Online Consultant

What are you going to find here? Well you will get my insight to my random thoughts about the online world, along with some of my other interests, vego cooking, skateboarding and the journey to get fit.

Want to know more?
  • Evo and I watching another awesome Perth sunset

    Evo and I watching another awesome Perth sunset

  • Source unknown

    Source unknown

101 Web Technology

101 Web Technology

An online consultancy specialising in usable and accessible solutions that achieve maximum return on investment ensuring your website and web applications work for your business.
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iApp Marketing

iApp Marketing

iApp Marketing comes under the 101 Web Technology banner and is the arm of the business providing mobile application design/development. The business is based on the ethos of collaborative application development. We work with people to develop their ideas.
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Lets Skate

Lets Skate

I'm a big fan of skating, the art on the boards the extreme nature of the sport. So after a bit of a hiatus from skateboarding, I'm getting back onto the board to shred it up again. Not really too hard any more, after a couple of falls I realise I don't bounce like I used to. But its fun and the fitness is improving, bring it on.
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Your Online Consultant

Your Online Consultant

Working with small business owners, I see too often the need for an independent source to get information regarding their online business. Your Online Consultant is a new service I'm launching to help businesses to succeed online. As Your Online Consultant I assist to ensure your online presence is working for your business to get the best bang for your buck.
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Custom Email signatures

Do you have a well designed email signature? For too long I was running a plain text version, mostly due to the fact I could control the format and I set it up so long ago, I just totally forgot to even look at it. That was until I came across this video from Exclaimer. In the video they take you through 17 Email Signature Do’s and DONT’s and I was amazed, I recommend taking a look at the video, then reading the rest of the post to find out how you can get a great email signature for FREE.

What I took out of the video, was I needed to update my email signature, I needed a professional well designed signature which would reflect my business, generate leads to my social profiles and basically represent me. A quick google will show you there are literally thousands of free email signature designs available online, and you can create the perfect signature design template for yourself.

A tool that I found which literally took  my signature from the boring old plain text version.

Plain signature

To this much more professional look.

Philip Barnes signature

 

To give your signature a makeup take a look at https://newoldstamp.com/

With the click of a button you have many options available like these

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 3.23.43 pm

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 3.23.57 pm

April 21st is ‘Mobilegeddon’, Will you be ready?

Firstly did you know Google search changes which are coming? The changes are related to mobile-friendly websites and the positive ranking factor having a mobile friendly site brings. We now have a date 21st April 2015. Some analysts are calling this time “Mobilegeddon“, predicting the effects to be felt much harder then both the previous Panda and Penguin changes. I believe with the current industry trends to focus on mobile design, it is most likely not far fetched to assume the effects will be felt hard. However, like with the previous updates the high competition keywords will be the first to feel the effects and filtering down to the less competitive markets over time.

So depending where your site fits, your site may still perform after the 21st April 2015 however if the site is not mobile friendly I would expect to see a negative influence on your ranking, especially as your competitors start to improve their own website presence, so you best prepare.

How to prepare

If your site is already mobile-friendly, you won’t have much to worry about. Though I would strongly recommend using Google’s tools to evaluate your mobile readiness and obtain a report. Both Developer tools and Webmaster Tools offer tools to provide you insight into the mobile-friendliness of your website.

However, if you’ve not yet implemented a mobile strategy for your online presence, now is the critical time to get it done.

My site is not responsive, can you simply just convert my existing website to a responsive version?

Sort of, though let me explain.

Imagine you bought a new laptop right before the updated model was announced, this model comes with an awesome hi-definition display. If you took your laptop back to the store and asked them to add the new display to your existing laptop, the guys are likely to simply stare at you blankly.

This is due to your laptop not having the hardware necessary to make it the same, in-order for that to happen it would need to be taken apart, completely rebuilt and then reassembled. This is very similar to moving from a desktop-only website to a responsive mobile-friendly website. That is, your website would have to be basically taken apart and completely rebuilt, mostly because the code and structure necessary to make the website responsive just wasn’t around when the site was originally built.

Really love my website, can I keep my current web design?

