Welcome/Landing Page
This page requires particular attention for two main reasons. One,iIt is the first impression new visitors/customers get when they arrive at your site. Two, it is likely to be the same page return visitors see each time they come back to your site.

In the first instance it is important that this page provide immediate value for your visitors. If it doesn’t have something they are looking for and can make use of right away they are going to “bounce” right off of your site, most likely never to return.

Give first time visitors value on the welcome/landing page of your site and you will be rewarded. Visitors will stay longer, come back more frequently and tell others about your site. All of the behaviors that will lead to your site becoming more successful.

In the second instance, the returning visitor, your welcome/landing page needs to provide familiarity. It should be thought of as the dashboard for your site, letting returning visitors memorize the navigation controls so each visit they become more efficient at interacting with it.

The pedals and steering wheel in your car don’t change places or function from day to day. This makes it easy for you to get behind the wheel and operate your vehicle with very little frustration. Your welcome/landing page should follow this model. If you have to make changes make sure they would provide drastic improvement to your visitors experience otherwise try to keep the page as familiar as possible.

About Page
This page won’t get as many visitors as your Welcome/Landing page but you will be surprised a how many people will want to know more about you, your business or organization. The About Page is the absolute best way to present this information to visitors to your site looking for it.

So what do you put here? A biography? A history lesson? A mission statement or strategy manifesto? Any or all of these could be right for you. Let this page be true to your voice or the voice of your organization. Provide the information you would want to know if you were visiting a site for the first time.

Be yourself and your visitors will learn what to expect from you. They won’t have misconceptions that could lead to miscommunications or feelings of deceit later down the road. An honest About page will go a long way to smoothing the road ahead as you build relationships with your visitors.

Contact Page
The Contact Page is possibly the most important page on your site. Without a means to contact you, your ability to do business with visitors will be severely limited. Make sure visitors have an effective way to communicate with you via your Contact Page.

What communication methods should you provide? Only those that you will reliably check and use. If you are terrible at email but great with phone calls provide a phone number that can reach you right away or drop into a reliable voice mail service and leave email off.

Remember, any communication channel you post on your site will foster an expectation with your visitors that you will be timely in your response via that channel. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Provide the contact information that you will be successful at.

Testimonials Page
These days the most effective selling tool you have are your past customers. Amazon.com has made the customer review the way most people evaluate whether or not to buy. Sites that don’t provide customer testimonials score low on visitors trust scales.

What if you don’t have any previous customers? Can you offer some services free or at lowered cost to gain some history? If you can you should consider your cost of doing this as a valuable investment for the future. Testimonials are extremely powerful. Get some on your site today!

Newsletter Sign Up Page
What’s more powerful that search engine optimization? What’s faster than word of mouth? What’s able to drive hordes of reliable, qualified customers to your site in a single message? It’s your email newsletter.

Newsletter subscribers are your site’s gold mine for repeat visitors. They are the visitors that have told you they are interested in what you have to offer. They have gone out of their way to sign up to make sure they get information from you the moment it is available. Why would you not want to find out who these visitors are?

The only way you are going to do that is to offer a newsletter to subscribers and give them an easy way to sign up for it. Services like Aweber and MailChimp make it simple to mange a email newsletter and provide simple tools for creating a newsletter sign up page. If you need help or ideas on how to run an email newsletter there are plenty of free resources available to help you get started.

Check one out today and go get your newsletter up and running. It will give you a new more reliable source of customer contact that will have amazing potential.

That’s it. Those are the five pages essential to your site. So how many of them do. You have? Which ones are you missing? Leave your answers in the comments, I’d love to hear your perspective.

I’ve always had an interest in being an entrepreneur.  When I was in the second grade my dad was working as a coal miner, a notoriously unstable and dangerous line of work.  That year he went through another layoff, the second in two years.

