Have Mobile Websites Become Obsolete?

According to analysis carried out by comScore, 55% of total internet usage in the US in January was through a mobile device. Mobile internet usage has been increasing, and this was the first month that mobile device usage exceeded desktop usage for internet access. This trend is set to continue.

Optimising your website for mobile device usage has become extremely important to its success.

“m.dot” Websites

You will often see a separate version of a website specifically dedicated to mobile users.

This version is designed to take into consideration the limitations a mobile phone user encounters when accessing a website. These limitations include a smaller screen size, the difference in the user’s interaction of the website (i.e. through touch screens) and internet connection speeds.

These considerations can change the whole layout of a website and can also mean that the mobile version of a website could potentially be a simpler, less informative version in order to allow for easier and faster access.

Having to run a separate website alongside the main website means that any updates need to be made on two separate websites. The mobile website would also have to be compatible with the latest advances in mobile phone technology.

The Effectiveness of Responsive Web Design

With the increasing usage of mobile phones to access the internet, it is now becoming more important for a website to be mobile-friendly as well as desktop-friendly. Responsive websites are steadily gaining popularity. These types of websites are designed to be able to be used across devices, thus the functionality of a website is not lost through the use of a mobile device.

A responsive website greatly enhances the user experience. They are able to view and share a web page across multiple applications without having to worry about which version of the website they are sharing. The user is therefore easily able to switch from smartphone to desktop while viewing a website.

The website will automatically adjust to whatever screen size and orientation is preferred by the viewer. Content does not need to be amended for different versions of the website, and any changes and updates will only have to be made one time and to one website.

The Future

Internet giant Google has named responsive web design as the best practise for the industry. Having one version of a website means that Google is more easily able to crawl and index your website. It also improves the user experience, as it means that the device users choose to view your website from does not affect the information they have access to.

With Google’s endorsement, responsive web design is now seen as the gold standard for web pages. In today’s fast-paced, tech-heavy world, websites need to work hard to keep up with the demands placed upon them by users and by the industry. A responsive website can allow for greater flexibility both with users and the devices being used.

Desk space available in creative, friendly, open-plan London office

OPPORTUNITY

Download PDF overview here: London-SME-Desk-Offer_

MintTwist have a limited number of generous desk space available to companies from start-ups to SME businesses in the professional service, agency, media and digital sectors.

Desks come with all the essentials including, chair, draws, unlimited access to kitchen/communal areas with unlimited tea and coffee. The open plan shared office space provides a fantastic working and social atmosphere and you’ll be sharing with like-minded professionals like MintTwist (www.minttwist.com) and LadyGeek (www.ladygeek.com). Internet access both wired and wireless through high-speed broadband is available.

As well as a spacious desk, chair, drawers, internet, meeting rooms, kitchen with free tea/coffee and milk. The all-inclusive charge will also cover cleaning, gas, electricity, water, rates and service charge. On-site at Highgate Studios there are free shower facilities, free moped/bike lock-up areas, a fantastic on-site cafe, pizza house and the infamous ‘Dirty Burger’ and ‘Chicken Shop’ joints. Access to the office is 24×7×365.

Benefits include:
 Highly flexible terms
 High-speed broadband internet
 Wireless internet
 Completely free use of meeting room
 Every desk has a chair and drawers
 Onsite office manager
 Air conditioning
 On-site shower room
 Full serviced kitchen with tea, coffee, dishwasher, microwave and fridge.
 All utilities included (electricity, gas, air conditioning, water and cleaning)

CONTACT ELLIOTT KING ON ELLIOTT@MINTTWIST.COM OR 020 7284 9755 TO ARRANGE YOUR VIEWING.

PRICES

Comment Cost Deposit Notice Period
Flexi Desk £450 PCM 1-month Pay as you go
Flexi-4-Desks £1650 PCM 1-month Pay as you go
6–Desk Island £2250 PCM 1-month 3-months

LOCATION

Based Camden, London, the office is perfectly situated between Kentish Town tube station (3-min walk), Camden market (1 tube stop), King Cross (2 tube stops) and Parliament Hill fields (3-min walk).

MAP

Office Location

Check Out These Awesome Web Design Tips

Many people want to learn to become a good web designer, yet they aren’t sure if they have what it takes to become good in the subject. Anyone can be a good web designer they just have to learn how to first, the more you learn from places like this article the better you are sure to become at web design.

A clean PC is a happy PC when you’re building a site. Some software programs will use up a lot of disk space, so having junk files on your PC will bog you down. Besides, it’s hard to remain neat and organized if you have files strewn all over the place. Keep your PC free of junk files and clutter.

Make sure that the site is compatible with different browsers. You must test your site on both Internet Explorer and Netscape to be sure that your content can be viewed by visitors that are using either browser. Do not just check that it works on one and launch the site.

Avoid frames at all costs. Just don’t use them. While they can make it simple for your menu or header to appear all throughout your site, the address bar won’t change on each page. This can make it impossible for your visitors to link to any specific page on your site.

Make sure your site includes a search box. This is really important, because people are accustomed to having that function, and when they want to find something on your site, they need to be able to find it. If they can’t find what they need, they may leave your site altogether.

Don’t use too many different fonts or text colors on your web pages. Word processing or web authoring software may present a dizzying array of specialty fonts or wacky colors, but if you use too many, the text on your website may become unreadable. A good practice is to use just one or two fonts per page and avoid excessive use of bold or italic text.

Design informative error pages. Many times someone will click onto a broken link, or a link that has been moved, and receive a generic error page that confuses them. Design your error pages so that you give a visitor a reason they may have gotten that error, along with a link to your home page so that they remain on your site.

Even if you know how to design sites for the web you still have much to learn. Everyone today is using mobile devices so this means that there is a higher demand for making sites mobile compatible. Start learning how to build mobile sites so that you’re knowledgable of how to build various types of websites.

Add in tools that people can use and share on social media sites. You want people to be interested with your site and have the ability to share what they like from your site with their friends as well. When you give people the option to share things with their friends then the attention that your site can get is limitless.

Always utilize media and content that is both relative to your site’s goal, but also interesting to the potential consumers who will be viewing your site. A site that has relative info, but that is not interesting, won’t captivate its audience. A website that uses fun, but non-relative information, will captivate the wrong audience. Both methods equal profits that you are losing.

Using the advice from this article you can become a pro in website design in no time, and you should now feel a bit more confident and think so as well. So now that you have some insightful knowledge on the subject you can apply that towards your web design efforts and become a great designer of websites in no time.

If you’re really eager to get into web design then contact a professional web design agency in London like www.minttwist.com who will be able to point you in the right direction.

Alternatively if you want to read up more about this topic then visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_design it details the history, the present, and the future of web design.

The Social Capital Model for Business Growth

This article is highlighting MintTwist’s proposed ‘Social Capital Model’ for delivering continuing and sustainable growth of its business.

The proposal was introduced to people working within the business at the MintTwist Annual General Meeting on 30th November 2011.

This article is written so that people working within the business and other interested parties may use this area to facilitate discussion, questions and comments on the proposal.

What do MintTwist want to do?

MintTwist aims to be the most successful supplier of Digital Agency company services for businesses in Europe by 2016.

How?

MintTwist is aiming to do this by developing and further growing its network of clients and by adding more value to their businesses by devloping and further growing its network of highly skilled people working across the organisation and together, with well defined process methodologies.

How will the growth be funded?

MintTwist have been seeking a sustainable growth model that accurately represents the key value drivers for the existing growth that MintTwist has experienced to date and one that will incubate, encourage and reward the key value drivers for future growth of the business.

