Casual Friday in a Virtual Office: Silly Chrome Extensions


Starr Bryson

When you work for a virtual company, chances are that every day is casual Friday. I’ll be the first to admit that I work in my pajamas most weekdays. It’s one of the perks of working from home (not to mention my short commute). So what can a virtual company do to mirror the popular Casual Friday of an office job?

Introducing . . . Fun Friday.

silly-chrome

Instead of dressing down or wearing jeans, Fun Friday is a day for those of us who work remotely from home to indulge in a little bit of silliness.

Chrome has many helpful and useful extensions to make you more productive, assist you in your work, and help you stay focused. Some even block ads and add security to your computer. But today isn’t about working harder, it’s about having fun. Let’s take a look at the some of the wacky, silly, and fun extensions Chrome has to offer us to bring a smile to our faces and give us a laugh.

Website Destroyer

Website Destroyer

This is perfect for anyone who needs to blow off steam. Are you a designer, frustrated with your latest graphic? Are you a writer, struggling through your Friday and the words just won’t come? Download this extension and start blowing up your screen. A fun way to virtually destroy any computer screen with your choice of weapons. Pick from a machine gun, shotgun, stamp, hammer, and flamethrower and start obliterating.

Mustachio

Mustachio

This hilarious extension adds a mustache to every photo on a website. With this add-on, every website you look at on a Friday will erupt in giggles.

Libdoge

doge

Fans of this popular meme will enjoy this extension, but even non-fans will smile at this cute dog’s face popping up on every webpage exclaiming things like, “so much doge” and “lots free actually”.

Jailbreak the Patriarchy

Jailbreak

This extension allows you to view the world in a gender swapped parallel universe. It switches every “she” for “he” and “his” for “hers”. You might confuse yourself with this one, but you’ll laugh yourself silly.

With all of these silly extensions, you’ll have a lot of fun this Friday . . . but don’t forget to get your work done.

Are you looking for a web designer? OpenPotion Web Design builds incredibly effective websites (and awesome relationships). Call us today to find out what we can do to help you create more business and get more leads with your website.

yelp

Do you have lackluster Yelp reviews?

Your online reputation hangs in the balance.

In a recent study, 90% of frequent Yelp users said that a positive review affected their buying choices. In addition, nearly three quarters of online buyers reported that they trust online reviews ‘completely’. Your customers’ opinions control the success of your business. You no longer build the reputation of your business – your customers do.

With complex algorithms and intricate quality control, sites such as Yelp and Google are near impossible to control, so how do you make sure your business is only getting constructive reviews that boost your business? How do you turn review sites into awesome lead-generating machines?

What triggers the Yelp review filter?

Yelp HATES businesses asking for good reviews. In fact, they hate a lot of things. Here’s just some of the things that bother the Yelp filter gremlins…

Newsletter-Infographic

How do you keep reviews visible?

More people will complain when things go wrong than people praising when things go right. Think about it, have you ever called a waiter over to tell him the food was okay? No, but you’d let them know in a heartbeat if there was a hair on the plate. So how do you turn that customer frown upside down?

The answer

1) Proactively invite feedback.

“Feedback” is a wonderful word, as it literally means “Information about a reaction”. When used for improvement, there is no such thing as bad feedback, just constructive criticism. The real skill is to build feedback gathering into the overall process, and use it to improve, not to drive others away.

2) Make it a long term work in progress.

Set aside a few hours every month to gather feedback from customers. This could be a mailshot that is sent to a small portion of your customers every week, or a few minutes spent calling customers and catching up with them. Break it down into a long-term task, make your communications with them personal and responsive, and be ready to react.

3) Put your feet up – let OpenPotion handle it.

If you’re not making it really easy for customers to leave positive reviews, you’ll get bad ones. Instead of messing with mailing lists, phone calls, and spreadsheets of data, make it easy on yourself.

GatherK

One simple page. $29. Lots of kudos.

We’ll set up the page with your branding, and get it looking spiffing and ready for an influx of visitors. Customers who have had a positive experience get pointed to the right review platform for them, while those with more colorful things to say are encouraged to share their grievances privately and find a resolution, before it has chance to negatively impact your resolution.

