Mesmo em inglês, vale a pena dar uma olhada..
When you’re tired of playing childish games like leap-frog and tidily-winks in the SERPs (search engine result pages) with your competition and are ready to change the subject from recess to biology and literally dissect their SEO game. You’ll need to break out some real SEO tools for a stint of competitive research.
SEO tools play an instrumental role in search and are indispensable for mining data and other pertinent information (such as seasonal trends, buzz-words or keyword combinations) from the pages of industry leaders, who despite being at the top of their game, can still be out-maneuvered with the appropriate optimization strategy.
SEO tools are essential for plotting your ascent through competitive industries and allow you to carve out a niche in the top 10 for an entire series of key phases for your website, blog or business.
Reaching the upper echelon of organic search is no simple task, in fact, it requires a great deal of patience, foresight and strategy. Although we leave the use of these tools up to your imagination (much like Adobe Photoshop, where there is more than one to reach the same objective) the extent of the results all depend on your ability to think-outside-the-box and wield each tool with creativity.
So let’s get started…
There is quite a buzz about this first tool in the SEO industry right now, so, we will cover that one first.
First up – SEO Tool #1: “WordZe Keyword Discovery Tool”
Every good SEO campaign starts with fundamental keyword research. Without it, you could waste months optimizing the wrong terms and miss the boat on what’s hot and what’s not when gauging an industry and the respective keywords that drive it.
A high search volume (traffic-bearing) keyword is a result of supply/demand and conversion, although it may be more difficult to acquire, the rewards yield more than enough profit to justify the means. Whereas a less competitive keyword can provide you with a top 10 listing, but for a term with low search volume that nobody is searching for. So, it’s better to eliminate the exercise in futility by using a keyword research tool that allows you to find the most relevant (up to date) search data to base your keyword discovery.
Just in case you are still stuck in the past and using keyword antiquated research tools like Overture Keyword Discovery Tool or Word Tracker, there’s a new series of professional-grade SEO tools making a debut called WordZe that’s sure to hit the sweet spot for SEO enthusiasts (while mutually raising the bar for keyword research/discovery tools).
Say for example, you want to compete for a specific keyword and you enter it in the “word rank” global competitive keyword analysis tool. The company describes this tool with the following “WordRank is a tool that will inspect the search results for a given keyword, then analyze each domain to assist you in understanding the level of competition you can expect from others that already are leaders for the keyword or industry.”
Pretty straight forward, and to the point. This by far is my favorite, because aside from just showing you who ranks for the term, it provides an accurate snapshot of how many links per month your competitors are building to maintain that term for their position, for “that” keyword – “Priceless SEO data”.
The calculation uses a new fundamental ranking algorithm, that by far is the most evolved I have seen for a commercial tool. I’m sure it’s nothing compared to the awesome SEO Tools that the exclusive members have now at Jim Boykin’s – Internet Marketing Ninjas (this is NOT a plug or paid advertisement), but using WordZe for only $35 per month in conjunction with Compete.com (our next pick) and you can essentially deduce just how difficult it would be to dethrone your competition from their most prized, traffic bearing keywords.
Aside from this tool, they have a keyword density tool that allows you to enter your domain name, it takes a snapshot of all of the keywords from the domain and assesses the terms the site is targeting. In addition to viewing the raw data, it provides useful one, two and three word combinations that you can test in search engine queries to provide valuable insight about where they rank for any combination of related phrases.
Also, the site has a wide array or other tools (that I have yet to explore) that allow you to assess trends, demographic information, keyword demand based on the region, state or global percentage of requests for that keyword and so much more. For the price it is a must-have SEO tool for your analysis toolbox.
Next Up SEO Tool #2 – Compete.com Search & Site Analytics
Aside from having to wait nearly a month to purchase a few credits (as a result of their API reaching it’s daily limit) I was finally able to test drive some of Compete’s nifty SEO tools. My favorite is the site analytics section which has become a natural stop after taking a peek at your competitions back links in Yahoo. Speaking of Yahoo and SEO, on a side note, follow the link to get Joost De Valk’s new SEO Analysis Tool, a FREE plug in for Mozilla Firefox that reveals the anchor text of your competitors back links (when you use the site:www.competitorssite.com search command) – “Priceless and not to mention FREE”.
