Google+ Linked In Blog
design mobile interactive
Google+ Linked In Blog
Show Nav
Blog Posts

4 Lessons from Apple on Running Your Business
Oct. 14, 2014 12:04 pm

Looking to improve your business?  Finding a mentor in biz and in life is difficult to do.  A brand should always be challenging itself and growing.  Successful stories are essential in showing us the direction we should go.

If you're in need of a mentor, check out some of the secrets to Apple's success and how they can translate to you:

1.  Know what you do best; do it better than anyone else


Whether you're a restaurant or a tech startup or any brand in-between, this absolutely applies!  It is so easy to add new products or services because there *may* be money, or a market, or opportunity there.  But if a brand is pushing themselves out of their core competency, they may be risking too much for perceived new income.

An example:  Ever head of a Mexican restaurant that sell hamburgers and chocolate shakes?  And cheese cake?  Maybe people say they'd like to see it on the menu.  Maybe the chef does make a good cheese cake.  But before adding anything new, scrutinize if it is within your brand's true identity.  Or are you simply stretching to become all things to all people?

Lesson from Apple:  Apple creates products products within only four categories:  computers, phones, tablets and personal devices.  That's it.  They're not creating high-tech blenders or calculators.  They know what they do better than anyone else, and stick to those categories.


2.  Be customer-centric


This adage works whether you're selling a product or a service or a little bit of both.  The economy is shifting away from consumers who are entirely price conscious.  Consumers want to get a great price, but they're willing to spend more for a top-notch experience.

An example:  Say you are a clothing boutique that has a solid base of loyal customers.  Why not branch out and seek ways to further serve them?  Maybe partner with a high-end hair salon for loyalty rewards?  Or, find a great niche shoe store that would be a great fit with your customers.  Find a way to go above and beyond and make your customer's experience something to remember.  Have you thought to ask your customers how you can improve?

Lesson from Apple: Apple was the first to come out with computers in different colors.  Apple was the first to come out with an MP3 player that was so-very-much-more.  The tech behemoth tries to envision what their customers would want and then go a step or a leap past those expectations:  always go one better.

3.  Listen to the public; but don't become a slave to them


It is important to listen to what your customers and the public in general, say about your product or service, or a product/service in the same category as yours.  Though you should never become always-shifting and changing as public opinion morphs.

An example:  We'll journey back to the Mexican restaurant that serves hamburgers and shakes.  Maybe they had a few customers that claimed they would like to see these on the menu.  Maybe other Mexican restaurants are going in the same direction.  Before adding items that are not in your core competency to your line-up, a lot of soul-searching is required.  Is this the best decision in the long run?  Is this the best representation of our brand?

Lesson from Apple:  Prior to every product launch, news outlets love to interview people to find out what they'd like to see in the new iPhone or iPad.  Some of the suggestions make sense.  Some are obviously way too out there.  For example, an infrared camera to see in the dark.  Or, apps to control household appliances.  Maybe these things will be important in the future, but right now, they would be features very few would use and value.

4.  Price for value


Pricing of a product/service is always a difficult subject.  The best route is to price for value, whenever possible.

An example:  Sales are booming at your marketing firm, though you've had a few comments that pricing could be lower.  After all, your competitors offer lower prices.  And free coffee mugs.  It is important not to get caught up slashing prices.  If your customers see the value of your offering, then price should not be their primary concern.  There will always be a lower-price option out there.  If they are beginning to think about pricing, maybe it's time to reevaluate the level of value you are giving.

Lesson from Apple:  While there is a flurry of low-price competitors in the marketplace, Apple's products remain priced for value.  Many people complain about the price of a new phone, but Apple has a strong grip on marketshare across all of their product categories.

--

We bet you never thought you could draw so many parallels between your brand and Apple.  The tech giant has a lot to teach us about doing business smarter.  We just need to take the time to listen. - Comments

5 For Friday featuring iOS 8, IPO fortunes and a vote that may have been influenced by social media.
Sept. 18, 2014 11:30 pm



Five quick links you don't want to miss before your weekend.

1.  iOS 8 is Here


What's so great about iOS 8?  We've come across a collection of links on the web that might show you why it's the bees-knees.  Here's how to become an iOS 8 Master.  Feel like 007 with these Secret Features of iOS 8.  And 25 Reasons iOS 8 is better than iOS 7.  Hope these tips make you feel more at home with the updated operating system.

2.  DIY Credit


Home Depot's security breach of over 56 million credit cards is on a larger scale than last year's Target security snafu.  Somebody tell them they need more than a hammer and nails to secure their credit card transactions!  Be sure to take some time to see if there is any suspicious activity on your card if you shopped at the Depot in the last year.

3.  An IPO to Dream About


Alibaba's IPO this week was hugely successful, raising $21.8 billion and a price per share at $68.  That's better than a genie in a bottle!  The stock sale could signal that the Chinese Internet industry may become the largest in the world.

4.  Social Media Informs Voters


Scotland's vote this week to possibly secede from the United Kingdom is the fruit of an era where the Internet helps to inform and convince voters.   Integrating technology in a more meaningful way since 2007 really paved the way for the referendum vote.  Imagine if Braveheart used Instagram and Twitter.

5.  Inspiring Your Weekend

Here's a quote from one of our hometown favorites.  Have a great weekend!


We'd love to connect with you on Facebook. - Comments

7 Sources of Content for Your Small Business Website
June 9, 2014 8:39 pm

Finding inspiration for your small business website is not as scary as that blinking cursor on your blank Word document.  Take a quick look at your small business and you'll find more web-worthy information than you imagined.   Here are a few places to check out:

1. Your Past

Your small business is working hard every day.  Don't forget that you're creating and producing and moving forward along the way.  Display that hard work on your website.  Showcase your products or services or the effects of your products and services for the world to see.  The proof of your biz is in the pudding.  And people want a taste!

2.  Your Future

Things are happening all the time at your business.  People want to know.  Whether it's via a company blog, Facebook updates on your website or an Instagram feed, your brand's future is a great source of content for your small business website.

3.  Your Salesforce

Whether you have a sales team or if you are a team of one, salespeople are a great source of website content.  Every day customers and potential customers are asking questions.  Create a small answer bank on your website of the most common questions and their answers. 

4.  Make It Easy

Visualize your small business website as a pathway to your front door.  Every piece of information and assistance you can lend can help a customer along that path, making it easy for them to walk through your door.  What insights and information can you make available to help potential customers along?  What can you offer to make it easy to purchase from your brand?  Maybe a free sample.  Maybe a free consultation.  Maybe a slideshow about how your product or service will make their life better.  Make it easy for them to walk through the door and purchase from you!

5.  Directions and Hours

Nothing is more frustrating than heading out to shop or getting around to making a phone call and not reaching the person you intended.  At the very least, provide basic information about your business.  Where are you located?  What are your hours?  How do I get to your door?  At the very best, you could provide contact details for all of the employees at your small business.  Again, make it easy to do business with your brand.

6.  Show Us Behind the Curtain

Many of us revel in the deleted scenes and outtakes from our beloved DVD collections.  Brands are finding out that their customers are just as captive as an audience.  What does a team brain storm look like?  How high up did you have to hang an outdoor sign today?  How happy is that couple that you just took engagement photos of?  Your small business is an expert in your field.  So, show us!

7.  Don't Forget Your Off-Line Marketing

If you've spent money on a great new brochure, put it on your website.  There are amazing online options that make flipping through a brochure or catalog as enjoyable as real life.  Did you just put up a clever billboard in town?  Take a photo and add it to your Instagram or Flickr feed.  If you are spending money on marketing somewhere, put it online and maximize your money.  

--

If you need a little help or a lot of help on your small business website, we'd love to connect with you!
- Comments

Why Your Website Needs to be Mobile
May 12, 2014 10:14 am

Your small business or community now has a website.  That's great!  It's supremely important that you have a web presence.


But, I need to ask you, have you looked at your website on a mobile phone or tablet?

The results may surprise you.  If consumers need to do a lot of scrolling and zooming in and out to navigate your website, they will probably just leave in search of a mobile-friendly resource.  If you sell online, how does the shopping cart process look and feel on these mobile devices? If your website is not translating well on mobile devices, it can cost you sales.  Not convinced?

Mobile Shopping While In-Store

Check out this survey from a Cincinatti-based card processor, Vintiv.  The group found significant increases during the past year in the number of consumers that research and purchase right from their mobile device, while they are in-store.  It's hard to believe that we're making in-store purchases right from our devices!

2014 
Shoppers who paid for products in stores with tablets: 33%
Shoppers who paid for products in stores with smart phone apps: 11%

2013
Shoppers who paid for products in stores with tablets: 19%
Shoppers who paid for products in stores with smart phone apps: 2%

Mobile Shopping Overall

The major increase in mobile shopping is, of course, directly related to the number of people carrying these devices around with them.  You'd be hard-pressed to name someone in your circle of family and friends that DOES NOT have a smartphone or tablet.

Who is shopping on their smartphones and tablets?
30% of 18-to-34-year-olds
29% of 35-to-54-year-olds
14% of those over 55 years old

How Much Money are We Talking About?

We're talking about a major online sales!  Goldman Sachs projects that U.S. retail sales directly on smartphones will more than double from $70 billion this year to $173 billion by 2018. Similarly, tablet sales will more than triple from $130 billion this year to $453 billion in 2018.

Moving Forward

I think you now realize the opportunity in front of you.  Just as the major players in retail changed with the advent of online shopping, the major players can once again shift with regards to the mobile experience.  How can you move forward?

1.  Can Consumers Find You?

The first step in many shopping experiences is simply setting foot in your business.  When searching on a device, can people get quick and accurate directions to your door?  Also, do you offer a sampling of what your business is like?  Photos of the great food or product selection can entice shoppers to visit you rather than the competition.

2.  The Mobile Experience

It's time to simply look at your website on a variety of devices.  Borrow your friend's Android device and your nephew's iPhone.  Conduct a test purchase transaction on an iPad.  The ultimate question:  Is it a good experience?  Easy to navigate.  Easy to put items into the shopping cart.  Easy to swap out product features?  Consumers are looking for enjoyable experiences when they shop.  Make.  It.  Easy.

3.  The In-Store Experience

Can you offer a unique in-store experience?  A number of businesses are capturing the in-store device browsing by offering:
  • A QR code that is scanned in-store for a special coupon
  • Specific shopping apps to allow customers self-checkout
  • Special offers by text message
  • Offering more purchase options online than in-store
The time to become mobile-friendly is now!  While the process seems daunting, it doesn't need to be. The focus is on making the process to buy from you, research about you, or enter your door, easy and enjoyable.  

--

Resources:





- Comments

Outdated or Here Another Year? - Website Features
Jan. 14, 2014 3:18 pm

Website features, like anything else, come and go with differing fads and fashions.  Does your website have a feature you should hang on to?  Or a feature that you should get rid of?

Recently. Mashable asked 12 entrepreneurs for their opinion on web trends and features.
We read their ideas and had a few thoughts to share.

Homepage Sliders


What is it:  A slide-show of images and/or text that automatically rotates through.  Viewers can also click through all of the tabs.

Keep it or Trash it:  We currently produce a number of sites that use this feature.  Why do we love it?  It gives your web visitor a quick run though the hot-topics on your website.  In our visual-heavy culture, a combination of images and text can send a message faster than just text.

We say, keep it!

Stock Photos


What is it:  Getty revolutionized websites with the availability of a stock photo of pretty much anything and everything.

Keep it or Trash it:  If you don't have any proprietary photography that will work well, a stock photo may be your best bet.  However, web consumers are becoming more brand-loyal and they like to know the faces and places behind those brands.

We say, use stock photos only when necessary!

Animated Gifs


What is it:  In this case, a picture is worth 1,000 words.
Keep it or Trash it:  This fad went out over 10 years ago.  The American flag is a beautiful thing!  Just put a nice, small graphic of the flag on your site and leave it at that.

We say, keep the flag, get rid of the animation!

Reloading Pages


What is it:  As you navigate along a website, the menu, sidebar and footer don't need to be reloaded, necessarily.  Just the content in the middle of the page would need change.

Keep it or Trash it:  This is a must keep.  If you ever want to send a customer to a specific page or product, then each page really needs their own unique address.  Also, search engines love to crawl pages on your website.  Make it easy for Google to find your site and index all of its information.

We say, keep it!


Mobile Websites


What is it:  A separate website just for mobile devices.

Keep it or Trash it:  Responsive websites are becoming more of a necessity with increasing web use on tablets and cell phones.  If you've got an elaborate website, a separate mobile site may actually be easier for your audience to navigate.

We say, go responsive if you can.  If not, be sure to have a separate mobile-ready website.


Sidebars


What is it:  The 250-300 pixels along the side(s) of a website.

Keep it or Trash it:  If you utilize sidebars on your website, be sure all of the information you put there is necessary and not simply taking up space.  If you choose to go without, be sure your web site content has large margins.  What's a good rule of thumb for text width?  Your text should be no wider than it takes to list out the alphabet three times.  Any more and it is difficult for the eyes to track.

We say, do what delivers the most value!

Hit Counter


What is it: 
Keep it or Trash it:  Please let the "hit counter" go the way of the floppy disk.  But do delve into your website's stats to see how many visitors you've had, what the top search terms were for your website and other valuable information.  Please note:  hits are no longer being tracked.

We say, trash it!

--

What website elements do you think should be a thing of the past?  We'd love to have you join the conversation on Facebook!

- Comments

What the Top Apps of 2013 Say About Us
Dec. 30, 2013 9:46 am

If you're like us, you've downloaded and used a number of different apps this year.  Apple recently revealed the top apps downloaded in 2013 from their App Store.  Here's the list:


Top Free iPhone
  1. Candy Crush Saga    
  2. YouTube
  3. Temple Run 2
  4. Vine
  5. Google Maps
  6. Snapchat
  7. Instagram
  8. Facebook
  9. Pandora Radio
  10. Despicable Me: Minion Rush 

Top Paid iPhone
  1. Minecraft - Pocket Edition   
  2. Heads Up!
  3. Temple Run: Oz   
  4. Angry Birds Star Wars
  5. Plague Inc.
  6. Afterlight
  7. Free Music Download Pro - Mp3 Downloader
  8. Bloons TD 5
  9. Sleep Cycle alarm clock
  10. Plants vs. Zombies 

Top Free iPad
  1. Candy Crush Saga    
  2. YouTube
  3. Temple Run 2    
  4. Calculator for iPad Free
  5. Skype for iPad
  6. Netflix
  7. Despicable Me: Minion Rush    
  8. iBooks
  9. Facebook
  10. The Weather Channel for iPad

Top Paid iPad
  1. Minecraft - Pocket Edition 
  2. Pages
  3. Temple Run: Oz  
  4. Plants vs. Zombies HD    
  5. Angry Birds Star Wars HD    
  6. Notability
  7. Angry Birds Star Wars II    
  8. iMovie
  9. The Room
  10. Bad Piggies HD


What do these apps reveal about us?




WE LOVE TO GAME

Minecraft, Temple Run, Despicable Me: Minion Rush, Candy Crush Saga, Angry Birds, Plants vs. Zombies, The Room, Bad Piggies--our smart devices are gaming devices, no doubt.  Whether we're waiting in the terminal before catching a flight or taking a breather on a stressful day, a quick gaming break may be just what the doctor ordered.

Smart device games are typically broken up into short, challenging levels.  This makes them fun to play and figure out yet easy to set down and come back to later.  Perfect for killing time.

The increase in gaming downloads also confirms that many parents use their smart devices to occupy kids on car rids, airplane flights or trips to grandma's house.  As much as we love our devices, our kids might love them even more than we do.  


WE'RE SOCIAL

Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Vine, -- sharing is second nature.  When we're at a movie, on a vacation or just having dinner with friends, most of us love to tell the world about it.  

While we're increasingly connected, there may be a bit of an illusion of friendships here.  It will continue to be a struggle to engage with people in real life, just as has been an issue since the beginning of human kind--people be messy.  These social media tools are a wonderful way to be connected, but we can always put more time and energy into the relationships we truly value.


WE WORK ON THE WEEKENDS

Pages, Notability, Skype for iPad, --our devices are mobile offices.  We can work when we want, where we want and how we want.  Meetings, brainstorms and updates can be done on the fly.

We can take work with us.  This is a major advantage when we want to live a little.  Taking a vacation and not falling behind; attending a birthday party and not missing an important email; and staying up-to-the minute are all benefits of the smart device generation.  For some people this can be liberating.  For others, this can be a stressful situation.  The key is to find the balance that works the best for you,  so you can be fully engaged at work and in your personal life.


