Down the ramp with a big splash

It’s been a long time coming (in fact the bulk of the work was completed nearly a year ago), but the new Computers Unlimited website is finally live. Among the fresh features is a special offers page for toner, printer ribbons and ink cartridges, a printer consumable search and even a blog.

The website has been written using my e-commerce system, called TwistShop for reasons which shall become clear soon. Eventually I hope to offer this as an easily-deployed application to my clients, along with my content management system TwistCMS and the projectGenie project management system. The fact that these three cornerstones of my website development services have been built for real websites doing real business, not just on a whim, means that when someone approaches me to help them get the best from the web I have the tools available to do so.

So, if you’re looking for Brother toner and ink, Panasonic printer ribbons or Xerox fax supplies you now know where to go.

Treat People Like VIPs

True to my musical roots I’m a subscriber to New Music Strategies, a blog written by Andrew Dubber who certainly knows his stuff about the way the music business is changing. And, more to the point, how it’s not changing fast enough.

A recent post from him had this great quote:

Customer loyalty increases exponentially relative to the degree to which you make them feel important.

Absolutely. A few of the ways you can make customers feel important are:

  • When they ring up, have a human answer the phone
  • Be courteous and helpful
  • Respond to enquiries quickly
  • Trust what they say

How many companies fail in these simple points? Too many. What other ways have you been made to feel special – or been made to feel awful – by companies you’ve dealt with? What’s your top example – and worst gripe – with companies dealings with you?

Hiring for attitude

It’s been increasingly obvious to me over the last few years that a lot of businesses fail to prosper because they get one major thing wrong: they hire the wrong people. That’s not to say they hire stupid or dishonest people (although of course some do) but that they hire for the wrong reasons.

There are lots of different types of people in the world. Some of them have talents in one area, some of them talents in another. Some of them have qualifications that say they can do something really well, some of them have years of experience proving that can do something really well. Some of them love to learn, and other prefer to be taught.

That last point is the key to hiring people. You see, the people that prefer to get taught won’t go out looking for answers, they’ll expect the answers to come to them. They may well have read the manual but they won’t be able to apply it’s principles in creative ways. They are, to put it bluntly, drones. These are the people you should avoid.

In technology we’re constantly trying to find new things; whether that’s new ways to do old things, or ways to do completely new things. While there are manuals and textbooks that will teach you how to use a particular tool it won’t show you how to make the thing you’re working on. You may know how to handle a chisel, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to make a Chippendale. That takes craftsmanship – a subject close to my heart.

You should look for the people that have a craftsman’s attitude to work. They love what they do, they are passionate about doing it right. They are the ones that love to learn, who will keep trying to push the limits of their own, and sometimes the technology’s, limits. Where they see something that isn’t as good as it should be, they say something. In short, they have an attitude of excellence and humility.

Excellence: because without it you can’t call yourself a craftsman. If you don’t aim to be excellent in what you do you’re a person that can’t be bothered. A “good enough” outlook isn’t the craftsmans way. Excellence is a mountain that grows as you climb, but every step brings a better view.

Humility: because arrogance is the nemesis of a good worker. Keeping an attitude of humility makes sure your ears are always open to new and wiser instruction. Arrogance is like a plushly decorated prison. You might think you’re living in luxury, but in reality you’ve lost your freedom.

As Seth Godin says:

I really believe that hiring for talent is not nearly as important as hiring for attitude. If you get the right attitude, you can teach the talent.

So talent, especially qualification-heavy arrogant talent, will not make your business stronger. Humility and excellence will.

Unique content for your WordPress blog – automatically

I’m undecided whether to hail this as a breakthrough: the new WordPress Rewriter Plugin. In a nutshell it takes content and using "a thesaurus database of more than 40000 words" will rewrite the content to be completely unique. That supposedly leads to better search engine results, just as duplicate content leads to penalties.

So, will we now have thousands of quick-buck cowboys ripping off articles left , right and centre? Probably, especially as the $9 price tag is more than low enough for people to give it a try.

Apparently it also has a little trick that will increase traffic by a power of 3. Maybe it’s something to do with page titles (they are one of the most important bits of information that a search engine looks at) but they are coy on the matter. One thing I do know – there will be a lot of people trying this plugin.