July 2014

Five reasons why we use WordPress

Website building platforms are constantly evolving to keep up with the needs of developers. We keep an eye on the CMS options available to us but have always come back to WordPress. Here are five reasons why:

  1. It’s versatile

WordPress helps us build a site that’s as simple or as expansive as you like. The functionality at our fingertips allows us to build sites from a clean, informative portfolio or an evocative website, complete with galleries and blog to an e-commerce site that makes you money while you sleep. Our job is understanding what you need and making that happen.

  1. It’s affordable and efficient

With the themes and plugins available in WordPress, there’s no need to build from scratch. This makes the website more affordable for the client and the process more efficient for us. There are thousands of WordPress themes available – by far the best selection online – and the best news? They’re built to be responsive and ready to work on any device.

  1. It’s SEO-friendly

The number one reason businesses want to be online is to be found. Tip-top search engine optimisation is crucial for any website and WordPress is inherently SEO-friendly, giving developers the opportunity to use keywords in URLs, headings, site descriptions ,etc. There are also plenty of great plugins that instil SEO discipline, ensuring you’re on top of your game.

  1. The WordPress culture

There are no nasty surprises like having to pay a monthly fee for a custom domain or conditions urging you to upgrade. Once you’ve sorted your hosting, you’re on your way and you always feel in control of any premium themes and plugins that you might want to use.

Because so many people use WordPress, their resources are always growing. Updates are constantly improving the experience and if you do run into a problem, they have impressive support.

Another advantage of its popularity is that there is a huge community of WordPress users who offer free advice and tutorials so support extends well beyond the WordPress team.

  1. It’s accessible

Once a site is up, the WordPress dashboard is accessible enough that we can easily teach clients how to maintain their sites in a workshop. This is a popular option as they can be in control and easily update photos, post news and edit information. In short, they keep their site feeling fresh and if there are any problems, we’re always there to help.

When things come full circle

You never know where life is going to take you – and the ripple effect of tiny actions can lead you to people who you are just supposed to meet.

Four years ago, when I was in Korea, I ran down a flight of stairs too quickly in the dark of the early morning, and tumbled. Four years, two surgeries, so many doctors, physios, x-rays, MRIs and about nine collective months on crutches later, I was starting to lose hope about ever having a functioning ankle that wasn’t sore all the time.

And then I met Helene.

Physio extraordinaire and owner of the Sports Injury Centre at UCT, Helene has magically gentle hands and is an ankle genius. I do not use that word lightly – she truly is phenomenal. I trusted her the moment she first examined my foot in her thoughtful way, before proceeding to “unlock” it. It was quite an experience.

It was hard work, but with Helene’s reassurance and encouragement, and lots of rehab, things started to get better.

I emailed Helene a few days ago with this question: Could I run the 21km Gun Run in a couple months? (Answer: No – but use the 10km as part of your training you can run another 21 the following month. HA!)

Which just goes to show – find the right person to help you, and you can do the impossible.

What made this whole experience even more rewarding was that I got to help Helene and the SIC build a brand new website, which they loved straight away. We never really share client testimonials on this blog, but this one is quite special.

I had the privileged to meet a lovely patient about a year ago, who against all odds, persisted to work at her rehabilitation. We spoke from time to time about her career and how her (and her partner’s) new business was evolving. When I decided that it was time to update our logo and corporate identity (as Sarah advised me) as well as updating our website, I contacted her for a discussion.

Sarah was attentive to what we wanted, and she quickly formulated a strategy for us to follow. She patiently tweaked my writings and ideas. Even more patiently, coached the team into submitting their profiles for the website, and then demonstrated even more patience in dealing with our decision making about the logo, colours of the logo and the layout etc. We are small team, but every opinion is important. Not once did we feel that we were being coerced into deciding something we were not satisfied with. Yet, the process continued to move ahead at a rapid pace and sooner than later, our project reached completion.

We are very impressed with the speed (yet patient manner) this process took. Most of all, once the website was uploaded, there were no problems / hitches! We asked for a few photos changes which was dealt with immediately, and before we know it, it was done! Painless, on target/ budget and a very pleasing result! Thank you to Sarah and Liz. You will go far and we will recommend your services gladly.”

You can explore the new SIC website here. And if you ever happen to hurt your ankle – you know who to see!

SIC screenshot

Our top music blogs

So you’re tired of hearing the same old thing on the radio and you want to hear some tantalizing new tracks? These four blogs are at the top of their game slinging you beats that might just lead you to your favourite new band.

1. Noonday Tune
First up, a well-established communal local(ish) blog that serves up a treat from one of its 14 contributors every day at noon. It’s a great way to discover new music and, because it’s only one track a day, it’s all about discerning listening. Each song feels like a beautifully wrapped treat – the ideal way to approach something new.

Noonday Tune

Noonday Tune also offers playlists of their previous daily offerings via 8tracks which are solid companions at work. Our tip: follow Noonday Tune on Facebook so that your midday treat shows up in your newsfeed.

2. Pitchfork
Fancy something broader? No problem. Check out Pitchfork: a Chicago-based site devoted to daily music criticism and commentary, music news, and artist interviews.

Since it started in 1995, the site’s focus has been on independent music and is now considered a barometer of public opinion. Our tip: use the extensive staff lists to broaden your musical knowledge. It’s the musical equivalent of poring through the annuls of the Bodleian library. True story.

