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11 10, 2016

Subdomain Tracking for Higher Education Websites- Universal Analytics

By | 2017-07-20T08:48:34+00:00 October 11th, 2016|Categories: Higher Education|

One of the most common issues we see with Higher Education Google Analytics configurations is incomplete tracking across all subdomains. Because colleges and universities often have different departments or interest groups run by different decision-makers, it is incredibly common to see multiple subdomains created to cater to these individual topics; think: athletics.myuniversity.edu, or admissions.myuniversity.edu. More often than not, we find Google Analytics implementations on these subdomains is incomplete, incorrect, or missing altogether. Here’s some information on how you should be tracking your Higher Education website across all subdomains.

If a visitor to your website clicks from one subdomain to another, you want to be tracking that visit as a single session in Google Analytics. There are two main steps you need to take to accomplish this…

  1. Set the Cookie Domain
  2. Create a Referral Exclusion

Setting the Cookie Domain

Universal Analytics uses a single cookie to identify the user with a unique client ID. By setting the Cookie Domain to ‘auto’, this instructs the tracker to make the cookie available to all subdomains.

Using the recommended JavaScript tracking snippet from Google does this for you.

<!– Google Analytics –> <script> (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,’script’,’https://www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js’,’ga’);

ga(‘create’, ‘UA-XXXXX-Y’, ‘auto’); ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’); </script> <!– End Google Analytics –>

This must be explicitly set in Tag Manager:

Screen-Shot-2015-07-06-at-9.22.29-AM

Creating a Referral Exclusion

The second step in properly tracking your subdomains is to update your referral exclusion list in Google Analytics. To do this:

–          Navigate to the Admin Panel

–          Add your root domain (myuniversity.edu) to the referral exclusion list.

10-11-2016 3-02-54 PM

By default, a referral automatically triggers a new session. When you exclude a referral source, traffic that arrives to your site from the excluded domain doesn’t trigger a new session. By adding the root domain to this list, you are ensuring that as users move from one subdomain to another, session continuity is maintained.

By following these simple steps you will be able to completely track your website- subdomains included. All of your website data will be housed under a single UA-ID and a single Google Analytics property. It is important to note that these changes are not retroactive, so historical data will be incorrect until proper tracking is implemented.

Questions? Contact us today for help properly setting up your website’s Google Analytics configuration.

23 08, 2016

How To Use Annotations in Google Analytics

By | 2017-06-16T12:50:19+00:00 August 23rd, 2016|Categories: Google Analytics|Tags: , , |

Picture this: you’re checking out your website data in Google Analytics, and decide to look at your monthly traffic year-over-year. You see a huge spike in traffic on a single day last year, but you aren’t quite sure what caused it. Were you running a special that day? Perhaps a new TV commercial aired? Or maybe a direct mail piece dropped? Hmm…you start shuffling through old emails and notes to solve the mystery.

Traffic Spike

Without knowing exactly what could have affected last year’s traffic spike, it’s impossible to measure the impact individual circumstances have on your website. Sure, you can keep an Excel spreadsheet with a long list of dates. But what if I told you there was an easy way to keep all those events organized, in one place, and in context? Yep, you can do it right alongside your website data with Google Analytics annotations.

Annotations allow you to note a particular event that could have an impact on your data right on the date that it occurred.

Here are some of the types of things I like to annotate:

–          Website downtime

–          Sales and special promotions

–          Website development changes

–          Marketing campaigns (direct mail, TV, radio)

–          Content changes

–          Press releases or high profile featured content around the web

–          And any other time-specific event that could possibly affect website visits and user behavior

Making annotations in GA is incredibly easy. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Click the little down arrow under your traffic chart and click “Create New Annotation” on the right.
  2. Enter a date, a note, and choose the annotation’s visibility.
  3. Save.

Annotate

That’s it. No, really. It’s that simple!! Annotations are indicated by the little text bubbles at the bottom of your chart. To see the details simply click the bubble.

