Thursday, 29 November 2012

Grammatically correct graffiti

How many times have you sat on a pub toilet and read all the scrawlings on the back of the door? And how much does it amuse you to, not only see a spelling mistake, but to see someone has come along and corrected it. I am a bit of a spelling and grammar nazi myself, and I can't help but correct people when they say 'should of' instead of 'should have', or when they pronounce schedule like 'SKEDule' (we Brits say SHEDule).

Anyway, I was walking to work today in Richmond and I passed the newly constructed Pret. It's still all boarded up and on the front I spotted this:

This blatant error sparked a two-person correction! The person with the pencil violently circled it and wrote 'Plural!!', and the person with the pen was clearly not impressed and gave it a shameful -1 out of 10 and slapped Pret with an F-. Poor Pret wouldn't even get into sixth form with those grades. You'd think, with the sign being so large, that the mistake would have been obvious to spot, considering all the various people it would have exchanged hands with in the process? 

Anyway, made me laugh, despite the fact our country is so uneducated about our own language.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Clean up your profiles! Future employers are watching you...

Imagine if the deciding factor of you getting that dream job or not, was based on whether you’d chosen the hilarious kebab on the toilet photo, or the classy dinner party photo, to be your Facebook profile picture?

We all use Facebook to stalk our friends/friends of friends/people we hate..

…but what we often forget, is that our future employers can stalk us too.

I have just come across this fascinating infographic by Career Builder called ‘What do employers find when they search for you online?’ which has stats on how many, and which type of, employers use social media to scope out candidates as potential employees.

A growing 37% of employers in the US use social media to search for you, with Facebook being the number one stalking method, closely followed by LinkedIn and Twitter. The reason most of them pry is, not because they are trying to catch you out, but because they want to see if you present yourself professionally and if you’d fit in at their company.

If there was one time that it was acceptable to Google yourself, this is it. When I Googled myself, one of the first pages that came up was my MySpace page; an account I haven’t used for many years, yet it still displayed facedown starfish drunken photos from my uni days and was littered with swear words. I swiftly deleted it. Next was my Bebo (wtf) and other random things I had signed up to. My phone number, comments and photos… I was all over the Internet! I needed to clean it up.

According to the reports, 49% of the time someone is struck off the list it’s because they have displayed a provocative photo or inappropriate information. Other reasons are evidence of drink or drug use, racism, bad mouthing their job, or simply bad grammar.

Not that my profiles had that anyway, but I felt it needed to be cleaned up. Now, you can openly view my Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Blog, my website, and Single Creatives. My Facebook is there but it’s under extreme privacy settings, and I keep the ones that are publicly viewable clean from bad language or incriminating photographs. My job revolves around search reputation and social media, so I can’t afford to have anything that makes me look unprofessional.

Sadly, your online life now acts as your CV. It’s brutal and invading, but that’s social media for you. However, you have the power to make people see what you want them to see, so start Googling yourself!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Hooks get a New Look

A quick blog post in my lunchbreak.

When shopping on Saturday, I found these little beauties in the changing room of New Look.

I love them! And it did actually make my life easier not having to remember which sizes I'd kept and which ones I'd discarded. You may wonder where is the 'Definitely Not' hook? Well, how very sneaky of them - there isn't one! 

Sunday, 11 November 2012

My Top 5 high-quality content eCommerce sites

‘Patience is a virtue’

A lovely saying, isn’t it? Although, I presume the person who invented that adage never had to sit at a computer and trawl the web for information he couldn’t find, all the while blocking pop-ups and being directed to places he never wanted to go. There is never a more infuriating time to encounter these issues than when attempting to purchase something online, and some eCommerce sites don’t make it any easier. When a customer is parting with their money on your site, the last thing you want to do is stress them out, confuse them, or make yourself look unreliable; because inevitably, that person won’t return.

The EasyJet website is a prime example of a bad eCommerce website. They are my regular airline because they are marginally cheaper, but trust me; you pay for it in other ways – perhaps high blood pressure or alopecia. When I recently booked some flights, I wanted to have all 4 of us on the same flight, but 1 of us needed to get a different flight home. This was not allowed so I had to make 2 separate bookings and pay 2 booking fees. Then, when I wanted to check-in online the night before the flight, I couldn’t find my account page and no one responded to my panicked email when EasyJet said my booking didn’t exist. I chanced it at the airport and it was fine, but these grey hairs will be with me forever.

As a consumer, there are a few basic things I need from an eCommerce site:

- It should be immediately obvious to me what you offer on the homepage. If I have to search for more than 8 seconds, I will click off.
- It has to be aesthetically pleasing. Don’t distract me with epileptic graphics. Keep it simple and clear; let your items do the talking.
- A search bar, nice filters and sorts; so I can browse back and forth between pages and not get lost in a vortex of sub-categories.
- I don’t want to have to register to buy something.
- I need to have PayPal as a paying option.
- I need it to arrive on time.
- If I have a problem, I need to be able to speak to a real person, not an automatic response or a voice machine.

Good eCommerce website number 1: Amazon
I’m not going to bother saving the best for last, you knew it was coming. Amazon, you’re easy, you’re thoughtful, you remember what I like. I come back to you because you are cheap, but you have never failed me in quality or delivery time. You’re like a great husband - reliable and trustworthy. Yes, there is a lot going on on the pages, but it makes up for it in every other aspect.

Good eCommerce website number 2: Asos
Asos has a simple layout that allows you to search by size, material, label and colour. On each item of clothing there is a catwalk video where you can see the dress properly, how it moves, how it hangs. When it’s delivered to you, (always on time), it comes with all the papers and free postage stickers inside in case you want to return it. The most hassle-free clothes shopping experience.

Good eCommerce website number 3: John Lewis
John Lewis’ site is classy, comforting and homely, which is exactly what you want from a business that sells homewares. They have perfectly captured their brand and encompassed that in their site. Smooth navigation, easy checkout and friendly customer service. It is one of my top online stores.

Good eCommerce website number 4:
This is one of these sites that you can instantly tell how much thought and attention to detail they put into their work. Beautiful trinkets speak for themselves on this simple, yet very personalised, site. You can browse with ease with the ‘recently viewed’ list at the bottom, and the photos are very artistic. This makes me want to spend more time on the website, which is a huge credit to them.

Good eCommerce website number 5: Staples
‘What a weird and dull choice to include!’ you say. Well, actually no. Taking in consideration the unpredictability of the average working day, the stresses and mistakes… it’s nice to actually have something to rely on. Office supplies make the workplace go round, so when we are short on anything, I can whiz round their impressively extensive site, look at my last order history which is saved, and know that it will be delivered on time. Their tagline; ‘Staples: That Was Easy’, took the words right out of my mouth.

So I have prattled on for ages now, and it should be pretty clear what makes a good eCommerce site. It sounds boring, but the key is user-friendliness. If your website isn’t designed with your target audience in mind and based on what they’d like to see, then how are they going to believe that you sell anything they’d want?
Still struggling? The answer is simple; take a look at your website and ask yourself; 

‘Would YOU buy something from your site?’