WE'RE VISUAL

Instagram, iMovie, Afterlight, --our devices capture our lives.  Many people no longer take a separate digital camera.  We rely on the accessibility and convenience of our phones and tablets, as they're never too far away from us.  

While these devices can take great snaps and pics, we all need to remember to back up our photos, or risk losing them when our phones break, fail or are misplaced.   Also, a good quality digital camera may be preferable when we're capturing truly important moments.  It's easy to overestimate the photo quality of our favorite device.  


WE'RE RELIANT

Weather Channel, Sleep Cycle, Netflix, YouTube, Google Maps, Pandora -- our devices are our BFFs.  In bed, in the bathroom, at work and at play, our smart devices never far away.  We've come to rely on them for entertainment, information, normal every-day use.  When we lose or break a smart device we feel like a part of us is missing.  That's because a trusted tool relied upon every day is missing or not working properly.

While we rely on our devices, we must remember that they won't work properly without some proper care.  Backups, taking along power cords, and handling them with a bit of care are all important parts of the smart device relationship, so to speak.  We can lose valuable photos, information and contacts if we're not a little bit proactive.  That way, when a new, shiny model comes out, we won't be so invested in our current model that there's a fear to upgrade.  Or replace one that fell in the toilet.

--

What do your apps say about you?  We'd love to hear your thoughts over on Facebook! - Comments

How to Unplug
Oct. 28, 2013 11:50 am

As people who love the web, technology and our mobile phones, we readily admit that we're plugged in.  All.  The.  Time.  However, this can lead to information overload.  Or a sense of never really focusing on who we're with or where we're at.

What are The Symptoms?

Taking a retreat from your phone, laptop or tablet may be in order if:
  • Each time your phone chirps you absolutely HAVE to check it.  Resistance is futile.
  • Your Facebook friends know what you're doing, thinking and eating throughout the day.  Every day.
  • You've blown-up your significant other's phone because they haven't responded.  You've given them 30-seconds to do so.
  • You see a person in real life and can't connect with them.  You'll Facebook them instead.
  • You frequently stop talking with the person in front of you in order to check your phone.
  • Eating a meal without checking your phone is uncommon.  
  • Your typical response times to email is 3-seconds.
  • Your children recognize your obsession and rush to bring your phone to you each time it beeps, rumbles or squawks.  

How to Unplug


If you've reached your critical max for online-associations, here are some ideas to help you unplug.

1.  Decide how long you'll unplug.  Maybe just an hour?  A day?  A weekend?  Decide what's best for you given your current projects and commitments (no sense unplugging to relax and losing your job over it).

2.  Make it easy to do.  Maybe set a timer if you're looking for a 1-hour break.  Put your phone on silent so you don't hear every email that lands in your inbox.  Turn off your laptop and put it away.  Shut off your desktop computer and put a Post-It reminder on it that you're taking a break.  If you're unplugging for a longer period of time, be sure to respond to all important emails and possibly set up an auto-email responder to let interested parties know when you'll be available again.

3.  Focus away from technology.  You have a life outside of technology--trust us!  Plan a date night, go see a movie, pack a picnic or a day-trip.  Focus on people and places rather than what's happening online.

When you've completed your break, be sure to Facebook us because we're dying to know how it went.

--

Here's a great info-graphic we found about unplugging (HT: DailyInfographic.com) :

- Comments

5 Web Design Tips from the CNN.com Redesign
Aug. 26, 2013 8:00 am

Image courtesy of Fast Company
Want to know what a $15 million website redesign looks like?  CNN.com is planning to unveil their brand-new website in November, and they've tweaked the homepage, the mobile experience and the back-end of their website all in an effort to redefine readers' experience.

There are a number of tips from their major website overhaul that translate to any website--no matter the budget.

Be Responsive


More people are accessing the web via a mobile device everyday.  With faster phones and data streaming speeds, looking something up on the web is becoming a natural part of daily life.  Whether it's checking in on Facebook or researching area restaurants, mobile customers are a huge source of web traffic.

"Desktop [traffic] is flat. It's aging," KC Estenson, general manager of CNN.com said. "Mobile growth [is] off the chart."
Currently, CNN.com garners about 39% of their total traffic from mobile devices--a figure they expect will only increase.

Takeaway


Check your website stats.  What percent of total traffic is from a mobile device (phones and tablets)?  You may be surprised.  Now, check out your website on a few mobile devices.  What is the experience like?

Update Your Color Scheme


CNN.com is known for using the color red in their logo as making red a major player in their color palette.  The new design will maintain the red logo, but the color scheme will be darker and more dramatic.  Then, as news stories are more pressing and urgent, the colors change to become more urgent--a brighter background with a red headline.

Takeaway


Seriously revisit the colors used on your website.  How long have you been using them?  Is it time to introduce a new feeling or theme using color?  However, be sure to keep the brand consistent (aka - don't mess the logo unless you're looking to update it across the board).


Streamline the Back End


CNN.com is looking to make the process of adding a news story to their website easier and quicker for their contributors.  In addition, the process of publishing a story to the web and mobile devices will be streamlined.  Finally, readers can tag stories and recieve updates and view articles of a similar nature.

Takeaway


What current website features have become cumbersome or unenjoyable?  Is it due to a process that is too clunky or time consuming?  An update to the back end of a website is more costly, but the time, effort and tears saved may make the project entirely worthwhile.  


Big Photos


The new CNN.com will feature more photos.  And, the more pressing the news story, the larger the photos.

Takeaway


Web viewers are becoming more visual with websites like Pinterest capturing much of their time.  Is there an area of your website that could benefit from larger photos?  If your shutter skills are rusty or you rely on your smartphone for website imagery, it may be time to up your game.  Consider hiring a professional or honing your photography skills.  Either way, remember that a picture is worth 1,000 words.


Personalization

The ability to tag news stories is going to be huge.  If visitors to CNN.com tag a human interest story, the website will then suggest other, similar stories in an effort to make the website as personalized as possible.

Takeaway


Are there similar ways you can present a personal experience for your web visitors?  It can be as simple as an email suggesting similar products when a customer completes a purchase or as sophisticated as delivering content based on their viewing preferences.  Another way to personalize your brand is to respond to commenters on social media and blogs.

--

No matter the budget, there are a number of lessons appropriate for any website in the $15 million redesign of CNN.com.  What are your thoughts?  We'd love for you to pop over to our Facebook page and fill us in!

--

To read more about the CNN.com redesign, check out the following news stories:

Fast Company
Mashable
BrandChannel - Comments

Innovate like Marissa Mayer
Aug. 8, 2013 8:38 pm

Marissa Mayer's strategic plan for innovation at Yahoo! has been to acquire 20 start-ups in just over a year.  Sometimes she did this to acquire technology and sometimes it was the people behind the tech that caught her eye.

Your small business may not have the assets that Yahoo! has to "Innovate through Acquisition" but that doesn't mean you should just forget about innovative thinking entirely.  

How can your business innovate like Melissa Mayer?


1.  Acquire New Blood


One way to acquire innovative ideas and skills is to invest in people.  Hiring someone new to be a part of a group that has worked together for a long time may be a great way to raise the bar.  

When looking for someone to add to your staff, set your sights high and look for someone that is driven and creative--no matter if they are a programmer or a customer service rep.  Exceptional people are out there!  You just need to actively find them.

2.  Invest in Your Employees


When was the last time you sprung for the sales team to attend a leadership seminar?  Or funded your IT team to attend a conference?  Nothing gets people fired up more than spending time with innovative thinkers.  When was the last time you made that possible for your team?  

Exceptional conferences and dynamic events are out there!  You need to actively find them!  (noticing a trend?)

3.  Break the Mold


Staff development seems like a running joke.  Team building and trust exercises might be your thing, but your staff probably isn't looking for something along those lines.  How about taking your team to a movie?  Or buying everyone lunch--and then enjoying lunch together as a team.  

Friend your employees on Facebook or follow them on Twitter to see what their interests are and then foster those interests.  Maybe a bunch of them like zombie movies.  Maybe a family picnic is more their style.  Whatever it is, seek out an opportunity to thank your employees for their dedication and hard work.  You'd be surprised how different Monday morning will be.

4.  Become an Active Listener


While you may be the CEO of your small business, your faithful employees probably have valuable ideas of their own.  One of the most difficult things for a business owner to do is to keep their opinions and justifications to themselves while employees are talking about their desires, dreams and visions for your company.  After all, the company is your baby, we get that.  But you're all bringing up baby together.  Often, the best results come from collaboration.  

Ideas, opinions, and dreams can be explored and it doesn't mean your business won't be the same anymore.  Dare to listen to your staff.  The results just may surprise you.

5.  Go Outside


When working on your business and brand is a full-time job, sometimes, it can blur your view of things.  Nothing helps clear vision like an outsider's point of view.  You see the same walls, the same signage, the same processes everyday and may overlook them all.  But, to an outsider, everything is new.  They may help you to see inconsistencies in your product, your service or your brand.  Seek out outsiders and welcome their ideas.

--

Marissa Mayer's innovative thinking is really shaking things up for Yahoo!  Innovative thinking can really help your business to succeed.  Are you ready to take the plunge?  We'd love to hear about it on our Facebook page.
- Comments

Search Privacy - An Education from DuckDuckGo
July 22, 2013 8:00 am

With the recent news about PRISM (government access to US Citizen's search information), would you make the switch to a search engine that promises privacy?

DuckDuckGo is a search engine whose privacy policy is they do not share any searches with third-party sites or store user data.  In the weeks since the major news stories on PRISM, DuckDuckGo has seen a major up-tick in searches and traffic, although, the surge is certainly not a threat to major search engines like Google.  However, this is not their goal.  The goal at DuckDuckGo is to provide a private search experience for those on the internet that are concerned about such things.

In addition to being a search engine, there are a number of insights you can learn from this private search engine.

1.  What Are Search Engines Tracking?


DuckDuckGo has a neat graphical explanation of exactly what search engines track and why you see the same or similar ads across a variety of websites.  If you've ever wondered what all the fuss regarding PRISM is all about, it's worth a minute to read through it.

2.  How Can I Stop Some of It?

It's impossible to stop every website from tracking information about your searches.  Though, you can lessen the effects.  DuckDuckGo offers great insight about improving you're browser's privacy settings and tools that prevent third-party tracking.

3.  Do I Live in a Bubble?

One last issue DuckDuckGo discusses is what they call the "filter bubble".  What is this bubble?  It's your past clicks, searches and purchases all stored by search engines to create your perceived preferences.  When a new search is performed, the engines use that bubble of reference to give you the results the engine thinks you'd prefer.  So, your results for a search term or phrase may differ from your Mom's, your best friend's, or the guy sitting in the cube next to you--all because of this "bubble" of data you've created.

At lunch today, why not do a quick test while dining with coworkers?  Pick a common search term and see if/how search results vary on the same search engine given each person's "bubble".  We'd love to hear about it over at our Facebook page!  Are the results quite different?  

4.  Tools


DuckDuckGo has a ton of neat tools to quickly find whatever you're searching for.  What to know how many calories are in a bagel with cream cheese?  Need a strong password that is at least 7 characters?  Need to convert currencies?  There are a ton of fun, useful tools to be found here.  

5.  Search


Of course, DuckDuckGo is also a search engine.  Why not give it a try for a few days?  Upon our initial queries, it doesn't seem to be as comprehensive as a Google or Bing search.  However, it is nice to have alternatives when Google or Bing don't find what you need.  We'd love to hear your thoughts!

--

Care to read a bit more?

SearchEngineLand has an article on why DuckDuckGo is no threat to Google.

Here's a different take on DuckDuckGo and private search engines courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle.

DuckDuckGo's Wikipedia article.



- Comments

Facebook Hashtags on Personal Profiles
July 12, 2013 9:58 am

How do Facebook hashtags affect your personal profiles?  Many businesses and pages can be seen
rolling out hashtags with their updates, photos and statuses, but what does this mean for personal profiles?  It seems a number of people are asking.  We'll help clear up any confusion.

1.  Who can see my hashtags?


For public pages, anyone can see updates marked with hashtags.  However, for personal profiles,
Facebook always looks at the setting on the status update.  If it is marked "Friends", only your friends will see the posts with hashtags.  However, if your status update is marked "Public" anyone will be able to see it.


Takeaway:  Your statuses privacy setting always trumps the hashtag.

2.  What are hashtags for?


Hashtags are a way to mark a status update with a category or description.  For example, if you've posted a picture of your summer vacation, you could mark the post with #summervacation.  Then, your friends can easily click on the hashtag and view all of your #summervacation updates, photos and more, with one click.  Think of it as a social-version of labeling your updates.

3.  Beware of becoming a hashtag-a-holic.


Once you being, you may quickly learn to enjoy tagging updates.  You may feel more social media savvy than your 16 year old niece.  While the goal of tagging updates is to add to Facebook's social atmosphere, please be cautioned that you could make your friends upset with you in real time.

Here are a few tips to keep you from losing your friends:

Tip:  Avoid long tags


Hashtags are fun and even a bit useful.  However, please remember that a run-on of more than three words is difficult to read.

#summervacation

That one is easy to read and even adds to a post.

#bestvacationofmylife

This one is more cumbersome and has less of an impact - there is really no reason to use that tag as it's probably not relevant to anyone other than you.  But, it can be fun to use once in a while.

#summervacationshouldlastforever

Woah!  Slow down slugger.  Tags with more than three words are difficult to read and your friends will soon hate you with a passion if each of your updates come with one (or more!) of these bad boys.  Remember the whole point of Facebook is being social.  Don't pull out a whopper of a tag and expect all of your friends to read your updates with willingness and anticipation.  You're not a celebrity.  Yet.

Tip:  No more than 3


We wouldn't recommend using more than three tags to a status update.  While tagging updates is a ton of fun, the goal isn't to make anyone's eye's gloss over looking at the long list of hashtags that accompany your update.

Choose three of the most relevant tags you can think of and always remember your audience.  No one likes a person that tags more than a graffiti artist.  Keep it in control.

#hopeyoulikedthattip  #thinkyoucanagree #toomanytagsaretoomanytags #yougetthepoint

Yuck!

Tip:  Kick it up a notch


Be smart when tagging your updates.  If you've got a class reunion coming up, tag the updates, photos and posts with the same tag all of the time.  Your classmates may catch on and it can quickly become a great way to share everyone's content under one tag.

The hashtag should be easy to read and remember.  If you see other's posting content about the class reunion, encourage them to use the hashtag.  There are many Facebook users that still don't understand what hashtags are all about.  Once they see tags in action, they'll never forget.

--

The point of all this is to have fun on Facebook and enjoy one more neat feature.  The second point is not to become frenemies with those that follow your Facebook feed.  Remember your audience when posting, updating and tagging.

Be social! - Comments

Hashtags on Facebook - 3 Tips for Business
July 1, 2013 10:38 am

Hashtags have crossed over from Twitter to Facebook.  Remember when spam emails where just catching on?  Email marketers would use every trick in the book to get you to open their email.  Hashtags can have a similar "spammy" look to your posts on Facebook if you're not careful.

So, how can you best harness hashtags for your brand?

1.  Be Relevant


Hashtags are best used when they're specific to your brand.  Remember, the hashtags you use can then be clicked upon by your audience.  So, be sure to tag posts with words you want your brand associated with.
  • Investigate industry-related hashtags
  • Think about obvious connections
  • Do a quick search before you tag your post - be sure you want to be associated with the content that's presented in the search results.
How to - If you're a local restaurant and it's 90 degrees outside, you could post a shot of your trademark dessert along with the hashtag's #dessert #icecream #summer.

Here you've used relevant terms customer's can associate with your restaurant/dessert.  At the same time, you haven't narrowed the hashtags down so much that no one in their right mind would search Facebook for those terms.  You've hit the hashtag sweet spot!

2.  Easy Does It


Hashtags seem to be like potato chips, some people think you can't just use one.  While one or two or even three hashtags may best fit with your Facebook post, remember to value your reader's time.  A post with way too many hashtags is annoying to read.  Most likely, your readers will just scroll away from whatever you've just shared.
  • Try not to use more than three hashtags
  • Only use hashtags with obvious connections to what you post
How to - That local restaurant with a photo of their dessert shouldn't use every summer and dessert-related tag they can think of:  #ilovesummer #dessertisthebestpart #savedthebestforlast.  If you find yourself tagging posts like you're a proud scrapbook Mom, it may be time to step away from the keyboard

Instead, keep your tagging to a limit of three.  Remember, your business page should be enjoyable for your audience to read.  It should not be a brag-fest or so convoluted that it becomes an annoyance.

