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MOO Does Customer Service Right

Nowadays the customer isn’t always right. Legend has it that once upon a time businessmen and customers were honesty, upright, and hard working. Since then, however, businesses mostly just choose the quickest way to earn a dollar…at whatever cost.

Well, there’s still a company out there doing things really well. MOO.

A couple of weeks ago I submitted by business cards to be printed by MOO — a pretty cool company that offers really simple, yet creative ways of doing business cards and other things.

I was so excited when I opened the package from them. Then it sucked.

The cards were black background with dark gray text — exactly what I’d ordered, but not what it looked like when I used my printer. Obviously I didn’t play it very safely by doing dark on dark.

The cards are useless now. No one can read them.

Well, I emailed MOO and explained my stupidity but also made mention that on my screen and on the paper I’d printed on the cards looked great.

Twelve hours later Ricardo emailed me to tell me that because their cards have a matte laminate it cuts down on the brightness. Then he gave me a coupon for a free print. Thanks Ricardo!

So now I’ve reprinted my cards with the changes and hope to have some beautiful cards in the mail next week.

Preemptive Reputation Management

This also goes to show that treating customers right can go a long way. I’m by no means a world famous blogger, but MOO is getting free press out of this and avoiding the need for reputation management down the road.

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Get a Free Website!

free-website-2009-125-1251…if you’re a non-profit.

So if you ARE a non-profit, or know someone participating in one, send them to freesite.developdaly.com.

I’ll be designing and developing a free website for one non-profit. The application is on the link above and the deadline is March 1, 2009.

I’d really appeciate if you’d share this post with your friends!

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Switch to HostGator Proves They’re Awesome

Ten days ago I announced my switch from MediaTemple to HostGator hosting because things were very slow.

So check this out. Google Webmaster Tools fills you in on some metrics related to Google’s crawling of your site. Here’s what I found:

Time spent downloading a page (in milliseconds)

crawl-statsNotice that huge drop off towards the end. That means that HostGator was able to serve the pages at least twice as fast as MediaTemple was.

Now here’s where it really matters. So what if it took Google longer to download my pages – as long as they’re all there, then they accomplished what I wanted. Right?

Number of kilobytes downloaded per day

crawl-stats-kilobytesCrazy! So here I found out that Google may have been downloading all of my pages, but may not have been indexing everything on those pages – or maybe they were just taking a long time to do it. Now, it seems they must be getting everything, and probably getting it faster and making my pages appear in search engines quicker.

Moral of the Story: Find a Good Host

I’ve been with several hosts now and all have their ups and downs. For instance, MT was great when I first started with them and they have good support and a really well designed control panel. They obviosuly lost it when it came to speed though (at least on their grid servers).

So, I’m now impartial to HostGator and suggest that everyone else host through them. The difference is clear.

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My Desk

Some of you have been curious about what my office environment was like now that I’m working from home.

Show and tell…

The Overall Situation

You can tell that I have a nice big desk. I can’t remember what it’s called anymore but Ikea sold it for awhile and for some stupid reason discontinued it and started selling a smaller version. I love the size.

my-desk

Nice, Comfy Chair

This aint no $900 chair people claim changes your life – it’s from Wal-mart or Target, but it’s padded, has arm rests, and sits atop one of those plastic things that pokes “holes” in your carpet. It suits my needs.

leather-chair

The Peripherals

Coming in third place in the line-up — keyboard, mouse, and volume control…and notepad. I have a wireless Dell keyboard and the wired default mouse Dell sent me which I actually like better than the wireless one I paid extra for. The volume control is for the 5.1 surround sound setup featured in the next picture.

keyboard-mouse-notepad

Big Sound

I couldn’t be nearly as productive as I am without music. Fortunately, between iTunes and Pandora I have plenty to keep me occupied and I have 5.1 surround sound to thoroughly motivate me and annoy my neighbors.

speakers

Big Screen

I have a floating 24″ monitor with a sweet background from Smashing Magazine.

You’re so gullible…you believed that it actually floated, ha. Actually it conveniently moves around on an arm so that I can spin it around to face the futon off-picture so that I can catch up on The Office.

monitor

The Black Sheep of My Desk

Neither mouse, chair, monitor, nor notepad or even desk like the far corner. It’s so boring over there. It’s kind of dusty, and definitely laden with a little bit of procrastination. Nevertheless, paperwork gets a spot.

paper-work

How About You?

I’d love to see your working space. What am I missing? What might you want to get me for Christmas? 😉

Also, stay tuned next week because I’ll be showcasing my mobile office as I’ll be on the road for two weeks.

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My Favorite Websites

Nearly everyday (or at least multiple times a week) I visit this list of websites. The list is tailored to web design, SEO, & WordPress related sites.

I’ve gained much knowledge from the authors and contributors of these sites and I owe much debt. If you’re interested in any of the things I do for a living, then this list is MUST read.

In alphabetical order…

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Obama Has Way Too Many Close Ties to Weirdos

I haven’t used my blog as a platform for anything other than web design, SEO, and the such, but I think it’s important that our country elects the better candidate.

