Put a Little Jing in Your Pocket: Better Communication Through Screencasts

January 8th, 2010

You may have used a screencast tool in the past, but if you haven’t tried Jing from TechSmith, you’re missing out on one of the easiest ways to share your screen activity quickly, easily, and for free.

Screencasting is essentially the process of recording and broadcasting the activity on your computer screen and in most cases, accompanying the video with a vocal narration.

Jing’s user experience is top notch, and the system allows you to immediately send your screencasts up to Screencast.com, save the file on your computer, or FTP it to your own server.

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Web Project Management, Web Strategy Consulting , , ,

Remember the “Why” When Measuring Site Performance: Voice of Customer Methods & Tools

November 29th, 2009

With all that can be learned from clickstream web analytics tools such as Google Analytics, Yahoo! Web Analytics, and Omniture Site Catalyst, it’s important to remember those tools reveal the “what” of your site visitor sessions, but not much about the “why.” Did your visitors see the pages they wanted to see? Were they able to complete their tasks? Is a high page-per-visit rate a result of an engaged visit, or visitors unsuccessfully browsing through pages not finding what they’re looking for? Voice of customer tools are an important component to any website and web analytics initiative and can provide valuable “Aha!” moments.

In this post we’ll take a look at some of the most popular tools and the best ways to utilize them.

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Internet Marketing, Social Media, User Interface Design, Web Analytics, Web Development , , , ,

What the New Google Analytics Features Mean for Your Business

October 23rd, 2009

Continuing to tread on the territory of the major paid analytics vendors, Google Analytics just announced a number of new features that raise it to yet another level. These powerful, time-saving additions allow you to spend more time analyzing and interpreting your site’s performance, and less time foraging though the data.

Among the major additions are; automated and custom alerts based on significant changes in your data, advanced table filtering, expanded mobile reporting, the ability to share advanced segments, and more.

What do these new features mean for your business? Quite a bit. Read on for the details. Read more…

Interactive Industry News & Events, Internet Marketing, Social Media, Web Analytics, Web Strategy Consulting , ,

Show Me the Money: Monetize Site Behaviors for Powerful KPIs

October 1st, 2009

Everybody knows that money talks. It’s no different in the world of web analytics. When dollar values are assigned to site behaviors and other key metrics, the value of user actions and traffic sources becomes immediately clear.

Monetization isn’t just for ecommerce sites. Even user actions that have no immediate financial value such as contact form submissions, file downloads, page views, and email newsletter signups are excellent candidates.

If it’s your job to convince stakeholders to take action, or if you’re an executive looking for more clarity in your KPIs, this post will offer you some ammunition and help get you started. Read more…

Web Analytics, Web Strategy Consulting , , ,

10 Winning Tips for Your Website Testing & Optimization Program

September 3rd, 2009

Website testing and optimization involves the utilization of software to compare the performance of two or more versions of a page or process to determine which version is the most effective in driving desired user behavior.  Tools such as Google Website Optimizer and more robust options geared toward the sophisticated enterprise such as SiteSpect, are available to automate (as much as possible) the process of conducting A/B or multivariate online tests.

Web analytics expert, Eric T. Peterson of Web Analytics Demystified and website optimization software creator, SiteSpect, recently teamed up to release a white paper entitled, “Successful Web Site Testing Practices.”  This must-read document provides a road map for setting up and leading a web testing team within an organization and leveraging it to yield definitive and dramatic results.  Below is our take on some of the highlights of their recommendations.  However, we strongly recommend you read the document in its entirety and take full advantage of case studies, testimonials, and direct examples including a sample test plan approval form (highly useful)! Read more…

Interactive Industry News & Events, Internet Marketing, User Interface Design, Web Analytics, Web Project Management, Web Strategy Consulting , , , ,

Social Media Metrics That Matter

July 30th, 2009

By now, most companies are aware that there is a discussion about their brand going on. They also know that they can track and monitor this discussion via a wide variety of tools such as Radian6, Techrigy’s SM2, Twitter Search, Twitalyzer, Social Mention, and many more. The question now is, “What should I pay attention to? Which metrics will actually tell me something about my business?”

Certainly not easy questions, but some trends have evolved that help indicate whether you’re effectively promoting your business online and if you’re being showcased in a positive light. Here are some metrics to watch regularly. Read more…

Social Media, Web Analytics , , , ,

Case Study: Briggs & Stratton

July 15th, 2009

Assist a top-notch interactive agency with redefining the information architecture and user experience of a major global corporation’s flagship website, integrating the content and functions of multiple external sites, and designing over 400 screens within an aggressive timeframe. Read more…

Molstad Consulting Case Studies , , , , , , ,

Some Great Podcasts to Keep You Current

July 8th, 2009

Podcasts remain one of the best ways to keep up with the latest trends and to learn new methods and approaches.  Whether listening while getting ready in the morning, during commutes or business travel, or even while working, there are more options than ever before as the medium has truly matured.  Even better, the vast majority are free.  Make the most of your downtime (in this economy, there may be more than usual), and never stop learning.

