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Tim Peter Thinks

Tim Peter

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July 12, 2012

Of Course It's Possible

July 12, 2012 | By | No Comments

Opportunity I’ve heard many technologists over the years explain the way development works:

  • You can have it fast
  • You can have it cheap
  • You can have it good

And you can have any two of the above you like.

Bullsh… er, um… I mean, “Nonsense!”

Now, it’s true that it’s very difficult to build something — anything really — quickly, inexpensively and well. It’s merely very difficult (and to be fair to my friends in development, sometimes it’s very, very, very difficult). It may turn out to be impractical. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It takes exploring every option, questioning every assumption, demanding the very best of yourself (first) and freeing your team to do their very best (second).

Of course, the flip-side is that if you’re willing to work very hard and surround yourself with talented people, you can accomplish just about anything. Doing that may not be cheap. And finding and developing talent may not always be fast. But, you can usually get one or the other.

So, the option is yours. You can select from the Fast/Cheap/Good menu (I typically recommend Fast/Good or Fast/Cheap depending on the circumstances, by the way). Or you can work hard and surround yourself with others who want to do the same.

But, in either case, what you are trying to do is almost always possible, no matter what it is. You just have to be willing to work for it. And that’s just as true of life as it is of development.


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Tim Peter

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August 3, 2009

You're not welcome here. And other nice things to say.

August 3, 2009 | By | No Comments

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big sports fan. I’m also a big Mac fan. But I mainly use Windows at work. So imagine my surprise this past Friday afternoon when I fired up Firefox on my office computer to check on Tiger Woods in the Buick Open and got this message:

invisible-business.jpg

“Website Requirements”?!? Really?!? Worse, no matter what I did – short of switching to Internet Explorer – would get me past this screen. Forget “requirements.” Why not just say, “Sorry. We don’t think highly enough of you and the choices you make to want your business. Ever. Now go away and stop bothering us“?

OK, you might think it’s not that bad. After all, it’s not like they’re completely invisible. But I’m not sure there’s any difference. Anytime you tell your customers they can’t communicate with you – the way your customer chooses – you’ve likely lost a customer.

In case you think I’m overreacting, consider this: Firefox now has as much as 30% of the market. Some sites see even larger numbers. For instance, 35% of thinks readers use Firefox/Windows, almost tied with IE/Windows. Other sites I know see “only” 15% of their traffic from Firefox/Windows. But, even at that level, would you want to tell 1 out of every 6 customers, “Sorry. We don’t think highly enough of you…?”

I didn’t think so.

Worse, look what Google seems to think the site is about:

warwick-hills-search-results-small.png

Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, does it? How many customers on seeing that description will spend the next fifteen minutes worrying whether they have the “right” browser – assuming they know what a browser is – instead of actually visiting Warwick Hills’ site?

I certainly don’t mean to pick on Warwick Hills alone. Sadly, too many sites still suffer from these same issues. But if you want to raise your profile online, you’ve got to accept how your customers want to talk to you and do what’s necessary to make your site work for all.

What do you think? Did Warwick Hills drop the ball here? Or am I overreacting? Tell us what you think in the comments.

(Hat tip: Thanks to Brian Barr for pointing out the Warwick Hills site to me).



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Tim Peter

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June 26, 2009

4 steps to improve your online customer experience (Small Business E-Commerce Link Digest – June 26, 2009)

June 26, 2009 | By | No Comments

Everybody wants to do better by their customers. But what’s the best way to do that? Check out these tips and you’ll find it’s not as hard as you might think:



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September 3, 2008

Top 5 reasons your site must use web standards

September 3, 2008 | By | No Comments

You website must use web standardsThere’s an old joke that says, “the great thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.” But making sure your website complies with web development standards forms a key part of any successful online strategy. While we don’t normally get up to our elbows in the gory details of how to build websites here, every business can benefit from knowing enough to ask the right questions whether you build the site yourself, select an outside agency or use a hosted service. Standards compliance means using things like the right version of HTML along with CSS to provide your information to customers. Why does it matter? Here are the top 5 reasons:

  1. SEO benefit – We all want our sites listed in Google, Yahoo and Live, right? Why make it hard for those sites’ crawlers to access your content? Sites that aren’t standards compliant can easily limit Google’s access to your content – which limits your access to customers.
  2. Ease of maintenance/lower cost of ownership – Change is inevitable and never more so on the web. Want proof? Check this out:

    That’s just this week’s news. You don’t want to be in the business of worrying about whether your site keeps up. Standards compliance takes that worry away. Plus, building compliant sites gets easier with practice. So what are you waiting for?

  3. Support for disabled customers – Many of the same standards that make it easy for Google’s crawler to find your site also make it easy for customers with disabilities to use your site. And when you consider how many individuals deal with some challenge, it represents a huge market opportunity. It can also limit legal risk. And, at the end of the day, it’s just the right thing to do for your customers.
  4. Improve your site’s speed/lower page weight – OK, this is the gory, techy one. But, with folks like Comcast planning to limit bandwidth for its customers and the impact that slow sites can have on Google Quality Scores (i.e., reduced rankings and higher costs for paid search) and the hosting cost for high bandwidth sites – to say nothing of the negative brand perception your customers may have if your site is too slow – improving your site’s speed with clean, standardized code is a Very Good Thing.
  5. Reach more customers – Finally, more than anything else, you care about ensuring customers can access your information. When you limit customers’ options – whether to certain browsers, operating systems or devices – you limit your sales opportunities. Ultimately, standards compliance makes it easier for more customers to see your site. And that’s the only thing that matters.

Standards compliance doesn’t look sexy at first glance. It’s not in your face. And no one will acquire your business or push you to go public just for maintaining a standards compliant site. But it can save you money and drive more sales. And that might do the trick.



Are you getting enough value out of your small business website? Want to make sure your business makes the most of the local, mobile, social web? thinks helps you understand how to grow your business via the web, every day. Get more than just news. Get understanding. Add thinks to your feed reader today.

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