In which there’s a couple of good free resources: guide to google analytics, and a beginners guide to sales, I switch email client (again), and apologise for anything I’ve ever said when I was hungry.
It’s been a while since I’ve done a round up of useful or interesting things I’ve found online; still, there’s no time like the present:
Free (as in £0.00) guide to using Google Analytics on your eCommerce website. Covers basic set up, the most important reports to run and how to get the most out of your dashboard. It’s entry level, for sure – but it’s comprehensive and contains some really useful tips, including setting up conversions, goals and ‘funnel visualisation’.
In a similar ‘here’s a simple guide to something we all need’ vein. The people who make Stride App (a CRM aimed at micro / small businesses) and Ecquire (which does something similar-ish, I think, but I couldn’t easily discern what from their website and so gave up in frustration) have put together this beginners guide to sales. Again, nothing revolutionary, but a really good grounding in what sales is, how to go about it, and how it’s really the core of everything we do (especially as a micro-business like myself). Good stuff – and had me looking out an article I wrote last year: I am not a web designer.
I’ll totally be needing some of these:
I’m getting to grips with my to-do’s a bit better these days, and this approach has helped. Acknowledging that I can do 1 big thing, 3 medium things, and 5 small things each day. Simple but effective.
On which subject … I’ve taken a new approach to managing my email. Previously, I switched to Sparrow App, (writing about how pleased with myself I was) but development ceased when they sold up to Google a while back. (Good for them, I say … but it left thousands of fee paying devotees somewhat in the lurch). Recently, after a brief flirtation with Postbox, I switched back to good ol’ Mac Mail – thanks in no small part to this article.
I still abhor the idea of using my mail as a storage facility or insurance policy – and so I need to process email efficiently as it comes in. Using a few keyboard shortcuts, mail quickly gets flagged as either needing a reply, needing follow up, and ‘today’ – for task based emails that need to be done, y’know, today. It’s simple but effective, and keeps me out of email as much as possible.
(for gmail users, this great little script from Merlin Mann allows you to compose an email without actually opening your inbox. Distraction free writing). I’m rambling now, but I first came across Merlin in this article from 2005 – Kick Procrastination’s Ass.
Okay, I think that’s it for now.
Every now and again I’m completely blown away by the people I’ve met online. Supremely talented, incredibly generous, and generally marvellous. Never more so than this week when the good people of The Kenspeckle Letterpress, put this blog post online.
My love of all things Tom Waits is well documented and just about tolerated in our house (there are videos – which I refrain from posting here for fear of long term psychological damage – of my children singing a passionate version of ‘Get Behind The Mule’). I digress.
The engraving that Rick has produced here is incredibly detailed and deliciously realised. Can you imagine the time it takes to carve such a thing out of a block of wood? Check out the detail in the steam clouds, in Tom’s jacket, his face, in the pipework. I love it, and am extremely honoured to have played such a small role in it’s creation.
There are two great versions of the song that inspired the engraving available on YouTube – the official video, and a mash up with the Cookie Monster. (Yes, that Cookie Monster). Both are posted below.
I don’t understand the Facebook IPO. Or, more to the point: as a potential (extremely small) investor, I don’t understand clearly enough how it would make me money.
If I were a growth fund manager then yes, I’d be in there all guns blazing … it would make good sense to buy as much Facebook stock as I could get my hands on. If for no other reason than were I not to, and it did well over the next few years, I’d look like a giant arse. A laughing stock with angry fund holders wondering how on earth I could miss out on something so blindingly obvious.
Were it to fail, well, all my competitor funds would have bought stock too, so depending on my other investments I might still have out performed my competitors. It’s a no brainer for a fund manager.
However, as a consumer … it’s not so clear.
Facebook make money from selling advertising. As do Google. But Google’s methodology for targeting ads is so much more solid – it is so much more apparent and understandable than Facebook’s model. If I’m on Google, and I’ve typed in ‘hedge trimmers’ then it’s a pretty small risk for Google to display an ad for hedge trimmers thinking that I may be looking to buy one. If I’ve typed in ‘buy hedge trimmers online’ then even better.
In other words, the content a user generates in Google is driven by a desire to find something out. That desire can then be matched to advertisers offering something to satisfy that desire.