Not to digress, as a freebie, Compete allows you to assess the monthly traffic a site is getting just as a taste of their SEO tools right from the home page. So, say for example, you want to see how your traffic fares against your favorite competitor, just type their URL or paste it in the top left portion of the homepage’s vs. query box and click return.
You can also, add up to 3 domains to have a face-off to see which site is getting the most traction for their keywords in the SERPs. It breaks down traffic trends to their site using data collected over the past year. Once again, “Priceless information”, when attempting to assess the strength of your next keyword acquisition campaign.
The hint here is “if they are smoking you in the rankings, at least you can turn the microscope on them with a few of the other tools here to determine if a keyword quest is in order to tip to vote in your favor from the search engine spiders. I was researching a few competitors for example who have managed to secure a number of high ranking keywords, yet despite their selection of optimized terms, their traffic was a mere fraction of ours. So, ultimately one needs to decide if targeting competitive terms or focusing on the long-tail of search is the way to drive optimal conversion for their pages.
Compete also has the ability to parse monthly search engine queries using site analytics and reveal which keywords visitors used in order to reach the site in question. Just add this to a great keyword discovery tool like WordZe and you could essentially assess the competitive climate based on the cross-referenced data in a few short hours which could save you months building links for the wrong terms.
SEO Tool #3 – Linkvendor.com
Here is an excellent example of philanthropy in it’s finest from Linkvendor.com, whereby Marcus from SEO Solutions / SEOmetrie (I like the first name, kinda has a ring to it) made these SEO tools in context of his diploma/thesis. Kudos to Marcus and thanks for sharing…
He has essentially ran the gamut on every possible SEO tool that one could desire ranging from analysis and link popularity to domain tools and keyword position checkers. This is one free site that is link-worthy and anyone using them should definitely throw a link back their way.
SEO Tool#4 – SEO Chat’s Page Rank Search Tool
Although the Page Rank Search Tool was probably designed just to see if your pages are passing the little green fairy dust, another way you could use it is by using a link command with one of your competitors domains in the mix.
Just click here and add your favorite competitors domain name using the link:competitorswebsite.com to the query box, sort by page rank and set the number of results to 100 and viola, you can take a peek under the hood of your competitors back links in Google and see which pages are passing the most link juice. At least, as far as a rudimentary inspection that is.
Well, that wraps up this review of 4 Indispensable SEO Tools You Can’t Live Without. Since so many tools were omitted, I feel the need to throw in a few more since we are on a such a roll.
SEO Tactics for SEO Tools – Application
Now that you have some nice tools to play with, as an added bonus, how about a few SEO tactics to go along with them to get things started.
1) Hypothetically speaking, between SEO Digger (as a keyword mining tool that reverse engineers the Google Search Algorithm and extrapolates keyword combinations) and Hittail (a great tool for extracting the keyword gold from the long-tail of search for visitors that have already visited your pages), you could survey your keyword landscape for a future SEO campaign.
2) Or perhaps you may visit a site using SEO Quake (another wicked Firefox Plug-in), to get a summary of their domain age, Who is information as well as their back links and combine that with a summary of the traffic from Compete.com to see just how effective their SEO is.
3) Or what about using SEO Chat, or Joost De Valk’s new Mozilla plug in to conduct a link analysis through some link mining to see which pages are candidates for links from your competition. Chances are, since they linked to someone in your industry, they are open for some type of service/exchange. Just don’t email them with a reciprocal link request, unless you want to ruin any chance of an authority link. Pick up the phone and see what you can work out, you never know.
4) Also, links do not always have to come from the same country to be effective in augmenting your global website profile. Dave Davis from RedFly Marketing has created a another awesome Firefox plug-in Google Global that allows you to view organic and paid Google search results as they appear in almost any location on Earth, talk about link building opportunities. What are you waiting for, go download your copy if you haven’t already.
In closing, SEO tools are only as dapper as the one using them, so remember to think outside the box and experiment with new and exciting methods when optimizing your pages.
I know we have only scratched the surface on this one. So many search engine optimization tools, so little time, so this is one time where I would like to call upon other SEO’s that may wish to share their favorite SEO Tools or techniques and drop a relevant link or two below. Don’t be stingy now, comments are open and if you have a question, let it be heard.