Below are some of the best podcasts that we “keep an ear” on: Read more…

Information Architecture, Interactive Industry News & Events, Internet Marketing, Social Media, User Interface Design, Web Analytics, Web Development, Web Graphic Design, Web Project Management, Web Strategy Consulting , , ,

Four Reasons Google Wave Will Make You Rethink Online Communication

June 8th, 2009

Microsoft just can’t seem to win these days.  Their huge roll out for 2009 complete with expensive television ads is an effort (Bing) designed to compete with Google’s oldest product.  Shortly thereafter, Google responds with a tool that may revolutionize business e-communication as we know it. Read more…

Interactive Industry News & Events, Social Media, User Interface Design, Web Project Management , , ,

What Basecamp Should Borrow from activeCollab

May 29th, 2009

We love Basecamp.  Just wanted to get that out of the way.  For over five years, we’ve watched Basecamp evolve from a very basic project management tool with messages, basic to-do lists and file uploads, to a wonderful collaboration system with Writeboards, comments at a to-do level, advanced notification and permission controls and more.  Our projects and clients continue to benefit from its superior features and usability.

Because we like Basecamp so much, we thought we’d point out a few features that less-expensive competitor, activeCollab offers which would make Basecamp even better.

Progress tracking and due dates for tasks
Basecamp of course has integrated milestones, however tasks can easily go unfinished and unnoticed.  Sure, to-dos can be associated with a milestone, but unless the parent milestone expires, team members may be unaware of individual task dates until it’s too late. activeCollab supports due dates for checklists and tickets and as such, alarm bells can ring if important sub tasks aren’t met.  Many companies have tried to get around this in Basecamp by creating more milestones than to-dos, however this gets unwieldy and results in a very long list of milestones that cannot be categorized or grouped the way to-dos can.  People have been pleading on Basecamp forums for to-do due dates for a long time.  Hopefully someday soon they’ll get their wish.

On top of this, activeCollab has a nice progress bar which shows the number of tasks completed out of all existing tasks and a percentage calculation.  Another good way to sound the alarm if tasks aren’t being checked off as they should be.

Starred objects
This relatively simple feature can be powerfully useful.  It gives each user the power to select, on an ongoing basis, any item(s) that they want to keep an eye on. For instance, tasks may be grouped into various lists, but on a given day say, five of them are being focused on.  Rather than breaking up carefully constructed lists, an individual user can star those items that need to be taken care of or monitored without affecting what the rest of the users see.  This puts more power in the hands of the individual to use the system as they see fit.

Updated items since last visit
Here’s another simple feature that is more powerful than it may seem at first glance.  Project managers love quick summaries of project activity since they’ve been gone.  The Basecamp Dashboard does indeed show all latest activity, but seeing what’s new since you last looked can immediately bring you back up to speed.  Did something happen related to one of your starred items?  You can quickly be aware.

Status updates
Similar to Facebook status updates or tweets, these can help teams that are under tight deadlines, but aren’t using a chat tool like Campfire to quickly see who’s working on what.  This helps a project manager know if reminders should be sent out or if a person should be interrupted.  Sometimes it takes a while to get into the “zone” and any feature that helps team members remain there is valuable. 37 Signal’s internal collaboration tool, Backpack actually has this feature so it should not be difficult for Basecamp to implement.

Another example of a feature that both activeCollab and Backpack offer is the creation of individual pages.  The ability to highlight certain information in a permanent spot that doesn’t get pushed down as more content is added (such as is the case with Messages), is of high value to a team.  A particular collection of files, a summary of key business goals, a list of URLs to competitive sites, are just some examples of content that deserves a permanent home.  Backpack’s pages are excellent in that they allow drag and drop modules of text, images, files, and to-do lists.  Even if pages for Basecamp only included text and file attachments, it would be a great start.

Calendar month-view
Sometimes viewing a calendar in month format just helps communicate the bigger picture better.  A simple addition which again, is already in Backpack.

Ability to resize Message/comment edit windows
In activeCollab you can grab the corners of a text box you’re working in and drag it to whatever height you want.  When you’re typing a message and it becomes larger than you anticipated, it’s great to have the extra breathing room.  Basecamp’s messages auto-expand only once when a certain content amount is reached, but the customizability of dragging to fit is truly a step up.

To reiterate, Basecamp is a fantastic tool, and it’s only out of love that we post these suggestions which we feel would take it to yet another level.  There are plenty of other great ideas circulating in the forums and we encourage you to add your own two cents.

Social Media, Web Development, Web Project Management , , , ,