CTA

Dealing with Bad or Negative Yelp Reviews


Adam Zetterlund

 

YelpReviewsBlog
From large, multi-national chains to mom-and-pop storefronts on Main Street, Yelp reviews have a powerful impact on a business’ bottom line. Modern consumers rely on Yelp reviews to learn about merchants in their local area, make purchasing decisions, and choose between competing businesses. While 5-star reviews help a company stand out and build online clout, negative feedback can send a company’s online marketing efforts into a dangerous tailspin. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to make negative reviews disappear, but business owners have several tools available to them to reduce the backlash these reviews create.

Responding to Complaints Directly

In spite of a business owner’s best intentions, customers will occasionally feel unsatisfied with the service they receive. Many customers choose to vent their frustrations on Yelp, rather than giving a business the opportunity to right the wrong. A highly-inflammatory review reflects poorly on a company’s online reputation, and it sends overall satisfaction ratings plummeting. Whenever a business owner notices a negative review on Yelp, it’s essential to launch into damage control mode.

A public response to a negative review serves two distinct purposes. Firstly, the response demonstrates a company’s commitment to customer service and proactivity. Other Yelp visitors appreciate companies who take the time to address problems and resolve customer issues. Secondly, a response helps to clarify how the customer relationship went downhill. Business owners may choose to explain themselves politely, but it’s important to keep things professional and courteous. Tossing sour grapes at negative reviewers rarely proves beneficial to companies.

Flagging Negative Reviews

While it might be tempting to immediately flag all negative reviews, the Yelp system is intended to help curb biased responses. Abusive Yelp reviews from previous employees and competitors are two prime examples of content that should be flagged. These reviews are posted exclusively with the intention of hurting the business in question. The same principle applies to purchased reviews, which are strictly forbidden by the Yelp Terms of Use. Business owners should keep an eye out for reviews of this nature, but keep flagged content to a minimum. If Yelp feels that a company is flagging too many reviews, the system may flag the company for inappropriate conduct.

Preventing Bad Reviews 

Damage control can greatly reduce the impact of a nasty review, but savvy business owners need to minimize the chances of such reviews cropping up in the first place. One simple way to maintain customer satisfaction is to immediately follow up  with clients. If the customer is unhappy, it’s much better to receive an email full of vitriol, rather than see an angry review on Yelp. To further simplify this process, consider using a tool such as GatherKudos. This powerful resource makes it possible to intercept negative reviews before they reach a service like Yelp, potentially causing massive damage to your online marketing strategy.

The importance of Yelp reviews cannot be overstated. Feedback from previous customers gives other consumers confidence in the services and products that a company has to offer. While negative reviews are an unpleasant occurrence, nearly every business owner will need to confront this challenge at some point. By developing a thoughtful strategy for resolving customer disputes via Yelp, business owners can protect their company from further damage, while simultaneously strengthening the brand’s appeal to other consumers.

the words that sell banner

The Call to Action: Why one little tweak might be all you need

CTA description

A single change, 90% more clicks.

Getting the call-to-action right is a fine art. Unbounce.com recently ran a test on one of their landing pages that offered a free 30-day trial to new users. All they did was change “You” to “My”, making the new call-to-action read “Start my free 30 day trial”. Within three weeks, they had raised their click-through rate by 90%. In another example of excellent CTA optimization, MatchOffice.com reworded the text of one of their buttons from “Order Information” to “Get Information”, and saw nearly 15% more people click it.

Easily do it on your own website.

All it takes is one simple tweak to a button, and you have a recipe for success. People respond better when they a required to put in minimal effort. Single words carry many connotations, so you need to make sure you are picking the right ones that say the right things about you.

the words that sell

Get us to do it for you.

OpenPotion has been advising companies on conversion optimization techniques like this for years, and we can help you. Changes like this are quick and easy to do, and it will surprise you just how effective they are. Simply click the button below and we’ll be in contact shortly to get started.

CTAsalesbutton

Pssst, a little sneaky discount for our clients.

Cut some corners and get a pretty great deal. Should you subscribe to our Silver Plan, you will benefit from an included hour of website development every month (a value of $120!) to make tweaks and touches to your website. Amazing! Here’s just some of the things you could do with that time…

features

Click here to see more of our Plans and Pricing.

How to Make a Rock Star Hero Image

Starr Bryson

What is a Hero Image?