3.  Be Consistent


If you've begun using a hashtag on your page, try to use it consistently.  That way, your audience will be familiar with it and more apt to click on it to view all of your posts (as well as other public posts) with that tag.
  • Keep a short list of regularly-used hashtags
  • Be on the lookout for other relevant hashtags to add to your list
  • Use the same hashtag across platforms--Google+, Instagram and Twitter
How to - Your local restaurant could use the same hashtags all summer long to feature your desserts.   Maybe post a different dessert each week using a few of the same tags: #summer #dessert and one specific tag, if relevant: #chocolate.

--

Hashtags are just one more way to make your posts fun and relevant on Facebook.  Give them a try on your brand's page and then tell us how it goes!  https://www.facebook.com/DMIStudios - Comments

How to get a Clear Picture of Your Customers
June 20, 2013 9:09 pm

Website statistics, online marketing campaigns, tweets, hang-outs and followers all tell a story; the story of your customer.  What they like, what they don't, what they respond to and what they ignore--it's all there.

With all of the data from these efforts residing in different places, how can you, as an online retailer, see the big picture?  Retail Intelligence is the answer.

Retail Intelligence is the science of knowing all about your customer.
Retail Intelligence is the process of working with your web team to integrate tracking information throughout your efforts.  Whether it's a post on Facebook, a share on twitter or a campaign on Google, your efforts can be measured.  Each time a potential customer clicks on your link, you can see which pages they view, for how long and whether they completed the checkout process or not.

The Goals


1.  Which efforts are working?

No business can afford to spend time or money on marketing efforts that have no ROI.  By taking a comprehensive view of each effort, you'll know which are worth your time and which you should dump.

2.  Anticipate your customer's needs/wants

Maybe you have a rock star product that many customers purchase alongside another product.  How about setting up a follow up email to suggest it?  Maybe a customer placed items in their cart but left before completing the checkout process.  An email reminder a few days later might just be the prompting they need to complete their order.  

These are just a few of the options for increasing sales and your customer's happiness.  Excellent customer service is becoming a new equalizer in online retail.  Those sites that have it, will succeed.  Those that don't will be lost along the way.

The Metrics


So now you're wondering what efforts can be measured?  The possibilities are as limited as your imagination.  Here are a few we'd suggest:

  • Social Media 
  • Email Newsletters
  • Blog Posts
  • Online Marketing Efforts (keywords, etc)
  • Entry and Exit Pages
  • Pages Most Likely to Convert
  • Popular Products and Services

By bringing together the data from the varied sources of your efforts, you'll begin to see the story of your customer.  Is he frustrated or happy with your website, products and services?  Or, is there room to improve?  

Armed with the story of your customer, you'll be better able to create an intelligent vision for fine tuning your operations.

--

Retail Intelligence is a comprehensive information gathering process.  If it's something you feel your online business could benefit from, we'd love to mine the data for you.  Contact us to learn more!
- Comments

Tales from the Script - Vol. 1
May 23, 2013 9:50 pm

You've got a website.  It's been working hard for you for years, and it's time for a redesign.  When you approach your web design agency and they claim you don't own the code.  Chills run down your spine as you recall the investment you put into that site--time, money, sweat, frustration.  It was all gone now.


Determined not to be fooled again, you choose a new company to work with.  Once again, you go through the process of creating a website *from scratch*.  The planning, work, effort and diligence needed are met and your website is up and running.  This web designer looks like Elvis compared to the last guy.  You envision setting him up with your cousin, you're so impressed.

A few years and changes in technology later, you're ready to update and find a new designer you'd like to work with.  It's nothing personal against Elvis, but you've found an agency that fits your brand better.  That's when Elvis reveals he's really just a zombie in disguise.  The slick web designer made sure that you didn't own the code once again.  When you request the code for your website due to switching vendors, Elvis refuses.  He claims your code will not, in fact, be leaving the building.

Staring down the double barrel of starting your website all over again, you feel week in the knees.  How could this have happened?  Again?  Are all web design companies just used car salesmen in disguise?  

Frustrated, and feeling almost six-feet under, you're not sure you have the effort begin again.  What's the use?  Maybe, you should just bury the hatchet.

--

As horrifying as the above story is, we warn you that it is true.  Not all designers are scary monsters that look to haunt your future, but some of them are, you just don't know it.  A client of ours experienced this situation and finally found us.  In talking with them, we felt their pain and worked to gain their trust.

How can you avoid a horrifying situation like this?  

1.  Be sure you own the code and framework used to build your website.


You may not realize it at the time of signing a contract, but if this is not explicitly spelled out, you may be getting the wool pulled over your eyes.  If you decide to leave, or simply want to redesign the site, your designer may claim that they need to start from scratch.  Don't become a statistic.  Get it in writing that you own the website and are welcome to take all of the code and tools used within in the event you walk away.

2.  A deal that's too good to be true, probably is.

If you're looking to get a professional website for next-to-nothing, you're only fooling yourself.  It's like the girl that's home alone in those horror flicks.  Why does she always answer the phone when the bad guy calls?  Just.  Don't.  Do.  It.

Realize that you get what you pay for.  And, in the event you want to leave that vendor, there may be a reason why your website is held hostage.  And you're left crying like a baby.  Moral of the story- read the fine print.  Many companies that offer low cost entry and low monthly fees also retain ownership of your site.  It's like renting an apartment.  If you painstakingly painted a mural on your wall, you can't take it with you when you leave.

If you're looking for a website update and are feeling tied to a chair, call for help.  We love turing web design horror stories into fairy tales!

If you've got a web design or hosting horror story, we'd love to hear it!  Connect with us on Twitter or Facebook.
- Comments

Apple Hasn't Lost Its Edge
May 15, 2013 4:12 pm

Doomsdayers and Naysayers are out in full force.  Since the passing of Steve Jobs, it seems anyone with Chicken Little syndrome is pointing to Apple's impending doom.

What are some of these earmarks of the eventual Apple-pocalypse?
  • Many iPhone's are being carted around loaded with Google (and others) apps and software.  
  • The marketshare for iPhones is decreasing (amid incredibly more competition).
  • Competitor's R&D spending is considerably more than Apple's.

HOW ABOUT A STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE? 

Once upon a time (2001), Apple created the iPod.   It was a revolutionary device for two reasons: 
  1. The hardware (the iPod) was unlike any MP3 device available
  2. iTunes was a breakthrough in managing and purchasing music. 
 
Now fast forward to the iPhone (2007) - what is so special about the iPhone? Sure the design is nice, but you can get a similar feel elsewhere. 

It's not the hardware.
It's the software, silly.

The iPod didn't give rise to Apple's dominance in the past decade--iTunes did. It was never about the hardware, but since the hardware was part of the user interface (UI), Apple, of course, made awesome hardware. In a world of MP3 players, Apple built a Porsche. But the secret was iTunes in how it managed your existing music library, and then became your preferred way to purchase your future music library. 

The iPhone was no different. It wasn't really about the phone or the monthly subscription - it was about iTunes and the App store. 

Anyone can make cool hardware, but without the supporting infrastructure, you're just another phone. An island.  Not a destination and not a home.  An iPhone with iTunes & the App Store is all of that. And more.

Apple's vision is that of creating a cohesive eco-system.  One with top-notch software experiences (iTunes, App Store) coupled with amazing hardware.

WHAT MIGHT THE FUTURE HOLD?

Still, there's a lot of work to be done. With Apple, a user's experience might be through a MacBook pro, an iPhone, an iPad, etc. Right now, the functionality is *about* the same across all three platforms, but not quite.

This coming WWDC in June, we predict Apple will make BIG strides to pull these hardware items closer together through iCloud.   Just wait.  Nobody is really picking up on this.

Google is a network company who lives in software. They understand that the Network Is The Computer (its a former Sun slogan).  However, Google sucks at hardware. And Glass is a perfect example of that.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS -

Android phones continue to be churned out month after month while a new iOS phone is makes an annual appearance. What's so wrong about using a device that is 1+ years old as long as it works well?  Are consumers really that fickle that they are looking to upgrade every few months?  We don't think so.

The stability of Apple devices transforms many people into believers. Rebooting an iPhone is a rare necessity. Also, a failing device seems to be a rarity as well. Other phones by other manufacturers have varying lifetimes.

Apple is a brand consumers trust. This trust was not earned on a whim. Rather, it was built through years of offering quality products coupled with ground-breaking user interfaces.

Google's business model is advertising. They're only too happy to offer their products (Maps, Now!, etc) on iPhones as a means to delivering impressions and generating revenue. As more people utilize Google software on their Apple phones, they need to realize Google will keep churning out applications for the advertising revenue potential they hold.
- Comments

A Day in the LIfe of the Internet
May 10, 2013 4:33 pm

A day in the life of the InternetA Day in The Life of The Internet via HostGator - Comments


Tips for Marketing Your Small Business Website
May 4, 2013 7:46 am

You're a localized small business and you've got a great website.  Now what?  Your next step is marketing.  There are a number of tools at your disposal to help your audience find you online.

LOCAL DIRECTORY LISTING


A great first-step is to ensure your website is listed in local directories.  While your website will have your business name, hours of operation, phone number and address, it is important that online directories have the very same information as well.  That way, search engines know to connect the information they have with your website, ensuring customers will find your business when they search for you.

It can be especially problematic if your business has done any of the following:
  • Changed Names
  • Moved Locations
  • is Located at a Spot with Multiple Businesses
If any of the above has occurred with your business, submitting to a local directory is imperative  so you can set the search engines straight, so to speak.

UNIQUE WELCOME PAGES


Everybody expects your business card to have your web address on it.  While we certainly recommend that you include the URL, why not include something unique?  Maybe www.mywebsite.com/welcome with a nice welcome message to those that type in the address?

Differentiating your business is important.  Helping your audience to Know, Like and Trust you (something we've preached a lot of) is the goal.  A unique welcome page with a special offer, a special message or any other unique idea will help your potential customers remember you!

WEB POSITIONING


Simply put, submitting your website to the Search Engines will help with where you come up in search results.  Submission will also ensure the search engines will regularly search your website for recent updates.  This step should not be skipped.

AROUND TOWN MARKETING

Your small business may serve are tiny geographic area, but that doesn't mean you can't have a little fun with your marketing.  Window clings are a popular way to remind customers of your website and/or logo.  A simple car wrap (they even wrap just parts and pieces of a car) can make a huge visual-imact marketing wise.  Remember:  any sign, flyer or handout given to your customers and potential customers is a representation of your business.  In your off-line marketing, don't do the following:

  • Change your logo around (we know it's tempting)
  • Use a huge variety of colors in each venue
  • Print documents in an unprofessional manner (crooked copies, wrinkled flyers, etc)
  • Change your marketing message frequently
With Desktop Publishing, there is an allure to creating and printing documents yourself.  Just be sure you're not in over your head.  If you end up with shoddy documents, your public won't appreciate it.  Customers like to be wowed.  Begin with your marketing

EXTRA CREDIT


Sometimes, marketing can get a little mundane.  You want to stand out.  You don't want to be confused for a competitor of yours.  How can you grab attention and remain memorable?  Well, one Realtor in New York is putting his money where his mouth is.  He's offering his employees a 15% raise if they get a tattoo of the brand's logo.  Creativity was not lost on him!

Happy Marketing!
- Comments

5 Reasons Why Your Small Business Needs A Website
Apr. 25, 2013 5:09 pm

Image Source
Although the Internet boom is over a decade in the past, the number of small businesses that still don't have a website is surprising.  Some of the common objections are:

"I'm not looking to sell online."
"I serve only a small geographic area."
"I have a Facebook page" 
And, our favorite: "Many of our customers aren't web-savvy."

If you're looking to grow your business (hey, who isn't?) a website is a natural choice for a number of reasons.  Let us count the ways:

1.  LOCAL LISTINGS

The Internet is the first place people look for information on a business, brand, city or destination.  They quickly search the business name in the hopes of getting a variety of information:
  • Phone number
  • Address
  • Hours of Operation
  • Services Provided
  • A Link to the Website for more detailed information
Having a website allows a business the opportunity to submit this specific information to a variety of directory listings.  Once submitted to local directories, much of the above information displays on search engines with an opportunity to click to the website.  Without a website, this opportunity does not exist.  And, to consumers, that may mean that you don't exist.

2.  SHOW ME THE MONEY


Ok, so maybe you're not looking to sell online.  Maybe you're a salon or sign company or tourist destination or local coffee shop.  We understand.  However, consumers want to SEE what you do.  Did you whip up gorgeous hair-dos for Prom this year?  Did you just put a new sign up at a local business? Are the beaches in your town amazing destinations and you recommend I go there?  Show me.

We live in an image-driven society and people want to see what they're about to buy/experience/see/do.  It's as simple as that.  If you're not showcasing your product/service/destination/idea, someone else probably is.  And guess who will get the business?

3.  FACEBOOK FALLS SHORT

You say that you post pictures like a paparazzi to your Facebook page.  Your fans see all of the wonderful creations you come up with, they know about your specials and engage with you regularly.  That's great.  But, in a few short months to a year, those posts are long forgotten.  A newbie coming to your page is not going to scroll and scroll and scroll until he comes across the image that convinces him your product/service is for him.  He may not care about the cute comments and back-and-forths with your community.  He wants to see the goods (see #2 above).

A website with a portfolio section is properly organized and will help consumers locate and view the images they're looking for quickly.  This makes the process of looking at your business' offering a painless process.

Facebook is a valuable resource and should be tapped to it's ultimate potential.  Although questions remain.  In 5 years will Facebook still be as valuable?  MySpace shot off like a rocket and fell like a lead balloon through it's short history.  All of the data, images and communication you spent time on could be gone.  Just.  Like.  That.

4.  ONE MORE SALES PERSON

A website is up 24/7 promoting business every waking hour.  No caffeine necessary.  No 401k, insurance or bonuses.  Are you saying you couldn't use a dedicated employee like that?

A small business website with a portfolio, a testimonials section, a feed from your Facebook (see, we're not haters) and Twitter is a robust selling machine.  And it works all while helping your audience know, like and trust you.  That's a smooth sales tool.

5.  PROFESSIONAL


As we mentioned, being known, liked and trusted are all valuable if you're planning to make a sale.  So, you can't slap any old website up and assume your bases are covered.  Your business' website must convey that you can be trusted.  A shoddy website will be like that 24/7 sales person showing up with greasy hair in a leisure suit and mis-matched socks.  It's an image any consumer would want to run away from.  Don't scare your consumers!

A professional website is not so out of reach.  If you've been told that it is, you're looking in the wrong places.  Keep looking.  We're happy to chat about our small business portfolio.

--

The next time you're looking to dial up, logon and do an Internet search for an small business, imagine your audience doing the very same thing.  What will they find?
- Comments

Social Media & Emergency Response in Boston
Apr. 16, 2013 11:43 pm

Often, social media keeps us away from the tasks we should be doing, or is a nice break from the workday.  In an emergency, it can be the difference between life and death for those directly affected.  Information travels even faster among the social media infused internet super highway.  Let's look at a roundup of how social media helped in the emergency situation of the Boston Marathon bombings.


Recent Developments


Although getting emergency information out to the public isn't a new idea, the mediums of social media are new; and changing almost daily.  

AUTHORITATIVE- Increasingly, police departments, cities and other authoritative entities have active and well-maintained Twitter feeds.  Participating in the social media sphere is no longer viewed as a nicety or extravagance--it's part of the job.  In addition, an authoritative Twitter feed (denoted with a blue check mark next to the profile picture) lets the audience know it is a trusted source of information.


NEW MEDIUMS - Twitter released Vine in January of this year.  Keeping to it's mission (brevity as a virtue) Vine videos are a short six seconds.  In the aftermath of the Boston bombings, one user's Vine feed (recorded from his television) showed the world the exact moment the first bomb when off at the finish line.  This moment was then retweeted 111 times and featured in major news outlets.

NEW TOOLS -  Google Person Finder was created, "in response to the January 2010 Haiti earthquake in order to help those affected by the earthquake connect with their loved ones."  The Google execs realized having multiple websites with multiple listings of people was too cumbersome. One central location would be ideal--so they set out to create it.  Person Finder is launched in the event of an emergency and left online only as long as is prudent and necessary (keeping privacy in mind for all involved).

Social Media in Action


Mentions of the word "Boston" increased 20,000% during the emergency situation and most Facebook feeds were filled with thoughts, prayers and reflections about the situation.  People are leaning on social media as a critical way to get important information quickly and find solace in community.