Not one to sit idle, he rounded up group of his friends that were in the same situation, out of work with families to provide for, and started a logging business.  That crew made use of the resources they had at hand.  They didn’t have money to buy equipment and couldn’t get a bank to give them a second glance.

They used second hand chainsaws, borrowed trucks and siphoned gas out of the tanks of their cars.  They went door to door canvasing for work.  They had plenty stacked against them.

But you know what?  They succeeded.  They found business and put food on the table.  That impresses the hell out of me.

There is no shortage of people out there with the same grit and determination.  If you own and operate a business I bet you’re one of them.  You claw and scratch, scrimp and save until you are successful.

I want to help where I can.  I am going to start posting bootstrapping information I find to help you you spend less time searching and more time doing.  For the bootstrapper, time can be as precious as money.  I want to help save both.

In addition to information and resources I also want to provide encouragement.  Nothing helps you stay motivated like hearing about how others in similar circumstances rose to the challenge and won.  I want to share those stories.  If you have one please let me know about it.  I’d love to post it on the site.

– Nat

Question: What’s your inspirational entrepreneurial story?

Fiverr.com is a site were entrepreneurial minded folks can offer their services for sale.  I’ve used it to hire people to critique my flashcard maker website.  That resulted in a really professional report for an investment of five dollars.  I was truly impressed by the result and how easy it was to place the order.

I’m going to start offering some of my basic services on Fiverr to get started.  The way their system works is you start slow, only able to offer small $5 “Gigs”.  As your experience and reputation on the site grows you are promoted to new levels and can offer more expensive services and multiple quantities of Gigs.

I like this progression.  It helps sellers gain competence as they gain experience with the system and rewards the truly dedicated participants with increasing opportunities.

I will keep you posted on how things are going as I get started.  Right now I have two active Gigs.  I’ll be adding more soon.

Question: Have you used Fiverr?  Did you buy or sell services?

For subscribers to my email newsletter I am offering a free copy of my WordPress web site setup checklist.  This simple, easy to use template will help you make sure you’ve covered all of the necessary steps when setting up a new WordPress web site.

All you have to do is subscribe to my newsletter to begin receiving it via email.  Soon after you’ve confirmed your subvscription you will receive a welcome email with instructions on how to get your copy of the checklist template.  From then on you can use the template each time you setup a new site with WordPress to make sure you don’t miss any critical steps.

Enjoy!

A week ago I gave up caffeine, again…

I hope this is the final time.  So far it’s going pretty well.  I had a couple days where I had headaches but those were knocked out by a couple Tylenol.  There have been a couple evenings where I dozed off watching television but I haven’t been what I consider overly tired.  Fingers crossed, but I think I’m doing pretty well.

In honor of my first week of being caffeine free I’m giving away my last un-opened box of Keurig Iced Coffee.

Keurig Iced Coffee

Keurig Iced Coffee

All you have to do is answer the following question in the comments: “The reason I NEED coffee is…”

I’ll draw a winner randomly from all of the comments on Friday.

Good luck!

I don’t know about you but when I see pictures or video of Google Glass I think of the scene from the Steve Martin movie, “The Jerk“, where his invention, the opti-grab, is causing users to go crosseyed.

However, I’m pretty inspired by some of the concepts I’m seeing for smart watches.  Take a look at this concept for an iWatch.  I think that’s something I could purchase and use.

Question: Google Glass or iWatch?  Which would you prefer?

Months ago I put my name in the hat to participate in the early release of Google Glass.  I got an invitation via email this week to participate in the “Glass Explorer Program”.

Pretty exciting huh?

The conditions of participation listed in the email were:

All Glass Explorers must:

  • Be US residents
  • Be 18 years or older
  • Purchase Glass
  • Provide a US shipping address or pick up their Glass at one of our locations in New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles

So far so good.  So I click through to the site.  What do I see?

