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    • Having control of your website is key to your organization's success, and datAvenger™ - sephone's own family of content management solutions — can give you the control you need.
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    • Selling online? Hula bridges the gap between the overly simplified and the overly complex; it's a powerful, full-featured eCommerce solution that is incredibly easy to manage.
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    • Broadcaster

    • For Digital Media based content, Broadcaster is a Sephone built application geared specifically to deliver media based content - Priced competitively to the other solutions, and full of rich and robust features to make any station a star!
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    • RESource MLS

    • terrace is the latest version of RESource MLS a highly effective, affordable solution to have currently available MLS™ properties incorporated into your real estate website, branded in your style.
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    • Creative Web Design

    • If your marketing team doesn't have the time or if you're not working with an agency, sephone's talented design team can create a website that looks good and works great.
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    • People are talking about you, your business and your competition. You cannot stop that, but you can learn from it and set the record straight —­ be part of the conversation. Control your message.­
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    • SEGenie

    • No one finding your website? We can help. SEGenie™ is an affordable alternative to expensive pay-per-click advertising. It works and it comes with a warranty.
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March 7, 2014

Adding video to your website used to be quite a pain.  It involved using some unfriendly software and embedding the video through that software onto your website.  Luckily, with the dawn of HTML5 and video sharing websites like YouTube and Vimeo, this has become exponentially easier.

Why Include Video?

A short video to answer questions your customers may ask you several times via phone is handy.  We use them for “How To’ videos all the time.  Here is an example of one we have for using one of our content management solutions, datAvenger.  These videos are available when our office is closed, whenever the customer wants help.

HTML5

With the new standard of the web, HTML5, it is becoming easier and easier to add video to your site.  With this technology you just need to reference a few files and the browser takes care of the rest.  There is no extra software that you need to install or purchase and you can have video on your site within a matter of minutes.

Pros

  • Easy to implement
  • Cross browser compatible with the latest release of all major browsers (Chrome, Firefox, etc.)
  • Mobile friendly
  • No external branding

Cons

  • Requires 3 video formats for the video to work in all major browsers
  • Does not work in older versions of Internet Explorer, specifically IE8 and below
  • Requires a knowledge of HTML5 to implement

Third Party Video

As an alternative to HTML5 video you can use a third party video sharing service like YouTube or Vimeo.  These services let you upload your video to their site, and provide some code for you to use to embed the video into your website.  This type of implementation is great for someone just looking to include a video on their site, maybe something like a “How to”  or otherwise instructional video.

Pros

  • Easy to implement
  • Video is hosted on a separate site, freeing up space on your site’s server
  • Creates another avenue for people to find you on the third party site
  • Mobile friendly
  • Cross browser compatible

Cons

  • Third party branding.  The service that you use  will most likely brand the embed  player that they provide to you with their brand information and links back to their site.
  • Video quality and availability is dependent on the third party service.  If something happens to the service (server issues, high traffic, etc.) the playback of your video could be affected.  Note, most of the biggest video services are able to handle these things, but there is still potential for problems when you do not control the source.
  • Video length may be limited depending on service

Should you want to proceed with this option, here are some tutorials on “How to”  add the video to your site for the services listed above:

 

Brady is the voice on the other end of the phone line when you call Sephone. He graduated from the New England School of Communications in 2009 and assists Sephone in building and maintaining our sites.
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February 24, 2014

SnailAn agreement with huge implications for how the Internet works happened over the weekend – and most people will probably never hear about it.

Netflix has agreed to pay Comcast in order to ensure its users don’t see annoying those “buffering” messages while they’re trying to watch their favorite movies and TV shows. In other words, Netflix is paying for a premium level of service on the Comcast network.

Since the beginning of online access, the general rule has been that information is information; it doesn’t matter what it is. You might be watching “Breaking Bad” on Netflix, looking at a photo of your grandkid, or reading a news article – all data’s treated the same way.

The Netflix deal starts the web down a different road: a road on which certain content is treated differently.

The Netflix traffic jam

Netflix usage is insane; it takes up just under a third of the downstream traffic in America. One way to look at the Netflix/Comcast deal is to say that Netflix is paying to compensate for that huge share, and it might be fair that since the company uses a large portion of resources, it should pay a premium for that amount of access.

A possible future

On the other hand, this deal raises questions about net neutrality: the practice of treating all online content the same. In short, with net neutrality in place, a customer pays for a certain level of service and can do whatever they (legally) want to do with it.

