Archive for 'technology'

Traits (Most) Good Web Developers Have

Found this on SEOmoz.org just now:
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Posted by Fluxx on Thu (1/11/07) at 12:54 PM to Web Design & Usability

As a follow up to Matt’s How to Hire a Good Web Developer article, I thought I would expand on the subject a little more and discuss common traits good web developers have. These are things I’ve noticed in working with or talking to web developers at all skill levels — from someone who still uses Front Page all the way to Google employees who maintain large scale web applications. So when you’re hiring your next web developer, reflect on these traits as you talk with applicants about their work history, philosophies and their personal growth.

Good web developers . . .

  1. Are always unsatisfied with their work. I mean this in the best way possible. Good web developers should always be “not 100% satisfied” with their level and quality of work. They should always be saying to themselves, “I can do this better.” The resulting behavior is a never ending cycle of learning how to develop websites that are better, faster and easier to scale. Good things for you, your business and your web application.
  2. Have improved their skill set lately. I’ve seen far too many crappy web developers who learned how to design with tables in 2001 or learned Perl back in 2000, and have been developing like that ever since. I’m not saying that someone can’t get really really good a Perl and make a career out of it, but good web developers are always reading up on new technology or languages to improve themselves (see #1). If they’re not versed in it, they should at least be able to tell you a few new things coming down the pipe in the web development sphere. If you’re curious, that’s currently micro formats.
  3. Don’t promise everything. I know what my limits are as a developer. I know that if someone asks me to create a Flash app or write anything more with JavaScript that some basic things with the Prototype framework, I can’t. So when a client or boss comes to me and asks if I can do it, I tell them that that’s beyond my limits. This skill set inadequacy helps to fuel the fire behind point #2 as well.
  4. Think ahead. Like a good business developer, a good web developer should always be thinking, “how well will this work and/or scale down the road?” It’s a key component to both writing good code, as well as creating maintainable and scalable websites. If you ask a web developer if they can do task X, and they say yes. The next words out of your mouth should be, “Tell me how X will scale?”
  5. Are as accurate as possible. Web development is a precise field. Leaving out one character of code can render an entire website useless. So good web developers always focus on making sure they understand and deliver things as accurate as possible. They should show they understand the project goals and deliverables. They should ask a lot of clarifying questions about what they’re being asked to do. And, they also shouldn’t be afraid to ask follow up questions later on to make sure they get things correct.

Of course not every good web developer has all of these traits. But I’d be willing to bet that all have at least one of them. They’re just things that show the web developer is passionate about what they’re doing and cares about you, your company, and the future.

My mother has Alzheimer’s. She’s been in a nursing facility since February of 2005, and she’s more or less bed ridden. One of the many negative effects of Alzheimer’s is rapid memory loss to the point family members’ names are forgotten and some members get forgotten altogether. Another symptom is life regression—that is where the person mentally and emotionally backtracks from their current age back to birth. The average person afflicted with Alzheimer’s has a life expectancy of roughly seven years from the time of initial diagnosis. Luckily, our family still has some time to share with mom, but the inevitable is always looming. It’s truly a gut-wrenching experience for both the patient and loved ones. If I were to guess as to where my mom is in her regression, I’d estimate her to be somewhere in the neighborhood of her early twenties to late teens. She’s 78 years old so you can imagine the transgression and what it means.

Early in my mother’s career she worked for the telephone company as a switchboard operator. Today, as we know, phone calls are connected electronically with no human intervention required. In my mom’s mind, she “works” at the nursing facility, but she’s very interested in finding another job. One of the recommendations experts give when interacting with an Alzheimer’s patient is to play along with them wherever they are in their own little world. They don’t know any better so correcting them only creates tension and frustrates both parties. My mom asked me if I thought she could go back to working for the telephone company as a switchboard operator, and I informed her that those jobs have been replaced by computers and electronic machines so she’d have to find something else for “employment.” When asking her what she thought she might be good at and enjoy, she seemed rather concerned in answering me “I have been so busy focusing on my life and doing my day-to-day stuff, I haven’t paid attention to what’s going on around me or what’s even out there.” That’s when it clicked for me.

