot it down and come back to it later.  If you're really hurting for ideas try using the Content Idea Generator.
  3. Watch your blog traffic - really! Because when you see how many people read a particular blog post it encourages you to write again!
  4. Get a blogging buddy - that's right a buddy who will keep you on track, proof read, give you a second opinion and maybe even brainstorm ideas with you.
Remember - a blog post is first person, can include your thoughts and opinions and should always quote the source or link back to the source when you're referencing the writings of others. 

Blogging shouldn't be a painful exercise, it can be a fun, easy way to showcase your company. If you haven't started - today looks like a good day to do so right? How about now?

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Get Lost!

Yesterday I had to make a call to a government agency about a strange letter I received.  The phone system was HELL.  First select English, then listen to 6 options (didn't hear one that really applied so had to listen twice) take a guess at a selection that *might* be correct, listen to 4 more options - none of these seemed correct.  Tried selectin 0 which in most cases will get an operator, no such luck.  Made a random guess - it ended up telling me about a new policy and wished me a good day (in other words said good-bye and hung up).

Round 2: Select English, listen to 6 options - try a different choice. Listen to 5 more options - choose something that is irrelevant but sounds like it has an outside chance of reaching a person...

Have you been there, done that?  Layers and layers of choices and yet they don't get what you wanted. Layers. They are everywhere!

Unfortunately many websites are the same way - nothing but layers.  Why would you put a potential customer (yes even non-profit and government agencies have "customers" they serve) through the hell of trying to sort through all those layers! Worse yet, about half of these websites don't even use breadcrumbs to help you know where you in the website.

Here's one example - to get to the explanation of changes based on the new Obamacare you'll go through at least 5 screens of  "it's coming" content.  That's the number of clicks before it starts to give you the info from the link on the front page. Then they want 8 more minutes of your time.

Government and insurance websites are among the worse offenders although you can also find this problem in shopping websites, large corporations and more.

The point is - people just want to go to the website, get the info (or order the product) and get out. They don't want to get lost and will often leave before finding what they came for when they are lost.

The use of personas and "people like me" identifiers are key to a good user experience.  By giving "quick links" and "short cuts" to the information people are most likely to want you'll be doing us all a favor.

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