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Welcome to "The Mender" #9
Tips, tricks and techniques for improving the marketing and promotion of your website, plus breaking news at Metamend and valuable resources for the serious web marketer.
WHAT'S NEW AT METAMEND?
The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) has awarded a grant contribution of fifteen thousand dollars to Metamend through the Industrial Research Assistance Program, (IRAP) to facilitate the rapid completion of a new, world first technology relating to our core technologies. The new tool will significantly enhance our existing technology, helping Metamend maintain it's technological edge over the competition.
We're very excited about the new innovation. It should be ready to go by April of this year. We'll share the details of the tool with you in next Months Mender.
ADMINISTRATOR'S CHALK BOARD
The Mobile Net - The next BIG Thing
The Mobile Net. It's the next big thing. Are you mobile-Net-surfing yet? Make your way through airports, bus and train stations, or any public place and you'll find cell phone usage as common as coffee. Imagine the potential market when the mobile phone becomes the gateway to the Internet.
Obviously, if you're reading this, you have more than a passing interest in Internet, and it's future direction. Less than 24 months ago high speed Internet access to homes, via cable or DSL, was just becoming a reality. Those of us who have it, now dread ever logging on with a 56k modem or worse. But how many of us have used one of the Internet services available over the cell-phone networks? Having recently had the pleasure, these systems are slow and clunky, they offer limited access, and very brief Email messaging capabilities - less characters than instant messaging. In fact, the first roll out of Wireless Internet services came only last year, in Europe. Unfortunately, the system required access to a special data only dial-up number and the phone companies were slow to offer interesting and easy-to-use WAP services. No real surprise - Why should the phone companies put much effort into ensuring the availability of applications for a market dominated by the wrong equipment?
Now jump forward with me to later this year, as the next generation of wireless access starts coming online - wireless broadband. This summer a half-dozen new WAP phones will be coming on the market. They range from normal-looking phones with WAP enhancements to tiny, fold-open computer-phones with full built-in Palm-type organizers.
Is this something you want or something you'll need to prepare for? Yes! For at least the first few months, its popularity will be limited to gadget lovers only, but later this year it will change as providers will be installing new data networks called "General Packet Radio Service." (GPRS). Like the popular Imode system in Japan, this will permit users to send and receive data whenever your phone is on. No dial-up connection needed.
The combination of GPRS and Roaming presents us with a formidable challenge as business operators on the web. After voice roaming, data roaming is the next big challenge. Utilizing the spare capacity of GSM networks, GPRS is the ideal carrier for data. Roll-out for GPRS has been cautious and calculated to date but confidence in this sector is growing. The telecommunication world is looking to establish new alliances with the Internet world, both for content and infrastructure. The goal is to build and expand the Internet into the exciting arena of international data roaming. These changes are not to be missed if you want to keep abreast - plan ahead.
How will this be used? Looking for a tank of gas? Just press a button on your phone, choose gasoline from a menu and the phone system locates you, finds the nearest service station, then guides you right to the pump. Mobile e-commerce will expand the online marketplace to include millions of businesses, from coffee shops and grocery stores, to shoe repairs.
What will wireless broadband mean to you, and to your business? It depends whether or not you are ready to embrace it. Many people are sure to approach you within the next year with the newest "killer app." A lot of companies are already trying. A few of them will get it right. When they do, the numbers promise to overwhelm us like a tsunami. It is estimated that within four years 350 million people worldwide will be using the Mobile Net. Instead of waiting patiently for shoppers to sit down and log-on, the mobile Net will be riding along with people in their daily lives, flashing, beeping, and vibrating with opportunities. Better start revamping those business plans.
Is BtoB Here to Stay?
Everyone knows the economy has softened and that New Economy companies have become particularly vulnerable to a steep downslide. But what happened to the business-to-business dreams? Did they all go down the tubes?
Analysts have been quick to point out that investment in B2B infrastructure and applications should continue to grow despite the downturn. Even Alan Greenspan has gotten into the act, reassuring the world in a recent presentation before the Senate Banking Committee that B2B is here to stay.
