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Giving Back

THE SUN ON A COLD WINTRY DAY IN DECEMBER

 

As I write this, most of the U.S. is witnessing the opening effects of a hardy storm making its way downstream. For us in San Diego, this means some temperatures in the 40s and 50s, but for nearly every other major city in the mountains, highlands or plains, this means ice, snow and rain. 

 

As much as we see the imagery of winter in sparkling icicles, frosted cabins and dazzling Christmas trees, it is a season more than any other that can dampen the spirits of those less fortunate. And it is a time where we as individuals and businesses can make a difference in so many ways. I recall a story one of my classmates in high school shared that opened the eyes of nearly every one of us 17-year-olds: Every year for Thanksgiving, she and her mother invited a homeless person to their home to share the holiday dinner. Imagine the impact it had on those guests if it touched us so profoundly.

 

The Primero team believes what you do as a person should mirror what you do as a business. Below are some of the inspiring ideas we've heard that you can take to your family or to your office. No matter where they live, they make a difference.

 

  1. Donate to a cause.
  2. Instead of a Secret Santa gift exchange, do a Secret Santa donation exchange to causes important to one another.
  3. Volunteer for a cause close to your heart.
  4. Donate blood.
  5. Work in a soup kitchen.
  6. Fund raise.
  7. Clean out your closet and donate clothes.
  8. Encourage your kids to donate an old toy when they receive a new one.
  9. Buy a meal for someone in need.
  10. Holiday grocery shop for a burdened family.
  11. Participate in Toys for Tots.
  12. Make Christmas cards for seniors in a nursing home.
  13. Adopt a family for Christmas.
  14. Adopt a pet for life.




Franchise Websites Simply Built and Managed Using Webtreepro - Volume 4

BENEFITS OF A SOLID CMS (4 OF NUMEROUS)

 

 

Looking to easily build and manage the websites for your franchise operation? Look no further. Webtreepro is the ultimate in simplicity, all while featuring a robust offering of functionality. The benefits to the franchises and their franchisees? Let me count the ways! Stay tuned for Volume 5, and see yet another benefit of using Webtreepro.

 

BENEFIT 4

 

Do your franchisees offer distinctly different programs or promotions? Not only can you customize their individual sites to geography, but they can manage their own featured information without needing to go to IT for assistance ... or even worse, to you at corporate headquarters. Set what page/site content must remain on all sites, what content is optional, and in what areas they can add their own. Everybody wins! 

 

If corporate information needs to be updated regularly, Webtreepro makes it easy with one-touch changes to all sites. Simply revise the content on the parent (corporate) site, and it automatically follows suit on all child (franchisee) sites when saved, without affecting the localized content (unless you want it to).

 

The relationships in a franchise organization may, at times, disrupt a delicate balance when one entity is relying on the other to fulfill marketing needs. With a CMS that gives control and freedom at the same time, the right words appear in the right places.





June Gloom

WHAT DO MAYFLOWERS BRING? 

 

We have an affectionate term in the San Diego area for this time of year, when summer attempts to peek through the covers and wake up long warm days of sun. It's known as June Gloom (incidentally, a close relative of May Gray). A nomenclature that seems contrary to the reputation of both the season and geographic region, June Gloom represents the transition from closed shutters to open windows. More precisely, it is the weeks of lingering clouds that blanket the coast every morning and refuse to burn away until late afternoon ... or sometimes not at all.

 

Reflecting back on the annuals from January, we asked why let June graduates have all the fun? Sure as the sun will find its way through the marine layer of clouds, your team will reflect proudly on all they achieved so far this year. Some ideas for teambuilding and celebrating:

 

  • Good Ol' Happy Hour  Nothing builds camaraderie like a few martinis?
  • Awards Dinner  Maybe you don't have actual plaques to distribute, but a catered meal or, for smaller groups, a tasteful meal out to keep spirits elevated.
  • Field Trip  To a museum relevant to your industry, or to a zoo that is not.
  • Volunteer Activity  Plan one for the entire organization, or several options to chose from.
  • Friendly Competition  Running a 5k, having a cook-off or setting new sales incentives. They key word here is FRIENDLY. Not cutthroat. 
  • Watermelon Carving Contest – Can you actually carve a watermelon?
  • If nothing else, maybe a Friday or two of "summer hours" for everyone to enjoy the sunshine. After June, of course.  




2013 Annuals

13 RESOLUTIONS FOR 2013

 

 

To live by in work and life. Happy New Year!

 

  1. Even in the cold of January, embrace every day as an opportunity.

  2. Take February to tell your family, friends, coworkers and clients how much you appreciate them.

  3. Clean your {living room, closet, garage, office, desk} when the spring breeze rolls in during March.

  4. And then when it warms up even more in April, schedule time for a daily walk.

  5. May flowers anyone? Try your hand at gardening, whether herbs, veggies or flora. It has the double benefit of stress relief and healthy cooking options.

  6. Why let the June graduates have all the fun? Host an impromptu work gathering to reflect on everything accomplished in a half-year.

  7. Hit the July beach, mountains, desert ... wherever your heart takes you by car, plane or virtual photo collage.

  8. Have an August summer picnic. Whether work-sponsored or family reunion, find the checkered tablecloths and wicker baskets to make it authentic.

  9. Take a class! When school starts for kids in September, follow their lead and learn something you have always wanted to know.

  10. Get into the spirit of October and autumn with harvest décor, cuisine and maybe a costume party?

  11. In November, light a real wood fire in the fireplace to work by, read by, chat by or simply provide some warm ambiance.

  12. Cherish time with friends and family in December to celebrate another year of memories.

  13. At Webtreepro, we always try to remember the following throughout the year: honesty, integrity, innovation, diversity, teamwork, flexibility and fun.




Some More on SEO

WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT SEO?

 

 

SEO a slippery animal, to say the least. For those not following trends and insights on a daily basis, the world can be daunting. We've compiled a list of some of the key things to know about SEO: 

 

Keywords

  • SEO makes businesses visible online
  • The real goal is to compete for terms that people in your area are using to find you
    (ex: San Diego Travel Agency, not Travel Agency)
  • Choose a handful of keywords to target
  • Use Google's free keyword research tool
  • In general, try to choose keywords with less than 5,000 searches per month. Otherwise you start competing against big budgets
  • Include keyword phrase on your web pages in Titles, Descriptions and URLs using the WTP SEO Center
  • Include keyword phrase in Headings and Body Text as well

 

Local Listings

  • Claim your local listing on Google, Yahoo! and Bing and complete the listings fully
  • Ask for reviews on your local listings!

