Projects - Tips and Tricks

hitting inbox 0

A messy inbox drives me nuts, each morning I work down to inbox 0 and most nights before leaving work (unless it was a crazy day) i try and hit it again. I recently talked about hitting inbox 0 in presently (our internal microblog) and was asked how do i do it? Heres how:

  • I take it seriously and recognize that its a task that takes time
  • When I sit down to process my email I’m ready to focus on it, I close everything else but my browser running gmail  and my tasks.txt file
  • I start at the top and read each email. At the end of each I decided, does this require an action? If so, will that action take less than 2 minutes , if so I do the action (pulled from David Allens 2 min rule) and then file the email. If it will take greater than 2 minutes, I star the email, file it in my client folder/label and jot in down in my tasks.txt file. If the email requires no action I either trash it or file it
  • Once I’ve hit inbox 0, I go in and review my starred emails, making sure any completed / followed up on emails are removed and the right stuff is on my tasks list.
  • To fly threw this process, I find the gmail web interface with keyboard shortcuts enabled works best. s, v, label, j, enter, #, gi, gs, learn it, love it. Gmail keyboard shortcuts explained

an easy way to support multiple laugages on your site

I came across the Google Translate Element today which, with a few lines of JavaScript, easily adds multilingual support to your website.  I realize that the translations might not be perfect, cultural issues may not be address, and some styles may need tweaking, but its a great simple way to start reaching out to a greater audience.

pay as you go broadband

A few years ago we purchased a batch of wireless broadband cards for a project, we loved the flexibility and ease of jumping online anywhere so we kept the contracts running long after the project ended. In taking a look back at our expenses we realized just how expensive this convenience was. We were shelling out around $60/month and only really using it every few months. After a bit of discussion we decided to back out of the service. I went on a few trips without it and felt the difference; paying for hotel / airport wireless, searching for SSID passwords, being at the mercy of other IT departments to get access. Basically my broadband card had made me feel slick, and now that was gone.

It wasn’t until my most recent trip, in which the paid hotel internet was only available in 50% of the rooms I needed it in (lack of good / affordable hotel wireless is another rant for another day), that I re-looked into this issue. I did a little research and found exactly what I was look for: pay as you go wireless broadband! Virgin Mobile Broadband2go allows you to purchase a device (~$80) and then data (starting at $10) as you need it.  It was an easy sell to the team, later that afternoon I was off to my local Radio Shack, and that night I was up and running.

I got back from my trip a few days ago, the service worked great (a little slow at times, but that is expected), it delivered, I delivered for our clients, I felt slick, and we aren’t strapped with lots of reoccurring costs. A big win!

designing in a recession

The topic at last night’s RefreshBoston meeting was Designing in a Recession presented by Joshua Porter. Although the conversation focused on designing and developing for the web, here are some tips that I think would help any business or individual during a recession:

  • Find your focus
  • Articulate why you’re an expert
  • Show people what you do. Don’t expect that it is self evident
  • Show your passion
  • Find a niche market and highlight it
  • Don’t eat alone - network, network, network
  • Don’t shy away from small projects, they can lead to big ones

If you want to learn more about what was presented check out kylefiedler’s notes on flickr

must have wordpress plugins

We have set up various WordPress sites for ourselves and our clients. User’s love the easy to use interface and we love the flexible back-end. One of the great features of the WordPress.org platform / community is the ability to utilize plugins to extend the site.  Here is a list of some basic must have plugins:

  • Akismet - comment spam filter, you will need to create a wordpress.com account and get an API key to get it running, but it’s defiantly worth it.
  • WP-Print and WP-EMail - adds email and print functionality to each post
  • Sociable - Adds social bookmarking links under each post.
  • Twitter-Tools - Connects your WordPress blog with your twitter account. Allows you to show tweets on your blog in the sidebar or as posts, auto tweets new blogs, and has a variety of settings to customize to meet your needs.

Check out additional plugins in the wordpress.org plugin directory and let us know your ‘must have’s’.

“reply all” and “cc” can be friend or foe

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When you get an email do you ever pay attention to who was copied on it and why they were copied?  When you respond, do you remember to hit “reply all” to everyone in the same group?

If you don’t, you might want to rethink that nasty habit.

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utilizing Google forms as a ticketing system

We currently use basecamp to manage our tickets. The process goes a little something like this: we add a to-do inside of a project, assign it to a person, add a comment to that to-do that includes all of the specs, attach any needed files, and send it along.

The one thing that irks me about this process is that I have no control over what information actually goes into these tickets. See, since we have many types of products and services each may need slightly different pieces of information. In the past I had created some word documents showing templates and required fields needed for common products and services, but these could easily get lost or not referenced as much as I hoped for.   Sometimes, account reps spend considerable time worrying about including the right info and / or recipients have to ask a bunch of follow up questions.

So I had an idea, what if the reps had a list of common products and services, when they clicked on an item, it brought them to a specific form for that type of project. It would ask all the right questions and require certain information. It would be easier for both parties. (more…)

cost of a website, do I go “up” or “down”?

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People ask me all the time, “how much should I pay for my website.?”  Of course the answer depends on your needs and goals - both short term and long term.   However, there is one price range that might want to think twice about before embracing - it’s the $5,000-$7,500 website budget.

It’s what I refer to as the “unhappiest range” because it produces the least amount of return on investment [ROI] and more often than not, it’s more than that customer really wants to spend and less than what they really need to spend to achieve their goals.  When a perspective customer proposes this budget we often suggest going either “up” or “down” to deliver a result that will have the best chance of impacting their organization. (more…)

customer service

In this day and age everything is about accessibility. We want things now and instantly. I will admit I am one of them. When I go to a site to sign up for something to discover that you can’t do it online its beyond frustrating. You wonder if you should even bother when only a couple of years ago that’s just the way businesses worked.

Now more than ever the web should be at the forefront of how your costumer service extends to the web. Do you have instant chat set up so that way you can on the spot ask a question to a representative? Is your phone number easy to find? Can you sign up and purchase items with no hassle?

These things are important if you want your business to look professional. That way users know that you have them in mind and will go above and beyond on customer service virtually. Making a good impression on them even before they stepped in the door.

logmein

Ever since i discovered logmein i have been hooked. This is a tool for accessing your computers from anywhere in the world. All you have to do is install the small program onto your computer and then you can gain complete access to it through your web browser. You see your desktop in the browser window and you have control over the mouse and keyboard – it’s as if you were there.

This has made my life so much easier. I can grab important files I forgot to bring somewhere, perform slow and tedious maintenance while I don’t need the computer, I even installed it on my friend’s computer to help fix problems when he gets them.

There is a free version that I use that is just fine for what I need but there are pro versions that can link hardrives, printers, sound etc… I’d really recommend trying it out.

www.logmein.com

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