To see a comprehensive list of all annotations for your view, go to the Admin panel and click Annotations.

Admin

If I can offer you one final tip for using annotations in GA, it is to be explicit. Trust me when I say, it will save future you a lot of frustration. “Online Sale”…great…but what was on sale? While Google only gives you 160 characters, be as detailed as possible! If your notes are enigmatic, you’re wasting your time creating them to begin with.

How do you use GA annotations to help analyze your website data?

18 01, 2016

RankBrain in 2016

By | 2017-06-16T12:52:33+00:00 January 18th, 2016|Categories: SEO|Tags: , , , |

RankBrain

Google has used word frequency, word distance, and world knowledge based on co-occurrences to connect the many relations between words to serve up answers to search queries. But now, due to the recent breakthroughs in language translation and image recognition, Google has turned to powerful neural networks that have the ability to connect the best answers to the millions of search queries Google receives daily.

RankBrain is the name of the Google neural network that scans content and is able to understand the relationships between words and phrases on the web.

Why is it better than the previous methods? In a nutshell, RankBrain is a better method because it is deep learning self-improving system. Training itself on pages within the Google index, RankBrain looks upon the relationships between the search queries and the content contained within the Google index.

How does it do this? Neural networks are very good at conducting reading comprehension based on examples and detecting patterns in those examples. Trained on existing data, Google’s vast database of website documents is able to provide the necessary large-scale level of training sets. When conducting training, Google changes key phrases or words into mathematical entities called vectors which act as signals. RankBrain then runs an evaluation similar to the cloze test.  A cloze test is a reading comprehension activity where words are emitted from a passage and then filled back in. With a cloze test, there may be many possible answers, but on-going training from a vast data set allows for a better understanding of the linguistic relationships of these entities.  Let’s look at an example:

The movie broke all (entity1) over the weekend.

Hollywood’s biggest stars were out on the red carpet at the (entity2) premiere.

After deciphering all of the intricate patterns of the vectors, RankBrain can deliver an answer to a query such as “Which movie had the biggest opening at the box office?” by using vector signals from entities that point to the search result entity receiving the most attention. It does this without any specific coding, without rules, or semantic markup. Even for queries that may be vague in nature, the neural network is able to outperform even humans.

With RankBrain, meaning is inferred from use. As RankBrain’s training and comprehension improves, it can focus on the best content that it believes will help answer a search query. As a result, RankBrain can understand search queries never seen before. In 2016, be prepared to provide the contextual clues that RankBrain is looking for.

12 01, 2016

What’s New in Web Design for 2016?

By | 2017-08-08T08:39:15+00:00 January 12th, 2016|Categories: Web Development|Tags: , , |

As we plunge into 2016, many designers and developers are excited to see what innovative ideas will arise. It is up to us to deliver fresh and atypical ideas which provide a foundation for the progressive nature of our industry. Many are looking ahead and predicting different trends we may see in 2016. Some of the trends from 2015, will linger around for a little longer, while others will fade out. HTML5 and CSS3 have opened the door to many realms of possibility and continue to eliminate needs for Flash and jQuery plug-ins.

Below you will see trends I have found to emerge into mine and many designer’s lists of what to expect in 2016 and beyond.

1. Usability is King.

It is in our human nature to want things quick and as simple as possible. We are getting more mobilized with our web browsing and want information “on the go”. As designers focus more on simplistic and minimalistic styles of web design, developers are focusing on functionality to make designs and user interaction more fluid.

a. Flat Design – A trend here to stay

i. A couple years old now, Flat Design is a trend we see continuously getting applied to web designs. It’s bold and vibrant colors, easy to read Sans Serif fonts, big images, and minimalistic approach provide users with an easy to read style of simplistic design. The website http://riiotlabs.com/fr/accueil is a great example of flat design and also a good example of how animation is beginning to get incorporated into background images.

b. Material Design – User Interface Defined

i. Introduced in 2014, Material Design was started by Google as a foundation for User Interactive design for cross platform use. Similar to the minimalistic appeal to Flat Design, Material Design focuses on shadows and depth which allow the user a better visual perception. The use of these shadow effects creates a 3D environment for devices when displaying objects, animations, and responsive interactions. Android introduced this style into its theming for the new Android 5.0 and many App designers are beginning to follow suit. For more info on Material Design, visit:

https://www.google.com/design/spec/material-design/introduction.html.

