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Category: Best Practices

Homer Simpson Loves Usability

If you run an e-commerce site, you’ve probably heard about “website usability.”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_usability At first I thought this was some buzzword self-proclaimed experts or agencies concocted to drum up more business. How wrong I was. As one lovable cartoon “character”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKWntmFt5ps would say DOH!!!
Our “website”:http://www.searstravel.ca relaunch earlier this year showed me usability optimization makes a difference. Despite an overall reduction of operating expenses (including marketing) year over year, our sales are up especially on higher margin product.
Although a new web-only pricing strategy was a contributory factor in our success, our website redesign (as a result of a usability audit by an agency) was the other major factor that contributed to our improved performance.
It’s naive to think you can improve everything at once, unless your financial and manpower resources afford you that luxury. So my humble suggestion is to pick one key area for your website and focus on optimizing it. Once you are done that, move to the next priority.
For example, if your number one goal is to increase sales, take a look how your website sales conversion is going. Is it good enough? If the answer is no, look to improve the booking flow or purchase path for your shopping cart from a usability perspective. Sometimes it’s a function of simply fixing the colour or size of the ‘Buy’ button. Sometimes it’s more complex.

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Building A New Marketing Dream Team

One of the big reasons “I joined Tucows”:http://www.onedegree.ca/2006/03/24/ken-schafer-joins-tucows earlier this year was the company’s strong desire to build a “new marketing” team within Tucows.
The company gave very few resources to the small overworked marketing team they had in place for the last few years and, frankly, it’s amazing they got as much done as they did. Kudos to Jacqui, Adam, Scott and those that were gone before I got here.
But now the cracks are showing and the company knows it’s time to rethink the “if you make it, they will come” approach to marketing (unfortunately common to many tech-heavy companies). And so I was brought in to rethink what marketing means for “Tucows”:http://resellers.tucows.com/.
That was music to my ears and I’ve taken the tune to heart. I’m rethinking not only marketing at Tucows, but how marketing in the 21st century would be done if we were given the chance to hit “reset” and start all over again.

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Protect Your Domain Name in Seven Easy Steps

I’ve seen far too many friends and colleagues accidentally lose their Website domain names by forgetting to renew them in a timely manner. This can have catastrophic results, but it doesn’t have to happen to you. In fact, it can be easily avoided by following my list of seven simple steps.

Why not take a few minutes right NOW to reduce the likelihood of losing your domain name?

Seven Easy Steps to Protecting Your Domain Name

Step 1: Identify who your domain name registrar is.
If you are not sure who your registrar is, use a WHOIS directory like Allwhois to determine the name of your registrar (the company you registered the domain name with).

Step 2: Determine your registrar’s contact information.
Using the WHOIS record information, make note of the email and phone coordinates for the registrar (sometimes listed under "Technical Contact") and file this information in a safe place. And the registrar has to have a Website, so make sure you bookmark it.

Step 3: Confirm your domain name expiry date.
Also using the WHOIS record, check to see what "Renewal" date is listed. This is your expiry date and you MUST renew your domain name before then.

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How Digg.com Gets A Massage


I’ve got a bit of a fondness of the custom “we’ll be right back” messages some sites post when they are temporarily down for maintenance.
Last year I pointed out “Bloglines’ Plumber”:http://www.onedegree.ca/2005/06/26/i-love-the-bloglines-plumber and this spring I pointed out super-apologetic “Backpack Error Messages”:http://www.onedegree.ca/2006/05/18/helpful-error-pages. Flickr’s downtime message is so popular it’s become a “meme”:http://www.onedegree.ca/2006/07/31/the-meme-epidemic-a-case-study onto itself (do a Google search on “is having a massage”:http://www.google.com/search?q=+%22is+having+a+massage%22 if you’re not hip to the jive).

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30 Quick Wins For Any Site That Sells

Last week I presented at “Visa’s Big Thinking Conference”:http://www.visa.ca/bigthinking/ (Thanks to “Rick Spence”:http://canentrepreneur.blogspot.com/ for the opportunity). My presentation was called “30 Quick Wins for Any Site That Sells”.
One of my basic premises is that most every site should “sell” – in the sense that it should be built to help people take an action – and because of that the presentation is fairly different from the typical “a bunch of stuff to think about for your e-commerce site”.
In the spirit of sharing I’ve decided to post all 100 slides along with my speaker’s notes here at One Degree for the benefit of those who were unable to attend.
You can download 30 Quick Wins For Any Site That Sells as a 100 page, 7MB PDF file here.

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