Micro-blog service Twitter is the social networking flavor-of-the-month, and with good reason. According to Nielsen Online (through the BBC) Twitter grew 1,689% from February 2008 through February 2009. While still a fraction of Facebook's size, Twitter is getting a lot of buzz.
However, when I discuss Twitter with people I find that more often than not I'm told, "I don't really get Twitter". This is true even for people who are full-on participants in Facebook and so are open to social networking in general. A lot of folks seem to think it's just a lot of noise. "Why do I care what some random person had for lunch?"
So, I thought it might be helpful to explain how Twitter has benefited me. I've had a Twitter account since July 2007 but only started using it frequently in the last few months.
Henry Donahue, Discover Magazine's esteemed CEO (disclosure: Discover is a client of Abstract Edge), has written on Folio some of his impressions of using the open source CMS Plone over the last couple of years.
Based on my conversations at trade events, however, many
publishers still struggle with the basic issue of getting content online in a
way that is timely, efficient and interactive.
On top of that, the twin financial and publishing crises make it
unlikely that anyone can round up the capital to do a 1999-style $5 million
custom CMS development.
Almost three years later, here are my takeaways on our open
It makes my week when a client publicly proclaims satisfaction. He also brings up a key point. During this time when everyone is trying to figure out a way to save every dollar, open source solutions sure bring a lot of value to the table.
I'm knee-deep in a search-related project. No, I don't mean search engine optimization (SEO) like trying to improve organic rankings on Google or Yahoo. I don't mean search engine marketing (SEM) or pay-per-click advertising such as Google Adwords.
I mean developing a search engine that will help users of a website find relevant content. It's not a trivial problem, but it's interesting. As we develop this out, I intend to post some of our thinking here.
In the meantime, I saw an article about search issues on Facebook today and thought it relevant, especially considering it's election day.
On one of the mailing lists I frequent, Zack Halbrecht posted a list of best practices for e-commerce websites. It's a simple list, and much of it is common sense, but sometimes it's good to state what should be obvious. Clearly it's NOT so obvious as so many e-commerce sites don't do this...
Don't charge the card until you ship
Don't store credit card information - leave that up to the payment processor unless you really want to become PCI compliant, which is costly and a pain. Most payment processors have some sort of recurring billing api too.
User account information should be protected with a salted hashed password. Do not store passwords in plaintext.
Offer real time shipping quotes w/ Tracking # in confirmation if possible.
Keep it simple. Collect as little information as possible. NO OPT OUT (checkbox already checked) marketing! OPT IN ONLY.
I had the privilege of attending the festival's kickoff event at the American Museum of Natural History on Wednesday night, a result of Abstract Edge having built the festival's website (hat tip to our friends at Six Feet Up who collaborated on the development.) The site was built using the open source Plone content management system. For those who believe that all Plone sites look alike, here is yet another example to disprove that theory! Even the Flash elements on the homepage can be managed by content editors inside of Plone.
The CMS allows WSF staff to keep all of the information about events, speakers, locations, etc. up to date. Site visitors can easily browse and search for events that may pique their interest. Plone automatically keeps track of the relationships between the events, participants, locations, and ticket purchasing. This was critical in helping WSF manage the constantly changing festival information.
So, if you happen to be in New York this weekend, take a look at the site and see if anything is still available. The early reviews are quite positive!
Scott is the co-founder and managing partner at Abstract Edge, a creative digital agency that provides online marketing, brand-focused design and technology services to organizations with serious content publishing needs.