small business

5 things we can learn from Game Of Thrones

1) The King is not always right, nor is the client

Joffrey has made some bad decisions in his short reign and if you’re really honest I’m sure the same could be said about your clients. But when this happens it’s rarely a good idea to simply nod and obey for fear of losing your head (or the contract). Always remember that you’ve been put in the position you’re in by a client or customer because you’re the specialist. So be a bit more like Tyrion Lannister and stand up for what you believe in. Because ultimately the King will be better off as a result.

2) Don’t judge too early, find the best in people and jobs

At first glance it’s easy to discount Hodor as a man of simple thoughts, few words and unable to offer a lot else. But without him Bran Stark would literally be in a very different place to where he is today. The same can be said about that job that looks a bit dodgy from the initial brief, or the potential employee who you didn’t get a good vibe from. Don’t give up too early, you can rarely get an accurate idea of how a project or person will turn out from first glance. I’ve had projects that sounded pretty uninteresting from the initial brief, but after taking the time to talk to the client and hear how passionate they were about it they’ve actually ended up being really interesting and profitable exercises all round.

3) Adapt or die

Wildlings don’t adapt very well. Generation after generation have attacked the Wall and each time the result has been the same – failure. If you don’t adapt as a small business and stubbornly adopt the same strategy over and over, you will fail too. It doesn’t matter if people want you or your products now, in time they won’t. Guaranteed. So if you want to succeed and don’t want to end up cold and alone beyond the wall make sure you are prepared to adapt to the market and to your enemies. It’s the only way to survive.

4) Expect the unexpected

(Season One spoiler alert) After Ned confessed to treason everybody thought Joffrey would show compassion and things would go back to normal. But a sudden change of heart and slash of the sword and things changed forever. When you run a small business I truly believe you have to expect and plan for the worst. Ask yourself, if you lost your biggest client could you still survive? If sales started declining rather than growing how long until the business started dying? What percentage of current income could you lose before you had to start slashing overheads? Always have a plan B for what you’d do if your current income stream was severed. It’s not a nice thing to think about but the more you do the more quickly you’ll be able to adapt if it ever happened.

5) Where Are My Developers?

And finally, don’t be like Daenerys Targaryen and turn your back on your Dragons (Developers) because when people find out how valuable they are they’ll try and steal them from you. Right now in the Australian market I believe that finding and keeping a good developer is one of the hardest parts of the job. So when you find one, be good to them and hang on to them. Because as a Technology Company you will lose the battle without them.

Job: Digital Project Manager (midweight)

Digital Project Manager (midweight)

Fly Digital has a great opportunity for an ambitious, well-disciplined and creative Project Manager with excellent communication skills to join our growing team. You will be responsible for managing websites, mobile apps, eCommerce sites and other projects from concept to delivery across our varied client base working with our in-house and remotely located developers and designers. Reporting to the Company Director you’ll bring a flexible work ethic, an organized and methodical approach to your work and a genuine desire to be a key part of a small but fast growing company.

Download the job description here (PDF)

What you’ll need:

  • 3+ years client facing Project Management experience in the Digital Industry
  • A strong understanding of web/mobile development and design techniques
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Knowledge of HTML, Photoshop and Coding Languages would be very advantageous

 What you’ll be doing:

  • Managing concurrent projects from concept, through to execution, testing, delivery and support
  • Managing client requests and translating these into briefs & tasks for developers and designers
  • Writing and presenting project documentation
  • Assisting the team with the company’s Social Media channels, blogs and websites
  • Assisting the Company Director on new business proposals and presentations

To apply:

Please submit your cover letter and resume to support@flydigital.com.au. Applicants chosen for an interview will be contacted in due course.

Our top 5 web design tips for new websites

We’re going to assume you’ve got your branding and look & feel sorted – we’re not here to tell you how to come up with the actual design of your site. But from a technology point of view if you’re embarking on a new web design project either yourself or through an agency here are our top 5 tips to help get the most from your new layout:

Web Design Tip 1: Think like a search engine

Page titles, meta descriptions and content are key when it comes to Search Engine Optimisation but so is layout. Looking at your design from a search engine perspective is often a good way to pickup issues before you head into the development phase.