The hero image is a banner that is displayed prominently across the top of a webpage- typically the landing, or home, page- front and center. Its purpose is to present a visual overview of what your website is about and attract visitors to stay awhile. The hero image gives you a chance to show just how awesome you are.

Why is it important to have a Hero Image?

A picture is worth a thousand words. In today’s world of instant gratification and short attention spans, you want to quickly and visually give visitors an idea of what your website is all about- a sort of preview of your content.

A well made Hero Image- such as we do here at OpenPotion- will demonstrate several things in only seconds. A headline, describing your business and what you do, a sub headline telling them what they’ll get, a short video showcasing your business, and finally, a photo of a real person with an actual quote about the business.

Why is it important to use a Real Person?

Stock photos are lame. It doesn’t make your company look very honest if the same person from your hero image shows up all over the internet selling other brands.

You want to be transparent. By using a real person from y our company with the accompanying quote, you’re painting a picture of a company with real people who are approachable and down to earth. Not to mention honest.

Do I have to?

The short answer is yes, you do. The other answer is, no you don’t really have to. We can do it for you. You just provide the photos you wish to use and we’ll do the rest (for a small fee).

If you want to rock out your own hero image, please follow the guidelines below on our handy visual aid.   You’ll be a pro in no time.

 

How to Make a Hero Image Look Awesome

How to Make a Hero Image Look Awesome

Video Announcing Our New Website

Announcing Our New Website

I was outside our home in Pacific Palisades, walking with my almost 2-year-old and my 6 year old nephew and decided to record a quick video. This was a big leap from our old Joomla site and took quite a while to develop… there are still several things on my todo list, but it is up and it is better than our previous site… so… progress!

Some of the things that went into this…

  1. Migrating content
  2. Planning out a simpler, smarter structure for our search engine friendly URLs
  3. Setting up 301,302,307 redirects to redirect old pages and to new locations
  4. Integrating ScheduleOnce
  5. Researching lots of WordPress addons to find the best ones
  6. Setting up site-wide SSL (https)
  7. Enabling and tweaking page caching (W3TC)
  8. CDN integration (CDN77)
  9. Integrating ZOPIM Live Chat
  10. And a LOT more…

 

Why did we switch to WordPress? I’ll write another post on that.Looking to migrate from Joomla to WordPress? Need a new website designed? We can certainly help with that.

I love the work we do here at OpenPotion, and here’s why you should too.

HelenChances are, if you’re a current client or you’ve called our number in the last three months, you’ve have the pleasure of hearing my adorable British accent. For those who haven’t, hello I’m Helen – Jason’s new assistant (and secondary brain), and I’m here to do a quick blog about why I truly believe in OpenPotion web design. OK, maybe it’s going to be less than quick, I apologize in advance for this…

All Over the World

We’re a virtual company, which is a strange concept to everyone, and sometimes even me. My morning commute is down the hallway, past the TV and couch, and into the sunroom that doubles as my office. My suit and tie is actually a raggedy old pair of pajama bottoms and comfy sweater. My in-house office mates are two domestic shorthair cats called Professor T. J. Snuggles and Melon. Yep, I work from home, and I love it. At OpenPotion Web Design, we all work from home, and it’s really effective. Despite being thousands of miles from each other, I’ve never felt closer to my co-workers. Take Esteban, our Project Manager – he lives in Bolivia, but it sometimes feels like he’s actually peeking over my shoulder, making sure I’m focusing on the right jobs for the day. And Starr – we have so many collaborative meetings about content that I sometimes almost invite her out for a drink ‘after work’. We have people who work in Pacific time, Eastern time, and even in time zones I have no hope of ever understanding. The fact is, it works for us, and it’s all down to who we work for. With Jason’s help making sure we have nothing but awesome clients, we’ve built OpenPotion into a company that you can’t help but love.

Website Design Full of Openness

We use this phrase a lot. Our name, OpenPotion, isn’t just a name – it’s who we are and what we do. We believe in openness, both in how we communicate (yes, I’ll tell Jason if my lateness is due to one too many glasses of wine) and also in how we build your site. We don’t do cookie-cutters, we won’t tell you “Sorry, that’s just how it is”, and we certainly won’t tell you something isn’t possible without checking every avenue first. We want you to love your site each time you visit it and we want it to be effective at its job, and we’ll be open with you so we can achieve it.