 

Links

  • Create links back to your site on multiple channels, and do this on a regular basis 
  • Use articles, press releases, videos, blogs, social networks, directories, podcasts, etc.
  • Search engines more and more will be considering "everything” related to your site including social signals such as Facebook likes, Google #1s, Twitter tweets, and LinkedIn updates


Analysis

  • Track the ranking of your keyword targets
  • If you’re not making progress, then either your keyword targets need reconsiderations, or your SEO efforts aren’t sufficient
  • Track search engine referred traffic too

 

We hope that answers some of the SEO questions you may have!





Creating Effective Website Content

WEAVE A WEBSITE STRATEGY INTO YOUR MARKETING ACT

 

 

In the grand performance of your business, your website should be a star on stage. Not only does our virtual world demand the availability of current, accurate information, the key players know content must, absolutely, be engaging, compelling, unique and insightful. Sounds intimidating, doesn't it?

 

We've compiled some tips to get you on the right content track.


Create effective landing pages.

 

These pages are designed to seal the deal. You link from your other marketing programs to a landing page with relevant information.

 

  1. Have one clear goal or call to action (CTA) on the page.
  2. Keep it simple and leave out link-heavy menus, headers and footers.
  3. Maintain a consistent message.
  4. Keep your message and CTA above the fold.
  5. Know your visitors and speak their language.
  6. Use A:B testing to measure and adapt.

 

Have compelling calls to action.

 

This gives the visitor a direct step to perform on the page.

 

  1. Use active, urgent language.
  2. Explain with the user will get and why they will need it.
  3. Have one or a small number of action.
  4. Consider placement and color.
  5. Have a CTA on every page.
 
Use Facebook to get them talking.
 
Yes  Facebook has officially left the world of fad and entered the world of fixture. Ensure your business has a Facebook page that is updated regularly and shows your personality.
 
  1. Use the "Like" button for maximum impact.
  2. Show faces and comments.
  3. Show your value over other similar businesses.
  4. Connect with your targeted markets and demographics.
  5. Highlight local community involvement.
  6. Link promotions back to your landing pages.
  7. Be fun, but be educational with seminars and events.
  8. Bring together a community.
  9. Let your customers spread the word!




Writing Compelling Website Content

BRING A LITTLE SUNSHINE TO ALL YOUR ONLINE AUDIENCES

There are two audiences your website content should consider: humans and search engine spiders. But how do you write for these two very different readers? The more of the suggestions below you can incorporate, the more appealing your site will be to both!

 

  • Focus on proper English (or whatever the language is for your website) and aim for a high-school level of writing.
  •  
  • Stress benefits, not features.
  •  
  • Be friendly, warm and engaging. 
  •  
  • Headlines matter! Use "H1” title tags to tell spiders what a large, bold font tells humans.
  •  
  • Consider page titles, page descriptions, localized and customized URLs, etc.
  •  
  • Focus on your keyword strategy and then develop your content specifically addressing your key messages.
  •  
  • Use good quality images. The old saying that a picture can convey a thousand words is especially relevant to a website. 

 

  • Ensure that you use "Alt Text” for each of your images. 

 

  • Ensure that your image selection is not too "heavy.” Always strive to use .png file extensions and avoid .bmp.

 

  • Offer a reason to learn more and interact further with your company. Each page of your website should have a focused call-to-action.

 

  • Be short and sweet.
  •  
  • Be yourself! People buy from businesses they feel they can trust. Allow your personality as well as your competence to be exposed.
  •  
  • Focus on the customer. Stand in their shoes. You are not writing for your own education.

 



Tags:


In Defense of Customer Service

REST EASY WITH THE BEST SUPPORT POLICY

 

 


We posted a thought on Facebook a couple weeks ago:

 

"There are two things that go a long way with people: fantastic service and abominable service. Otherwise, you land in the soft middle and meld somewhere with all the other companies out there. So with this in mind ... where would you like to fall?"

 

I thought I'd dig into this a bit deeper.

 

It seems we've seen a shift to a different type of customer service in the recent years. Some larger companies outsource, where representatives are abundant and available, but not local or immersed in the product culture. Some companies offer virtually no phone support at all, and request issues come through via email. Many companies maintain the traditional practice of "we'll handle your call in the order it was received" or  if you're lucky  a direct pick-up, but few seem to delight in answering inquiries.

 

These methods don't necessarily prove a sense of apathy on the customer service front; then again, they don't really deny one either. But where does that leave everyone on the consumer end? It seems the real issue is not that we might see a trend of discouraged or frustrated clents, but rather a trend of ones who simply don't care in return. And indifference, absolutely, will block the road to true success.

 

People love to talk. Give them something good to talk about.

 

Think about it this way: Perhaps your client, Sleeping Beauty, purchases some mail-order some pillows, and upon their arrival, discover a hole bleeding feathers left and right. She calls for customer service and one of these three scenarios plays out:

 

  1. The representative asks for the order number, the problem, and assures her new pillow shipped out within one-to-two weeks.
  2. She spends 10 minutes punching in numbers on her touch-tone phone to find the right department. Then she sits on hold for another 10. The representative who comes on the line asks for the order number, puts her on hold to look it up, asks for the problem, and explains they can do nothing until the pillow is returned for assessment. As per the company policy, all returns and exchanges are subject to refusal. She goes to bed irritated and pillowless.
  3. The representative asks for the order number, the problem, and chuckles apologetically when Sleeping Beauty explains the trail of feathers leading to the dining room, sharing his own moment when the dog bit a hole in one of his pillows and dragged it into the pool. He assures a new pillow shipped the following day, or if preferred, an immediate coupon to redeem a one free in-store. And he suggests if Sleeping Beauty sews, taking the feathers from the faulty pillow to make her own decorative accent.

 

The conversation that offers your customer the best night's sleep will do the same for you.





Defining the New Google Places Quality Guidelines

TO LIST OR NOT TO LIST?

ENSURING THAT YOUR GOOGLE PLACES LISTING IS NOT REMOVED FROM GOOGLE MAPS

 

Well, Google is up to it again! 

 

Recently, they made a significant change to the Google Places Quality Guidelines which affects the 7-pack and Maps-based results. 

 

How will this affect you? For anyone who lists a business address and has little-to-no actual visitors coming to the specified location, choosing this option definitely impacts your ranking and may result in your listing being removed from Google Maps.

 

Here’s the latest Google Places Quality Guidelines:

Basically, to ensure that your Google Places listing does not get downgraded in the ranks or completely removed from Google Maps, there are three different options to choose once you log on to your Google Places account.

 

Scenario 1: Customers are served at the location listed on Google Places. Show your location!

