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Archive for September, 2011

facebook iconIf you’ve logged into Facebook recently you’ll have been greeted with a lot of change. In the last week they have rolled out the following:

  • Subscriptions;
  • Smart lists;
  • Top news; and
  • Ticker.

I previously wrote a post on Google+ and the great features it contained that I felt had been lacking in Facebook. Then last month I wrote a post on how Facebook had rolled out some changes in response to the competition from Google+ and Twitter.

But now, only a few weeks later, here are yet more changes. It would seem that the arrival of Google+ has kicked innovation into high-gear in Facebook with developers pushing out Facebook’s answer to some of the popular Google+ features, as well as some brand new features as well.

Nothing like a bit of competition to make people up their game!

Subscriptions

Facebook says the new subscribe button can be used to:

1.    Choose what you see from people in News Feed.
2.    Hear from people, even if you’re not friends.
3.    Let people hear from you, even if you’re not friends.

The first use can be particularly handy if some of your friends play Farmville a lot, as you can choose to just not see these updates any more.

The subscribe button also allows you to follow someone you are not friends with – similar to following someone on Twitter. The user e.g. President Obama, has to enable subscriptions on his account, but once this has been done anyone can subscribe to follow Obama’s news feed and anything that he posts publicly will show in subscribers’ news feeds.

This is somewhat similar to liking a Facebook Page, however Pages are supposed to be for businesses, brands or products only (although there’s a lot of misuse), so the subscribe button now allows you to follow people as well.

Friend Lists and Smart Lists

Facebook has also rolled out improved lists.

There are smart lists which you probably saw immediately when you logged in. These are created automatically based on something you have in common with a group of friends e.g. the city you live in or the university you went to.

You will also have close friends and acquaintances lists which separates your best friends from those you’re not as close to, allowing you to catch up with your closest friends quickly through one list. The lists are empty so you need to populate them yourself and from now on if you friend someone you will have to decide whether they are a close friend or an acquaintance straight away – however people will not know which list you have placed them in.

Any lists you have created yourself will now also be easier to access, as you can just add them to your favourites and they will show up in the left sidebar.

The lists are all completely optional, but as someone who was using the previous, clunkier version of lists, I find the new set up much nicer and easier to use.

Top News

Just announced today the news feed will now show you top news based on what has happened since you last logged into Facebook. So if it’s been a week you will see a summary of the top stories first…

but if its only been a few hours you’ll see the most recent news…

All top stories now feature a blue corner on them.

Real-Time Friend Activity

Also announced today is the ticker which shows up in the top right corner of the screen and shows your friends’ activity in real time, including their comments on other people’s status messages. To see more details simply hover over the update.

Change Is Good

There has been a lot of grumbling about all these recent changes, but I think people forget that Facebook is a free service, and no one is forcing them to use it.  Facebook is changing in response to its competition, and also in response to requests from users, all in an effort to give us a better experience…sure sometimes they get it wrong, but at least they’re trying to evolve and improve, and not just standing still!

Watch Facebook’s Video On The Changes

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The below post was originally published on Bloggertone.

Too often businesses decide that they want a new website for no particular reason. Often this decision is made because the owners of the business themselves feel the current design is tired and they want something ‘new and fresh’. This is where the trouble begins.

A website revamp should be approached with care and attention, and there should be definite reasons for heading down this, usually very expensive, path.

Who Is The New Website For?

Your website is for your potential and current customers – not for you. You spend far more time on the website than anyone else does, and just because you are tired of the current ‘look’ doesn’t mean anyone else is.

The desire for new aesthetics is not a good reason to throw away thousands of euro on an unnecessary redesign.

Know Your Reasons

Your website’s purpose is to help others find the services / products you provide, and to help you convert them from browsing visitors, to interested prospects, and ultimately, to new clients.

If you want a new website because you want to attract more leads, and you want to convert more leads into customers – and your current website doesn’t allow you to do this – well then you should look at getting a new website.

Website redesign is sometimes necessary, but it is important to have good reasons for making that decision.

Know Your Objectives

Have a clear plan for what you hope to achieve from a website redesign.

Research has shown that 37% of marketers did not measure any metrics for their last website redesign and 1/3 of marketers were unhappy with their last website redesign. Seems to me that those statistics are related.

If you don’t know what you want to achieve, how will you know if you have achieved it? Those with a clear plan and actionable list will know whether they have achieved their goal, and are therefore more likely to be happy with the finished result.

Avoid Pitfalls

Make sure that the company you employ to execute your redesign knows what your objectives are, and that they are capable of meeting them. A good website designer will know that what your customer wants is a clean, simple, easy to navigate website (with no flash!).

Ensure as well that they know how to retain the vale of your existing website during the change over e.g. 301 redirects to avoid losing SEO rankings and inbound links.

Take Control

It’s your business and you make decisions every day, based on the circumstances, to make it the best business possible. Your website should be run the same way.

You should be able to make decisions every day, adding and editing your website content to suit the circumstances. You should be able to add a new blog post, or a new landing page for a special offer you’re running, or even add a page about a brand new product or service. You should not have to run back to your website designers every time you want to add in a comma, never mind new content.

Make sure that your new website puts the reins in your hands. Ensure that you have a good content management system that is easy to use; this will allow you to make changes so that your website is a living, breathing part of your business which will grow organically over time.

So, rethink . . . why do you ‘need’ that redesign?

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