Strategic Planning your Website Design
Posted by: JP
Just like when you are setting up a new business, it is not enough to simply have a great idea, product or service and then hope that success will find its way to you.
Successful websites are built around a vision or purpose. It’s what drives attention to your website as being your mission to achieve that purpose. You must first draw people to your site, then you must keep them interested. Just like the old adage about how to eat an elephant – one bite at a time.
Your mission is to draw attention, then to have this attention stay interested in your website. They must be lead easily to what they are looking for and they must be kept interested such that they are willing to spend time and hopefully money while at your website. Whether that be a donation if you are a charity or to buy a product or subscription. When designing your website you must break the ideas down into small sections and work at each section bit by bit. Ensure that are covering all your content. This process is call strategic planning.
Some people are put off by all this planning. They think it is too long winded. In order to make this easier and to make your investment in your website worthwhile. WebNow can create a process for you as the customer to follow through and it makes this strategic planning as easy as eating pizza.
All successful companies know that strategic planning is critical to their competitive advantage and long-term success. The very best know that visuals are absolutely essential for success today in the Social Media world.
There are a few questions you need answered before you take that step and have a website created for your organisation.
Start by thinking big – the importance of grasping your companys goal for having a website cannot be overstated. Start with the vision of your enterprise. This is a future thinking concept of how you want the world to look at your company. It maybe emotive and should be long term. Steve Jobs once laid out his vision of “an Apple on every desk”. Does a vision have to be achievable? Not at all. It’s an ideal, but it should be one that motivates your viewers to stay interested in your website.
What is your company mission? With this vision you have for your company a mission should be established. The mission is the company’s reason for being. It connects where the company is today with a vision for the future. The best mission statement is simple direct and clear.
Then draw out your goals for what you want to achieve out of this website. For example, to increase your followers. Follow this with some drawings,visual diagrams of what you want to achieve from this website, including content and what main topics you would like included.
From these goals you can grow your website with the material you want included and everything will start to flow together nicely.
Bring this along to Web designer and they will discuss everything through and start creating your website. Maybe you would like to create your own website by using a framework such as WordPress. With your strategic plan drawn out you will find it very easy to follow through.
An Apology from our CEO
Posted by: JP
Yesterday WebNow experienced a significant outage which delayed the delivery of email to most of our clients. Some shared hosting clients also experienced problems in accessing their web sites.
This incident was one of the worst we have experienced and I want to apologise and provide you with formal feedback on the reasons for the outage and our plans to ensure that a similar incident does not occur in the future.
WebNow has two Data Centre facilities – one in Cape Town and one in Chicago. While our own engineers support and maintain our infrastructure in Cape Town these functions are managed on our behalf by a team on the ground in Chicago. Generally most incidents can be resolved remotely from Cape Town but on the rare occasion this requires hands on intervention – and it is here where we were really let down. More on that later.
The reason for the outage was initially reported as a DNS failure but was later traced to a failed front-end switch/firewall appliance. We were able to re-route some traffic around the failed hardware and successfully restored services to many clients from around 10h00 SA time. Unfortunately many of you experienced extended delays.
Due to the time difference this diagnosis was only confirmed by the US team at around 09h00 Central Standard Time which was 16h00 in SA. The solution was to procure and replace physical hardware which commenced at around 17h30 our time. Additional delays in restoring services was caused by problems experienced by the on site team in completing the import and configuration of firewall rules.
Full services to all clients was restored at around 19h30 but delays in processing a backlog of queued emails continued for a few more hours.
The WebNow team did everything they could have done to troubleshoot and mitigate the impact of the outage but we were ultimately let down by geography, time zone differences and inaccurate information being fed to us by the US based engineers.
In order to offer clients a consistent service experience and to ensure that our engineers can adequately respond to and resolve problems within a short space of time we cannot be constrained by time zone differences and erroneous feedback from remote teams. It is therefore clear that we need to make changes here. As a matter of fact we have over the past few months started migrating our remaining US based infrastructure to Cape Town and London and as a result of the incident yesterday I have instructed our engineers to accelerate this process.
We are extremely conscious that you rely on us to provide you with great customer service, reliability and fantastic products and I know that we have let you down.
I would like to take this opportunity to say how sorry we are and to assure you that we are working hard to ensure this incident is never repeated.
What is Elastic Cloud Computing?
Posted by: JP
What is the new buzz word in the tech world today? ”Cloud computing”, which is anything that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet.
A cloud service has three distinct characteristics that differentiate it from traditional hosting. It is sold on demand, typically by the minute or the hour; it is elastic, a user can have as much or as little of a service as they want at any given time; and the service is fully managed by the provider (the consumer needs nothing but a personal computer and Internet access). WebNow has been given the opportunity to be the first South African hosting company to offer Elastic Compute Cloud like Amazon Web Services offers.
