Benefits of hiring a local web designer for your Hawaii business

If you are a Hawaii business looking for a web designer you already know there is a  huge amount of web design businesses to choose from these days that offer a range of prices and services.  The simple way to narrow down your search is to choose a local designer and here is why.

There are many reasons why you should choose a local web designer.   The first, reason is obvious for any industry and that is that putting local dollars into local businesses is better for the community.  But there are many other reasons that you may have not even considered.

Local web design agencies build better partnerships simply because you can look someone in the eye and shake his hand before the transaction.  I think this can create some level of trust.

It also makes them more accountable and they would not be able to easily stay in business long if they were not credible.  Out of state/country designers can get away with cheating or sub standard work for a lot longer before anyone is the wiser.

A local provider will be more likely to be a future and long lasting connection, to guide you into the future and keep you in mind when dealing with other clients who could use your services.  They are more likely to care about the future of your business, and can provide you with advice and tips.

With a local company you can rely on their good customer service being in the same time zone.  There is also the issue of communication which is VERY important when building a website.  Dealing with someone long distance and with a language barrier can lead to frustrations and problems getting your needs met.

Another important point to consider is that if you have a dispute,  you have the benefits of enforcing contractual agreements affordabley and effectively with a local designer.  How will you recoup from someone out of country?  Even out of state can be complicated and expensive.

One of the most important factors of why you should go local especially in Hawaii is that a local web designer knows Hawaii.  This is really important when it comes to the design and optimization of your website.  People who are not from Hawaii tend to do cliche and stereotypical designs.  They also cannot properly optimize your website for the market because there is terminology, locations, cultural aspects and other important considerations that only a Local person could know.

Be sure that the company you are hiring is in fact LOCAL.  There are many web design firms currently marketing in Hawaii that show Hawaii addresses that are fictitious.  Some have gone as far as to use local sales people which isn’t a problem if they are honest and not misleading the client.

It is important that you verify the company by checking where the business is legally registered.  Also insist on meeting with your designer face to face, and make sure their websites display local companies in their portfolio and detailed profiles of all the people in the company that includes their background, last names and ways to reach them.  Vague websites, not offering details about the company or their clients is usually a good indication that they aren’t being upfront about something.

Web Design Ethics – What you should expect

I love that I can be sitting at a coffee shop with a potential new client and have 5 clients walk by randomly in an hour, telling me how happy they are with their new websites.  It confirms that all of our hard work and dedication to our clients has paid off.

But I am starting to feel like we are a part of a small minority who believe that there should be a certain level of ethical and professional responsibility.  The fact is that we have been pretty busy fixing or redoing the work of  other people.  It is frustrating to have to tell clients they have been ripped off that they have to pay twice for something that should have been done right the first time.  It is even more frustrating to see these people still out there peddling their services and not being able to to do anything about it.

I recently had a few experiences where competitors have listed our work as theirs  in their portfolio.  I also had 2 situations where a competitors went through our client list and contacted them  to sell them services they didn’t need, or to tell them that something was wrong with their website.

There were only 2 ways to get to the top of the ladder.  Work hard, taking all the steps to get there or step on people to get to the top.  With the growing need for web services, there are a lot of opportunists starting up web design and social media services that are claiming to be the end all be all of web design  but are not giving clients what they need and are unwilling to put time and effort into getting clients the right way so they are resorting to desperate measures.  There is a lot of work to be had out there and if someone is having to resort to tactics, they aren’t doing something right.

When I first started, I did websites for free just so I could get experience and build my portfolio.   It took about a year of doing pro bono work, networking with business groups, and just getting out there and meeting people before I was felt comfortable offering my services for a fee.  And then it took another year of working hard and putting 150% into each project before I got to a point of getting consistent work.  Now we can enjoy consistent work from repeat clients and referrals and all that can show measurable success.

Part of the issue is that there is a clear division of who is qualified to be offering web services.  There are designers and developers.  There are very few companies who are strong in both.  And even some who do neither, just outsource everything.  The problem is if you don’t have a company who does it all, and you get someone who doesn’t know something, say like SEO, they simply don’t do it and don’t even mention it at all to the client.  The Clients no nothing about the website building process to request these things so they get shorted.

The client hires the web developer because the web developer allegedly has expertise in this area. Any monkey can pound at keys on a keyboard; it’s not the web developer’s time-on-keyboard the client is in need of.  It’s the web developer’s experience.