Show your address if your business is a brick-and-mortar establishment and serves customers at the location listed. All you need to do is select: No, all customers come to the business location.

 

Scenario 2: Customers are served at the location listed on Google Places and also at other sites. Show your location and define your service areas!

Include your address and define the additional areas traveled if you have a home-based business that serves some customers at your home and some at other sites.

First you need to select:Yes, this business serves customers at their locations. Then, select eitherDistance from one location with set mileage or select List of areas served, and then add the areas.

 

Scenario 3: Customers are not serviced at the location listed on Google Places. Hide your address!

Play coy with your address if you have a home-based business and travel to all customers. Select: Do not show my business address on my Maps listing

Important: selecting this option DOES NOT negatively impact your local rankings!

You might not be sure how your current selections are set regarding Service Areas and Location Settings. Take the time to log into your Google Places account and choose the most appropriate settings based your particular scenario. Identifying the right selection for your business will help ensure that your listing to stay up in the local ranking and not go off the Google Maps’ radar.



Tags: SEO


Primero Systems Unveils New Website

PRESENTING ... THE PRIMERO SYSTEMS SITE

 

 

We'll make this short and sweet.

 

Primero Systems, the parent company to Webtreepro, used the beauty of its CMS to design a striking and streamlined new website. Take a look!

 

http://www.primerosystems.com  





What Leap Year Means to Your Business

SEIZE THE EXTRA DAY



Happy Leap Year! Today, our calendars fall back into step with our solar system, February puffs out its chest a little bit more, Disneyland leaves on the lights all night, and we celebrate the birthday of a friend born in 1984, who turns a proud 7 this afternoon.

 

Why not designate today as an opportunity to accomplish those things that never seem to find their way to fruition?

 

  • Call one of your best clients just to say hello and thank you.
  • Call one of your most challenging clients just to say hello and thank you.
  • Write a blog post.
  • Take a critical look at your website. Walk (click) through the pages like a visitor would.
  • Design new business cards.
  • Read an industry-focused whitepaper.
  • Sit down with a coworker and learn what projects are pain points and which are a pleasure.
  • Celebrate an extra day before taxes are due.
  • Clean out your desk.
  • Clean out your refrigerator.
  • Take a walk and absorb the architecture of man and of nature.
  • Watch the sunset.




Keeping a Tip-Top Website

12 TIPS TO KEEP YOUR WEBSITE ON TOP IN 2012

 

 

 

We're guessing you have a lot to say about your business. Don't be shy! Your website is the perfect place to tell everything wonderful and true. And with a dynamic CMS, it's never too early or too late. Below are some tips to ensure it's as striking as can be:

 

  1. We said this last year, and will say it again. Update frequently. In fact, take a minute now to make a change on your site. The blog post will wait for you. 
  2.  
  3. Do you have a blog of your own? If not, we recommend you start one immediately, and cross-link with your website. On the Webtreepro site, we incorporated this blog into the menu.

  4. Pull ideas for content from anywhere and everywhere on the web.
  5.  
  6. Consider spending more time in SEO-land. Your website will thank you. Check out www.localsevens.com for how to take it all the way.
  7.  
  8. Make sure your website is visible on social media profiles. If someone notices you there, either through a link or contact, you better be ready to receive them! Likewise, promote your SM pages on your website with either simple icons or interactive widgets.

  9. Write down inspiration as soon as it hits. This can be on the subway, during a five-course dinner, at 3am in the moonlight, or while running for a touchdown in the Super Bowl. You will be glad you did.

  10. Every now and then, ask for third-party feedback on your website. Sometimes they see things that we're simply too close to realize.

  11. And, if you have the opportunity, ask for expert feeback. Neon orange may not be the best color for your website after all. Or perhaps your navigation could use some tidying up. Be flexible to suggestions.

  12. Consider writing some helpful whitepapers or presentations, and use these as lead-generation tools. Promote them on the appropriate pages of your website to capture visitor information and illustrate your expertise.

  13. Make your calls-to-action stand out. Use complementary colors, active words and clear direction.

  14. Find inspiration in other websites, even those that may be in a compeletly different arena. Beautiful design and engaging content transcends industries.

  15. Read the news. This is just good common sense. 




2011 in review

WHAT WE LEARNED IN 2011

 

 

There must be someone nudging the clock hands of life forward, because every year seems to go by quicker than the last. Here's some things the last year has taught us:

 

  • People don't want to buy products, they want to buy solutions.
  • Jack may need you for a different solution than Jill. Love them both.
  • Working on three sites from four countries in one week is simple with Webtreepro!
  • Facebook can frustrate most of its users, who will continue to use it. Most likely for non-work items during their work time.
  • There is miles of road between Internet Explorer 7, 8 and 9
  • Google Chrome is becoming a household name.
  • Backlink, backlink, backlink.
  • Netflix validated the most important lesson of business -- if you think you know what your customers want, you better be sure to ask.
  • The last Harry Potter movie marked the end of an era for a large percentage of the world.
  • Content management systems are becoming ever more popular as people want true control and flexibility.




Franchise Websites Simply Built and Managed Using Webtreepro - Volume 3

BENEFITS OF A SOLID CMS (3 OF NUMEROUS)

 

 

 

Looking to easily build and manage the websites for your franchise operation? Look no further. Webtreepro is the ultimate in simplicity, all while featuring a robust offering of functionality. The benefits to the franchises and their franchisees? Let me count the ways! Stay tuned for Volume 4, and see yet another benefit of using Webtreepro.

 

BENEFIT 3:

 

SEO is an integral part of your website package. Considering the amount of pride you (rightfully) take in each and every page, isn't it much more rewarding to know that your perfected site can be found by everyone who is looking for it? And maybe some who aren't as well?

 

Without a CMS, on-site optimization can become a major hassle. Even something as simple as changing a page title means passing the baton to IT or engineering, waiting for them to make the adjustment, and then checking to ensure it was completed accurately. And this is only a singular change.

 

The best CMSs will allow users to control their SEO effort right from the editor. When using Webtreepro, it's as easy as visiting the built-in SEO Center. Enter met-tag descriptions and page titles, edit body headings, integrate Google Analytics, and incorporate keywords directly into your headers, footers or articles.

 

And, while you're logged in, don't forget to apply alternative text to those images. Google can do many things, but "reading" a photo isn't one of them ... yet.

 

Happy Optimizing!





Spice Up Your Site

WHAT'S THE FLAVOR OF YOUR BUSINESS?

