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Is the Pixel Perfect? We ponder the new Pixel by Google

Is the Pixel Perfect? We ponder the new Pixel by Google

Is the Pixel Perfect? We ponder the new Pixel by Google

Did you know Google launched a new smartphone device last week?
It was a surprise on the day, but now you can't miss it.

The new Pixel Phone by Google has arrived and it means business.

Set to replace their Nexus range of products, Pixel is "the first phone built by Google inside and out".

Regular readers will know that we at iASP Central are difficult to please.
We aren't the types to jump ship to the latest gear, only to the greatest gear.

In the past we've liked the Apple iPhone 6, loved the Apple iPhone 6S, laughed at the Apple iWatch, and didn't even review the iPhone 7.

So let's find out if the Google Pixel will stick, or if it looks to be a dead Pixel.

The Hardware

Just like the Apple iPhone, the Google Pixel is available in two sizes - The Pixel and the Pixel XL - with the Pixel XL being the iPhone Plus equivalent.

And on paper, the new Google Pixel defeats the Apple iPhone 7 hands down.

Just the presence of a headphone jack will be enough for some to consider the argument over, but there are more important things to consider.

When you compare the two side by side, the Google Pixel is always slightly better than the Apple iPhone. Not surprising really.

This means the biggest differentiator will be between the operating systems and their ease-of-use.

The Software

As you know, Apple's iOS has won the global market in terms of usability.
The simplicity in learning how to use an iPhone for the first time is the root of the iPhone's success.

And while the Android OS has been available on several different devices (most notably the Samsung Galaxy), Android devices still haven't reached the benchmark set by the iPhone.
Nobody is walking around saying "I want it to be as simple to use as an Android".

Google's latest phone might just change this perception however.

And as always, it's the little-big differences.

For example, the Pixel is the first phone that has Google Assistant built into it.
And when you look at it, this could be a game changer.

Google Assistant is more than just a voice activated bot that you give commands to.
Imagine Siri, but with AI learning capabilities that enable it to remember past conversations, and understand you better each time you use it.

Plus, Google Assistant can be used in everything from your smartwatch, to your smartphone, to your car, to your home. It isn't just limited to one or two devices like Siri or Cortana. So you can ask Google Assistant to turn on your TV and start playing a Youtube video, from your car as you're pulling into the driveway.

Apple doesn't appear to have anything close to this capability... yet.

As Google's chief executive said during the launch, "Our goal is build a personal Google for each and every user."

This might be a little spooky for some people, but it does seem to be the future we are heading towards.

And what might just be the final nail-in-the-coffin, is the Quick Switch Adapter that comes standard with every Pixel phone.

One long-standing excuse for iPhone users to stay with iPhone was the excruciating task of transferring "everything" from an iPhone to an Android device.

Not anymore.

The Quick Switch Adapter allows you to transfer just about everything from any device running Android 5.0 and up, and iOS 8 and up, across to the Pixel phone.
And it doesn't involve any great depth of geek knowledge to do it.

The Verdict

The new Pixel Phone by Google is definitely a new challenger in the smartphone market. With features and functionality that is on-par with the Apple iPhone, the line that once clearly separated the iPhones from the Androids is becoming blurry.

If you do have an iPhone 6 or an iPhone 7, you won't find much reason to go out and get yourself a new Google Pixel today.

And if you aren't across all of Google's latest technologies (you're still a way off buying your first smart car, and building your first smart home), you probably won't get much more out of a Google Pixel phone than you would from an Apple iPhone.

But if your smartphone is getting on in years, and it's time to upgrade, you might want to give the Google Pixel a test run.

The Google Pixel is very comparable to the latest Apple iPhone.
The differences between the two for the average person will come down to your personal preferences.

Smartphone users now need to start considering the other smart-devices they use, and put device compatibility at the forefront of their buying decisions.

You'll either be an Apple user, or a Microsoft user, or now perhaps, a Google user.

What do you think about Google's new phone? Let us know on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.


How to Provide Basic Website Support Like a Legend

How to Provide Basic Website Support Like a Legend

How to Provide Basic Website Support Like a Legend

How many times have you walked out of a retail store after waiting too long for someone to help you?

I don't know about you, but my patience for that type of customer service is extremely low.

So imagine what the experience is like when you need to ask a retail website for help.
Only to receive the reply "Thank you. We've forwarded your enquiry onto our Web Developer. Please wait 2-5 days for a reply."

2 to 5 days! Ain't nobody got time for that!

The time it takes to help your online customers can be make or break for your online business.

Just like in the real world, it can be the difference between keeping customers, or losing them forever.

Don't be powerless in this situation however.
There is something that you and your staff can do to get the ball rolling while before you contact your Web Developer.

You can go through some pre-checks with the customer to see if there isn't a quick fix to the problem they are having.

