Category Archives: Rants & Ramblings

Password Security for Dummies

If we’ve learned anything from the recent security breach at Adobe, it’s that passwords are not secure. And if you use the same password everywhere you are an easy target.

You suck at remembering passwords?

Who doesn’t!

Use a generic one for unimportant stuff like your Gmail login, but use different, longer, non-dictionary passwords for anything where money is involved, like your bank login or PayPal login. If you don’t, one hack on one little, unimportant site that you do not control can bankrupt you. It is happening to real people like you and me. Change your passwords now.

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Note To Self

Working on low-level tasks is a drain on your energy and enthusiasm. It also impacts your confidence to take on high-level tasks. Admit it: At times when you are working in your business rather than on it, you are miserable and unmotivated. Insist on delegating every single task that someone can be trained to do. Even those crucial tasks that need to be done really well. There are wonderful, talented people out there who would love the opportunity.

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Good Design versus Small Business

In my experience, my small business clients prefer the work of my junior designers over the (more accomplished) work of my senior designers. It’s a swoosh mentality. A name with a swoosh going around it is still popular with many small business owners who could not really give a damn if it’s good design or not. They like it. Their customers think it looks cool. That’s all that matters to them.

As we get better at what we do and push design ever closer to art, we tend to loose touch with these clients. It pisses me off when a client rejects a brilliant logo proposal and asks for more “swooshy” designs. Should we educate them? Perhaps. But perhaps these business owners are more in touch with reality than we are. If a swooshy logo sells their products then prescribing anything else in the interest of “good design” is selfish.

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Seth Godin often uses the word “shipped” to describe a project launched into the world. I like it. “Shipped” can be the status of anything. Anything that you set out to accomplish and then see through. It is not the same as “done”. Few things are ever done. And success isn’t required. What is required is that you invest in it. Time, effort and/or money. And then ship it despite the risk of failure.

In the shop next to my graphic design studio an artist set up a painting studio. I think her work is good, but not spectacular. I love that she does not hide her paintings in her house. She “ships” them by hanging them in the shop – and even outside the shop where everyone can see. It’s a massive risk, investing your soul into a work and hanging it where people walking in the street can see it. But not doing it is not living.

What did you ship in 2013?

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Customer Expectation Manager

WTF? I hear you ask. That was my response as well. I saw this job title on the CV of someone I was interviewing for an admin position.

Business owner, when you need a customer expectation manager it is time to take a step back and re-evaluate, because you are doing it wrong. Make a clear promise to your customer and find a way to deliver more. It is as simple as that. It should be.

This is about being the good guy, but it is also about making more money. When your customers receive more than they were promised you earn trust, which on the Net translates into reputation, which translates into sales.

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Nelson Mandela (affectionately “Madiba”) died last night.

He left a South Africa and a world better than the one he was born into – not so much through action as through his example of love and forgiveness. May we all have the courage to love and forgive, to do the right thing even if it’s not the easy thing and to leave this place in a better state than what we inherited.

Thank you Madiba. Rest in peace.

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Post Panda

I have taken several people “under my wing” over the years, showing them exactly how to make money on the Web, either in graphic design or in affiliate marketing. Perhaps it reflects badly on me and my teaching ability, but the fact is that only one of them made it. The rest all now have day jobs; their Internet money dreams only a memory.

But ask anyone who has made it: What makes you different? It’s not talent, knowledge, experience or venture capital. It’s perseverance. Time and again the person who refuses to quit long after most people would throw in the towel is the person who now runs a profitable Internet business.

And then Google comes along with ridiculous algorithm changes and breaks that business. Throw in the towel now? After all the effort to get here? Getting burned in a Google “Panda” or “Penguin” update is just one more hurdle, but the rule hasn’t changed from day one: The Internet isn’t for sissies. It never was. It has always been the domain of the brave, the inventive, the rebellious and the pig-headed who simply will not accept anything less than world domination.

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Anonymous Criticism

You know the kind. The person who posts a comment like “this will never work” or “your work is terrible”, but can’t quite bring themselves to put their name to the comment.

To those people: grow a pair. Too bad the Internet allows you to down someone who does brave work and signs their name to it.

To those who do brave work and sign their name, please ignore anonymous criticism and continue doing what you are doing. We need you.

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Sense vs Commitment

The vast majority of business ventures that pay require a large, prolonged commitment. In my estimation, most that fail do so for lack of commitment. Spending 30 hours on your web site won’t make you successful. Spending 30 hours per week on it over the next four years will.

Sure, you need to have the common sense to test and evaluate ideas. You need the guts to abandon some. But once in a while you need to take that promising site and really invest in it.

It’s like exercising. Any form of exercise is beneficial, but you can’t expect real results if you do it in half-hearted installments.

Side note:
Investing in a web site does not mean creating content. That too, but there is more to it. The investment should be balanced between all 101 little things that can make your site better. Content is the biggest component, but not the only one.

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Bulk Communications

For about four years I received one SMS a day from a car dealer. No way to unsubscribe. Even calling them did not help. No idea where they got my number.

It’s cheap and easy to send bulk email or text messages. It is arrogant too. If the recipient is not looking for exactly that thing at that precise time, then you get a FFS response from her. Somewhere in her subconscious she stores a negative mark next to your company name. If you care at all about your reputation, get permission. The cost of bulk communication is huge otherwise.

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