MintTwist’s Proposed ‘Social Capital Model’ for facilitating sustainable growth of its business

MintTwist’s proposed solution is a key component for facilitating the continuation, development and expedience of its market/service diversification growth strategy … MintTwist have termed it ‘The Social Capital Model’.

social capital model

social capital model

The social capital component represents a portion of the company that cannot be bought, sold or owned.

Access to the benefits of the social component is for people who are working within the business.

Key elements may include:

1. A share in governance with direct representation

2. A share in the profits

???

Weighted access may be representative of:

1. Length of service

2. Relative value of contributions

???

What are the Benefits of a Mobile Website for Businesses?

MinTwists’s August meetup debated the benefits to businesses of creating a mobile websites or mobile applications to communicate with their target customer groups in a manner optimised for mobile platforms.

In essence should a dedicated mobile platform be created, or should businesses simply allow their mobile users to be served up their ‘normal’ website in whatever way the browser software on the given mobile platform chooses to do so?

It’s a tough question and one which the group mostly debated from an ROI perspective. Given that mobile usage rates in the UK are still fairly low (5% of a websites traffic may come from mobile users), one might be tempted to conclude that for typical small and medium sized b2b businesses the answer is no.

However, it is not that clear cut.

Firstly, there is the issue that mobile usage is growing incredibly quickly (see article : What will Smart Phones Do to our Websites? for more on this) and there may well be material benefits for ‘getting in quick’ (including SEO benefits).

Secondly there is ‘how mobile users are behaving issue’. The data is not entirely accurate at the moment – but early signs are clear: mobile users do not use the internet in the same way on their mobiles as they would do on their PC’s or laptops.  Usage is driven by factors such as location (users accessing their mobile devices to find information on ‘where they physically are at the moment’) and impulsivness (users accessing their mobile devices to find an answer to a fairly immediate question/problem).  Factors such as these all feed in to the ideal way in which the information should be presented to the mobile user, i.e. b2b businesses could have a ‘mobile optimised homepage’ that clearly presents a clickable telephone number link and clickable interactive google map so that visitors to the business can quickly get the information that they may be after if they are accessing the website from a mobile device.

A difficult topic for business oweners and marketing manager to grapple with; here are MintTwist’s high level thoughts on the subject …

  • Mobile is an important consideration, however, it is not necessarily a vital immediate concern for ‘most’ small businesses (because well designed website designs will render correctly already).
  • The trend towards increased mobile usage is growing.
  • The differing user goals and usage habits of users on mobile platforms needs to be properly understood on a case by case basis for a useful and quality mobile solution to be delivered.
  • The group felt that businesses that should be immediately addressing mobile users (because they could potentially see a real ROI) are:
  1. Businesses with large visitor numbers
  2. Media businesses
  3. Some retail (e-commerce) businesses
  4. Businesses running functional websites / website applications
  • Other groups of businesses may want a mobile solution (even if it won’t provide them a clear ROI) for other reasons (e.g. to get ahead of the competition, brand identity etc).
  • Two main categorisations of mobile website solution exist, these are outlined by the information chart below:
Solution Useful for situations like … Ballpark Costs Useful for businesses like …
Mobile websites (extra pages that are specially built to be auto-delivered to mobile users) Making a ‘normal’ website have a dedicated set of page(s) that will show up (in a manner optimised for small screens) when a user goes to the website on a mobile phone.  Principal Benefit: Increased conversion rates from mobile users. From £3k e-commerce / Retailb2b businesses with very high visitor numbersb2c brands
Mobile Apps and/or Web Apps* (Android, Apple, Web apps that are downloaded) Information that can be delivered in a potentially highly functional and potentially highly interactive way.  Principal Benefit: Increased engagement levels/brand identity. £5k++ Any big brandApplication/Web service vendors

Thoughts and feedback on this post are very welcome :)

What is mobile search?

The growth of smartphones and tablets has surpassed the expectations of even the most optimistic commentator this year. It’s now estimated that smartphone and tablet usage will overtake PC and laptop usage in the US before the end of the year. In the UK, Ofcom has just released its own study, the annual Communications and Marketing Report, which states that 1 in 3 UK adults own and use a smartphone on a daily basis. What this means for the marketing industry is that marketers will have to re-think their strategies and increasingly concentrate their marketing efforts on the mobile audience if they wish to continue to drive traffic to their sites. IBM’s recent study, The Mobile Sweep, has already identified that such mobile search strategies are already being adopted by some of the more forward-thinking companies. So, is your business forward looking? Have you already optimised your mobile search engine strategy to target this ever-growing market?

In its report IBM looked at the fortunes of the website Priceline.com and noted that it had benefited significantly from the growth of mobile search. As users get used to searching on the go and using e-commerce, they become increasingly comfortable and are prepared to spend money more freely, it appears, than their non-mobile counterparts. IBM reported that 82% of Priceline.com’s, mobile visitors booked their hotel rooms within a day of discovering the website: only 45% of non-mobile users did the same. Of the mobile bookers, over 50% were within 20 miles of their hotels when they booked them, which would suggest that location and proximity are key drivers in helping them to make these decisions.

All the available statistics indicate that the total number of consumers who search and buy on mobiles will continue to rise exponentially. Using data from Morgan Stanley, the conclusion IBM reached was that mobile internet devices will lead the market in the coming years and will produce the bulk of internet sales. But why has the smartphone had such an impact on search and sales? IBM believes that it’s the availability of 3G internet, and the promise of fourth generation broadband, that has been the major driver in the smartphone and tablet market, along with the ability of mobiles to deliver enhanced context awareness. That may sound a little high faulting and complicated, but in essence what they’re getting at, is that the mobile is very good at delivering information to mobile users in real time which answers all their needs – that is physical and geographical location, social context and time.  The implications for those businesses that haven’t yet optimised their websites to deliver locally optimised content to mobile searchers is that you’d best do it quickly, or you’ll miss the boat.

If businesses need any encouragement to optimise their sites for the local market, and also for mobile users, then surely this is this it. The market is out there and growing all the time, and it seems this sector of the market is more willing to spend online than any other. So, go on: you know it makes sense. Mobile search engine optimisation is the trend of the future. Don’t let your business lose out.

Web development in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates has undergone a profound transformation since 1973, seeing tremendous growth and achieving an incredibly high income per capita.  It is widely recognised as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with industries such as tourism, manufacturing, real estate, financial services and trade playing a major role alongside oil.

With such opportunity and competition it is extremely important for new and existing companies to make effective use of modern marketing strategies.  Internet marketing is now a major multi-billion pound industry and a method suitable for the progressive nature of the UAE business community, particularly for the two major Emirates; Dubai and the capital Abu Dhabi.

Web development UAEInternet penetration in the UAE is on the rise as regular web usage has reached 67% of the population, with 55% of the population using it on a daily basis.  Currently, the web is used primarily for emails and searching for information, with a smaller percentage accessing the internet for business or for making online purchases.  The internet is inevitably changing the dynamics of how we structure our business, culture and society, with the UAE being no exception.  As internet penetration in the UAE grows, businesses must respond by developing high quality Arabic website designs.

A modern well-presented website is now expected for most businesses and organisations.  With good quality website design, Dubai and Abu-Dhabi based companies can benefit from improved information distribution and an expansion of reachable markets.  It is an effective way of winning new business and retaining existing customers, while responding quickly to new competitors.

