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To give customers the most compelling IT Support experience possible.

Our Mission

Our mission is simple: make technology an asset for your business not a problem.

Our Values

We strive to make technology integrate seamlessly with your business so your business can grow. As your technology partner, when your business grows ours will grow with you, therefore, we will work hand in hand with you to support your growth.

Our Values

We develop relationship that makes a positive difference in our customers Business.

Our Values

We exibit a strong will to win in the marketplace and in every aspect of our Business

Sunday, January 22, 2012

To get a job as Integration Systems Support Analyst this may help you

As a fresh graduate If you have a few options to choose from 

1- BizTalk
2- Sharepoint
3- Business intelligence
4- .Net

Which one to select for the career start. All these technologies are very good and have good scope in future. I will advise you to chose field based on you interest. However, 1,2&3 are tool specific where as .Net is more generic and will help you build your skill in many areas but will also need more effort and more competition. 

- Biz talk have been Microsoft's only product for integration and SOA(Service Oriented Architect) development. You will have to integrate multiple systems and create resource adapters for talking to them. This will require extensive development using .Net WCF technology.
(Integration Layer)

- SharePoint is Microsoft' Content Management System, for building sites, portal for collaboration. It is very much in demand. You will have to build the Web Parts for building portals.
(Presentation Layer)

- Business Intelligence is very advance and specialized field. Data warehouse, Mater Data Management, Business Analytics are very much in demand.
(Data layer)

.Net -  is the core foundation of the above products and field. You will need .Net for any kind of development in all above fields (except Business Intelligence which will be using the tools).      
Here, I presume you will be building application from end-2-end presentation layer, middleware, integration and data-access layer.

I read an article about workflow in http://grounding.co.za/blogs/brett/archive/2007/11/03/high-level-overview-to-what-workflows-are.aspx which i think is pretty well said. check the article below

Tech Talk with Brett Maytom

High level overview to what workflows are

Do you get the feeling of "Workflow ... workflow ... workflow .... aaargh .... wtf"?  Whilst chatting to many students, I find that there is a lot of ambiguity around workflows and what they are and where to use them.  I will be writing a few blogs on the topic, this topic what a workflow is.  As the technologies being used are gearing to workflows, I will discuss the different technologies and where to use what in another post.

What is a workflow?

A workflow is simply a reliable and repeatable set of activities that drive a process. In our businesses we create business silos or departments to deal with different processes,  e.g. sales is responsible for performing activities to get new business,  provisioning is responsible for delivery of goods, hr is responsible for managing staff and IT for performing tasks to provide supporting technologies.  Within these departments there are many processes each aimed to perform a different task.  We may even divide these processes into geographic locations for branches.
Business is all about process!
A workflow is a business process that has a set of characteristics:
  • It has a set of events that will cause the workflow to start.
  • It may need certain information to start such as a document artifact.
  • A workflow has an owner.
  • A workflow has a business benefit.
  • A may workflow delivers an outcome.
  • A workflow may have several activities.
  • A workflow is deterministic through a set of decision structures
  • A workflow activity may be automated by a system or manually done by a person, thus having someone\something responsible for executing the process.
  • A workflow is traceable and can be audited.
  • A workflow may start another process and even wait for an outcome.

Why is workflow hard?

An organization has thousands of processes and normally these processes are understood in the minds of individuals but not well documented, thus leaving room for ambiguity.  Many people use subjective reasoning and experience to make decision which leads to inconsistencies as the process is not well defined in their minds.  Unfortunately many decisions made and actions taken result in consequences, thus causality.  Thus one event (cause) results in a related activity (effect).  In business many effects are counterproductive as a result of bad decisions in previous processes.
System development and defining a workflow is hard as computer logic expects explicit decision structures and processes, there can not be any ambiguity or any step left out.  As a technical resource developing a workflow, the business process needs to be implemented exactly and it is our task is to extract the process from the business user.  However, most business users have never given great thought to the process as the live on a wing and a prayer dealing with causality on a daily basis.  This often yields to flawed processes which are technically hard coded, resulting in a flawed system.
A flawed business process will result in a system workflow that automates the process, thus a botch-up results in an automated botch-up.

An application is workflow

No matter how you look at it we ultimately write applications to facilitate or automate some business process.  The activities the user performs on the system, is part of some business process.
The application itself is a set of methods that create objects and execute other methods based on logic. The statements within each method also forms part of a process of tasks.  Is this not a workflow.  Windows events may occur, triggering off processes, such as clicks and timers.  This leads us to a complex design issue as we are actually dealing with many different types of workflows.

Types of workflows

Business workflow

Our organizations are full workflows that you, me and our coworkers carry out each and every day.  All of these activities require us to do something in a set manner with deterministic outcomes. These tasks may require us to discuss a topic with others, perform manual work, validate and check, make a decision based on criteria or even capture information into a system.

Human Interface Workflow

A single system attempts to guide the user through different screens with deterministic outcomes.  If you click on a button a certain dialog will appear, and if you click on another button something else will appear.  As we navigate through the system, information is passed from screen to screen thus attempting to guide you through a process.
The challenge is that applications facilitate many processes activities, and the user needs to learn what to click in order to resume the process.  The user either needs to capture some information to start off a process within the application, alternatively the user needs to query or read some information to resume a manual process.
The human interface workflow thus is used to assist the user navigating through your application and retaining state of what the user is doing.  You may want to think of your application as a giant wizard interface with screens and reports that you allow the user to navigate through by clicking or typing things.
In writing a human workflow, technical tasks such as retrieving or storing data, checking spelling is done through System workflow's.  There is a coupling between the Human Interface and the System Workflow, i.e. events in the HIW trigger off system workflows.

System Workflow

Systems either monitor user events (clicks) or system events (timers, data arrival, i/O)  and based on the event a sequence of code activities (methods) execute.  These activities normally perform both technical overhead tasks such as opening connections to databases, beginning and committing transactions, to computations, decision trees and even storing and retrieving data.
As I am writing for technical people, each and every method you write should do a single task (activity), there may also be a need for you to write a method that chains the calling of other methods.  Your system workflow is the nuts and bolts that make the application do what it is supposed to do and this is normally good old fashioned programming.

System-to-System workflow

In our organization we cannot expect to have one system as we have divisions such as departments with different processes, these differences require different systems that allow a user to do his/her job.  Many times a single person may interact with different systems as they are performing different processes.  This is normal in business.
However, when looking at the business holistically, there are many commonalities that are shared across systems, take for example the customer.  You need a system to capture and identify the customer, however the customer is used by sales, by accounting, by credit control, by provisioning and many other departments. 
It is impossible virtually impossible to have one system that runs the entire business, as we may custom develop systems in different time frames, we may also purchase off-the shelf systems.  There is no single system that can run the entire business, from web presence and portal, document manage, CRM, Financial, HR and Payroll, Security and authentication, printing, Communication, Data base, Business intelligence and forgive me for not going on for pages and pages.
Typically systems were done at a departmental and role level and required manual communication when discussing with other departments,  e.g. Sales receiving an order and forwarding it to billing, credit and provisioning.
With technology today we want to interchange data between our systems and automatically trigger off workflow on those systems so that we stop human miscommunication.  This is what system to system workflow are all about.   This can be tricky as security, information format and interchange methods come to play, i.e. What information, how does it look, how do we protect it, how do we send it and and in what format do we send it.