In the industry, this is known as basic website support or level 1 support.

Providing basic website support is a straight forward process that just about everyone can do.

Let's break the process down into steps.

Step 1: Calm the Customer

Not every customer will need to be calmed, but you will get an angry, demanding customer from time to time.

So the first step is to try to bring the customer back onto your side.

Keep in mind that every website has it's moment. Every customer has their moment too.

But at the same time, you aren't the business, you aren't the website. You are the person trying to help them right now.

Communicate to the customer that this isn't a big deal.

The website could very well be broken, or it could be something else entirely.

But before you call in the Cavalry, you're going to have a look together to see if you can find what's going on.

Calming the customer might not always be possible. Some people will insist on being angry.

In these cases, just proceed to Step 2 as well as you can.

Pro Tip: The best way to disarm an irate customer is to be extra nice in return. Customers like these want to get a reaction from you, they want you to get as angry as they are. As soon as they realise that they won't get that reaction from you, they generally start to calm down.

Step 2: Identify and Reproduce "The Problem"

The second step is to identify the problem, and see if the same thing happens for you.

This will help you to determine where the problem is, and likely what the solution will be.

9 times out of 10*, the problem is from an external cause. User error, or an incompatible web-browser setting, or an up-stream issue with a service provider your website uses, or an issue with the customer's computer or Internet service.
(*Used as an expression, not statistically accurate.)

These are all issues you can't fix, but basic website support is about finding the cause of the problem, solving it if you can (or pointing the customer in the right direction). And if you can't solve it then and there, then you pass it on to the experts.

If the customer hasn't provided enough information for you to start investigating, ask them.
- What is it that you are trying to do?
- What steps are you taking to do it?
- Is any feedback provided, such as an error message?

Once you have this information, follow them step by step to see if you get the same result as the customer.

If you can reproduce the problem, then you know what it is and you can proceed to Step 4.

Maybe it's some bad data that is breaking website functionality. Or perhaps the customer was doing something incorrectly.
Either way, you've identified the problem, and you can communicate this to the customer. Problem solved.

Sometimes you won't be able to reproduce the problem, and everything will work for you as you expect it to.
This is where you need to put yourself in the customer's shoes.

Here you try to identify what else they COULD be doing to produce the problem they're having.
- Are they clicking a button too many times?
- Are they trying to do something on the website that they can't do, or aren't allowed to do?

If at this point, you're still unable to identify what is causing the problem, it's time to move onto Step 3 - basic troubleshooting.

Step 3: Basic Troubleshooting

If the customer is doing something they should be able to do, and the cause of the problem they're experiencing isn't immediately obvious, then it's time to go through basic troubleshooting.

Basic troubleshooting is a list of steps to start ruling out possible external causes for the problem (or hopefully identify and fix it).

For most websites, basic troubleshooting involves the following steps:

  1. Empty the cache (& cookies) of the web-browser, close down the web-browser, and try using the website again.
  2. Ensure that the web-browser has the correct settings and plug-ins required to use the website and that they are enabled. For example, check that Cookies are enabled in the browser,and Javascript is enabled, and that the browser security settings aren't set too high.)
  3. Try using the website in a different web-browser.

By now you have hopefully fixed or found the issue while trying the basic troubleshooting steps and you can proceed to the final step.

But if not, you've now ruled out those possible causes as being the cause of this particular problem.

So now it's time to escalate this problem to Level 2 Support, and proceed to Step 4.

Step 4: Inform the Customer of the Outcome

Step 4 is the most important step. Here you inform the customer of your findings and what happens next.

Clear communication is the key to this step.
Not everyone is a whizz on the computer, so try to explain the problem to the customer in a way that they understand.

Your findings will fall into one of the following categories:

  • You have identified the cause of the problem, and it is a problem that the customer must fix at their end.
    (User error, a problem with their computer or Internet, etc)
  • You have identified the cause of the problem, and it is not a problem the customer can fix.
    (Website error/issue, upstream service issue)
  • You have been unable to identify the cause of the problem, and need to escalate the issue to Level 2 Support.

In every case, inform the customer of the cause of the problem if you know what the cause is.
For example, the issue might be have been caused by a corrupt cookie in their web browser. Or it might be caused by a service outage that is affecting your website.

If your findings fall into category one, provide information to the customer that will explain what they must do to fix it.
You can provide links to webpages or forums with instructions that will help the customer. Or you can write up instruction templates or an FAQ for common issues.

If your findings fall into category two, then explain what you need to do to fix the issue for the customer.

And if your findings fall into category three, then explain that the issue looks to be serious, and you have sent it on to Level 2 Support for investigation.

When you can help the customer to understand how the problem came about, and what needs to be done to resolve it, most people will accept the outcome and be thankful for your help.

And There You Have It

Providing basic website support really is that straightforward.