With competition becoming more demanding and search engines more concerned with the user experience, the web business owner should consider the importance of web development.  A UAE company immediately commands respect from web visitors with a professional Arabic web design.  In order to compete amongst the ever-increasing market in the UAE, it is wise to invest in a well-constructed website with a strong logo, a harmonious colour scheme, simple and professional looking graphics, and effective navigation options.  UAE consumers have high expectations from companies, expecting high levels of service from them.

As internet use in the Arabic world has grown faster than anywhere else since 2000 and access costs have shrunk, businesses should now increase investment in web content in order to gain a place in the highly competitive world market.

How to get divorced on Twitter

Have you ever found that you are just growing apart from some of the people you are following on twitter? Maybe you followed them at first because they were popular, powerful, cool or just damn sexy?

When they followed you back you were a rush with emotion. Digital acceptance into their inner circle meant you were connected, accepted and had one very cool ‘follower’, earning your digital self that bit more kudos.

But over the months and years things change. Your digital avatar has grown up, moved on from an adolescent obsession with popularism and found it’s place in the digital world – with like minded individuals from whom they can garnish and share genuinely relevant information.

Get divorced on Twitter

Get divorced on Twitter

That popular connection of yours is still uber cool and successful but somehow their musings just don’t do it for you anymore.

Eventually you decide that clogging up your timeline with randomised, automated ‘quotes of philosophers’, ‘links of the hour’, ‘daily funnies’ and the occasional interaction from a low paid intern feigning coolness is just not worth the kudos…. So you resolve yourself to unfollow your childhood sweetheart!

But how do you do it, how do you get divorced on Twitter!?!?  How will they feel, what will they do and most importantly will their auto-unfollow script kick in, meaning one less follower for you and one very cool one too!?!?

I was faced with exactly this dilemma recently.  Having followed the eminent Guy Kawasaki (@GuyKawasaki) since the very early days (he was a tweeting pioneer) I had felt a special bond of kinship… I was sure he held me in high regard amongst his 360,000 loyal followers.  I used to wait, tweet-deck at the ready on his every word – but after the years and much to my dismay his tweeting just doesn’t do it for me anymore :(

And so I give you; ‘How to get divorced on Twitter’ …

Elliott King

elliott_king Elliott King

Sorry @GuyKawasaki - I have to let you go :( … it was great while it lasted, I just think we’re in a different space right now.

Guy Kawasaki

@GuyKawasakiGuy Kawasaki
@elliott_king No problem. Have a happy rest of your life.

Elliott King

@elliott_kingElliott King
@GuyKawasaki thanks guy … I won’t forget you.
And that was it – it was done!  No tears, no drawn out discussions, he accepted it, duly un-followed me ( :( ) a few hours later and we’ve both gone our separate ways … with no hard feelings … none at all … I’m in a good place right now …
I only hope that somewhere deep down Guy Kawasaki still wants to follow me.

Middle East Netizens are on the Rise

Web design UAEOver the last couple of decades the Internet has become a huge worldwide phenomenon.  Latest global figures show that the number of internet users (also known as ‘Netizens’) now stands on the verge of exceeding 2 billion!

Of that total a whopping 64 million of them are in the Middle East, accounting for a staggering growth rate of 1825% over the past decade.  Amazingly this growth rate is 15x that of what was seen in North America over the same period.

As more and more people are gaining access to the Internet, it is the perfect opportunity for companies to move their business to the Web.

At the start of the Internet age Europeans and North Americans were by far the largest users. However, this is gradually changing as other continents embrace the World Wide Web. In recent years there has been a big increase in Internet users in regions such as Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Since 2000, the number of users in Africa and the Middle East has increased by around 1,800%. Meanwhile, Asia has gathered 704 million users – over 300 million more than any other region, encompassing about 42% of worldwide users. This can be attributed to large population in Asia; a staggering 3.8 billion of the 6.7 billion people on earth (that is 56%) live in Asia.

Another change is that Europe has overtaken North America as the second biggest user of the Internet. In terms of percentage of their population Asia is still quite far behind, with North America having the highest figure. Only 18.5% of Asians use the Internet, while half of Europeans do and three quarters of North Americans do. In the Middle East, 30% of people use the Internet today, however, this reach is rapidly increasing and as it does the importance of businesses being well presented online becomes ever more apparent.

Computers and the Internet are modern inventions which therefore effortlessly fit into modern life of Europeans and North Americans. Many Africans and Middle Easterners have very different lifestyles and this is reflected in the figures. Asia is a mixture of old and new, but modernising all the time, thus the increase in Internet users. As developing nations like Asia, Africa, and the Middle become more technologically advanced this trend is likely to continue.

Businesses and organizations in the Middle East that want to capitalize on everything the Internet has to offer should look no further than the web design and development firm, MintTwist. Originally based out of London, MintTwist has successfully created websites and marketing strategies for a wide variety of companies over the past eleven years. They are now entering into the foreign marketplace with the opening of Mint Twist Dubai. The growth of business and Internet seen within Dubai and the Middle East could not be better supported and facilitated than by the experts at Mint Twist.

21 Tactics to Increase Blog Traffic

A considerable portion of my consulting time has recently revolved around the optimization of corporate blogs (or the addition of blogs to revamped sites). As usual, I find a pattern emerging in the strategies that need attention and the pitfalls that must be avoided. So, rather than charging $400 an hour to give advice on the subject, I thought it would be valuable to share many of the most common pieces of advice here on the blog (business part of Rand fights with open source Rand, but loses, as usual).