TWITTER - Twitter seems to be the natural place for up-to-the minute information in any situation.  So, it seems a natural fit in an emergency as well.  The police, city and newspapers leveraged their Twitter feeds to deliver frequent updates in the aftermath of the tragedy.  In addition, the hashtag #PrayForBoston trended for hours in the aftermath.  In addition, police and city officials could instruct those still at the marathon of the areas that are sectioned off for crime scene investigation, where to find their belongings at the end of the race, and other important information.

FACEBOOK - Facebook is where people go to find comfort and community.  In the aftermath, many profiles posted "Praying for Boston" graphics of some sort.  Many people updated their statuses there, but it was more of a place to inform the community of their support and less of a news source.  In the days following, there are Facebook pages and communities people can turn to for support.  One such page is called "Boston Marathon Bombing" where users can post tributes, prayers and photos.

THE EVERYMAN JOURNALIST - Media/news outlets now look to average citizens and non-staffers to help them with pictures, video and updates about events. The Guardian is one such news outlet that looks for collateral from everyday people.  Imagery of the tragedy is readily available anywhere online, in part, due to the fact that everyone with a phone, camera or tablet can help paint the picture of the news.  Deadspin was the first to break the news of the bombing a short 13-minutes after it occurred.  It's news article contained mostly information, photos and videos from various twitter feeds.  Finally, there is a reddit feed that contains a compilation online news articles and mentions of the explosion.


SOLVING THE CRIME - Police and media/news outlets are looking to shutter-happy cellphone users and social media gurus that may have images of the scene before, during and after.  With almost every citizen armed with a cellphone, the photos, tips and movies that get sent in just might help solve this crime.

It's hard to say where emergency response will be in the next few years, thanks to social media.  With increasing numbers of people taking pictures and videos and tweeting and updating on the fly, critical information will be even more accessible in an emergency.  In the event of an emergency, look to social media to pave the way.

--


Deadspin - A collection of updates from journalists as well as Twitter feeds
The Drum - "Boston Marathon crisis: How social media responded"
Social Heatmap of social media mentions containing "finish line"
Nextgov - "Social Media Aids First Responders and Grieving Public After Bombing" - Comments

Threaded Comments Coming to Facebook
Mar. 27, 2013 2:40 pm

If you've "Liked" a Facebook Page that has more than 10,000 Followers, you may have noticed reply threading in the comments section.

It's been a long-felt irritation that individual comments couldn't be responded to.  Rather, just a laundry list of comment after comment with @ signs used sparingly to allow commenters to discuss with one another.

Threaded comments is a common feature on many blogs and it's taken quite a bit to get Facebook on board.

The good news?  Lively debates can be hashed out right there on the Facebook page.

The bad news?  Lively debates can be hashed out right there on the Facebook page.  In increasing frequency.


For now, threaded comments can be seen on on some Facebook Pages with over 10,000 Followers (we've searched out a number of these pages, and threaded comments still weren't active yet).    Facebook for mobile users can't see the threaded comments yet, as the feature is only enabled on the desktop version of the site.

Comments that are more relevant to viewers or that have a lot of dialogue are to appear higher in the comment listing while comments marked as spam will be towards the bottom.

What to see threaded comments on your Facebook Page or Profile?  That should be coming in July!

**Update - As of 2:45 PM, it looks like our Facebook Pages are able to roll out comment threading as well.  Maybe Facebook has relaxed the 10,000+ Followers parameter already...



- Comments

Smartphone Market Share as of Jan '13
Mar. 22, 2013 1:44 pm

Some amazing Smartphone trends and observations:



  • Did you see the "Age 13+" ??  When we were 13, we finally got a NEW bike and maybe a gaming console.  We were on top of the world! 
  • We keep hearing in the media that Samsung has finally over taken Apple for market share.  According to this data, they haven't as of Jan '13.  We wonder what the next quarter will bring.
  • So, how many cellphone users are we talking about?  
    129.4 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones (55 percent mobile market penetration) during the three months ending in January, up 7 percent since October. (source)
  • We're wondering if BlackBerry could ever be mainstream again.  It seems most business customers prefer the iPhone these days. 
  • We'd love to hear your observations and comments!
- Comments

Why Our Website Designs are Better for Tourism
Mar. 15, 2013 8:42 am

Over the last few years, we've had the pleasure of working with some great Wisconsin Counties and Cities in getting their interactive presence in order.  Nothing brings us more joy then helping these counties attract businesses, tourists and those relocating through the quality information on their websites.

In honor of the upcoming Wisconsin Governor's Conference on Tourism this next week, we'd like to showcase how our websites are helping these counties take care of business.

1.  Great Design

It's easy to say that we produce websites with great design, but we'll let the websites themselves speak for themselves:







In addition to having great design, we work a little magic into those designs as well.  Allow us to explain: typically an entity will come to us and say they need a new website.  "However," they'll go on, "we share our website with the county's Economic Development and City Council.  How can we make one website to serve all three interests?"

That's a great question!  Creating a website that serves different "customers" can be a difficult task, but it's one we've tackled on many of these website designs.  The keys to directing the website traffic are having clear navigation and calls-to-action for each customer base.  Dilemma solved!




 2.  Total Customization


In addition to creating a great design, we love working with each entity to ensure their website contains all of the data and information they'd like to get out to the public.  Some of the features we have included are:
  • Facebook Integration
  • Events Calendar
  • Area Business Directory
  • Photo Gallery
  • PDF Upload (for brochures, etc)
  • Lodging Directory
Since each website is a custom solution (and not a template) these features are easy to add in for any entity that would like them.  The key here is a totally custom solution for their unique needs.

3.  One Database to Rule Them All


Another benefit to a custom website is a custom database--one that stores all of your valuable information such as Events, Photos, Business Information and other data.  This database is used everyday to feed information to your website, but it's not a one-hit wonder.
The very same database that is used to populate your website can be used for your mobile app or website!


This means no re-entering data between databases that feed your website and app!  It's a powerful tool that will help your customers get the information they need from any device they're on.  How's that for power?

4.  Turnkey Solution


Just building and maintaining a website can be a frustrating and confusing situation.  You need a web host, a web designer, an email host, someone to help design your Facebook page, an app developer and someone to help market it all once it's all live.  Whew!  Then, when the entities need to get information from one another, well you know who will be caught in-between.

DMI Studios is a complete turnkey solution.  Our motto is:
They want to build your website.  We want to build your business.
Were a one-stop shop!  We can do all of these things for you to eliminate any past headaches (remember that web-host that just.  stopped.  hosting. ?) and work to make the web creation process as seamless as possible.  With these solutions all under one roof, you won't even need to reach for the pain-reliever.

--

We truly love partnering with Wisconsin Counties, Cities and Parks to create custom web designs to meet their needs.  To view a number of other tourism and government-related websites we've done, check out our portfolio. - Comments

3 Tips to Secure Your Mobile Phone
Feb. 25, 2013 7:32 pm

Imagine your life without that little device sitting on your desk or bag or pocket right now.  It's small, lights up and keeps you entertained while waiting for the doctor.  But, what if your mobile phone was lost or stolen?  Have you thought about the power that is contained in a trinket the size of your hand?  A person could have access to your Facebook and Twitter and email--oh my!  

Though, it could be far worse.  Do you have your company's Facebook page linked to your phone?  How about their Twitter account?  Or, the email addresses to all of your important business clients? Talk about possible social ruin.

Remember:  Your phone is not just a cute, trendy device you use to make calls.  It's a mini-computer with powerful data.  Keep that data out of the wrong hands!

1.  Preemptive Strike 


There are a number of free apps that will help you to locate your phone in case it goes missing one day. This way, you will know if you should stay cool or hit the panic button.  Maybe it'll be on the table of that cute little restaurant you like to frequent for lunch.  Or, maybe it'll be sitting on the desk of a menacing teen about to ruin your day:  Facebook status:  "It's gonna get ugly."  

Simply load the apps and authorize them to use your GPS functionality:

Where's My Droid for Android

iCloud for Apple devices

For IOS devices, in addition to the ability to locate your device, Find My iPhone (on iCloud) can pinpoint your missing device on a map, have it play a sound, or display a message asking anyone who finds it to contact you. "If you don't find your device right away, you can help protect your information until you get it back with the Remote Lock feature, or use Remote Wipe to erase your personal data from your device and protect your privacy," Apple adds.

2.  Set a password/passcode


Use the simple security mechanisms that come with your phone to secure your phone with a password/passcode.  Set it to automatically lock within a few minutes.  A hacker can still restore your iPhone to the original factory settings to remove the passcode.  However, restoring also means erasing all data that was saved on your phone.

In the end, he may get the phone, but you keep your data.  Facebook status: "A social-life-wreck avoided by the passcode.  Just another Monday."


3.  Cut your losses


If you've come to realize that your mobile phone is gone for good, call your wireless provider.  Even if you remotely wipe your device, it will still be connected to cell service with the ability to send texts or make calls.   Your service provider can disable the phone and prevent others from using the device...and possibly running up your phone bill.

Facebook status: "You win some.  You lose some."

         
--

A little pre-planning can give you piece of mind if you phone is ever AWOL.  Don't forget about the power that is contained in your tiny device.  And remember that every time you set it down in a public spot.  
- Comments

Mobile App Strategies - More Goals
Feb. 20, 2013 7:35 pm

You're already considering a Mobile App as part of your brand's mobile strategy, and you're beginning to look at goals.  We've discussed Shopping Ease and Brand Loyalty.  Here are some additional goals for Mobile Apps that add value:

Service Add-Ons

An app can improve upon an existing product or service.  We've discussed Cadillac's MyCadillac app that offers additional service to their existing customers.  Another example is the increasing number of banks that allow customers to simply take a picture of their checks in order to deposit them from a mobile device. 

To-Do

The key here is looking at your brand's current service/product offering and enhancing it with the service of an app. Tasks and services that naturally compliment your product are the best place to start (GPS functionality for Cadillac-owners).  In addition, think about tasks or services that might further enhance your current offering (like the banking example).  The crux here is to really look to serve your customers through the ease of an app.


Rewards

Creating rewards for your brand's most loyal customers is a great way to utilize an app.  The Starbucks app gives frequent coffee customers the ability to earn "Stars" as rewards towards free drinks and food.  Starbucks knows they have loyal customers, so why not reward them for their loyalty?  

To-Do

If your brand has a high-frequency rate of purchase with your customers, a rewards-style app might be a great fit.  It's a whole lot better than handing out another punch card to put in their wallets.  The key is to create a program that your customers will use and benefit from frequently enough to keep up with it.  

--

We hope this list of App Goals will help get the wheel of possibilities spinning in your mind.  Apps are robust tools that can be an asset to your brand.  With all of the app-craze out there, be sure to take some time to weigh the value of creating an app for your brand.

If you need some help along the way, we'd be happy to chat about apps! - Comments


Mobile App Strategies - Goals
Feb. 13, 2013 11:32 am

Mobile Apps should be an important consideration in your brand's mobile strategy.  Apps are not a solution for every brand, however they can be an asset when properly used.  The question many brands ask is:  How do we decide if an app is right for us?

First, remember:

The key to a successful app is one that enables your users to do something related to your brand quickly and easily.  

Anybody can churn out an app.  However, an app that adds value is a more difficult achievement.  There are a number of goals a Mobile App can achieve for your customers.

Shopping Ease

Some apps are specifically geared for mobile shopping.  Other apps are simply for order tracking and notification or to help with the decision process.  For example, Amazon has a Price Check App to make cost comparisons easy in addition to an app for shopping.  We've previously mentioned the Dominos app to order pizzas quickly and easily and Tiffany's Engagement Ring app that allows customers to throughly investigate all of their options.  These apps strive to make the a step of the purchase process easier.

To-Do

Dig into your web site's stats to see how many of your visitors are coming from hand-held devices.  There may be way more (or way less) than you think.  Also, investigate the sales made from these devices--size of each sale, typical items ordered, etc.  Really get to know your mobile customer.  That way, you can make the tasks he's already doing on your website, easier.

Brand Loyalty

The Snow Report App by The North Face helps to create brand loyalty.  Many of The North Face's customers enjoy skiing or may be planning a ski get-away.  To make their planning easier, The North Face provides an app that gives ski conditions, weather forecasts, trail maps and the ability to post a photo to their Facebook page.  And every time the app is opened, The North Face's brand is right there.  Like a trusted friend.

To Do

Get in your customers heads and habits.  Think about how they use your product or service and what types of service would compliment that.  What are your customers like?  Sometimes, creating a picture of your typical customer (demographics, preferences, hobbies, etc) can help with this process.  Then, ask yourself how your brand can bring even more service to them.

--

Stay tuned for more Mobile App Strategy Goal planning. - Comments

Mobile Statistics - Our Mobile Planet
Feb. 6, 2013 3:43 pm

Looking to get a realistic picture of mobile browsing habits?  Check out "Our Mobile Planet".  Their mission states:


The Our Mobile Planet research was commissioned by Google and conducted by Ipsos MediaCT in partnership with the Mobile Marketing Association and the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
OurMobilePlanet.com provides access to the full set of data from this research through a powerful chart creation tool or the direct download of full country level data files. Businesses can use the data on the site to gain a deeper understanding of the mobile consumer and make data-driven decisions on how to use mobile to help grow their business faster.

Here's some data we found regarding people in the US and their beliefs about their phones:

The statistic we find most important is that 65% of cell phone users expect websites to be as easy to use on their mobile device as their computer. Brands, take note!

One note about the data, it represents only mobile phone usage.  However, it does not include data on tablet browsing or usage.

Go check out "Our Mobile Planet' and see what kind of mobile phone browsing stats surprise you! - Comments

Creating a Mobile Strategy - Mobile Apps
Jan. 31, 2013 5:11 pm

Earlier in the week we discussed a Mobile Website as part of your brand's Mobile Strategy.  The second major part of a successful strategy includes app development as well.


An app is different than a mobile website in that it can interact with a cell phone's functionality.  

Example:  the Facebook App uses GPS in a phone to automatically add a user's location to a status update.

If you want a closer look at the differences between a Mobile Website and a Mobile App, check out our Internet 101 blog post.

Establish Your Goals


The key to a successful app is one that enables your users to do something related to your brand quickly and easily.  
When creating your Mobile Strategy, ask yourself what process you can simplify by allowing users to connect to their cell phone's functionality.  No matter the brand of phone, there are a number of functions that are shared by all.  Let's discuss them and how they can be used as part of an effective app.

GPS


Check out the MyCadillac app for a great example of integrating an app with GPS functionality. The MyCadillac app will remember where you parked the car and if it's time to add money to the meter.  Also, when it's time for service, you can search for the nearest dealer by your current location.

There is no need to stop just at GPS integration, however.  Note that, in addition to these GPS-related features, the app also contains relevant information for the user, such as the car's owner's manual, a lights and indicators guide, and access to their OnStar service.

The takeaway:

Cadillac created an app that would make life easier for their drivers.  By recalling parking locations and finding a service dealer, the app is entirely appropriate and usable.


Touch


While virtually all apps incorporate touch to navigate, few harness the power of touch like Tiffany & Co.  Tiffany noticed the growing numbers of mobile sales coming through their online story.  Their reaction to it was to create a beautiful, robust tool to help in the engagement ring selection process.

In an effort to help obtain accurate ring-size, users can place an actual ring directly on the screen and align it with the correct circle in the guide.  In addition, the rings are shown true-to-size and can be rotated, zoomed in on and swapped out with different carat sizes.

The takeaway:

Tiffany & Co. worked to bring the experience of shopping in-store for an engagement ring to users' cell phones.  The design of the app exudes Tiffany's quality and eye for design.  Finally, the app solves a major problem of shopping online--obtaining an accurate ring size.  They made shopping simple and easy.

Audio/Visual


The Walgreens app is a robust little creation that has more tools than a Swiss Army knife.  We noticed that Walgreens took the opportunity to provide better service to two major functions of their store with their app:  the pharmacy and photo processing.

App users can scan the bar codes of their prescriptions to order refills or transfer their script to a Walgreens store.  In addition, photo processing is made a painless process.  Photos on a phone can be enhanced through their photo filters and then added to the cart and ordered to be printed at the nearest Walgreens store.  All of these actions are made possible by the phone's camera.

The takeaway:

The app has some additional features as well, but the takeaway here is how Walgreens has taken two of their core business functions and made them easy for their customers.  The app looks to save the amount of time a person would have to spend physically in the store.


Contacts


Google Voice allows you to read voicemail like a text message, which can be handy when you're trying to be discreet.  Also, you can send text messages and create custom greetings based on who is calling you.

Google Voice connects with your contacts to seamlessly create a Google-fied phone experience.

The takeaway:

Using existing contact data, Google creates a bigger, smarter experience on a user's cell phone.