Business-to-business workflow

Business-to-business workflows are ultimately System-to-system workflows  but they now are going to vendors, partners and customers which are different legal entities.  There are challenges of using standards to totally decouple technology, not everyone is using MS products and all of their products.  There are legal issues to worry about and things such as non-repudiation.  Business-to-business workflow are normally more legally intense and I feel that they need to be managed differently.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Know Bangladesh ICT Policy Past and Present - Future In your Hand

ব্যান্ডউইথ'ই তথ্যপ্রযুক্তি, তথ্যপ্রযুক্তি মানেই ব্যান্ডউইথ।একবিংশ শতাব্দীর দ্বিতীয় দশকে একটা দেশ তথ্যপ্রযক্তিতে কতটুকু ডেভলপ করেছে তা জানতে আর কোন ডাটা দরকার নেই, শুধু ঐ দেশের ব্যান্ডউইথ ইউজ ও জনসংখ্যা রেশিও দিয়েই ফুল জানা যাবে।যার মানে বর্তমান তথ্যপ্রযুক্তির অর্থনীতি- রাজনীতির এই বিশ্বে অর্থনীতি ও উন্নয়নের প্রথম ইন্ডিকেটর হচ্ছে দেশটির পারক্যাপটা ব্যন্ডউইথ কত ? তো চলুন তথ্যপ্রযুক্তিতে সর্বদা সবার পিছে পশ্চাদপদ বাংলাদেশ যে ২০০৬ সালে প্রথম সাবমেরিন ক্যবলে সংযুক্ত হয়ে তার অতীতের ক্ষতি কাটিয়ে না উঠে কি করছে ? যেখানে এর একমাত্র নীতিমালা হওয়া উচিত, কিভাবো আরও বেশি ব্যন্ডউইথ ব্যবহার করা যায়, সেই বাংলাদেশে ব্যান্ডউইথ নিয়ে কি করছে ? আজকাল মার্কেটে ১ জিবি কন্টেন্টের ভ্যাট সহ প্রায় ৪০০/- টাকায় বিক্রি হয় -গ্রামীনফোন ইন্টারনেটের পি-6 প্যাকেজে।আরএক প্যাকেজে ৩ এমবি কন্টেন্ট এর দাম ৯/- টাকা, অন্যএক প্যাকেজে ৯৯ এমবি ৯৯/- টাকা - গতি অবশ্যই সর্বদা সমান, ৫ কেবিপিএস।রেইটগুলো উল্লেখ করার কারন, সামান্য এক এমবি, এক জিবি নেট কন্টেন্টের জন্য দেশের সাধারন মানুষকে কত টাকা খরচ করতে হয় তার সম্পর্কে দৃষ্টি আকর্ষন করতে।

এই যে, এত যে মূল্যবান ও প্রয়োজনীয় এই ব্যান্ডউইথ, বর্তমান যুগে অন্ন বস্ত্র বাসস্থানের পরেই ব্রডব্যান্ড হবে জনগণের মৌলিক চাহিদার একটি, তাকে বুঝে, না বুঝে আমাদের রাষ্ট্রীয় নীতি নির্ধারকরা কি রকম হাস্যকর অব্যবস্থাপনায় রেখেছে তা দেখলে, আমি শিওর হাসতে হাসতে আপনার লুঙ্গি খুলে যাবে।গত ২০০৯ সালের মার্চ মাসে বাংলাদেশ সাবমেরিন ক্যবলের কোম্পানীর ওয়েবসাইটের এক নটিশে দেখেছিলাম - বাংলাদেশ ২০০৬ সালের মে মাসে ৭ জিবিপিএস ব্যান্ডউইথ নিয়ে সিমিউই-৪ সাবমেরিন ক্যবলে প্রথমবারের মত যুক্ত হয়ে, ২০০৭ সালের ডিসেম্বরে ১ম আপগ্রেডেশনের মাধ্যমে ২৪ জিবিপিএস ও ২০০৮ সালে ডিসেম্বরে ২য় আপগ্রেডেশনে এই সংযোগে ৪৫ জিবিপিএস ব্যান্ডউইথ অর্জন করে।সেখানে আরও উল্লেখ ছিল, ডিসেম্বর ২০০৯ এ এই ল্যান্ডিং স্টেশনে ৩য় আপগ্রেডেশন করা হবে যেখান আরও ১১০ জিবিপিএস যুক্তু হবে। আরও ছিল, ঐ মুহুর্তে সারাদেশে ১০ জিবিপিএস ব্যান্ডউইথ ব্যবহার হচ্ছে এবং বাড়তি ব্যান্ডউইথ সরকার ২০১৩-১৪ সাল পর্যন্ত চাহিদার কথা বিবেচনা করে সংরক্ষণ ও রপ্তানী করার চিন্তা ভাবনা করছে।কত বড় ইডিয়ট চিন্তা করুন ? আপনি বিষয়টি বুঝলে অবশ্যই মাথার চুল ছিরতে ইচ্ছা করবে ? পরবর্তী আরেক নোটিশে দেখা যায় দেশে এখন ১৫ জিবিপিএস ব্যবহার হচ্ছে, এই মুহুর্তেও তাই।

তাহলে আমরা গত ৩ বছর ধরে কি করে আসছি ? মাত্র ১৫ জিবিপিএস ব্যান্ডউইথ ব্যবহার করছি আর বাকি ৩০ জিবিপিএস ব্যান্ডউইথের কি হইলো ? কোন ব্যাংকে জমা আছে ? ব্যান্ডউইথ কি বিদ্যুৎ নাকি, যে মোবাইলের ব্যাটারী চার্জ দিয়ে ল্যাপটপ চার্জ দিয়ে কিছু রেখে দিবেন ? তারমানে অব্যবহৃত রাখছি ? - ব্যবহার করিনি, মানে ফেলে দিয়েছি ? এক সময় শুনতাম, আমেরিকা নাকি তার উৎপাদিত বাড়তি গম সমুদ্রে ফেলে দিত - বাংলাদেশ কি ইন্টারনেট ব্যান্ডউইথে সে পর্যায় চলে গেছে ? বলেন কি ? দঃকোরিয়া বাংলাদেশের অর্ধেক জনগণ নিয়েও এই মুহুর্তে কত ব্যান্ডউইথ ব্যবহার করছে, জানেন ? ১১ টি ক্যবলে দঃকোরিয়া এই মুহুর্তে ২৫ টেরাবিট/সেকেন্ড বা ২৫০০০ জিবিপিএস ব্যবন্ডউইথ ব্যবহার করছে।আর আমরা ১৬ কোটি জনগণের বাংলাদেশ মাত্র ৪৫ জিবিপিএস এর মধ্য ৩০ জিবিপিএস ফেলে দিচ্ছি !!!! চলুন তো এই ফেলে দেয়া পরিমানটার বাজার মূল্যটা একটু দেখি! সাবমেরিন ক্যবলে গত ৩ বছরে (৩০ x ৬০ x ৬০ x ২৪ x ৩৬৫ x ৩) ভাগ ১০০০ = ২৮,৩৮,২৪০ টেরাবিট বা প্রায় ৩০ লক্ষ টেরাবিট কন্টেন্ট অব্যবহৃত ছিল।এখন প্রতি জিবি ১০০/- টাকা করে ধরলেও এই ক্ষতির আর্থিক পরিমান ২৮,৩৮,২৪০ x ১০০ x ১০০০ = ২৮৩,৮২,৪০,০০,০০০ টাকা বা প্রায় ৩০ হাজার কোটি টাকা

আচ্ছা বলুনতো, সাবমেরিন ক্যবল সংযোগের আগে অর্থাৎ ২০০৬ সালের আগে, বিটিসিএল এর তত্ত্ববধানে হংকং থেকে রেডিও লিংকে ভিস্যাটের মাধ্যমে যতটুকু ব্যান্ডউইথ লিজ নেয়া হতো আমরা কি তার সবটুকু ব্যবহার করতাম ? অবশ্যই ইউজ করতাম, কারন জনগণের টাকায় কেনা ব্যান্ডউইথ জনগণ ব্যবহার না করার কোন যুক্তি বা সুযোগ নেই, এটা খুব সহজ হিসাব, এটা ভিষন অন্যায়, আর বাংলাদেশের মত দেশের জন্য মহাপাপ।ব্যান্ডউইথ এমন কোন জিনিষ না যে তাকে এখন ব্যবহার না করে ভবিষ্যতের জন্য সরক্ষন করা যায় বা কিছু ব্যান্ডউইথ ভবিষ্যৎ চাহিদা মেটানোর জন্য রেখে দেয়াও নির্বুদ্ধিতা।পৃথিবীর কোন দেশ এই কাজটা করে না।কোন দেশের যদি একটা না, দশটা সাবমেরিন ক্যবলও থাকে তাহলেও তার সবটুকু ব্যান্ডউইথই ইউজারদের জন্য এ্যালোকেট করে। দেশে দেশে ব্যান্ডউইথ নিয়ে যা করা হয়, তা হলো হাজারো রকমের পলিসি করা, মূল্য, প্যাকেজ, ফ্রী, গতি ইত্যাদী ক্যাটাগরি করে কিভাবে আরও বেশি ব্যন্ডউইথ ইউজ করা যায় ও ইফিসিয়েন্ট ইউজ করা যায় সেই লক্ষ্য সামনে রেখে।

আর আমরা বিশ্বে সবশেষ দেশ হিসাবে সাবমেরিন ক্যবলে যুক্ত হয়ে গত ৩ বছর ধরে দুই-তৃতীয়াংশ ব্যান্ডউইথ অব্যবহৃত রেখে জনগণকে তাদের প্রাপ্য থেকে বঞ্চিত করলাম।একটু খেয়াল করে দেখেন, আমরা গত ৩ বছরে আপনার যে ডিজিটাল অগ্রগতি হয়েছেন বলে আপনি আস্ফালন করেন, তার পরিমান কিন্তু অব্যবহারের অর্থেক বা ১৪,১৯,১২০ টেরাবিট'ই।এইটুকু কন্টেন্টই বাংলাদেশ গত ৩ বছরে আপলোড ও ডাউনলোড করেছে।আজ নেটে সার্চ দিয়ে যা বাংলার কন্টেন্ট পান তা এরই অংশ -৩ বছর বাংলাদেশ এটুকুই দক্ষতা ও অভিজ্ঞতা অর্জন করেছে।যদি এই ব্যবহারের পরিমান ৪২,৫৭,৪০০ টেরাবিট হতো তাহলে আজ আরও এত পরিমান নেটে আপলোড/ডাউনলোড হতো নাকি ? এতে আপনার উন্নতি কি কম হতো, না বেশি ? আপনি জানেন কি আজ পর্যন্ত ভিয়েতনামের কন্টেন্ট অভিজ্ঞতা কয় শত কোটি টেরাবিট ?

