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Is it time for a website upgrade?

With the current state of the economy, many businesses are cutting internal spending, but it may actually be a good time to invest in your web presence. Here are two reasons why you might want to consider a website upgrade:

Is Cloud Computing a Good Idea for Government?

I recently came across an article from the Washington Post titled, "Tech Firms Seek to Get Agencies on Board with Cloud Computing." This article discusses some of the pros and cons of using cloud computing for government agencies. Cloud computing has been a major topic of discussion for business and more and more consumers save their information "in the cloud" everyday. But does it make sense for government?

Social Media: Proceed with Caution

I just read an article about a team owner being fined by the NBA for "tweets" posted on his Twitter page. Recently, there have also been similar stories about executives offending clients with "tweets" and blog posts. I think this is a good example of the dark side of social networking.

Project management tools in an Agile environment - what works, what doesn't?

Projects managed using agile methods require a shift in the attitudes and focus on the triple constraints; changes in scope need to be addressed in a nimble way and expected as an essential part of a healthy project. Attempting to use tools that worked in prior management methods, such as a waterfall method, exposes both the strengths and weaknesses of these tools.

IE8 Officially Released

Microsoft has officially released Internet Explorer 8, the latest version of its free web browser. This version of the browser is promoted as making it easier, faster, and more secure for people to surf the web. Check out a list of new features here.

What does this mean for your business?

Search Queries Getting Longer

According to Hitwise, search engine queries have increased in length over the past year. When comparing February 2008 to February 2009, there has been a slight decrease in one, two, and three word search queries, while queries with four or more words have increased. Search queries with eight or more words have seen a 20% increase over the same month last year.

Social Networks and Blogs More Popular than Email

According to a recent study by Nielson called Global Faces and Networked Places, social network/blogging sites are now the fourth most popular activity on the Internet. This activity has now surpassed personal e-mail. According to the study, "Two-thirds of the world's Internet population visit a social network or blogging site and the sector now accounts for almost 10% of all internet time." The study also states that the social network audience is getting older.

The Battle of the Browsers Continues!

Apple has just released a beta version of Safari 4, which is being promoted as the world's fastest web browser. According to the Apple site, Safari executes JavaScript up to 30 times faster than Internet Explorer 7 and more than 3 times faster than Firefox 3.

Green Computing

Imagine the day when we look back and laugh that we measured the performance and speed of hard drives by how fast their platters were spinning. Boasting of a RAID array composed of 15K SAS drives will seem ludicrous.

Selenium for Web Testing - an OpenSource option

Do you want to do some automated Web testing, but you don't want to have to spend a lot of money on one of the commercial test automation suites? Consider Selenium (http://seleniumhq.org/). Selenium IDE permits you to create, modify and run tests as a Firefox plug-in. It is a great way to learn the tool and work on basic tests. The tests are based on HTML tables, so you can use any editor to create or edit the test suites and test scripts as well. I like Eclipse with the Aptana editors. This also facilitates integrating with our subversion version control system.

First Reflections on Windows 7

As a mostly Mac person, I approached Windows 7 with much skepticism. My destination was a Windows 7 virtual machine under Parallels. I was a little concerned as there were postings on the Parallels site about issues...I also was drawing on my years of installation experiences of prior versions of Windows. Setting up XP could take a few hours.

You can run, but you can't hide...from the Internet

Yesterday, I was reading an email from the Austin Business Journal and saw an article that Southwest Airlines is beginning the test phase of a plan to equip their planes with Internet via satellite technology: http://austin.bizjournals.com/austin/stories/2009/02/09/daily23.html?ana=e_du_pub

The 5 E's Apply to the Web, too.

Marketers are an amusing group. They have many lists of same-lettered words that try to clarify a particular aspect of their profession. For example, there are the 4 Ps (Product, Price, Placement, Promotion). Some call it the 5 Ps and add "People". They also have the 5 Es, which have a surprising application to the web.

The 5 Es are the five different Experiences that you, as a web presence, need to focus on for maximizing customer delight. Specifically, the 5 Es are:

Web of Trust

We have all heard about rogue websites that can, by merely loading a page from these sites, infect your browser and system with malware. That is a scary prospect for many of us who get into a surfing frenzy and might click a link before thinking whether it is safe or not.

Windows 7 Beta

This January, Microsoft released a beta version of the new Windows 7 with overwhelming response. In a recent post on the Windows blog, an announcement was made that the Windows 7 Beta download would only be available until February 10th.

Is your website accessible?

In 2008, Guidelight participated in the Austin Accessibility Internet Rally (AIR-Austin) sponsored by Knowbility. This event promotes the tools and techniques that make the Internet accessible to people with disabilities. The event really opened my eyes to accessibility issues and changed the way I looked at the Web. Not only is creating an accessible website the socially responsible thing to do, but some companies have even faced lawsuits regarding their site's lack of accessibility.

Track - and actually use - your webstats

If you aren't capturing statistics about your website visitors, you won't be able to identify and implement beneficial changes. Changes that could easily increase your visibility and value to your customers.

To Tweet or Not To Tweet?

Recently, I have seen article after article about Twitter.com. If you are not familiar with Twitter, it is a micro-blogging site that allows its members to answer the simple question, "What are you doing?" Some articles are praising companies for their use of Twitter as a marketing tool and other articles tell marketers not to waste their time.

Cloudware

If your system needs just a little bit of computing power most of the time but it also needs to suddenly scale to significant horsepower, what exactly do you do? Get some cloudware.

More specifically, use services that allow your system to scale up (and possibly scale out) as necessary. Cloud computing is increasingly emerging as an important configuration to consider for critical systems. Part of cloud computing is the concept of "cloud infrastructure" which provides enterprises with an Internet based datacenter.

The rise and fall of web browsers

Recently, Firefox reached a milestone of surpassing 20% of the browser usage on the net. Data at wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers) shows a very respectable increase of Firefox over the last four years. Meanwhile, Internet Explorer has had a steady decline. There are many reasons for this, not least of which is Microsoft's previous attempts to lay unilateral claim to the browser as a proprietary platform.

Its about Eyeballs!

I remember back in the heady days of the Internet boom talking with the strategy director of a web-based startup company we were putting together. She was adamantly defending the notion that selling online, or generating a company-sustaining level of advertising revenue was not important. What was important were the eyeballs.

A couple of years later during business school, the program director gaffawed at the notion that startups were focusing just on 'the eyeballs'. It was his scholarly claim that eyeballs don't make payroll!

SEO, no longer an option

Search Engine Optimization is the process of increasing the ecosystem that surrounds your web presence with the specific goal of moving your search result ranking toward the top of the list. The process is complex and SEO firms have developed a set of artful tools to assist in getting results. Long gone are the simple days of merely setting a snappy collection of keywords in metatags. Today, its about link-ins, link-outs, cross-chatter, clarity of copy, purposefulness of page titles, cleanliness of the markup and a host of other items that take careful and constant attention.