If not, then stay tuned for more SEO tips, tactics and strategies from Seo Design Solutions. I hoped you enjoyed this post and if you like, link it, Digg it, Stumble it,mixx it, Scoop it , Zoom it, or share it how you like.
Para avaliar a eficiência, ligue para a sua empresa como se fosse um cliente. É provável que você encontre o que melhorar
Por Roseli Garcia*
Aos empreendedores em geral, recomendo um desafio: passe um telefonema à sua empresa na posição de cliente e avalie sua satisfação com o atendimento. Ganha um mimo aquele que não encontrar algo a ser melhorado.
Isso costuma acontecer, não porque procedemos incorretamente no atendimento ou porque temos uma lei que determina os procedimentos, mas porque é da natureza do empreendedor converter a obra de seu trabalho em um ato de melhoria contínua. E o cliente tem essa percepção extremamente aguçada.
Esse é o grande segredo do sucesso de muitas pequenas empresas: elas conhecem muito bem o seu microambiente. Conseguem proporcionar um atendimento diferenciado sempre. Suas iniciativas empresariais são totalmente voltadas ao mercado em que desejam atuar e, embora normalmente disponham de menos recursos, seja em pessoal ou tecnologia, preocupam-se em desenvolver um relacionamento coeso e contínuo com seus clientes.
Essa característica peculiar das pequenas e médias empresas (PMEs) possui um enorme valor. O pequeno empreendedor precisa ter essa noção, pois todos estão buscando formas de se relacionar de maneira cada vez mais próxima com o consumidor, e as PMEs dispõem de um potencial inquestionável para promover isso.
Da mesma forma que houve um grande movimento das instituições financeiras com o varejo, o futuro indica que haverá uma aproximação com esse segmento do mercado, pois é prevista uma expansão das ações de empreendedorismo, especialmente com os eventos que serão promovidos, abordando a figura do Microempreendedor Individual (MEI), cada vez mais ascendente nesse universo. Sendo assim, estar preparado para essa expansão, podendo ofertar um real conhecimento da carteira de clientes da PME, será uma boa alternativa.
Para proporcionar mais excelência em seu atendimento, ações simples geram grande impacto. Embora sejam medidas evidentes a qualquer negócio, lembre-se sempre que o óbvio deve ser replicado para nunca ser esquecido. Sendo assim, recomendo que se inicie a confecção da ficha cadastral dos clientes.
Iniciativas simples como registrar o nome ou razão social corretamente, o endereço, incluindo a rua, número, andar, conjunto, bairro, CEP, cidade e estado, a atividade do cliente (caso ele atue em algum negócio) e um registro dos produtos que foram comprados com a respectiva forma de pagamento. Além disso, registre quantas vezes o cliente acionou o seu Sistema de Atendimento ao Consumidor (SAC) e quais foram as principais abordagens.
Conforme eu mencionei anteriormente, tudo isso parece muito óbvio. Entretanto, pesquisas mostram que mais da metade das empresas não realiza essa ação. Dentre aquelas que realizam, a grande maioria não atualiza os dados e, dentro desse contexto, vale a premissa de que informação errada é pior do que não ter informação. Como você gosta de empreender e encara desafios diariamente, aqui vai mais um: implante o cadastro de seus clientes imediatamente, cujas orientações foram apresentadas didaticamente em meu último artigo. Se precisar de ajuda, a Associação Comercial de São Paulo (ACSP) poderá orientá-lo.
* Roseli Garcia é superintendente de Produtos e Serviços da Associação Comercial de São Paulo (ACSP)
Fonte: Site Pequenas Empresas Grandes Negócios
Stepping into the self employed fraction or what most would address as the entrepreneur zone is not an easy feat. The prospect of becoming your own boss, finding and recruiting invaluable talents, creating your own project, and constantly making a lefty income working in the comfort of your own home has led to many jumping impatiently onto the entrepreneurship bandwagon.
Image from: Guillaume
However, the other side of the pasture is not always greener. Inexperience, lack of talent or poor management has slowly drained your passion and dragged you into turmoil. Creative juices are not flowing and you are reaching out for a lifeline.