এবার আর একটি মজার কাহিনী দেখুন, প্রধানমন্ত্রী থেকে শুরু করে আজ আওয়ামী লীগের ওয়ার্ড সভাপতিরাও মাইকে গলা ফাটায়া বলেন, ১৯৯৪ সালে বিএনপি সাবমেরিন ক্যবলে সংযুক্ত না হয়ে বাংলাদেশের সর্বশ্রেষ্ঠ ক্ষতিটি করেছে - এই কথা শুনে গর্ধপ টেলিযোগাযোগ মন্ত্রী থেকে শরু করে ঢাবির ভিসি পযন্ত হাত তালি দেয়।চলুনতো সে সময়ের ক্ষতির পরিমানটি টাকা ভ্যালুতে দেখি! কি বলেন ? সে সময় সাবমেরিন ক্যবল না থাকলেও আমারা ভিস্যাটের মাধ্যমে আনা নেট ইউজ করেছিলাম।যার পরিমান সর্বোচ্চ কয়েক এমবিপিএস থেকে ২০০৬ সালে এসে সর্বোচ্চ ৫০০ এমবিপিএস ছিল।ততকালীন সিমিউই-৩ ক্যবলে, ১৯৯৪ সালে বাংলাদেশ সংযুক্ত হলে ২০০৬ পর্যন্ত আপগ্রেড করে সর্বচ্চ ৫০০ এমবিপিএস থেকে ২ জিবিপিএস পর্যন্ত ব্যান্ডউইথ পেতো। তাহলে ১২ বছরে বিএনপি ক্ষতি করেছে সর্বোচ্চো ৩,৭৮,৪৩২ টেরাবিট কন্টেন্ট। সুতরাং দেখা যায় বর্তমান সরকার ৩ বছরেই সেই সময় বিএনপির করা ক্ষতির ৯ গুন বেশি ক্ষতি করেছে।

এখানেই শেষ নয়, সেদিন ডাক ও টেলিযোগাযোগ মন্ত্রী এক অনুষ্ঠানে জানালেন, গত বছর অক্টবর মাসে আমাদের সাবমেরিন ক্যবল তৃতীয় আপগ্রডেশনের মাধ্যমে মাত্র ৫০ কোটি টাকা খরচ করে ৪৫ জিবিবিএস থেকে ১৬৪ জিবিপিএস সংযোগে উন্নিত হয়েছে।তার মানে গত ৩ মাস যাবৎ ব্যবহার করছি ১৫ জিবিপিএস আর অব্যবহৃত রাখছি ১৫০ জিবিপিএস -হায়হায়হায়।এটাও কিন্তু ঠিক না, আরও আছে, এই যে তৃতীয় আপগ্রেডেশনটি তা সিডিউল মত হওয়ার কথা ছিল ২০০৯ সালে ডিসেম্বর মাসে।এরপর ২০১০ সালে ও ২০১১ সালের আপগ্রেডেশন এই ক্যবলটি আজ তার সর্বশেষ ১.২৮ টেরাবিট ব্যন্ডউইথে উন্নিত হয়ে গেছে।শ্রীলাংকার'ই এই একই ক্যবলে ১ টেরাবিট ব্যন্ডউইথ আছে আজ।এরপর এক সময় ক্যাপাসিটি কমে কমে তাড়টি রিজেক্ট হবে। তাহলে দেখেন ৩ বছরে বিএনপির কয়েকশ গুন বেশি ক্ষতি করেছে ? তাই বলছিলাম ১৯৯৪ সালে সাবমেরিন ক্যবল মাথায় না দিয়ে বিএনপি যা ক্ষতি করেছিল, গত ৩ বছরেই আওয়ামী লীগ তার ৩০০ গুনেরও বেশি ক্ষতি করেছে -হিসাব সহ দেখাইয়া দেওয়া যাবে -শুধু দেশের শিক্ষিত-মূর্খরা বুঝবে না এই যা, কারন এরা সব টিউব লাইট, তাই সরকারের প্রতিটি মাইর এদের বুঝতেই ৫ বছর লেগে যায়।

তারপরও আমরা আশা রাখি একদিন সময় থাকতেই আমরা বুঝব, সেদিন প্রথমেই এদের প্রত্যেকটার দপ্তরের চেয়ারের পেছনের অর্নার বোড থেকে নাম ঠিকানা নিয়ে এদের খুজে বের করবো!!!!! দেশের তথ্যপ্রযুক্তির ভবিষ্যৎ খুবই ভয়ংকর অবস্থার মধ্যে দিয়ে পার করছে।সঠিক সময়ে আপগ্রেডেশন করে সিমিউই-৪ ক্যবলে যত কম মূল্যে আমরা টেরাবিট ব্যান্ডউইথ পাব তা যদি এবার মিস করি তাহলে আর রক্ষা নাই।আবার হাজার কোটি টাকা খরচ করে এই ফ্যামেলির পরবর্তী ক্যবলে সংযোগ নিতে অনেক দেরী তারপর আবার কম ব্যান্ডউইথ দিয়ে শুরু করে গ্রেজুয়ালী আপগ্রেড করতে হবে।যেমন দেখুন ২০০৬ সালে ৮৫০ কোটি টাকায় মাত্র ৭ জিবিপিএস ব্যান্ডউইথ পেয়েছিলাম আবার একই ক্যবলে ২০০৯ সালে আপগ্রেডে মাত্র ৫০ কোটি টাকায় ১১০ জিবিপিএস যোগ হয়ে হয়েছে ১৬৫ জিবিপিএস।১৯৯৪ সালে সংযোগ না নিয়ে আমরা যে ক্ষতি করেছি সেটা তেমন ক্ষতি ছিল না, কারন চাহিদা কম থাকায় ভিস্যাটেই তা সম্ভব ছিল কিন্তু বর্তমান গিগাবিট গতির বিশ্বে এবারের ক্ষতি ২০২৫ সাল পর্যন্ত পঙ্গু করে দেবে আমাদের।এই ক্যবলে অলরেডি দুই বছর ড্রপ মারছেন।এই ক্যবলে যদি ক্যবলের সর্বোচ্চ ব্যন্ডউইথ না ধরতে পারেন তাহলে আপনাদের শেষ রক্ষাও হবেনা।তখন ভারত থেকে টেরেস্টারিয়াল লিংকে প্রতি জিবি ৫০ কোটি হারে নিলেও দেশকে বাঁচাতে পারবেন না।একটা কথা বলি, আপনাদের মাথায় না ঢুকলেও ধরে নেন অক্সিজেন ছাড়া মানুষ বাঁচলেও ভবিষ্যতে সভ্যতা অর্থনীতি ব্যান্ডউইথ ছাড়া বাঁচবে না।

একবার ভেবে দেখেছেন, এখনই আমরা বলছি দেশে দুই কোটি নেট ইউজার আছে ১৫-২০% আরও আওয়াজ দিচ্ছি ২০১৫ সালের মধ্যে লক্ষ্য ৪৫% পেনিট্রেশনের, কিছু বোঝেন ? এই হিসাবে মুহুর্তেই বর্তমান নেটওয়ার্কেই বাংলাদেশের অন্তত ৪০০ জিবিপিএস ব্যান্ডউইথ ব্যবহার করার কথা ছিল।আর ৩জি করার পর এই দুই কোটি ইউজারকে ডেডিকেটেড ৫ এমবিপিএস দিতেও যদি ১ লক্ষ জিবিপিএস লাগে তাহলে সর্বচ্চ কোন ফর্মুলায় শেয়ার করে আপনি ১০০০ জিবিপিএস বা ১ টেরাবিটের নিচে ব্যান্ডউইথ দিয়ে ৫ এমবিপিএস গতির লোয়েস্ট থ্রীজি দিতে পারবেন ? হিসাব করে নীতিনির্ধারকদের দেখাতে বলেন ? অথচ এই মুহুর্তে আপনার আছে মাত্র ১৬৫ জিবিপিএস।আবার ব্যবহার করছেন ১৫ জিবিপিএস, আহাম্মক কোনহানকার।

অথচ গত তিন বছর ধরে বাংলাদেশের ইন্টারনেটের গতি নিয়া কি করা হচ্ছে তা এই পোষ্টে দেখুন। বাংলাদেশে ইন্টারনেট আছে নাকি, কি বলেন ? গতি কই ?