The short answer is yes. But it might not be worth it for the the following reasons, going back to our earlier laptop example, there is very little physical difference between the 2 laptops, however the difference is what is underneath the hood, it is the internal components that get the upgrade, not the shiny side.

Similarly, if you want, you could keep the physical look of the site the same and simply rewrite most of the underlying code so that it works on more devices.

However, there are a few problems with this:

  1. Firstly, your site may simply look a little tied when compared to modern web design techniques. Things in the online world move fast, users expect more from a site and visuals are a big part of their expectations and the assumptions they make of your business.
  2. Your current design is simply not optimised for small screens. Sure it may look OK, though you will find many times taking a desktop design and shrinking it down for smaller screens like smartphones can be hard to optimise because we have been designing the site for an entirely different purpose. The simplest difference is using your finger direct on screen or using a mouse, two totally different methods. This is why I now recommend a mobile-first approach to all re-design projects.
  3. Over time you have most likely crammed your site full of content, promo images, banners etc… When we look at small screen design, we focus on essential elements and the business intent of the user. Ie if they have come to your site on a phone, “what are they looking to do?” and “what would you like them to do?”

How do I get a mobile friendly site?

I believe that everyone should have a mobile friendly website and for the next 2 months (ending 31 May 2015) we are offering a discount off our standard agency rate for conversions or re-designs of existing sites.

So basically let’s get mobile friendly and keep those great search rankings in place. Contact me now.

This Content Marketing Tip Is Worth Gold

Read the full article at JeffBullas.com

Every now and again I come across some gold in the Twittersphere. This week, I have come across an article about visual content and the favourable organic reach that it has over text based content.

I’m not sure about you though I’m on these social networks all the time, tweeting, status updates, instagraming and just recently Vine (creative 6sec video loops, its pretty cool). Anyways I came across content all the time, so why did I stop at this article?

The nice infographic sucked me in, with the catchy headline “Your business needs visual content” *Visual content is 40x more likely to be shared on social networks. These stats are all based on Jeff’s own research and correlate well with our recent campaigns.

So the question is, are you sharing visual content? We did recently on the 101 Web Technology facebook page. We were looking for specific resources for a new project. Previously we posted pure text and reached 54 people.

Flip it to a picture of Mr T with “Got sharepoint skills, we need you” – organically reached 354 people.

So next time you are updating your website, think about how you may present the content visually. You will increase your engagement.

Until next time.

Phil Barnes

Your Online Consultant

Tasty Sweet Potato and Zucchini Pizza

Vego PIzza
Vego PIzza

Tasty sweet potato and zucchini pizza

Seriously, you need to get onto this right away.

  • 1 medium sweet potato (cubed)
  • 1 medium zucchini (thinly sliced)
  • Splash of Olive oil
  • Rocket or baby spinach leaves
  • 1-2 cups of cheese (tasty/parmasen mix 75/25)
  • Tomato paste
  • handful of coriander
  • Pita bread
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Aioli

Lets go

Pre-heat your over to 180C

While the oven is heating up, usually because I have just thought “Let’s have pizza tonight” I need to prepare the sweet potato and zucchini. For this I heat up a fry pan and cook the sweet potato, try and get it browned on the sides as this gives it a great taste.

Once that is done, lightly dust the zucchini slices with some and brown these guys up too.

Thats it for the manual cooking, start building up the pizza.

Spread a tablespoon of tomato paste over the pita bread

I usually dust a little bit of the cheese at this point, to stick down the other ingredients.

Now throw on the sweet potato followed by the zucchini and finally some more cheese.

Place in the oven for about 10mins, though keep an eye on it as the pita bread cooks quick especially if you have left a crusty edge. They brown up nicely.

Pull out the pizza and cut into 1/4 or 1/8 it’s really up to you at this stage.

Place onto your plate and top with the green leaves, spiral on aioli and the balsamic vinegar.

Secrets

Now I don’t use a standard balsamic, I picked up from my local Famers Markets a Caramelised Balsamic Vinger and seriously, it is the shit. When I bought it, the lady said it also goes well on vanilla ice cream. What, Mind BLOWN! – I will post when I get onto trying it. Now to get this magic into your pantry, check out http://labarre.com.au/ or pop into Woden Southside Farmers Market on every Sunday at Woden CIT.