So don't leave your customers waiting days to receive help to use your website.
Get the ball rolling by providing them with basic website support yourself.

Most website support is just a case of helping the customer get back to shopping again.

Sometimes the problem really is a bug. Many times though, it's a small glitch that can be fixed in minutes.

But by providing basic website support to your customers, you can keep the customer on your side, rather than get them walking off to another eStore.




Agree? Disagree? Start a conversation on the iASP Central Facebook Page or Get in Touch.


Coming Soon to an Internet Near You!

Coming Soon to an Internet Near You!

Coming Soon to an Internet Near You!

With not 1 but 2 of the most significant projects we're had the pleasure of producing on our schedule, apologies if we've skipped a Blog update or Two over these past few months.

As regular readers would be well aware we very rarely use this forum to spruik about our achievements, but in this case as they are so important to our stakeholders it justified an exception..

The first milestone was the March completion of the 12 months process of upgrading the iASP™ Powered Work Health and Safety Management Platform we've continuously developed on behalf of Employers Mutual Ltd. since 2010. 

The platform, which consists of several independently branded instances, including HEMsafe, is a Cloud-based system that provides all the tools and resources organisations across multiple industries need to manage their day to day WHS related obligations and maintain health and safety within their workplace.

While the upgrade included enhancements to the front-end public website, the primary focus was the Member-only features and functions.

The application framework was re-engineered to facilitate mobile device compatibility as well as improved desktop version usability.

Additionally, the entire platform was expanded from a single-user focus to an enterprise level application with the introduction of powerful access controls and extensive workflow and version controls.

Key new features include a new Workplace Homepage featuring several interactive dash-board like functions including a calendar based display of all relevant activities and reminders, which provides individual Users with instant access to all tasks that require action.

The second major project, which is scheduled for live launch next Monday, is a Strata Management platform which has been developed with the guidance of one of the largest Strata Management providers in Victoria.

StrataPort, which will launch with around 20,000 initial customers, is a Cloud-based platform that seamlessly integrates to existing internal Strata Management systems and then translates and publishes relevant information for individual Users in a secure, password protected environment that can be accessed from anywhere, anytime from any Internet connected device.

In addition to publication of all Building, Lot, Meeting, Insurance and other data, StrataPort capabilities include submission of "smart" requests such as Meeting Proxy Forms and Insurance Certificate of Currency Application Forms.

The system also features an integrated Support Ticket system that can be paired with external systems as required.

The launch of StrataPort and the generational upgrades to the WHS Management Systems reflect the evolution of the iASP™ technology platform into a truly Enterprise Level Application and marks the beginning of the most exciting stage of our journey to date.

We look forward to the future with great excitement.

Watch this space!


Keep in Touch

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And if you think we can help your business to improve with Enterprise Software, then Get in Touch.


What Ever Happened to Google PageRank?

What Ever Happened to Google PageRank?

What Ever Happened to Google PageRank?

When was the last time you heard anyone mention the term PageRank?

It's the benchmark of a successful website.
Or at least, it used to be.

Now it seems to be that 'thing' we all used to talk about, but shouldn't mention any more.


A Brief History of PageRank

PageRank was one of the first algorithms used by Google to measure the importance of a web page.

The logic was that web authors will link to useful or popular web pages more often than to less useful pages. Particularly those best suited to support the content they were writing about.

So PageRank counted the number and quality of links pointing to web page, and gave the page a ranking out of 10.

Each link was like a vote. The more links/votes a page has, the higher its PageRank (more or less).

This was then joined with the frequency of keywords on a page. So a web page could have different a PageRank for different keywords.

The general understanding of PageRank became:
When a web page has a high PageRank for a keyword, it will display higher in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Thus, the better the PageRank a web page has, the better a web page must be.

From this, web masters and other types soon found a way to take advantage of the simplicity of PageRank.

Achieving a high PageRank for a particular keyword became a lucrative and competitive business.

And then one day, it all just seemed to stop working.

New websites would get stuck on a PageRank of 0. For older websites, their PageRank seemed to be unresponsive. SEO efforts appeared to be ineffective in improving the PageRank.

As a web developer, this vexed me. I was terribly vexed (Gladiator reference). Why are the websites I build deemed worthless in the eyes of Google?

So like we all do when we want to know something, I Google'd it.

It turns out that we had all thinking about PageRank the wrong way, and Google responded to change this.


The PageRank Phase-Out

As far back as 2009, Google stated that site owners were focusing on PageRank too much. We were giving it more value than it actually had; and so Google were going to phase it out.

In October of 2009, Google removed PageRank measurements from their Webmaster Tools.

Other websites that allowed people to find their PageRank still existed though. So many failed to notice what Google were doing.

Then, in November 2014, Google stopped updating their visible PageRank feed. This was the source that the other online tools were using.