  1. Choose the Right Blog Software (or Custom Build)
    The right blog CMS makes a big difference. If you want to set yourself apart, I recommend creating a custom blog solution – one that can be completely customized to your users. In most cases,WordPressBloggerMovableType or Typepad will suffice, but building from scratch allows you to be very creative with functionality and formatting. The best CMS is something that’s easy for the writer(s) to use and brings together the features that allow the blog to flourish. Think about how you want comments, archiving, sub-pages, categorization, multiple feeds and user accounts to operate in order to narrow down your choices. OpenSourceCMS is a very good tool to help you select a software if you go that route.
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  2. Host Your Blog Directly on Your Domain
    Hosting your blog on a different domain from your primary site is one of the worst mistakes you can make. A blog on your domain can attract links, attention, publicity, trust and search rankings - by keeping the blog on a separate domain, you shoot yourself in the foot. From worst to best, your options are – Hosted (on a solution like Blogspot or WordPress), on a unique domain (at least you can 301 it in the future), on a subdomain (these can be treated as unique from the primary domain by the engines) and as a sub-section of the primary domain (in a subfolder or page – this is the best solution).
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  3. Write Title Tags with Two Audiences in Mind
    First and foremost, you’re writing a title tag for the people who will visit your site or have a subscription to your feed. Title tags that are short, snappy, on-topic and catchy are imperative. You also want to think about search engines when you title your posts, since the engines can help to drive traffic to your blog. A great way to do this is to write the post and the title first, then run a few searches at OvertureWordTrackerKeywordDiscovery to see if there is a phrasing or ordering that can better help you to target “searched for” terms.
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  4. Participate at Related Forums & Blogs
    Whatever industry or niche you’re in, there are bloggers, forums and an online community that’s already active. Depending on the specificity of your focus, you may need to think one or two levels broader than your own content to find a large community, but with the size of the participatory web today, even the highly specialized content areas receive attention. A great way to find out who these people are is to use Technorati to conduct searches, then sort by number of links (authority).Del.icio.us tags are also very useful in this process, as are straight searches at the engines (Ask.com’s blog search in particular is of very good quality).
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  5. Tag Your Content
    Technorati is the first place that you should be tagging posts. I actually recommend having the tags right on your page, pointing to the Technorati searches that you’re targeting. There are other good places to ping - del.icio.us and Flickr being the two most obvious (the only other one is Blogmarks, which is much smaller). Tagging content can also be valuable to help give you a “bump” towards getting traffic from big sites like RedditDiggStumbleUpon (which requires that you download the toolbar, but trust me - it’s worth it). You DO NOT want to submit every post to these sites, but that one out of twenty (see tactic #18) is worth your while.
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  6. Launch Without Comments (and Add Them Later)
    There’s something sad about a blog with 0 comments on every post. It feels dead, empty and unpopular. Luckily, there’s an easy solution – don’t offer the ability to post comments on the blog and no one will know that you only get 20 uniques a day. Once you’re upwards of 100 RSS subscribers and/or 750 unique visitors per day, you can open up the comments and see light activity. Comments are often how tech-savvy new visitors judge the popularity of a site (and thus, its worth), so play to your strengths and keep your obscurity private.
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  7. Don’t Jump on the Bandwagon
    Some memes are worthy of being talked about by every blogger in the space, but most aren’t. Just because there’s huge news in your industry or niche DOES NOT mean you need to be covering it, or even mentioning it (though it can be valuable to link to it as an aside, just to integrate a shared experience into your unique content). Many of the best blogs online DO talk about the big trends – this is because they’re already popular, established and are counted on to be a source of news for the community. If you’re launching a new blog, you need to show people in your space that you can offer something unique, different and valuable – not just the same story from your point of view. This is less important in spaces where there are very few bloggers and little online coverage and much more in spaces that are overwhelmed with blogs (like search, or anything else tech-related).
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  8. Link Intelligently
    When you link out in your blog posts, use convention where applicable and creativity when warranted, but be aware of how the links you serve are part of the content you provide. Not every issue you discuss or site you mention needs a link, but there’s a fine line between overlinking and underlinking. The best advice I can give is to think of the post from the standpoint of a relatively uninformed reader. If you mention Wikipedia, everyone is familiar and no link is required. If you mention a specific page at Wikipedia, a link is necessary and important. Also, be aware that quoting other bloggers or online sources (or even discussing their ideas) without linking to them is considered bad etiquette and can earn you scorn that could cost you links from those sources in the future. It’s almost always better to be over-generous with links than under-generous. And link condoms? Only use them when you’re linking to something you find truly distasteful or have serious apprehension about.
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  9. Invite Guest Bloggers
    Asking a well known personality in your niche to contribute a short blog on their subject of expertise is a great way to grow the value and reach of your blog. You not only flatter the person by acknowledging their celebrity, you nearly guarantee yourself a link or at least an association with a brand that can earn you readers. Just be sure that you really are getting a quality post from someone that’s as close to universally popular and admired as possible (unless you want to start playing the drama linkbait game, which I personally abhor). If you’re already somewhat popular, it can often be valuable to look outside your space and bring in guest authors who have a very unique angle or subject matter to help spice up your focus. One note about guest bloggers – make sure they agree to have their work edited by you before it’s posted. A disagreement on this subject after the fact can have negative ramifications.
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  10. Eschew Advertising (Until You’re Popular)
    I hate AdSense on blogs. Usually, I ignore it, but I also cast a sharp eye towards the quality of the posts and professionalism of the content when I see AdSense. That’s not to say that contextual advertising can’t work well in some blogs, but it needs to be well integrated into the design and layout to help defer criticism. Don’t get me wrong – it’s unfair to judge a blog by its cover (or, in this case, its ads), but spend a lot of time surfing blogs and you’ll have the same impression – low quality blogs run AdSense and many high quality ones don’t. I always recommend that whether personal or professional, you wait until your blog has achieved a level of success before you start advertising. Ads, whether they’re sponsorships, banners, contextual or other, tend to have a direct, negative impact on the number of readers who subscribe, add to favorites and link – you definitely don’t want that limitation while you’re still trying to get established.
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  11. Go Beyond Text in Your Posts
    Blogs that contain nothing but line after line of text are more difficult to read and less consistently interesting than those that offer images, interactive elements, the occasional multimedia content and some clever charts & graphs. Even if you’re having a tough time with non-text content, think about how you can format the text using blockquotes, indentation, bullet points, etc. to create a more visually appealing and digestible block of content.
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  12. Cover Topics that Need Attention
    In every niche, there are certain topics and questions that are frequently asked or pondered, but rarely have definitive answers. While this recommendation applies to nearly every content-based site, it’s particularly easy to leverage with a blog. If everyone in the online Nascar forums is wondering about the components and cost of an average Nascar vehicle – give it to them. If the online stock trading industry is rife with questions about the best performing stocks after a terrorist threat, your path is clear. Spend the time and effort to research, document and deliver and you’re virtually guaranteed link-worthy content that will attract new visitors and subscribers.
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  13. Pay Attention to Your Analytics
    Visitor tracking software can tell you which posts your audience likes best, which ones don’t get viewed and how the search engines are delivering traffic. Use these clues to react and improve your strategies. Feedburner is great for RSS and I’m a personal fan of Indextools. Consider adding action tracking to your blog, so you can see what sources of traffic are bringing the best quality visitors (in terms of time spent on the site, # of page views, etc). I particularly like having the “register” link tagged for analytics so I can see what percentage of visitors from each source is interested enough to want to leave a comment or create an account.
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  14. Use a Human Voice
    Charisma is a valuable quality, both online and off. Through a blog, it’s most often judged by the voice you present to your users. People like empathy, compassion, authority and honesty. Keep these in the forefront of your mind when writing and you’ll be in a good position to succeed. It’s also critical that you maintain a level of humility in your blogging and stick to your roots. When users start to feel that a blog is taking itself too seriously or losing the characteristics that made it unique, they start to seek new places for content. We’ve certainly made mistakes (even recently) that have cost us some fans – be cautious to control not only what you say, but how you say it. Lastly – if there’s a hot button issue that has you posting emotionally, temper it by letting the post sit in draft mode for an hour or two, re-reading it and considering any revisions. With the advent of feeds, once you publish, there’s no going back.
    -
  15. Archive Effectively
    The best archives are carefully organized into subjects and date ranges. For search traffic (particularly long tail terms), it can be best to offer the full content of every post in a category on the archive pages, but from a usability standpoint, just linking to each post is far better (possibly with a very short snippet). Balance these two issues and make the decision based on your goals. A last note on archiving – pagination in blogging can be harmful to search traffic, rather than beneficial (as you provide constantly changing, duplicate content pages). Pagination is great for users who scroll to the bottom and want to see more, though, so consider putting a “noindex” in the meta tag or in the robots.txt file to keep spiders where they belong – in the well-organized archive system.
    -
  16. Implement Smart URLs
    The best URL structure for blogs is, in my opinion, as short as possible while still containing enough information to make an educated guess about the content you’ll find on the page. I don’t like the 10 hyphen, lengthy blog titles that are the byproduct of many CMS plugins, but they are certainly better than any dynamic parameters in the URL. Yes – I know I’m not walking the talk here, and hopefully it’s something we can fix in the near future. To those who say that one dynamic parameter in the URL doesn’t hurt, I’d take issue – just re-writing a ?ID=450 to /450 has improved search traffic considerably on several blogs we’ve worked with.
    -
  17. Reveal as Much as Possible
    The blogosphere is in love with the idea of an open source world on the web. Sharing vast stores of what might ordinarily be considered private information is the rule, rather than the exception. If you can offer content that’s usually private – trade secrets, pricing, contract issues, and even the occasional harmless rumor, your blog can benefit. Make a decision about what’s off-limits and how far you can go and then push right up to that limit in order to see the best possible effects. Your community will reward you with links and traffic.
    -
  18. Only One Post in Twenty Can Be Linkbait
    Not every post is worthy of making it to the top of Digg, Del.icio.us/popular or even a mention at some other blogs in your space. Trying to over-market every post you write will result in pushback and ultimately lead to negative opinions about your efforts. The less popular your blog is, the harder it will be to build excitement around a post, but the process of linkbait has always been trial and error – build, test, refine and re-build. Keep creating great ideas and bolstering them with lots of solid, everyday content and you’ll eventually be big enough to where one out of every 20-40 posts really does become linkbait.
    -
  19. Make Effective Use of High Traffic Days
    If you do have linkbait, whether by design or by accident, make sure to capitalize. When you hit the front page of Digg, Reddit, Boing Boing, or, on a smaller scale, attract a couple hundred visitors from a bigger blog or site in your space, you need to put your best foot forward. Make sure to follow up on a high traffic time period with 2-3 high quality posts that show off your skills as a writer, your depth of understanding and let visitors know that this is content they should be sticking around to see more of. Nothing kills the potential linkbait “bump” faster than a blog whose content doesn’t update for 48 hours after they’ve received a huge influx of visitors.
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  20. Create Expectations and Fulfill Them
    When you’re writing for your audience, your content focus, post timing and areas of interest will all become associated with your personal style. If you vary widely from that style, you risk alienating folks who’ve come to know you and rely on you for specific data. Thus, if you build a blog around the idea of being an analytical expert in your field, don’t ignore the latest release of industry figures only to chat about an emotional issue – deliver what your readers expect of you and crunch the numbers. This applies equally well to post frequency – if your blog regularly churns out 2 posts a day, having two weeks with only 4 posts is going to have an adverse impact on traffic. That’s not to say you can’t take a vacation, but you need to schedule it wisely and be prepared to lose RSS subscribers and regulars. It’s not fair, but it’s the truth. We lose visitors every time I attend an SES conference and drop to one post every two days (note – guest bloggers and time-release posts can help here, too).
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  21. Build a Brand
    Possibly one of the most important aspects of all in blogging is brand-building. As Zefrank noted, to be a great brand, you need to be a brand that people want to associate themselves with and a brand that people feel they derive value from being a member. Exclusivity, insider jokes, emails with regulars, the occasional cat post and references to your previous experiences can be off putting for new readers, but they’re solid gold for keeping your loyal base feeling good about their brand experience with you. Be careful to stick to your brand – once you have a definition that people like and are comfortable with, it’s very hard to break that mold without severe repercussions. If you’re building a new blog, or building a low-traffic one, I highly recommend writing down the goals of your brand and the attributes of its identity to help remind you as you write.