Portability


For better or worse, our cell phones are with us wherever we go--the store, the bedroom and the bathroom even!  These devices are also conveniently with us throughout the entire buying process--as we ponder, weigh, analyze and, eventually, purchase any item.

Target looks to assist buyers at varying places within the buying process.  From a Daily Deals alert service, to a baby registry, barcode scanner, and shopping list creator, they've made a user's phone an essential asset throughout the buying process.

The takeaway:

Target worked to meet buyers where they are at throughout the buying process.  Whether they're interested in deals, creating lists or wish lists, there's an app for each need.


Creating Your To-Do List


It's time to set out to create a great-app that will benefit your brand and your customers.
A great app will:
  • make life easier
  • be appropriate and usable 
  • bring the experience of shopping in-store to users' cell phones
  • take core business functions and make them easy for their customers
  • create bigger, smarter experience 
  • meet buyers where they are at


  • For your mobile strategy, strive to do one central thing and make it easy for your users.
    • What need can you satisfy?  
    • What process can you simplify?  
    • What aspect can you enhance?  
    • What information are your customers looking for?
    The examples above merely scratch the surface of app integration.  Remember to be creative and put yourself in your customer's shoes.  Happy Apping!

    - Comments

    Creating a Mobile Strategy - Mobile Websites
    Jan. 28, 2013 2:13 pm

    Mobile browsing is the future--there is no more hiding from that fact.  The question before you is, how do you, as a brand, prepare for it?  As with any transition in business, a strategic plan will guide you from where you are now, to where you need to be.

    Establish Your Goals


    The forecast:


    The majority of your internet audience will be accessing (or trying to access) your brand on a mobile device.  They will succeed (and you will, too) or they will fail and then find a competitor that's beat you to the mobile punch.  Unfortunately, there is very little gray area here.


    The question(s):


    1. How will you get from where you are now, to a fully-mobile friendly brand?  

    2. What kind of timeline is your brand looking to achieve?

    3. How do you want mobile customers to interact with your brand?

    Imagining the future will help you to see exactly what you're looking to achieve.  When creating your strategy, there are two paths to consider.


    1. A mobile-friendly website

    2. Apps that will make interacting with your brand easy
    Today, we'll begin by discussing a mobile website and how it is an important part of your mobile strategy.

    A Mobile Website


    The question many business professionals have is why they need a modified web design in order to adjust from desktop to mobile screens.  

    Simply put, the orientation of a mobile screen (phones are way smaller than a desktop) can leave people scrolling up-and-down and left-to-right and zooming in and out on content areas on your current website.  The information you want visitors to have primary access to will be cumbersome for visitors to find while scrolling all over the place.  A mobile-friendly design makes viewing your website easy on the eyes, whether desktop, tablet or cell phone.

    In addition, a mobile website can also streamline any processes on your site (say, a shopping cart or signup form) to be quickly and easily filled out, usually in fewer steps, again, making your site more user-friendly.

    The goal of all of this is to make the experience of your website the best it can be, no matter the technology your visitors are using to come to your site.
    When creating a mobile website, your team should look through the site and determine the areas that can be streamlined, cut down and simplified for mobile fingers.  The goal is helping your audience get to the product or information they want quickly and easily.

    Interested in some great mobile websites?

    Check out Dominos Pizza and see how they made online ordering easy (too easy, for some of us):






    Dominos put themselves in the shoes of hungry consumers and streamlined the pizza ordering process making it quick and easy to become a customer in seconds.   

    --

    Stay tuned as we discuss Mobile Apps later in the week! - Comments

    10 Best Apps for Business
    Jan. 22, 2013 3:46 pm

    As we focus on mobile browsing this month, we'd also like to highlight some of the business apps we love and some we've newly discovered.

    1.  Evernote - 

    When an idea strikes and pen and paper are lacking, you can use your phone to help keep you organized.  Whether it's a voice memo or a typed note, Evernote will become a valuable resource when you're on-the-go.

    Availability:  Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, Palm webOS and Windows Mobile


    2.  Bump 


    Use bump to store your business card contact info.  Then, when you want to swap business cards, simply touch your cellphone to your business contact's and the contact info is automatically transferred! Show 'em that you're tech savvy and try Bump!

    Availability:  Android and iPhone



    3.  Apple's iWork Suite


    When you're on the go, the work still needs to get done.  Having the iWork Suite on your iPad will help you to be productive while you're away.  Apple has taken some care in ensuring the word processing, charts and graphs and presentation software are each intuitive and easy-to-use on the iPad.

    Availability: iPad 


    4.  Dropbox


    When you need to share a large file or simply back up some data, dropbox is easy-to-use and quick to setup.  The first 2GB are free, however there is an option to pay for additional storage.  Whether for business or personal use, we use dropbox all the time!

    Availability: iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Kindle Fire, iPad


    5.  TweetDeck

    The beauty of Twitter is sharing on the fly.  When you're away from your computer, take TweetDeck with you to keep in touch with your followers.  If you're tweeting on behalf of a corporate account, it's all the more important that you're able to respond to tweets in a timely manner.  TweetDeck will help you do just that.

    Availability:  Android, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry

    6.  PrintCentral

    If you are a frequent user of an iPad, the time will come when you want (need) to print something.  PrintCentral will allow you to print almost anything!  It's a paid app that comes with some additional features.  But, for just under $15, the ability to print is well worth the price.

    Availability:  iPad


    7.  Square


    If you're a small business that needs to begin accepting credit cards, Square is a great option.  The app and the card reader are free.  Instead you are charged a percent of each transaction.  Square offers a great first step for those that are new to accepting credit cards.

    Availability:  iPhone and Android

    8.  Tripit


    Keep track of business travel with ease.  Tripit will store flights, car rentals and hotel reservations to make business travel a breeze.  The basic app is free, or if you want to track frequent flier miles, you can upgrade.

    Availability:  iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry


    9.  Facebook


    Love it or hate it Facebook is a part of business.  Facebook for mobile is easy to use and will help you stay connected wherever you are.  The same rule of timely responses applies on Facebook as we mentioned on Twitter.  If someone comments on your brand's timeline, giving no response or a response 3-days later is a social networking pitfall you'll want to avoid.

    Availability:  Android, iPhone/iPad, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Kindle

    10.  The Walking Dead: The Game

    Look, we all know you're an overachiever that's working hard well after 5 PM.  Take a timeout and slay some zombies.  Call it multitasking; a bit of work and a bit of play.  We won't tell anyone.

    Availability:  Android, iPhone/iPad

    --

    Checkout some other resources for the "best of" business apps.

    Top 10 Must-Have iPhone Business Apps  by PC World

    The Best Mobile Apps for Business by Entrepreneur

    20 Best iPad Apps for Business by Business Insider

    5 Best Apps for Business by CNN Money - Comments

    Why Do I Need a Mobile Web Design?
    Jan. 16, 2013 5:20 pm

    Now that we've got you convinced that focusing on mobile (phone and tablet) browsers is in your brand's best interest, what should your next steps be?

    Your brand needs to begin thinking about their mobile strategy:

    1. How will you get from where you are now, to a fully-mobile friendly brand?  

    2. What kind of timeline is your brand looking to achieve?

    Before we discuss a mobile strategy, allow us to explain why your website needs to "kick it up a notch".

    Why do I need a mobile web design?

    The question many business professionals have is why they need a modified web design in order to adjust from desktop to mobile screens.  

    Simply put, the orientation of a mobile screen (phones are way smaller than a desktop) can leave people scrolling up-and-down and left-to-right and zooming in and out on content areas on your current website.  The information you want visitors to have primary access to will be cumbersome for visitors to find while scrolling all over the place.  A mobile-friendly design makes viewing your website easy on the eyes, whether desktop, tablet or cell phone.

    In addition, a mobile website streamlines any processes on your site (say, a shopping cart or form) to be quickly and easily filled out.  Again, making your site more user-friendly.

    The goal of all of this is to make the experience of your website the best it can be, no matter the technology your visitors are using to come to your site.

    What is responsive design?

    A responsive design is a "parent" group of programming code , if you will.  Once a parent group is created for your website, it can decide how and what content will be displayed depending on the venue.  Then, according to how your site is accessed (whether desktop, tablet or cell phone) the "parent" tells the website how it will appear to your visitors--more content and features on larger screens, less content on smaller screens.

    Still scratching your head?  We found an infographic that will help to clear the way:


    Does this mean a website redesign?

    In order to achieve a responsive design, your site needs to be written in HTML5.  However, if the look of your site has you smitten, rest assured that it can be the same or similar to what it currently is--taking into account the different viewing sizes of mobile tech.  

    In summary, the backbone of the site needs to be updated, but the look and feel can remain, if desired.

    Hungry for more details about responsive web design?  Check out these 50 examples of great responsive design.

    - Comments

    Mobile Browsing Statistics 2012
    Jan. 14, 2013 11:44 am

    We all know we should be paying more attention to mobile internet browsing and it's impact on our business.  But, how much more attention should we be giving it?

    The Current Landscape of U.S. Mobile Devices



    As with any trends, these numbers may change, but it is always nice to know where we're at now.

    Remember when Nokia was an industry leader in early 2000?  As smartphones took over, the company failed to keep up and, for all intents and purposes, dropped off the face of the Earth.  It appears they're back and hoping to become a global leader once again.


    Mobile Browsing vs. Desktop



    "Mobile browsing" includes tablet devices which, for many, may soon replace their laptops/desktops.

    Looking at the side-by-side comparison, it appears that mobile browsing only accounts for about 13% of overall online traffic.  However, like the explosion of the internet in the 90's, this is simply the infancy of mobile browsing.

    Morgan Stanley has predicted that, by 2014, globally, mobile internet browsing will surpass desktop search.  That would mean exponential growth is on the horizon.

    Major shifts occur from time to time in online business.  One day, an Amazon.com is born and, the next day, an AOL is forgotten.  Mobile browsing represents one such shift.

    It's time to take mobile browsing seriously.  In the next 30 days, we'll be looking at tools, tricks and ideas to help with your mobile internet presence. - Comments

    Jumping in to Social Media
    Dec. 31, 2012 3:39 pm

    Image Source
    Have you thought about venturing into social media but don't know how to begin?  Or, are you knee-deep in social media but wondering if it's working?

    Here's a refresher to set your social media in 2013 off right!

    1.  Set your goals.


    What are your goals for social media success?  As with any off-line marketing effort you'll want to know what you're looking to achieve in order to call the social media campaign a "success".

    A great first goal is simply increased traffic to your website.  Increasing time spent on your website per visitor, blog posts read and comments on them as well as increasing social media connections are all great markers to track.

    Then, decide how often you'll check in on these metrics.  When any new campaign begins, it's easy to check in daily, even hourly to see how it's progressing.  Increasing your brand's presence online is not something that is accomplished overnight.  Have fun checking in on the statistics, but don't micro-manage.  Quarterly is a great bet here.

    2.  Where to?

    Decide which social media platforms you'd like to utilize.  Do you know where your current customers hang out online?  Or, is there a group of prospects you'd like to approach?  If so, where can you find them online?  The answers to those questions will define the social media sites for you to spend the most time on.

    Once you've decided which sites you'll be using, be sure to create a well-rounded profile.  Here are a few things to keep in mind:
    • Marketing should match marketing on your website
    • Fill out as much "about" info as possible
    • Make your brand as "personal" as you can- there are people that work there, right?

    3.  Get Schooled



    If a social media website is new to you, don't let that stop you.  Allow your search engine to be your guide!  Simply type in any question you have such as, "What size are profile pictures on Facebook?" or "What does # mean on Twitter?"

    There are many free resources out there to get you up and running in no time!  Don't be afraid simply because something is new.

    4.  Connect!


    Begin making connections with friends, customers and prospects.  Ultimately, social media is social; so, post responses, interact and BE social.  Here are a few tips we've picked up along the way:
    • Remember to build KLT - Know, Like and Trust- of your brand
    • Interact with others--don't simply use SM as a megaphone
    • Post content your customers would find helpful most of the time
    • Post content that is *sales* oriented only once a week or so
    • Post a bit of lighthearted content as well (remember, to be social)
    We hope 2013 will be a social media success for you!
    - Comments

    Gift Your Website - Content is King
    Dec. 21, 2012 10:51 am

    With all of the talk about gifts for friends and loved ones this holiday season, we'd like to remind you to spread the love to your website as well.  Each day up until Christmas we'll give you a simple idea you can implement to spread the love to your website.

    --

    Content editing on a website is a big job.  But, if taken a small task at a time, it becomes manageable. Many of the tasks below are site-wide and will easily be changed in the CSS code of your website.  One change will modify all of the content on your website.

    Colors


    Be sure you're using font/background colors that are easy-to-read.  This seems obvious, but there are certainly a few offenders out there still.

    Having trouble reading this text?
    Don't do this to your audience.

    Content 

    The text on your website should not be too small that it's difficult to read.  Also, the paragraphs on the site should not be too lengthly.  A good rule of thumb is no more than 6 sentences per paragraph.  Of course there are exceptions, but it's a good general guide.

    Use bulleted lists or numbered lists help to keep the content skim-able.  Content that is easy to scan is  more likely to be read in its entirety.  

    Finally, be sure to add sub-headings where appropriate.  

    Call to Action


    Compelling content is content that asks your audience to act.  A call to action is essential to help your audience perform your desired action; whether it's subscribing to your blog, downloading a white paper, or signing up for your newsletter.

    Remember that the Calls to Action that are the smallest steps forward (i.e. subscribing to a newsletter) will have a better chance at success.  Whereas a big leap forward (i.e. contact forms) are more difficult to get a potential customer to do on their first visit.

    Links


    Links on your website need to be working properly in order to keep your audience happy.  There is nothing worse than a broken website.  As you add links to your website you should test the links to be sure they are actively working.

    In addition, many large websites subscribe to a link checking service that periodically follows all of the links on a website to ensure they are still working.  Then, any links that are broken will be sent in an email to the website owner.  This makes managing a bigger website a lot easier.


    Spelling


    We've all had a spelling error from time to time, but consistent spelling issues are website hangups as well.  Most browsers have a spell check integrated, now.  However, if yours does not, be sure to pass the content through a spell check before going live.

    In addition, after writing content, step away from your desk for a moment or so.  Then, come back and read what you're just written once more before publishing.  Remember, your website is an extension of your brand!  Always put your best face forward.

    --

    Stay tuned for more gift your website ideas.
    - Comments

    Gift Your Website - Social Media Links
    Dec. 20, 2012 9:45 am

    With all of the talk about gifts for friends and loved ones this holiday season, we'd like to remind you to spread the love to your website as well.  Each day up until Christmas we'll give you a simple idea you can implement to spread the love to your website.

    --

    Social Media Boom


    You've decided to take the plunge into social media.  Congratulations!  Or, if you're one of the few that has been too afraid to put your toe in the water, go ahead and give it a try in 2013!  

    Once you've begun using social media, get the word out!  Put some small buttons with links to your social media haunting grounds.  Or, better yet, put a feed of your Twitter or Facebook updates on the sidebar of your website.  This gives your audience a taste for what they'd be missing out on if they don't follow you on social media.
    Social Media Buttons


    Quality Content


    As a bonus "gift" we'd like to remind you of two social media rules that we try to live by as you're out there swimming in the proverbial social media water cooler:

    1. Quality content is always better than quantity content.

    2. Social Media is about being a gift to others; the focus shouldn't be on you.

    Remember, link up your social media outlets to help your audience connect with you!

    --

    Stay tuned for more gift your website ideas.
    - Comments

    Gift Your Website - Size Does Matter
    Dec. 19, 2012 9:14 am

    With all of the talk about gifts for friends and loved ones this holiday season, we'd like to remind you to spread the love to your website as well.  Each day up until Christmas we'll give you a simple idea you can implement to spread the love to your website.

    --

    Image Sizes


    We are a visual people.  A picture truly is worth a thousand words.  So, don't torture your audience by uploading original photos to your website.

    Step 1- Resolution


    A picture's resolution is the number of tiny dots (pixels) per inch.  The higher the resolution, the sharper the image.  This matters BIG TIME if you're printing a photo or creating a billboard.  However, computer screens are setup to display 72 pixels per inch.  No more.  

    Step 2 - Size


    Secondly, most photos for your website can be much smaller than the originals from a digital camera.  If you're not sure of the image size, a great way to find out is to open an existing image from your website.  Right-click the image and select "Open Image In New Window".  In many browsers, the image name and pixel dimensions will be displayed just above the address bar on your browser.



    Software

    If you're a pro, you may have Adobe Photoshop or Photo Elements.  If not, simply do a search for "image resizing" and you'll find a number of free and paid solutions.