3. Stereogum
Looking for something more newsy? I’ve got just the thing. Stereogum is a highly acclaimed daily music news and commentary site that covers the full gamut of the music industry.

Established in 2002, the site has released six of its own albums comprised of commissioned covers of iconic albums. They’ve got music heavyweights to pay tribute to the likes of The Strokes’ Is This It?, Bjork’s Post, REM’s Automatic for the People and Radiohead’s OK Computer. Our tip: head over to the Music page to stream tunes right from their regular playlists: Latest Songs, The ‘Gum Mix, and Most Popular.

4. Consequence of Sound
More into a live jam? Not to worry, I’ve got you covered. Consequence of Sound features news, album and concert reviews, and editorials with a bias towards live gigs, concerts and festivals.

In February 2012, the website launched a long form writing section, Aux.Out which is a refreshingly in-depth look at music and artists in a new industry of punchy news nuggets. Our tip: keep up with the moving and shaking in the US festival scene with the site’s Festival News and Rumours radar.

Enjoy!

Feature image source.

SEO and misspelled words: Not as much of a problem as you think

I have always enjoyed words. Spelling tests at school were particularly satisfying for me. While I did once write my gran a letter with the catchy title “Tiptoe through the choolips with me”, I haven’t often had much trouble with spelling.

Since I entered the world of website creation and SEO has become a thing in my life, spelling has taken on a bit of a new spin.

Clients sometimes ask: “How can I be sure that someone will find my website if they don’t spell our company name correctly?”

The answer (as in many cases in life) is: “Because Google is a genius.”

All major search engines (in case you use something other than Google – although I’m not really sure who you are then cos I have never met you) will offer you an alternative word if you present it with a spelling error. The website you were intending to find should therefore be among your search results due to this very clever programming.

Case in point: We recently built a website for a beautiful little eco retreat on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It has the tricky name of “Svendsen’s Beach”, which, apparently, only the smallest handful of people manage to spell correctly.

The owners of the eco retreat were concerned that, because people struggled to spell the name correctly, they would battle to find the website if the SEO did not account for all the spelling variations (and there were A LOT).

So Liz and I put Google to the test, using every misspelling of the word “Svendsens” that we could think of. And the result? Google is indeed a little genius, and presented us with the right website every single time. Even when we tried a variation like “Svendensens”.

Svendsen's Beach

When it comes to SEO, misspellings are not as much of a problem as they once were. What’s more important is producing interesting, regular content with key words that people are likely to include in their searches.

So, for example, if you search for “luxury eco retreat, Great Keppel Island”, the first result that pops up is none other than the (very lovely) Svendsen’s Beach.

How to choose a business partner: The Pomegranite model

Today, Pomegranite celebrates making it through its first year. And what a year it’s been. Sarah and I have travelled an incredible road together and though there were blisters (and injured ankles), we are now getting into our stride, getting fitter and running faster. This journey did not begin 365 days ago but a long, long time before that and I’m going to impart the wisdom we have learned about choosing a business partner.

1. Share some common ground.

Sarah and I were at Rhodes University together all the way up to honours. We weren’t particularly close friends but good enough that when the end of the year came along and I had no idea what to do with my life, I accepted Sarah’s invitation to join her and another classmate, Harry Davies (more about him later) on a trip to Ireland to find their fortunes.

2. Have similar dreams.

Find our fortunes we did not. It was early 2008, the recession had just hit Ireland in a BIG way and the only work we could get was going door to door getting people to sign up to monthly charity donations for deaf kids in India. It was a pretty devastating turn of events, going from becoming accomplished academics to not being able to fill in a form on someone’s doorstep because it was snowing and you were so cold you couldn’t feel your fingers. But it was character building and fantastic life experience.

We actually ended up fantasising together about getting a job, you know indoors. With a desk perhaps and maybe even a phone!?

Sarah and I in Ireland before I’d learnt how to not look creepy in photos.

3. Be able to have a laugh together

Despite our day jobs, we had an absolute blast during those few months. We drank Guinness, we danced, we went on adventures, we had philosophical discussions and we made roast chicken. The third memeber in our merry trio, Harry Davies, started Harare News, which also celebrated its one year anniversary yesterday.

Harry, Sarah and me in Ireland. He called us his wenches and we loved him for it although we were the ones getting free beer, not him.

4. Have common interests

Patriotic partying in Ireland.
Going surfing with our friend, Tracy. Read more about these escapades here.

5. Like your partner enough to want to hang out even after work hours.

Up the Creek music festival 2013

6. Trust your partner enough to take risks together.

Sitting on the edge of a cliff on the Aran Islands. Can you tell who’s more comfortable?

7. Choose someone you respect.

This, above all. If you respect each other,  you can have those difficult conversations that are a part of running a business together. I’ve had some practice at this.

2008 – Me to a very ill Sarah in Ireland while drying her hair: “I don’t want you to panic, but I think your hair is stuck in the hairdryer. I’m just going to fetch the scissors…”

2013 – Me to Sarah on the eve of showing the client our first ever website: “I don’t want you to panic, but I think I just deleted the website and I don’t know how to get it back…”

Look at us out now. A job indoors. With a desk and everything! And a great partnership.

Happy Birthday, Pomegranite.

Photo by friend and client, Kate Davies.