Archive for the ‘content management’ Category

The Scourge of the Internet Highway: Maintenance

Working on website maintenance is a vital task that ensures fresh content and good SEO results. But what if you have 5 sites? 10? 100? Updates tend to become more of a chore. Setting up a good priority system for your maintenance schedule will help you to tackle updates and stay on top of the game.

Use Your E-mail as Your Personal Assistant
The key to good maintenance capabilities is organization. That word tends to scare many people. How do you stay organized when you are juggling 200 e-mails a day that include personal messages, legitimate edits, questions from clients and spam? And what about the changes that come over the phone or in person? Where does that fit in the mix? What about a change from another co-worker?

To keep all of this organized, you need to use your inbox as a tool, rather than a hindrance. Begin by creating the following sub-folders in your e-mail program: A, B, C, D and Personal.

Personal E-mail
Move all personal e-mail into the Personal sub-folder. Inform your friends and family that you would appreciate it if they did not send you e-mails at work unless they are emergency e-mails. If your work e-mail address is the same as your personal address, then tell your family and friends that you will not answer their e-mails during working hours unless it is something urgent. You need to set up this expectation and stick to it. You will be pleasantly surprised to find out what a relief it is to push those to the side. You should also consider setting up a filter that will send personal e-mails straight to the sub-folder so that it won’t clutter your inbox.

What is A, B, C and D?
These letters stand for your new priority system that will help you tackle your day. Each letter represents a different level of difficulty for your maintenance requests. You need to go through all of your e-mails and place them in the sub-folder that matches the level of time needed to complete the tasks.

D – 5 Minute Change
These edits should take you 5 minutes or less to complete. Examples may include fixing a spelling error, adding a link, changing punctuation or setting up an e-mail address.

C – 30 Minute Change
These edits take a little longer than D edits, but still don’t take all that long. Examples may include creating a graphical button and setting it up as a link on a page, creating a new page and adding content or adding a disclaimer to the footer of your website.

B – 1 Hour Change
These edits will take you the better part of an hour or one-eighth of your day. Examples may include adding a new menu item and page to the website, changing the font of your site (if you don’t use CSS) or major edits to the content.

A – 1 to 8 Hour Change
These edits will take longer than 1 hour, but less than 8 hours. Examples may include changing the colors of the website or converting the entire site to CSS.

What about verbal edits?
The first thing you need to do is to request all edits to be put into e-mail. Explain that this helps you to make sure you don’t miss something. Really try to enforce this, especially with your co-workers. That being said, there are going to be times when it is not possible to get e-mail edits.

TIP: Be sure that you always take notes when given verbal edits!

There are two ways to handle this. If the edits are short, go ahead and type them up and e-mail them to yourself. Then place them into the appropriate sub-folder. If the edits are long, then simply send yourself an e-mail that states the client name and a short summary. (EX: Willy’s Emporium – Work on content edits from conference call.) You can put the written edits into a folder that is kept in a designated area and file the e-mail in the necessary sub-folder.

What Should I Tell the Client?
The first thing you must do is set up expectations with your client. Do not promise them that you will have anything done in 5 minutes. In truth, that is next to impossible. Even with D edits. If the edits are D edits, tell them you will have them done in 1 business day. If they are C edits, tell them you will have them done in 1-2 business days. B edits are trickier. You can only do 8 B edits a day and if you have 8 of them, you will never get to anything else. Therefore, let your client know that it will take 2- 5 business days. Odds are, you will get to them faster than 5 days, but you never know what else might come up.

And now we come to A edits. These are nearly impossible to predict. Sometimes you will get an A edit that you think will take you 8 hours and it might take you 2 hours. Or you think an change is a C edit and once you look at the code, it becomes an A edit. In a perfect world, you shouldn’t schedule more than 2 A edits a week. The best way to approach this with a client is to let them know that you have placed them on the production schedule and their edit will be handled the week of ______. This will give you a break if you suddenly get an onslaught of many A edits. It might also help the client realize that if they have an upcoming change, they can get on your schedule ahead of time, rather than springing it on you.

It is important that you set up good expectations with your client. Consider creating a maintenance white paper with a priority schedule. Inform them at the beginning of your relationship about how many business days are required to make a change. This will alleviate a great deal of stress for you and also help you to avoid those uncomfortable moments when you are trying to estimate time.

I have all of my edits organized by folder. Now what do I do?
When you get to the office, do all of your D edits. Next, do half of your C edits. Then, work on 2 B edits. Work on A edits until an hour before you go home. At that time, finish off the C edits and then go to a B edit. If you have some more D edits come in during the day, refrain from making them until the next day. All of this goes out the window if an emergency edit comes through the door, but this should give you a good system to work with.

