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Category: Best Practices


The Web has overtaken almost all aspects of my own personal information gathering. I haven’t been to a library in years, the white pages sits in a closet, and I just don’t own any maps anymore. But the Yellow Pages still gets well thumbed. For some reason, finding local resources online can be frustrating. Even with resources like “Google Local”: and “”:, if I need to find a plumber in Toronto the Yellow Pages is better than the Web.
But now “”: has redesigned and so “Ken”: asked me to take a look at the experience.
The home page is clear and concise allowing for multiple ways to search.
Yellow Pages Home
The first search field allows you to enter a business name, category or phone number. What’s nice is the system figures out what you are looking for. That means searching for “2 Brother’s Plumbers”, “Plumber”, “drain repair” or “416-XXX-XXXX” will get me good results.
I can search geographically by entering city, province or postal. What is nice about this, is the system handles the complexity, you enter terms that are natural to you and the system figures it out. Too many sites hoist complexity back at the user.
Results are great.
Yellow Pages Results
It allows you to easily browse listings. Listings have graphics, typically company logos, and some replicate the ad from the Yellow Pages. This allows for good visual recognition and comprehension. That is one of the benefits of the paper version of YP, when I look at a page I can scan it for a listing that fits my needs. They haven’t replicated that experience but have brought the right aspects of it over to their site.
When you are in a listing it gives you all the information you would need (address, phone, description map etc.).
Yellow Pages Listing
It also gives you a screenshot of the home page of the company’s Web site (if available) which is a great idea. I was able to evaluate if I wanted to visit the company’s site before leaving A few search engines like Yahoo and have begun doing site thumbnails as a way of finding search results and it works well.


Homer Simpson Loves Usability

If you run an e-commerce site, you’ve probably heard about “website 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”: would say DOH!!!
Our “website”: 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”: 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”:
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 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”: and this spring I pointed out super-apologetic “Backpack Error Messages”: Flickr’s downtime message is so popular it’s become a “meme”: onto itself (do a Google search on “is having a massage”: if you’re not hip to the jive).

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