2. Typography

a. Designers are beginning to turn more focus on their choice of fonts. Whether it is for better readability or for unique ways to artistically spell out the title of a company, Google fonts has opened the door to huge a huge library of font selection. Typography is one of the biggest playmakers in successful design, as designers find ways to find legible and creative ways to spell out their content beyond the normal styles. We will begin to see bigger and bolder typography throughout the year. http://www.getzeroapp.com/ gives an example of how designers are implementing big bold text into their websites.

3. Cinemographs – It’s Alive!!!

a. Cinemographs are images that show movement in a still photograph. Since the first one in 2011, these images have become increasingly popular. With the implementation of Apple’s Live Photos into iPhone 6 cameras; Cinemographs have sprung a higher awareness to society. Many marketing and advertising agencies see this trend and are incorporating these compelling images into their use in social media and web design.

To check out some awesome cinemographs, visit http://cinemagraphs.com/.

4. Storytelling – Once Upon a Time….

a. One way to portray content is through the unique style of storytelling when designing a web site. Storytelling can be very effective in marketing as long as it is done properly. The key is keeping the user engaged and making them want to explore the depths of the web site. Many designers use long-scrolling along with scrolling effects to tell a story as the user moves down the page. Others, like this great example by Nike, are great ways to really engage the user to make them feel like they have control on how it all plays out.

5. Responsive Design – The Mobile Age

a. Responsive Design has been a trend for a while now. People are finding themselves using mobile devices like smart phones and tablets for their internet browsing more than they use laptops and desktops. The introduction of the Apple Watch and new arising technology of virtual reality goggles and Google Glass will introduce a new demand for more user interface layouts and screen sizes that designers will have to accommodate. One example of these wearables is Wove – a flexible touch display watch. These many different wearables will unleash a demand for specific device styling to keep usability fluid.

6. Rich Animations

a. The use of animation is becoming very popular in multiple ways. Designers are incorporating small scale animations that require no user input into minimalistic, flat design. Loading animations are being created for users to enjoy themselves for a brief moment while content loads. Multiple kinds of user effects are being used to control animation like scrolling effects, galleries/slideshows, hover effects, and pop-up notifications.

b. Videos are becoming popular as full page background images. This is tricky for designers though, as video backgrounds can become disturbing when it comes to good readability.

http://www.because-recollection.com/rita-mitsouko is a sweet website that shows animated backgrounds and also produces great user interaction and is set up like a storyboard.

13 11, 2015

Why You Need Bing Paid Search Marketing

By | 2017-08-07T15:45:10+00:00 November 13th, 2015|Categories: PPC|Tags: , , |

Google may be king of the mountain for paid search marketing; but Bing is building it’s empire to challenge Google. Have you considered advertising on Bing Ads? If you haven’t, you should.

According to comScore, Bing’s desktop search market share is over 20%, or one in five searches. In addition to this benchmark, currently Bing’s search algorithm powers Yahoo Search which has a market share of 12%. Together Bing and Yahoo capture one in three desktop searches.

comScore Sept 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While Google still holds a large share of desktop searches, exploring options outside of AdWords could be a great fit for your business. Currently, Bing delivers Paid Search Ads not only on the Bing network, but also on Yahoo. A Paid Search buy with Bing expands your advertising reach, and helps you promote your business to your target audience.

What to Keep an Eye On:

Google and Yahoo formed a three year partnership that went into effect on October 1st 2015. Yahoo will now have the ability to serve Google content on their network. Yahoo will decide when Google will provide ads and organic search results for some of Yahoo’s queries; however the amount to be served is unspecified.

