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  • ‘Best of the mobile web’ launches for SA users

    Durban-based mobile media company, Thumbtribe, has officially launched a directory of what it considers to be the top local mobile sites, called "Best of the Mobile Web". Thumbtribe says their new mobile directory allows South African users to find relevant, mobile-friendly content "quickly and easily". The directory can be found via your mobile phone at thumbtribe.mobi -- and via other mobile channels such as Samsung mobile, Nokia.mobi, Opera Mini and through links from various sites housed within the directory. Some of the sites listed in the directory include M-Net, TimesLive, Junkmail, Private Property, CAR, Getaway, Soccer Laduma, PlanetRugby, YOU, Cosmopolitan, heat,...

  • Opening that digital door: 4 critical checkpoints for companies

    Social media, digital engagement, online conversation - they're not buzzwords as much as a deemed necessity these days. But where I used to encourage companies to jump in and get their toes wet, my thoughts on the space have changed slightly over the years. Yes. Digital engagement can offer some incredible long-term rewards, but be prepared to do it properly. The first couple of years you'll be fighting a continual battle to stop your engagement efforts turning into a "Guest Book" of nightmare proportions. Give an audience a voice, and the first thing you'll hear are the complaints. But...

  • Launch: Office 2010 gets social

    At the launch of Office 2010 local Microsoft execs demonstrated how the company's flagship email application has become more social, and how Excel and Word have eventually made the move online via their new Google Docs-like Web Apps service. Office 2010 is the newest version of their software suite, containing familiar computer applications like Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook. It was launched at an event attended by hundreds of technology companies, users and badly-dressed nerds in Cape Town last night –- a day before the global launch of the product. Microsoft’s Albie Bester reckons Office 2010 will make a real difference...

  • Can SA expect a boom in ecommerce?

    The ecommerce landscape in South Africa has historically been hampered by slow and expensive Internet access, but things are beginning to change for the better. And if you are in any doubt as to whether speed is important for an ecommerce website, consider the following observations on the effects of latency on user behaviour: Amazon found every 100ms of latency cost them 1% in sales. Google found an extra 0.5 seconds in search page generation time dropped traffic by 20%. Anyone running a South African website would be very familiar with the highly predictable dip in their web stats over weekends, indicating that...

  • SA’s Parliamentarians instructed to use Facebook and Twitter

    Parliamentary House Chairperson Obed Bapela has instructed South African MPs to improve their computer literacy, including learning how to use and engage with social networks like Facebook and Twitter, reports Johannesburg radio station 702. “We cannot have MPs that cannot access the internet. We can’t have MPs that can’t engage on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter,” scolded Bapela. Parliamentarians were instructed to improve their skills and understanding of technology, after it emerged that around 85 percent of MPs were not computer literate. The radio station reported that the orders came during Tuesday’s parliamentary budget vote. Bapela said that too many laptops...

  • Web forms: Get them right and make more money

    A web form is like a solid wall between you and your customer. The customer wants to buy your product. You want to sell your product. But in between there’s the form… and everyone hates filling in forms. Making your forms easier-to-use can have a dramatic effect on your company’s bottom line. Jared Spool has written about a form redesign that increased a company’s annual revenue by $300-million. At Flow Interactive we have seen as much as a 125% increase in conversion rates with better form design. And Google thinks form design projects will have a much larger return-on-investment (ROI)...

  • Searching for wisdom in the Twitter cloud

    Twitter works for journalists as a fantastic alert system, and becomes an interesting news source itself when events develop so fast that the media are not able to cover it. But is there any real wisdom in the Twitter cloud? A few weeks ago, together with a colleague, I was 'ashed in' at Amsterdam airport; he could not fly to Johannesburg and my flight to Cyprus was cancelled, all due to the ash cloud from that infamous Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull. Twitter proved to be a great help though, and following the tweets gave us an idea who was flying...

  • Why WordPress isn’t for everyone

    There was a time not so long ago when I could dictate to businesses exactly what they needed, when they needed it, and at what cost, without even bothering to mention what else was available on the market. Not so anymore. Suddenly I find myself needing to defend my online solution with each new client that walks through the door -- and it's a good thing! Business people have become extremely web-savvy and are doing the right research before upgrading their sites or venturing online. They spurt out things like -- search engine optimisation, social-networking, video-sharing, wikis, blogs, mashups, ajax,...

  • The startup way: 10 web tools we use

    When building a startup venture, small teams come up against several tough challenges. One being, how to deliver a lot of work in a little time, and how is this achievable with almost no budget? Luckily, these pains have been recognised by many great services that help small businesses punch above their weight. In a startup environment, inefficiencies are punished more than anywhere else. After getting Personera off the ground, our team has learnt some lessons in selecting the right tool for the job at hand. Here are 10 online tools we use regularly and have come to love. Communication Gmail: Yes,...

  • Cell C signals major push into social media

    Cell C, a major mobile phone operator in South Africa, has indicated a change in strategy from being a "price leader" to communicating with its subscribers in "whole new ways", which means a major new focus on harnessing the interactivity and engagement that comes with social media. A new social media presence appears to be high on the agenda for the mobile operator because Cell C CEO Lars P. Reichelt devoted some time to talking about it at a recent press conference on the company's financial results. Reichelt himself will now be Tweeting about his day-to-day activities from the official Cell...

  • A business lesson: Go where the sardines are

    We are lucky in technology, because many other industries can only grow linearly and so that growth is a massive, long term effort that results in businesses like General Electric. The interesting thing is that even though we have the ability to scale with tech, a lot of people building businesses in tech try to build businesses in verticals that have no inherent potential for scale, or at least not enough to get to profitability before the runway cash is spent. They underestimate the sales effort required, overcook technical requirements, avoid the cold hard problem of "What's in it for...

  • The psychology of usability: A few tips

    In my view, usability is often the most overlooked part of the digital marketing mix. When J.B. Watson developed his behaviorist approach in the early part of the 20th century, he focused on the notion of what you see is what you get, and what you can't see and don't get, doesn't exist. I will not attempt to delve into the details of behaviorism and its shortcomings, but the reason I have included this, is for the purpose of focusing on the needed simplicity when it comes to web design and development. Even Watson recognised the need to include Ivan Pavlov's...

  • When will a search engine understand like a human?

    The blank search box is often a starting point for our journeys into the web. We search when we think it will be the quickest way to get what we want, whether it is on a search engine like Google, or using the search feature on a site such as Facebook. Web searches have been classified into three categories: Informational (the user is searching for some information, not necessarily from any specific website), Navigational (the user is trying to get to some specific website), and Transactional (the user is starting their journey towards completing some form of transaction online, which...

  • How Google search is evolving right now

    When Universal Search was introduced three years ago it was cool, and now it just got better. Google’s "new spring look", unveiled this month, promises to increase the power of search by organising the results using a left hand panel. In Google’s own words, it's “contextually relevant navigation”. This pulls together the genius behind Universal Search, Search Options and Google Squared. Nice, but it kind of looks like Microsoft's Bing. Some of us are already getting this blend of content from images, maps, books, video, and news into our web results, and the walls that traditionally separated our various search properties...

  • Not all traffic is created equal – a guide to ecommerce

    While recently preparing a report on the annual traffic to a large corporate website, I had many opportunities to pause and reflect on the nature of Internet traffic and the difficult job businesses have in procuring this traffic, holding on to it, channelling it in the right ways, and turning browsing into the business that will help the company increase profits and improve its bottom line. A successful online business transaction has so many variables -- some technological, but most human, that make the process of conversion less than an exact science. Web metrics have gone some way towards providing...