এইদিকে কম্পিউটার বিজ্ঞানী সজিব ওয়াজেদ জয়ের টাইট-ইন্টারনেট + পাগলা দোয়েল = শেখ হাসিনার টাল-বাংলাদেশ।

আর বিএনপির কথা বলবেন খালেদা জিয়া চিটাগাংয়ের ভাষনে জাতিকে সব দিয়া কুইট্টালাইলেও, ইন্টারনেট, থ্রীজি বন্ধের পূর্বাভাস দিলেন।

৩ বছর পূর্তিতে প্রধানমন্ত্রী আজ জাতীর উদ্দেশ্যে ভাষন দিয়েছেন - ডিজিটাল বাংলাদেশ অংশ।

ডিজিটাল বাংলাদেশ ৩ বছর খতিয়ান - খুবই গুরুত্বপূর্ন।

ড্রাফ্ট চলছে।এতো গেল মাত্র ১০% কামের খতিয়ান, ডিজিটাল বাংলাদেশের আরও অন্তত ৫০টা ইস্যূ আছে, আসছে, সাথে থাকেন, শেয়ার করেন, স্টিকি করার দাবী তুইলা লাভ নাই সামু কেন কোন মিডিয়াই সরকারের এই তথ্যটি প্রকাশ করার সাহস পাবে না।তাই পোষ্টটি নেটে হাজার হাজার শেয়ার দেন।আমি কথা দিচ্ছি দেশের তথ্যপ্রযুক্তি নিয়া প্রতিটি ষড়যন্ত্রের আপডেট দিব এই পোষ্টে।

ভাবছেন যেই বিষয়টি নিয়ে কারও মিনিমাম সচেতনতা নেই আমি কেন এত সিরিয়াস ? কারন আমি বিশ্বাস করি- তথ্যপ্রযুক্তি ছাড়া বাংলাদেশের আর কোন সমাধান নাই, আবার এই বিষয়েই দেশটি বিশ্বে সবচেয়ে পশ্চাদপদ, ভবিষ্যৎ পৃথিবীতে তথ্যপ্রযুক্তি ছাড়া একটা দেশ হয়ে পরবে সবচেয়ে অযোগ্য।আমি আরও বিশ্বাস করি, শুধু সঠিক নীতির মাধ্যমে ডিজিটাল বাংলাদেশ করা বিশ্বের অন্য যেকোন দেশের চেয়ে সহজ - বলতে পারেন এটা জাতির সৌভাগ্য, সৃষ্টিকর্তার আশির্বাদ।

পোষ্টটি যত পারেন শেয়ার করবেন, কারন সামু কেন কোন মিডিয়ার সাহস নেই এটি স্টিকি করে।অথচ দেশের এই অসহায় করুন চিত্র অন্তত দশ লাখ লোকের পড়া উচিত।

Monday, January 16, 2012

How to use Google Analytics to Drive more Traffic to Your Website

There are probably thousands of articles on the web talking about Google Analytics, such as how to use the free reporting tool, how to set up Google Analytics for your website, and what Google Analytics reports you can take advantage of. This is all great information, especially for novice website designers. What I think is missing is the most critical piece of information, which is “How do I analyze these Google Analytics reports in order to actually make impactful changes to my website?” In this article we are going to answer that question, as well as, provide you with some examples of taking certain data from Google Analytics, analyzing it, and then using it to make changes to your website and/or website marketing.

Tools like Google Analytics allow you to check your website traffic data as frequently as you’d like. I definitely recommend keeping an eye on your Google Analytics reports daily or weekly. With that said, we all know that checking your reports and actually taking time to analyze them are two different tasks. This is why I recommend that every website owner take a full day each quarter to analyze their reports and implement any needed changes to their website based on what the data is showing.

It’s easy to get lost in Google Analytics. There is SO much data that you can analyze. Not only is there a ton of data, but the ways in which you can slice it up seem almost endless. Every website owner is going to have different reports to focus on, but there are a few main data points that all website owners should be aware of during their quarterly reviews:

Traffic Sources – Keywords: Knowing which keywords are driving the most quality visitors to your website is crucial. You can begin optimizing more of your website around these keywords in order to capitalize on those searches.Traffic Sources – Referring Sites: Understanding which websites are sending the most quality traffic to your website will allow you to focus more effort and time on those sites, and less of your time on under performing websites, moving forward.Visitors

Overview: How much of your website traffic is new visitors versus returning visitors? Knowing this might help you phrase content different or run certain marketing programs geared towards one type of visitor versus the other.Content Overview – Top Pages: Having an idea of what pages are performing best will tell you what content your visitors are interested in. Produce more of that!

Visits: What days do you have the most traffic to your website? Knowing what days visitors are coming to your website allows you to publish new content or launch promotions on those days in order to capture the most attention.

Now that we have an understanding of some of the most important reports to analyze for your website, let’s dig into each of them to provide examples on how you can use the data to make real impactful changes to your website and website marketing.

Knowing which keywords to optimize your website with is crucial in attracting the right visitors. Here’s how you can utilize the Keyword reports in Google Analytics:

Go into the Traffic Sources Overview section of Google AnalyticsFind your Top ten performing keywords and make a list of those keywordsGo back through your website and begin infusing them into your website contentUse them as anchor text for your URLsName your images with your top ten keywordsAdd title tags and Alt tags to your images using your top ten keywordsCreate a list of new blog topics that you want to write about and be sure to infuse your top ten keywords into those articles

By analyzing your Traffic Sources – Keywords report and following the steps above you will significantly increase your website traffic for those specific keywords.

Once you have completed this first main Keyword optimization during your Quarterly review, go BACK through your Keyword report and sort the results by Average Time on Site. Find five keywords that might not be driving a lot of traffic to your website right now, but the traffic that is coming to your site from those keywords tends to spend a lot of time on your site. These are your “growth keywords”. Repeat the steps above using these keywords to see if with a little more use throughout your website they can produce more traffic.

Knowing which websites (or social media channels) around the web that are referring the most traffic to your website is critical. As a website owner you only have so much time in the day to market your site. It’s best to use that time wisely. Follow these steps in order to analyze your traffic sources and make impactful changes to your website marketing:

Go into your Traffic Sources report within Google Analytics and review the Top Referring Sites dataAsk yourself, are these the websites that I assumed would be near the top? Are these the websites I’m spending the most time using in order to drive traffic to my website?Start trying to figure out why some sites are near the top of this list, while others are near the bottom. Perhaps one of the websites near the top is a site that you recently wrote a guest blog article for. Contact the owner of that site and see if you can write another article for them.Is LinkedIn outperforming Facebook? If so, you may want to tweak the amount of time you spend on both social media sites, with more time being devoted to LinkedIn next quarter instead of Facebook. This strategy can be repeated for all social media sites that you use.Is Banner Ad ‘A’ outperforming Banner Ad ‘B’? If so, perhaps you want to cancel Banner Ad ‘B’ and ask for more space on the website that’s hosting Banner Ad ‘A’.Is there a website that you don’t recognize that’s currently sending a lot of traffic to your website? Reach out to the owner of that website and see if you can partner with them in some way in order to capitalize even more on all of the traffic they are sending your way.

Using the Referral Sources report in Google Analytics will help you become more efficient with your marketing time and more effective at driving traffic to your website.

Analyzing your Visitor Profile through the Visitors Overview report in Google Analytics will let you know how much of your traffic is composed of ‘New Visitors’ and how much of your traffic is composed of ‘Repeat Visitors’. You want to encourage new visitors to become return visitors, as well as, continue to attract even more new visitors. Here are a few ways that you can take your data from the Visitors Overview report and actually use it to improve your website:

Post some sort of a ’Thank You’ message somewhere prominent on your website for returning visitors OR send out the periodic ‘Thank You’ email to your email list just letting your supporters know you appreciate them.Do you have an e-Commerce website? Give repeat customers a discount on their next purchase.Create a ‘FAQ’ page to help new visitors quickly understand your website and how to use itMake the ‘Contact Us’ page as prevalent as possible in case new visitors have questions and need to contact youCreate a survey for returning customers to capture information that you think will help you provide more value to them in the futureRun a contest to encourage new customers to get engaged with your website/brand

Understanding what content is resonating with your visitors will help you come up with new content topics for the next quarter.

