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We recently started working with a client who sells SharePoint solutions. I personally am not handling the account, but after looking at their website, realised that although I have heard about SharePoint, I don’t know exactly what it is.

So I went to Microsoft for the answer:

What Is SharePoint?

Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 is an integrated suite of server capabilities that can help improve organizational effectiveness by providing comprehensive content management and enterprise search, accelerating shared business processes, and facilitating information-sharing across boundaries for better business insight. Additionally, this collaboration and content management server provides IT professionals and developers with the platform and tools they need for server administration, application extensibility, and interoperability.

I could be looking for the precise solution offered by SharePoint and I wouldn’t even know it.

Those who like to argue could say that Microsoft can get away with it. That anyone looking for SharePoint already knows what it is.

But there are definitely people out there who are looking for this type of solution who don’t know what SharePoint is. And Microsoft’s website certainly won’t help them.

Most visitors to your website will find their way there through a search engine. If your main page doesn’t instantly communicate what you sell and why they should buy it, they’ll be gone faster than you can say floccinaucinihilipilification.


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Remember when 468 x 80 banners were the big thing?

I do. In fact I used to sell advertising on some of our websites using the format, as did most websites at that time.

Then we hit ICO - Inevitable Cycle of Overuse.

Stage 1 – the format takes off; now “everybody” is using it.

Stage 2 – we see so many banners that our brains start to automatically filter them out and ignore them.

Stage 3 – the “clever” people realise they need to make their banners stand out. They start using bright, garish colours to irritate your senses.

Stage 4 - the “clever” people realise they need to make their banners stand out from the other bright, garish banners. They start using irritating animations that distract you from what you’re doing.

Stage 5 – the “clever” people realise they need to make their banners really stand out from the other bright garish animated banners. They start using horrible sounds that hurt your head.

Stage 6 – our brains have to work too hard to filter out and ignore the audio-visual debris that bombards them. The “fed up” people buy software that blocks banners.

Stage 7 – free add-ons for web browsers that stop the ads working.

Incredibly, the 468 x 80 banner is still in use. To me this is like using waterboarding for brainstorming. But thanks to phenomenal over-use of the 468 x 80 format, it’s nowhere near as effective (or expensive) as it used to be.

Today I see a new breed of 468 x 80: the slider ads, such as AnythingSlider.

These are just as annoying a format as 468 x 80 ever was. Yet this format has a twist. People are using it as a substitute for poor web design.

Instead of using a well-designed navigation structure, some web designers have decided that it’s more effective to throw their products and services at visitors (at speed) the moment they arrive.

We’re approaching Stage 2 of the ICO syndrome, but it won’t be long before we start ignoring them, and you know what happens next.

Advertising in 2010 shouldn’t be about interrupting, annoying or distracting your potential customers. And if your irritating ads take up large amounts of your web pages, what do you think the initial impression of your website will be?

Break the cycle. Inform your visitors; don’t interrupt, bombard or torture them.


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The UK’s Times and Sunday Times newspapers have announced that they will start charging to access their websites in June.

Readers will be charged £1 (US $1.50) for a day’s access or £2 ($3) for a week’s subscription.

This immediately reminded me of Spotify. As an occasional Spotify user, I really like the access it provides me to literally millions of tracks. However as a free user I am occasionally irritated by their ads.

So I decided to upgrade to the ad-free Premium version. Or at least I was intending to, until realising that doing so would cost me £9.99 ($15) per month.

Here’s an idea.

I understand that newspapers and online music services need to start making money.

Yet as happy as I am to pay for my music, I can’t even consider paying £120 a year for it. Especially when all my downloaded tracks and albums will cease to function once my membership is cancelled.

Here’s where I get to the idea.

If Spotify were to make it a real no-brainer, I’d go for it. And so would a lot of other people.

If Spotify offer me a premium account for £3 a month, I’d sign up today. If they offer me the same deal for £2 a month, I wouldn’t even have to think about cancelling my subscription.

Last year Spotify revealed that “less than 10%” of their subscribers had upgraded. Meaning 5%? 3%? 1%?

I guarantee that figure would explode if they were to adopt a more reasonable pricing structure, and their income would increase massively.

If News International were to charge £2 or even £1 a month for access, how many of their regular readers would even blink?

The question is whether News International and Spotify are going to adapt and survive or ignore and perish.