    There's no more excusing a website with slow load times.  Image resizing takes just a couple quick minutes when you're uploading a new image to your website.  So, do your audience a favor and take care of those pixel-heavy images.


    --

    Stay tuned for more gift your website ideas.
    - Comments

    Gift Your Website - Contact Details
    Dec. 18, 2012 7:38 am

    With all of the talk about gifts for friends and loved ones this holiday season, we'd like to remind you to spread the love to your website as well.  Each day up until Christmas we'll give you a simple idea you can implement to spread the love to your website.

    --

    Contact Info


    Another quick fix is to ensure your contact information is on every page in addition to the Contact Us page of your website.  An easy way to do that is to include contact info on the footer of your website.

    What should you include?

    • Street address
    • Phone number
    • General email contact
    • Hours of operation (if applicable)
    • Logo 


    Another great way for people to connect with you is on social media.  Be sure to include links to the various social media platforms you are active on.

    --

    Stay tuned for more gift your website ideas.
    - Comments

    Does My Website Suck, Part 2
    Dec. 17, 2012 3:12 pm

    At DMI Studios, we love helping people take an honest look at their site to see what, if anything, needs to be improved upon.  And we've decided to share some of the aspects we look at with you, dear reader.  Consider it an early Christmas gift!

    Throughout all of these tips you'll see one common theme--the key to a great website is one that builds KLT - Know, Like and Trust.  

    Now, let's begin Part 2:

    4.  Web Positioning Checkup

    Being found online is key to your website's success.  What search terms are most important to you?  Armed with your list of important "keywords", take the the search engines and see exactly where you end up.  

    Then, take to the search engines once more to see if any of your competitors are out-ranking you for your coveted list of keywords.  If so, be sure to add relevant content throughout your website that contains these search terms.

    Finally, check out your web analytics (we'll discuss that shortly) and see how customers are actually finding you website.  The terms they are using to find you might be different than what you thought. We've discussed search engine marketing in the past.  Go ahead and get a refresher if you need to. We'll wait.

    If your audience is using terms that are a bit different than you thought, it may be time to re-work some of your website's content to rank higher for those search terms.

    One final note:  We mentioned Bing's "Bing It On" in the recently as well.  While the tool is used to test drive Bing vs. Google, it would also be a great place to do your keyword research.  Simply type in the term you're interested in and see where your website lands.


    5.  Analytics


    We mention Analytics in a bit more detail in today's post "Gift Your Website".  Simply digging into your analytics will give you a wealth of information about your current website.  Check out the Analytics blog post for more information.


    6.  Local Directories

    Potential customers are looking for you.  And, if you have a bricks-and-mortar business that you'd like them to find, claiming your location is essential.  Claiming a local address is easy to do and just takes a bit of your time.
    For more detailed information on local directories, see our Local Search blog post.

    --

    Stay tuned for more tips as we help you decide, "Does my website suck?"  or, view Part 1 in this series. 
    - Comments

    Gift Your Website - Analytics
    Dec. 16, 2012 5:03 pm

    With all of the talk about gifts for friends and loved ones this holiday season, we'd like to remind you to spread the love to your website as well.  Each day up until Christmas we'll give you a simple idea you can implement to spread the love to your website.

    Analytics


    The first step in improving your website in any way is to see where it's at right now.  Website analytics hold the key to really "knowing" your website.  Things like:
    • How many visitors come each month?
    • How are they finding my website?
    • What websites link to mine?
    • What search terms are they using to find me?
    • What pages are they visiting most often?
    The information here will paint a very clear picture of how your website is doing.  Most websites come standard with an analytics program.  If you don't have one, check out Google Analytics.  It's free and only takes a snippet of code to be added to your site to begin your analytical journey.

    Warning:  Once you begin checking out your website stats, you may become addicted to the powerful data therein.

    Stay tuned for more gift your website ideas. - Comments

    Does My Website Suck? - Part 1
    Dec. 11, 2012 11:34 am

    It's an honest question.  Does my website need an overhaul?  Maybe just a nip and tuck?  Or, maybe triple bypass surgery?  How do I know if my website sucks?

    These are the questions plaguing many website owners and marketing professionals.  At DMI Studios, we love helping people take an honest look at their site to see what. if anything, needs to be improved upon.  And we've decided to share some of the aspects we look at with you, dear reader.  Consider it an early Christmas gift!

    Throughout all of these tips you'll see one common theme--the key to a great website is one that builds KLT - Know, Like and Trust.  Let us begin:

    1.  Overall Design


    This is the first place to start.  A website has precious few seconds to display trust and like-ability to an Internet user.  Sometimes, these qualitative aspects are difficult to put into words.  How do we know good design?  Here are a few jumping off points:
    • Is the logo and branding properly represented here?  
    • Is the color scheme pleasant to the eye?  
    • Is the important navigation above the fold (no scrolling to find it)?
    • Is the content easy to read?
    • Could the website benefit from an evolving design (seasonal, etc)?
    • Does the website use CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to ensure consistent design throughout?

    2.  Usability


    This would seem obvious, but a website needs to be user-friendly.  If it is difficult to use it will not be effective in generating leads for your business.  Again, this is more qualitative, but we all know easy-to-use websites versus the sites we hate to use.
    • Are all pages easily accessed by navigation?
    • Is there a search function?
    • Is there an RSS or email signup?
    • Is there a mobile version of the website to ease viewing on mobile and tablet devices?
    • Do the webpages load quickly?
    • If there is a checkout process, is it quick and easy to complete?

    3.  Competitive Analysis


    That's a fancy way of saying, you should spy on your competitors.  Sign up for their newsletters, follow them on Facebook and Twitter and check out their website!  Then, kick the tires of their website to see if there are any gems you can gain inspiration from.
    • Note any pages/sections they have on their website that you don't.  Then, ask yourself why you don't have it on your website (it may not be necessary, but this is a worthy exercise).
    • Note how often and how they communicate with their audience/customers.
    • See where they land on Bing and Google for shared search terms.
    • Investigate which social networks they are on and note their interactions there.
    • Check out the Meta Title and Description they use for their website.*

    *How do I learn about Metas?  Simply do a search on a search engine for the company's name or products they offer.  The results on the search page display their title and description.  For example, say you make apparel for zombie-loving fans, you may want to search "zombie gifts".  Then, note your competitor's listing on the search engine:




    The Meta Title is the large, blue underlined text.  The Meta Description is the text in black.  Note any keywords your competitors are using that wold work for you as well.  

    --

    Stay tuned for more tips as we help you decide, "Does my website suck?"


    - Comments

    Branding Your Website
    Dec. 3, 2012 10:55 am

    Fatboy's Double Fatboy Hamburger - h3013 5
    Image Source
    If your website was a gourmet hamburger, branding would be all of the deliciousness that goes along with it:  pickles, tomato, onion, cheese, lettuce, bacon (!) and a toasty bun.  The elements are not too much and not too little, and memorable enough to keep customers coming back bite after bite.

    A burger lacking these elements is like a bad memory.  The same with your website. The logo, color scheme, tone of voice, imagery and emotion of your brand need to be incorporated on your site.

    The problem many clients run into is either, 1) they have very little offline branding and don't know the elements of their brand or, 2) the prior web designer neglected to incorporate these important elements and their site is underperforming.

    Why are these branding elements important?  


    They:
    • let your audience know they're on the right website.
    • create continuity between your offline, real life efforts and your web presence.
    • build trust in your brand.
    Okay, these elements are important.  I can see you get that.  Though I must caution you from the brink of using too much branding on your site. Note that branding is the accompaniment but you can't forget the beef!  Customers are coming to your site to learn more about you, experience your brand and/or buy your product.  A great website helps to build KLT (know, like, trust).   Remember, branding is the too-good-to-pass-up deliciousness that makes your website unique--your audience appreciates all of those elements, but they came for the beef!

    What about my logo?


    You're proud of your logo.  It's the culmination of blood, sweat, tears and a few hundred (maybe thousand) bucks.  We get that.  Your customers value your logo as well.  But not in the center-of-the-page, no other information is provided kind of a way.  It's more of a  2.5" x 2.5" kind of way.

    There are a number of best practices for your logo's placement on your website.  Typically, logos are in the upper-left corner of each page.  Web users know to look there for a logo, and the goal is to build trust in your website.  So, put it in the upper-left; no need to get fancy.

    The logo should be click-able back to your homepage--another web standard. And, the logo should be big enough to be noticed within the first few seconds a user is on your website.  You only have a precious few seconds to grab their attention and allow them to trust your site.  Don't blow it!

    Remember:  Your logo is like the secret sauce.  Important and tangy, but way-too-much and it's overbearing.  We've all been there.  Don't be that guy!

    It's elemental


    Pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, bacon, cheese, tomato...we could go on and on about a great gourmet burger (we're from Wisconsin after all).   Just like this delectable delight, your website should incorporate all of the elements of your brand--or you may have angry (or confused) customers.  Tone of voice, color scheme, imagery and feel are all important elements of your brand.  A great website will incorporate each of them in addition to a hearty helping of meat (read: important content).


    All of life is like a great burger

    Alright, that statement may have gone a bit too far.  But your website *is* like a great burger.  Your site should incorporate all of the tasty elements of your brand--logo, color scheme, tone of voice, imagery and emotion, without forgetting the meaty parts.  Customers are hungry to learn more about your brand.  Don't disappoint them!

    --
    If you're lost on the way to a gourmet website, we have affectionados that would be happy to help.  Would you like a free website review?  We'd be happy to oblige you!


    - Comments

    Fun Friday: "Thriller" Album Turns "30"
    Nov. 30, 2012 2:31 pm

    The "Thriller" music video is dubbed the most influential music video ever.  The album is the best-selling album of all time.  "Thriller" has spent the most weeks (37) atop the Billboard 200 of any album by a single artist.

    A less statistical fact from "Thriller": the song and video helped to shatter the racial divide on the radio and on MTV.

    Interested in a little more "Thriller" info?

    "30 Cool Facts About 'Thriller'" will boggle your mind with tidbits and trivia.

    Check out Yahoo! Music for little-known facts about "Thriller".

    One of Jackson's co-writers remembers working with him in an NPR interview.

    Check out these 10 facts about the "Thriller" music video:


     Think you've seen everything "Thriller"? Check out these inmates from the Philippines that are, actually, pretty good at choreography. How's that for rehabilitation?

     

    Now, beat it. - Comments

    iGenius - Online Training, a Case Study
    Nov. 29, 2012 9:18 am


    You might think that an online training system that provides courses for a wide variety of employees and situations in a large geographic area sounds like a pie-in-the sky idea--too expensive and too time consuming.  You'd be wrong! DMI Studios' iGenius is an online training system that helped Construction Resource Management do just that!

    Construction Resource Management (CRM) is a Wisconsin-based captive service provider for three construction companies specializing in asphalt, bridges and overpasses: Payne and Dolan, Northeast Asphalt and Zenith Tech. These companies strive to provide top-notch infrastructure construction throughout Wisconsin and Michigan.  CRM worked with DMI to develop websites for each of their companies and during the course of a general strategy session, the pipe-dream of web-based employee training came up. We suggested iGenius and the plan took off!

    iGenius - a diamond in the rough


    In 2004, DMI Studios' created iGenius --a customizable framework that encompasses the essential elements businesses need in a training program--scalability, cost effectiveness and consistency.  DMI built the iGenius solution to easily adapt to a multitude of situations including human resources, sales training, education, or any situation where a web-based learning program is needed.

    By implementing the iGenius solution, CRM now facilitates online training in a slide-show manner for their employees..  The training courses can incorporate any combination of audio, video, Flash, text and/or images.  Each training session is then followed up with a test to measure comprehension.  CRM can easily log in to the iGenius solution to see which employees have watched various training sessions, taken tests and quizzes and, ultimately, passed the course.

    Flexible to meet business needs


    The genius that is iGenius, is the flexibility and freedom CRM has within the framework. Site Administrators have the ability to: 
    • Upload employee info and download employee course scores.
    • Assign employees to courses or certificates (groups of courses) by company, area, job position or individually.
    • Grant access to employees to take courses at any time, from any computer connected to the Internet.
    • Create courses from existing or new materials.
    • Add variations on the same question to ensure that, when a quiz is retaken to taken by another employee, it's slightly different,
    • View reports that provide data on employees, courses and comprehension tests.
    • Input offline course scores so all employee data resides in one place.

    Scalable for any situation


    CRM uses the iGenius solution in conjunction with classroom training, for internal training and OSHA required training.  So far, CRM's iGenius solution has over 1,100 users and 60 courses. Some example courses are: 
    • About Our Company
    • Entry Level DOT/CDL Driver Training
    • Defensive Driving
    • Harassment in the Workplace
    • Aerial Lift Safety
    • First Aid
    In addition, the iGenius solution is tied into CRM's employee Intranet. This creates one central location for employees to take courses, get employee forms and info, view project photo galleries, and any relevant company information.

    In all, the iGenius solution has been a great asset for CRM.  "Utilizing the iGenius system has allowed us to provide cost efficient, customized training to our employees," says Dawn Pratt, Human Resources Manager / EEO Officer for CRM.  "In addition we are able to post documents, photos albums of workers, important information, benefit forms and a host of other important employee related information that creates a one-stop shop for our employees.  It has worked out to be a very beneficial endeavor for both the company and the employee. Working with DMI has been a dream and they are so receptive to make it work just like we want it!"

    It's just one more way DMI Studios builds more than websites--we build business!

    If you'd like to see a test drive of the iGenius solution, we'd love to have you kick the tires, so to speak. Contact us today!
    - Comments

    Cyber Monday - Is It For Real?
    Nov. 26, 2012 10:33 am

    Image Source
    "Cyber Monday" was appropriately coined in 2005 by a Shop.org press release that year.  Their research indicated a major swing in online sales on the Monday's following Thanksgiving.  Increasing access to high-speed internet, the need to shop online while kids are asleep, and the need to complete unfinished holiday shopping are reasons sighted for the Cyber Monday madness.  In response, online retailers took note of the trend and created specific sales and promotions beginning in 2005.

    Is Cyber Monday really the biggest online shopping day of the year?


    According to comScore, since they began tracking e-commerce activity in 2001, consumers spent $1.028 Billion online on Cyber Monday 2010, making it the biggest spending day of the year.  Prior to that, Cyber Monday was not the biggest sales-day of the year.

    Cyber Monday shopping since 2005:


    Cyber Monday still only represents a small portion of total holiday sales (online and traditional), however the importance of the sale day is increasing each year.  It's beginnings were humble (and mostly hype), however Cyber Monday 2011 was the highest online sales day on record!

    Ever Changing.  


    The latest tech trend is the increasing use of mobile devices for online shopping.  The most common platform for mobile browsing is the iPhone.  Practical Ecommerce notes Black Friday mobile browsing was higher than Cyber Monday browsing, probably because most people were away from their work computers.


    Takeaways

    • Black Friday and Cyber Monday are important eCommerce dates for virtually all retailers
    • The number of consumers using mobile devices for shopping is increasing rapidly.
    • Many shoppers are doing so from their work computers.
    For even more Cyber Monday info, check out Information Experts Infographic.

    Happy shopping!

    - Comments

    Black Friday Infographic
    Nov. 22, 2012 9:00 pm

    Are you planning to head out on Black Friday?

    Here are a few tips to get you through the day:

      Black Friday Cheat Sheet
    Via: NerdWallet - Comments


    PCI Compliance Guide - Internet 101
    Nov. 21, 2012 5:53 pm

    The internet can be a great source of revenue for small business.  However, it can also be a great source of frustration for those that may not know the rules of business on the World Wide Web.

    One such issue is PCI Compliance.
    "The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of requirements designed to ensure that ALL companies that process, store or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment."   - PCI Guide
    Ultimately the PCI guidelines are to protect the consumer and businesses.  Credit card data that is easily hacked into is a huge security issue for consumers.  And, businesses that knowingly store this data in an unsecured location are helping these hackers do what they do.

    Do I need to be aware of the PCI Guidelines?   

    If you transmit, accept or store credit card information, then the PCI Compliance guidelines apply to you; regardless of the size of your business or organization.  These transactions can occur via the web or over the phone.  

    My website has an SSL, so I must be covered.

    An SSL Certificate is a secure webpage that credit card transactions occur on.  Though, an SSL certificate will not secure the server on which credit card data may be stored; thus they are vulnerable on the server.  An SSL Certificate is not enough to secure all credit card data, but it is an important component in secure credit card transactions.

    Tip:  How do I know if a webpage is secure?  The URL should begin with "https://" 

    I use a third-party to process transactions, so they'll take care of this.