Why We’ve Sort of Become the Experts of Building Property Management Websites

Sometimes I don’t believe Jason could be as young as he says he is, because of the extensive list of things he has done already with his life. I’ll let you ask him about that, but one of the many things he knows a lot about is property management, and boy, does he know a lot! I’ll tell you a secret – I knew NOTHING about property management companies before starting work with OpenPotion. I knew how to pay my rent on time as a tenant, and I could write up a fairly decent maintenance complaint when I needed to, but the Real Property Management world was new to me. Then I got hired as Jason’s assistant, and within three months I was writing articles for clients on how to maximize their rate of return on rental properties, and advising clients on the advantages and disadvantages of Appfolio and Propertyware. This is all thanks to the knowledge held within Jason’s brain, and his unique and strangely effective training sessions with us. Seriously, test him out – he’d take first place at any Property Management trivia night (if such a thing existed).

My Performance Review

It’s been three months pretty much to the day since I logged in to the OpenPotion system for the first time and was introduced to my new co-workers, and every day is still a thrill ride. If this was any old office job, right about now I’d be in some cold meeting room discussing progress points, weaknesses, and objectives, and setting generic targets to appease the mighty paperwork gods… but I’m not. Instead I’m working for one of the most talented CEOs I’ve ever met, with some of the most focused colleagues and honestly, some of the most awesome clients you could hope for (some of you are downright hilarious), and I couldn’t be happier.

So, want to hear the accent? Go on, give me a call!

Avoid the Potential Pitfall in Property Management Website Design

Property management website design is its own category, and it’s one we specialize in.

Many firms are now turning to excellent cloud or web-based solutions such as Propertyware, Buildium, or Appfolio to manage their rentals, accounting, rent collection, etc. They have an excellent solution, and the purpose of this article is not to dissuade you from using their tool. These firms also provide a website portal to property management companies, and we want you to understand why your best option is to not use it as your primary website. So why would a company want their own website rather than just using the one provided by their property management solution?

How can having an ‘all-in-one’ solution be dangerous? Read on to find out!

(Don’t want to read it all? We know you’re busy – just call us and we will explain it to you… 310-651-6678)

Why Keep Your Website Independent of Your Property Management Solution

It is dangerous to have your site and your property management tool provided by the same firm.

  • You will be shelling out plenty of money for SEO, but receiving services by a company that is not an SEO expert
  • You will be spending money on a site you do not have total control over
  • You will have no freedom in who you choose as your marketing firm
  • You won’t be able to use other online property management tools without having to start a new site with them from scratch
  • Any changes in direction will cost you more money, possibly messing up your existing rankings and sabotaging the marketing you have already done

The disadvantages of having your site and your property management tool provided by the same firm:

  • These portal providers are not website experts – their site templates simply aren’t as good at conversions (turning visiting property owners into clients)
  • These property management solution providers are great at what they primarily focus on, but they are not SEO, SEM, or internet marketing specialists.
  • As you grow and mature in your marketing efforts you may eventually realize you want to try out other marketing firms, but you can’t!
  • Their provided web portals are locked down, preventing you from backing up your site, moving it, getting FTP access, or allowing the marketing firm of your choice to do serious SEO work
  • Once you are in bed with one tool that you use for your website, it will be painful to switch to another web tool, especially if you had been paying them thousands to have their in-house SEO team work on their own portal. Switching to another tool would likely have you starting from scratch, and will hurt your existing website rankings.

Is there a better way?

Yes! Your property management tool, Appfolio, Buildium, or Propertyware can be integrated into your own website without it BEING your website. This is the best of both worlds and the ultimate win-win. We specialize in doing just that, and we have some of the top residential management firms in the nation… the smartest firms choose us. We provide an independent website and integrate the rental listings, tenant application, owners portal, etc. from your tool of choice. We don’t try to duplicate what these property management tools do, instead we compliment them and work with them.

Why Would You Rather Use OpenPotion for your Website?