It takes ten years or more of prosperity to make a company; but it takes only ten seconds of poverty to destroy it.
There are some important characteristics that are needed for your start-up company to succeed, and I wish to share it here.
The six strategies that I will be sharing in coming months are:
- The Civil Strategy
- The Business Strategy
- The Leadership Strategy
- The Operation Strategy
- The Flexible Strategy and lastly
- The Secret Strategy
These strategies are essential for administrators, leaders and entrepreneurs. It covers critical areas in management which includes how to recruit talent, manage your own company and more.
The earliest development of the six strategies is from an ancient military book, titled Liu Tao (六韬), or Six Strategies for War. It is originally attributed to Jiang Shang, the brilliant strategist. I will be releasing each of the strategies one at a time.
For now, please enjoy – The Civil Strategy – The art of recruiting talent and internal management.
Episode 1: The Civil Strategy
Before you can start your own web company, you must be clear of your objectives, focus, and direction. Understand that Rome is not built in a day and your leap of faith into venturing your own business will be tested by constant obstacles.
Recruiting Talents as Partners
Fortunately, you need not experience this alone. In order to have better success, you need to make use of others’ expertise to grow your web business. Most web businesses are not built alone. In order to form your dream team of partners, you must master the art of recruiting talent and internal management. In this strategy we will discuss the recruiting of correct talent and internal management.
Image from: iesphotography
There are a few reasons why being a single founder is tougher and will easily succumb to failure. There will bound to be many difficult decisions and it might be tough to decide without another person’s opinion or banding together to call the shots. With a single founder, there would not be enough diversity in generating ideas and problem-solving processes. Look at big companies like Google and Apple, they have a wonderful pool of talented people around, and are still constantly recruiting new talents.
Furthermore, with a partner, you can motivate each other to keep things going and see things from different perspectives. But there is the other extreme, and it is when too many cooks spoil the broth. This runs into the problem of things being debated or argued constantly, causing critical decisions to be delayed.
There is nothing more powerful than like-minded partners. When NASA wanted to send the first man on the moon, every single NASA staff shared a common dream – to help send the first man to moon from earth. Even the toilet janitor, shared the same aspiration.
To determine the correct person to join your web venture, first you have to determine their aspirations. A worthy partner and a mere partner are equally busy; but because of different aspirations, their gains will also be different.
Respect Your Partners and Control Your Desire
After you have recruited the suitable talents, maybe a designer or developer, you must control your desire for power. A partner or company chief executive who cannot relate well with those around him and cares only about his personal desires is unlikely to stay successful for long. You have to control your personal desires and respect others in order to achieve great cooperation.
Image from: iesphotography
Rewards, Recognition and Penalty
Next, when it comes to rewards and penalty, one has to be fair. Giving due reward or penalty is an important part of the art of leadership. As times change, however, one ought to be flexible in deciding the type of reward or penalty to be meted out. Give a lighter penalty when it is difficult to decide what penalty is due and give a greater reward when it is difficult to decide what reward is due. If a project design is well received by your client, give more credit to your designer and praise him or her. And when a project messes up, do not be the first to push the blame but help to shoulder the responsibility.
Foster Good Working Relationship
No one likes to be bossed around. In terms of relationship, you must foster good relationships with your partner, superior and subordinate. A superior treats his subordinates with kindheartedness and in return, the subordinates will sincerely respect their superior. This traditional Chinese ethical value is still relevant in some companies today.
Happiness is the Health of Your Company
A group of happy people is a requisite for company prosperity. When the people are angry or unhappy in a company, they are unnameable to the precepts of ethics. Without moral values, social cohesion is impossible and the loss of support of your team will spell the downfall of your company.
Humbleness is the Key
Humbleness can get you very far no matter where you go. It’s a great attribute that is useful to cultivate. But be careful not to overly do it, as it might be perceived as fake. Always be ready to listen humbly to the criticisms of your partner and make timely corrections.
Image from: Arendfoto
Be Willingly to Delicate Responsibility
Always give food for thought to people with high aspirations. These days, many young people are used to a life of plenty and enjoyment from an early age. In such an environment, it is difficult to nurture outstanding talent. In adversity, the survival of the weak is constantly being threatened. Be willingly to delegate your responsibility to your partner and watch them perform. Those who have the courage to accept challenges and give full play to their potential may turn out to be a valuable ally.