"The wave of new online business-to-business activities is far from cresting," he told the senators. "Most corporate managers appear not to have altered to any appreciable extent their long-standing optimism about the future returns from using new technology."
Those may be soothing words, but where are the hard numbers? WebMethods, the developer of B2B integration tools, provided some a couple of weeks ago when shared its financials for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2000. Not only did the company turn its first quarterly profit to the tune of five cents a share, but it beat Wall Street expectations by a whopping 500 percent! All of which points to the increasing recognition that integration is key to B2B. WebMethods' profitability is attributable to the fact it has its finger on the pulse of companies slogging through the B2B quagmire, providing the glue which ties them to e-marketplaces and collaborative commerce partners.
The new brass ring is on adding value with the technology to make business transactions less costly and more efficient with a main focus toward increased customer service. Stay tuned, more to come.
By now you've probably heard the recent buzz about relevance in the search engines - the Internet-wide craze to convince the consumer that "their" search results make the most sense. If you are a Metamend client, you already realize the significance of relevance. If your target market can't find you in the search engines, it may be because your textual content and keywords are not relevant to each other [see this page].
The same logic should apply to the graphics on your website. If an icon, symbol, or logo does not relate to the overall focus of your company, then you run the risk of confusing your client. This could be unfortunate if you've already done the work to drive the client to your website. Using cool paper airplane icons for buttons on a website about boats may tell visitors that your company is not quite together. The general rule of thumb I use when creating relevant graphics is - if I have to really think about it, it probably won't work. A lot of good designers run into problems because they fail to plan the overall theme of the project before they begin. This is an essential step in building anything really - not just websites.
After having talked with your client about the "feel" and "look" of their new site, you should also ask them to scan the web for their idea of what a good website looks like. With a bag of objectives and a stack of references, you should be able to start visualizing the building process. A set of colored pencil crayons, sheet of paper, and a beer, (optional) can help initiate this process. If you are lucky enough to have an approved company logo beside you, then half of your work is already complete. From the official logo, you can determine your palette of colors and theme. If don't have this, you may require another beer (also optional). Again, the general idea here is to closely relate all of your visuals to the theme of the website. If you have a website selling sailboats, then ocean waves would make great buttons. The color red may look out of place, unless it's in the logo already, but blues and greens may compliment the look perfectly.
I hope you find this article useful. Remember to consider not only the relevance of the text within your website and metatags, but also the relationship of the graphics to the overall theme. This will increase the likelihood of people bookmarking the site for themselves, and ultimately referring it to others with similar interests.
Concurrent Versioning Systems
You run a software development team, are thinking about starting a development team or are a member of one. You already know how difficult it can be to maintain an adequate level of communication and updates between developers. You would also know that poor communication can lead to mass confusion and the last thing any team needs is confusion.
One way to avoid version conflicts and assure everyone is up-to-date is to use Concurrent Versioning System (CVS) software. CVS software provides a centralized repository for all your source code. Each developer must "check-out" the source code files as required. All changes are mapped by the CVS software and are updated each time source code is "checked-in". This system of "check-out" and "check-in" protects against version conflicts as each file is marked "READ-ONLY" upon "check-out" - this means no other developer can modify this source code and update the repository until the original developer updates his/her changes in the repository.
Another highly valuable feature of CVS is the ability to revert to earlier versions where you may want to make certain modifications or re-enable certain features of your software. Although you may think your team is too small to bother with CVS, I suggest not. Any development team can benefit from using CVS software as a tool. Moreover as you expand and take on larger projects you will can simply add new projects to the CVS server enabling you to manage multiple teams simultaneously. CVS software is a powerful development management tool that provides security, efficiency and most importantly an open line of communication between all members of the development team. Try it out.
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Director of Operations
Metamend Automated Website Promotion
Toll Free: 1-877-307-2701
Metamend: Innovative web site optimization and marketing service which automatically corrects keywords and meta tags increasing web site relevance and popularity within search engines.