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Code in two minutes: The internet is yours

I’ve been doing a night course on HTML and CSS coding through Friends of Design for the last few weeks. I’m doing it becuase I want better control of the websites we build and to be able make precise tweaks and changes to them. At Pomegranite, we build websites on WordPress which allows us to create slick, professional sites that are affordable for the client. Ninety-nine percent of the time, clients don’t need complex, custom-coded websites. And if they do, we hand them over to trusted agencies who can provide that service.

Self-hosted WordPress essentially comprises of two systems: the first is a content management system which acts as an interface between you and the website, saving your images and posts and giving you the tools to edit the website. The second is a theme or template which is like a ‘skin’ for your website and manages its design. This is where it’s handy to have some coding knowledge to manipulate these themes.

Learning to code (I say this with a pinch of salt because hardcore coders study for years) has been a pretty mind-blowing experience. For most people, the internet is another world, created and controlled by others, that we can only make a mark on through social media, which is itself contained separately within the greater world-wide-web. When I started editing the code of WordPress themes, Sarah and I referred to it as “entering the Matrix” and rejoiced when I did something and the site didn’t explode.

But the truth is, the internet is made by people, creating code. To scratch beneath the surface, all you have to do is right click and select “inspect element” to see the code that props up the site you’re viewing.

Coding is becoming more and more accessible to people other than nerdy hackers. Just check out organisations like Code for Cape Town which runs a three week holiday programme that introduces grade 10 and 11 girls to the world of web development for social impact. What’s also great is that you don’t have to wait for someone to teach you to code. There are tons of resources online to get you started.

Codecadamy is the one I started with. It’s super simple, fun and effective at teaching you code. They use a system where you’re walked through the code on one side of the screen and it shows the effect on the other side of the screen. So not only do you never feel lost, but you see instant results.

codecadamy

It’s free, it’s fun, you can login with Facebook and Gmail.

So go ahead, give it a go!

[Feature image source.]

Five things lately

So let’s start with this: in exactly one month it will be Christmas. ONE. MONTH. I’m not really sure how that even happened. It’s been one hell of a year, in so many ways. And not just because we now have a fancy system that basically does all our invoicing for us.

Because Liz gave you a very informative, business-y post last week about that very same invoicing system (if you missed it, please feel free to absorb the wisdom here. Also – there are cat pictures.), I thought I’d share five random things that I’ve learnt/experienced lately.

1. Owning your own business sometimes means late nights and stressing about finances. And sometimes it means bikini shopping on a Wednesday afternoon.

2. When your client sees her new website for the first time and is so completely chuffed that she struggles to make words – that right there is the stuff. The reason we do what we do. Sure, paying rent is awesome. But moments like that – they are my affirmation.

3. Tax. Oh ALL-THE-EXPLETIVES-ALL-OF-THEM. Liz reckons that this is how we feel about tax:

cat 2

[Source]

For me, it’s more like this I think:

panic

[Source]

I can now tell you that I know the difference between PAYE and provisional tax. The provisional tax deadline is in January 2015. The PAYE deadline is NOT. Failing to understand this means a FULL-on panic when you realise that your actual deadline is tomorrow. It also means paying the wonderful people who come to your rescue in snapdragons (boys – those are flowers) and beer.

4. Being able to advise friends on how to start or grow their own businesses – because you’ve been there and you’re still working it out – is pretty great. It’s a wonderful thing seeing so much potential in people you admire, and being able to see ways in which you can help them take off. Even if it’s just telling them how amazing they are over a beer.

5. The more I see of the business world, the more I really think that we are all just faking it ‘til we make it. Especially when you start your own thing. The amazing thing is to get to a point when you see how well your projects are doing and how far you’ve come – when you hear the words that you are making as you sit in a meeting and you think: “Holy s@#%, we really do know what we are doing. That was some great advice I just gave. I would hire us.”

“Invoicing? Ain’t no thang”: advice for small businesses

I never thought I’d catch myself clapping for glee about… software. I also never thought I’d do chair dances about getting coding right. But here we are. Having your own business does things to you. When you start out, you have to do the best with what you have. We’ve grown over the past eighteen months so we decided to start investing in systems to help our business run better. For us, that meant investing in a good time-tracking and invoicing programme.

Like everyone except accountants a lot of people, Sarah and I feel like this about accounts:

cat 1

(Source)

But we both feel like this about tax:

cat 2

(Source)

So we did the best we could, which at that stage was accounts in Excel, quotes and invoices in Word and us in between. This system was fine but it was pretty laborious and we were pretty certain that we were working far more hours than we had actually quoted for on most jobs. As we grew, we wanted accuracy and efficiency and so the search began.

