3am Phone conference

It’s 4am and I’ve just finished a seminar in the US. The subject is What’s New in Marketing. Interestingly I attended via international phone conference while following the Powerpoint presentation on the web.

I was dialled into the conference via a phone card for the first half. At 2cents per minute it’s a hard to beat the price. It took a couple of attempts to connect to the US phone number but it didn’t cost me anything until I did actually connect. I think these cheap phone cards use Voice Over IP technology to keep the price down so the quality is not exceptional, but usable.

About halfway through I got the audio feed booming through my laptop so I hung up the phone. Cool technology. I can’t ask questions via the weblink – that’s only available while I am on the phone.

Webinars are a cheap way to attend one hour seminars on a range of topics. Look out for them. Yes some are at unkind hours, but this mornings one was a test for a really important one I’m attending tomorrow at 6pm Sydney time. I wanted to make sure the technology was working at my end.

Check your website

As this is my personal blog I don’t regularly do health checks on it. A health check includes clicking every link and interactive step on the process. If you run a business with an online presence this is an essential regular step. Don’t wait for the log entries to alert you, and most users wont bother.

Two examples today.
A friend publishes a business magazine. I visited its website and decided to use the contact us page to give them some feedback (I encouraged them to add Firefox to their up-to-date browser check). Of course the contact us script crashed. It’s one of many things designers don’t test remotely.

Check all links localy and remotely in as many different browsers as possible.

Second example:
Now that I am no longer conveniently located next door, my uncle’s book business decided to upgrade and outsource their web site. I was their technical resource and my price was perfect (free). Cheap was the order of the day. Funny how they suddenly have a budget to do what they claimed wasn’t important (a lesson for another day). So they’re going with an e-commerce hosted solution and a mid four figure budget.

They hosted their old site on a machine sitting in their offices. That’s not too bad as they merely wanted a web presence – static catalogue without online ordering.

But they currently get between 300 and 500 search engine keyword hits per month on their products. Not bad traffic for people who aren’t trying.

What did their new web designers do? They built a beautiful ecommerce enabled website for them and totally changed their structure, without maintaining or redirecting their old static files. This will result in valuable free search engine traffic (a.k.a. pure gold) getting dreaded HTTP 404 “file not found” errors. So they’ve thrown away google pagerank and qualified traffic.

I sent their designers a quick note. I wonder if they’ll fix it?