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New Years Resolutions vs. This Years Goals

About Resolutions

Every year, I hear people discussing their New Year’s Resolutions and I can understand why people decide to set them and why they choose January 1st to start their quest. However, I have never been able to jump on board with this tradition.

It’s not that I am ‘better than that’ or don’t have any changes in mind for my life.  I simply think that if I have a change to make, I am going to make it NOW!

While others are deciding in early to mid-December about what they want to change (or what the media tells them to change), I’ve got a 2 week head start.  More likely, it is a larger advantage than that, because the moment I feel unhealthy, behind in my work, or overburdened, I can adjust my schedule and make a change to include a new behavior.

The definition of resolution is “A firm decision to do or not to do something“.  Why do we have to wait until the first day of a new year?

How About Goals?

The majority of businesses (especially small ones) chart their fiscal year from January 1st to December 31st.  Most personal calendars work this same way as well. Goals are much better positioned to be set in a given year.

Revenues, salaries & budgets are all set in the fiscal year (or quarters, but we are talking years today).  It makes sense to set goals within the constraints of your revenues, salaries and budgets, right?

Of course, you can set new goals at any time – and I recommend that you do, if:

  1. You don’t have any goals set yet and it is not near the beginning of your fiscal year.
  2. You have beat your goals already, and it is not near the new goal setting period.
  3. You have overwhelmingly under-performed your goals (see goal setting)

The definition of goal (in our context) is “the result or achievement towardwhich effort is directed“.

Goal Setting

How do you go about setting your goals?  There are quite a few ways.  For me, it is always a list that I feel is attainable within the year.  Most goals require some effort, but should not be out of reach.

I recommend that you use the SMART technique; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.  Search SMART on Google.com for many writeups on how to do this.

My Interesting Conclusion

I have always found that goals, written down and kept handy, are the best way to ensure consistent growth in your business and personal life.  Keep them handy and visible, such as pinned to a wall, PC desktop image, the default homepage on your browser, etc.

I claim that my conclusion is ‘interesting‘ for this unintentional, unconscious result.  A few years ago, I created a list of items I wanted to accomplish on a yellow legal pad.  It was not titled as a set of goals, but they were just that.  Then, I promptly lost that pad.  A little over a year later, I found this pad and its list.  As I looked down the list, I realized that I had accomplished over 75% of the ‘goals’ on that list.

Simply writing down the ideas in my head may have been the thing to push me forward and complete those goals.

What about you?

Do you prefer Goals or Resolutions?  Do you wait until a certain point to start a resolution, or dive right in?  Do you set goals for your business and personal life each year?  Have you in the past and did it work?  Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

Definition Source: Dictionary.com

Big Budget, Low Quality… Why?

I am not that creative…
I don’t use Photoshop well…
I rarely create something with gloss…

But I don’t have a HUGE budget, either!

So tell me this…

With large hotel tax budgets, why are so many of the websites for official cities, counties and states just not up to step with current trends or even visual appeal?

When I want to redesign a website and I can’t hire a professional to do it for me, I search for similar websites to find trends and examples.   Note: I work better in the backend of a website than the front.

Just now, I got tired of searching through official state/city/county websites around the US for nice examples of design – rated for 2010!

Maybe I am wrong about all states and localities getting revenue from taxes (like the 4% hotel tax in PA that specifically goes to tourism related organizations).  Maybe they don’t have the budget.

What is so bad about the sites?

I see too many examples of crammed design – small, narrow websites, with small text and no spacing for the copy.  Images that are small and boxed in.  Hard to read, too much going on.  Maybe there is just that much to tell.

How often should sites be updated or redesigned?  Is that the budget restraint?

Why Am I Ranting?

Yeah, why am I ranting?  Well, I get slightly jealous when I see these designs that I know I can’t even come close to duplicating.  I tear my hair out (ok, the hair has been gone for years) trying to replicate something even close!

I am ranting because I know the budgets of these organizations.  I know the prices that some of these design firms are charging.  And I think that the touring, visiting, hungry citizens (that pay for this) are getting shortchanged.

They are not all bad…

True – I am really looking for cutting edge design in these sites, or at least an update.  I guess the toughest part for most sites that I visited – is that I started with the site I feel sets the best example:  Visit Philly.com

Q: Am I setting my expectations too high? Let me know in the comments below…

How I Doubled Daily Visitors

About the Website

I built a website back in 2006, coded with FrontPage (yeah, I just hadn’t switched at that point) and custom coded with PERL for the database elements.  You could search, view and rate restaraunts.  That was about all you could do.  I was a nice website, served its purpose which was to provide information on local establishments.  No reviews, no categories.  Not WordPress!

What I Did

For this case study, you have to start with a not-very-user-interactive site.  This one did have voting and a top ten list, but nothing else.  Essentially, I moved the original site over to a WordPress operated CMS site.  By going to a WordPress site, I added (instantly) reviews (as comments), more searchable listings, categories and tags.  No extra effort on my part.

The Hard Part

It was time consuming to update all the listings from the original site and enter them as posts on the new site.  I know there are plugins that can take a CSV or Flatfile and update that database to posts, but I have not found a free one that worked to my specs; and I did not want to pay for a plugin at this point.  [Anyone have a suggestion?]

So, I watched TV, entered listings from notepad and over a couple of evenings had all my listings posted.

So Why do I say ‘Easily’

Granted, that grunt work was especially draining.  Doubling my visitors was easy, because now I had a new system, set up to be more keyword, title and overall site friendly than it was before.  Adding listings became easier when needed.  Updating listings is also a breeze.

I was also able to add a few plugins.  Plugins are easy.  Restaurant voting, easy… search “Post Ratings”, review the install, and click ‘activate’… done.  Add the plugin for Google Sitemap, activate… done!  Easy.

Users started interacting more.  More votes, user reviews and more REPEAT visitors!

Check out the Stats and my Analysis!

Statistics

The actual growth in visitors  for the beginning 9 months of last year compared to this year was actually 87%, so I didn’t really double, but it is close.

Pageviews/Pages per Visit is an interesting stat combination.  My visitors are viewing 35% less pages per visit – which in turn reduces my pageviews from a doubling to only 20%.  There are a couple of factors that cause the reduction in pageviews.  First was the voting script.  The original site caused 3 page views if a user voted.  The new version is AJAX, so no reload, only one pageview.  Also – I believe that my visitors are hitting the page they want right away, instead of having to dig through the site (see Bounce Rate).  So, am I providing a better resource and hitting better SERPS?

My Bounce Rate has climbed 65%!  This could be interpreted as disappointing – but I am going to spin it a little.  I believe that my visitors are landing on the right page – the first time – and possibly leaving my site for the restaurants website.  If this is the case, I can be satisfied that my visitor is getting the best results for their time spent, which may also be the reason that time spent on the site is also down.

New Visits are down as well.  What is the spin on this one?  If I have more visitors overall, but the percentage of new visits is down by 3.5%, then I am still seeing an increase in total new visitors.  But… visitors are also finding that this website is a good reference, bookmarking or emailing it to a friend, and coming back!  Checkmark that as a plus as well!

Final Reflections

Even though this site isn’t a wildfire with daily visitors (around 100/day), the site has maintained the incresased traffic for nine solid months.  Take from this what you will, but I recommend that you do one of two things;  improve sites you own by finding better backends like WordPress;   and/or find websites that have not been optimized with a system like WordPress, buy it, update it and you might just double the value of the site … or more!