An absence of net neutrality may mean that Internet service is treated similarly to cable: different rates for different kinds of content. Internet providers could theoretically charge an additional fee for access to some sites. (There’s a great concept chart by Redditor quink that shows this well.) Taken to an even more extreme level, a service provider with, for example, their own news portal could either reduce or block service to competitors. It could also put smaller, more innovative new companies at a disadvantage if they didn’t have the resources to pay for deals with Internet providers.

The FCC is currently looking at new ways to ensure net neutrality, especially while the industry continues to consolidate.

Is the Netflix/Comcast deal a case of one company paying their share for access, or is it the beginning of the end for net neutrality? It’s tough to say. In any case the debate about net neutrality is sure to be one of the core discussions in the coming years.

Justin is one of the developers at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.
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February 21, 2014

If you’re a regular reader to our blog chances are you have heard us talk about “Responsive Web Design.” Responsive design allows a website to change its shape to look good on all screen resolutions. If you are still a little unsure, I recommend reading Alan’s blog post about Responsive Web Design.

So, what’s that have to do with images?

Well, a lot. Not only should your website look good on all screen resolutions but so should your images. On top of that, you want to deliver the correct image sizes based on the website visitors screen resolution. For example:  Let’s say I have a website with a large header graphic. This is a fairly common element to have on a website. Generally, these images are big in width, height and file-size. This type of image works great for anyone visiting the website from their desktop computer. The web visitor will generally have internet access directly from a modem or through a wireless router and they’re not concerned with capped data restrictions. Through a little bit of technical know how that large image can be set to scale. So, if a different web user visits the same website from a mobile phone, they will see the same image but it’s just smaller.

Everything is Good, Right?

Wrong!  Yes, the image height and width has changed and depending on the aspect ratio the image may still look good but the file-size is still the same. When the mobile phone visitor was loading the website, it took them longer to load the website, if they were using their cellular carrier’s network. Not only that, you’re costing them valuable bandwidth just because of that scaled down image with a large file size.

How do you fix it?

Ideally, you will need multiple sizes of the image with optimized file sizes. You can even crop these images to work best within different screen resolutions. Then all you need is a little web development skill to deliver these different images to the appropriate screen resolutions. Those not comfortable with scripting languages there is a new HTML attribute “srcset” being worked on that may make it easier for you to implement responsive images in the future. This does require you to have some HTML skill.

Sounds like a lot of work, so what’s the benefit?

It’s a “Win Win” situation for you and your web visitor.

For You:

  • Optimized images are being delivered for specific screen resolutions.
  • Cropping and resizing images appropriately, you can control what is being displayed in the image.
  • A better chance of keeping a user on your website instead of them leaving because of slow load times.

Web Visitor:

  • A better experience on your website.
  • Faster load times
  • Savings on mobile bandwidth usage
John is a designer at Sephone.
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February 14, 2014

I think there is a social media platform that people often forget, and that is YouTube.

How I use YouTube

I am subscribed to a bunch of channels and watch a lot of videos. Most of the channels that I am subscribed to are about bush-craft, camping, survival or other outdoor like channels. It works like most any other social media site, like Facebook or Twitter. People make updates and their friends see them and can like or comment on them. The difference is that the updates are always videos.

Money Making Platform

There are a few ways to make money on YouTube, but we will focus on the partner program. Basically, you have to allow a video ad and/or a sidebar ad on your video and you will receive a bit of money for views. The going rate is roughly 5 dollars per thousand views. It’s a variable though based on likes and channel subscribers.

How about an example. My favorite YouTube channel is Dave Canterbury. His videos have had 37 million views over the 6-ish years he has had it. So he has more than likely around $185,000 from YouTube over 6 years. Of course he puts some time and money into his videos and most channels receive less views.

How you can use it

If you produce videos, it’s a great platform to be on, I have found it a very active community with likes and comments. Though most of YouTube is silly, there are serious businesses using the service.

Alan has been creating websites since CompuServe was huge. Today he still is developing websites using technologies such as CSS3, HTML5, jQuery and CakePHP.
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February 4, 2014

Facebook's Paper appOn the eve of Facebook’s tenth anniversary, the world’s largest social network launched a new app: Paper. Most media reports have tagged it as a news reading app (like Flipboard), and the reactions run the gamut from huge praise to harsh criticism. I tend to think that’s what Facebook expected, for one simple reason: Paper is how Facebook would look on mobile devices if they were starting over. It’s the rebirth of Facebook for early adopters.

One of the toughest challenges web application developers face is how to keep current users happy while improving your product to change with the times. As a user you usually only see one side of it – and Facebook has seen its share of backlash when they try to change even the tiniest thing about the site. (Good luck getting through all the “change Facebook back!” posts in your News Feed when one of these changes happens.) Why change the site at all, then? If you don’t, a site goes stale. How many of these homepages can you remember from the last ten years, and would you really want to spend all your Facebook time looking at those first few?