Go into the Content Overview section of Google Analytics and navigate to the Top Pages reportFind the top 5-6 pages visited over the past 3-6 monthsThink about what information is displayed on each of those pages and determine what information the majority of your visitors are looking forDevelop a Content Plan for the next quarter, comprised of topics that you think are most relevant based on your findings above. A few ideas might be:Write blog articles around popular topicsFocus social media efforts in promoting those top pages or discussing those top topicsWrite an eBook expanding on some of those topics that your visitors are finding valuableShoot YouTube videos around those topics and embed them into your Top Pages

Producing more of the content that your visitors are finding valuable will keep them coming back, get them to share your website with their friends, and attract new visitors.

Are the weekends a popular time for your website or do most people visit your website during the week? Knowing what days are high traffic days for your website and what days are low traffic days for your website allows you to be much more strategic in regards to publishing new updates to your website. By analyzing the Visits report in Google Analytics you can see which days seem to generate the most traffic. Make a list of your high traffic days and then start taking advantage of those high traffic days in the following ways:

Publish blog articles on those daysBegin and end contests on high traffic daysSpend time on social media during those daysPublish events to your websiteMake architecture or functionality updates on low traffic days

Knowing when, and when not to, publish new information to your website can drastically alter the number of views your new updates receive. Be smart about when you publish new content, news, events, etc. Use the Visits report in Google Analytics as your guide.

Google Analytics is great. The website data provided by Google Analytics can help website owners learn a ton about their website. With that said, unless website owners take time to review and analyze their reports on a regular basis, and then take time to use that data to make changes to their website, they are missing out on the biggest advantage that Google Analytics provides. Google Analytics provides you with a blueprint for giving your visitors what they want, when they want it. Be sure to take advantage of that.
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How To Create An Effective FAQ For Your Website

Frequently Asked Questions is a good section to have in your website. They give users a chance to figure out things by themselves instead of wasting resources (both yours and theirs) with a 1-to-1 conversation (chat, Skype, messenger and so on).

But FAQ’s are a different type of content. Just like search and sitemap, it has its own particularities and things that you can do to improve user experience. You have to keep in mind, for instance, that users don’t go to FAQ pages, you have to lead them there.

Here we’ll see a couple of thoughts about it, good practices, inspiration and tools.
So, let’s rock!

Ok, first thing you need to keep in mind: Users don’t read on the web. They scan the page trying to find main keywords about something that may be important to them (just like 90% of you are doing right now). So use good headlines and questions keywords, avoid clichés and keep them short.
If you can, outline main keywords, like searched terms, or main topics.

For a long time FAQs have been misused, instead of real and relevant content, companies put questions they “wished” users would ask (WAQ, Wished to be Asked Questions).

It’s very important to put users needs first, just cover topics that are really important to them. Otherwise it’ll be just another page trying to hide the solution from them. Which, by the way, won’t solve the problem at all, leading to future problems, like unnecessary support requests, or lost sales.
People don’t go looking for FAQs. It’s not a common workflow thinking “Hey, I need to know about their refund policy.. Let’s go to FAQ”. Sounds strange, huh?

So you have to interlink it wisely in places where users may need help. Like using them along with search pages. Or using them as a “wall” before chat with real attendants: Ask the user what kind of problem they have, then suggest a few FAQ searched items based on the users keywords.

FAQ are great to provide complete answers, but if you just want to tell users how features work, or which type of data they should put in a registration form just go with tooltips or something like that.
Oh, and don’t forget to make it easy and mobile friendly, or in other words, don’t use just a simple hovering element or title attribute. You may use a plugin or add it as a plain text right above your field or button.

I know I’m saying that it’s important, but it has its place in websites. It’s a good idea for sales websites, services, apps… But if you have a simple blog or simple company website, just create an “about” page and you’ll be fine.

Have you ever thought about it? If you have a single page with good keyword density about your product and link it in several places inside your website, it can be a really good landing page.
So, think carefully about it, it may lead a lot of users to your website.

Again, Keep It Simple, Stupid my friend .You don’t need to clarify every single question that may pop up about your product. You may categorize questions (if you have a huge amount of them), show content just when users need it.

Just keep in mind that landing page idea, you have to talk about the most main topics and solve users problems fast, if not they will just leave website.

Like I said above, you may hide content by default and just show it when a user wants/requires it. You can use, for instance, jQuey Collapsible panels plugin and create dynamically collapsible panels. You can also use jQuery accordion plugins.

Another good thing to do, is add a “Table of contents” with smooth scrolling, so users can reach what they want easily and with a pretty cool effect.

You may use smooth scrolling scripts or something like LocalScroll so you’ll get a better organized and easier to use FAQ page.

Well, Matthew Corner wrote a tutorial with smooth scrolling, table of contents and good looking, and you can just download and edit it to better fit your needs.

Although many people use simple headings (h2,h3) for questions and paragraphs for answers, I think that it’s much more semantically correct using definition lists for them. So you may use definition title(s) and definition description(s) to wrap them up accordingly.

Another option, really good one actually, is to use the
HTML5 element, which gives you those good looking collapsible panels by default (with browsers that support it, of course).

Paypal uses a really good system where users can see their FAQ or search by keywords, as well.

It pretty common to have users asking you really dumb questions. Don’t get me wrong, but sometimes they could easily find the answer themselves, if we gave them a chance.

Did you know that we have a tool for FAQ development? Pretty cool, huh? It’s called FAQme, and worth trying!

If you’re more of a social company, why not use a tool that integrates questions and people? Well, I’ve seen a couple of (young) companies using FormSpring as a simple way to answer real questions and let them be easily accessed by other clients

View the original article here

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Can Sociology Improve Your Designs?

An artist is a creative who creates to satisfy their own aesthetic pleasure, unconcerned with the wants and needs of others. However a designer is a creative who creates in hopes of satisfying the wants and needs of others with their art, casting aside their own individual creative desires. This is an important fact to always keep in mind for any professional in the creative field, because quite often we tend to forget that we make our living creating art that MUST be found appealing to others and not just ourselves. Of course for any person with creative talent this is a major downside, but that is what we sign up for when taking on the designer role. Now, what does sociology have to do with any of this?

Whether graphic designer, web designer, user interface designer, or any other profession that ends in the word designer, your job is to make art that others will enjoy. This logic behind this creative industry goes hand in hand with the principles of sociology, and corresponds with what the career sociologist does everyday in their respective field. To get a better understanding of the relationship of sociology and design, let’s first take time to understand exactly what sociology is.

Sociology can be best described as a broad study of the people, culture, living environment, and any other factor that may have the potential to shape someone into the person they are. This easily being summarized into one word, society. Now one can read that description and come to a conclusion that the approach of using sociology as a designer, is quite the same approach as using the well discussed psychology.  In a respective comparison between the two studies, psychology is better defined as the study of the mind and sociology more so a study of the society (people, location, culture, experiences, etc.) that shapes a particular person may be apart of.

To get a good grasp on Sociology, the only real way is to sit down and take the time to learn. Of course we all don’t have the time to do that, so we are going to look at a few Sociological principles that I personally always try to remember.

The culture of my target audienceThe age range of my target audienceThe social status of my target audienceThe geographical region of my target audienceThe current social changes(technology, cultural movements, political changes, etc.) taking place

In the introduction of this article, the idea that a designer’s main duty in their profession is to create art that is understood and appreciated by their audience.  While giving a brief overview of what sociology is, we learned that it is the study of societies and different social groups. The question presenting itself to us now is how do these two correspond with one another? Take a second, or minute if you must, and think about it. There is no rush, nobody is judging your reading and comprehension speed :).

All poorly attempted jokes aside, the career of a designer and the social science of sociology are a perfect fit together. Instead of presenting a  thoroughly descriptive explanation of sociology, we’re going to save that for a proper course and/or professor and look at a few common cases that showcase where a knowledge of sociology would be beneficial.

You are an American freelance web designer who has never set foot outside of the States. The only information you have about other countries is what you remember from school history classes, the little bit of news you read online, and a few TV shows and movies you like. Despite this, you are presented with a project from the Sudan’s Olympic football (soccer in America) club to design and develop their website. They give you creative freedom to do as you please, and their only request is that you make sure to embody cultural aspects of the Sudan in your design.

The Problem: The issue the web designer has here is that they have no idea about the culture of the Sudan, what interests the people, and how they like to be presented.

How Sociology Helps: The main concept taught when one is first entering into sociology is how to properly study, and understand the cultures of another society. By going over the basic structure of what makes up a society, what influences a society, and what procedures and customs are common to a particular society. If this said web designer in this situation were to have knowledge of sociology, they wouldn’t have nearly as difficult a time producing a work of quality for their Sudan client.
You are a graphic designer who specializes in creating graphics for promotional purposes. Your typical client is a company looking to promote a new product they are trying to introduce to a more adult audience. A new client approaches with a great project that really interests you, the only issue is that the client is asking you to create graphic work for a product being targeted at preteens.

The Problem: Throughout your career, you have always done projects whose key demographic was an adult audience. You have never even worked on anything aimed at teenagers, let alone preteens. To make this more difficult, you are well beyond the years of the preteen.

How Sociology Helps: One of the topics discussed in sociology is test groups. A test group is a controlled experiment consisting of different types of people in the demographic you are trying to reach. In this instance, the test group would be composed of preteens of  various social and economic backgrounds. If done correctly, based on the desired size of the test group, the graphic designer in this case would have selected a good diverse group of preteens and will have the knowledge of the proper questions to ask in a test group experiment.

You are a designer who specializes in working with musicians, bands, and other types of musical acts. Because of your affinity for Pop music, and your tendency to spend most of your time with those infused in the Pop culture, your clients are all musical acts of the Pop genre. One day you get approached by a Gothic band who plays Punk Rock.

The Problem: Unlike your usual clients, you have no idea how you can correctly approach this project. In this case you can’t use your own personal style or knowledge of the clients culture to create something of quality, simply because you are not personally interested in their culture.

How Sociology Helps: In Sociology one of the things discussed are subcultures. A subculture is formed by a group of people who develop their own culture, distinct and easily noticeable from the mainstream culture and other subcultures. In this case, the Gothic band is part of a subculture and the designer who is a member of the Pop culture would be considered mainstream culture. As well as properly defining this subgroup of a society, Sociology also provides knowledge base that teaches one how to properly study and learn about a subculture.

It is impractical for anyone to try and compact an entire subject of study into one article, especially one as multifaceted as Sociology. The purpose of this article was never to give a full breakdown of Sociology, and the ways you can use it to automatically improve your designs. Doing this would be unfair, and present a bad outlook of what this social science is. Like anything you study, the information may be the same, but the individual implementation of it varies from person to person. So hopefully by now you have seen how beneficial Sociology is to your design work, and will go out and further the knowledge you have on the subject. This can easily be done by taking an online course, maybe one at university if you are still in school or going back, or just taking the time to read some books. Here are a few things to remember to ask yourself whenever you are trying to approach an audience with your design that you are not accustom to.

What is the culture of their region?What are influencing factors that shape the society they live in?Would it be practical for me to conduct research using a test group?Is the outcome of my normal design approach going to bring a result that is offensive to them?
To learn more about how design differ from culture to culture, read:

View the original article here

3rd Party “Related Links” Widgets for Websites – Best Of

As owners and strategist of a website, we are always looking for more ways to increase the traffic and number of visitors to our website. While most of the techniques – social network promotions, advertising, word of mouth, etc – get you traffic from the outside, there are a few things you can do from the inside to increase your website’s overall traffic.

Increasing pageviews from inside the site is cheap, but requires a bit of a technique. When a visitor lands on one of your pages, find ways to encourage them to read the next page, and another page, and another and so on. One of the most common ways to do this is by using social toolbars.

The "Related link section" is yet another common practice used to encourage visitors to stay longer on our website by promoting and recommending them to read another article similar to what they are currently reading. If you are a WordPress user, you know that this can be done easily with plugins, or without plugins.

This method is a crowd favorite, and we now see many emerging third party services providing similar services – good news for non-Wordpress sites. In today’s post we take a detailed look into three of the most popular third-party related link services on the Internet.
Full list after the jump.

Outbrain‘s widget is pretty customizable; you can have it displaying links within your website (to increase pageviews), or from external yet still relevant websites, or a diplomatic combination of both. The widget can display thumbnails, simple text, or a combination of the two. There’s also a rating feature where visitors can rate an article based on a 5-star rating scale, or thumb up an article.

Customers like Slate, Huffington Post, ELLE and TMZ pay Outbrain to distribute their content. If you run a high-traffic website with high-quality content, displaying Outbrain’s paid distributions or sponsored posts may open up an additional revenue stream for you!

To understand more about Outbrain for publishers, click here.
Outbrain gets visitors more engaged by listing related posts, and has a paid distribution program, but it is only for websites that has more than 500,000 monthly US pageviews per month. Customizing junkies will love the fact that the

Outbrain’s CSS guide allows you to change your related content widget’s appearance to merge with your site design. If you get stuck, ask for help in the forum or from their newly released support for mobile website.

I encountered a problem, among others, with the installation. Upon signing up, a key is sent to you to input in your blog’s control panel. The "key claiming" process seems a little buggy, and you may need help from one of Outbrain’s staff for the claiming process. Also, you have no control over the size of the thumbnails no matter how customizable Outbrain gets.
Similar to what Outbrain does, nRelate’s Related Content displays related links from your blog/website or from your blogroll. Between the two, nRelate is easier to customize as it is easier to control which links and from which blog is to be displayed.

nRelate’s design is pretty responsive in a sense that it reads your website’s theme and follows it to fit the background. It supports 13 major languages, a perfect solution for non-English blogs. And according to nRelate you can get a traffic spike of somewhere between 5%-12%. That sounds like a great deal!
nRelate gives users the freedom and flexibility to manipulate the widget – from how texts should appear to the sizes of the thumbnails – through the control panel.

It also gives old content revived circulation, allowing them to get equal exposure as do their newer counterparts. In this, nRelate has an option to let you choose how far back you want archived posts to be recommended. nRelate also has a revenue-sharing program with its publishers/subscribers.
With about 12,500 publishers, nRelate has fewer publishers than Outbrain’s 70,000. Thus, you may not want to keep your hopes up with the traffic and revenue expectations. In addition, nRelate takes two hours or more to index your website upon installation. Recommended links will only start showing up after that.
LinkWithin is relatively new. It provides services similar to nRelate and Outbrain but currently it only shows related links from within the website. Other functions will probably come in at later stages.

Its selling point is in its simplicity: it is simple to set up, and simple to use. You don’t even have to sign up for anything in order to get started.

One of the things I really like about LinkWithin is its ability to deal with non-image content intelligently. Upon detecting an article that doesn’t have a thumbnail, rather than displaying a blank box to fill the gap, it displays texts with links instead of a dummy image which usually looks like an error image. LinkWithin is light and fast. Its design is simple, nothing fancy, so it blends well with most layouts.

LinkWithin currently does not provide a revenue-sharing option which may seem like a disadvantage but without ads, it makes your related links more relevant, and visitors are less likely to be irked by ads and compelled to leave your site.

LinkWithin lacks of advanced analytics to track visits and the popularity of articles. Similar to Outbrain, to customize your widgets’ look and feel, it has to be done via theme files. This may be a challenge for some users. Lastly, there’s no option to remove any recommended links you may find unsuitable for your website.

Here’s a tabulated summary of my findings to help you decide on which service to use.
Prefer WordPress plugins better? No problem. Here are some of the favorites when it comes to displaying related content and links.

Enjoy the article so far? Recommend it to your friends and peers.
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Saturday, January 14, 2012

8 Strategies to Get Your Business in a Distraction Free Zone

Physical and mental distractions are stunting the growth of your freelance business. In line with getting focused on my writing career for 2012, I’ve vowed to cut out as many distractions as possible, at the computer and beyond.

Here are eight strategies to get your business in a distraction-free zone!

I know, I know. What? No Facebook? Yeah, exactly, just like it was 2003. If you’re serious about getting focused on your business and you’re not using Facebook for business, deactivate and switch to building your network on LinkedIn. You’ll no longer be tempted to wander off into Facebook Land the next time you’re at your computer. Best of all, you won’t have that constant nagging feeling of checking your messages or updating your status. Restore your focus (and maybe your privacy).

If you are using Facebook for business, only you can decide what is ‘enough’ time spent on this social media site for marketing, promoting your product or service. However, you should be cautious that your mind is not constantly wandering off to Facebook when you should be concentrating on something else – it’s the social media trap, if you’re not careful, you’ll get sucked in.
In the pursuit of learning all you can about building a business, being successful and making money you’ve probably subscribed to a ton of newsletters and blogs.

Here’s the deal, if you haven’t benefited from these inbox fillers, unsubscribe. Sean Platt of Ghostwriter Dad puts it in perspective:
Look for those voices that have accomplished things similar to what you would like to accomplish, then get rid of anything you could categorize as online clutter.
How often do you open your inbox to find a plethora of emails? It’s overwhelming and time consuming.

Keep your subscriptions to a bare, essential minimum. Let’s not hoard information, especially information that is just cluttering our minds and focus.
If you haven’t benefited from it in the past 6 months of subscription, it’s time to toss it out, only keep the voices that really matter and as Sean Platt advises, “Narrow the number of voices you listen to. It is really, really easy to get lost. There is an abundance of information and so much of it is appealing because it is free.”

This is a free, downloadable timer you can use to set yourself a block of time for concentration. You’re committed to 25 minutes of work based on the Pomodoro Technique. Once the timer rings, and your 25 minutes are up, you can step away from the computer and take a break.
This is a mental practice and you have to build your discipline to stay focused for those 25 minutes devoted to work. The app doesn’t close browsers or documents, and will give you a buzz once the 25 minutes are complete. It’s available as a free download.

No, really, Concentrate is an app for Mac users to switch between one task and another – offering complete focus on a single task. For instance, you create the category ‘writing’. You then customize particular actions you want to happen when you are concentrating, such as blocking social media sites, chat, and quit apps.

You’ll also customize what you want to happen when concentrating, such as a ‘growl’ sound to remind you not to daydream, open apps and docs associated with the task. As soon as you press the ‘concentrate’ button, everything goes into effect and you’re ready to unleash your freelance genius. Create as many categories as you want.

This app will allow you to switch between tasks without manually having to open and close apps/browsers. There is a download fee of $29.

There’s a lot going on during the day in my household. The phone rings, children need to get picked up and dropped off, and the same children need to be fed (or they’ll get cranky). As I am the CEO of My Household, getting an office space outside of home is not feasible at the moment. Instead, I wait for the world to fall asleep (or at least that’s what it feels like) and try to work my creative juices.
We’re smart people and we know that being a freelancer is really, extraordinarily hard work. This is especially true when you’re trying to launch your business and gain momentum. This is the time to get through the tough spots and keep going.

When I’m tempted to hit the snooze button during the insane morning hours, I remind myself that someone else’s alarm went off and they’ll be getting up. This usually helps me fight the cozy bed syndrome. Find the motivating thought that gets you out of bed each morning, or keeps you up at night and hold on to it as if your business depended on it – because it does.

You’ve spent all this time learning and soaking up what the ‘gurus’ are saying in your industry. Once you have the basics down, you have to believe you know enough. Now is the time to implement.
What you haven’t learned through reading, you’ll learn through trial and error. After all, experts usually get their expertise through the field. They learn from their mistakes, they track their mistakes and they start seeing what works. Repeat often until you’ve created your own recipe for success.
Your strategy is different than mine, and my strategy is different from the next person and that’s ok.
If you’ve doubted your freelance business, I encourage you to visit a local job fair in your area. Watch as the disappoint grows on the faces of the job seekers who came hopeful only to find most positions were 100% sales commission. It’s a reality check any freelancer can benefit from.
In the 2012 Writer’s Market, they provide a writing calendar. Each month has a goal to meet, or a reminder. December’s tidbit is: Evaluate your 2011 accomplishments and make 2012 goals. January: Make 2012 your best year freelancing yet! February: Use the extra day in February to submit your writing.

You get the drift. Set monthly goals (supplemented by weekly goals) for your freelance business. Before you know it, you’ll be evaluating your 2012 accomplishments, make sure you’re able to face yourself knowing you’ve done all you can to make your freelance business a success.
Let us know how you plan to make 2012 the year your freelance business takes flight.

View the original article here

Be Ready When Someone Asks, “What Do You Do?”

I really like the 60-Second Solutions videos on Entrepreneur.com. I thought that the recent video by communications coach Carmine Gallo on creating a 60 second strategy to tell your story was especially useful.

Sometimes it’s hard to explain to people what it is you really do. Many people hear the word ‘freelancer’ and don’t quite understand what it means, other than you probably work from home in your pajamas.

Gallo suggests you come up with one sentence answers to the following four questions to keep your “What I Do” story to 60 seconds.

Are you a graphic designer? A freelancer writer or photographer? Do you have a niche or topic (like small business, agriculture, health) that you concentrate on? Turn this into one sentence. Example: I am a freelance blogger and I write about small business financing for several online magazines.
If you don’t solve a problem…then why do you exist? Maybe you are a wedding photographer and work with couples to capture their big day. Maybe you have an MBA and share small business advice for newspapers and websites. Maybe you create logos to help companies better brand themselves. Whatever you do—put it in the context of how your services solve a problem. Example:
I help small businesses create and implement a social media marketing plan.
Competition is everywhere, and you need to know what makes you better than the next guy that does the same thing you do. Why do you prefer to shop at Home Depot rather than Lowes? Target rather than Walmart? Pat’s Pizza rather than Jason’s Pizza?

Is their customer service better? Prices better? Does their pizza delivery guy show up faster? Use your talents and experience to tout yourself. Example:
I have an MFA in graphic design and stay up to date with the latest trends and technology by attending professional development workshops twice a year.
Tell people how you are going to make their life easier. Maybe you are a whiz at creating compelling websites and will take the time to teach your clients how to manage them on their own. Maybe you have contacts in the media and can help promote your clients news and events effectively through press releases and social media marketing. Maybe you know of a way to help your client’s business run more efficiently, saving them money in the long run. Example:
I have a database of media contacts throughout the state and can help you promote your annual fundraiser by creating press releases and writing stories for the local newspapers.
Once you get these sentences down, practice them in front of a mirror. Then head out to a networking event and try them out. Someone might not ask you all four questions at the same time, but it’s still good to have a response ready and waiting.

By keeping your answers to one sentence, you keep from rambling on about yourself. Being succinct shows that you really know your business and are comfortable and confident talking about whatever it is that you have built your freelancing career on doing. Don’t be afraid to ask other people the same four questions—see if their responses are as good as yours!

View the original article here

10 Firefox Add-ons to Level Up Your Freelance Efficiency

Mozilla Firefox is a real treasure for freelancers worldwide. Why? It’s an advanced, fast and secure web browser.
In the last 7 years the open source browser has proved – it’s more than a web surfer. Mozilla Firefox is translated into over 70 languages, enriched with dozens of extensions, and beautified by many persona designs.

Firefox may be modified according to your needs on the fly. With a couple of useful add-ons the browser turns into your developer, designer, or SEO fellow-worker. Today, we continue our top Firefox extensions topic with a roundup of excellent free Firefox addons. These extensions will improve your productivity and level up your freelancing performance.

ReminderFox: ReminderFox is all you need to keep your freelance project time frame on target. The add-on helps to create to-do lists, set alerts, make notifications. You can specify time and date of your reminders. Thus, you will stay organized and goal-oriented with this tiny Firefox add-on.

Xmarks Sync:Xmarks Sync is a free back-up add-on. The tool saves tabs, browsing history, bookmarks and passwords before closing Firefox. Moreover, it lets you create an account and sync all your Firefox information so you may use it on another computer or restore it if your PC crashes. Xmarks Sync emphasizes that your freelance performance will not suffer due to sudden tech issues.

WebMail Notifier:WebMail Notifier is a Firefox reminder for freelancers who have multiple email accounts. WebMail Notifier handles Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and other email systems. It checks your email accounts and shows you alerts when you get new messages. Thus, you can promptly reply to your business and personal emails without missing important information.

WOT:Web of trust created by WOT Firefox add-on strives to make web surfing more reliable and secure. It’s not another antivirus link scanner. WOT website ratings are built on a human approach to web safety. Install the add-on and rate websites that you use. Leave your comments when a website is tricky or your customer experience is bad. Or vice versa: vote for good websites and write testimonials. All websites are rated by people and you can read reviews before downloading, making purchases or registrations.

FireShot: FireShot is a free screen capturing add-on. It easily replaces the “Print Screen” button or any other software you use for screenshots. Just click the button and make a screenshot. Edit the screenshot, add notes, highlight objects, print, save or email the screenshot. You can export FireShot screenshots to Flick or Picasa accounts and show your draft to your freelance boss.

Rainbow Color Tools: Rainbow Color Tools is a handy add-on for freelance designers and webmasters. Click the add-on button and pick up the precise object color. Rainbow Color Tools shows you color info and copies it to the clipboard. Plus, you can save your favorite colors to the library for further access. Next time when a client asks you to make a banner with their authentic website logo color, just go to Rainbow add-on and select a perfect match.