Elastic Compute Cloud allows all users to rent virtual computers from WebNow, on which to run their own applications. The system allows a scalable deployment of applications by providing a Web service through which a user can boot a WebNow image to create a virtual machine. WebNow and Amazon refer to this as an ‘instance’, containing any software desired. The user can create, launch and terminate server instances as needed and pay for these services by the hour – hence the term ‘elastic’.
With the financial pressures that many businesses face today we need to find more affordable solutions. Rather than paying for a certain amount of gigabyte each month, of which you won’t use all, rather pay for exactly what you need. Cloud computing allows a business to pay for only as much capacity as is needed, and bring more online as soon as it is required. Because this pay-for-what-you-use model resembles the way electricity, fuel and water are consumed, it’s sometimes referred to as utility computing.
WebNow is about to launch a true Elastic Cloud Computing service that is hosted locally and attractively priced.
Ring or email us now and find out how to go Elastic in the Tech world!
0860 932 669
Growth of Internet in South Africa
Posted by: JP
The internet is showing rapid growth in South Africa and across many parts of Africa such as Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria.
Online spending is a big one with growth in online sales now 4 times greater than traditional retail sales.
This infographic (after the jump) explains these numbers further.
How important is it to have an online presence for all Small and Medium Enterprises?
Posted by: JP
Recently Arthur Goldstuck, an analyst spoke about the relevance of SMEs having an online presence.
Goldstruck discussed certain key points, found in the 2012 edition of the annual SME survey:
- One out of every five small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa would not be able to survive if they did not have a website.
- 65% of formal South African SMEs reporting that they have an online presence.
- From those included in the survey, a full 20% of those surveyed, said that their businesses would not have been possible without a website;
- The interim results of the 2012 SME Survey have already indicated that there is a strong link between being online and being competitive, profitable and sustainable. Some 79% of SMEs with a website reported profitability, whereas only 59% of SMEs without a website reported the same;
- SMEs in business for 10 years or longer are far more likely (72%) to have websites than relatively new businesses, indicating that the survey shows that of those operating for less than three years, just 46% are online.
- Many are still put off by the cost and complexity of building and operating a website;
- Interim results of this survey have also shown that a company website, as well as the use of cloud computing, is closely correlated with being highly competitive and strongly profitable.
From these surveys and discussions it shows having an online presence has never been more vital to the long term sustainability of a business, as the general public’s access to the Internet continues to accelerate.
Goldstuck concluded his discussion: “Since it is the older businesses that tend to have the websites, it seems obvious that for a new SME to obtain the same advantages, it is crucial for it to build an online presence as quickly as possible.”
He went on to say “After all, there is little doubt that an effective online presence is the key to a successful business. Such success will, in turn, have a positive impact on the SA economy as a whole.”
There are many opportunities open to you, speak to WebNow sales consultants and let them show you how to start off for a very small charge and grow big! Once you have established yourself then your path is laid and you can decide where to go from there! Healthy profits are very overpowering!
Don’t think twice! Take the plunge and register your domain! Have a one page website to show your presence!
REF: Gauteng Business News 31st Jan 2012
Mystery Prize Winner Announcement
Posted by: Jaco
Today we are happy to announce our first mystery spot prize winner.
Jason Sankar has shown to be the most dedicated person participating since the beginning.
Congratulations Jason you have won a R400 Kalahari.net Voucher. We will be in contact very
shortly to make arrangements for the prize handover.
And Jason, you must continue playing, as you still stand a chance to win the big prize at the end!
To all other contestants – Keep participating, the next mystery prize could be yours. Watch this space!
Rugby World Cup and the power of Social Media
Posted by: Jaco
So, the time has come once again to wear your sports jerseys. Memories of the Soccer 2010 is rushing back and everyone is getting behind our National Team. The “gees” is definitely back in full force.
During the duration of the RWC, WebNow will be running a competition on Facebook. We will ask 2 questions every day, about New-Zealand and off course Rugby.
You can enter as many times as you like, and there are no restrictions on the amount of people answering a question. The point being that each answer will put in you into the draw for the Grand prize.
Another bonus will be that we will hand out random spot prizes on a regular basis. So if you are lucky you can win a few things with us.
So enter the competition and test your knowledge.
Here is a fantastic article I found on Reuters, on how to harness the power of Social Media:
By Gail Goodman at Entrepreneur.com
Today’s socially-engaged customers like to talk. And whether they’re communicating via email, phone, in person, on social media or via some other channel, they expect to be heard.
The way customers used Facebook and Twitter to shout down the Gap’s new logo last year is just one dramatic example of the impact today’s empowered social consumers can have on a business.
