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Interested in marketing, writing, and business?

I post ideas from crazy to great, share the best stories that I find on the net, and work hard to provide great content to my readers. From the practical business uses of social media to information on direct mail, I’ve probably written a post on it.

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Squarespace

Posted by on Dec 9, 2015 in Ryan's Thoughts | 0 comments

squarespace-logo-horizontal-white

 

I acutely remember the first time I heard of Squarespace. I was driving home from work listening to a podcast, and the host did a live read extolling the virtues of the service. I immediately dismissed it as a modern version of Geocities. As the weeks passed, I kept hearing more and more about it. I saw testimonials from people that I thought were pretty smart. More podcasts joined in. The service must be doing well, I thought, if they can keep advertising this much. This was probably… two years ago? And the ads didn’t go away, I kept hearing about them more and more often.

Earlier this summer I had a meeting to begin planning a new website, with a very smart professional, and they recommended building a new site on… Squarespace. I was flabbergasted. I finally signed up just to poke around, to see what was possible, and I was impressed. I wasn’t sold, but I was impressed. After playing around for a little bit however, I abandoned the demo site I had been building, and kept looking at other possibilities. ModX, WordPress, etc.

I have a soft spot for WordPress. I have 5 or 6 sites running it right now (including this one, but don’t hold that against me) and I’ve always loved the ease with which it works and how easy it was to expand. I was pretty sure that my next site would be based on WordPress.

And then – I needed a new site immediately. Like overnight immediately. Despite years of experience working with WordPress – I went back to the Squarespace account I had abandoned. I logged in, grabbed a piece of paper and began drawing traffic flow diagrams, and within 48 hours (and about 30 hours of work) I had a good-looking, workable site that was live. It’s not completely done yet, and I haven’t explored everything (the blogging service will be my next adventure), but it was a century ahead of what I had before.

 

Here’s what I love:

  • The interface is dead simple. It’s easy to know where to go to make the changes that you want to make.
  • It’s beautiful. Even the supplied templates look great, which is not always the case with this type of service. Everything is easy to modify if you want more.
  • Laying out a page is simple. By mixing images, text blocks, and spacer blocks, you can create pretty much any page you like.
  • Inserting custom code is easy – just place a code block and paste.
  • Optimized for mobile. Including all of Google’s latest mobile compatibility rules.
  • 301 Redirects – I use these as a marketing tool all the time, (with custom URLs) and they are simple to use and maintain.
  • No need to think about it – they do all the updates, provide 24/7 tech support, and manage backups. I sleep well at night.

 

Here’s what I don’t love:

  • The built-in options are a little limiting. No tables, the link structure is limiting, and file storage is vague (you can upload any type of file, but you can’t – at least as far as I can see thus far – create specific directories for files to keep things organized)
  • There is no file tree to speak of. You can go two pages deep, and that’s it (again, as far as I can tell). That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does force you to think about your site structure. And you will be rewarded for keeping simple.
  • No access to the HTACCESS file. Of course, the only thing I ever really did with this was redirects, so…

 

Recently, I’ve begun experimenting with a new niche review site, and I went back to WordPress to build it on. It’s not that I necessarily prefer WordPress to Squarespace – it’s mostly that I already pay for a server that I can host multiple WordPress sites on, so there’s no additional cost to me. In fact, I think I prefer Squarespace. They take care of everything. With WordPress, I’m always having to apply updates, disable plug-ins to figure out where the errors are, and then fix the problems. It’s very tiring, and I’m not a coder. I’d much rather sort through Google Analytics data than scan lines of code, and Squarespace is perfect for that.

So well done, Squarespace. You are not the Geocities of the 21st century, you are in fact, a full-featured, strong, and easy to use web development platform. Keep up the good work.

 

ABT = Always Be Testing

Posted by on Sep 30, 2015 in Ryan's Thoughts | 0 comments

Earlier this year at the grocery store I bought two separate containers of French’s Mustard, just because of the packaging.

French’s Mustard is the #1 selling brand of mustard in the US, in fact, it’s sales are DOUBLE that of it’s nearest mustard competitor (which happens to be Grey Poupon). Still, just because you’re number 1, it doesn’t mean you can stop testing and improving yourself.

Mustard AB testing

These two containers have exactly the same mustard inside of them, but French’s is A/B testing. Note the strong “0 calories” messaging on the bottle on the right – mustard has zero calories because it’s just mustard seed and vinegar – and the ‘no gluten’ labeling on the left.

I love seeing stuff like this! Always strive to be better!

 

Social Media Is All Grown Up…

Posted by on Mar 25, 2015 in Ryan's Thoughts | 0 comments

… Time To Put It To Work For You.

I haven’t been blogging for a while, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been busy. Mostly, I’ve been busy practicing my craft, but I’ve also been spending some time working on ways to share new information with you. I’m proud to announce that one way – maybe the best way – for you to learn what I think is to attend the Saskatchewan Communications Forum in Regina from April 20th to 21st, 2015.

This conference is full of great local speakers and MARCOM talent. The second day of the conference, April 21st, is dedicated to workshops, and I happen to be hosting one! Here’s the description:

Social Media Has Grown Up; Time To Put It To Work For You

Social Media was once the next big thing, but it’s not 2007 anymore. Today, social is just one part of your marketing mix and simply being present is not enough.  It’s time to dig deep and take advantage of all that it can offer.

In this workshop you will be learn about social media marketing trends, develop an outline of your ideal customer, create a social strategy, and build a targeted marketing campaign on Facebook.

What are we going to talk about?

Well, like it says, we’re going to delve a little bit into some marketing trends, and see if we can decipher which trends you should fallow, and which ones you shouldn’t (I’m looking at you Ello). We’ll also talk about social strategy (why are you there?) and then we’ll do some digging into just who your customer is. I’ll share some tools, and then we’ll dig deep into one of my favorite platforms – Facebook – and plan a targeted campaign just for you. And, we’ll talk about just how targeted you should get.

Sound good? I hope so!

Here’s how you can take part. Point your browser to this link here. Click on the ‘Register Now’ button, fill in your details, and viola! You can come check it out!

Remember, it’s April 20th and 21st, 2015 at the Delta Hotel. I hope to see you there!