TIP: If an emergency change comes in, don’t be afraid to charge double.
Just be sure to let the client know at the beginning of your business relationship.

Start over the next day, making sure that you finish all of your C edits from 2 days previous.

What if a Change is Longer Than 8 Hours?
If you receive an edit that you judge will be longer than 8 hours, then you are not being asked to perform maintenance on a website. You need to approach the client about purchasing a web refresh package or something of that nature. In actuality, edits really shouldn’t take longer than 8 hours. Don’t let your services be sold for chump change. You perform an important duty to the internet community and your work should be highly valued.

Conclusion
If you create a priority plan and stick to it, you will have a system that not only flows well, but will also instill confidence in your clientele.

If you would like to speak to someone about purchasing a maitenance package, consider Intra-Focus, Inc. Intra-Focus is a full-service marketing company that integrates art and technology to deliver traditional and Internet marketing solutions. Leveraging marketing expertise and trend setting creativity, Intra-Focus helps its clients build brand strategy and market presence that generate qualified demand and quantifiable results. Intra-Focus provides innovative marketing solutions to businesses ranging in size from start-up to Fortune 500.

About the Author
Kimm Antell is a Senior Web Programmer at Intra-Focus, Inc. She has been surfing the web since 1989 and has been a web programmer since 1994. Her experience includes several web design workshops as well as customer service workshops at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Is blogging really good for my company? Or just a buzz word?

Broaden your internet marketing program, increase your website’s value, and make yourself more visible to search engines… all at once! Business blogs can deliver all of this and more.

What is a Blog?

A blog is a frequently updated website featuring news, commentary, advice or insight. Blogs are published using third-party content management systems, which makes them simple to manage – even for beginners. Blog content is usually displayed in reverse chronological order (newest post at the top) and can be easily categorized by the author(s).

The Benefits of Blogging

Business blogs are becoming popular for a number of reasons. Blogs have a user-friendly publishing interface, so companies often update their blogs more frequently than their regular website. Some of the most popular business blogs get updated once or twice a day. In addition to keeping readers coming back, this also improves search engine optimization by adding fresh content to your online business presence.

Step 1 – Set up your blog

Ask an employee or hire a firm to install third-party blogging software onto your web host and test it for proper operation. Be sure that you use a software that allows you to customize your business blog with your logo and colors. You may not be able to get the blog to completely match your website. Think of it as an opportunity to create a new online look for your company. It is good for the blog to have you logo and similar colors to your website, but you have a chance to give your blog its own look!

Step 2 – Learn how to Blog

You should be given access to a user-friendly management center where you can log in and begin publishing immediately. If you feel that you don’t have the time to do so, consider assigning this task to an employee. You should pick someone who can write professionally and understands your business and its products. If you do not have anyone in your company with these skills, hire a marketing firm who can write the blog articles for you.

NOTE: Writing articles for a blog is different from writing articles for a press release. Be sure that you hire someone who understands this!

Blogging is easy. In fact, if you can type an e-mail you can post content to a blog. It really is that simple. However, general business e-mail rules still apply. Do not put anything offensive or off-color in your blog articles. This includes images. Keep your content professional, but still with a familiar voice. You don’t need to write an encyclopedia entry. Don’t capitalize entire lines of text or bold every word that you feel needs emphasis. This is extremely annoying to online readers and they will start to overlook your phrases.

Step 3 – Blog

Once you’re comfortable with your blog, you can post content on a regular basis. You’ll actually be growing your website with quality news and information – good for your readers, and good for the search engines too.

Pick at most three key phrases in every post and link them to three different pages on your website that match the phrases. This gives you a chance to create a legitimate linking campaign on the internet. If you will look above, you will see that I chose three phrases and linked them to pages on our company website. I didn’t just choose random pages. I chose pages that match the key phrases. Internet users dislike it when you link a phrase to a web page that does not match the phrase. This might get your blog blocked from ever being used by that user and you will have lost a possible future client. So don’t try to trick the reader.

What to Blog

Stumped over what to write about? Here are some ideas that you can always fall back on.

  • New product or service
  • Upcoming event
  • New hire
  • Awards
  • Spotlight on a client or employee

The topics are endless. Anything that is news in your company can become news on your blog!

Get Started!

Blogging is easy and can bring a valuable resource to your company. Give it some consideration. Look at some of the other blogs out there and see how they are being used. This may be something that you add to your website that gives you the edge over your competitors!

Learn More

If you would like to talk to a marketing firm about helping you to set up a blog for your site, consider contacting Intra-Focus, Inc. Their friendly staff has a great deal of experience with blogs and would happy to help you realize your blog possibilities.