Many of us that don’t have any debilitating diseases (yet) do the very same thing mom spoke of even though she didn’t realize she was delivering an “ah ha!” moment for me. We all get caught up in our day-to-day lives to the point we don’t look around to see what’s going on and truly pay attention. I believe many companies suffer in the analysis paralysis conundrum. When the consequences begin to seriously impact the organization, it’s often too late to make a change because the downward spiral has picked up too much momentum to reverse course. Alzheimer’s works much the same way, but there is only hope for a cure—nothing in terms of a bonafide cure yet. There is a “cure” for the business community, and it’s a very simple one—pay attention! I mean really pay attention to the world around you and readily implement changes before the “disease” hits instead of waiting and reacting. Pro-activity prevents obsolescence.

I know my mom fully understood technology advances before Alzheimer’s started to severely restrain her, but she delivered a nice reminder to me to pay attention to my surroundings in a very innocent way during our time together tonight. Thanks mom.

Interesting News Tidbits for 1/5/2007

Since I’m preparing to head out of town shortly and haven’t posted in a couple of days, I figured I’d share the interesting things I’ve been reading today.

Companies making the news today:
1) Wal-Mart: Would you like some glass mixed in with your trail mix? Yet another reason NOT to shop at Wal-Mart. As if the long checkout lines weren’t enough?!

2) Google: Let’s take China & Baidu on! Baidu has been called the “Chinese Google” for quite awhile, but it seems as though the real Google has had enough of that.

3) GM: Fighting #1 position against Toyota
I’m not anti-American by any means, but I think our car manufacturers need to pay greater attention to our foreign rivals on how to make better cars that people enjoy driving. Mass producing inexpensive junk isn’t the path to success, but that’s all GM & Ford have been doing for years. It’s finally catching up with them, and I hope it inspires them to finally create better products for a change. It may be a little too late though. Can we please put Buick to bed? The 80+ demographic will find another car to drive, likely a Camry though, but that wouldn’t be a bad thing in my opinion. Then again, they might just hold onto their 1989 Buick LaSabre for another ten years.

4) Apple: New product musings

Here are some tips to make your new year happier.

Who is Rachel Ray anyway? Interesting post on the BS Observer. I don’t watch Rachel, but I’m already sick of her because she’s everywhere. I’m all about promoting one’s self as a brand, but there is definitely a fine line between building the brand and over-saturation. It sounds as if Rachel is going to be promoted even more across more product lines. Enough already!

The language of persuasion. Another Conversation Agent blog posting that’s always thought provoking.

Have any thoughts on any of these stories? If so, please comment away!

Consulting Firm Obtains Rights to Resell Popular Search Engine Optimization E-Book. Now Anyone Can Obtain High Rankings in the Major Search Engines by Downloading the Book for Free.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Louisville, KY, 11/29/2006—SMB Consulting, Inc. of Louisville, Kentucky has obtained reseller rights to the popular Search Engine Optimization (SEO) E-book “SEO Made Easy” by Brad Callen. The firm initially intends to give the book away for free until the end of the year (12/31/2006), and the book will help anyone with a website obtain higher rankings in the major search engines including Google, Yahoo, and MSN.

According to the Georgia Institute of Technology, 85% of qualified internet traffic is driven through search engines, however 75% of search engine users never scroll past the first page of results. “What good is a website if no one can find you?” asks SMB Consulting, Inc.’s Founder/CEO Roger Bauer. “Often times, people prop up a website and think their job is done, but the reality is things are only just beginning if your site’s objective is to bring in visitors or generate new business leads. Brad Callen has been kind enough to grant us rights to resell his fantastic book, and we want to help our customers by giving them an early Christmas gift for the holidays. We believe this will result in a win-win outcome.” Bauer continued.