This Youtube clip (and the 5 other parts following the clip) are quite biased, a little over the top, and at some points irrelevant, there are still many facts that remain to shed light on the history of Barack Obama and his close ties to extremely controversial leaders.

“Obama & Friends – A History Of Radicalism”: Obama’s ties include Jeremiah Wright, Black Panthers, Bill Ayers, Louis Farrakhan, Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Bernardine Dohrn, ACORN, and Weathermen Underground.

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It’s About That Time

My apologies first. I haven’t kept up with my blog very well this year. Of course, moving, planning a wedding, and being a newly wed are factors that. All of which are null and void now (except the newly wed part). Needless to say I have more time now and will be posting more regularly.

The big news, however, is that I’ve begun redesigning my site. I’m moving on the bigger and better things with this site. There will also be a goody attached to the launch of the new site. Stay tuned…it’s not too far away.

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Launched: Simple Elegance

This week I launched a new client site: Simple Elegance. Simple Elegance is a wedding decoration company in Denton, TX that serves the whole DFW area. I’m getting married (in less than a month!) and so my bride met with Simple Elegance and found out that they needed a website. Needless to say, work began a few weeks later.

Simple Elegance Home Page

Design & Home Page

In designing the site I wanted to achieve two things: simplicity and elegance. 😉

The site needed to be conducive to an audience I’m only vaguely familiar with, yet constantly surrounded by: young women in dire need for wedding decorations. I ended up giving the site a very rustic, yet smooth feel. The dark colors are a stark contrast to the traditional white wedding sites (though I will be implementing a style switcher to go between the dark scheme and a lighter one). I feel as though the browns make the site feel a little smaller, but in a good way. The perception is that the site is well maintained, updated, local, non-corporate, and easily accessible to customers.

Simple Elegance Photo

Photos

Pictures are huge in a business that is selling services based solely upon how good they look. We used in-window popups to show off the larger images, and allow visitors to browse through the many pictures. We’re taking advantage of the WordPress built-in gallery feature to make photo browsing and management easy.

Search Engine Optimization

As with all of the sites I build, I take great care into how I build a site so that it out performs competitors in search engines. This section is for those already familiar with SEO.

Simple Elegance Heading

Headers

On the home page I used the text “Wedding Decorations in Dallas, TX” as the H1 tag. While the business is located in Denton, TX, their service is as wide as the DFW area and Dallas is a more trafficked keyword than Denton is, so it made sense to draw from the bigger pool, rather than limit ourselves to Denton.

The H2 tag is “Wedding and Event Décor Specialists” so that we can emphasize even more specifically what the site is about, including a broader range of services.

Tags

For our purpose, what traditionally are called “tags” we’ll call “styles”. I wanted brides to be able to find exactly what they’re looking for. Not only did we categorize rentals into a categories like candles, candelabras, and cake toppers, but implemented a tagging feature that will tag about 700 adjectives automatically. If you look at the screen shot below you can see a demonstration of which words could be tagged. This is pretty useful for users looking for a decorations of a very specific style and for search engines because it allows optimization of hundreds of long tail searches.

Simple Elegance Styles

Conclusion

The live site doesn’t reflect everything mentioned in this post as some of the content has yet to be entered. However, I think you’ll find the site to be beautifully simple and very well optimized for search engines.

Visit Simple Elegance.

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Launched: The Well at DBC Church Website

This week we launched The Well website, a media and resource rich (or at least it will be!) website for my church, Denton Bible Church. The Well is the evening service at DBC. We accomplished several things with the site that prove the flexibility of WordPress.

Link: The Well of Denton Bible Church

Home Page

The home pages consists of a featured section that scrolls through however many featured posts you want.

We’ve also got 3 “ads” that display next to the featured posts. The point of the “ads” is that they are much more static parts of the site that need constant attention, so we’re using the “ad” terminology, but in reality they’re just important posts.

Below the featured posts is a photo stream from an internal WordPress gallery, and below that are two columns of recent sermons and recent resources (books, blogs, songs, etc.).

To its right is a list of upcoming events that are being picked up from a Google calendar.

A lot of things are going on on the home page, and mostly in part to using the loop to call specific categories.

Pages

Many of the pages have unique sidebars, achieved by adding unique IDs to the widget code and allowing site administrators to add and remove widgets of their choice for specific pages. Some of the pages take advantage of unique templates as well.

Because there are many administrators of the site, those writing their own content have their own author pages to display biographical information as well as a list of their content.

There pages dedicated to photos, audio and video. The photo management was all achieved using the NexGen Gallery WordPress plugin – I strongly suggest using this for your photos!

Coming Soon…

I’ll be recycling this theme, adding to it, cleaning it up, changing the design, and optimizing it even further for release as a premium theme. Stay tuned!

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Blogs You Should Be Reading

I’ve filtered through a lot of blogs the past few years. Often I’ll subscribe on a whim, only to find out that 20 posts later I’ve gotten nothing of value from the site, so I’ll remove them from my reader. Still, I have plenty more to keep me busy because there are some truly great resources out there.

You can subscribe to these without hesitation, because they’ve stood my test of time.

SEO Related

WordPress Related

Design Related

General Web

I subscribe to many more feeds than that, but these are some of the best.

So WHO ELSE should I be subscribing to?