  • We build your site on an open-source CMS (Content Management System). This means greater options for the future and freedom. Thousands of add-ons have already been written to plug into CMS systems, thousands of template designs and themes have been created, you can easily make changes to text on your web pages, and SEO firms can do more work in less time.
  • You have full control. We provide the marketing firm of your choosing with whatever access you want to give them, even full FTP and administrator access.
  • We are marketers first! We focus on making sites that sell and are easy to use. We specialize in start-ups and branding. We can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost business by avoiding branding pitfalls, so your company isn’t swimming upstream.
  • Your site will have greater functionality. You can have us add additional tools into your site, such as a photo gallery of remodeling work, or an event calendar for trade shows and community events, a blog, video tours of properties, your Twitter feed… the sky is the limit.
  • Multiple integration possibilities. Find better rates for credit card processing somewhere other than your property management tool? You can use one tool for collecting payments and another tool for showing properties, you don’t have to use the property management solution for everything. We can integrate multiple tools into our CMS property management websites. Just another money saving factor to consider.
  • We’ll be your secret weapon. Many of our clients consider us their secret weapon in battling their competition.
  • Easily switch or ditch your property management solution. Eventually if you tire of their service we can replace much of it with available website software.
  • We’ve earned a lot of trust. We are trusted by some of the largest and most successful residential property management businesses throughout the nation. Just check out our website design portfolio to see our work.

Even a just little bit curious as to why so many smart property management business owners are choosing OpenPotion? All you have to do is simply talk to us and you will quickly understand why.

Contact OpenPotion to get started.

PropertyWare, Buildium, Appfolio are are Trademarks of their respective companies and OpenPotion, Inc. is in no way affilliated with them.

Get Your Free Local Business Listing on Google Places in 6 Simple Steps

OpenPotion on Google PlacesA Google business listing is a powerful tool… more useful than Yellow Page ads, and it is completely free. Read on to find out how to take control of your Google business listing and start getting more web traffic.

Many of us use online tools such as Google Maps to find local businesses. Have you looked up your business lately? For example, if you are a sign company in Orange County, what comes up when people search for “signs in Orange County” – is it you? How do you look compared to the competition? Do you even have a website?

Some people charge businesses to do this for them… which is silly since it is easy and free.

Here is how to create or update your listing for the first time…

  1. Navigate to http://www.google.com/local/add to get to the Google Local Business Center. This is where you will manage your business listing
  2. Register for a Google account if you do not have one (this is also free, and takes under a minute)
  3. Sign in to the Google Local Business Center
  4. Follow the prompts… Provide as much information as possible, including images and categories
  5. Google will then verify your listing by phone or postcard, to make sure you are actually authorized to be making changes to that business
  6. That’s it! Now that was pretty painless (if not, give me a call), and maybe even worth thousands of dollars to your business – not bad for a couple of minutes of your time!

Want to do more to improve the ranking of your new website? Check out our suggestions below for quick, simple, and free ways to boost your online presence and get in front of even more potential customers:
To really outshine your competition, your business listing needs a few things:

  • A link to your website so they can find out more about your business.
  • An image that strengthens your branding and helps them remember you, or that portrays a positive emotion.
  • Positive testimonials – send the link of your business listing to your happy clients so they can add a review.
  • A large list of categories that fit what you do.

And make sure you do these things:

  • Remove any old listings with old addresses or phone numbers, or any outdated information
  • Include your full business address and phone number as text at the bottom of your website
  • If you have several locations add (or take control of) each location as a separate listing.
  • If your major competitor has a site, but you do not, users will likely be drawn to their business, because we all want to find out more before calling – and that can translate into lost business. Your website is your 24 hour employee, brochure, salesperson, and online storefront/office. If built properly a website can easily save you over $20,000/year on employee costs if it is customized to alleviate some of your tedious business tasks. Not only that, but by including your website address in your other marketing efforts, it makes them increasingly powerful.

Are you STILL yearning for more tips on how to boost your website? Check out these resources:

Google’s user guide for Google Places

How to add a company page in LinkedIn

Setting up your business page on Google+

Schedule a time with us – OpenPotion knows how to grow your website!

Any other ideas on how to maximize your listing? Let us know in the comments.