Website Sampler

 

Last week a co-worker and I had the delicious fortune of attending an annual Taste of Main Street local event. Participating cafés and restaurants set up vendors on the sidewalk outside with small (or large) samples of their best food, and hungry attendees glide from table to table with fork in hand, until they simply cannot stretch their stomachs anymore.

 

Fundamental to this event is the variety of tidbits available for sampling. They are sizzling, they are alluring, they are delicious. But they are abundant. Although the inexperienced attendee might make the mistake of stopping at every storefront (as I did for three years before finally learning my lesson), it is simply not feasible to taste it all. And the smartest vendors offer something unique that might entice people back for a repeat visit at full price.

 

As I looked at the stylized restaurant names illuminated above the doors, the colorful vinyl booths through the windows, the different faces behind the counters, I was reminded of the importance of distinguishing your business from every other. Of the 20 Italian places lining the street ... what makes one most appealing? Why should anyone make room in their appetite (and wallets) for yours?

 

There are simply too many options available to sit back and wait for foot (or web) traffic. You must create an attraction, and you must maintain that engagement. Your name should be visible and appealing, your atmosphere should be engaging and memorable, and your plating (or message) should be consistent and unique. Perhaps easier said than done, but you know the value of your service. Everything that touches your audience should reflect this confidence as well. If you were visiting your website for the first time ... would you come back for more?

 

A palatable site is the best kind of all.





Writing For All Audiences

LOST IN TRANSLATION — WEB WRITING DECODED

World Coding 

One of the truly marvelous changes that has occurred with the emergence of the Internet is the worldwide connectivity that is instant and permanent. A phone call once pricey and inconvenient can be conducted over Skype for only a few cents a minute. An ad that used to require exhausting placement research is simple to arrange via Google and can be seen at the same time by someone in Canada and someone in Hong Kong. And the ultimate marketing tool, your website, avails itself 24/7 to the entire planet, not just for an instant but forever. Or so it should be.

 

The nature of the web necessitates your site is easy to navigate, your language is crisp and your message is universal. How to prepare a page then for friendly reading? Some tips are below!

 

  1. Keep it short, keep it sweet. Interior pages may be comprehensive, but don't scare prospects away from your home page by attempting to express every benefit of your service. Or, if you simply have too much to say, consider incorporating a slide show with different value points highlighted on each image.
     
  2. Avoid using superfluous flowery language. You might be a fabulous writer with an extensive vocabulary, but visitors who do not speak English as their mother tongue will find it challenging to work through your words. Write well, but write for everyone.

  3. The same can be said for headers and menu items. Save the fancy words for your targeted marketing pieces. Links like "Home," "About," etc. are expected and understood; not everyone will know where "Foyer" or "Family Ties" lead within your website "house."
    *An exception may be if you do creative work and your customers expect a certain level of whimsy reflected on your website.

  4. It's not a good idea to reference local agenda that is meaningless to prospects who don't live nearby. Although some businesses, like hotels and restaurants, can leverage this information, most companies will have too broad of a marketplace to interest visitors with neighborhood news.

  5. Internet browsers like Chrome will prompt to translate text on sites that are not in the user's selected language. Make sure you take advantage of this by avoiding words as images and using a CMS that will cleanly wrap content around graphics.

  6. Maybe it's a balmy 75 degrees at your business headquarters, but any clients below the equator will be experiencing winter during your August barbecue. If you have an international following, consider their feelings.




A Little Bit More About SEO

TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR SEO DESTINY...WITH LOCAL SEVENSSEO Desert 

Local Sevens is the SEO sister to Webtreepro. It's a key component to making your online presence known and your attractively designed website visible! A business that does not show up in search results may as well exist in the furthest reaches of the desert, miles from civilization and certainly absent from the minds of prospective customers. 

 

You may have spent some time in the Webtreepro SEO center, targeting the optimization capabilities built in your site layout. This robust set of modifiers makes the most of your on-page presence. For a fully comprehensive off-page strategy, Local Sevens takes the reins.

 

Sit back, relax and let us drive your website to the top of search engine results. Ensure local search success where no one has to trudge through miles of virtual sand to make your acquaintance. 

 

www.localsevens.com





Franchise Websites Simply Built and Managed Using Webtreepro - Volume 2

BENEFITS OF A SOLID CMS (2 OF NUMEROUS)

 

 

Franchise Websites NetworkFranchise Websites Network

 

Looking to easily build and manage the websites for your franchise operation? Look no further. Webtreepro is the ultimate in simplicity, all while featuring a robust offering of functionality. The benefits to the franchises and their franchisees? Let me count the ways! Stay tuned for Volume 3, and see yet another benefit of using Webtreepro.

 

BENEFIT 2:

 

A content management system shouldn't have to be accompanied by a user guide that is thicker than Webster's Unabridged. Part of the appeal in acquiring a CMS is that the system does the work FOR YOU, rather than forcing extensive research on how to perform simple tasks and leave you wondering, Oh, where on earth is that highlight function?

 

The best CMSs will build upon what is familiar and understood. Complex procedures and resources, though attractive in label, offer little if a user cannot compete tasks organically. The goal is to make life easier, not complicate it with yet another set of steps to be filed away in an overworked short-term memory.

 

Webtreepro was created so if we had to boil the entire idea down to one word, it would be intuition. We want every piece to be as easy as riding a bike ... once learned, never forgotten. Our editor is designed to mimic the controls in Microsoft Word, with easy text formatting, image insertion, table set-up and more. The content environment is what we informally refer to as WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), meaning your published page will look exactly as it does during the editing process. Could it be any more natural?

 

We'll let you decide for yourself!





Keys to a Search Optimized Website

CASTING OUT TO SEO

SEO Line

Your website is finally finished! You think, "This will do the trick! It’s time to sit back and watch the traffic (and profits) roll in!” Well ... not quite yet. Just having a website to promote your company isn’t going to help you rake in the profits or land you a spot in the coveted Google "top seven search” results.  Search engines are evolving everyday to provide you the best and most relevant search results; keeping up with the ever changing search process would benefit you!

 

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a complicated process but not difficult to master. This article will give you an idea of the importance of optimizing your site to increase your chances of appearing on higher ranking search results. That’s a good thing!


So let’s get started! First thing to do is to learn about search engines and how they work. Search engines operate by ranking sites according to their relevance to your search inquiry and presenting them in order of their relevance rank. For example: if you type in "camping gear,” you’d expect to get results like sporting goods stores like REI and Sports Authority. You wouldn’t expect to get links to a blog pertaining to someone who just bought their kids a play tent, right? The blog is way less relevant than links to sporting goods stores! Because the blog is less relevant, it’s link wouldn’t appear in the first few page of results.
 