In order to download the free e-book, interested parties can visit http://smbconsultinginc.com/freebook.html and click on the SEO Made Easy link. This e-book will guide anyone with a website through a basic search engine optimization process step-by-step.

ABOUT SMB CONSULTING, INC.
SMB Consulting, Inc. is a nationally recognized leader in the field of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and has helped their clients achieve top rankings in the major search engines along with substantial increases in search engine related traffic. To learn more about Search Engine Optimization please visit http://smbconsultinginc.com/seo_main.html or contact the company by e-mailing info@smbconsultinginc.com.

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Product Differentiation? Hardly.

By Roger Bauer

It struck me the other day during lunch at a local Moe’s Southwestern Grill that a new phenomenon has swept the restaurant landscape in the form of poor attempts to differentiate from the competition—renaming accepted terms of business with cutesy nicknames. This is readily visible in the faster food sector, and it’s becoming more prevalent as companies struggle to connect with the consumer in manners which create loyalty and/or preference.

Take Moe’s as a primary example. Personally, I believe they have a very good product to offer, but they’ve gone and out “cuted” themselves with ridiculously silly nicknames for their fare which only serve to confuse and frustrate the customer. It’s easy to see them thinking behind the scenes, but it’s a risky attempt at product differentiation. They’re in fierce competition with franchises such as Qdoba, Baja Fresh, Chipotle, LaBamba, Taco Bell, and Tijuana Flats, (plus many others) but those competitors don’t require a translator to order a simple burrito or taco. Try popping into one of those places one day or night to order a “Joey” or an “Alfredo Garcia.” You’ll get looked at like you have three heads (with good reason).

What would possess a franchise to resort to childish nicknames to try to differentiate themselves? It’s probably an executive’s poor excuse of a marketing concept designed to separate from the competition, but that’s not the type of separation that enables your concept to survive long term. It will ultimately separate them all right—the competition will eventually gain as the initial shtick gives way to annoyance and turns consumers off to the point they prefer the competition even with all other factors being relatively equal.

Sure, things look great for Moe’s presently, and the concept seems “fresh” today, but that can change on a dime without warning. Their current growth could be sapped with one false step because there is less room to wiggle when you’re attempting to retrain your customer base to conform to your concept. What happens if the consumer collectively says “I’m no longer in the mood for Moe?” Would being “cute” be overruled by a desire to becoming truly different (i.e. better)?

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of positives. Their restaurants are well laid out, the décor is modern, the lighting is appropriate, and the food is tasty not to mention reasonably priced. The physical atmosphere is hip and inviting. There are glaring negatives, too. The staff collectively insisting on yelling “Welcome to Moe’s!” at the top of their lungs as a new customer enters doesn’t make me want to setup shop for very long. I can’t wait to get out so I don’t have to hear that any more than I have to. I’d like a little peace and normalcy with my meal Moe, thanks.

Topping off the frustrating concept Moe’s obviously insists upon cramming down the consumer’s throat is the staff correcting the customer when ordering by the desired ingredients instead of its nickname. You’re not training me Moe, you’re supposed to be providing a quality and quick meal which I am going to ring your register for—don’t correct me, simply make the food, take the money, and let me eat in peace!

Moe’s is not alone in this feeble attempt at differentiation, and they won’t be the last, but the lesson to be learned is to keep customer service just that—customer service. The customer is paying so don’t believe you’re going to train the customer as long as the equation is structured that way. If you begin to pay people to come into your franchise or business, you’re well within your rights to try to train them to do business your way. Stick to doing business as the industry dictates until you develop a better way of doing things. Then, and only then, you will have a true differentiator. Simply renaming a common item or process doesn’t make you different—it makes you contrarian. Don’t confuse the two.

Roger Bauer is Founder and CEO of SMB Consulting, Inc., a Louisville, Kentucky based small business consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, web presence, internet marketing, SEO, technology, and business analysis. To learn more, point your browser to Business Consulting. To contact a small business consultant today, e-mail info@smbconsultinginc.com.

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