However, the content generated by Facebook is not nearly so directed. It’s a conversation. Yesterday, on Facebook, I was involved in a conversation about Frappuccino’s, another about popular birth dates and a third about running. It’s difficult to target adverts to conversations – I certainly didn’t want to buy a Frappuccino. The conversations people have on Facebook are rarely about products or services in the same, inquisitive way that Google’s user generated content is.
So, if that’s how Facebook are planning to make money, it doesn’t look as solid to me – and there’s some evidence to suggest that major advertisers are finding it equally difficult and pulling their ads.
Secondly, Facebook acknowledge that mobile is the way forward for social platforms. Yet, they currently do not make any money from their mobile user base. As of December 31st 2011, Facebook had 845 million monthly active users – 425m of them were mobile users. But they acknowledge that …
“We do not currently directly generate any meaningful revenue from the use of Facebook mobile products, and our ability to do so successfully is unproven … ” – Facebook IPO Prospectus (via)
That’s some admission: the future is mobile, and we don’t know how to make money from it.
So, to recap: their advertising model is shaky, and they don’t understand how to make money from over half of their users. For me, that’s not a solid investment. I’m not saying the stock won’t do well – I’m sure the IPO will be hugely successful.
What I am saying is that to invest in a company it helps to understand how that company makes money – and how they intend to make money going forward. If you don’t, then you’re investing in hype.
Everyone loves a good infographic. This one shows which birth dates are most popular … as you might expect, September seems to be the most common month for birthdays … all that winter time cuddling … predictably, Feb 29th and Jan 1st are the 2 least common dates.
Anyway, a nice heat map illustration of the data:
Oh – this is great! I’m off to my kids school to make sure we get some of these kits …
What’s MaKey MaKey?
MaKey MaKey is an invention kit for the 21st century. Turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It’s a simple Invention Kit for Beginners and Experts doing art, engineering, and everything inbetween:
Take 2 minutes to checkout the video … and if you can, spend $35 and order one for your kids … they’ll thank you!
There are many things that consistently vex me. Solutions for three of them presented themselves this rainy Tuesday morning – too good not to share.
I don’t have a problem with bookmarks. (We’re talking about the physical book mark here – something you use to keep your place in a real, physical, book). My wife however very much does. I’ve started printing business cards just so she can use them as book marks. She gets through so many and nobody knows where they go. However, and via Swiss Miss, the solution has presented itself: The Albatross Bookmark. Looks perfect.
Our current coffee table is functional. It’s big, it’s the right height, it’s fine. But it’s not a thing of beauty. And a coffee table should be a thing of beauty. At least once you learn not to put hot mugs of tea on top of it – which might happen one day. And when that does happen, then this coffee table will be waiting for me:
Until that day, I may just have to ‘put up’ with this:
Developing grid systems for responsive web sites is a pain in the butt. I’ve used a couple of frameworks before – some of them have been really good, but when Mark Boulton proposes a new tool, you sit up and listen. Mark is working on a web based app for creating flexible grid systems. This is awesome news. It’s not another framework – this is something that we’ll be able to tinker with and customise for our own purposes. As he says:
Gridset is a tool for making grids. It lets you create whatever type of grid you want: columnar, asymmetrical, ratio, compound, fixed, fluid, responsive and more. It serves multiple grids to your site based on breakpoints for different devices. Using it is as simple as embedding a link.
I love needmoredesigns.com – they’re a web firm based in Portland, Oregon. They do good work, which you can check out on their site. But it’s their blog that is never less than informative and frequently fascinating.
Today, for instance, I learnt that boiling water first and then letting it cool, reduces the oxygen in the water – perfect for making clear ice cubes that last longer! I’m going to be needing a Gin & Tonic this evening to test this out …
… one key to making great ice cubes is to boil water and let it cool, and use that to make the cubes … full article
Follow their blog here: Needmore designs blog
It had to happen … and it did in 2011. Sales of smartphones outstripped sales of traditional computers. Apparently, there was a 60% increase in smartphone shipments from 2010 to 2011 – which is remarkable in itself when you think how ubiquitous iPhones and the like have been – or, rather, for how long they seem to have been part of our lives.
Clearly, as more people have smartphones, it seems unlikely that such growth will be repeated (the figures, of course, hide the fact that most people already have a PC), but what is undoubted is the fact that more web browsing is being done on smaller devices than ever before.