3 Tips to clean up spam registrations on WordPress

I have had my blog built on WordPress, up for awhile now and I’m starting to see some traffic coming through the site. Which is good, however the downside is I’m now subject to more spam registrations on the site, which is not a good thing for my real users.

At last count I had over 1300 zombie (inactive) user accounts. These accounts were adding excess size to my database and above most of all, when I’m doing marketing activities there was the potential to be sending emails and alerts to people who are not going to engage or in the case with most zombie accounts, the emails addresses are not real or are farmed and the user doesn’t know their email address has been used to signup to my website.

Spam registrations are a problem for most WordPress sites, so I thought I would share a few tips with you on how Im combatting the registration spam.

Here we go with 3 Tips to clean up spam registrations on WordPress

Tip 1: Disable user registration

Decide when you launch your WordPress site, whether or not you want people registering on your WordPress site at all. WordPress is such a varied beast that if you are using it as a pure CMS to publish pages, you may not even want user registration.

In this instance; the first point of call is to disable user registration.

Admin > Settings > General and uncheck Anyone can register

As it is a checkbox, if later down the track you add a blog, shopping cart or any functionality which requires users to register, you simply enable the setting.

For comments, I go an extra step further and in Admin > Settings > Discussion. I enable the checkbox Users must be registered and logged in to comment

Tip 2: Stop Spammers with a registration blocker

Find yourself a good spam registration blocker. Im currently using Stop Spammers and at this stage Im pretty happy with the results, I will follow up with a separate blog post after I have had it running for a bit longer to let you know the results. If you have experience with another spam blocker, please post a comment below and let me know about it. I have run with the out-of-the box configuration, there are quite a few configuration items though I felt as I’m learning the plugin, I will use the default set and then fine tune afterwards.

Tip 3: Clean up zombie users (inactive ones)

This is more a remediation step rather then a blocker. Clean Up Zombie Users, this plugin will delete any user who has never had a post or comment approved. If you have been running your site for more than a few weeks you can pretty much bet that 95% of all site registrations typically come from spammers. The normal behaviour is when they can’t get a comment approved, they just sit in the database, clogging up your world. These users are of no value to you, so lets get rid of them.

Really simple plugin, simply install to your site and access via Settings > Clean up, select 3 options. You can be selective here and choose your user type, whether they have either no posts or no comments (or both).

Included Features:

  • Target specific user roles for deletion based on whether they have ever posted or commented
  • Includes a test mode to see what the results will be
  • Includes the ability to delete users in chunks, for large sites.

Features which are currently in development and I for one are waiting for: 

An [x] indicates this is done in the development version

  • [ ] Allow newer users to be excluded
  • [ ] Build in logic for all major e-commerce plugins so that paying customers can’t be pruned
  • [ ] Boolean values don’t really need to be sanitized, but we’re going to do it anyway
  • [ ] Save selections as session data between submit & results
  • [x] Trim ” | User Role” from the end of role listings on older WP sites.
  • [ ] Need to make the entire introductory message change after a post
  • [ ] Need to put the deleted users list into a scrolling DIV
  • [ ] Investigate AJAX updates as the plugin works
  • [ ] Investigate the ability to protect users without changing their roles
  • [ ] Investigate the ability to line-item delete users, or remove them from the operation

I hope these tips helped you out, if you have any more ideas, tips please let me know in the comments.

5 Reasons Enterprise Marketers will love Drupal 8

Im really excited about the release of Drupal 8, in this eBook from ACQUIA “5 Reasons Enterprise Marketers will love Drupal 8” ACQUIA explore and promote the key features which get us excited about the platform. It is interesting to note that out of the box Drupal 8 is mobile ready, this is a major feature and shows that the guys behind Drupal are paying attention to the market. Drupal 8 is moving away from being a Web Content Management System and into a Web Experience Management tool. This means its providing a robust framework for integrating with existing systems, being extended to deliver high value web applications to the enterprise.

Drupal 8 is based on five key premises marketers will love:

  • Software for the real world—use the best tools for the job at hand
  • Mobile and beyond—embrace mobile technologies
  • Intuitive site administration—make managing your website easy for everyone
  • The right content at the right time—deliver more relevant content
  • Performance is everything—emphasize performance

Read more about the key features and find out why you should be excited by visiting Acquia.