Joomla vs Drupal vs Wordpress

Why We Choose Joomla Over Drupal & WordPress

In the world of Content Management Systems there is some serious competition.  We often get asked why we choose Joomla for some projects rather than other leading open-source CMS systems like Drupal and WordPress.  Well… here is why…

Deciding Between Three Great Choices – The Showdown

First, let’s take a look at a competition that was performed between the 3 CMS’s… the “SXSW Web Content Management System Showdown.”  Three teams competed to build a community website with the same requirements.  Here’s the results:

Drupal Joomla WordPress
Total Hours 79.25 57.25 90.5
Hours spent on front end 21.75 15 36.5
HTML Validation No (8 errors) Yes No (8 errors)
CSS Validation No (7 errors) No (1 error) No (21 errors)
Page weight 180K 140K 154K
Lines of custom PHP/JS code 220 30 1,808

So what does this breakdown tell you?

First let me point out that the most expensive thing clients pay for is custom code or custom graphic design.  WordPress, while having a friendly and pretty backend, can be incredibly costly and took nearly twice the amount of time to make a similar Joomla site.  That is twice the cost to you the client.  Wordpress is king of it’s original specialty… blogging websites, where it likely would have been a solid competitor of Joomla and likely toasted Drupal.  Bottom-line, Joomla is a nice blend between the versatility of and ease of the two competitors, and therefore usually needs less custom coding, and saves you money.

Drupal vs. Joomla

Drupal is excellent for complex databases or projects that would likely require custom programming, no matter what CMS you tried. For most users, however, Drupal is like using a flamethrower to roast a marshmallow. So let’s take WordPress out of the equation and compare Drupal and Joomla  I should point out that even though Drupal’s stat’s were below Joomla’s above, Drupal took 1st place at the PAKT CMS Awards last year, while Joomla took second, so Drupal is a serious competitor.

Alledia.com presented a fair breakdown/comparison of the two CMS’s out-of-the-box.  This comparison is a bit dated, but highlights some major differences.  This however was a silly comparison because Drupal is instantly out-shined by Joomla and Joomla’s flaws are instantly removed by adding a few add-ons that are freely available.  This is the beauty of Joomla.  In fact by installing a single free extension, K2, a CCK (content construction kit), Drupal is instantly brought to its knees.

The Unqualified IBM “Expert”

Now here is an article showcasing a comparison between Joomla and Drupal from the view of an IBM Consultant looking for an enterprise level solution.  He favors Drupal, even while pointing out glaring flaws such as “Drupal’s backend admin functionality is bad. The front end, backend separation is tenuous and confusing. Joomla is far better.”  He also admits Joomla wins in templates and he says about the learning curve, “Joomla is far easier to get up and running.  Even with all the free videos, blogs, etc, Drupal is still a lot more challenging.”  Also read the comments below that article and you will see all the programmers that favor Drupal.  I imagine his choice would have been different had he used Joomla with K2, a powerful and free CCK.

How to choose?  Are you a website programmer or a website design client?

Drupal is favored by programmers and coders, which is why it took first place in the CMS awards, but remember they (programmers) want to do lots of programming… that’s how they get paid!  Custom programming/coding and custom graphic design work are the two greatest factors that increase website design costs.  The competition between the two gets even more ridiculous when you look at templates (graphical layouts and designs) that are available for the two.  Joomla wins hands down.  Using Joomla we are able to eliminate 99% of custom coding and graphic design, saving you lot’s of time and money.  So while Joomla may not be the tech-nerdy piece of code chosen by programmers, it wins for you the consumers.  So unless you are a programmer, you will love having a Joomla site and when the time comes to add functionality you will find it much cheaper to do so, since an add-on has already likely been written.

In a nutshell, WordPress is the easiest out-of-the box to administer, Drupal is the choice of coders and nerds, and Joomla is the most versatile and least expensive.  For complex projects, with a few free tools, it easily beats its competitors…

UPDATE: Our friends over at CompasDesigns posted on article with a simple chart for deciding which one to use:

http://www.compassdesigns.net/joomla-blog/how-to-choose-between-joomla-drupal-and-wordpress

So why do we choose Joomla?

When we choose Joomla for a project it is usually because the project requires a greater level of complexity and layout and it requires less programming than WordPress or Drupal to make that happen.

Interested in a website project?

If so, contact us now

ps – watch how upset the fanboys, aligned with each CMS, get in the comments below!