    Not necessarily.  It is important that your third-party vendor is PCI Compliant, however some of the transaction data may still be saved on your servers.  Using a third-party may cut down your risk, but it's best to be sure your customers' data is safe.

    Okay, where do I begin?

    The first piece of information to gather is this:  How many VISA card transactions has your business or organization processed in the last 12-months?  
    Level 1 - 6 million or more VISA transactions per year.
    Level 2 - 1 million - 6 million VISA transactions per year.
    Level 3 - 20,000 - 1 million VISA transactions per year.
    Level 4 - Fewer than 20,000 VISA transactions per year.
    Most small-to-medium sized businesses fall in Level 4.
    Assuming you're a Level 4 business, these are the following steps you need to take to ensure PCI Compliance:

    1. Find which Validation Type your business falls under.  

    2. Take the Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) --the instructions will assist you as to which questionnaires to fulfill.

    3. If you store cardholder info or if your processing systems are connected to the internet, you'll need to complete and gather evidence of passing a vulnerability scan.  Scans must be conducted by a PCI SSC Approved Scanning Vendor.   

    4. Complete the appropriate Attestation of Compliance

    5. Submit the SAQ (Self Assessment Questionnaire), data of passing scan (if applicable), and the Attestation of Compliance (found in document with SAQ), along with any other requested documentation, to you acquirer.

    Where can I find the standards online?

    If you need a hand tackling PCI Compliance for your business, we would be happy to help!  We've been down this road with many of our clients and can leverage that knowledge for you!  Simply contact us today!


    Useful Links
    PCI Compliance Guide
    Official PCI Security Standards Council
    PCI Compliance Checklist by the Better Business Bureau

    --

    This post is the part of a series of Internet 101 information topics. As always, when class is dismissed, you're welcome to contact us if you have any questions or would like any additional information. If you don't feel at the head of your class, don't worry, we took notes. - Comments

    Local Search - Claiming Your Brand's Online Identity
    Nov. 19, 2012 11:42 am

    Image: IT Jargon
    Googled your business lately?  Customers are using search engines to find your address, phone number and service information as well as to determine your credibility.  Not pleased with the search engine results for your brand?  Take heart, there are steps you can take to claim your brand's identity online.

    The Basics - Your Website

    Your brand's website is the first step to claiming your business identity.  Start with a Contact Us page with your business's address, phone number and relevant information.  Be sure to included the cities you provide services to on your website as well.  Blog posts that are sporadically sprinkled with the areas you provide services to will round out your local search results.

    Low Hanging Fruit - Social Media

    Create a business page on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn for free.  Be sure to fill out as much information as you can on each site.  List the hours your business is open, street address, services provided and any relevant imagery as well as a link to your website.  This information will, 1) provide search engines with your address/phone number to list in their results and, 2) add a credibility to prospective customers.

    Online Directories - A Little Time, But Well Worth It

    A number of directories exist that will list your business information for free.  Here are a few of our favorites:
    google.com/placesforbusiness
    local.yahoo.com
    bing.com/local
    In addition, there are a multitude of smaller directories out there well worth claiming as well.  A great way to check out if you're listed properly is to use a search tool.  You can easily see the directories where you're already listed and the ones you'll need to visit and add your information. Some of the notables are:
    yext.com
    getlisted.org
    ubl.com
    These services provide listing information for free but then charge to help you fix your listings. If you want to save some cash and fix your listings yourself, it's not hard but it will take time.  Many of the listed directories will have you verify your ownership of the business information through a phone call or post card.

    As with your brand's social media profiles, be sure to fill in as much relevant information as each directory allows to lend credibility.

    Create Engagement

    A great enhancement to your directory listings is customer reviews.  What is the best way to get a review?  Simply to ask. If you do receive reviews, many directories allow you to respond to it.  Thank commenters for their patronage, respond to so-so reviews and address any negative reviews.

    Why Claim My Brand's Identity?

    Time is a commodity.  Why should you spend time on these business directories?

    1.  Almost all of these are free!

    2.  Free traffic to your website or front door!

    3.  Search engines cross-check these directories.  The more directories that have your info listed properly will lend to the credibility of your brand's online presence.

    4.  Ensure search engines are giving customers the proper info--not an old address or phone number.

    5.  If you don't claim this information, someone else may.
    Wait, what?  That's right.  We've had a client who had their brand's identity claimed by a competitor.  Their name, address and phone number were marked as:  "Out of Business".  Ouch!  Immoral.  And, not good for business.   Claim your brand's info before someone else does!

    Tips

    * Be sure you use the same address and even format the address the same way in every instance.  "123 Main Street, Suite 23" looks different to search engines than, "123 Main St. Ste. #23".  Be consistent.  Every time.

    * Adding a photo of the exterior of your business is a great way to help customers become acquainted with your business before they even get in their car!

    *Spread these tasks out over a month.  That way, you won't be overwhelmed by the process.

    * Keep checking periodically, even after you've made your changes.  If a site or directory you've missed is feeding other directories, your work can be unravelled.


    A few other great articles to on improving your local marketing

    5 Ways to Improve Local Search Results for Business
    How to Claim Your Online Identity and Keep It Relevant
    - Comments

    News from Search Engine Strategies Conference- Chicago
    Nov. 15, 2012 3:28 pm


    This week, DMI Studios has been knee deep in all things Search Engine Marketing while attending the SES Conference & Expo in Chicago #SESCHI.  SES provides marketing professionals, brand advertisers, agencies, and business leaders with the knowledge and tools needed to traverse the dynamic digital landscape. Translation- the best and the brightest gather together to share ideas and talk about what's new and trending.

    While our brains are still brimming with everything we've learned, we thought we give a few quick highlights and interesting facts.

    Google:
    • Over 200 data points are used by Google to determine organic positioning.  The top 3 are Site Structure, Frequency of Updates and Linking- Content really is king!
    • 100 billion queries per month come into Google.
    • 16% of Google inquiries have never been seen by Google before.
    • 80% of queries have no exact match.
    • 40% searches are over 3 words long.
    Bing:
    • 5.6 billion queries per month come into Bing.
    • Bing controls 30% of the US Market.
    • Bing has 151 million unique users.
    • Bing claims to have 46 million users that don't also use Google.
    • Bing users spend on average 5.4% more per transaction than Googlers.


    Google Shopping:
    • There's 1 billion products in Google Shopping.
    • Google Shopping boasts over 100,000 retailers.
    • By submitting themselves for review by Google, a retailer can become "Trusted" by Google.  Google reports a 5-10% gain in orders for stores that have become trusted.
    Social Media:
    • Social campaigns on Facebook or Twitter can also help with other campaigns like content marketing, link building, brand awareness, lead generation and SEO.
    • Social Media can be used as a way to get others to do your work for you- spreading the word about your brand.
    • Twitter processes about 1 million tweets per week.
    • 20% of all tweets are invitations for product info and 48% are to introduce a brand.
    • 25% of internet users go to a website after learning about it on some form of social media.
    • 500 billion minutes a month are spent on Facebook.

    Cool Stuff:
    • Wal-mart.com does 1/20 the sales of Amazon.com.
    • Google is offering up to $10,000 a month in free Pay Per Click ads to Non-profit organizations.
    • Mobile marketing accounts for only 1% of ad spend but 23% of web use.
    • Local Search comprises 40% of all mobile traffic.

    Whew!  That was quite a brain dump!  We'd be more than happy to talk with you about more ideas and options that could impact your business- just give us a day or two for the swelling in our heads to go down!
    - Comments

    Content Management - A Powerful Tool
    Nov. 12, 2012 8:44 am

    Content is king.  Consumers are looking for up-to-date information about virtually every brand--your brand.  How can you deliver timely content and keeps costs down?   Content Management can be the silver-bullet in your brand's arsenal.


    One client of DMI Studios' that leverages our Content Management System is Port Washington, WI.  Port Washington needed a website that combined the identity's of their tourism industry, chamber of commerce and main street programs.  In addition, each identity had a wealth of information that would need to be routinely updated.

    When searching for a web design agency that was up to the task, Kathy Tank, Executive Director for Port Washington Tourism Council knew she could look to DMI Studios.  "I knew [Brad of DMI Studios] well enough to know that he would not misrepresent what DMI could do, just to get the deal.  When I talked about the challenge we had, needing a website for three distinct entities, combined into one website, without any of the entities losing their identity, [Brad] said he knew DMI Studios could come up with a solution."

    The challenge was steep.  Port Washington needed a website for the three separate entities that was easy to navigate and consolidated, yet distinct for each identity.  In addition, each entity had differing needs for DMI's Content Management System.  

    Once the website was created, Port Washington was armed with a unified brand for three entities and DMI's Content Management System.  Now, their dedicated staff are able to update the website quickly and easily; making visitportwashington.com the go-to website for their distinct audiences.

    "People say it [the website] looks very professional, and being able to update it when needed helps us to keep the site vibrant and up-to-date with the latest information.  That makes Port Washington able to compete with the big guys." says Kathy.

    Website's have precious few moments to capture a user's attention before they click away and find another source for information. About the website DMI created, Kathy notes, "People say [our website] is easy to navigate and they can find what they are looking for."  User experience is key in creating a valuable resource.

    A major benefit to DMI's Content Management System is the ability to control costs as well.  "The easy-to-use CMS keeps costs in-line with dedicated staff being able to update content and manage the website without having to pay anyone else to make the changes," Kathy noted. That means more updates on-the-fly.    

    Kathy explained, "[There are] no financial boundaries keeping us back from using the website.  This keeps the website vibrant and refreshed with the latest information and helps us do a better job of communicating info about Port Washington to our audience, thus helping us to drive more tourism visits and business for our economy."

    Timely content is the key to engaging customers on the web.  Port Washington relies heavily on content management with various parts of the website being updated almost daily!  Port Washington has become the expert in their brand by publishing timely content and communicating daily with their distinct audiences.

    Website created.  Business enhanced.

    What can content management do for your brand?
    --
    If you'd like to see a demonstration of our Content Management System, we'd be happy to show it off!  Contact us and we'll be there.  With bells on. 
    - Comments

    Bing the Vote!
    Nov. 6, 2012 3:22 pm

    We interrupt your Tuesday to remind you to vote.  And, in the spirt of voting, we'd love to see which Search Engine you prefer--Bing or Google.

    Want to know how the candidates stack up?  Bing has created a tool to help with that.  You can search simultaneously for varying search topics to see which search engine YOU prefer:  Bing or Google.

    Since we're savvy and strive to be empirical, we did a double blind test -- no caffiene was ingested directly prior to this test.

    Note :: You can click graphics to view them at a larger size.







    We were split 50/50 and selected Bing twice, Google twice and had a draw for Round 5.


    Looking for more Bing vs. Google standings?  Check out this great infographic.

    We'd love to hear which search engine gets your vote!

    - Comments

    Happy Halloween from DMI Studios!
    Oct. 31, 2012 3:38 pm


    Here at DMI Studios, we're all partial to treats over tricks.  So to celebrate, instead of our regularly scheduled blog post, here are a few fun Halloween facts:
    • Halloween is second only to Christmas for holiday online sales.
    • Chocolate makes up about three-quarters of a trick-or-treater's loot, according to the National Confectioners Association.
    • Candy corn has been made with the same recipe by the Jelly Belly Candy Company since around 1900.  What's in that recipe, exactly? Sugar, corn syrup, and marshmallow.
    • 90% of parents admit to sneaking candy from their kids hauls. (That number sounds low!)
    • Halloween is thought to have originated around 4000 B.C., which means Halloween has been around for over 6,000 years.
    • The first known mention of trick-or-treating in print in North America occurred in 1927 in Blackie, Alberta, Canada
    So, now that you've sated your need for useless trivia, go get your sugar groove on!  Happy Halloween!






      .
    - Comments

    Internet 101 - Laws of Search Engine Attraction
    Oct. 29, 2012 4:14 pm


    Understanding Search Engine Optimization is a full-time job--literally.  DMI Studios has an in-house Marketing Specialist to assist all of our clients with interactive marketing, beginning with Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

    Search Engine Optimization is working to create a website that is easily found on search engines.   SEO is the natural positioning within search engines such as Yahoo!, Bing and Google.

    Each search engine has a different way at looking at websites--this is called their algorithm.  SEO works to ensure your website has the specific features each algorithm is looking for.

    Search engine placement is important!  Let's imagine, a valued client of ours, FleaBDead,  sells diamond studded flea collars.  The market for these products is huge and the demand is high, so we want to be sure people can find this website.

    Words!

    In working with FleaBDead, we look at their product and determine how John Q. Public is planning to use a Search Engine to find their website.  Johnny will probably search for "diamond flea collar," "diamond studded flea collar" and "flea collar".  We ensure these phrases are included throughout the website we create for them.

    Johnny probably won't know these flea collars by name.  So the name of client's company, "FleaBDead" is of lesser importance here.  

    So, we add the words the public may use to find these products to the titles throughout their website.  A title is found at the very top of your browser.  It is also the first line listed in search results.  So, we'd add "Diamond Studded Flea Collars - FleaBGone" to their title--important words first. This covers all of their important search terms.  

    Links

    Search engines look to other trusted websites to see if they should trust your website--thus reducing the chance you're simply a SPAM website.  When a big-name pet store links to FleaBGone, it's like giving search engines a "thumbs up" about our site.  Win!  The more of these great links, the better for our client!  Although, not for the fleas.

    The words that are used in these links are also important.  The pet store linking to our client's site with "Diamond Studded Flea Collars" will help search engines to further categorize us within the realm of diamond studded flea collars.  Linking to our client with "FleaBDead" doesn't do that.  So, we help our clients be picky about their links.

    Ever Growing

    Websites that are continually adding content and gaining links are noticed by search engines.  It's like the popular kid in school who keeps gaining attention by his following.  Search engines take note of these popular kids.   We help websites become popular with our Content Management Systems and by integrating blogs when they are a good fit.

    Our Approach

    DMI Studios has a specific approach when working to optimize a website.  First, a website is created using a clean coding and design (major disadvantage for template-websites).  Next, DMI works with each client to ensure the content on each web page is valuable to your audience and has those important search terms (or keywords) related to your business.

    Once the website is launched, we collaborate with our clients to work on increasing search engine leads for their website.  This could entail modifying the copy on specific under-performing pages on the site, working to create better links to your website or adding code in the back end informing search engines about the content of your website.  All in an effort to help your audience find you!

    This is just the beginning of Search Engine Optimization.  If you're looking for ways to increase your website's SEO, we'd be happy to help!
    - Comments

    DMI Studios Works Collaboratively to Build Business: Case Study
    Oct. 25, 2012 11:17 am

    A custom web design, logo creation, marketing plan and an impressive amount of tourism-related experience allowed DMI Studios to create the best interactive presence for the Florence County Tourism and Economic Development brand.

    Florence Country Tourism and Economic Development is located in picturesque northeast Wisconsin about 2 hours north Green Bay.  Florence Co. knew they needed a revitalized website to better serve their target-market for tourism.  Their current website was laden with government-related information for current residents of the county.  However, a website that specifically served the tourism industry was needed.

    As Florence County began creating their Request For Proposals, they soon realized they didn't have a clear marketing plan, logo or direction for their brand.  They leveraged  DMI Studios' to help them through the marketing and brand identity process.

    Brad Gegare, of DMI Studios, worked with Florence County every step of the way.  Brad spent time walking Florence Co. through the entire marketing process.  Brad has 6 years of experience in the tourism industry and over 15 years experience in marketing.

    Florence County saw they had a true collaborator in DMI Studios.  Once work began, DMI created a vision for  Florence Co. to market their brand and a logo that would speak to their tourism audience.    When the marketing was in place, DMI worked to create a robust website that would be updated with relevant Events, News and a stream from their Facebook feed in addition to important tourism-related information.

    "DMI Studios' design staff helped us perfect our logo with rotating icons and colors that are eye- catching and reflective of the great outdoors," said Wendy Gelhoff, Director for Florence County Economic Development.

    DMI Studios also helped to map out the necessary web pages to best serve tourists.  Along with the new web design, the administrative section of the website  featured DMI's proprietary Content Management System that enables website owners to continually update their website.  The easy-to-use tools enable a website experience that is relevant, trending and up-to-the-minute with information for internet users.

    "The best part about the whole experience is how easily new content is added through the many custom Content Management Tools designed for each of our unique pages.  When the final site was ready, Brad came up to train us and in 1 hour we were ready to go," said Wendy Gellhoff.

    DMI Studios has an unmatched combination of website pre-planning, strategy, design expertise, content management options, search engine optimization and customer service.  The end result is a user-friendly website that is easily updated by site owners and works day and night to build business!