I looked at loads of software with invoicing and time tracking functionality and Zoho came out tops for us. It had everything we wanted (and loads more), it was affordable and it had the perfect balance of automation and customisation.

Here are my top five favourite things about it:

1. Logical navigation

Each client has a profile which you assign projects to. You time tasks associated to each of these projects. For example:

Client: X

Project: Website rebuild

Tasks: Content editing, website design, SEO implementation.

2. Simple, easy time tracking

The time tracking is simple: you name the task and hit the timer. What if you forget? You can input it manually.

3. Beautiful, automated invoices

Once you’ve decided how you want to bill clients, set up and customised an initial invoice design from loads of templates, it just takes one click to generate an invoice for a client. It pulls through all of your information, all of their information, the project information, the tasks and their descriptions as well as their logged times and puts it into a beautiful, professional-looking design.

4. Super slick process

From there, you can email off the invoice from within the Zoho or save it as a PDF and send from your own email programme. Once the client has paid the invoice, you mark it as such and all of that information is fed through to your reports. You can even design and automate a thank you email, which also allows for a personal message to the client.

5. Information-packed reports

The thing I get the biggest kick out of is the reports. You can set a budget of hours that you’ve quoted the client for and see how many you’ve worked through at any point in the project. This gives you great control on your investment in a project so you can pull back and speak to the client when you can see that you’re going to need more hours or add more services when you’ve underworked a project. The financial reports let you see the growth of your business and that’s the most exciting thing of all.

WordCamp wisdom: 10 takeaways from the 2014 WordPress conference

I realise that it’s been a while since WordCamp – which we went to on 23 October – but we got so much out of the conference that I thought it was worth another quick blog post to share some of the nuggets of wisdom we came away with.

So – here are our 10 takeaways from WordCamp, some of which are from talks and others from our own observations:

  1. “It’s all well and good getting traffic to your website, but your site then needs to be good enough to convert that traffic into leads.” (Chantelle Bowyer)
  2. “Google Analytics help not just with marketing decisions but with business decisions too. There is no more guess work as the cold, hard facts are there.” (Chantelle Bowyer)
  3. “Focus on where the value lies. Speak to your customer – what do they actually need? Don’t give them any unnecessary fluff.” (Matt Cohen)
  4. “All innovation begins with vision. It’s what happens next that is critical.” (Matt Cohen quoting Eric Ries)
  5. Emma Jane Dicks and Code4CT are teaching young girls to code and changing perceptions about women in the IT world. Looking at the demographics of the WordCamp conference (95% male and white) it’s clear just how important the work is that they’re doing. Read more here: http://code4ct.com/
  6. “How a website it written is just as important as the design.” (Noel Tock). We couldn’t agree more with this point and believe that our words background and subsequent approach to website creation are what sets Pomegranite apart in the web development world.
  7. “The biggest compliment you can give WordPress is to just use what you need and leave everything else out. It’s a tool.” (Noel Tock) In other words – don’t blindly follow the theme. Rather focus on what your website actually needs.
  8. “You don’t realise how even educated web users use your interface. UX testing is crucial.” (Dave Perel)
  9. “People are not clicks. They aren’t conversion rates. You need to have a personal touch.” (Nick Haralambous)
  10. And my favourite of the day, something we all need to be reminded of sometimes: “It’s just a job, you do it to live. Not the other way around.” (Tomaz Zaman)

Why people leave your website

You’re in a crowded exhibition hall meeting lots of new people in your industry. What draws you to a person only to decide it might be a better idea to fake a bathroom break? What gets you hooked, makes you want to take a card, and place an order there and then?

Think of your website as one of these people in this room. In a sales environment, the aim is to attract attention to a product, generate interest and make a sale. Your website is your flyer, your yellow pages entry, your marketing pitch, your brochure, your voice online. The aims are similar. There are aspects of our websites that attract users but also aspects that repel them. It’s important to be aware of both.

Getting a user to your site is only the first step. Creating a site that makes them want to explore further is the next challenge – and the final goal? Converting that view into an interaction. The longer someone is on your site, the more likely they are to move further through the sale process.

There might be elements of your website that put users off and click that ‘x’ that you might not even be aware of. This handy infographic from the lovely folks at KISS metrics highlights some key points about what makes users leave a website.

Click to enlarge the infographic.

leave a website infographic

 

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.

Twitter_time

Five reasons why I love Instagram

Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms – particularly in South Africa. And I just love it.

Are you on it? Because you should be. Here are five reasons why it’s creeping into my heart.

