October 2014

WordCamp 2014: A summary

Going to WordCamp was a bit of a last minute decision – but one I’m so glad we made.

Having worked on WordPress for about a year and a half now, we feel fairly comfortable with the platform, but we liked the idea of broadening our WordPress horizons somewhat and seeing what the frontrunners in our industry are up to. So we registered and went along not really knowing what to expect.

First impression: So many guys. So many guys in one room – in Cape Town. Seriously, I kept marvelling at the sheer number of them throughout the day. It was weird. But not entirely unpleasant. Let’s just say there is a reason they call it “bro-gramming”.

Coming from a words background, it really drove home the fact that we approach website creation so differently. We start with the story – how are you different from the competition? What picture do you want to paint of who you are and what you do in a way that sets you apart?

It was interesting to see that, while we are comfortable with WordPress, the hardcore coding side of things is not our strongpoint – and that’s ok. Because we have something to offer that is a lot less common in the “bro-gramming” scene: writing and communication skills. Having chatted to a few developers and speakers from the conference, it was exciting to see how we fit into this world and the role we would like to carve out for ourselves.

We found the talks really interesting and entertaining (nerd humour included), and, being women, felt the need to talk-all-about-it-and-how-inspired-we-felt after each one.

We took so much from the talks, in fact, that we’ll be running a series of blog posts over the next little while, as there is just too much to communicate all at once.

But we left the conference full of ideas and chuffed at the networking opportunities the day afforded us.

For now, here is a brief summary:

Organisation: Great – Liz especially loved the goodie bag and struggled to play it cool in the beginning. Thanks WooThemes!

Speakers: Awesome – especially Tomaž Zaman, Founder / CTO, Head of Product Development at Codeable.

MCs: Hilarious. Derick Watts & The Sunday Blues – you guys definitely added another dimension to the standard conference vibe.

Catering: Delicious. Sarah particularly loved the doughnuts. And popcorn. And muffins. And chicken kebabs.

Thanks WordCamp – I’m sure we’ll be seeing you again in 2015!

To see all the tweets from the conference and the nuggets of wisdom people took home, check out #wcct.

Liz and her hipster briefcase at the awesome venue - Greenpoint Stadium

Liz and her hipster briefcase at the awesome venue – Greenpoint Stadium

What happens when a brand collaborates with its Instagram followers

There’s nothing quite like a hopping on a bike and feeling the breeze in your hair on a sunset bike ride along the picturesque Sea Point promenade. Childhood memories of riding with “no hands” for the first time, the flying sensation of high speeds, near-collisions and scraped knees come flooding back. You can’t help testing your bell – brrrrrring brrrrrrrring – for safety purposes, of course.

But how do you communicate that experience on a website? Having been long-time customers of UpCycles, we got chatting about their website and before we know it, that question was ours to answer. So we checked out UpCycle’s social media presence and found that people had such a blast that they LOVED taking photos of their joyrides. And you can see the what a good time they’re having. So we let them tell the story of what it’s like to rent an UpCycles bicycle by collaborating with them on the UpCycles website.

Here’s a taster of what Instagram users happily contributed to the Upcycles website:

The result?

We used a grid design because we were working with generally square pictures of a relatively low quality (having been shot on the fly with phones most of the time). We used a small slider on the homepage and built links to important pages around it. We got across the important information as succinctly as possible with maps and clearly listed rates and contact details. We also incorporated their Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds to show off their online communities.

We had a lot of fun developing this site on a tight timeline and budget – and even more fun hearing how thrilled Jared and Shannon from Up Cycles were when we showed them the end product.

Upcycles website

A little bit of gratitude

A friend of mine had a close call this weekend. Something awful almost happened to her, but, luckily, since she had her wits about her, she managed to come out ok – thank goodness.

But it made me think. About life and things. There is so much that is wonderful in my life. And one of those things is my business partner. I don’t think I say thank you enough – and life is too short not to say what you feel.

So:

Thank you for making me laugh. Every day. Mostly with you, sometimes at you. It makes all the difference.

Thanks for planning your outfits according to themes. I particularly loved “urban sangoma”, closely followed by “Canadian mom”.

Thanks for coming in to work one night while you were supposed to be on leave, because of a tricky project. Seriously – that was pretty awesome of you.

Thanks for explaining fractions to me in your babysitting voice that one time. Html columns can be hard, you know.

Thanks for listening to me thinking out loud about appointments with electricians and my grocery lists with, what I can only say, is very impressive feigned interest.

Thanks for switching easily between conversations of equal importance – SEO best practice and what the hell Mary is doing with Lord Gillingham when he is just such a “blah” character.

Thanks for being there, always, without question – whether it’s building a website together late on a Friday night (because we’re “working on our careers right now”), or helping me try and make sense of the curve balls life throws at us sometimes. Also – thanks for arriving with chocolate that night.

Thanks for the dance breaks, the emergency muffins, the morning cups of tea (which you can sense I sometimes need before I can make words).

Thanks for being a partner in the true sense of the word – with me every step of the way, in life and business.

(Side note: I am aware that this is starting to sound vaguely like wedding vows – please note that we have no immediate plans to marry.)

There’s no one else I would rather be in business with. And I am really excited to see where Pomegranite takes us – or, I suppose, where we take Pomegranite.

It’s been one hell of a ride so far.

My five favourite things about Hootsuite

When I first used Hootsuite, it felt like I was sitting at the control panel of a spaceship. So many columns, so many posts! What if I end up like George Clooney in Gravity!? But once you’ve got the hang of it – which doesn’t take long at all with this helpful beginners’ guide – you’ll never want to go back. It makes managing multiple social media accounts a breeze, but even for just one account, it helps you run your social media better.  I still feel like I’m in spaceship, but now it’s looking down at all the busy planets of Facebookland, the Twitterverse and LinkedInland.

Here are my five favourite things about Hootsuite:

  1. You can manage it all from one window.

    Research has shown that 42% of adults are using multiple social networks so your brand had better be there too. Hootsuite is essentially a dashboard which supports social network integration for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare, MySpace, WordPress, TrendSpottr and Mixi (I’ve never heard of the last two either) without you having to hop from window to window.

  2. You can schedule posts.

    This cultivates the practice of planning your content which is crucial to good social media management. Being able to schedule posts means that you have to think ahead: figure out what’s coming up, what you want to highlight, what kinds of interaction you want to foster and what content you want to share. This awareness gives your content structure, saves you time and completely eliminates the dreaded morning feeling of, “Oh crap, what am I going to post today?” which generally ends up being something lame, which helps no one.

  3. You can see action quickly and easily.

    All of your notifications show up on your dashboard so you can keep track of interactions immediately. You can also read through all of the feeds of all of your platforms in one place. Not only that, you can see your private messages, set up lists and see what you’ve scheduled.

  4. You can dip in whenever you like.

    While you can schedule your posts ahead of time, there is nothing rigid about the platform; you can jump in to share something spontaneous or join a conversation at any point.

  5. You can shorten URLs in a flash.

    For the times when characters need conserving, Hootsuite has a built-in URL shortener. Simple, quick, easy.

Quite simply, Hootsuite helps you work smarter. It’s integral to efficient working methods like How to Spend Only 10 Minutes Per Day on Twitter.

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