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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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    • 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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    • 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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April 4, 2014

If you are a business owner,  you know there is no way you can keep up with everything.  You have to prioritize.  For some reason we still have only 24 hours in a day and we keep jamming about 45 into them – we are constantly trying to do more with less.  Then your body just says, “Hey, if you don’t slow down on your own, we are going to slow you down !

Everything starts taking perspective, doesn’t it?  It boils down to, “What really is important?”

You go to your doctor because you aren’t feeling well or perhaps you want to keep feeling well.  You got to a car mechanic because he is the “doctor” for your car. You are trying to make a living and feed your family, pay your employees and “All That Jazz.”  You need to do what is most important and the rest you need to ask others to do for you. The experts.

Who Are You?

Are you trying to do that with your message?  Your story?  Your livelihood? Yes, you can probably muddle your way through a free website program, but how long does that take?  You say, “I can do it on the weekend.” But do you?  And if you do, then what?  Once it’s up, it’s done?  Does it look like your company or anybody else’s? Are you a bed and breakfast and now you look like a flower shop?  Are the photos you are using stock and do you have permission to use them?  And with all things we can accomplish on the web today, have you wondered if a web developer could make you more efficient and save you oodles of money?

The World

The World is yours when you are online.  People see your web presence and they make judgements.  Do they see the care and concern you have for your customer? Your company’s honesty and integrity and what makes you different from “the other guys?”

If this post leaves you wondering, why not give us a call  207.262.5040 or email me?

 

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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March 26, 2014

Web applications are onea that are used through your web browser. Examples include facebook, gmail and basecamp. This is instead of an application (or program) that is installed on your desktop such as outlook or word.

Advantages

  1. Most of your information is stored on a server somewhere. These means you can spill a whole pot of coffee on your computer and it can completely burn up. As long as you remember your url (web address), username and password, once you get a new computer and all you have to do login and you are back in business.
  2. By and large, you don’t have to worry about versions or OS (operating system) compatibility.  No different versions for Macs and Windows, no worrying about installing updates.
  3. No disk space (or very little) is taken up on your computer or device.
  4. You can use your application on different computers. You can use on your work computer, your home computer, laptop and tablet, and likely have no issues. Snow days are no problems any more.

Disadvantages

If there are any, it’s only that you need to be connected to the internet for all of this to work. Your internet goes down, and you can’t get to your app.  Also, internet speed may play a factor. Most web apps don’t need too much bandwidth, but some will. If you have a slow internet connection, that may affect the performance of your web app.

The Future

With more and more people accessing information, saving information and sharing information the more appealing a web based program or application is for speed, convenience and learning curve. Most of us are using them every day in more ways than we know.

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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March 17, 2014

sephone-bar

When you hear about domain names – facebook.com, ebay.com, sephone.com – most of the focus is usually on the part before the dot. But what do those few letters at the end of the domain mean?

The right-most portion of a domain name is called a TLD, or top-level domain. It is, in short, a category for domains. You’re probably used to hearing about a lot of domains that end in “.com”, a shortened version of “commercial”. But names on the web go far, far beyond that!

In the beginning… .com, .net, .org

The first batch of top-level domains were created in early 1985: .com, .net (for networks), .org (originally for non-profit organizations), .edu (for educational institutions), .gov (for government), and .mil (for military). Some top-level domains (including .edu, .gov, and .mil) are limited, and they can only be reserved with certain qualifications. The other three big TLDs are now unrestricted.

Country codes

But what about the other top-level domains? In many cases, domains in use may be assigned to a certain country. Here are some of the common country code TLDs you may see on the sites you visit:

  • .uk: United Kingdom
  • .fr: France
  • .de: Germany (Deutschland)
  • .cn: China
  • .in: India
  • .ie: Ireland

Individual countries have different policies about how people can use their domains. Some require registrants to be a citizen. Other countries leave registration pretty open, which allows domain owners to be a bit creative with their names (for example, the original del.icio.us used the United States’s .us domain, and bit.ly uses Libya’s .ly).

The new frontier

As the use of domain names has grown, people continue to look for new ways to create easy-to-remember homes online. Much like the addition of new toll-free prefixes in addition to the original 800 numbers, new domains are added periodically as well (for example, .ws and .info).

In 2014 companies will be adding thousands of new options for top-level specialty domains – everything from .photos to .coffee to .community.

If you’d like to talk about the best choices for your business’s domain name, or if you’d like to register additional names for your company, we’d be happy to discuss your options!

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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March 13, 2014

We wont start this off by saying what “ASSUME” means because that saying is older than me. We have spoken about this topic in this blog and I have written about it in other blogs before.

COMMUNICATION.

I was reminded this week again just how fragile communication is.  Since it something that is at the forefront of my mind, I have also heard it from many others.

ONE WAY

It seemed  so much easier when we had “One to One” communication. Business correspondence came in the mail with your name on it, you opened it, you read it, you responded to it.  The telephone rang,  (the LAND LINE) Business Phoneor you called the number of the person you wanted to speak to, you spoke to them, or left a message with someone or in their voice mail.

Face to Face: You went to a meeting or a reception and you greeted people and communication happened. Relationships happened.  Business happened.  And if it didn’t go the way you thought it might often you knew and understood why. You could feel it.

All seemed right with the world.

The More Ways = NO WAY

How many times have you missed that “thing” you really wanted to know about?  Maybe you DVR your favorite TV shows but you skip the ads? Emails go to SPAM folders and JUNK folders.  But what about when  they aren’t SPAM or JUNK? Some times emails get lost or hung up somewhere.  You may see them on your phone, think you answered them only to learn later that you didn’t.  But you really thought you had!

Facebook.  Yes, people are on it all the time. But just because it is put on Facebook does not mean everybody sees it.  Facebook’s algorithm decides what a person sees based on what is to Facebook’s  benefit or some mathematical equation.  And if you see something on Facebook and you don’t occasionally reach out and connect with that person, with “in-person,”  phone or at least an email, does it really doesn’t count.  Lurching, spying, creeping around is just that.  CREEPY!  Facebook and other social media sites do not absolve you of being human and actually engaging and caring.  Once my financial planner showed up at my office with some flowers that she picked from her garden, for no obvious reason.  You bet-that was special!

Ground Rules

Ask. What does your customer use as a main mode of communication? Use that when communicating with them. Don’t expect that they will change their whole way of communication to make you happy.  Let them know if there is a reason you need to communicate about something that is out of their comfort zone, like account validation or password reset that they know how and why.

They are the customer, remember?

                                                                                                                  *Thank you Hubspot for the use of your image.

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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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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