Google followed up a year later by announcing that there would not be any more updates to the PageRank feed.

You'll remember that this is about the time that the SEO community began to shift their focus to content.

And Google started to release new algorithms, and update their older algorithms.

The SEO community scrambled, trying to determine the new way to improve SEO. Searching for any sneaky advantage that they could.

Then Google started recommending everyone shift their focus towards creating 'quality content'.

And now we're back into the present.


So is PageRank dead or does it still matter in SEO?

PageRank is still 'a thing'. It's just had it's badge of honour removed.

PageRank will always be an important factor to determine the best results for a search query.

But webmasters shouldn't focus on PageRank as a definitive measure of success.


What's next then?

Search engine optimisation now encompasses a lot more than just keywords and links.

While keywords and links are still an important part of SEO, they are now a minor part of a larger set of metrics.

In fact, Search Engine Optimisation is such a large topic now, that it's better for me to point you to the masters.

Our first port of call is always the Google Webmasters website. This site explains the fundamentals of how search works. It also guide you to help Google find, index and rank your site.

If you're a beginner in SEO, I recommend heading to the Moz website next. Their SEO guides are easy to follow, and their free Moz tools are great to find where you should start first.

Then check out Majestic SEO for more tools to give you an in-depth view of your website.

Of course, you can keep following our Blog for the big updates in the SEO. And check our social media feeds for useful SEO tips and advice.



So if you're still using the PageRank of your website as a measurement of success, it's time to catch up.

You should now be talking in Conversation rates, Bounce rates and clickthrough rates.



Resources:



Agree? Disagree? Start a conversation on the iASP Central Facebook Page or Get in Touch.


A Review of eCommerce Predictions for 2016

A Review of eCommerce Predictions for 2016

A Review of eCommerce Predictions for 2016

2015 was an exceptional year for eCommerce.

Australian shoppers smashed the predicted $10 billion in online retail spending.

According to the National Bank of Australia, online retail spending in Australia increased by 10%, up to $17.6 billion1.

Early last year, we reviewed the industry predictions for eCommerce trends in 2015.

We reported that the major focus would be in the areas of mobile shopping, social media selling, and the combination of traditional marketing channels and digital marketing channels to provide a similar shopping experience for the customer.

mCommerce saw the biggest growth in 2015, helped in part by the growth in mobile device usage and the mobilegeddon that unfolded in the middle of the year.

We saw a serious shift in the capability to buy online direct from mobile devices rather than just gather information to support the customer's buying decision.

2016 is well under way now though, and it's time again to review the future predictions.

Here are the eCommerce trends tipped to be big for 2016.


Continued Growth in Online Markets

The good news is most industry leaders are predicting the strong growth seen in 2015 will continue well into 2016.

And like last year, mobile it tipped to generate the largest part of this growth.


It's all about the Customer Experience

Creating and improving the customer experience will be the main area of focus for eCommerce in 2016.

The marketing strategy of eStores will no longer target increasing the number of single transactions.

Instead, marketing strategies will focus on managing customer expectation and satisfaction every step of the way, including post-purchase.

Cheaper prices and free shipping will no longer be the differentiator between competing eStores.

Instead, online shopping will become a journey or an experience akin to shopping at Tiffany's.


Expansion of Marketing Automation

Over the past couple of years, e-Mail marketing has been almost completely automated.

It is not uncommon now for eStores to send a targeted e-Mail to a customer based upon particular activities, such as if the customer added items to their cart, and then left the website without completing the order.

This year, more marketing channels will become automated in a similar fashion.

Elements of a website such as banners, landing pages, even product descriptions will become automated to serve customized content targeted to the individual.

For example, I might return to a website several times to look at a particular product. The next time I return, I am served a banner advertising a promotional discount on that specific item, a discount just for me.

This level of automation is a tool to provide even greater personalized shopping experiences for customers.


More Social Media Selling

Selling on social media last year was been more like marketing and advertising, rather than a point-of-sale.

Several social media platforms tested and partly launched tools in 2015 to allow their users to buy products within the platform itself, without needing to visit the retailer's website.

In 2016, we will see these features become available to more retailers in more countries.

Soon it will become commonplace to see a post or a tweet with a Buy Now button.


A Higher Quality of Content

High-quality content will become a differentiator to attract and engage customers.

Faster Internet speeds have allowed video to become a viable method to deliver content. Product reviews, demonstrations, and instructional videos will become popular forms of content.

Website content strategy itself will become more about storytelling and entertainment.


In Conclusion

Prepare for 2016 to be another significant year for eCommerce.

Barriers that separated online shopping from traditional shopping will dissolve as new technology becomes viable and affordable to traditional retailers.

This will enable traditional retailers to compete in online markets again as the advantages that eRetailers have enjoyed up until now become less of an advantage.

Online shopping has now become just another part of shopping in general.



Resources: