My Thoughts on Hootsuite

Just recently (as in as soon as spring break started), I began using the social media consolidator* Hootsuite with surprising efficiency. Despite being a person who is very active in social media, I had never in the past considered using a suite such as this (TweetDeck, Seesmic, etc.).

For those who aren’t aware, Hootsuite, Seesmic, TweetDeck, and any others that I forgot to include are social media management systems that basically consolidate all of the user’s social media accounts into one “suite” where they can post, comment, and like on any or all of the social networks they choose to add — with one click.

Say you have a Twitter account as well as one for Facebook, and you want to write the same message for your Twitter followers and Facebook friends (who may be two separate groups of people entirely). The old way to do this would be to log into your Facebook account, compose the message and click ‘send’, copy that text, open a new window, log into Twitter, and paste that message into the box there. With a social media management system, this message can be written and sent with one draft, one click, and be available to both audiences immediately.

For me, a person who manages social media accounts for a small business, this feature is a goldmine in itself. It completely streamlines the posting process, and with the ability to add up to 5 social media accounts (with the free version — oh, did I mention this service is free?), offers more than enough accounts for Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare. Other notable features include the ability to schedule messages for later distribution, availability of a mobile app to take the service with you on-the-go, and custom reports and tracking statistics for monitoring (among others) CTR’s and brand mentions.

In short, this service has rapidly changed the way that I use social media for business, as well as myself. I suggest that anyone who is serious about social media marketing, or has aspirations of becoming involved with social marketing professionally, check out any one of the aforementioned social media management tools that I have mentioned. Although I cannot speak personally on behalf of the others I have listed, I am inclined to believe that those tools function similarly to Hootsuite, the one I have came to know and love.


Why I Dislike Flash

As a student of the world wide web and all of it’s amazing capabilities and technologies for much of my life, I can’t help but hold a grudge against Flash. Being forced to learn this soon-to-be dated software seems slightly mundane, if not for the simple fact that most modern, forward-thinking designers and developers are beginning to move away from it. But instead of me just sitting here, griping and whining about how much I hate Flash, let me give you a couple of reasons why.

First off, for those who aren’t familiar, Flash is a program developed by Macromedia, now owned by Adobe. Flash allows web developers and designers the ability to add rich graphics, video, animations, and interactivity to websites and web applications in order to enhance the user’s experience. Sounds great, right? Let me tell you why I don’t like this program:

 

Search Engine Optimization

The first issue with Flash is that search engines cannot index Flash websites as efficiently as websites coded using HTML and CSS (open, standards-compliant technologies). Since Flash websites lack the use of heading, list, and paragraph tags; all of which are critical in increasing page rank in search engines (Google, for instance, seeks out heading tags as important information, often times using them as part of the website’s description). Websites built using flash also lack unique page URL’s, as most seem to be created using one file (again, search engines index different pages within the heirarchy; flash websites don’t allow this type of “crawling”). Also, Flash websites generally take a longer time to load than traditional HTML and CSS based websites. And God forbid you don’t have the latest version of Flash on your computer, you’d have to wait for that to update in order to view the page.

 

Mobile Support

In its heyday, Flash was an excellent technology that could be used to create rich user experiences with computers and mice. It was a great desktop application at the time, but with the recent shift into touch screens, Flash is becoming less relevant (to the point where Adobe itself even phased out future mobile support of Flash). Besides the fact that Adobe discontinued supporting Flash for mobile, much of Flash on the web (besides video and audio) works in conjunction with fancy transition and animations based on hover  effects. There is no concept of a hover or mouse-over with a touch screen (yet) — you’re either touching the button or you’re not.

 

Newer Technologies

The third and most important reason that I don’t care for Flash is that there are newer, open, and more standardized technologies available that can do much of the same things that Flash is able to do. HTML 5, which is the newest version of HTML, is capable of many of the features Flash has to offer. Adding video and audio, as well as drawing graphics on the fly are now within reach without the use of Flash.

 

Wrapping Up

So to sum things up, these are the reasons why I dislike Flash:

  • search engines have problems crawling the website
  • there is a lack of mobile support for it
  • there are newer technologies that are becoming available that will offer much of the same functionality that Flash does

With regard to the last reason, let me just say that both HTML5, in conjunction with CSS3, aren’t quite mainstream just yet. Most modern browsers (IE9+, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera) support HTML5 and CSS3, but that still leaves my grandma who is still using Internet Explorer 6 and won’t upgrade — and who also won’t get to see the new HTML5 features. So until everyone begins using a browser that supports these new technologies, Flash will still remain relevant for some time.