View Source Chart:The goal of this add-on is well described in its name. View Source Chart shows code and helps you examine bugs and alerts. Along with Firebug, View Source Chart is a helpful Firefox extension for freelance developers.

SeoQuake SEO extension: SeoQuake SEO extension is a useful all-in-one toolbar for SEO freelancers. The toolbar shows Google rank, Bing index, Alexa rank and other metrics. You can analyze keyword density for a page, count external and internal links. The add-on is suitable for a quick website performance check-up.

Show My Password: Show My Password is a great app to save your time. Almost each registration has “repeat password” field. It’s easy to err when the original password is hidden by dots. So you have to retype it again and again. Show My Password makes your work more efficient and less stressful. The add-on enables you to create accounts quickly with proper password spelling.

Text to Voice: Text to Voice is an ideal add-on for freelancers who manage several tasks simultaneously. You can listen to a specification and code a web page form. You can enjoy my FreelanceSwitch posts and design a wonderful Android app interface. The voice is a bit artificial. However, it will do if you are tired of reading.

View the original article here

Specialist or Generalist: What’s Your Route to Success?

The beginning of a new year is always a good time to take stock of your business, and plan your direction for the coming year.  Some freelancers work toward building up a name for themselves within a niche; others intentionally avoid focusing too much in one area.

Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of each approach.

You might have been a financial guru in the past, and naturally kept that route when you opened your freelance business. Or maybe you started out covering many markets, but your best client was in real estate, and you found yourself getting established in that area. However it happens, building a name for yourself as a specialist has its benefits, including:

You’ll build knowledge of the vocabulary, trends, and who’s who in the market, enabling you to jump in faster, and potentially complete jobs quicker and easier.Customers in similar markets will get wind of your work and contact you.With a specific target audience in mind, you can slant your marketing efforts and materials appropriately.You can establish yourself as an expert through speaking engagements, teaching, writing articles, or hosting a blog.Your proven track record can help you negotiate higher compensation.

But along with the good comes the bad.  Reasons not to get too comfy might include:
A slump in your chosen market can send you into a dry spell.Known as a specialist in one area, you may find it difficult seeking a job out of that circle.You may become bored or experience burn out.
Remaining a generalist is a chosen path for many freelancers, and with good reason: wider options bring more opportunity.

Advantages of keeping abreast of a handful of differing markets include:
No need to panic if one of your markets goes dry; you can compensate by pursuing another area.You’ll learn new things routinely and work with a variety of people.Varying audiences will have different personalities, enabling you to use different styles and remain creative.You can avoid markets that you don’t want to work with.

And the cons:
Just like the Chinese restaurant that also serves pizza, customers might question where you excel.You may face overhead issues maintaining various versions of a resume or web site.You may become frustrated dealing with the ramp-up time of a new project, particularly if facing a tight deadline.
You learned in kindergarten that no two snowflakes are alike, and the same holds true with freelancers. While my friend was worried that she’d unintentionally settled into a niche in 2011, another freelancer might consider that an accomplishment. It’s all what makes you comfortable, what keeps things interesting for you, and ultimately, what pays the bills.

Which approach has brought you success as a freelancer? And which do you plan to pursue in 2012?
Illustration credit: Some rights reserved by patrimonio.
View the original article here

Friday, January 13, 2012

What Freelancers Can Learn from Mark Cuban

As freelancers, we don’t have anyone but ourselves to be accountable for. If I don’t roll out of bed until 10 am, I have no one to blame but myself. If I don’t make time to really look into what Google+ can do (or can’t do) for me, it’s my own fault.

When you work in an office environment, you have coworkers, bosses, and assistants to help you with your job. When you are a freelancer, you have to do everything from getting insurance to buying computer equipment, to calling clients who are late on their payments. It can be overwhelming at times, but when you worry about only pleasing yourself at the end of the day, it can be pretty great.
Below are some quotes from Mark Cuban’s new book, How to Win at the Sport of Business, that I found in an article on businessinsider.com and what I took away from them:
In sports, the only thing a player can truly control is effort. The same applies to business. The only thing any entrepreneur, salesperson or anyone in any position can control is their effort.
If you’ve ever played a sport, you know that even when you lose a game, knowing you played the hardest you could play, makes the losing result a bit easier to swallow. There will always be someone out there better than you. Someone who is wittier, a better writer, better photographer, and a more creative designer.
When you pitch a story or design to a client for a project, and you put 100% of your talent and effort into it, then still get turned down, you know you did the best you can do. Ask for constructive criticism on why your idea didn’t get chosen and learn from it. You may pick up some new tricks to use in your next proposal.
I had to kick myself in the ass and recommit to getting up early, staying up late and consuming everything I possibly could to get an edge. I had to commit to making the effort to be as productive as I possibly could. It meant making sure that every hour of the day that I could contact a customer was selling time, and when customers were sleeping, I was doing things that prepared me to make more sales and to make my company better.
Being efficient and productive as a freelancer is crucial. There’s only one of you and you can only do so much work in a day. If taking on a new client means you have to work overtime to get the job done, do it!

Use business hours for business related things, like calling your clients when they’re at work, too. If you’re waiting on payment for a job or to hear about a proposal you’ve submitted, you aren’t going to get much attention if you keep leaving messages on their voicemail after hours.
Effort is measured by setting goals and getting results. What did I need to do to close this account? What did I need to do to win this segment of business? What did I need to do to understand this technology or that business better than anyone?
Making goals is a great way to gauge your effort and success. It’s also a great way to organize your day, week, month, and year. Sit down and really think about what you want to accomplish over the next 6 months and what it is going to take to get you there. Perhaps there is a certain client you’re dying to work for or a new program you have been wanting to learn. Write down a strategic plan and stick to it.
When you are a freelancer you only have to answer to yourself. Take advantage of having no boss and be the best freelancer you can be.

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Why Customer Service is So Important for Freelancers

 The term customer service reminds me of wasted time spent on the telephone with some huge conglomerate that somehow messed up something I purchased. Right now I’m dealing with customer service for both my cable/TV company and my home/auto insurance. It’s infuriating.
But customer service isn’t just for big box stores and insurance agencies. It’s important to freelancers, too.
As consumers, we’ve become disenchanted with advertising and marketing of all sorts, having being duped, tricked or made to feel foolish on more than one occasion. The last true medium that holds sway is referrals from friends, colleagues, or online reviews from the likes of Yelp, AngiesList or TripAdvisor. —Matt Mickiewicz for Forbes.com
According to an American Marketing Association survey, 90% of consumers trust peer reviews and 70% trust online reviews. The author of this post is Matt Mickiewicz, the co-founder of 99designs. He offers three rules that small businesses (and freelancers) should follow to offer their clients great customer service.

If one of your clients has a complaint, handle it immediately and yourself. What I hate most about dealing with large customer service departments is that I have to be on the phone for long periods of time being shuffled from one person to another. It’s annoying! That’s why I like to buy services and products from local companies as much as possible—a face to face conversation or simple email or phone call to the owner usually clears up any situation.

Make your clients realize that by working with you, a freelancer, instead of a large agency or other business, that they are getting the best customer service possible. It’s one of the best ways for you to promote yourself over your competition. By dealing with issues swiftly, and not sweeping them under the rug, you are keeping your clients happy—and their happiness is money in your pocket.

If you have a client who has given you a ton of work, reward them! Send them a small thank you gift (like a gift card) or give them a discount on future services.

A happy client will most likely be easier to deal with if there is ever a dispute. Plus, your genuine gratitude towards their business will work wonders when someone asks them for a referral. Your client is more likely to refer you when they are happy and content with your services.
I had my personal cell phone number on sitepoint.com for 10-years (a site visited by more than 2.5 million people every month and ranked Top 1000 in the world), and was happy to answer more than 30 calls on Christmas Day, when a special deal we were running on the website went wonky. — Matt Mickiewicz
Sure, answering telephone calls on Christmas probably isn’t what you really want to do, but the mere fact that you are answering them is sending an important message to your clients—when there is an emergency, you are there for them—no matter what.

Put your email and telephone number out in the open. Have you ever visited a website where the contact information is hard to find? How trustworthy is that? And while I understand the purpose and ease of an online form to fill out, I hate doing them. It’s so much easier to just pick up a phone and call or send an email from my own mailbox.

Help yourself by offering amazing customer service and try some things above and beyond what you currently offer. Be sincere, available, and grateful and your clients will be more likely to tout your services to others.

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