For entrepreneurs, more vocal consumers present a challenge and an opportunity. It means you know exactly what customers are saying about you — both positive and negative comments. Customer comments can give you insight into what’s working and what’s not working with your product or service. As the owner, you should participate in the conversation and use customer feedback to make smart business decisions.
Here are three ways to show customers you’re listening to their feedback:
o Related: Three Ways to Spark Engaging Social Conversations
Know Where to Look
If people have complaints about your products or services, you want to know about those problems and fix them as soon as possible before other disgruntled customers chime in. If they’re saying positive things, you want to know that, too, to determine where you’re succeeding and figure out how to build on your strengths.
Get a read on what’s already being written and said about your business by:
o Searching for your business name and the word “reviews” on Google, Bing, Yahoo! and other search engine sites.
o Checking review sites such as Yelp, Epinions, Google Places, and Angie’s List.
o Searching Twitter for mentions of your business.
Get Your Customers Talking
An active listener solicits feedback and encourages two-way conversation with customers. You want to monitor conversation and participate in as well as inspire discussion. Some great ways to do that are:
o Crowdsource on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to learn more about what topics are hot in your industry.
o Use Twitter hashtags to get conversations going and track them.
o Use your email newsletter, social media, blogs and other content as jumping-off platforms to stir up conversations.
o Survey and poll customers about what issues are most important to them. Ask them in your store, on the phone or wherever you meet them. Involve vendors and partners in the conversation, too.
o Pick up the phone at the end of a major project or sale, while the experience is still fresh. Ask customers where you could have done better.
o Related: Making Email Newsletters More Social
Respond to Customer Feedback
Your customers have spoken. You’ve listened. Now what you do with the information?
o Report back on how customers’ input is informing your business decisions — whether you’re making adjustments in your business, offering new products or services, varying price points and/or how you package services, changing your customer service operations, etc.
o Ask the hard questions. Prod customers to give you their honest opinions, even if you might not always like what they have to say. Customers who keep negative opinions to themselves are more apt to choose your competitor next time around. Give yourself the chance to build on your successes and make improvements where you’ve fallen short.
o Highlight your praise. Satisfied customers are your best salespeople. Create share-worthy content featuring their faces, voices and words. Feature your rave reviews as print or video testimonials, success stories or case studies. Share customer stories in your email newsletter, on your blog and across social media.
o Related: Let Testimonials Do the Talking for You
Don’t assume you know how your customers feel about your business. You can’t really know for sure until you ask, listen and get a dialogue going.
Owners who don’t listen to their customers are missing out on a priceless opportunity to see their business through their customers’ eyes — and to use that intelligence to improve the customer experience. A reservoir of raw, unfiltered business intelligence is yours for the asking, if you’re willing to listen.
Why it is important to register your own domain name?
Posted by: Jaco
Have you ever received a business email with a @telkomsa or @absamail email address?
Do you agree that it does not look professional? There is a massive misconception that a domain registration is expensive. I can categorically falsify that fact immediately. A .co.za domain will cost R69 per year. So how can you afford not to have your own domain name?
8 Reasons why you must have your company’s domain name registered:
|1.||If you are not on the internet, then you are nowhere.|
|2.||Email addresses, you can have your email address as follows: email@example.com instead of the mundane and rather unprofessional @hotmail, etc….|
|3.||Credibility, surely you would consider a company credible if the have their own website and domain name?|
|4.||Protecting your identity, lets say that in 2 years time, you land a big deal and want to go national or even international, and you realise that someone poached your company’s domain name? ACT now!|
|5.||Freedom – registering a domain name, means that you have the freedom to host with any provider of your choice.|
|6.||More Prestige – it looks so great on a business card!|
|7.||More control – no more advertising on free websites or using free email accounts. You are in complete charge of your name.|
|8.||Its a sell-able feature. Promote your company and only your company!|
So I will leave you with a final thought, are you serious about your business? Then register your domain name TODAY.
I compiled this list from detailed research and a variety of other blogs.
Using Skype for Business
Posted by: webnow
Most of you reading this have probably made use of Skype to chat with friends and family. Some of us have become reliant on Skype as an easy and cost effective tool to keep in touch with loved ones. Skype really was a pioneer in bringing Voice over IP (VOIP) services to the masses and over the years the quality of service, reliability and range of features has constantly been improved. Skype can now be used to make calls from your computer to a landline or mobile number, you can make pretty good quality video calls and its even found its way onto a range of mobile devices such as iPhone and Android.
But what about using Skype as a serious business tool?
When Skype started out they made the (some may argue) contentious decision not to use the open SIP protocol but rather their own home brewed but closed environment. This meant that it was virtually impossible to interconnect with Skype. So, if you were an existing VOIP user or had your own PBX you could not really interact with the growing number of Skype users out there. Some third party developers came up with their own solutions to bridge Skype to SIP and so on but these really were inefficient and cumbersome solutions with terrible quality of service.