Relevance isn’t just awarded to sites with bang-up content; it includes but is not limited to the following:

  1. Meta tags
  2. Links (within the site and to outside sources)
  3. Keywords
  4. Types of content and the amount

 

Landing a spot in the top most relevant results is a lot like fishing. The high ranking spots are the big juicy sport fish and there are thousands of "fishermen” (websites) vying for those spots. Each dangle different lures, some elaborate; some simple. However, the fishermen armed with a healthy understanding of the task at hand are more likely to take home the prize catch – the highest ranking spots.


Optimizing your website is not just a one stop shop, where you finish optimizing, leave it and cross your fingers. It takes patience, dedication and routine maintanence to keep up with the ever evolving search process. A smart fisherman doesn’t stay in the same spot nor does he use the same type of bait; he wouldn’t be very successful if he did! Knowing what makes a search engine tick is a very strong foundation to build an online empire upon!





Keeping Your WTP Website Current

11 TIPS TO KEEP YOUR WEBSITE FRESH IN 2011

Fresh Content and Coffee

Everyone loves a website that is current and dynamic – whether a prospect, customer, associate or search engine! Below are some tips that we hope will encourage you to spend a little QT with yours.

 

  1. Create a reminder in your calendar to make at least one small (or large) update per week on your website. Scheduling the time often makes a difference in whether it happens or not.

  2. If content updates too time-consuming during a particular week or month, consider swapping out older photos for new ones. With Webtreepro, this is a quick and painless process that takes no more than a few minutes.

  3. Likewise, on pages where content is static, consider adding flash animation or a slideshow for visual effect. Not only do visitors enjoy the moving element, but it’s a neat way invigorate the page without having to re-work all the content.

  4. Engage the talents of other people in your company or organization. See what inspiration they have for website contributions.

  5. Consider taking turns writing articles for publication on your website. This way the responsibility doesn’t fall on one lonely person.

  6. Make an innocent visit to competitor sites to see what they are doing.

  7. Keep your company or organization up-to-date on industry happenings. This could spur some timely ideas for content, or at least provide a discussion platform.

  8. Use the Webtreepro library to store articles for later use. Or, use the schedule content feature to set up future promotions that appear and expire on selected dates, so you can get back to business without worrying.

  9. Don’t neglect your home page. This is generally the first place visitors land, so even minor updates are appreciated by the highest number of eyes.

  10. Take screen captures of websites you cross that catch your eye, whether business-relevant or not. Refer to these when you’re looking to spice up your own pages.

  11. Have fun! Your tone and attitude will be reflected in the words you write and pictures you showcase. A positive, engaging design experience for you is felt by everyone who visits your site.




Franchise Website Builder with Built-In Content Management System

WEBTREEPRO ... A LITTLE HISTORY

Webtreepro History Books

The Webtreepro franchise website builder is an easy-to-use website content management system that allows for the online management of one, ten, a hundred, or even a thousand websites. This product contains a built-in website content management system, including numerous features ranging from on-page editing (if you can type on a keyboard, you can use the editor) ... to instant or delayed publishing of content (publish your new ad right now, or schedule it to start on Monday, and end on Friday, or Saturday for that matter) ... to search engine friendly page structures ... to search engine optimization tools … to a built-in form builder ... to, okay I could keep going...check us out!

 

By way of introduction, Webtreepro was designed and built by Primero Systems Inc. We at Primero are dedicated to continually enhancing Webtreepro to provide the most robust, but yet simple-to-use online website builder and website content management solution. 

 

Since 1994, we have developed and delivered business-critical commercial software solutions to a number of Fortune 500 companies, as well as small and mid-sized businesses. In addition, we are franchise industry veterans who saw an opportunity in the franchise community to solve the problem of how to manage franchise brands online. We saw solutions that cost hundreds of thousand of dollars and were highly labor intensive to implement and maintain, requiring intervention from an IT group to change anything. Others were little more than a handful of static pages with no ability to manage content in anything close to real time. And, still others were chock full of promise, but lacking in delivery.

 

Our goals for Webtreepro included:

  • Build a fully web-based application that requires no locally installed software
  • Ensure the instantaneous publishing of content on any number of sites, as desired
  • Give users an interface that is familiar and very easy to use…no need for any IT involvement
  • Price it so that the customer’s decision is easy

 

Have we succeeded?  Our customers tell us we have. Come see for yourself what the Webtreepro cms for brand control has to offer you and your organization. Better yet, contact us for a demo. If you can spare 30 minutes, be prepared for us to knock your socks off!





Franchise Websites Simply Built and Managed Using Webtreepro - Volume 1

BENEFITS OF A SOLID CMS (1 OF NUMEROUS)

Franchise Websites Network

Looking to easily build and manage the websites for your franchise operation? Look no further. Webtreepro is the ultimate in simplicity, all while featuring a robust offering of functionality. The benefits to the franchises and their franchisees? Let me count the ways! Stay tuned for Volume 2, and see yet another benefit of using Webtreepro.

 

BENEFIT 1:

 

All websites have fresh, up-to-date content that is instantly published (or delayed if you prefer), all while maintaining the franchise brand, style and content. And, as if that wasn't enough ... the franchisees can easily add or update content as well. 

 

To what extent? 

 

It is entirely up to headquarters. See what one customer had to say:

 

"From the franchise headquarters level, it is fantastic that we can easily publish style and certain content to our franchise offices, but that those local offices also have such an easy tool at their fingertips to exercise their own destination-specific marketing plan. Updates or changes to their local sites that used to take several days and had to be passed through multiple peoples’ hands can now be accomplished in a matter of minutes.  As a result of this ease of use, our local offices are updating their web content and creating additional marketing pieces much more frequently than in the past." Celeste Pilkington, Manager of Franchise Performance, PRA Destination Management





Cruising with Cruise Holidays: From the Mouths of our Users!

AT SEA WITH CRUISE HOLIDAYS 

Glass Ocean 

As we near Thanksgiving, we at Webtreepro have a lot to be thankful for -- our colleagues, our families, and a truly wonderful cadre of clients.

 

Last week, we had the opportunity to attend the annual convention of one of our franchise customers, Cruise Holidays. And not just any convention -- this one was at sea! We joined the group in San Diego (home of our headquarters) and boarded the Radiance of the Seas for a five-night cruise to Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The opportunity to be with a large group of our users and a great ship to sunny destinations is reason to be extra thankful. As a Minnesotan, escaping the cold for a week was a huge bonus!