Meritocracy is the Way to Prolonged Prosperity
A wise leader would employ people judiciously and give key position to worthy and honest partners, thus making the company strong. Know your partners’ strength and not just allow mediocre people to hold key positions based on friendship or connection.
Take Less and Give More to The Company
Any one will desire that the company give more and take less from them. Invest more time, trust or money into your company and take less from it in order to build up the relationship.
United We Stand, Divided We Fall
Unified command and unified action are prerequisites for company success. A team without unified command and esprit de corps is doomed to failure. The same ingredient is also vital for the success of any organization.
Image from: kinjotx
Be Expectant of Adversity
A person is bound to have one form of worry or another. Nothing in the world remains unchanged. Success and failure, good times and bad times, conflicts and harmony, are all part and parcel in a company journey towards success. Knowing this, if you still does not anticipate disasters and prepares for them, a good time will soon be gone.
Ontem vi um ótimo artigo de Silvio Tanabe, consultor da Magoweb Marketing Digital e Soluções para Internet, no Mundo do Marketing e resolvi trazer aqui pro blog da i9 com algumas percepções minhas, pois este é um assunto recorrente com que as empresas estão sempre se preocupando. É nítido o movimento das empresas para as redes sociais. Algumas estão se dando muito bem, principalmente no Twitter, e é cada vez maior o número de empresas que tomam a consciência de que elas não podem demorar para participar das redes sociais. As estatísticas também ajudam muito nessa inserção das empresas nas mídias sociais. O número de usuários do Twitter aumentou 1.600% entre julho de 2008 e 2009, sendo que os brasileiros são os que passam mais tempo “tuitando” (cerca de 41,5 minutos por mês de acordo com pesquisa da ComScore). Somente em São Paulo, 45% da população já participa de alguma rede social, índice que aumenta para 75% entre os jovens entre 18 e 24 anos (Ibope Mídia). Nas empresas, segundo estudo da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (NTT/URFJ), 74% dos pesquisados planejam participar das mídias sociais nos próximos 12 meses. Assim, qual empresa não quer entrar nessa nova onda?
Pois é, mas o grande problema se resume naquele velho ditado: “A pressa é inimiga da perfeição”. E por que com as mídias sociais seria diferente? É muito comum as empresas se interessarem pelas mídias sociais visando um resultado imediato, retorno sobre investimento em pouquíssimo tempo e aumento de suas vendas no curtíssimo prazo. Já ouvimos de muitos clientes: “Só vou entrar nas mídias sociais se o retorno em vendas for imediato”, e por aí vai. A mesma pesquisa da UFRJ também afirmou isso: 49% dos pesquisados já entram nas mídias sociais querendo “faturar” de alguma forma: insistem em oferecer seus produtos nas comunidades, fazem propaganda descarada nos blogs, enviam mensagens comerciais sem permissão. Ou, por outro lado, participam dessas mídias sem propósito definido, simplesmente “por participar”, para fazer parte e ver o que acontece.
Só que como não é assim que as coisas funcionam as consequências aparecem: conteúdo irrelevante, propaganda demais, foco de menos e, pior, a reação contrária dos internautas, que pode ir da indiferença à indignação. E no final das contas ainda colocam a culpa na tal de “Mídia Social”. Por isso ainda se ouve que os índices de sucesso nas redes sociais estão abaixo do que poderiam estar. A culpa não é das mídias sociais, a culpa é da forma como a empresa está utilizando as mídias sociais. De nada adianta termos em nossas mãos ferramentas poderosíssimas de mídia social se não sabemos utilizar. Ou ainda se não temos quem saiba utilizar.
Que tal fazer as coisas com calma, com planejamento e visão de longo prazo? Pode ter certeza que esse é o caminho mais seguro e assim a sua empresa pode ter sucesso e maior potencial para gerar resultados. Silvio Tanabe descreve alguns aspectos a serem levados em conta neste sentido e que coloco abaixo:
- Entenda como as mídias sociais funcionam: Comunidades, blogs e Twitter possuem uma dinâmica própria, que só são compreendidas quando se faz parte delas. Portanto, antes de delegar a tarefa a terceiros, é essencial que você participe para ter uma noção mais clara sobre as regras de conduta e formas de abordagem mais apropriadas. Uma das primeiras coisas que descobrirá, por experiência própria, é porque ninguém nesse meio gosta de vendas diretas.