Then in 2009, Skype had a change of heart and started to consider their position in the market. Google Voice, Apple Facetime and others similar services were all gaining traction had many analysts had even predicted that Skype’s user base had reached a plateau. Skype needed to grow up and offer a VOIP solution that would be able to connect those millions of individual users to businesses. Enter Skype for Business.
Skype now has a range of offerings aimed at the home office, small, medium or enterprise sized business. They have also created a special Skype client for business users and rolled out enhanced business services such as group video calling which allows multiple users to video conference together over the Skype platform. Skype Manager provided business owners with an interface to manage all of their employees Skype accounts, allocate credits and perform a range of other services. The real killer app for me is called Skype Connect.
Skype Connect is what businesses have been waiting for for a very long time. It opens up Skype to other traditional SIP based VOIP services and enables interconnectivity between these platforms. Businesses that have already invested in VOIP technology and have their own PBX (whether on site or in the cloud) can now make and receive calls to any individual Skype user.
Skype Connect is not free but it’s not that expensive either. You pay a flat monthly fee for a channel and any outgoing calls which are terminated to normal landlines or mobile phones. Incoming calls from Skype users are free! Businesses that make use of Skype Connect can now publish their Skype handle, print it on business cards or brochures and best of all place a “Call us on Skype” button on their website. Their customers simply need to click the button and a call will be made direct to their office PBX – apart from bandwidth costs the call is totally free to business owners and customers.
WebNow was looking at ways to improve our interactions with our customers and this service really jumped out for us. It took no more than an hour or so to get it all configured and integrated to our Asterisk servers and now we too have a “Call us via Skype” button displayed prominently on our website.
What about call quality – so far flawless.
If you need advise or assistance in getting this setup for your own business then drop us an email.
New Consumer Protection Act – How it could affect you?
Posted by: webnow
Love it or hate it, the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) is here next month. The far-reaching legislation could pose serious problems for businesses who do not pay attention to the health of their databases, structure of their contracts or competition mechanisms. WebNow CEO Jean-Pierre Dumont offers his interpretation of the Act, which comes into force on 1 April 2011.
Dumont explains: “The CPA will directly impact almost every business in South Africa. In particular, businesses who are using bulk messaging or direct communications in their marketing programmes will be wise to take careful note of the Act’s provisions.”
In general, the Act has been designed to promote fair trade and protect consumers, especially the poor and the vulnerable. Some of the core focus areas are honesty, consumer consent, prevention of improper business practices, protection of personal information and protection of the consumer’s right to privacy and choice.
The Act covers many aspects, from the treatment of software packaging — consumers must be able to inspect goods before buying, including shrink-wrapped products such as software packages — to the way that contracts and policies are written — contract documents must be written in plain language so they are easy to read and understand, and laid out so that they are easy to navigate.
The Act is also very clear about how businesses may use direct marketing. Direct marketing encompasses any kind of direct communication, whether online using emails, or offline through leaflet drops, telephone calls, brochures, bulk SMS and MMS messaging, and so on. The Act also carries conditions relating to promotions and competitions.
When communicating with a contact database, businesses must make sure that everyone on that list has opted-in to receiving that company’s communication. This means that they must have given explicit permission that the business can contact them.
When new contacts are added, businesses must be able to demonstrate when and where the consumer opted in to the list. When consumers do opt-in to a database, a business may only communicate with them about the subject that the individual originally opted-in for. In other words, if a customer opts-in to a travel database, the business may not contact them about a book sale.
Any marketing communications must include clear instructions for how consumers can opt-out. For electronic communications, this opt-out should ideally be by means of one click. In addition, there is a five-day cooling off period for consumers who bought goods advertised in a direct marketing communication.
There are some circumstances in which consumers do not need to opt-in to receiving a company’s information. These are statutory communications, for example, tax documents, or documents that will legitimately protect the individual or a business, such as travel health warnings. However, the issuing company will still need to show where they found the consumer’s information and exactly when the customer opted-in to that particular database.
Note that this requirement applies to a company’s existing data as well as any future data that business collects. Companies must also be able to show how they are protecting their customers’ information from being stolen or leaked out of the business systems.
If a company is running a competition, it will be required to prepare competition rules before the competition launches.
Dumont concludes: “Aside from the legal requirements, it makes good business sense to always communicate with people who want to hear from them. Aside from maintaining brand goodwill, it will save time and resources and businesses can show their customers that they really do care about who they talk to and what they say.”
If a business does not put these measures in place, it may be exposed to the possibility of being reported to various consumer, trade and legal councils, as well as receiving severe financial penalties.
Please note that this is not formal legal advice. If there is any uncertainty, businesses should consult a suitably qualified legal advisor.