 

At the meeting, we were able to spend significant time chatting directly with our client's customers -- what a great opportunity to really learn what they like about Webtreepro, as well as what they struggle with. As business owners, they don't have all day long to "play" with their websites, yet despite that time constraint, they've done some amazing work in short order. We saw some excellent landing pages and even some online "sign-up-to-cruise" forms that were comprehensive and friendly to site visitors.

 

For our part, we got to "show-off" a bit and introduce them to all the neat little SEO features that they can easily engage to improve their local search rankings. In fact, we conducted five workshop sessions on that topic. We're doing a follow-up online meeting next week so we can spend a bit more time teaching the details as well as catch up with those folks that couldn't make the meeting.

 

We also taught a number of them how to embed video and even some pretty cool photo-walls using albums on Flickr, and a slick plug-in from CoolIris. It was truly wonderful to see the "Wow, that was easy -- I can't believe I did that myself " reaction. Getting a customer excited about taking a cruise is a lot easier with pictures and widgets that put them "on the ship."

 

One thing that was a big hit was the ability to put a weather widget on a landing page for a specific cruise, showing the current weather conditions. I can tell you on this gloomy, chilly day in Minnesota, if I was looking a cruise to St. Thomas and saw that is was a sunny 84 Fahrenheit, I might be motivated to action!

 

Of course, everyone was interested in video, and whether they've posted to YouTube or a commercial service like Screencast, we were able to show them how it takes about a minute to embed videos into their site.

 

The best part of all is getting a handle on what we can do to further enhance Webtreepro. We have lots of our own ideas but hearing from day-to-day end users is invaluable. Plus, selfishly, it's nice to be valued for what we do, and to get that recognition first-hand is really engergizing.





More New Stuff!

WEBTREEPRO UPDATE

 

Webtreepro Cafe NewsThis week we did a major release to Webtreepro --a mixture of brand new "stuff" as well as some pretty significant improvements to existing functionality. This got me thinking about our process of selecting what gets added, so I'll use our new features to expand on that thinking. 

 

As we develop Webtreepro, we get our inspiration for new features and enhancements from a number of sources:

 

Our Own Experience

We see things that are no-brainers in terms of "We should offer that in Webtreepro." The most recent example is the integration of Keyword Research while logged in. Sure, you can open another window or browser tab to look at Google Adwords, but if you're at all like me, it's a lot more convenient to have it right there inside the application. Besides, if I end up using some of the alternative suggestions, I'm already in Edit Mode and can update my Page Titles, Descriptions, Keywords, URLs, paths and alt-text immediately. It's inevitable that I'll get distracted and forget if I don't handle it right away.

 

Our Users

Early on in Webtreepro's development cycle, we realized we had more ideas than time or money (and who doesn't!). So while we know what absolutely had to be "in the box" to rollout WTP, we also knew we couldn't predict what extras would be most desired and decided to let the users and market guide us. In many cases, suggestions from the user community were already in our enhancement list, and their request helped us prioritize. In other cases, our users have identified things we hadn't considered yet. Among those were a few head-smackers as in, "Why didn't we think of that!!"  Examples are how we've changed our onscreen directions, warning dialogs, page legends and user tips, so they are much clearer.

 

Make What's There Better

Our new Library system is a vast improvement over the original ... we realized the limitations of the original having used it ourselves. While it was fully functional, some things weren't very efficient or sophisticated.  But making a change like this is like knocking over dominos -- not only do we need to update the app, but must also migrate all the existing assets into the new structure, make sure users can find them, and then change our online help and create new video lessons! It's a good bit of work, but ultimately worth it. And making fundamental changes only get harder when we have more users! Other examples of recent improvements are the extensive stylers we've added to our Breadcrumb, Link List, Section List, Link Builder and Menu Builder. Users can now create and save styles that both override their skin defaults, but can be applied consistently throughout the site.

 

So, now that you know how we pick-and-choose, we certainly welcome your input toward that process.  What we want to hear most is what you'd actually use vs. just adding to the list of ideas.

 

Next up. . .I have discovered the world of HTML snippets and am excited to share how you can add stuff to your page that's not in the list of Content Elements.





Webtreepro Enahnces Franchise Website Editing Capabilities

WEBTREEPRO UPDATE

 

Webtreepro Cafe NewsThe most recent release of Webtreepro provides enriched editing capability. Always at the forefront is the desire to provide users of this franchise website builder with built-in content management, a robust, but user-friendly interface. The augmented functions include:


Link List and Section List Styler -- Both the Link List and Section List tools have been enhanced to provide you with even more customization and control of these valuable navigation aids! You can now add padding above and below your lists, set their overall width, control font attributes for mouse-over and active links and more. See the new Section List Video.


Highlighter -- You can now add a highlighter to any text. Just select the text to be highlighted, click the Highlighter icon and choose your color.

 

Improved Form Controls -- We've upgraded the actions of the Radio Button and Checkbox form controls so they are both more functional and easier to use. Now, when you add a series of radio buttons, you can build a relationship between them so that only one (1) can be selected at a time.

 

SEO Center Page Legend -- In the SEO Center, the pages now have a legend that provides a quick reference to which are shared, which are part of a Split Test, and pages set for Redirect.

 

Improved Communication -- We've tuned up some of the system messages to be clearer. For example, if a child site user clicks the Restore Page button (which reverts a page they edited back to the parent version of the page), the new message has a much stronger and clearer warning about the consequences.


Likewise, we've improved the Delete messages when you right-click on any content element ... now, they are contextual, as is "Delete Article" or "Delete Form" vs. "Delete."





Webtreepro Franchise Website Builder New Features Added

5 NEW WEBTREEPRO FEATURES 

Webtreepro Pencils 

In our continuing progress to improve the capabilities and functions offered by Webtreepro, we are pleased to announce the latest capabilities.

 

Some of the new features you will enjoy include:
 
  1. You can now upload and save articles in HTML file format to a local disk. To access this feature, select Edit Mode, and then place the cursor in the article, followed by a right click of the mouse.
  2. Upload image files as large as 1.2 mb. This is a whopping increase from 50kb. Basic instructions on how to upload your imagesinto Webtreepro is available in the Webtreepro Knowledge Center.
  3. Configure your expired page and content email notifications to be sent to any email address of your choice. You are no longer limited to the owner of the page or content. The Webtreepro Knowledge Center provides detail instruction on the use of expiration notices for pages and content.
  4. All Webtreepro sites now have the ability to display the latest items from any standard RSS feed, using the RSS Reader. This feature is simply added to any page of your choosing, using the Add Content wizard.
  5. Lastly, Webtreepro now features Advanced Site Grouping. You can now create very deep groupings for your sites and manage the publishing of pages and content to those groups without having to manually select each local site.
 