Best of luck to all you bloggers out there. It’s an increasingly crowded field to play in, but these strategies should help to give you an edge over the competition. As always, if you’ve got additions or disagreements, I’d love to hear them.

p.s. Note to self – starting long blog entries at 11:30pm is not conducive to a good night’s sleep. At least Angela got kicked off Project Runway tonight.

The browser war continues

For those working in the web design industry, browser choice is often a topic filled with debate. For anyone who surfs the net browser choicer can also be a very personal matter and recent data suggests that browser choice is increasingly diversified.

In the beginning there was Netscape Navigator. However by 2002 the browser had all but disappeared. This was primarily down to the growth in Internet Explorer, and the dwindling development efforts by the Netscape Corporation.

Internet explorer is a bit like Ghenkis Khan and the Mongol Empire. Perhaps not the most obvious comparison, but give me a chance. So, Internet Explorer was launched in 1995 and by 2003 had a market share of close to 95%. Between the year 1206 and 1280 the Mongol Empire grew to stretch from Korea to Moscow.

The rapid expansion of the Mongol Empire is much like Internet Explorers rapid growth in popularity. The development of Internet Explorer was also fairly rapid and progressive. The Mongols were also progressive and introduced new technology and new thinking into a medieval Eurasia.

However like all Empires, over time cracks begin to appear. For the Mongols, their days of power were numbered and to make matters worse the epic trade routes that were built up now helped spread the Black Death which decimated both Mongol and other populations.

browser warsIn 2010 Internet Explorer had a market share of 60% which is a long way of its 2003 peak of 95%. This begs the question, what happened? The answer is quite straightforward. Mozilla happened.

Mozilla created the web browser Firefox and it really came into its own with its 3.5 and 3.6 versions and now their latest version, Firefox 4 is available to download. The browser is currently competing with Internet Explorer for top spot, but right now it has a market share of about 30%.

Internet explorer was never going to maintain a market share of 95%. Competition from Mozilla, Google’s Chrome and Safari ensured this. In my own experience having started with Internet Explorer, then on to Google Chrome, I am now using Firefox 4 and have found it to be an excellent web browser.

In my field of SEO and web marketing I believe Firefox offers me the best web browsing experience. It is well designed, easy to use and highly customable. The amount and variety Firefox Add-ons available is exceptional and definitely provides me with very important data and information.

Greg Jacobs

Content Manager
MintTwist

Choosing the right UAE web design company

The market for web design in the UAE has grown at an astonishing pace. 2010 has been a big year for the region, most notably the completion of the worlds’ tallest building, the Burj Khalifa Skyscraper and in Abu Dhabi the world’s largest indoor and first Ferrari theme park was opened.

The region has seen huge investment over the last two decades and created an oasis in the desert. Cities such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi have emerged and are now key drivers for the region. The region is home to the offices of numerous multinational companies and corporations. In addition to this there is very healthy growth of small to medium sized business.

In today’s business world there is no doubting the importance of a web presence and the UAE is no exception. The problem is that the vast majority of web development firms in the UAE do not have the same level of knowledge or experience as professionals in the West.

Internet usage is growing at a rapid rate in the UAE amongst the 4 million or so people that live there. Companies are investing millions of dollars in the region and the internet is a vital communications tool which is only growing in use and importance. Choosing the right web design company to work with can be difficult but below are some useful hints to help with that difficult decision.

Check the Portfolio – For web design companies having a portfolio is a simple must have. It gives a web design company the chance to show off their work and you can quickly gauge what kinds of styles are possible. However, be warned because seeing them in a gallery is not enough. It is vital that the functionality of these is thoroughly checked.

Talk to the owner of the business – Before any deal is made it is essential that you meet with the director of the web design company. This gives you an opportunity to test their knowledge and gives you an opportunity to talk about their previous and future projects and get contact details for referrals.

The kitchen sink – The very best web design companies will do more than just develop a website. The best firms will begin with a free consultation which will be based on a very high level view of your business and who it is targeting or which markets are most relevant. It is also common to discuss the design and development process used by the web design company because this will help in organising time scales.

Following on from this the Dubai web design company should be able to demonstrate their skill in keyword research, content management, digital graphic design, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and web marketing. If your web design company can fulfil all of this then you are speaking to the right people.

The people – Knowing that there is a team of dedicated professionals with specialist skills, working on your behalf is hugely important and can give you a lot of confidence in the web design company you are working with.

The vibe – Finally, the design company you choose to work with has to feel right. The communication needs to be friendly but professional and constructive. In other words you must be able to question the design company and you should expect good answers in return. Companies who don’t listen to their clients inevitably let them down so if you are ignored head somewhere else.

Draw in Readers with a Custom Website

There are over 175 million blogs on the internet today and that number only grows rapidly each and every day. It is easy to start a blog with free-hosting sites like Blogger, WordPress, Typepad, and many more offering easy, 5 minute set-up. Bloggers don’t have worry about hosting issues and can choose pre-designed templates to begin writing right away.