- Entenda como o seu público-alvo interage: Estude como seus clientes, consumidores ou prospects participam das mídias sociais. Eles a utilizam para conhecer a opinião de outras pessoas sobre o seu produto, para reclamar ou elogiar? Estão interessados em assuntos profissionais ou pessoais? Quais os sites mais freqüentados (Orkut, Facebook, Sonico, MySpace, Via6, Linked In, Plaxo etc.)? E se não participam, isso ocorre por falta de tempo, interesse ou dificuldade em acompanhar estas novidades? O que os motivaria a fazer parte de uma rede social?
- Defina a estratégia: As etapas acima são fundamentais para o passo seguinte, definir a estratégia de atuação, que pode se dar em três níveis principais: canais relacionamento (atendimento a reclamações, esclarecimento de dúvidas, interação com clientes e consumidores), comunicação (divulgação de lançamentos ou atualizações de produtos, informações práticas) ou campanhas de fidelização (promoções exclusivas para quem participa ou segue em suas comunidades, blogs ou Twitter). Independente da escolha, é essencial atuar de forma integrada a outras iniciativas de marketing utilizadas pela empresa, sejam online (website, e-mail marketing, links patrocinados, banners) ou offline (anúncios, mala direta, assessoria de imprensa etc.)
- Crie um diferencial: Só participar não é o bastante. É preciso participar de forma diferenciada. Seja por meio de conteúdo exclusivo, promoções especiais ou atendimento personalizado. É a melhor maneira de conquistar atenção, fidelidade do público e, principalmente, fazer com que as suas iniciativas sejam divulgadas pelos próprios participantes por meio do boca a boca.
- Tenha objetivos claros e mensure os resultados: Uma das grandes vantagens do marketing digital é dispor de recursos que permitem mensurar os resultados das mais diversas formas. Use isso a seu favor, estabelecendo objetivos e metas claros para cada mídia social. Uma dica para facilitar a tarefa é canalizar as ações das mídias sociais no site da empresa. Por exemplo, em uma promoção pelo Twitter, faça com que os internautas tenham de visitar o site para conhecer as regras ou os prêmios. Dessa forma, é possível mensurar em detalhes a audiência (região de proveniência dos visitantes, duração) e o tráfego (páginas mais visitas) do site e relacioná-los com a receptividade da campanha. É também uma forma dos internautas conhecerem mais sobre a sua empresa e outros produtos oferecidos.
No post anterior tem um vídeo bem interessante sobre Social Media ROI. Vale a pena assistir e refletir junto com o texto acima. Pense que é a sua marca que está em jogo e que para não errar ou fazer feio é preciso planejar e não ter pressa. Fazer um bom trabalho é essencial para o sucesso da empresa nas mídias sociais.
O texto está em inglês, mas vale a pena dar uma lida. Vou traduzi-lo assim que possível.
The name says it all. If you’ve come here, we mean no offense – there’s just a few career killers that we probably all have been guilty of at one point or another. These concepts definitely apply to interface designers, but if you’ve arrived at this post and you aren’t an interface designer, don’t check out yet – there’s probably a few things here you can apply to whatever field you are working in. Also, realize that these are not the only mistakes you can make. So, with that said, let’s get started.
Mistake #1: Waiting
You’ve done countless hours of studying. You’ve visited hundreds of tutorials and spent hours in classes and conferences. You’ve heard, read, and practiced the best practices, and you know Photoshop shortcuts like the back of your hand. You can quote every line of jQuery, and you could reproduce every Flash site on the FWA. You can type 90 words per minute. You know a lot. So, you’ve made a few interfaces, and you’ve posted your stuff online on Behance, Flickr, or even your own online portfolio. This is the important part, ladies and gentlemen: now what?