Alliance Cost Containment Selects Webtreepro for Franchisee Websites

WEBTREEPRO CONTINUES TO GROW

 Webtreepro Tree

Primero Systems announced that Alliance Cost Containment has selected the Webtreepro platform to power their online presence. 

 

"We’re looking forward to giving our entire system a larger footprint on the Internet,” said Miles Lee, President of Alliance Cost Containment. "Because our Principals serve a local market community, the ability for us to enhance our results in local search is an important part of each franchisee’s portfolio growth. This not only applies to our customer acquisition, but also will help us sourcing local vendor partners as well,” added Lee.

 

Read more. . .





Fully Integrated RSS Reader Available

WEBTREEPRO'S RECENT RELEASE INCLUDES AN RSS READER

Webtreepro RSS Reader
This RSS Reader is fully integrated The RSS Reader is fully integrated and is available to customers on request and will soon be generally available to all Webtreepro customers. The reader is simple to use and is added in much the same way as other types of linked content are added to website pages when using the Webtreepro franchise website builder.  And, once installed, the reader can be easily edited or removed.



Cruise Holidays Selects Webtreepro

WEBTREEPRO CHOSEN AS CMS FOR CRUISE HOLIDAYS
 Webtreepro Blog Boat

Cruise Holidays has selected Webtreepro as their franchise website builder and online content management system. While Webtreepro provides Cruise Holidays with numerous benefits, chief among these was the ability for franchise headquarters to provide each of the franchisee's websites with regionalized and specialized content. In the case of Cruise Holidays, their franchisees must be able to offer products that are regionally and lifestyle appropriate. Webtreepro provides this flexibility, all while maintaining franchise brand management. The complete press release is available on the Webtreepro website.





Franchise Website Builder with Enhanced Search Optimization Tools

PREPPING YOUR SITE FOR SEO

 

The Webtreepro franchise website builder is a web-based franchise website development tool that offers the ability to easily search engine optimize franchise websites, both corporate and local, while allowing the local site to customize content pertinent to its location. 

 

These SEO tools include:

 

  • Automatic creation of search engine friendly URL and page structure. Directory names reflect the page path as well as the content in the page.
  • Site Navigation is automatically built as you add pages. In addition, moving or reorganizing the site is simplified by using a tree view. A breadcrumb widget is also available to help navigate the site.
  • A sitemap is automatically created for submission to search engines.
  • All internal linking is fully consistent and follows the same pattern.
  • Alternative text is easily added to images and links.
  • Images are stored in their own directory.
  • Title Tags (page names) are clear and customizable.
  •  Label content as headings, where appropriate, using the content editor.
  • Easily name pages (title tags), add descriptions of the pages, and keywords.
  • A robust set of reports help the site owners understand the what, where, when, why and how of the traffic to each website.

 

These tools, however, have no value unless website content is compelling and well-constructed. Although Webtreepro can’t write the content for you, it does offer a superb, simple-to-use on page content editor.





Franchise Website Q&A

Q&A WITH WEBTREEPRO

 

The franchise business model presents some very unique challenges when it comes to building and maintaining an online presence.  The challenge comes from the very assets that make a franchise successful:

- First is a compelling brand with positive customer equity — it must stand for something good and not be compromised.

- Second, is having a large footprint — in other words, lots of locations. Success breeds more success and the brand’s prominence and equity grows.

 

Ironically, it’s those very fundamentals to success that clash when it comes to a franchise system’s web presence:

- To protect my brand, I can’t deploy a site for every franchisee unless I want to manage them all which isn’t practical. 

- But by only having one site, I can’t leverage my size in terms of my search footprint, and I can really lose on local search. And, my content is generic for my entire system, which may not work if we offer regionalized products and services.

 

With the introduction of Webtreepro, the two mutually-exclusive options get combined into a best-of-both-worlds web presence. This represents a pretty significant shift in the way franchisors deploy their brand online and it also opens up a lot of possibilities. Recently, a prospect (now a customer) presented us with an extraordinarily thoughtful set of questions which go to the heart of the matter.

 

Franchisor:

Most franchise experts strongly encourage franchisors to have a single site with multiple sub-pages. What are the fundamental arguments in favor of allowing individual sites? What are the biggest risks of allowing individual sites?

Webtreepro:

This "monolithic site” perspective is based on risk avoidance around brand standards. It was a "lesser of two evils” argument. Historically, the risk of enabling individualized sites over which the franchisor loses control of their brand standards was too great compared to the perceived lack of benefits. Webtreepro first addresses the risk by ensuring the franchisor controls brand, look, feel and global message standards on all their sites. The franchisor retains connection to and ultimate control of ALL franchisee sites, even if they have their own domains. But the benefits of local, individualized franchisee websites has grown in importance. Most people now recognize that offering a site visitor more relevant information is beneficial to both the visitor and the franchisee. Offering content that varies by region, community or even location augments this experience. In addition, franchisees may find this provides added value/pride of ownership. This results in better engagement, which is always desirable. Finally, and perhaps most compelling, is the benefits in online search. Having a larger footprint of sites can help with organic search for the brand. Local sites contribute to success in organic Local Search, which is a trend of growing importance. Of course, locally relevant content within the pages also contributes to natural search.

 

Franchisor:

How much flexibility should franchisees typically get with respect to changing content on the individual sites? How does your software regulate the changes?  

Webtreepro:

The degree of flexibility you offer is entirely up to you and ranges from "None” whereby you control their local content (service bureau model) to allowing full control, or anything in between. You’re able to allow them to control a page, a section of pages, or even just an article within a page. You may also mete out different levels depending on your confidence in each franchisee’s ability. We typically suggest fairly limited initial access (maybe one or two pages) and then expand as your ecosystem’s comfort level grows.

 

Franchisor:

Does it allow for single change (e.g. press release) to impact each site automatically?

Webtreepro:

Webtreepro was designed so that a "single change” at HQ is instantly propagated to one, some or all sites, and it’s quite seamless. This can be the addition of a new page with content (such as a press release) or could be more modest, such as swapping out piece of content within a page or simply editing something pre-existing that’s shared.

 

Franchisor:

If I allow individual sites, who controls the domain addresses? Do you recommend that each URL be an iteration of the main URL (e.g. www.franchisor-name.com) or should each franchisee have the latitude to develop their own URL? 

