Looking for a job?

HomeFinder.com (my day job), is hiring a couple software developers, a QA manager, and an Agile Technical Analyst.  It’s a great place to work, right in downtown Chicago, full of fun, bright people.    Developers get to use the latest and greatest web app technology (jquery, javascript, rest, mongodb, solr, php, etc.), get to do 3 day hackathons every month, and get to build and ship cool stuff.  Check out the links below..

QA Manager:

Agile Technical Analyst:
Software Engineer (2 openings):
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How to Market a Small Business on a Budget

As I talk to our small business customers and I prospect countless websites, I have noticed how little these businesses are doing to market and grow their businesses online.

The following is a quick list of easy things every small business can do across industries.  I have left paid marketing off the list in order  to focus on things every small business can do regardless of budget.

Build an SEO friendly website that fits your brand

Your website reflects your brand and your business. When someone comes to your site, they are making a first impression.   You want your professionalism to show in the design, rich content, useful tools, and clear contact information.  Don’t forget an email address in the contact information.  I digress, but it is my pet peeve when I cannot contact a business via email.  I usually only have time to work through my  “to do” list at night.

Make sure your site is SEO friendly.  Don’t hire a spammy SEO firm that will charge you a lot of money, promise first page placement, and just throw a bunch of links into your footer.  The search engines may like you at first, but they are quick to scold when the SEO tactics are not to their liking.  This is a post for another day.

There is nothing like free traffic!  In the moving industry, there are thousands of searches for moving companies in every city a month.  If you are not showing up in searches relevant to your business, you are missing out.

I recommend a couple of ways to get both of the above:

  1. Hire companies like ours, MoverWebsites.com and GolfWebsiteBuilder.com, that are focused on your industry that will build you a great SEO friendly site.
  2. If you already have a site you are happy with, work with a company like DIYSEO.com.  They focus on SEO for small businesses at a reasonable price.

Register for the local directories

It is not only important for customer perception, but it also helps SEO when you are registered with all the local directories.  Enter your business’s information into http://getlisted.org/.  This will tell you where/how you are listed in the various directories/search engines.

Market yourself or your business

You are the expert in what you do.  Sign up for www.HelpAReporter.com.  You get an email twice a day asking for experts across every industry and expertise imaginable.  This is a great way to get yourself published and to promote your business.

Social Media /Networking Sites

As a small business, you may have mixed result in your social media campaigns and marketing.  It cannot hurt to create accounts on the sites below and to use them as appropriate to your business.  Activity on these sites is also really good for SEO.

  1. LinkedIn
  2. Twitter
  3. Facebook
  4. Regional networking sites like BuiltInChicago.com
  5. Entrepreneurial Organizations on sites like Meetup

Don’t go overboard worrying about Tweeting or constantly updating Facebook.   Just be yourself.

Participate in trade specific organizations

In each industry, there are professional organizations to get involved in at the local level.  This is a great way to network with other professionals and share ideas on how they are doing business.

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Font not working in IE? Squirrels to the rescue!

Ran across this today – if you’re using @font-face and your fonts are not showing up in IE (yeah, IE, you rule…not), check out the font generator at fontsquirrel.   It will give you all the font files you need, and the css code to make it all work.  Easy like butter, love it.

Two thumbs up for fontsquirrel.



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Time to Bang the Gong – New Customer Live!

It is time to bang the gong.  We launched a new customer this week on the MoverWebsites.com platform!

When I worked at a software startup years ago, there was a tradition that we would bang the gong when there was a new client.  Keep in mind, in the software world, the sales cycle is somewhere around a decade long.  It felt like we didn’t bang the gong nearly as often as we would have liked.   The whole banging of the gong was slightly awkward, but cramming into our small conference room and drinking cold beer was good times.  I am sure that our clients would have been quite pleased with their decision at that point if they could see a bunch of 20 somethings drinking beer at noon on a Friday ready to solve all their billing and operations woes!

I don’t have a gong nor am I drinking beer, but I am truly elated to announce the launch of M.C. Moving’s new site.

If you are ever in need of Arizona movers or if you just want to see their gorgeous new site, check out M.C. Moving.  These guys are great and have been a true pleasure to work with!

