By David F. Carr
November 13, 2009 03:00 PM (From the November 9, 2009 issue)
By David F. Carr
November 13, 2009 03:00 PM (From the November 9, 2009 issue)
My latest Feature for CIO Magazine:
5 Things You Need to Know about Software-as-a-Service Contracts
How CIOs can guarantee secure SaaS contracts.
Please join me for an online show-and-tell on my website development and Internet consulting services (outlined here). This presentation will draw on my experience as an industry observer (at WebWeek, Internet World and Baseline Magazines) and as a web consultant.
The GoToMeeting service will allow me to give you a presentation over the Internet, from my computer to your computer. I can show slides and give guided tours of websites while we talk.
1. Please join my meeting, Wednesday, October 7 at 1:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time.
2. Conference Call options:
Access Code: 431-963-875
Audio PIN: Shown after joining the meeting
Meeting ID: 431-963-875
The GoToMeeting service will accommodate up to 15 guests. Please write me (email@example.com) if you plan to attend. If I get a big response to this invitation, I will be happy to schedule another session. I am also happy to give the presentation in person to those of you in South Florida.
My latest piece for Baseline Magazine
By David F. Carr
MTV Networks moves to Solr-powered search technology for the websites behind many of its popular shows.
The open source Solr search engine is emerging as the standard for new and revamped websites launched by MTV Networks and is already powering the search on key properties such as TheDailyShow.com, ColbertNation.com, and SouthParkStudios.com.
This is the latest installment in my “5 Things You Need to Know” series for CIO Magazine. For 5 Things You Need to Know About Smartphone Security, I talked with experts about the ways these devices are becoming as powerful as the laptop computers of a few years ago, with the same or worse risks for loss of these devices and the corporate data they now often store.
New on the CIO Insight website:
Story about how Southwest Airlines is using automated phone calls to alert travelers to flight cancellations and other disruptions. Funny, I hate marketing and political robo-calls, but I think I’d be pretty happy it they used the technology to let me know about a problem before I got to the airport, told me my options, and let me connect with a customer service rep to rebook, if necessary.
So it’s all about context and courtesy.
The vendor involved, Varolii, has a bunch of airline clients. Another rich vein for them has been doing collection calls, particularly for banks, which some of the banks say is actually more comfortable for some customers who get embarrassed talking with a human agent and may respond better to an automated prompt to make that mortgage payment, or partial payment.
Varolii supports a number of other interaction modes, such as email and (through a partner) bulk email, with the idea that they can reach you one way if not another.So far, Southwest is just doing voice calls, partly because they need to rework their customer database to do a better job of distinguishing between cell phones and landlines before they can do mobile phone messaging effectively.
The website of PYS Associates, LLC, is a good example of building a website around existing graphics. In this case, our client is a specialist in consulting with firms doing business in China and other Asian countries. He already had a nice logo and a watermark graphic that he used for print materials. We adapted them for use on the web and built the rest of the design (particularly in terms of color choices) around those elements. So we’re helping his address his needs for web-based promotion, while helping keep his branding consistent across online and offline media.
See it at http://www.pysassociates.com/
This is a how-to post for users of my campaign website customization of WordPress.
On the administration menu, I’ve added “Add/Edit Event” as a choice under “Posts.” Look on the left hand side of the screen, and you will see “Posts” at the top. You may need to click on the down arrow next to “Posts” so that its sub-menus are displayed. A regular “Post” is a blog entry, as opposed to a “Page” (a standing page like the home page or candidate bio). Like a blog entry, an event is time-sensitive but events “expire” off the website after the event date is past.
Click on “Add/Edit Event” to display the event editor.
The event editor will initially display a blank form, which you can use to enter a new event. Events that have been previously recorded in the system are listed at the bottom of the editor page. Click on any of these events to load it into the editor.
To enter an event, set the date and time, and enter a title (“Campaign Kick-Off’) and description (where it will be, why people should attend).
If you are going to collect RSVPs for this event, include one or more valid email addresses in the box that says “Email address for notifications” (leave this blank for no RSVPs).
The next two fields are also related to taking RSVPs. You have the option to add special instructions for the RSVP form (for example, “This will be a potluck dinner, so let us know what dish you plan to bring by entering it in the Notes field on the RSVP form”) and customizing the confirmation message displayed after someone completes the RSVP form (usually “Thank you!” is sufficient, but occasionally you might want to elaborate with something like “Thank you, and please remember to bring your pot luck dish!”).
Potential Source of Confusion: I have also created a page titled “Events” in the WordPress system. If you go to edit that page, you will see something like this:
That placeholder code inside the brackets is tells WordPress to insert the current events listing into that spot in the page, after the introductory message and before the disclaimer.
You can edit the text before or after that code, but don’t delete the placeholder. Don’t enter event information directly into this page. Use the “Add/Edit Events” feature as described above.
The Carr Communications campaign website package provides a standard bundle of features to support basic web content management, as well as online donations, volunteer registration, generating donation and volunteer reports, and managing email lists and broadcasts. At this writing, we are using it for Marleine Bastien for U.S. Congress – www.votebastien.com , Mark Marciano for Florida House – votemarkmarciano.com, and Roy Gold for Mayor of Coral Springs – roygold.com.
We believe it’s important for our clients to be able to update their own websites, particularly in a political campaign where quickly posting new information (or removing some inaccurate tidbit from the website) can make the difference between scoring points and impressing voters, versus presenting outdated information that makes the campaign and the candidate look out of touch. So this system lets us give the candidate, campaign manager, or designated volunteer a password for posting their own updates as needed – even if they prefer to outsource that chore to us most of the time.
Below, I describe the core functionality of the system. The actual look of the site can be customized with your logo, color choices, and general look you prefer. If you have an existing logo, we can build the web template around that, with complimentary color choices.
After few years of working with my own homegrown content management system, I’ve adapted WordPress as the basis for website management. WordPress is best known as a popular blogging tool, but it can also be used to manage the standing pages of your website (candidate bio, key issues, endorsements, etc). The blogging feature allows you to post more date-sensitive material (campaign launch, press release on the latest big endorsement, and eventually, we hope, thank you to supporters for making this great victory possible).
Here is how that works, as the public sees it:
And as the candidate or campaign manager would see it when logged in to the site administration system:
This is the WordPress piece – a web-based user interface that lets you edit the basic content of your website and mark text bold or italic, add links, upload images and videos, etc. It provides a solid foundation for keeping your website up to date and dynamic, and there are all sorts of neat plug-ins available for search optimization, social media interaction, and other enhancements.
On top of that, I add my own system for posting events …
… and recording RSVPs …
… and taking donations …
I am a Certified PayPal Developer, so I typically use PayPal to handle the transactions securely. Through my customizations, the system also records information required for campaign finance reporting, such as the donor’s employer and occupation.
With your administrator’s login, you can run reports on donations, event RSVPs, and other campaign activity through the Campaign menu I add to the WordPress dashboard.
The last item on this list, Email Blast, is an optional item. It has the advantage of being closely integrated with the website, so I can easily import an event notice as shown below and broadcast it out to the campaign email list.
Alternately, I can work with you to integrate one of the commercial email management services, such as Constant Contact or MailChimp. These have the advantage of being large-scale operations with a lot of experience dealing with spam filters and other complexities of reliable email delivery.
If you’re interested in talking with me about the right kind of website for your campaign needs, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-757-5827.