Just a reminder that all Glass Explorers must:

  • Be US residents
  • Be 18 years or older
  • Purchase Glass for $1,500 + tax within the US
  • Provide a US-based shipping address or pick up Glass in our our New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles basecamps.
  • Bring a valid US ID or proof of residence when picking up Glass

Holy crap!  No wonder they didn’t put the price in the email.  I wouldn’t even have clicked through.  Not sure why they weren’t up front about the price in the email.  Maybe they realized it was over the top and that extra step of clicking would make someone just that much more comitted to a purchase?

Oh well.  Maybe the general release will be more affordable.

Question: Have you been invited to into the Glass Explorer Program?  What did you think of the price?

A man living in Florida is awakened one morning by the ringing of his phone. In answering I the finds the caller to be his boss.

“How soon can you be in Chicago?” His boss asks him.

“Tomorrow morning if I hurry,” the man says.

“Great!” his boss replies and hangs up the phone.

The man scrambles about to arrange a flight to Chicago. His efforts require great inconvenience and expense but he manages to board his flight and arrives in Chicago the next morning with only the barest of essentials to last him through the trip.

He presents himself to his boss as soon as he makes his way from the airport to the office.

On seeing him his boss demands, “What are you doing here?”

“You asked me how quickly I could get here when we spoke yesterday,” the man says.

“Yes, but I don’t need you here until Sunday. I just wanted to make sure you could get here by then. Oh well. Try to keep yourself occupied until Sunday then be back here bright and early.” His boss says.

The man leaves the office and makes arrangements to stay in the city four nights. He acquires clothes and necessities he needs for a longer stay than he had originally anticipated. He spends the next four days trying to make use of his time but spends most of it wandering without direction through the city.

Finally Sunday arrives and presents himself before his Boss bright and early.

“Where are the musicians?” his boss asks?

“Musicians?” The man replies.

“Yes. Musicians for the performance tonight.”

“I haven’t brought any musicians,” the man says.

“Well you had better hurry up and get some here before noon. They need to practice before they perform.”

The man hurries away and begins calling everyone he can think of to find the musicians. With barely enough time left he manages to find a group available and willing to play that evening that can be ready to rehearse by noon.

At the appointed hour the man arrives at the office with the musicians in tow. But his boss is no where to be found. His cell phone rings. It is his boss and he is not happy. “Where are you?” His boss demands

“I’m at the office with the musicians.”

“Why are you there!  I’m at the venue.  They should be here!”

“Which venue?”

“I’ll send you the address.  Get them here now!”

His boss hung up and the address appeared on the man’s phone.  Thirty minutes later the man and the muscians arrived at the location.  They hurried into the venue and found the man’s boss pacing back and forth.  He looked at the man and muscians puzzled.

“What is this?” he asked.

“These are the muscians,” the man replied.

“I need a marching band for the pre-game show!  What am I going to do with them!”

The man couldn’t think of anything to say.  He just stood there in shock.

“We’re done,” his boss said.  “Get on a plane back to Florida.  You’re fired.”

The man slowly turned around and walked away.

The End

Question: Have you ever acted without fully understanding your requirements?  What was the outcome?

If you told a traditional project manager that they’d be running a project where the requirements amounted to a statement of, “I want a website to sell widgets to anonymous customers via the Internet.” They’d probably head for the hills.

However, in Agile development, high level statements like this or user stories are the key means by which requirements are communicated. So how does a traditional project manager bridge this gap?

Agile relies heavily on the product owner being closely involved with the development team. In effect they become a living, breathing requirements document. Any time a developer has a question about the requirements it is expected they will interact directly with the product owner to have them answered.

This allows the developer to keep making forward progress and keeps the product owner updated on progress on and changes to the deliverable. It ensures there are no surprises when the sprint is complete and the user story is delivered.

The requirements document of traditional project management is replaced by continuous interaction with the product owner. In essence the time the product owner would have spent at the beginning of the project is now distributed throughout the life of the sprint.

Question: How have your requirement gathering practices changed as you shift to Agile development methodologies?