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Cool eco-friendly moving box alternative

One of the things I hated most about moving was finding moving boxes.  I have flashbacks of lugging used boxes from the local grocery store and from work.  I can only imagine how cool I looked walking down the street awkwardly juggling these stacks of boxes.  As the move got closer, I would break down and spend a small fortune on boxes that I would use once!  I always felt like the boxes were such a waste of money and bad for the environment.

I was so excited to discover this company, Frogbox,  that is providing an eco-friendly moving box alternative.  They basically deliver re-usable plastic boxes to you.  They have a really nice site and I look forward to seeing them expand to Chicago — not that I want to move anytime soon.  The thought of trying to pack with 2 crazy toddlers scares me.

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Golf Site + Moving Site + Freezing weather = Move to Phoenix

The Nance’s sage advice this morning was that we should give Arizona moving companies the sites for free, so that they would move us to Phoenix (the home of the Nance).  As the 20 degree air seeps through my 1910 windows, I am sold.

I can see it now.. Free Sites on MoverWebsites.com + Free Sites on GolfWebsiteBuilder .com= lots of free golf  (and babysitting) in Phoenix.  I like it.

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Mom jeans and Quora.com

I take two months off to hang out with the kids and to enjoy the holiday craziness and before I know it I am stuck in mom jeans and have no clue what is going on in the internet world. I had dropped my religious reading of TechCrunch over morning coffee in favor of dodging flying bananas.

The new year comes around and I am woefully behind. Quora.com? Who are they? Do the sell kid’s clothes? Do they have New Year’s sale? I will be the coolest mom in playgroup for finding this gem. I dig around. I sign up. Oh – really cool concept. I don’t see any questions about child development. But, oh – how interesting? People discussing landing pages and ROI on social media campaigns. I geek out going through the discussions.

I am back. I am no mom-jeans-wearing-dinosaur.

To prove that I’ve still got it, I did my first tweet for GolfWebsiteBuilder.com (@GolfProWebsites) today. Feels good.

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The Twilio Fund and my Accent Training Demo

I’ve been playing around with an idea around an accent training website for the last month or so, and 500 Startups‘ Twilio fund deadline finally got me off my lazy @ss.     I finally finished everything for a working demo, and submitted my application with 3 minutes to spare.

Here’s a demo video that demonstrates the service (warning – there is no design applied to the site).

It’ll probably take me another month or so to finish the site, but it’s exciting to actually see things working.

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How to Gracefully Use the HTML5 Audio Tag with a Flash Fallback

HTML rocks.  It rocks harder than Poison did in the 80’s.   That’s some hard rocking.

However, browser support is a bit iffy for certain tags.  Take the audio tag for example.   Not only does Internet Explorer not support (along with the rest of HTML 5), I discovered in building out our accent training service that Firefox doesn’t support mp3 files in the audio tag.  Heh?  Can that be?   Alas, it is true.

Never fear, the internets is here.  You can use the wordpress standalone flash audio player and this great little javascript snippet to make sure  all of your users can hear your sweet music.


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Confessions of a Usability Test Addict

I am officially hijacking the blog to make a confession. I have a new addiction. It does not rank quite as high as my addiction to celebrity blogs or reality tv, but it is a close third. My new addiction is an old addiction resurrected. I am officially addicted to running tests on EasyUsability.com. Note: I never said it was a cool or edgy addiction.

Anyway – Doug built this usability testing site years ago and I have used it on occasion to gain feedback on the usability of sites that I was running at the time. As we were putting the finishing touches on GolfWebsiteBuilder.com, I remembered how useful the EasyUsability.com feedback has been. So, I dusted off the old site, kicked the tires a bit, and launched a few tests. I eagerly awaited the praise — this site will revolutionize the life of golf pros everywhere; stunning design… I could hear it all as I pressed Submit.

The results came in with mixed reviews. My baby is ugly in some eyes..but, as Doug likes to say, we will get there. Check out our usability test results here: http://easyusability.com/usability_tests/545/final_report.

Now, it is time to make some final tweaks to make my baby pretty, maybe run another test or two (or seven), and let this thing out in the wild!

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