Bing responded, referencing their contract with Yahoo, that they will continue to serve the majority of Yahoo’s search results and ads. The Google and Yahoo partnership is still under regulatory review by the US Department of Justice. The influence that the partnership will have on Yahoo search is unknown.

Bing Ads Updates:

bing ads image

Even with the Yahoo and Google partnership, Bing Ads has continued to make competitive updates and improvements. Bing Ads recently launched remarketing ads for both search and shopping campaigns. While remarketing campaigns are not a new tool to paid search, they are an important and valuable option that Bing Ads offers their advertisers.

Remarketing campaigns target an audience that is already aware of your business. They give you an option to deliver an ad to your engaged visitors. Remarketing ads will be served to users who have been to your website, so they are familiar with your business and are more likely to click on your ad.

If you already have a remarketing campaign set up in Google, creating a campaign in Bing will take a few short steps. If you don’t currently have a remarketing campaign, Bing offers an easy to follow walkthrough to help you with the process.

This month, Bing rolled out a Q&A style video series where users submit questions and each month they will dedicate an episode to answer a few of them. Questions can be submitted on twitter using the #AskBingAds or by emailing them directly. The video series is candid and gives Bing Ads a more human side to their business.

With the Holiday season approaching, Bing released a planning tool to assist with scheduling your paid search campaign. The interactive calendar marks important dates with spending trends to help their advertisers execute an ad strategy. While marketers and consumers are aware of the three highest online spending days, Bing gives interesting search insights, including time of day when searches peak, and online purchasing habits. These details could help small businesses with limited budgets prioritize their ad spend throughout the holiday season.

User Training:

bing ad academy

 

Need help navigating in Bing Ads or learning all the new features? No reason to fret, they have also rolled out a new program, Bing Ads Academy. The training resource offers both online and in person options starting at a beginner level, to more detailed options, and then ramping up to advanced levels. The online training options are structured for users to take at their own pace, and pick and choose what topics they would like to focus on.

Although Google still holds the lion’s share of online searches, Bing has become quite the competitor. Whether you are looking to start a paid campaign from scratch, or expanding on your current digital efforts, Bing is an excellent option for you to consider. Contact us today to find out more about how Bing can help your business reach your marketing goals.

29 10, 2015

Google and Its Book Scanning Initiative – Trick or Treat?

By | 2018-05-01T08:26:50+00:00 October 29th, 2015|Categories: SEO|Tags: , , |

This Halloween, Google has toilet papered your entire yard and the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals just rang the doorbell, left a flaming bag of you-know what on your doorstep and ran like a bat outta’ Hell. Who are you?

You’re an author with a career worth of product, mostly published offline through traditional literary mediums. You have every right to feel that you’ve been wronged. I know I do.

While I don’t advocate for the trampling of anyone’s rights in favor of another (one of my pet peeves), the 2nd Circuit Court decision has some upside. Think Frankenstein and fire.  Let me explain…

poster-art-smallA Quick Overview

As you probably know, the objective of Google’s book scanning initiative is to scan every book available and make the contents available online for educational purposes. The book scanning initiative (the way I understand it) does not make copyrighted materials available online for free to those who wouldn’t otherwise have it available to them. This project is meant to aid libraries in copying their current catalog for use by library patrons who would otherwise have access to already paid for, hard copy versions.

The Authors Guild had taken great exception to the book scanning project, as one might expect. Citing existing laws on copyright infringement (17 U.S.C. § 107) The Author’s Guild has argued that Google’s book scanning initiative deprives writers of revenue from their work.

This court battle started way back in 2005.

The 10 year ordeal appears to be over. The US Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled with Google and its “fair use” defense. The “fair use” defense (admittedly greatly simplified here in the interest of expediency) argues that since the content is being used for educational purposes, it serves a greater good. Additionally, it does not “excessively damage the market” for the current copyright holder.