Webtreepro:

We support your choice of full domains or sub-domains for each franchisee’s site. For example: If you use sub-domains and the parent site is www.franchisor-name.com, then the sub-domain would be http://franchisee_identity.franchisor-name.com If full domains are preferred, then you might register www.franchisee_identity.com. In the case of full domains for each franchisee, who registers and owns them is entirely up to you. We recommend the franchisor manage the domain registration so you can retain ownership. You simply direct your registrar to point the URL to our IP address. If you decide to use sub-domains, then only your main URL needs to be registered and you can create new franchisee sites by simply giving each one a unique sub-domain.

 

Franchisor:

What is the dividing line between the search engine strategy managed by corporate vs. the latitude each franchisee has to manage their own SEO strategy? What visibility does your software provide franchisors to make sure each franchisee isn’t overly aggressive their SEO strategy (e.g. poaching into another franchisees territory?)

Webtreepro:

Our permissions schema provides significant and granular control of who may do what. There’s a combination of our permissions and security settings that allows you to lock down the SEO attributes (META, Description, Keywords, Page Name, Menu Name and Page Title) on a franchisee site’s pages, while still enabling the franchisee to manage content on the page. This lets you control (or remediate) the page content — both that which is visible as well as the META data such as keywords, page descriptions, page titles, and optimized URLs.

 

Franchisor:

How much control do franchisors have over the presentation of the search results? I would like for each search result show the office location in the header (e.g. Rapid Refill - Atlanta, GA).

Webtreepro:

Each franchisees site is truly "theirs” and can be customized to differentiate them from others which also helps with SEO. Beyond what a visitor can see as page content, there are attributes such as the Page Title (what you see in the top of a browser, and/or a tab in the browser window) that can also be customized/ localized. Beyond that, we provide a place to enter and maintain a description for every page, which may get displayed Search Engine Results Page (SERP). This will depend on how consistent your SEO attributes are applied across your sites and individual page. Webtreepro provides all the tools needed to apply your on-page and on-site SEO strategy, without requiring any technical skill. This extends to META content as well as page naming, navigational structure, alt-text and more which all contribute to better SEO positioning and SERP summaries. These tools also make your site visitor’s experience friendlier, because we don’t use any cryptic or argument-filled URLs. Header tags in the browser’s title bar and the browser tabs will reflect the page name you enter, giving you that control.

 

Franchisor:

I have a separate site to capture new franchise inquiries (ww.costcontain.com). What , if any, benefits does your software provide vis a vis generating new franchise inquiries through a separate site?

Webtreepro:

Because webtreepro sites are SEO-friendly, you may find that you’re able to generate more organic search traffic which not only appeals in terms of cost-savings (vs. PPC or Portal Marketing), but also enables you to quickly update content, create online forms for inquiries, provide downloadable materials such as PDFs, etc. You can create a separate child site for franchise inquiries, or even just a series of linked pages that are with the headquarters site ...  these can even use a different look and feel if you opt for that.

 

Franchisor:

What design services do you provide?

Webtreepro:

This is an area we don’t serve, but there are several options that our customers have used with success. One extreme is we simply adapt your current website’s look and feel. At the other extreme is that you engage a designer/firm that works with you from scratch on a fully custom design. In the middle, some customers have purchased templates from online resources like www.templatemonster.com and we enable them within our platform. 

 

Franchisor:

What is the typical breakdown of the economics? Is there a master license fee paid by franchisor and individual license fees paid by the franchisees?

Webtreepro:

We bill the franchisor only and which allows the franchisor to re-sell the program. Because you may be adding a lot of value through the program itself and the content that you’ll provide, there’s likely an opportunity to mark up the sell price in order to make the program self-liquidating, and perhaps even a profit center.





Web-Based CMS: Open Source Realities

THE REALITIES OF OPEN-SOURCE CMS

 

There’s been an ongoing debate among about the merits of using Open Source Web Content Management Systems (WCMS), vs. commercially developed versions. Each has benefits and liabilities, and both introduce some often overlooked complexities.  We believe that both options should be considered not on the perceived financial or social aspect, but rather on which delivers the fastest and most-cost effective outcome. Today, I want to offer some perspective on open source and I'll take up the commercial alternatives in a future post.

 

It’s absolutely true that the source code is available at no cost. But source code is a complex tool, not an outcome (website). What you then need to factor is the costs associated with using that tool which may be significant. 

 

Before you can lay down your first line of code, you have to install and maintain a hardware environment that’s compliant. Next, you’ll need professional, technical resources that can develop that source code into a functional framework for your sites. There are literally thousands of redevelopers making a healthy living out of making open source work and that money is coming from somewhere. Or you may have this skill in house, but chances are that’s not free either — you’re probably paying your employees. At the very least, there are opportunity costs of using your IT staff for website deployment and maintenance.

 

Once your code diverges from the core, you’re less able to leverage updates, features or bug fixes that are happening in the open source core. You can certainly mirror those items in your own version, but that won’t be free either. If you don’t keep up, there’s a risk that your sites end up on a burning platform. With web practices and standards ever changing, this risk is real.

 

At this point, you’ve also created a couple dependencies. Your development partner (if you’re not doing it yourself), owns the keys to your web kingdom, and you’ll be fully dependent on them for functional changes. While you may be able to manage your own content easily, your ability to develop new navigation and incorporate other customized elements could be severely constrained. We have quite a bit of experience picking up projects from companies that have taken a DIY approach or have been sold promises on the cheap only to find later they needed to start all over. Most franchisors and associations aren't prepared for this commitment as it draws resources away from their core business.

 

So what are the advantages of Open Source? Well, to begin with, it is free and if you’re a technically robust organization, it’s a viable alternative especially when you have ample resource bandwidth in IT. And you can do whatever you want with it, but it's a long-term commitment of resources.  This should lead to some high-level questions.

 

Question #1 is: 

Do we have plenty of technical resources to apply to this project?

 

If not, then Question #2 is:

Do we have ample funding to acquire the outside technical resources for this project?

 

If you’re still going, then Question #3 is:

Are we ready to commit financial and/or personnel resources for the long-term, as this will essentially be a build (vs. buy) commitment to technology?

 

And finally, Question #4 is:

Do we have plenty of time for prototyping, testing and code revision?

 

In summary, open source is not a solution that pops out of the box ready to go. If you’re searching for a web-based CMS to enable your non-technical users to communicate online, then there’s something self-defeating about needing a lot of technical support. It’s like inheriting a set of mechanics tools ... just having them doesn’t confer the ability to repair automobiles. This is where commercial CMS packages may have a much clearer advantage, providing they don’t replicate the same liabilities of cost, time and technical care and feeding of site and content management. They aren't monolithic in their abilities and require diligence when evaluating as well. 

 

I’ll be addressing the commercial CMS option in next week’s posting and we’ll explore total cost of ownership factors for both open and commercial CMS.