Did I mention that 101 Web Technology is a ACQUIA Foundation Partner, with all our developers certified in the Sales, Training and Development tracks. If you are looking for a Drupal development firm with the backing of industry leading technology and system architects, you won’t go too far wrong with getting in touch with 101 Web Technology.

3 Lessons from presenting my Web Optimisation Workshops

Photo of presentation slide and view from the Narooma Golf Club

Last week I travelled from Canberra to the South Coast of NSW to present 3 x 3 hour workshops on the subject of Web Optimisation on behalf of the Eurobodalla Shire Council, the sessions were in Batemans Bay, Moruya and Narooma and we had great attendance over 140 poeplwith lots of attendees ready to participate and get the most out of the sessions.

I learnt a lot about the approach to presenting technical information to a mix of technical and non technical people and as a result my presentation style evolved from the first session to the last where I found I had the format and timings down to a tee. In Batemans Bay I was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with a person, who had many years experience in presenting workshops and courses. He gave me some great tips which allowed me to adjust for the following sessions and I think the subsequent groups really benefitted from it.

Here are a couple of the tips which I applied and which I found worked really well.

1) Popcorn style is hard to control

Popcorn style is likened to having un popped kernels of corn in amongst the group and applying the heat (in this case start presenting) and waiting to see which pops, often if you have watched popcorn being cooked, you start to notice the result is a process which is chaotic and uncontrollable. I opened the session with an open invite to ask questions through the session, what I found in the first session was these questions were sometimes so specific to the person asking I quickly became involved in a 1 on 1 conversation, leaving the rest of the group behind and not involved.

Lesson – The style worked and got people feeling comfortable, though if the question does not benefit a majority of the group, take it offline. I also recommend setting a context for the questions up front, this sets expectations of what you will and won’t cover. If a question is covered later in the presentation, park it until then.

2) Prizes can distract

I offered bribes to get people talking in the form of chocolate, and the game was who collected the most chocolate at the end of the session would receive a 2hr consultation with me. First session – Offered chocolates in the popcorn style and it was very hard to control. Prizes were awarded to people who asked a question or interacted. This meant questions sometimes were not relevant though as I hadn’t set context, I was obliged to give the prize otherwise my integrity would be lost. Second session, I didn’t offer any. Not by design, purely because I was thrown by IT issues and I had to present the first 1hr of the session, without slides and illustrating the points on the white board. I simply forgot that component, however it did not distract and people were still very engaged and did participate in a very positive way. Third session – Chocolates came back, I controlled the questions a lot more and found this was productive, though still very hard to keep on track.

Lesson – The prizes were a major distraction and a lot harder to control then I anticipated. Questions were varied and took me on many tangents and off the lesson plan I had set. My suggestion is to offer incentive points, or knowledge checks in the form of questions to the group. This allows you to keep on point, control the group and promote active participation.

3) Set goals and targets

I had prepared my slides around the topics I wanted to cover through the night. Though I had no set target or end game. What did I want people to learn?, what were the key takeaways? I knew I wanted people to learn from me, but what? I found this evolving as I got to know each audience.

Lesson – Have a clear set of targets and goals defined. They will help you to stay on point, and take the participants on the journey with you. People don’t want a set of facts thrown at them, they want to consume knowledge and how you present that knowledge is key. In my last session, I set knowledge checks where I would get everyone on the same page before stepping into the live demo. For instance. Who understands how a search engine works? A very simple check to see if the next chunk of information is going to make sense. I found in each session, over 70% did not know how a search engine worked, therefore it would have made jumping into Google Webmaster Tools to explain how Googles sees their site (index stats, keywords and density, sitemaps, crawl rates) was going to a lot harder without some foundation knowledge.

I hope these help you when your presenting your next topic, if you have any tips yourself please feel free to share Im always learning.

Orange and Raspberry Dairy Free Smoothie

orange raspberry dairy free  smoothieThis dairy free smoothie turned out great, I have actually made it a couple of times since. The tweak that I made after I took the photo was to use frozen oranges. The photo used for the post was with the fresh oranges. Tastes mostly the same though with the frozen fruit you tend to make a more creamier smoothie.