If you’re not a creator (or even if you are), you’re probably wondering what this means for your website or agency. Will the fire Google started be used for good or evil? Will users see a benefit or will my SEO efforts become a horror show?

The answer is yes, yes, yes and maybe. Let’s talk about the bad first.

More Panda Updates

There is no doubt that while Google may be providing a service through this massive book scanning effort, they’ll get their sweat equity when they use this data to fine tune their algorithm in their pursuit to rid the internet of duplicate content. While this means a better user experience for most (yeah!), it could mean sleepless nights for SEOs and website operators who have used nefarious means to add “new” content to their blogs or websites.

Imagine your agency gets a new client. That’s a good thing. What you don’t know is that this client has in the past employed an SEO firm that had resorted to using re-purposed content from rare books. The next Panda update comes and your client gets slammed. Guess who gets blamed? FIRE, BAD.

However, there’s a great deal of good news too. Consider this:

More Books for the Disabled

In a related ruling, the appeals court decided in favor of HathiTrust Digital Library and their application of “fair use”. A non-profit project, HathiTrust Digital Library consist of a consortium or university libraries with a mission to provide digital books for the disabled. FRIEND, GOOD.

Better Experience for The End User

Less fluff and more real content will result from future algorithm changes. That’s great news for users and all of us who do things the right way. FRIEND, GOOD.

More Work for Content Creators

This is a big maybe but, in theory, this could work to a writer’s advantage. As the algorithm detects new re-purposed copy, something of value has to replace the fluff copy that had previously been used.  FRIEND, GOOD.

In Conclusion

Like the blind man in the original Frankenstein movie, I probably won’t convince any traditional writer that that his or her rights are not being subjugated in favor of commerce and the rights of another. And in the end, you can’t ignore the fact that the “monster” enjoyed a big, fat cigar with a friend. It ain’t all bad.

And on a side note, I hear the new Panda algorithm can scrape poop from shoes.

14 10, 2015

Avoiding Duplicate Content – Get the Most From Your SEO Efforts

By | 2018-05-01T08:26:32+00:00 October 14th, 2015|Categories: SEO|Tags: , |

The Panda algorithm is just another example of Google’s effort to identify “thin” content and enhance the user experience. To clarify, the actual quality of the copy is secondary. The objective is to add content that is of value to the user. Quality of copy and value of content can mean two very different things. So for example, the word count of any page theoretically isn’t that important as it does not correlate to value or thinness.

What specifically constitutes duplicate content, then?

Yes, thin content would include republished material or very similar pages. But, that just scrapes (pun intended) the surface. In general terms, anything that may obfuscate a page ranking or make it difficult for Google to determine which page to index may be construed as a duplicate content issue. These could include (but are not limited to):

duplicate content elvis

  • Printer friendly versions of pages
  • Same URL for mobile site
  • www. and non-www. pages (no canonical tags)
  • Identical product descriptions for similar products
  • Guest posts

 

How can I solve my duplicate content issues?

Canonical tags can help solve many duplicate content issues. Proper use of rel=canonical tags can ensure that Google passes any link or content authority to the preferred URL. Your preferred URL will show up in the Google search results.

There is a clear, preferred method to eliminate mobile URL issues. Move to a responsive site. While you may feel that budget constraints make this a less desirable option, responsive design enhances the user experience – which is what the Google algorithm is all about. The seo benefits of responsive design make this an investment that will pay off immediately and well into the future.

Expanding your product descriptions can be a laborious task, particularly when one considers the sheer volume of products any one website may offer. You can bolster product description content in any number of ways. As well as expanding the product description verbiage, one can include specifications or details, include “related purchases”, or add testimonials from previous users. For items that require assembly, how-to videos are a great alternative.

If your site accepts guest posts, search online before posting any new guest content to ensure that the content does not reside elsewhere.

Creating New Content: Does Size Matter?

