Sunday, December 03, 2006

Popular Culture Paranoia

As technology becomes more and more advanced and people are now pretty much carrying computers on their persons there exists an even larger threat of personal information leaking out to malicious sources.

This doesn't bother me, however, because the chances of my cell phone being hacked or someone throwing a GPS module into my backpack to stalk me are so slim that I wouldn't even fathom the thought.

However, the fact that popular culture becomes so obsessed with articles dealing with hacks made on such devices helps clearly define a problem I have felt is not discussed as much as I would hope. This problem is the fact that, as Americans, in our culture, we can sometimes be absorbed into fear based upon what we see in the media. The sight of articles such as this one on iPod transmitters dealing with calorie loss being used to track the whereabouts of people (http://www.itwire.com.au/content/view/7674/52/), with little doubt in my mind, can negatively affect the sales of the said device out of fear from the consumers.

But really, how many people are capable of creating such programs to do the said tracking? And for that matter, what good is it worrying about such a device if it can be placed on your person without you knowing?

I understand the good of at least having the knowledge that this could occur but are we to check our persons for scanning devices at consistent periods of the day because some uber nerd with an obsession could be chasing us down? Should we check for cameras in our bedrooms and bugs in our offices as well?

Ignorance is bliss.

What are your thoughts about the matter?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Facebook/YouTube: An Employer's Candygram of Data for the Digital World

First:
Now that I'm floating randomly in webspace having posted all the different subjects I initially wished to cover, I figured for the first post I'd post a discussion. This topic applies to most college students and all employees in general as more of the already established workforce begins to join services like facebook and myspace as they are being offered more freely.

Facebook/YouTube: An Employer's Candygram of Data for the Digital World
One of the few things that sickens me about the current trend of research into employees is how personal the employers feel they need to go these days into understanding who their employees are on and off the job.

First, let me say, yes, I believe some of this information can be helpful into determining the character of the employee but, really, if the employee isn't working at the time of the action and is not breaking any laws should employers be able to use it against the employee in terms of job selection or retainment?

As a college student, and son of an overprotective mother, I have heard scores of stories about college students losing their opportunities at fortune 100 companies simply by posting a shot of them performing some odd activity on facebook or because a video was posted of them doing something against the "character" of the organization.

How does the kegstand an excessive partier did on his 21st birthday or the seductive clothing a girl wore to a local club affect their job performance in any way?

As the limits of our current technology are constantly being pushed against and new advancements in technology shift that very limit where are we to draw the line?

Please, I'm curious to your opinions in the matter.

Letting the World Know

This last step is for after the programming and testing has been completed.

At this point the site has been launched and you're sitting in front of your computer drooling over every hit your site gets more anxious than you've ever been before.

Sit back, stop acting like a fool, and let's get to work.

Search Engine Submission
Google Adsense
Link Exchanges? (Bah)
Newspaper Advertising



Search Engine Submission
Well, before your site can be placed in a search engine it will have to be indexed by a "Spider." What a spider does is that it jumps from page to page grabbing all the links and adding those pages to its index while also checking them for links. It is assumed that most of the pages on the web are linked by at least one other page in that sense.

However, in the event you have a new site it may be awhile before your link is posted anywhere, and while "spiders" are notorious for finding websites you may want to just list the page yourself. There are several tools out there to do just that and, while I could go find them for you, I'll be a tech-elitist and tell you to just go google "search engine submission."

Alternatively, you can visit the search engines yourself and do each by hand but this can be a bit troublesome because it takes quite awhile.

*You may want to ask your html designer or programmer (if they are the same person) if they were sure to include "Metatags" in the HTML. These "Metatags" are used to help the search engine list your page because they include a description of your site, keywords, and the proper site title.*


Google Adsense
The gist of this service is that Google takes your money and throws your site on a similar website to your own which people may click or not. Rinse and repeat.

The biggest problem with this sort of service is that many of the people clicking may not end up buying your product so each visit is costing you money. It's really up to you if you want to use this service or not but be prepared to fork out some cash.

https://www.google.com/adsense/


Link Exchanges? (Bah)
I'm not going to say much about link exchanges because I believe them to be tacky and make your site look less professional but they do serve some purpose.

The way google generally ranks your site is by how many other sites are linked to it (its e-popularity) among other things.

By people linking to your site it makes your site look like there is a lot of e-buzz related to it.

Use at your own caution and try to make sure your exchanges are relevant to your content and not a competitor's site.


Newspaper Advertising
One last way I'll discuss, although there are many other options out there, is the use of newspaper advertising.

With this method you can let others know about your site at a small cost (depending upon the newspaper).

For example, if you had a site for college students it wouldn't be a bad idea to send in your site information and an advertisement to local school papers to get the students' attention.

I personally think that for an online site this doesn't work as well as the internet methods of advertising simply because you force the user to type in the website address himself but it does show a level of professionalism and if your ad is good enough I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work.



Generally, at this point you have to find new creative ways to let users know about your site without compromising your professionalism. There are tons of ways to do this and I suggest you put a marketing major (and perhaps an information design and corporate communications major) on a short leash for a little while as soon as you're done developing and let them go to town on it.

Well, I hope I've been semi-helpful to the lot of y'all and if you have any questions feel free to post. (I'll try to get back to you but I don't have any time to work on website ideas if that's what your comment is about because I'm too busy trying to find work for after I graduate)

Thanks!

-Tim

Breaking the Site

Alright, so now you're probably wondering what I mean by "Breaking the Site..."

It's simple! You need to make sure your site's functionality works 99% or so (I threw that out randomly so don't take it to heart too much) of the time.

Why?
Well, your site's functionality shows how much effort you took toward creating a professional site and any broken pieces will hurt your reputation among your visitors one way or another.

I mean, honestly, would you trust your credit card information to a site that constantly had errors with its code? I sure as heck wouldn't.

So how do you "break the site"
There are several methods of breaking the site... Two of the biggest are functional and performance testing.

Functional Testing
Functional testing is a process where you go through all the functions and make sure they all work well. This can be troublesomely long if the site is huge but still is fairly important if you want to make sure your site is well developed. In the event there is a problem you send the programmer what you did up to that point and the actual error returned.

Performance Testing
This is a bit more fun to do but, unless you work for a large company, you will probably never have a chance to access the tools ($$$$$) required to do some of this work. Looking at your logs, however, I guess, can show you some performance information like the number of users on your site and then you can compare that to error log.

What performance testing is, however, is scripting the functionality of well known processes (like logging in) and then, after you parameterize your variables, hitting the site with a predetermined amount of users over an extended period of time.

This can show you problems with the memory, system usage, and so on.

Again, you probably don't need to know any of this for your e-business but it's good to know what types of well known and performed testing are out there.


So break it and then fix it.

-Tim

Building Website Anticipation

Building Website Anticipation:

Alright, so you are waiting on your lazy programmer (I'm a programmer so I can say stuff like that) and you want to begin the process of getting anticipation among your target audience.

First, what is the right time to begin this process?
There really is never a right time per se but you can generally get a good idea of when by determining how long it would take for people to properly get excited about your product (is it brand new and hard to grasp?) and how along is your programmer toward creating the site.

If your programmer is just starting his work on the website, I'd wait a bit before you let this information out to the general public. The last thing you need is to open with competitors already in the market (although I'd hope you'd have such a great site it wouldn't be a problem but who knows).

Second, what are some ways of letting people know?
Word of mouth, at least according to my marketing research from my biggest business class at Bentley, is the best way to let others know about your site. People trust people more than they do adverts and big signs (if you can buy one of those planes with the tailing message though they are pretty cool none the less).

Other ways include forums on the internet, social networking sites, and a plethora of other options.

Example: Let's say I wanted to create a site aimed at college students... I'd post flyers on facebook.com, visit college student web forums, and encourage my friends to tell their friends about the upcoming site. By the time I launched there would already be some brand recollection so the likelihood they'd at least try the site increases by a pretty good amount.


-Tim

Connecting the Dots

Now that you've assembled your team and you've built the user interface (and I'm sure the programmer is working on the code to manage the data) you'll need to bring the lot of your work together.

At this point in the process there isn't really much you, as the creator of the site, can do besides wait for the site to reach completion.

You can prepare yourself for several things to come, however:

These things will be discussed in the next three entries...
After this, I won't really have much to write about in terms of e-business creation so I'll randomly post about technology afterwards (which can be fun too albeit not as fun as web design!)

Building Website Anticipation
Breaking the Site
Letting the World Know

Building Website Anticipation

Alright, so you want to build anticipation?
You need to slowly let out the word on your website to get others excited.
But when is the right time to do this?
Stay tuned.


Breaking the Site

One of the biggest problems to customer retention on a website is the professionalism of the website. Every time the user encounters an error, whether a missing page or a bad query response, they will take it against your professionalism and their trust with you.


Letting the World Know

If you build it, they won't know about it and won't come.
If you yell around about it... they'll probably stick their heads around eventually.


So here come the posts... One after another... machine gun blogging style.

-Tim

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Lots of Posts on the Way

(Error with the picture so removed)

Howdy y'all,
I haven't been posting at all recently because I was spending Thanksgiving with some friends in Canada so I didn't have access to technology.

To make up for it, I plan on posting an insane amount of blog posts to make it look like I've been hard at work recently.

Here is a picture of the lot of us at banquet for my fraternity a week ago yesterday minus one roommate. I'd post a picture of us at Niagra but my camera took a turn for the worst midway through the trip.

Enjoy them, they'll be up by tomorrow.

-Tim