Freelance Web Designers: How We Get Paid

When someone asks me if I can create a website for them, their first question generally is, “How much will it cost”? This is a very tough question to answer because there are a slew of variables for me to take into consideration; I have to decide my pricing based on what the client wants, not what I want. There are considerably different amounts of work and time that go into each project I do, and each client is different than the next one as well. I have came up with a short list of questions that I usually ask a prospective client before I give a quote:

Would you like to be able to update the website yourself?

It takes more work (initially) for me to create a website that the client will update themselves, but on the other hand if they don’t want control they have to pay me for every change I make to the content after the site is published.

Do you have an existing website?

If they have an existing website, depending on the software / company that created the existing website, I may or may not be able to take control of their website (there are legal issues as well as software issues — limited control, template websites — at hand in some cases). If I can do what the client needs done, I would charge less than if he or she needed a website created from scratch.

Will you need a logo or graphics created?

The amount of graphics or logos that need to be created also plays a crucial role in the pricing for the potential project. If the client would like a logo, as well as Flash integration and graphics, this warrants significantly more work than if the client had existing logos, graphics, and video. Remember, there is a specific position designed to create graphics; they are called graphic designers, and, being a freelance web designer, I have to play the role of Graphic Designer, Web Designer, and Web Developer (everything behind the scenes that makes your website function properly and not break). So, as the amount of graphics and flashy content goes up, so does the price for the website.

Will you need pictures taken?

Any type of photography adds to the total cost of the project. Depending on the amount / quality of the photography that is desired, I will elect to either do this myself or hire a professional. In the first case, I am taking the time to go out and snap pictures of the business’ work and optimize the pictures for the web. In the second case, I have to pay a professional photographer a professional rate in order for him or her to take the pictures for me, and I must cover that cost.

Conclusion

The next time you or someone you know needs a website, ask yourself these questions. The more questions that you answer ‘yes’ to, the higher the cost of the web design will be.


The Job Hunt

With my Web Development & Design degree nearing fulfillment in May, I have recently came to the realization that I don’t have work experience!* So I set out to start looking for jobs at the start of the month, and let me tell you, it’s no cake walk. Employers now have to be picky about who they choose to join their teams at this time, and I frankly don’t blame them. It’s tough out there for everyone. From the start of the month until now, I must have applied to over ten job listings within this area, and thus far I have received two interviews and one telephone interview. The interviews have been promising, and I have kept in touch since; the companies are still in the ‘interview process’ as of now. As I said, not a big deal at all, I understand their need to find someone who is the perfect fit for the company. I just wish that person was me.

I have come to the point where I believe I am not being as aggressive in my job search — no, HUNT — as I need to be. Now, I believe that there is a fine line between being aggressive and abrasive; there is also a fine line between being persistent and annoying. I do not wish to cross those boundaries. However, I should take the initiative from now on to contact employers directly after I have submitted my information for the job. I should have the right to at least a phone interview, right?

Alright, I’ve convinced myself. I’ll keep in touch. Now, I’ve gotta go make some calls.

Matt

*I have done a small amount of freelance work involving a couple websites and social media campaigns; I’m not unhirable. I am perfectly prepared to tackle any job that comes my way.


Week 3 Blog Post

Hello again everyone!

I would like to let all of you know that for my Writing Content for the Web class, I plan on creating a website about creating websites. This site could be a valuable resource for aspiring web developers and website administrators, who may become discouraged without the proper guidance. I plan on providing tutorials for most, if not all of the necessary steps that must be taken in order to design, develop, and implement a professional quality website.

My audience will (I believe) consist of mostly younger people: high school aged kids, college students wanting to create a personal portfolio, and also some adults who desire to master anything technological but may have not yet taken this step. I am excited and I hope this project turns out to be as fulfilling as I expect it will.

Matt


Hello Everyone!

This will be the first of (hopefully) many posts by yours truly, Matt Chiolino. Let’s start off by me giving my introduction. I’m a 23-year-old Web Development & Design Student at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, WI. I plan to graduate at the end of this semester. As I am nearing the end of my education here, I realized that I needed a bit of a leg-up in order to stand out after I graduate; this resulted in my acquisition of the Web Marketing Certificate, and is also the reason why I am enrolled in Writing Content for the Web (and creating this blog).

I love the web and marketing, and thoroughly enjoy keeping up with current trends and technologies. I am active in various social networks, and won’t hesitate to try a new technology once. When I’m not thinking about the Internet, Marketing, or Internet Marketing, I enjoy jamming out on my guitar, working out, and hanging out with my girlfriend, Kayla.

I hope to use this blog after this class is over and into the future. My plans are to incorporate this blog into my current website some time in the near future.