Tips:
If you plan on using frozen oranges, I strongly recommend peeling before you place in the freezer. It just means you don’t need to stuff around with the whole peeling process when the fruit is frozen.

If you have fruit that is not that great for eating, maybe a little over ripe. If you’r not going to juice it, peel it and throw it in a zip lock bag and place in the fridge. I do this will all my fruit. Reduces waste and really extends the life of your fruit. I haven’t found a fruit yet that doesn’t freeze too well, though if you have please add your comments below.

Ingredients:

3 oranges
Cup of frozen raspberries
Half a standard cucumber (skin on)
1/2 cup – 1 cup of water (filtered is best, you could go a raw organic coconut too as a variation)

Throw these into the blender and smoothie away. For me I like a thick smoothie, so I tend to use a smaller amount of water first and its really there to help my crappy blender to do its job.

Hope you enjoy it

Fruit Salad Dairy Free Smoothie

fruit salad dairy free smoothie

What a great dairy free smoothie. This one was actually destined to go in to the ice block moulds, though I made a little too much so it went into the cup and we had a refreshing drink with breakfast. In fact I think if you were running a little late you could add some hemp seed for a hit of protein and this could be a great light breakfast.

  • 1 Frozen Orange
  • 1 Cup Frozen Raspberries
  • 1/4 of Honeydew Melon
  • 2 Cups of watermelon
  • 1/4 Cup water

Throw into your favourite (or in my case my make-do blender) and mix up a storm. The two frozen fruits make this a creamy smoothie and add a real freshness to it.

If you want ice-blocks for the kids, here are a couple of tips.

Use your ice cube tray, fills each spot with the blended fruit, place in freezer for about 1hour take out and now put in your sticks. I used wooden skewers which I cut to a 2.5-3inch pieces and just simply push through the mix. The fruit should be quite firm at this stage, so you will be able to easily stand up the sticks.

If you don’t have the time to wait for the partial freeze or you want a set and forget method, cut a piece of A4 paper the same size as the try put it over the top of the ice tray and put your sticks though the paper. The paper should help them to stay straight.

We have these Wistix Frozen Pop Makers from Howard’s Storage World. They are great, though we have moved recently to Perth and had 8, but now have 5. Im sure the ones which are MIA, are just in some random box. #hatemoving :)

Love to hear how you guys like the smoothie or ice pops, leave me a comment or two.

 

What is the return on investment (ROI) of User Experience?

As a consultant Im always working with the best intentions of my client and their users. Working to achieve their goals and make the product a success. In business it is imperative that everything you do has a positive return, from advertising, internal processes, etc etc..

Investing in user experience is no different, if your not investing in the experience that your product or website is offering, how can you expect to have the users embrace your business? All too often UX, usability, accessibility is lumped into the “nice to have” or in the case of accessibility “tell me it meets WCAG, and I will be happy”

Measuring ROI of User Experience

  • Efficiency time on task
  • Satisfaction
  • Change / Training
  • Maintenance
  • Dollars in increased sales

The $300 million dollar button, is an article from Jarad Spool a well respected usability consultant, who worked with Amazon and in turn added $300M to the bottom line investing in UX to address Amazon’s check out process. In pure sales increases those numbers are hard to beat.

86% of issues can be found with a small number of users. A research paper I read recently from a leading usability firm, found 86% of usability issues could be found by using a small set of 5 participants in your evaluations. So Usability testing doesn’t have to cost a large amount of money, though the return can be great.

On a recent project for the an Australian Government Department I was responsible for the UX of a project, simply by championing and implementing UCD into the projects lifecycle, we showed at the conclusion of the project with benchmarked findings that 1200 staff were over 40% more efficient at their job. Lets examine those figures a little:

1200 staff working 40/hr week for 48 weeks a year.

That’s a combined 2,304,000 hours worked each year. By making these staff members 40% more efficient, that provided 921,600 in gained hours for the Dept. With increases in data entry accuracy and task satisfaction.

The power of the user experience should not be under estimated for any project, especially when you can see the gains like I have highlighted above.

 

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