1, With Instagram filters, even your driver’s license photo looks good. True story.

2. The character limit is quite generous, and sometimes the captions are even lovelier than the images. There is something about the artsy vibe of Instagram that tends to inspire people to think of more creative captions. Being a words person, I sort of love this about a visually-driven platform.

3. You can be inspired by such a wide range of posts and people to follow. No matter what time of day I check, the following are always in my feed: incredible travel destinations, awesome fitness inspiration, beautiful poetry (tip: follow tylerknott – seriously. Just do it.), and little windows into the lives of my friends.

4. The short video feature – just enough to entertain you, not long enough to get boring.

5. While you may get a kick out of following celebrities on Instagram and getting a first-hand snapshot of their “real” lives (once they’ve been selectively filtered and cropped), it’s the rare glimpses into reality that I love most. Case in point: Anna Kendrick. And photos like this one, which is captioned: “I would just like to remind everyone of the reality of the situation.”

anna kendrick

You can follow me @skgurney and Liz on @123_liz_is_me

The importance of a dance break

Dancing is rarely associated with office culture except, perhaps, in the regrettable case of Christmas parties when a few sad strings of tinsel and too much free booze compel people to reprise their famous air guitar solos.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. At the Pomegranite office (which we share with the awesome Agriprotein crowd) we take fun dance breaks seriously. It’s not about dancing well and it’s not about looking cool (as the story of how it started shows). Bored of working on our accounts, I decided to recreate this amazing music video:

It was so good that Sarah had to take a photo (everybody cheering me is just out of frame).

dance break

Spitting image right?

Since then, we’ve been cranking up a great tune, having a singalong and moving our bodies. It’s about getting out of your head and back into your groovy body for a little bit. The benefits are SO worth it:

  • getting up and moving gives your back and stiff muscles a break
  • the music (and laughter) help clear your mind and improve your mood
  • those couple of minutes are transportative – you return to your desk renewed
  • having some fun and (most importantly) not taking yourself seriously bring your office mates closer.

So go, turn up something you can’t resist and get on down!

Five tips for a strong LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn may not be the sexiest social media platform, but it’s a really useful one. Apart from connecting you to thousands of professionals and potential clients, employers, employees, and/or associates, it helps significantly with your Google ranking as well as giving you or your business an added sense of legitimacy.

Here are five tips for creating a stronger LinkedIn profile:

1. Use an avatar – and keep it professional

Having a profile picture on your LinkedIn profile is crucial. Not only does the default avatar make your profile look incomplete, but LinkedIn will automatically move your profile to the bottom of the search results. Adding a professional photo gives you a definite advantage – that’s the key, here. A bikini beach pic, or you in your wedding dress, is not going to do you any favours on this particular platform, unfortunately.

2. Add media to your profile

Do you know what the three fastest growing apps of 2013 were? Vine, Flickr and Instagram – all visual platforms using photos and video. The “visual” is more important than ever, and your LinkedIn profile is no exception. Adding elements like photos, presentations and PDFs will make your profile stand out.

3. Have a strong summary

Your profile summary should be strong, punchy, and full of key words related to your industry that people are likely to search for. When someone clicks on your profile, they want to get a clear idea of who you are and what you have to offer within a few seconds. The moment they have to trawl through a jumbled concoction of your work history and qualifications to construct a picture of you, you will lose them.

4. Publish blog posts

LinkedIn allows you to share links – and the best way to take advantage of this is to share links to your own blog/business news feed. That way you establish yourself as a leader in the field, someone with thoughts and opinions on best practices, someone who offers valuable tips and information. This is content marketing 101.

5. Endorsements and recommendations

Endorsements are great on LinkedIn – they are very easy to give and it’s therefore quite easy to rack up a nice collection of them. Even more valuable, though, are written recommendations from previous employers or colleagues. While these take more time and energy than a click of the mouse (which is all an endorsement takes), they are worth asking for.

Five random things heard in the Pomegranite office

When you spend a significant amount of time in the same place with the same people, ridiculous things are bound to tumble out of someone’s mouth at some point. What makes this even more interesting, is that the Pomegranite office is not just home to us pomegranites (Liz and Sarah), but also to the staff of Agriptrotein, an innovative, award-winning start-up that develops protein sources for the agricultural sector and who happen to do it with maggots.

There are several lines that divide the office: tea drinkers | coffee drinkers, maggot wranglers | online presence magicians, men | women, those who think it’s hilarious that people think I’m the Agriprotein secretary because I’m the first desk you see when you walk in | me.