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Watch our for yet another phishing attempt pretending to be from Google AdWords:

The usual rule of thumb applies. Don’t ever click one of those links. Login to your account normally through your browser.

The other rule of thumb is that Google’s emails usually make sense. They don’t say things like “make sure your keywords are jighly relevant” and “if you do not verify the status of your account and notify us if your ads do not appear online we cannot help you“.


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Yes, yes, we know. Google China users are being automatically redirected to Google Hong Kong.

But more importantly, why is the Google Hong Kong homepage so much funkier than everywhere else:

Google.com:

Google.com.hk:

When are we going to be upgraded?


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According to a post on the Google Analytics blog, Google are developing a “global browser based plug-in to allow users to opt out of being tracked by Google Analytics“.

The writer explains that this is in the interests of “protecting use data privacy“.

Sorry?

This has the potential to cripple the accuracy of Google Analytics data, and will effectively be a major step backwards. Companies will once again be forced to choose between highly inaccurate Analytics data (where inaccurate may be synonymous with useless) and other analytics solutions.

The problem for many will be finding other solutions. Finding a server analytics package you can work with and trust is far from simple.

Our company eventually settled with Urchin, but we had to tweak and adjust the settings to get anywhere near accurate – see Urchin Madness? Over-reporting is the norm.

For now, the cynic may be forgiven for thinking that this pushes users of the ‘free’ Google Analytics platform to commercial options, such as Urchin.

The more astute cynic may wonder why Google are prepared to protect a user’s privacy from website owners, but not from themselves. I can’t see Google developing a plug-in to opt out from Google tracking their search history.

Don’t confuse ‘Don’t be evil’ with ‘Don’t be hypocritical’.

More choice for users: browser-based opt-out for Google Analytics on the way


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From CNET’s Software Publisher Newsletter:

As of March 16th, reviews on CNET Downloads are changing in a small but significant way. Since we began reviewing software nearly eight years ago, we have reviewed only the trial version of any software title that was also available for purchase.

Going forward, we will begin reviewing and rating software based on the full version, judging the software’s effectiveness as a complete piece of software.

Not a bad move, but I’m guessing that many CNET visitors would be surprised to discover that they’ve been reading reviews of trial versions. After all, no-one buys a trial version, and the idea of the trial is for the user to evaluate an application for themselves.

Or could it be that CNET visitors don’t really care what the editors say, but instead judge software by votes, user reviews and number of downloads?

More importantly, has Google now made software sites redundant?

When’s the last time you searched for a software solution on a software site?


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Just noticed this:

System downtime – 18 March 2010 10:00 to 18 March 2010 14:00 Pacific Time.

AdWords system maintenance is scheduled from 18 March 2010, 10:00 to 18 March 2010, 14:00 Pacific Time. During this time, you won’t be able to sign in to your account, but your campaigns will continue to run normally. We apologise for any inconvenience.

Four hours? During the middle of a weekday?


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My Google AdWords MCC account allows me to access all of our client’s accounts without using separate login details for each.

It’s very useful, despite having a stupid name. MCC stands for My Client Centre, so ‘my MCC account’ means ‘my my client centre account’.

Anyway Google are in the process of updating their my client centre (I told you it was a stupid name), and when I choose the Budget tab, I can see each client’s budget, and a link to View daily budget recommendations:

A quick link on the link, and I get the following:

However:

- I didn’t get an email.
- I haven’t accessed and approved the suggestions.
- I haven’t accessed and disapproved the suggestions.
- The suggestions should be as applicable as they ever were.
- It’s 2010.

These are small points, but whether you’re spending single figures or tens of thousands a day on Google AdWords, you need to be able to trust the system.

If I log into my online banking and am greeted with “Welcome back Jeremiah”, I will most definitely start to worry whether my money is safe.

Al Harberg of DP Directory once noted that when he finds his meal tray on a plane dirty and stained, he wonders what else might be neglected by the airline.

Dirty trays don’t encourage airline passengers to eat. They’re too distracted wondering whether the engine is supposed to make that noise.


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Experian Hitwise are reporting that in the week ending March 13th 2010, Facebook received more visits than Google:

The numbers suggest that this was far from a sudden/lucky surge, and I suspect we’ll be seeing more of this.

However it’s worth remembering that this is effectively dumb data. A significant percentage of visitors to Facebook will simply be updating their status, whereas almost everyone going to Google will be searching.

Still, a trend is a trend. Usually.

Facebook Reaches Top Ranking in US


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