I’ve heard it said that Google determines the quality of its search results using the time to long click method. In other words, a significant factor in determining the value of a search result is the amount of time a user spends on a website after leaving the Google search page. Additional emphasis is placed on the user’s next move. So, if the user does not go back to google search to perform another search, the presumption is that the question was answered adequately. It doesn’t matter how long the user spent on the page that was served up as the result. If this is accurate, the length of copy is not important. If the content was lengthy but did not meet the user’s expectation, they presumably would return to re-search the topic. If the resulting article was short but to the point and adequately answered the user’s query, then they would not likely return to perform another search. Assuming the time to long click method is used, size does not matter so much as the actual value of the material to the user.

That being said, sometimes less isn’t more. Larger articles seem to rank better in my personal experience. This may simply be due to the fact that when writing a longer article, more information is being shared thereby increasing the likelihood that the user finds what they’re looking for. While not consistent with stated policy, why not err on the side of caution and not only include valuable information but as much of it as possible?

17 08, 2015

Smart Stuff – The Internet Of Things

By | 2017-08-11T16:18:53+00:00 August 17th, 2015|Categories: Web Development|Tags: |

An  internet revolution is almost upon us and like many technological breakthroughs, it has already begun without much fanfare and is more of a curiosity and novelty than life changing. But before you know it, the avalanche of change  will alter the way we live.  This new paradigm is referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT) or Smart Things.  The IoT consists of connecting  physical objects, things, together on the internet instead of web pages about things.  Sensors will play a large part in this network because that is how information will be gathered and reported.  They may be heat, light, touch (movement), sound, etc. sensors that will gather the data and in many cases will have  some software to make some determination about  when and how the data should be communicated.

We have had sensors and small computers in things that make them operate more efficiently in use  in our daily lives for many years now.  They may serve a function as simple as a light sensor that turns something on and off.  IoT aided devices help retailers attribute sales, keep inventory and  serve up live promotions. You may not even know they are there, you just know that your new car gets a lot better gas mileage than the old one.  You are totally oblivious to the fact there are many sensors and computers under the hood and in the dash of your car constantly monitoring air temperature, emissions and fuel mixture.  In fact, it is not uncommon for a car today to have more computers in it that the first Apollo Space  Module.  These are only going to increase and become more sophisticated as we will have more machine to machine (M2M) interaction.   This will be evident as the push for autonomous driving gains in popularity and one car’s sensors talk to another car’s sensors, or sensors buried in the asphalt of a road or cement of a bridge signals to your car that ice is on the road and it slows down before you are even aware there is a hazard ahead.

We are limited only by our imagination by how these M2M objects will make our lives easier and give us more creature comforts in the future.  The real benefit however is elevated when things with all of these sensors are networked onto the internet and become part of the IoT.  We have to have someway of identifying these things on the internet and with the advent of IPv6 and its increased addressing capabilities, we can literally address every object on planet earth.  Think about the same bridge that alerted your car of the icy conditions. If it were a smart bridge it could  communicated to the proper authorities that is has a structural problem and needs to be fixed.  You could have a smart refrigerator that senses  you are out of milk and places an order for more while sending you a text or email that it has been ordered  and will be ready for you to pick it up on your way home from work.  You will be able to control and communicate with every device in your home from anywhere internet service is present.  We can already do that with some thermostats today which only scratches the surface.

I used to think people had to have TVs to exist.  How could you possibly live without one. That was how graphical information came alive to you in your home.  Today some people have chosen to not have a TV at all.  That necessity has been replaced by the internet.  How can you possibly live without it?  Especially as we connect more and more objects to it and our lives become more dependent upon the interaction with them.

As with any new technology special challenges occur.  Imagine the ever increasing bandwidth needed as we connect billions of these objects to the IoT.  Internet security concerns are enormous.  Connect anything to the internet and it is immediately a candidate to be hacked and access gained to a network.  We have already heard stories about how smart TV’s have been hacked and turned off or on and home cameras have had prying eyes looking into their homes.  Organizations have a hard time protecting web pages on the internet, much less objects.  There are reports of cars being hacked and taken control of.   The challenges are a topic for another entire discussion.  I would rather think about the limitless possibilities of the IoT even though the technology will likely race ahead of the security and privacy capabilities.