Is your navigation easy to find, text based and not reliant on any scripts like Javascript? Will all images have accompanying text that a search engine can read? Do article pages have clear headers at the top of the content? Have you, on every page you’re building (including the homepage) at some point described what the page is about? Think relevance. The more relevant a search engine sees your page to the content you’re trying to optimise for, the better you will fare.

Web Design Tip 2: Try it on a tablet (and a phone)

Once you’ve got a layout save it as a JPG and load it on your tablet. See how it looks, is it easy to read the text at that size? Are navigation elements going to be easy to tap on? Now do the same on a smartphone. How does it look?

This is the time to confirm if you are going to commission a responsive design template or optimised views for mobile users. And if not, why not? It’s not too late to change your mind at this stage of the process before development has started.

This is also the time that you can have a final sanity check to make sure you’re not loading any components like Flash or applets that might not run on tablet devices at all. If your web dev agency is recommending them make sure they have a very very good reason for doing so.

Ideally, do this step right at the beginning of the project. We often take wireframe sketches and load them on an iPad to make sure we’ve got things like image spacing, line lengths, navigation options and general layout correct before opening up Photoshop. It’s very quick to do and can save you a lot of time in the future.

Web Design Tip 3: Show your kids

Show your website to your kids (unless you’re developing the next version of Playboy.com) and ask them what they think it’s about. I believe that if you can’t explain an idea to a 6-year old then you don’t have a proper grasp on the idea at all. The same goes for design. If kids don’t get what you’re trying to sell or do through a quick glance at the design, might your customers have the same problem?

Web Design Tip 4: Faster is better

Take a look at your design and start counting out all of the items that you think will take longer to load, that’s things like pictures or videos or promo panels or animations, etc. If you get to 5 or more then stop and consider how this might affect how website will load. Page loading speeds aren’t just important for a good user experience they’re also considered by Search Engines when ranking your site. So make sure your pages will load as quickly as they can.

Web Design Tip 5: Do you really need all those social media icons?

Finally, does your layout have Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube (and so on…) icons on it? If yes, do you really need them on there. Yes you want to grow your likes and followers, but are there better ways to do this? Could you put your icons in the footer rather than up in your header? (That’s the first place I look, and it doesn’t affect the design nearly as much). Could you add them to your “contact us” page instead? Do you really need that big Facebook like box on there or are there better uses of that space on your site? For bigger brands, do you actually need to tell customers you are on Facebook or could they work that out for themselves?

What are your top tips in the Design phase of a project? Let us know your thoughts below.

‘How To Lose Weight Fast’ makes Woman’s Day top apps list

Thanks to the team at Woman’s Day magazine for listing the ‘How To Lose Weight Fast’ app we created for Susie Burrell as one of their top apps in the latest edition of the magazine.

To be featured alongside the likes of the brilliant ‘Map My Run’ app is a compliment indeed.

Thanks also to everyone who has downloaded the app and provided feedback on what you’d like to see in future versions.

iPad kiosks, Google Wallet, QR codes & free wifi – mobile tech in New York

American retail outlets are really embracing new mobile technologies and apps to help drive business and raise awareness of their products.

Here are some of the highlights from a stroll around the lower West side of Manhattan (mainly Chelsea, Meatpackers and West Village).

Innovative iPad kiosk housing

At Fly Digital we’ve created iOS apps for clients looking to use an iPad as a kiosk solution. However we’re often asked how to restrict access to the home and lock buttons to prevent customers from clicking out of the app.

Professionally made kiosk housings are usually the answer such as the great ones made by Lilitab (http://www.lilitab.com/).

But clothing store ‘All Saints’ created their own clever way of achieving the same thing with reclaimed wood, metal and a couple of butterfly screws.

A really clever idea and very on brand for this retail outlet.

QR codes are everywhere

They really are EVERYWHERE. Shop windows, posters, digital signage, check-in signs at the airport, even on bananas (no kidding), you can’t get away from QR codes here in the USA.