When I hire professionals to perform a service for me, I rely on their expertise.  I should not have to study up so that I can tell my mechanic how much torque to use, or tell my plumber what not to do.  I hire them because they are supposed to know how to do the things they’re hired to do

I believe that anyone who put themselves out there as a professional website developer has a responsibility to perform the promised service using industry-accepted “best practices” without regard to whether the client has sufficient knowledge to request it.

I believe, it is unethical for a website developer to take advantage or clients who doesn’t know what to ask for or use fear to get a client to overpay for services.  Charging bogus fees, not including the basic necessities that all site should have, selling them things they don’t need, trying to discredit web designers…the list goes on.  If a web designer doesn’t know something, they should at least contract someone who does to give the client everything they need.

But unfortunately,  I can’t fix this situation.   The client, is not an expert and doesn’t even know the right questions to ask, much less have any way of evaluating the answers.   It’s  easy for the unethical developers to give impressive-sounding, BS answers.   But how does the client know if they are truthful?

The best I can do is keep talking about it and hope it helps at least a few people, and just pray the bad guys will get weeded out so clients can feel comfortable about trusting web designers again.

I am proud to say that:

We offer honest assessments of what you can actually expect from us.

We are not afraid to say ‘no.’ You hire us for our expertise. If you request something we think will hurt your reputation or ours, we’ll tell you so and we’ll tell you why.

We simply don’t cheat.

We understand being a good sport, synergy and limitations.   If we think we can’t do the job, we are happy to help you find someone who can and if you every choose to go with another designer, we will even help you find one.

We understand the power of Cause and Effect.

Is there such thing as a Social Media Expert

The other day I saw a group on twitter announcing their social media company, calling themselves experts and charging thousands of dollars to consult with your business.  What was surprising, was to see that each of them had twitter accounts that were less than 2 months old, one with 60 followers and 12 tweets.  They were linking to their personal Facebook pages, which no one who isn’t a friend can see, they did have business pages set up with no custom URL, and they had NO marketing or internet experience what so ever.

This is actually sadly common.  Anyone who has figured out how to set up a twitter and Facebook account and change their background suddenly feels they are qualified to offer professional services.    Worse yet, these people call themselves EXPERTS and the ones who actually have the experience to be an expert, don’t call themselves such.   I personally am not sure any of us can call ourselves experts in social media, its too new and changes too much for anyone to be an expert in it.

In fact, I still get uncomfortable when I am asked to speak, or consult for a group and they call me a Social Media Expert or Guru.  The best I can say about myself is that I jumped in early and participate regularly so its something I actively use.

I think Blogger Michelle Beckam says it best here:

“The irony of the situation is that no one can be an expert in a rapidly evolving industry. You may be on top of a particular social media platform or third party application only to have the latest update knock the socks off your world and you are back in novice mode.

In the grand scheme of the knowledge scale, there are many of us who do know an awful lot about social media. Perhaps we were early adopters and have become complete enthusiasts constantly working to stay on top of the information game. We just may seem like experts to those making their entree at a much later stage of the industry development, but we have to realize that there is no end point. We can’t get to point B and state that we have arrived and lay claim to an Expert status.

The road to point B is a never-ending one and the best we can do is to continue to learn, to test, to fail and to continue on down the path of digital connectivity, all while leaving that Expert hat in the corner.” (her full article is here)

However I saw an opposing view the other day that makes a good point.  It says that all fields are continually growing and its the experts that stay on top of it. He also pointed out that its not the term that is the issue its that people are misusing it.

“Sadly, the term “social media expert” has been overused by posers, unemployed hopefuls, and incompetent morons. With the over-usage of the word came a stigma attached with the usage of the term”

They also pointed out the definition of an expert as:

someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technique or skill whose faculty for judging or deciding rightly, justly, or wisely is accorded authority and status by their peers or the public in a specific well-distinguished domain. An expert, more generally, is a person with extensive knowledge in an area.

So my conclusion is that there are social media experts and they way to find them is to be wary of the people who claim to be one and stick with the ones who you can easily see have experience.  I think time will weed out the posers and the true Social Media enthusiasts will be able to claim back the title EXPERT.

Reposting Duplicate content is not Plagerism!

I recently saw someone criticizing a writer, claiming more than half her content was “plagiarized”.  Its funny because as a Journalism major, I know that term but working on the internet so much I haven’t heard it for some time.

The issue was that the person got defensive so decided to look for faults in the writers content with the genius idea of running it through one of these FREE content checkers that will find errors and tell you if any of it is considered duplicate or “plagiarized” content.