Users of any technology can be grouped into a few categories using the technology adoption lifecycle, something that dates back all the way to 1957. (If you’re interested in sociological research – and I mean, who isn’t? – the original report is online as a PDF.) The people who are more willing to experiment and play are usually the first to try a new technology, and they’re called “innovators” and “early adopters”. As a technology spreads it gains the loyalty of even people who are more reluctant to change.

What would happen if Facebook didn’t have to worry about the reaction of its current users and appealed to those early adopters who love the cutting-edge? What if there were no “change Facebook back!” campaigns?

That’s Paper.

Paper uses some really innovative ways of interacting with an app, and it brings the design of the News Feed into current times where media like photos and videos rule and design is based more on the content you’re showing than what device you’re using to show your content.

Paper’s not a news reading app. It’s Facebook’s new vision for the News Feed, and they’re letting you choose if you want to come along for the ride.

Justin is one of the developers at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.
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January 28, 2014

stateoftheunionThe State of the Union address has become one of the annual traditions that political geeks crave and everyone else tends to love or hate. Since the original “he shall from time to time” passage was written in Article II, Section 3, presidents have changed how they fulfill the constitutional requirement.

As it has with almost everything else, the web has transformed how the State of the Union is presented. Bringing the speech to radio (as Calvin Coolidge did in 1923) and television (Harry Truman, 1947) allowed the address to reach a larger audience, but today’s viewer can be more informed, thanks to the Internet.

  • The White House itself uses YouTube to present an enhanced version of the State of the Union, complete with graphs, statistics, and social elements alongside the prepared speech.
  • PolitiFact.com uses the address for a chance to do some live fact-checking of the speech on their site and on Twitter.
  • Pretty much every news source in the world will have live-blogging, live-tweeting, live-photoing, and whatever other information and analysis they can manage to find.

Even with its centuries-old roots and traditions, the State of the Union continues to change and evolve with the advent of the web. What could you do to give a refresh to your typical routine and allow your customers to be more informed?

Justin is one of the developers at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.
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January 24, 2014

So far a few of us at Sephone have weighed in on what we think may happen in 2014.  Alan was first with Television perhaps losing your cable or dish company? Responsive design that allows for any device from a TV to a cell phone to see your message in a pleasing fashion.  Justin spoke about devices that deliver you information and what I call “niche” social media applications.  I talked about the need for people to connect face to face and easy applications for businesses to use to do that with their audience.

But What About LAST YEAR?

2013 Blog Post Review If you look at what we talked about in 2013, Marketing and Social Media topped it.  42% and surprisingly I wasn’t the leader in posting!

Alan wins with 32% of our posting with Justin close behind at 30%.  Neither of them would profess to be “Marketers” but I am excited that our Developers think with Marketing hats!  At Sephone, we are Developers and enjoy the process of holistically solving client challenges. Helping them be more visible online as well as to save them money by integrating systems through online means.  But technology is only cool if it solves the problem, accomplishes the goal. How systems can work easily, be worked with easily. It’s  the way of thinking imperative in these “process” projects.

Tags and Categories

After reviewing what we talked about, we are going to take a look at how we tag and categorize our posts, as the blog has changed with the technology we have some “housekeeping” to do in how we categorize things.  Looking forward is fun and looking back helps make the future more clear.

Kelly's been known as the Marketing Maven since before the term was hip. (That means she's old.) She loves to get people together and help when she can to bring resources to the table and solve problems!
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January 16, 2014

This is just short simple post to let you know that some user-engagement numbers from email and facebook campaigns from a few organizations that I help manage to let you gauge your success.

Facebook

For the month of December 2013 and first week of January 2014, 35.8% was the overall percentage fans of the pages that saw individual posts. Which is higher than the fb average by about double, but the numbers that I took all were from pretty active pages and I am sure that the average is dragging down by useless pages.

fb insightsHere are some hints that seemed to help with post reach

  • Avoid posting links or shares on pages, they just don’t do as well
  • Fans that shares/like/comment are incredibly valuable
  • Posts with one uploaded photo seem to do the best

Email

In the email campaigns for the very same organizations from above, 61.25% was the percentage of people that at least opened the email. It’s worth noting that every organization had significantly less email subscribers than facebook fans.

Here are a few tips that seem to help have emails opened

  • Really good unique subject lines
  • Sending right after lunch or just before dinner

Twitter

Twitter does not have the analytical reporting to dig in and compile this type of information. Your guess is as good as mine.

Alan has been creating websites since CompuServe was huge. Today he still is developing websites using technologies such as CSS3, HTML5, jQuery and CakePHP.
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