Like Australia, Near Field Communication (NFC) still isn’t being widely used in the USA to transfer data onto customers phones despite the growing number of devices with the required hardware. So for the moment QR is still the most popular method.

Pictured here is a QR code that links to a video of the New York Yankees seen underneath a poster in the headquarters of mlb.com in Chelsea Market.

Google wallet is starting to appear

Retailers accepting Google Wallet as a payment method are starting to advertise with stickers in their windows.

Pictured here is the signage at a fruit and veg store in Chelsea Markets.

I tweeted this earlier and the friendly team at Duane Reade (@duanereade) let me know they are also taking Google Wallet for micro-payments in their stores.

Funny free wifi login messages

Free wifi is offered in certain retail outlets so if your partner is taking longer to select an item than you would ideally like and you don’t have a 3/4G account you can at least check what’s happening on Twitter.

Based on my short research exercise I’d say around 30-40% of the shops I was in today offered a free wifi service. Some were simply an open wifi network under the store name, but some did require acceptance of a fair-use policy.

I took this screenshot of my favourite – again at Chelsea Market – showing that you don’t have to take a serious message too seriously. I love what they’ve done here.

More updates to follow as I find more around the city. Follow us on twitter (@fly_digital) for real-time updates, follow this blog or sign up to our newsletter for fortnightly roundups.

Fly Digital launches new Stacks Finance website

We’re very proud to announce the launch of a new website for Stacks Finance – a financial services company with offices in Sydney, Taree and Tweed Heads.

The website – www.stacksfinance.com.au – is a full redesign and features an integrated Joomla backend for content management.

In addition to article management, the site also utilised Joomla’s user registration module for the membership section and has several custom modules built in for rendering content such as loan enquiry forms, Google maps locations and feedback pages.

You can follow Stacks Finance by liking their Facebook page here, and for any enquiries about the company or their financial services please visit the contact us section on the new website.

Make a free website – free website design tools – how to do it

Who wants a free website? Who wants tools to build a website? And hands up anyone who doesn’t want to pay for it…

Ok, everyone put your hands down.

If all you need is a basic web presence, a simple site with some basic content and not much in the way of customisation, here are a few starting points.

Google Sites (http://www.google.com/sites)
Google’s own tool to build a simple site based on preset templates.

Google / MYOB Australia (http://www.gettingbusinessonline.com.au)
As above, but for Australian businesses wanting to get online

Tumblr (http://www.tumblr.com/)
Hundreds of themes, integrate your own analytics, very customisable and you can use custom domain name

Weebly (http://www.weebly.com/)
Neat drag & drop website editor, multimedia tools (like slideshows and AV players) over 70 templates and you get a free blog. Apparently over 6 million users and seen in the Wall Street Journal, TIME magazine and on the BBC.

Jimdo (http://www.jimdo.com)
500Mb storage, various designs, they even have a shopping cart you can integrate with PayPal payments for free (but they take a 10% commission on sales)

Webstarts (http://www.webstarts.com/)
Free service has advertising and some restrictions, 10Mb storage and 5GB/month data

Oh, and if you’re wondering why a Web Development Company is promoting ways to build a website for free – we deal mainly with customised sites and apps for clients who need something out of the ordinary. If you’re just looking for a quick way to get a site up, then we just wanted to share the open source love with those links.

We’re not recommending them, or endorsing them, just sharing some links. Happy building.

25 ways to get creative in under a minute

Lost your creative edge? Wedged in a writers block? Here are 25 ways to try and spark your brain and fire up your creative mojo in less than a minute (or 25 ways to kill a minute and hopefully forget about your problem):

  1. Find the longest word you can make with the letters of your name
  2. Choose five colours, find five things in your office that match them
  3. Write a Facebook message to someone you haven’t spoken to for over a year
  4. Find as many colours of post-it notes as you can in 30 seconds, then challenge someone to beat you in the remaining 30
  5. Google your favourite TV show from the 80s and laugh at the haircuts
  6. Draw a floorplan of the house you grew up in
  7. Write down all the names of the pets you’ve had in your life
  8. Look out your window and try and find 3 animals in the shapes the clouds make
  9. Work out what 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5 * 6 * 7 * 8  * 9 * 10 is without a calculator
  10. Gargle the National Anthem
  11. Spend 30 seconds drawing random dots on a piece of paper, spend the remaining 30 joining some of them to make a picture
  12. Write a happy phrase on 10 post-it notes, stick them to other people’s computer screens
  13. Clean your desk!
  14. Write a list of your favourite 10 foods
  15. Draw a rainbow, with the right colours (Richard of York Got Bathed in Vinegar)
  16. Try searching for something in Google, then Bing then Yahoo and see how different the results are
  17. Count how many pairs of shoes you have, then draw your favourite
  18. Enter a competition on your favourite radio station’s website
  19. Grab a magazine and tear out 5 photos that make you happy and 5 that make you sad
  20. Write the first 20 words that come into your head when you think of the person you love the most
  21. Grab no less than 3 pens/pencils in a bunch and write your name with them 10 times
  22. Google yourself, then click “images” and see what you look like in an alternate universe
  23. Find something on your desk that is a) square, then b) round, c) heavy, d) red, and e) not related to the job you do
  24. Find a favourite photo on your computer, print it out, cut it out and stick it to your monitor
  25. Write your own list of 25 things you would do to stimulate your creativity

Good luck!

Top 5 ‘non-work’ activities to do in quiet times

Love them or hate them, quiet times – those times when you wake up and realise that you don’t actually have any commisionable work to do that day – are a part of running any small business.

Sure you can spend the time on growing your company, but realistically sometimes you just don’t feel like working on that new marketing activity or phoning that client who you haven’t heard back from or working on your own website. In times like these it might be less productive to force it, so instead why not try one of these top 5 ‘non-work’ things to do in quiet times:

1) Tidy up

Even though Einstien asked “if a cluttered desk is an indication of a cluttered mind, what does an empty desk represent?” I still find that I work better when my surroundings are tidy. If you work from home this is particularly important. Why not spend a few hours getting your kitchen sparkling, or don some rubber gloves and give the bathroom a good scrubbing.

Or if the sun is shining get outside and clean the car so the next time you’re off out to meet a client at least you don’t need to park around the corner because your car is caked in mud.

2) Exercise

Get out of the office, put on some old clothes and go for a jog around the block to work up a sweat. If running’s not your thing, how about a round of golf at that course you’ve always been meaning to play or a swim in the local pool.

If you’ve got a favourite sport go buy yourself a treat like a new tennis racket or a new pair of running shoes and then go try them out. It’s a great feeling and gives you a real boost to play a sport that you love with new equipment, or to pound those pavements in new athletics gear. I’ve often found that my best ideas are ones that come to me when I’m exercising.

3) Spend time with someone you love

As a small business owner you’re not going to be a stranger to long working hours, but one of the reasons you may have gone into business for yourself is to spend more time with your friends and family. So use this quiet period to remind those around you what you look like.

Take your kids out of school for a day and take them on an adventure somewhere, make a packed lunch and take it to your partner at their work, call up a friend and see if they fancy a lazy afternoon in the pub or sit down and write all those family emails you’ve been meaning to send for weeks.

4) Try something new

This one doesn’t have to be work related. How about looking up a recipe for that dish you’ve always wanted to master or giving bread making a go (once you start making your own bread I challenge you to find anything better than that smell of fresh baked bread in your house). How about an online tutorial for a piece of software that you’ve always wanted to try.

Try and end the day knowing that you’ve given something new a shot. You might not master it in one day, but that first step is the most important one of all.

5) Be a kid

If all else fails and you find yourself really demotivated to try any of those, why not go back to being a kid again. Go shoot some mini-golf, take a trip to the local swimming pool and play on the slides, go to the toy shop and buy yourself a new board game and get your friends round for games night, buy yourself a ticket at the local amusement park and go on the rides or head into town and take a walk round the aquarium or science museum. Sometimes it’s a very cleansing exercise to shed that adult skin for a day and let the mind rest.

If you have any of your own ‘non-work’ tips, please post them below. But make the most of your quiet times and enjoy them, there will be plenty of occasions in the future when you’ll be wishing for some more…