Here are five quotes from life in our office:

1. Sarah, busy building a website:

What do you call this thing that your tabs are in on the internet?

2. Source remains anonymous for obvious reasons:

Yes, they have a bootleg. Don’t tell my wife, all my jeans are dirty and she hates it when I borrow hers.

3. One of our excited clients:

OK great, where do we start with the website, fonts?

4. In a client workshop:

So it’s going to be maggot biltong, essentially.

5. Liz getting teased for her occasional make-up use:

Going on a date or seeing a client?

 

Image source

Are you a social media addict?

Question: How many of you check Facebook, Instagram or Twitter before you even get out of bed in the morning? No? How about before you wash your face in the morning?

I am definitely guilty of this at least two or three days in the week. And that’s only because I actively stop myself from doing it on the other days.

Social media addiction is a real thing. I’m pretty sure I have it.

In a couple of weeks I’m going to Botswana for a whole week and do you want to know one of the things I’m looking forward to most? Sipping red wine in the bush under the stars? Um, YES. But also: no phone signal, no internet connection. An enforced break from all things social media. I can’t wait.

You may say that I could just give myself this break in the land of connectivity too – what’s stopping me except my own lack of self-control right? But the problem is, it’s my job now. I have linked myself inextricably to social networking sites.

Yip. That’s my story. It’s legit ok?

And I’m not complaining – I do love it. It gives me such a kick to watch clients’ followings and reach grow each week on various social media platforms, and to keep an eye on the latest platforms and trends. It’s all changing at a rapid pace and it’s pretty damn exciting to be involved in something like this. But, at times, it does get a bit much.

Do you know how many times I’ve checked Twitter while writing this post? I’m not going to tell you. Because it’s a few times too many.

I know I’m addicted. But I’m not alone.

Apparently an estimated 350 million social media users suffer from Facebook addiction syndrome. On average, people between the ages of 20 and 29 spend a full two hours a day on social media. 31% of people admit to checking social media while on the toilet. Yip. 31%.

Yes, these stats are a little scary. But, looking at my own life, I take solace in the fact that:

a)   My friends do not refer to me by my Twitter or Instagram handle. It’s not that dire yet.

b)   I don’t yet plan my day around the amount of battery I have left on my phone.

c)   A notification doesn’t bring me more happiness than a smile from a real live person. And that’s a win for real life, right?

d)   Being out of range for signal and internet connection for a whole week makes me excited rather than panicked.

So I can’t be that bad, right? There’s hope for me yet?

One last question: How many times did you check social media while reading this article? Mmmm. That’s what I thought.

Image source. You can buy this print here

The Boomslang inspiration day: a photo essay

We recently had one of our regular Pomegranite inspiration days at Kirstenbosch Gardens to check out ‘the Boomslang’ – a Tree Canopy Walkway to commemorate the Botanical Garden’s centenary. Here’s some of what we saw:

IMG_20140801_000724

Liz playing tour guide

IMG_20140801_000419

The lush, vertiginous Eden covering mountains and valleys.

READ MORE

Social media talks at schools

Whether they’re permitted to be or not, the fact is that a lot of school kids are on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and SnapChat. Remember how you used to get in trouble because you would spend all day with your friends at school and then come home and talk to them for hours on the phone? Well, social media is the new THAT.

It’s a great way for them to stay connected with their friends all day long, sharing photos, videos laughs and making plans.

The thing is, when you’re digitally surrounded by your friends, it’s easy to forget that these platforms are not safe little social bubbles – they are public platforms. And they can get kids into a lot of trouble, sometimes even when intentions are entirely innocent.

While school learners are digital natives and are very comfortable with these digital platforms, their parents and teachers, as digital immigrants, are not always as comfortable. They sometimes avoid having the all-important “how to be safe on social media” conversations with their kids because they don’t understand the platforms themselves or are unwilling to venture into these murky waters – so where do they even start?

Pomegranite offers social media talks at schools (both primary and high schools) which can be tailored to address the issues specific to your school. For example, would you prefer a talk on bullying on social media or how to stay safe on public platforms – or both?

I recently gave a talk to the grade 4s and 5s at Auckland Park Preparatory School about social media and bullying, and it was a great success. The girls were FULL of questions at the end, and one little girl even put up her hand and told me she loved my nail polish. Winning!

Here’s what their teacher, Vicky Hyland, had to say:

Thank you for a great talk around Social Media for our Grade 4 and 5 girls at APPS. It was pitched at the right level. Your examples were current, relevant and practical. The idea of interaction as well as questions at the end of your talk worked well.

It also highlighted for all the teachers sitting listening how vital a talk of this nature is.