However, to get noticed by readers and advertisers, it is much better to put in the extra work (or spend the extra money) and self-host a custom-designed website. Simply put, it will differentiate your blog from the rest of the pack by looking more unique and professional. Since anyone can create a blog through Blogger etc., anyone can use one of their limited number of pre-designed templates. That means there are thousands, if not millions of people using the same exact designs on their pages.

Be unique. A custom-designed blog will more be more eye-grabbing and will be give you more design options, obviously. You can create a design that fits better with your blog’s topic, image, and brand, and it affords much more creativity. Bloggers with custom-designed sites do not have to go the conventional “blog look” route, with new posts scrolling down the page, but can get more innovative with layout, colors, backgrounds, fonts, images, everything.

Plus, self-hosting (with “yoursite.com” rather than “yoursite.wordpress.com”) allows you to own all the content on your website and makes your site easier to find; remembering that extra “blogspot.com” can be detrimental to traffic. Also, again, it simply looks more professional. And being able to own your site and its design allows for you to put outside advertisements on your blog, which means you can earn an income from the site.

It certainly takes more work, and to have it really done right, you may want to buy a professional blog template (£30-£50) or have a graphic/web designer custom design it themselves, which can run hundreds of dollars. But if you’re serious about blogging — and earning an income from blogging — you need a custom-designed website. It will draw readers in, ones who are quick to click away from a subpar looking site. Internet users are ones to judge a book by its cover; don’t let your design detract from the great content written. Enhance it with a unique, eye-catching, and innovative custom design. It will bring the readers — and the advertising money.

Is cloud computing the future of web design?

Cloud computingWith the 7th International Cloud Expo being held in America this November and the announcement that New York City and Microsoft are teaming up to provide the city’s 100,000 employees with access to cloud services, it is evident that cloud computing is now at the forefront of computing technology and a current buzzword in the field.

Cloud computing refers to anything that involves delivering hosted services over the internet and encompasses any subscription-based or pay-by-use service that, in real time, extends IT’s existing capabilities.

A clear benefit of this provision is the inevitable reduced cost incurred by any organisation.  The provision is not owned, with any resources being consumed as a service.  The company only pays for what is used as a utility, therefore avoiding capital expenditure.  According to New York City’s Mayor, “Through our partnership with Microsoft, we’ve found ways to offer our employees Microsoft’s newest computing tools while reducing costs to taxpayers.

By capitalizing on the city’s buying power, consolidating dozens of separate city agency license agreements into a single one, and paying for software based on use, we’ll save $50 million over the next five years.”

Until now, New York City’s agencies each purchased software individually, comprising more than 40 separate license agreements and even more maintenance and support contracts. With the new cloud agreement, all of the city’s software and services will be under one unified agreement, saving money and eliminating confusion.

Organisations also benefit from increased storage capacity as compared with that available on private computer systems.  With a phenomenal growth in data quantities, companies are under pressure to store and protect not only new data, but older existing data that is kept ‘just-in-case’ to protect against any future difficulties.  With this storage requirement comes additional costs associated with the greater need to manage and protect the data.  Cloud computing provides a cost-effective solution for this ongoing problem.

With the continued advances in technology and ever changing needs of organisations, cloud services ensure that the most up-to-date software is available to companies.  Similarly, the evolving nature of such provision ensures that companies are offered greater flexibility in how they access services and the many different combinations of services that may be required.

Possibly the most significant benefit arising from this shift in technology is the ability to access information from anywhere, resulting in greater mobility for employees.  In the case of New York particularly, this benefit is exemplified by the fact that many of the city’s workers are not office-based and so will have improved access to services with resulting improvements in communication between agencies.

Despite the significant benefits associated with the cloud computing revolution, there is also concern surrounding cloud computing and its attendant security risks.  The main concerns about cloud computing are security and privacy as data inside the ‘cloud’ is outside a company’s firewall and that brings with it an intrinsic threat of risk.  With an increase in hacking attempts, companies need to implement stringent security measures such as proven cryptographic methods to authenticate users.

This security risk extends beyond data storage to web development.  It is evident that an unsecure server is bad for search engine optimisation and for a company’s website.  As identified by an SEO London company, a lack of security in the cloud can result in the loss of search engine rankings.

As part of the ever growing and evolving IT industry, we must be open to advances in technology even if we maintain some reservations about potential security issues or associated concerns.  A spokesperson from a London web design company recognises the potential for cloud computing and the advances in technology in our every day lives.  “As web designers we frequently find ourselves caught up in the everyday workings of the internet”.  Cloud computing may very well be the new technology to drastically change the web design market but ultimately only time will tell.

Did you know you can get FREE Champagne by refering new business to MintTwist?

Free Bottle of champagne

Yes it’s true! MintTwist is offering the finest Champagne (FREE) for each and every successful referral you provide.

How to get my FREE Champagne?

It couldn’t be more simple.  Send us a quick email with the details of the business you are referring, including the contact you would like us to approach, and we will do the rest.  Our experienced sales team will get in touch with the business, and if they decide to use one of our Web Design, Web Marketing or SEO services we will ship your your FREE Champagne.  Nothing to it!

How do I start?

Simply send us an email to info@minttwist.com with the contact details of your referral and let our sales team do the rest!

How do you solve a problem like myhomepage?

myhomepage is an internet startup that has used seed funding to develop an attractive, useful and innovative bookmarking and password management website application that helps consumers all over the world.

The product has been well received with registered users proving to be fans and advocates of the technology.

myhomepage - personal password management and bookmarking

myhomepage - personal password management and bookmarking

The problem

However, the team now know that they are now entering what is potentially the hardest part of their start-up journey. Much of the seed investment has gone on developing the product. The team now have to focus their attention towards marketing the product, but with little budget remaining it needs to be a boot-strapped exercise.

Potential investors have set the ‘active user’ target at 50,000 before they will release the second round of investment capital that is so badly needed to move the business on to the next level.

The current number of active users is 5000 and with minimal marketing impact thus far, new user registrations are running at just 15 a-day which is 5% of the average number of new and unique visitors that arrive at the site each day, but the 300 new and unique visitors that arrive at the site each day has been static since inception.

To make matters even more challenging the business has been set the challenge of achieving 50,000 myhomepage users within just 6-months.

At the current conversion rate the site will only achieve another 2700 registered users – leaving the business to fall far short of the target that is so badly needed for further investment.

myhomepage – the second coming

The team have resolved to fight-back against their predicament.

Over the last few weeks the founders have re-focussed the direction of the business towards marketing the existing benefits of the product whilst making stinging cut-backs on overheads and product development.

Money has now been re-focussed on an all out attempt to raise the profile of the business, drive up the number of website visitors and haul-in the thousands of new registered users that will see the business win the investment that they need to survive.

myhomepage need YOU

In 6-months myhomepage must get 50,000 registered users. At current conversion rates this means getting one million new and unique visitors to the website over the next 180-days, this means an average of 5,500 users per day versus a current average of just 300.

There are two members of staff, one trained in SEO and the other is a content writer. There is no money for ad-words or any other form of paid for advertising.

There is scope for organic SEO, viral marketing, blog marketing, social network marketing and guerrilla marketing.

Which of these avenues should myhomepage pursue? What should the angle be? Are there any other avenues that myhomepage should follow?

Read more on the team of friends behind myhomepage.

For further information on myhomepage please contact Max Aengevelt (m.aengevelt@mhplive.com) or Massimo Agostinelli (m.agos@mhplive.com).

