Thursday, March 5, 2009

Refreshing Content can be Painfully Critical

If there is one thing I have learnt in ten + years of crafting, running and promoting a website that actually deals with real people, it is that the smallest omission can cause the biggest problems. And also that content needs to be refreshed on a regular basis (like twice a year max) for it to be 'fresh' in the eyes of the search engines and other 'bots that lurk out there in the name of making it easier for folk to find what you have to offer.

And crafting a web page to be attractive to the casual consumer is way more than just bad grammar (although that counts poorly). It is the missed explanations, or badly worded explanations and a lack of detail that makes it possible for that pair of eyeballs to see at a glance what you have to offer and be comfortable enough with it to make that split-second decision to purchase, to get, to acquire and to otherwise own whatever it is you are offering.

It may be comparatively easy if you are selling clothing (depending on how 'deep' you want folk to go). It is quite difficult when you are, like me, selling a product that protects a valuable and sensitive piece of hi-tech electronics.

Case in Point: Our cases now hold a wee magnet and a couple of steel plates that we use to close the top. This exercise was something I undertook last year after the factory decided they could do the job. They did. But poorly. So it was up to me to come up with a solution. Which I did. It was elegant and it works just fine.

But one problem a lot of folk have with their delicate electronics is that they can "possibly" be effected by stray magnetics...just like in the early days when people freaked about the potential for damage because of the actual cell phone signals. We went down that path, exploring the possibility of minimising the effects of the cell phone signals...and even discovered a paint that used copper in solution to provide a buffer. Problem was, the scientists said that if a cellphone lost signal it automatically increased its reception 'volume' to compensate. So if we had used the paint, we would really have been putting people at risk. We didn't.

Anyway I digress. I have to assure people that our system of using a magnet to close the case is safe for their machines. I got a magnetometer at our local magnet supplier and ran it over the device. Inside the 'zone' the magnetism was way high. On the other side of the zone, outside the area being directly affected by the magnet, the reading was near enough to zip, Nada, nothing.

I even took a couple of images and have posted them in the FAQ section someplace that clearly shows the difference between unshielded and shielded. They are pretty good, if I say so myself.
But they are not enough if you do not tell folk they are there. Which I have done in several places.

Unfortunately those places are maybe not the places my punters casually look at, unless they go searching, which thankfully a lot of them do. But there's a lot that don't. And they are the problem children of this modern age.

Recently I have been looking at a redesign of product pages. An easy task you might think. Not so.

Unfortunately the catalog, web engine, up in the cloud system I use takes each product page when it is created and turns it into a frozen moment in time; there is no way to do any global editing.

So here I am...I have to change the static pages by hand to make any changes.

That means crafting the page as I want it to look, then looking at the html code and then cutting and pasting that code, when I am finally satisfied it is as correct as I can have it be, into each of the product pages I want to alter to make more attractive. And that is every one. More than 560 of the things.

A labour. For sure.

A labour of love. Now you have to be joking.
Don't you?


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