All our pupils are making use of the platforms in one form or another. The girls themselves said how informative your talk was, particularly empowering them on their respective platforms of choice and making them feel safer.”

If you’d like to chat to us about giving a talk, please get in touch.

[Feature image courtesy freedigitalphotos.net]

Eye conversations

When you work with someone every day and they happen to be your friend, your communication skills start to develop super powers. You may be familiar with eye conversations from the series How I Met Your Mother (they even have their own wiki page).

It’s time to share two very special eye conversations with you. These happened without the exchange of any actual words. True story.

The first happened at Up the Creek music festival a little while ago. It was the end of a long, hot day and night of partying and while the crowds dissipated after bouncing around to the headline act, I sat on a surprisingly uncomfortable couch with some friends. A newly single Sarah returned from a bathroom mission with an enormous blue drink and a handsome, rugged, foreign, smiling man in tow. The following conversation ensued without any words:

Liz: “Whoah! What’s going on here then?”

Sarah: “He’s a total babe and so lovely!”

Liz “Are you interested?”

Sarah: “He’s great but I’m so not ready. I actually just want to go to bed but I feel bad ditching him. We met in the queue to the bathroom and he just bought me this massive drink.”

Liz: “Dude, I’m about to fall asleep sitting upright. If you want to hang out with him, go for it but you have about 15 seconds before I announce that I’m going to bed.”

Sarah: “Okay cool, I’ll have a little chat and then use you as an excuse.”

Liz: “Deal.”

The second eye conversation happened recently with a very pleasing outcome. Sarah and I were strolling along the ‘Boomslang’, the canopy walkway in Kirstenbosh, during one of our inspiration days discussing our next move in world domination when a man walked towards us with such ‘pazzaz’ that just his outfit demanded an eye conversation.

We both saw him in the same moment: jeans bunched so much in front that they could only be described as ‘cod-piece jeans’ paired with mostly-unzipped artificial fur waistcoat (no under-shirt needed).

We had to act quickly. There was not time for words. Only our eyes could do the job:

Liz: “Best. Outfit. Ever. How are we going to get a photo?”

Sarah: “Go stand in front of him and I’ll pretend to take a photo of you.”

Liz: “Okay, how about here?”

Sarah: “No! He’s moving. Take a step to the left.”

Liz: “Good?”

Sarah: “Great!”

The evidence of our eye conversation, dear friends, is below.

kirstenbosch eye conversation

10 quotes to inspire the hell out of you

Everyone loves a good quote. Especially when it’s in a sexy font. Perhaps written over an evocative image. I am a big fan of a well-timed quote that seems to have been created just for me – and the other how-ever-many-thousands-of-women are trolling through Pinterest on a Tuesday morning.

So, for your viewing pleasure, I’ve put together a little montage of my 10 favourite quotes that apply to the work we do – but also the lives we live (or the lives we wish we were living when we read these quotes in sexy fonts).

When you get rid of all the other superfluous stuff, this is what it all comes down to.

When you get rid of all the other superfluous stuff, this is what it all comes down to.

Don't love what you do? Stop waiting around for it to find you. Life is happening right now. Each day you spend in a job that doesn't inspire you is a day wasted.

Don’t love what you do? Stop waiting around for it to find you – get out there and look for it! Life is happening right now.

Once you start, it will get messy before it gets amazing. But sometimes, in the midst of the mess, it IS kind of amazing. Because it's yours.

Once you start, it will get messy before it gets amazing. But sometimes, in the midst of the mess, it IS kind of amazing. Because it’s yours.

What makes you different? Embrace it.

What makes you different? Embrace it.

Set goals. And keep coming back to them. Sometimes that goal is trying not to lose your sense of humour that day. And that's ok.

Set goals. And keep coming back to them. Sometimes that goal is trying not to lose your sense of humour that day. And that’s ok.

Corny? Perhaps. True? Mmm-hmmm.

Corny? Perhaps. True? Mmm-hmmm.

There's always a way to figure it out. Sometimes you just need a dance break in between.

There’s always a way to figure it out. Sometimes you just need a dance break in between.

Sometimes clients come with their own drama. And you need to step back and realise what's theirs and what's yours.

Sometimes clients come with their own drama. And you need to step back and realise what’s theirs and what’s yours.

Also - THIS. You'll need it from time to time if you start your own business. But you know what? It's one hell of a party in those pants.

Also – THIS. You’ll need it from time to time if you start your own business. But you know what? It’s one hell of a party in those pants.

Follow Pomegranite on Pinterest for more of this cheesy goodness.

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.
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