Friends team up to take on google

myhomepage was founded by two well connected young entrepreneurs Massimo Agostinelli and Max Aengevelt who combine their work at myhomepage with their studies at the European School of Business of London and Cass Business school .

Massimo Agostinelli and Max Aengevelt, founders of myhomepage

Massimo Agostinelli and Max Aengevelt, founders of myhomepage

Quite a feat when you see how far their business has come in such a short space of time.

In just one year myhomepage have a highly developed password management system that has a applied for patent and online bookmarking system that is up and running on the internet.

myhomepage are operating in an emerging and intriguing space and the business is already a leading player in a sector in which heavy weights such as Google and Microsoft have already expressed an interest.

Massimo and Max have been close friends since meeting at Hurtwood House boarding school in Surrey England and the friends both have business in their blood.  Both are heirs to well established and highly successful family businesses that make high value equity investments all over the world.

But family connections will not provide a free ride, the family businesses have provided the seed investment, but the founders are well aware that they are required to ensure the business is able to stand on its own two feet by winning further investment from external sources.

Massimo and Max set about achieving their vision for myhompage in early 2009 by assembling a team of exceptional technical experts, marketing guru’s and seasoned start-up executives. myhomepage aims to become a leading start page that allows user to save, manage and automatically log into their favourite bookmarks.

Key to the success so far has been the fact that the founders have extended the hand of friendship as well as camaraderie to all the members of their team.

The latest to join the team is the web agency MintTwist.

MintTwist were involved early on in the myhomepage story, having been contracted to improve the website design, look-and-feel and usability.

Having seen the tremendous value that exists within the business, MintTwist were delighted to agree on even closer ties, by becoming equity partners in the myhomepage business.

Massimo, Max, MintTwist and the rest of the fledgling team still have a long way to go. And they are under no illusions about the difficulties that lie ahead; first they must prove that there is traction in the product by significantly raising the number of active users that have taken up the myhomepage system.

In a latest twist to their story, the team have now been set the challenging goal of achieving 50,000 new users within just 6-months.  Read more on the myhomepage marketing challenge.

But as ever the two enigmatic founders are un-phased – “We will do it”, they say.

For further information on myhomepage please contact Max Aengevelt (m.aengevelt@mphlive.com) or Massimo Agostinelli (m.agos@mphlive.com)

Facebook: The good, the bad and the ugly

When you consider that Facebook was launched in February 2004 and has grown to over 500 million members, it really is an incredible achievement. It is a feat of epic proportions and a tremendous success story which also reflects the growing popularity of social networking.

There are people whose career is now dependant of Facebook. There is an ongoing battle between  independent application developers and development companies such as Zynga, around the world including web design London.

Zynga is a fantastic example of success with Facebook. After being in business for nearly three years the company has an annual revenue of over $100 million dollars and are responsible for some of the most popular applications on Facebook, specifically Farmville and Mafia Wars.

However, in the interest of fairness and objectivity, one could argue that Facebook is a bit like Marmite. You either love it or hate it. My fourteen year old niece for example will happily spend hour after hour on Facebook, whereas I will spend maybe five to ten minutes on it every day or two.

A few too manyHow many times have you been out with friends, maybe you had a few dozen too many drinks and made a complete fool of yourself, which would have been fine pre 2004 because even if your friends did have cameras and took pictures there was no website which could embarrass you in the same way Facebook can.

The influence of Facebook has also spread to businesses and careers. It is widely reported that employers will try and find your profile on Facebook, just to see if there is anything you perhaps forgot to mention. You have the ability share with the world absolutely everything that you like and dislike, your favourite music, food, movies and your political and religious affiliations.

For some the amount of information has gone too far. It is frequently said that knowledge is power, and if that is the case Facebook is all powerful because they have knowledge of over half a billion user. Some might ask what possible harm could come from all this knowledge?

Well a lot really. To begin with, companies will go to extreme lengths to gather data on customers and Facebook is a giant and rich database of customers. Since 2004 advertising has become increasingly significant for the company because it brings in revenue. With Facebook companies can set up highly targeted adverts, so one could argue that ad least users aren’t bombarded with random advertising. By localizing the site Facebook is sending out a strong message of willingness to improve their service which is encouraging.

There is also a much darker site to data which was demonstrated during World War 2. In Germany and elsewhere in Europe, as the Nazis grip spread to Poland, France, Holland and Belgium the census’ of the countries were used to hunt down Jews and other political enemies. Indeed this is a somewhat extreme example of the dark side of data but it did happen and does show how information can be used in the worst possible way.

International web design in London

London undergroundIn the last 100 years the world has shrunk. It is now so small that the furthest place you can go is at most going to be a day or two away. There are some exceptions though, for example if you wanted to reach the heart of the Amazon rainforest or the North Pole or any other extreme location it might a bit longer than a few days, say a week or so.

Living in London you really do get a sense of this shrinking planet we share. Having been born and raised in this remarkable city I consider it a genuine privilege. The city has so much history, energy, culture, style and beauty it is impossible not to fall in love with it.

There have been many famous quotes about London but one has always stood out for me. The English poet Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) once said “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”

Putting to one side my bias and instead thinking more impartially, for me to say that London is perfect would be a lie. There is no such thing as perfection. However the same can be said about all major cities, they all have their problems.

What I find most amazing about London is the richness of culture and the variety of nationalities, which you don’t have to go far to see examples of. The workforce at MintTwist itself is evidence of a small world and multi-culturist society.

  • Eric our SEO guru has Kenyan parents and moved to the UK at a young age.
  • Gabriel, who works on web marketing, is from Argentina.
  • One of our developers, Julien is half French, half English.
  • Andre our senior developer is half Portuguese and half Angolan.
  • Mustafa, our project manager is Turkish Cypriot.
  • Lee our head designer is a quarter Italian, three quarters English.
  • Alexis, one of MintTwist’s directors is half Greek Cypriot and half English.
  • Our other director, Elliott, and without doubt the most interesting blend of nationalities, is one quarter Spanish, one quarter Jamaican and half English.

As for myself, I have a Croatian mother and my father’s family immigrated to the UK from Poland over a hundred years ago.

More than anything, what this demonstrates is that the movement of people is a fundamental part of the development of mankind. Ever since humans evolved into bipedal creatures it has been in our genes to explore and relocate to better places. Without it Columbus wouldn’t have discovered America, the Vikings wouldn’t have come to Britain and the British would be much worse off and a more crowded place because we wouldn’t have Australia to send criminals to.

Only joking! :-)

Web addresses go global

The World Wide Web is going through historic change and will soon be a truly representative of its name. This will have far reaching effects for both users and a web design agency like MintTwist.

Net regulator Icann has switched on a system that allows full web addresses to contain no Latin characters, which their president (Rod Beckstrom) has described as “historic”.

Surfing the UAEEgypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the first countries to have so-called “country codes” written in Arabic scripts.

This move is the first step to allow web addresses in many scripts including Thai, Tamil, and Chinese.

More than 20 countries have requested approval for international domains from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann).

Icann has said that the new domains are available for use now but did admit that there is still some work to do before it is perfected and correctly working for everyone. They may be formalities but hopefully there will be so major delay or setback.

Teething

The introduction of the first web names using so-called country code top level domains (CCTLDs) is the culmination of several years of work by the organisation.

Whereas before websites could use some non-Latin letters, the country codes as .cn for China had to be written in Latin script. The historic change means that web addresses can be completely written in native characters.

Teething - Painful but unavoidableBefore you get too excited, Icann has warned that the internationalised domain names (IDNs) will not work on all PC’s immediately. Why exactly is unclear but most likely is that the service will be phased in gradually. By doing so the process is u much easier task to manage.