 

22 06, 2015

Mobile Ad Go-Getters

By | 2017-06-16T12:40:06+00:00 June 22nd, 2015|Categories: Web Development|

Mobile is taking over and you need to reach those audiences that are on-the-go.

How do you connect your mobile online ads to these mobile audiences?

First, you need to understand mobile behavior. Screenshot below is taken from this blog:

Non-ecommerce mobile sites have a higher average session duration and number of pages/session than desktop.

Why is that?

Mobile users spend more time looking for information or entertainment.  Really, mobile users are looking for  a way to avoid getting bored.

Screenshot below from ThinkwithGoogle.com.

captive engagementWhen Mobile users are on ecommerce sites, mobile ecommerce users don’t want to waste time. These users want to quickly find those products they are looking for right away with easy checkout. That’s why mobile conversion rates are much lower than desktop. In the screenshot above, shopping sites are on the lower end of sites with captive engagement. Mobile users want to go back to being entertained.

How can my mobile ads grab attention?

When you’re advertising on a website that has engaging content, you’ll need to grab the attention away from that compelling content. Already, some publishers are charging for ads based on the amount of time that is spent on content.

Once you have you ad on an engaging mobile site,  you need to get attention directed towards your online ads.

 

 

 

Got your attention?

 

Mobile is a place where users are spending time engaged with content. But mobile users are also go-getters when it comes to ecommerce. Your mobile ads need to be go-getters as well.

 

 

 

 

5 05, 2015

Critical Success Factors of Projects

By | 2017-06-16T13:07:14+00:00 May 5th, 2015|Categories: Web Development|Tags: , , |

A recent Gartner survey finds that somewhere between 20% and 28% of all IT Projects fail. This survey goes on to document the main reasons for failure, the top three of which are: “Functionality Issues”, “Substantially late”, and “High cost variance” (Gartner, June 2012). However, these are only the symptoms of deeper problems that stay hidden below the surface. The main cause for the functionality issues and project cost and schedule overruns that Gartner highlights is due to poor management. In my experience, here are some of the root causes of project management failure:

  • Unclear objectives
  • Unclear scope
  • No plan or poor plan
  • Poor communication
  • Lack of expectation establishment and management
  • Lack of continual project monitoring

In order to avoid these failures, certain questions must be asked at the beginning of a project, as well as throughout the project:

  • Why are we doing this?
  • What is and is not included in the project?
  • What is needed, when is it needed, and who will complete it?
  • Who needs to know what, and when?
  • Who is responsible for what?
  • When and where did we go off track?

If these questions are asked and taken seriously, what will result is:

  • Clearly defined objectives with team support
  • Agreed up project scope and expectations
  • Project plans that are developed by the right stakeholders
  • Clear and approved communications
  • An appropriate “battle rhythm” or cadence for checking and reporting of status

Beacon has the right recipe for success when it comes to project management. That’s why our projects are continually successful. We take the time to understand the customer’s requirements and needs, then we document those objectives and scope, and create a plan to deliver our product on time and in budget. At Beacon, each web development project includes these tools:

  • Business Requirements Document – This is an important document that defines the project’s objectives and scope, as well as the client’s high-level needs and desired features and capabilities. The document is developed after Beacon and the client meet for requirements gathering sessions.
  • Project Plan – This is a timeline of tasks that must be accomplished in order to complete the project. It includes tasks for both Beacon’s development and the client’s review and input.
  • Periodic project reviews and status reports, are conducted both internally and with the customer to ensure the project stays on course and within budget. Any issues that arise will be proactively addressed and handled as a team.

Though projects vary widely in scope and need, this list of project management tools helps guarantee the success of the project as well as the satisfaction of our clients. These tools ensure that each project asks the right questions on the outset, and continually monitor and control project performance and delivery.

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