The problem is, with the rise of the internet and the dissemination of information, it is common for people to re-post content on the web and cite or attribute the source.  These content checkers don’t consider that therefore cannot be accurate when it comes to web content.

Re-posting can have its negatives, it can actually harm your SEO if not done right.  The main issue when it comes to re-posting your content is that while search engines will reward you for links, they will not look so kindly on what they deem to be “duplicate content.”

The rule of thumb generally is that is if one page is 80 percent the same as another (regardless of whether it is within the same domain or not) then you run the risk of duplicate content issues.   Google’s own definition of duplicate content is “substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.”

Re-posting can be quite successful if done right. You can gain a whole new audience by simply working with what others are already saying.  Just be sure to make it unique and of course always give credit where credit is due!

Your twitter follow ratio and why it is important

I was recently pondering Twitter Karma and the benefits and how much Twitter Follow/Follower ratio matters.   Twitter Karma is just one of many tools that allows you to see who is not following you back so you can unfollow them. So why would you want to unfollow people? This is a useful tool for many reasons but the main being twitter follow limits and ratios.   I explain this below as well as some guidelines to follow to help your ration and avoid limits.

Twitter Follow Limits

  • Direct Messages: 250 per day.
  • Updates: 1,000 per day. The daily update limit is further broken down into smaller limits for semi-hourly intervals. Retweets are counted as updates.
  • Changes to Account Email: 4 per hour.
  • Following (daily): Please note that this is a technical account limit only, and there are additional rules prohibiting aggressive following behavior. You can find detailed page describing following limits and prohibited behavior on the Follow Limits and Best Practices Page. The technical follow limit is 1,000 per day.
  • Following (account-based): Once an account is following 2,000 other users, additional follow attempts are limited by account-specific ratios. The Follow Limits and Best Practices Page has more information.

Keeping control of how many people you follow can help avoid these limits.  If you’ve reached your twitter account-based follow limit you’ll need to wait until you have more followers before you can follow additional users.

TIP: Day 1) Add 100 – 200 friends with using Twollo or Twellow (manual adds).

Day 3 or 4) Automate or manually Prune or Purge some of those friends who are not following you back using Tweetspinner or Twollo to keep your Twitter follow ratio at a safe percentage. Repeat this process over and over until you have followed 2000 and 2000 are following you then you would be safe to follow more people each day when your ratio is kept at or under 105%.

Twitter Friend-Follower Ratio Scale

This calculation is made on how many people you follow, how many people follow you, how often you are tweeting, etx.

Here’s the scale:

  • A ratio of less than 1.0 indicates that you are seeking knowledge (and Twitter Friends), but not getting much Twitter Love in return.
  • A ratio of around 1.0 means you are respected among your peers. Either that or you follow your Mom and she follows you.
  • A ratio of 2.0 or above shows that you are a popular person and people want to hear what you have to say. You might be a thought leader in your community.
  • A TFF Ratio 10 or higher indicates that you’re either a Rock Star in your field or you are an elitist and you cannot be bothered by Twitter’s mindless chatter. You like to hear yourself talk. Luckily others like to hear you talk, too. You may be an ass.

Each ratio tells a different story.   In addition to those of “celebrity” and “spammer”, there are gradations in between. 2:2 means “n00bie”. 2:0 means “stalker”. 10:10 means “square”. 10,000:10,000 means “politician”. 10,050:10,000 means “desperate celebrity”. 5,000:10,000 means “lazy online publicity team”. 96 (my own at the time of writing) means “totally awesome person”, though a lot of ranting and raving is required to maintain that image.

TIP TO GET YOUR RATIO: I sent @tffratio a quick message and waited for about 2 minutes and they came back with my results. (http://tffratio.com)

@bosshawaii has a TFF Ratio of 0.96 on 3/12/2011 at 10:12 AM – Solid Twitter Community Member!

Manage who follows you

Be pro active about who you follow AND who follows you back.  People do tend to browse through your follower list and having a list of unrepeatable followers can hurt your Tweputation.  Plus if you follow  a spammer, chances are other spammers will start following you and so on.

Ediquette

I try to make a point of following the people that follow me. I won’t do it blindly meaning if I see a new follower and they have 0 updates, no profile picture and follow 3,000 people, what’s the point. I know that most people want to increase there Twitter numbers but be selective.   I did claim twitter bankruptcy once and started over with a better strategy that has worked for me, I feel like I am getting much more out of twitter now.

Remember NO ONE is an expert, (despite the people out there claiming to be) this is all new for everyone and we are all learning as we go so don’t feel overwhelmed, be patient and you will soon see how fun and useful social media can be!