    Websites are only as good as they are found and utilized by the wider public.  DMI Studios prides itself on creating websites that are user and search-engine friendly.  Wendy noted that "The first quarterly review of our site performance metrics showed a huge improvement in our site being located (on search engines). We have received many compliments on our new website from both tourism users and from our local business owners because we are driving new business to them from our website."

    Sounds like a hole in one for the tourism industry in Florence County, WI.

    The Florence County Tourism and Economic Development website launched in February 2012.

    DMI Studios works to create the best interactive solutions to fit the needs of your unique industry.  Call us today to learn how DMI can help build your business. - Comments

    Internet 101- Search Engine Marketing
    Oct. 22, 2012 10:28 am

    DMI Studios - Internet 101
    Search Engines change they way they do business all the time.  Major changes in SE algorithms can really give website owners a headache.  One day a major product category is placing well on page 1 and the next day it may be buried on page 5.

    The good news?  Search Engine marketing comes in two forms: Organic (blog post coming soon) and Pay-Per-Click Ads (PPC).  A PPC campaign is one that generates website traffic through purchasing specific search terms.  These terms are listed prominently so your ad will be seen by lots of potential customers.

    Today, the biggest player is Google AdWords, however Bing/Yahoo! also has PPC capability.  Facebook and now, Twitter are also jumping into the paid-search field.

    Establish Goals

    Before you begin, define your goals.  Are you looking for more traffic?  More newsletter sign-ups?  More purchases?  Establish your goals to give your campaign clarity of purpose.  Tip:  Communicate your goals to everyone involved in your campaign to ensure success.

    Research

    The first step in any PPC campaign is research.  Digging deep into your website's analytics is one way to learn how people are finding your website.  You may sell "diamond studded flea collars" but your customers are searching for "best flea collar", finding your website and buying.  Tip:  Focus on search terms your customers are using rather than terms you like to use.

    A Solid Landing

    The page a user ends up on once they've clicked your ad is called a "landing page".  Landing pages are crucial to the success of a PPC campaign.  If a user clicks an ad for "best flea collar" and ends up on a page asking them to sign up for a newsletter, they will probably jump ship and look for a different, relevant website.  Decide where you want the traffic to go.  Tip: Each landing page should have a compelling call-to-action for your audience.

    Ad Creation

    Time to get creative and write the ad copy!  Each ad venue will have differing requirements as to title and description parameters.  It is best to do a bit of research before beginning this step.  Go ahead and search for the words on your list to get a good idea of what your audience is already seeing.  Tip: Be sure to have someone proof-read your work before you go live!

    Tweak

    As your campaign evolves, it's important to tweak as you go.  You may have keywords that are underperforming or terms that performing well but not converting leads.  Tip: Be willing to tweak your campaign but also be willing to gather enough data to make informed decisions.

    Call Out for Help

    This kind of Search Engine Marketing is very hands-on and time consuming.  With the ever-changing nature of Search Engines, an industry expert can be your best chance at a successful campaign.  DMI Studios has in-house Search Engine Marketing experts that create, optimize and report on campaigns for our clients.

    Call for a free consultation.  You can toss your idea's past us and we can help you customize a campaign that will fit your goals.  Don't want to do the heavy lifting?  We'll execute your campaign and hit your goals for you.

    --
    This post is the part of a series of Internet 101 information topics. As always, when class is dismissed, you're welcome to contact us if you have any questions or would like any additional information. If you don't feel at the head of your class, don't worry, we took notes. - Comments

    Friday Fun with Felix
    Oct. 19, 2012 12:33 pm

    It's Friday and frankly, it's hard to be serious with the weekend so near.  So, instead of a normal blog post, we thought it'd be fun to let you in on our preoccupation this week.  

    How cool was the Red Bull Space Jump??




    Since we have inquiring minds, we couldn't just leave it at an awesome video.  Here are some fun facts as well:
    • It would have taken the world's best marathon runners about 2 hours to cover the 24.26 miles that Felix Baumgartner fell.  It took Felix 9 minutes and 3 seconds.

    • Felix reached a maximum speed of 833.9 miles per hour.  The winning car at the 2012 Indy 500 averaged 167.734 mph.  Of course, he didn't have to contend with yellow flags.

    • Feilix was Free Fallin' for 4 minutes, 20 seconds -- six seconds more than Tom Petty 

    • Felix reached a maximum speed of 833.9 miles per hour.  The typical crusing speed of a Boeing 747 is 567 mph.

    • Felix jumped from a record-shattering 128,100 feet- that's 88 Empire State Buildings, 427 football fields or 292,800 cans of Red Bull stacked on top of each other.

    There, now that you've learned something, you can call it a day!  Tell your boss we said so!
    - Comments

    Customized Websites are Better for Business
    Oct. 17, 2012 2:55 pm

    Throughout the course of doing business we meet folks who think a website template is a great fit for business.  Nothing gets us up on our soapbox quicker than misinformation about how great these templates are.  They're bad for the web, bad for business, and bad for you.  Excuse us while we jump up on our soapbox and settle the record.

    --

    As innovators in the blending of art and technology, we truly believe in custom website creations for everyone.  And, we certainly understand that creating a website for your brand can be a daunting endeavor.  Standing at the fork in the road, you can go the custom route or the Template/Cookie Cutter/Build My Own/One-Size-Fits-All direction.  We think you'll agree that custom is better for business.  Allow us to illustrate.

    The Sky is the Limit

    Templated designs are a quick way to get "something" up on the web.  You can pop in your logo, maybe change the colors, and add content for your audience.  However, a major issue many owners experience with an "out of the box" website is the limited design capabilities.

    A custom website  will certainly have your logo, but that's just the beginning.  Images, colors and content that truly reflect your brand are carefully chosen to engage your audience and let them experience your brand.  We love to pop in our Content Management Systems as a way to allow brands to enter into continual communication with their audience as well.

    And, that daunting process?  It's not so scary with an industry expert walking the road along side of your business.  Our Account Executives have over 15 years of experience creating robust internet solutions for our clients.

    Online Marketing

    Cookie cutter templates may not be optimized to be easily found on search engines.  Typically, they have extraneous coding in them as well as references to the template creator.  A custom website is all about you--your brand, your business, your marketing.  What's not to love about you?  Amiright?

    When creating custom sites, we also add specific keywords within your website to make it easier for Google to find and categorize you.  We can also ensure your Google map, location and info are correct on Google--an important feature for your customers and your bottom line.  The template guys are just happy they sold another cookie-cutter.

    Our custom websites also easily integrate Facebook pages, Twitter updates, or any other social media platform you are current leveraging for business.  This helps to create a cohesive all-in-one marketing tool for your brand.

    Scalability

    Your business' future is limited by template websites.  Truly, a template is a box that is difficult, if not impossible, to bust out of.  And, when the time comes (and it surely will) for you to add on to your website, whose task-list does this item get added to?  Hint:  You'll find him in your mirror.

    With a custom website, features,  pages and e-commerce can all easily be added when the time is right.  And, since we designed your website in the first place, there is no head-scratching or finger-pointing when it's time to add on.  We simply get to work.

    Price

    A web template is WAY cheaper than a custom solution, so why continue preaching about the benefits?

    What if I told you the cost is less than you think?*

    What if I said DMI Studios creates high-end custom solutions, every day, for business (and budgets) large and small?  I'm talking full, custom, interactive websites with custom design and our Content Management System fully integrated so you can manage your site.

    That's a serious interactive marketing solution.

    What about ecom.?  Yep.

    The "templates are great" myth is busted!

    What are you waiting for?  Creating custom websites is our specialty.  And, it's fun, too.

    Want to see how your website stacks up?  We'll be brutally honest.

    --

    *What do you mean the cost of a template and custom website are similar?  Well, templates may be a bit cheaper, but they may be holding you back with poor conversion, poor representation of your brand, and limited scalability.  The designer/programmer/marketing professional for your template is YOU.  You're choosing between working on your business or creating your website.  Our websites come with a team of designers, marketers, and industry experts helping you along every step of the way.  And, we don't build it and forget it. We're here to help launch-day, 10-days after launch, and 10 months after launch and beyond. - Comments

    DMI Studios Featured in Green Bay News Article
    Oct. 16, 2012 10:41 am

    DMI Studios David Troup
    Owner David Troup had the opportunity to share his vision for the DMI Studios rebrand in the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce Spotlight section of The Business News. Here's the highlight reel:

    DMI Studios is well-known around Green Bay as being an industry expert for all things related to the web.  Owner, David Troup, can periodically be heard on talk radio informing people about the story of DMI Studios, their creativity and cutting-edge technology as well as giving helpful marketing tips to area listeners.

    DMI Studios "...is taking its own advice these days and giving itself a new look to better tell its story as a major player in web design, web solutions and online marketing in Green Bay and around the globe."

    Few people may realize that DMI Studios developed one of the NFL's most popular websites: packers.com.  DMI had the foresight to secure the "Packers" domain name as well as related names that the organization is able to utilize today.   DMI Studios continues to work in a collaborative manner with the Packers and are heavily involved with the Packers Pro Shop.

    "DMI Studios' world is all about the Internet, and the staff -- some of whom have been with the company since its beginnings -- are ready to lead clients into their futures with an interactive vision, said Troup. On the website is a listing of many of their clients - something many businesses shy away from divulging. But not Troup who is known for relishing a competitive edge - especially with himself."

    "DMI Studios is at its best, he said, when a client presents them with a seemingly impossible request. It's a joke between him and his staff, he said, 'Ok, what did you sell that doesn't exist?' "

    Troup states, "It's all about pushing the envelope in technology, and more graphically he refers to it as "the bleeding edge".  How's that for a mental image?

    " 'At the end of the day, we want our client to succeed,' said Troup."

    You can read the full article to learn more about DMI Studios -- Chamber Business News - DMI Studios - Comments

    Internet 101 - Content Management for Websites
    Oct. 11, 2012 2:15 pm

    This post is part of a series of Internet 101 information topics. As always, when class is dismissed, you're welcome to contact us if you have any questions or would like any additional information.  If you don't feel at the head of your class, don't worry, we took notes.
    --
    In the infancy stages of the World Wide Web, updating your website required fluency in HTML or having an on-call webmaster.  The Internet has grown up quite a bit in the last 20+ years and content management is a powerful change.



    Content Management Tools (CMTs) (n.) are "forms" within the administrative area of a website that allow a web owner to quickly and easily update content on their website.

    What kind of content can be updated?


    A CMT can be created for virtually ANY content that you'd like to provide and update regularly on your website--News, Events, Products, Services, Testimonials, Video, Photos, Employment Openings, FAQs, Documents, Links, and the list goes on.

    Why update content?


    Many websites start out as online brochures--well, you have to start somewhere!  However, an interactive website that your audience can rely upon as a valuable source of information is much more powerful than an online brochure.

    You see, any valued relationship needs conversation.  Imagine a dinner party guest that tells the same story over and over to each party attendant.  After listening to the story time after time, people would begin to wonder what was wrong with that guy.

    What was his social faux pas?  Aside from the plaid pants he was sporting, he also delivered the same story regardless of the audience--kind of like a brochure website.

    Now the life of the party, what was he up to?  He had great stories to tell, listened attentively and enjoyed the conversation--he was dynamic!  And, he was dressed like 007.

    CMTs allow your website to be dynamic and encourage conversation with your audience, so you can be the life of the Interwebs.

    DMI Studios has proprietary Content Management Systems-loaded with CMTs to give your website a competitive advantage.  If you'd like to see a Content Management System demonstration, we'd love to show off our work, you party animal.

    - Comments

    Evolution
    Oct. 2, 2012 2:14 pm

    The story of our brand. 

    Digital-Magic hit the ground running in 1994, as surfers of the World Wide Web carried brick phones instead of cellphones and the sound of a dial up connection was music to their ears. They would hop on the Internet Super Highway (with a 56K connection) armed with AOL keywords (and something to keep them occupied as their webpage would load), they waited for their computers to exclaim, You've got mail!

    We were interacting with others online, so it seemed apt to modify our name to Digital Magic Interactive.

    In the next few years, the internet grew up (a lot!) and we did too. In 2001, we rebranded as DMiNTERACTIVE-- a full-service agency offering a breadth of solutions for our clients. Banner ads, search engine keywords, search engine optimization, content management, and wider pixel screens defined this era. Finally a website could bust out 800 pixels and really tell a story! Website owners could update their sites without knowing a foreign (to them) language. The internet was booming!  And people still called us "DMI".

    As we enter into 2013, the internet is now on every street corner, classroom, living room, purse and pocket. We pull out our smartphones to order pizza and download a movie. Cellphones have changed the landscape once again. Websites need to be mobile. Apps help us track the milage of our run and find the lowest gas prices in town. We get our email, weather, news, movies on the go-and we tell everyone about it with social media. Some think it's beautiful. Some think it's madness. Call us crazy, but we think it's art that fits in your palm of your hand.

    You see, we've hit our stride as well. And we don't care if you call us names. Although, we'd prefer it to be our new name.

    Introducing:  DMI Studios 

    A studio is a place that blends art and technology to make something of value. To us, that sounds familiar. At varying levels, every one of our projects is about form and function, left-brain and right-brain, beauty and geek.

    We create custom solutions for our clients and each one comes standard with a mega dose of customer service.   If you know exactly what you're looking for or if you need help assessing your situation, we've got you covered. - Comments


    Internet 101 - Mobile App vs. Mobile Website
    Oct. 2, 2012 2:07 pm

    This post is the first in a series of Internet 101 information topics. As always, when class is dismissed, you're welcome to contact us if you have any questions or would like any additional information. If you don't feel at the head of your class, don't worry, we took notes.

    Do you need an app for that? Apps get all the love these days, but what is an app and do you need one for your website? First, we'll ask Mr. Webster:

    Mobile App - An app is a program that is downloaded from an app store onto a user's phone. Apps are typically focused on one task (customer service, social media, entertainment, training, or informational).
    Mobile Website - A mobile website resides on the internet and your audience can navigate to it through a browser. It is a streamlined for efficient loading and viewing from mobile devices.
    Here's a side-by-side comparison:



    It can be difficult to determine if an app or a mobile website is best suited for your business needs. Each application has unique qualities that can grant your idea success.

    In a majority of cases, a mobile website is the best bet for business. However, apps are extremely powerful when used in the proper cases. Just take a gander at the 50 Best iPhone Apps of 2012 by TIME magazine.

    Are you brainstorming an app or mobile website?  We'd love to chat with you about your options!
    --

    Here are a few apps we can't live without:

    Angry Birds 
    of course

    Google Sky Map
    we star-gaze as well as naval-gaze

    Flashlight
    this one is just fun

    WebMD 
    should I bring my son to the doctor or not...

    Scramble
    keeps copywriting sharp

    Evernote
    a true genius takes copious notes

    Kindle
    the ultimate in multitasking

    Packers
    home or away? who's out of the game? 

    Netflix
    long wait at the doctor? why not watch a movie?

    Baby Rattle
    don't you dare judge us...we love technology and teach our babies to, too

    Mobile websites that are frequent stops:

    m.cnn.com
    daily news stop

    m.amazon.com
    book fettish

    m.packers.com
    football fettish

    m.dominos.com
    pizza fettish

    m.packersproshop.com
    fan apparel fettish

    What's on your phone?

    - Comments

    Click here for more Blog Posts.
     Subscribe to RSS feed

    CATEGORIES

    •  All (59)
    •  5-for-Friday (1)
    •  Apple (2)
    •  Branding (1)
    •  Business-Apps (1)
    •  Business-Development (2)
    •  Case-Studies (2)
    •  Content-Management (2)
    •  Custom-Websites (4)
    •  DMI-Studios (5)
    •  Does-My-Website-Suck (2)
    •  E-Learning (1)
    •  Facebook (3)
    •  Fun-Friday (2)
    •  Gift-Your-Website (5)
    •  Holidays (1)
    •  Internet (1)
    •  Internet-101 (5)
    •  Local-Search (1)
    •  Marketing (1)
    •  Mobile-App (6)
    •  Mobile-Browsing-Statistics (3)
    •  Mobile-Goals (4)
    •  Mobile-Phones (3)
    •  Mobile-Websites (5)
    •  News-Articles (2)
    •  PCI-Compliance (1)
    •  Responsive-Design (1)
    •  Search-Engine-Marketing (3)
    •  Search-Engines (3)
    •  Social-Media (3)
    •  Tourism (3)
    •  Website-Design (7)
    •  eCommerce (4)
    Home   What   Who   Why   Contact
    1400 Lombardi Ave - Suite 30
    Green Bay, WI 54304
    800-364-2010
    920-436-0888



    Copyright © 2014 DMI Studios