The mistake most people make is simply sitting back and waiting. Even if your work is top-notch, and you eventually are hired, there is no positive motion that happens as a result of waiting. So, what do you do? Now what? This happens often with freelancers at the beginning of their careers. They get a little bit of work under their belts, and then sit back and wait on customers or employers to come their way; this is one of the worst steps for your career for many reasons. First of all, you are not guaranteed that anything will happen. Secondly, most clients and employers would much rather see someone who is active in their field and informed about the latest aspects of that field than someone who is, essentially, a “has-been.” In most other occupations, a “has-been” is one that is from years past; however, in professional media, a “has-been” can be someone who is just a few months out of the loop. So what are a few ways to stay active in interface design?
- Do mock jobs
- Involve yourself in a community of other designers and developers, and offer advice or help.Note: A good way to do this is through Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks. Also, by leaving comments here on the Fuel Network sites! Be sure to follow FYI on Twitter @fuelinterface, and feel free to follow me personally as well @jcutrell
- Take old designs and improve on them.
- Work for free (for non-profit companies, friends, etc.)Note: Be sure that working for free will not affect the quality of the product you release!
- Explore new facets of your occupation, or cross over into another practice to supplement your interface design skills. For instance, try out typeface design or art illustration.
Mistake #2: Ignoring The Garmon Principle
Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of The Garmon Principle. Considering it was invented about 30 seconds ago, you’re probably not the only one. Chris Garmon is a good friend of mine that recently sat me down and changed my thinking about all of my professional media work. Garmon isn’t necessarily a design professional, nor could he write more than a line of HTML.
I showed him an interface idea I was working with at the time. I was very excited; it used some jQuery effects and Ajax loading that I had just learned, and the CSS and HTML were both on-spot. It was designed with intentional design theory, and it was ready to have content infused. As I showed him the product, his face disfigured a little bit, and he said, “it’s not really that great.” In the back of my mind, I thought, “Oh yes it is. You have no clue what it took to make this do that, and that do this. And the jQuery is cool, and the black and white theme is really in…” But then I realized, you know… it really isn’t that great. In fact, it’s nothing but a waste of time. Then, Garmon went on to tell me what I have come to know as The Garmon Principle.
The first thing you should do is close your laptop, put away your cool bag of tricks, and think. Think, “What would be the perfect site for this? What would it look like? If there were no boundaries, what is the coolest thing, or the most functional way, to make this happen?” Also think, “What will make this worth existing as much or more than the next guy’s interface?” Once you have decided what the best possible solution would be, figure out how to do it. If there is something in your original idea that just simply isn’t possible, then amend it. “Re-idea,” if you will. But never, ever, EVER sit down and start doing things simply because you know how to do them. Because the truth is, no one really cares how much you know about coding or development. The people who are looking at this site aren’t thinking about what it took to make it, or how many advanced lines of code you wrote. They’re thinking about how it is now, as a whole.
All Garmon was telling me was that the concept is far more important than the method. The function trumps form. It is easy for us, as designers and developers, to get caught up with our practical coding knowledge; but the truth is, it’s not a bunch of little things that make a site good. It is, almost infallibly, one thing. Now, what that one thing is, you have to figure out before you ever type a single line of code or push a single pixel.
Mistake #3: Spreading Too Thin
This is the most often committed mistake in every professional field. Without going into too much detail, we can understand this concept fairly easily. In international trade, different countries trade a limited number of goods that they have the comparative advantage creating. For instance, the United States isn’t nearly as good at producing bananas than a tropical island would be, and the tropical island isn’t at good at producing commercial aircraft as the United States is. Therefore, for a certain number of airplanes, the United States can trade the tropical island for a certain number of bananas. The reason this works well is because each country is doing what it does best, thus being as productive as possible.
The same concept can be applied to people! If you are really great at designing ecommerce or photo gallery sites, then don’t be afraid to focus solely on ecommerce or photo gallery sites. By doing any other kind of interface design, you will be taking away time from the thing you are best at, and therefore you are not being nearly as productive as you could be. This can be detrimental to your career; If you were free to focus on what you do best, you would produce your best possible product.
Note that this doesn’t mean, however, that you completely ignore every other practice surrounding your field. Sometimes, other practices supplement your practice. An example of this, for many designers, is photography. Practicing some in photography will increase your knowledge and understanding of color, 3D space, composition, and many other important concepts that cross over into your practical knowledge of design. The important thing is that you focus mostly or completely on what you are best at.