According to Icaan, “You may see a mangled string of letters and numbers, and perhaps some percent signs or a couple of “xn--”s mixed into the address bar,” said Mr Davies. “Or it may not work at all.”

Previously, Icann has said that people would have to update the software on their computers to view the domains.

“Computers never come with the complete set of fonts that will allow it to show every possible IDN in the world. Often this is fixed by downloading additional language packs for the missing languages, or specifically finding and installing fonts that support the wanted languages.”

Global Access

When Icann first announced its plans for non-Latin web names it said it was the “biggest change” to the net “since it was invented 40 years ago”.

Perhaps this should have been rephrased as “arguably the biggest change”, especially when you consider that it is yet to be perfected. Over time, this will no doubt grow and become a massive part of the internet but it has a way to go yet.

Mr Beckstrom has quite rightly said that “Over half the internet users around the world don’t use a Latin-based script as their native language, “IDNs are about making the internet more global and accessible for everyone.”

FaceBook localization sends out strong message

Over the last decade the internet has experienced a dramatic roller-coaster of a ride. Looking back at when the .com bubble burst seems like an age ago, and ever since people, businesses, investors, all of them had their doubts about the internet. Business models and strategies were rewritten overnight, not to mention the value of the companies which were wildly over exaggerated.

Today the internet is a somewhat different story. Compare the internet now to ten years ago. The first thing that might come to mind is having to dial up using your 56k modem and wait an eternity for any kind of progress. Nowadays you are either jumping on a wireless network or perhaps in an office they may be using Ethernet connections. With both, getting online takes a second.

However this is not what the internet is about. The connections speeds were inevitably going to improve, and will continue to do so. Now internet providers in the UK are offering fibre optic internet connection which will give users lightning fast speeds. In addition to this more people are using the internet as their primary medium for entertainment and broadcasters are making more content available online, such as the BBC’s iPlayer or 4OD.

Since the bubble burst a lot has been learnt. The capability and dynamism of websites has improved dramatically and has lead to certain websites becoming synonymous with the generation of today. Sites like FaceBook, MySpace, YouTube, to name a few, are more than websites now, they are part of many people’s lives, daily routine, and consciousness which has altered the way we interact with each other.

To imply this is how everyone feels about FaceBook wouldn’t be accurate but ‘generation Z’ is growing up with the internet and their experience and expectations are very different to those of a decade ago. Kids and teenagers around the world are accessing the web and sites like FaceBook are in high demand from people around the world which includes many languages.

It was just over a year ago that FaceBook started localizing itself for the world. The company utilized outsourcing to spur its translation efforts. And though volunteers aren’t the only people translating content, a year later, FaceBook has done an impressive job of going global.

Some recently reported key stats from FaceBook’s global expansion efforts include:

  • 40 percent of FaceBook users are not using English.
  • More than 70 percent of FaceBook users are outside the United States.
  • It reaches more than 10 percent of the total national population in 26 countries.
  • FaceBook is available in 43 languages and is in the process of being translated into another 60 languages.
  • 25,000 volunteers helped translate FaceBook into Turkish last year, and there are now 9 million Turkish-language users signed up for FaceBook.

In conclusion, we have seen FaceBook recently overtake Google in the USA as the most popular website. Does this mean sites in other countries will be knocked of the pedestal? At this stage it is hard to say. In the UK the most popular website is Google, but not too far behind is FaceBook, which will continue to grow and chase. But this is not the optimum acid test for FaceBook; instead it will be to see how successful FaceBook are in non-English speaking countries by the year 2012.

1 Language dies every 14 days

Losing Our World’s Languages

Today Translations have taken a serious interest in the way language is used around the world and how it evolved to be so. When we recently learned that every 14 days a language dies we were shocked to say the least and even more devastated to hear that by 2100, more than half of the more than 7,000 languages spoken on Earth—many of them not yet recorded—may disappear, taking with them a wealth of knowledge about history, culture, the natural environment, and the human brain.

By identifying language hotspots—the places on our planet with the most unique, poorly understood, or threatened indigenous languages—and documenting the languages and cultures within them we have a much better chance of saving this incredibly valuable knowledge.

Why Is It Important?

Language defines a culture, through the people who speak it and what it allows speakers to say. Words that describe a particular cultural practice or idea may not translate precisely into another language. Many endangered languages have rich oral cultures with stories, songs, and histories passed on to younger generations, but no written forms. With the extinction of a language, an entire culture is lost.

Much of what humans know about nature is encoded only in oral languages. Indigenous groups that have interacted closely with the natural world for thousands of years often have profound insights into local lands, plants, animals, and ecosystems—many still undocumented by science. Studying indigenous languages therefore benefits environmental understanding and conservation efforts.

Studying various languages also increases our understanding of how humans communicate and store knowledge. Every time a language dies, we lose part of the picture of what our brains can do.

Job Opening for a Senior Sales Manager at MintTwist

Senior Sales Manager – Web Marketing Strategy Services

Leading Web Marketing, Design and Development agency have an excellent opportunity for an experienced Senior Sales Manager with strong Web experience to join their London Head office.

In this role you will be responsible for the following:

- Follow up leads and win new business contracts on a monthly basis

- Develop and cultivate the continuous supply of sales leads, lead generation channels and business contacts

- Attend face to face meetings

- Manage relationship with new and current clients

- Attend relevant networking events and industry forums

- Develop sales strategy for the UK and Europe

- Develop accurate sales forecast with business Director

- Manage database of clients and contacts

- Work with salesforce on a daily basis

This is an exciting opportunity to join a market leading business in a very visible and important role to the business. In order to be considered for this role you MUST have experience in the following:

- Strong experience in High Level service sales

- Web background and strong knowledge of web marketing techniques

- Web sales experience

Please send a copy of your Resume through to elliott@minttwist.com

Enable Thumbnail View For PSD Files In Windows Explorer

In the latest versions of Adobe Photoshop with the inclusion of Adobe Bridge the thumbnail view of PSD files within the windows explorer is no more present, This can be really difficult if you intent to see preview of the file you need to open the Adobe Bridge inorder to view the preview, which consumes a lot of RAM.

Another way is to restore the the thumbnail view for the PSD files within explorer.

Here’s how to restore thumbnails for PSD in explorer

The psd thumbnail view is not included by design in the lastest version of photoshop. To restore this feature follow these steps:
1. Download psicon.dll
2. Place the DLL in C:\Program Files\Common Files\Adobe\Shell\
3. Thumbnail previews of PSD files are now back

The psicon.dll can be downloaded from here.

How to enable Remote Desktop in Windows 7

The Remote Desktop feature in Windows 7 can be used to connect remotely to other computers, so that you can control one computer from another pretty easily. Remote Desktops in Windows 7 have Aero and multi monitor support, and other enhancements you’ll love.

How to turn on and use Remote Desktop in Windows 7?

This is how you turn on remote desktop in Windows 7:

Click the Start button, right click on Computer and choose ‘Properties’. You can, alternatively, press the Win+PauseBreak keys together.

Remote Desktop Windows 7

Click on Remote Settings in the left panel of the Control Panel Window that pops up.

Turning on Remote Desktop Windows 7

In the new window that appears, make sure that ‘Allow Remote Assistance to this Computer’ option is checked. Also, turn on any one of the options mentioned as per your preference : either allow connections from your network, or any machine.

Enabling Remote Desktop Connection in Windows 7

Click Apply, OK. You’re done. You have now turned on the remote desktop tool that allows any machine to access your Windows 7 computer.

Thanks to Today Translations the professional Translations Services agency in London for their assistance with translating.