[On Web] Marketing lessons, press release, SEO and more

Here is the list of some good articles I read this week and last week:

  • Marketing Lessons from the US Election: Seth has written this great post on some of the marketing lessons from the US Elections. Some main points:

    Stories really matter: Mainstream media isn’t powerful because we have no other choices. It’s powerful because they’re still really good at writing and spreading stories, stories we listen to and stories we believe.
    TV is over: Your challenge isn’t to scrape up enough money to buy TV time. Your challenge is to make video interesting enough that we’ll choose to watch it and choose to share it.
    Permission matters: Anticipated, personal and relevant messages will always outperform spam. Regardless of how it is delivered.

  • Dharmesh Shah talk at Business of Software: Dharmesh Shah has posted the video of his talk at “Business of Software” conference on his blog OnStartups.

    Your idea can suck. Just get started.
    You can be in the middle of nowhere and still build a great business.
    Not having cash breeds good behavior. It’s helpful to have constratints.
    You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get your message out there.
    The real issue with VC is not the cost of capital (which is high), but how hard it is to actually raise it.

  • Making Press Release more SEO friendly: Sarah Evans has posted this article on Mashable with some good points to be kept in mind when doing a press release. Also, do read the this particular comment with a different view on the post. Some of the good points from the post:

    Use key words
    Hotlink and bold critical words (and phrases)
    Optimize first 250 words.

  • SEO Tips : Found this good article listing 55 quick SEO tips.

Incorporating a Private Limited Company in India

Himanshu has written a great post on this much asked topic on “Incorporating a Private Limited Company in India”. If you are new to the startup world or are planning to enter it soon, then do read it here.

Managing Information Overload

In todays world, there is so much (good and useful) information out there that it becomes too difficult to follow and remember all of it. A few days back, I was having a discussion with my partners at LifeMojo on how can we keep track of so much good information out there with the very little time that we have in our hand. In the discussion, I mentioned about the schedule that I have been following for the last 2 years without any problem for reading more than 50 good blogs daily:

  • First of all, use a good RSS reader. I prefer Google Reader.
  • Make a schedule to go through the blogs that you subscribe two times in a day. I prefer checking the blogs in the morning and night.
  • Read the article which interests you (based on your topic of interest) and if you think it might be interesting to others then share it with them.
  • If you think that there are too many good articles to read, keep the longer articles unread or bookmark it for future read.
  • Take out 60 – 90 minutes of time from your weekend and make sure you read all the articles that you could not read during the weekday. This way you don’t have a growing list of some good unread articles.
  • For the past 2 months, I have also started to blog summary of some of the very good articles that I read during the week and I think it has really helped me in going through the article in more detail.

Please also share your way of managing this information overload.

If you are new to the blogging world and need a list of some of the good blogs out there, just drop me a mail ar varun.vgupta[at]gmail[dot].com.

Key Elements of Top Websites

When you are designing and developing a web application, there are lot of details to consider. I stumbled upon this post on “15 Key Elements All Top Web Sites Should Have” and found some  excellent points. Here are some points that I would like to add to the list:

  • Web Optimized Images: The post also mentions this points but talks about using 72 dpi images for your website. I think there is a lot more you can do over here. You need to reduce the number of images. One way to do it without making any compromise to your visual design is to use sprites. Sprites is a way to create a single image containing multiple images and using the CSS background property to display these images.
  • Faster Page Load: Even if you have made a visually stunning website with a very good product, visitors are not going to stay on your website if it takes more than 8-10 seconds to load your website. Read this post on Yahoo’s developers Network if you haven’t already.
  • SEO Design: From the start, keep your design in favour of SEO. You just need to know of the key points in SEO design (listed in my previous posts here and here) and keep them in mind while developing. You will notice that your website is already SEO optimized.

Airtel displaying Ad Filled page on domain typos

I noticed it around 2-3 weeks back while setting up a sub-domain that Airtel (my ISP) is catching all the non-existant/non-available domains and subdomains and displaying their own page filled with ads.

[On Web] Startups in Bad Economy, SEO Cheatsheet, Jason’s Talk

Here is the list of some good articles I read this week and last week:

  • Startups in Bad Economy: There are lot of views being expressed on how the current economic situation will affect the startups. I really liked Paul Graham’s view on it.

    Fortunately the way to make a startup recession-proof is to do exactly what you should do anyway: run it as cheaply as possible. For years I’ve been telling founders that the surest route to success is to be the cockroaches of the corporate world. The immediate cause of death in a startup is always running out of money. The cheaper your company is to operate, the harder it is to kill. Fortunately it has gotten very cheap to run a startup, and a recession will if anything make it cheaper still.

    Remember the presentation given by Sequoia around 3 weeks back. Jason from 37 signals, has a totally different (and in my opinion a more correct) view on it:

    They also say that you “need to become cash flow positive” and “spend every dollar as if it were your last.” So what was their old advice? Did they encourage their companies to spend more than they had, skimp on quality, grow grow grow, take on more risk, and accumulate more debt? Was being cash flow positive not a favored strategy before the downturn? If it wasn’t then, when was it going to be? If you weren’t in a position to make money when times were good how are you supposed to be in a position to make money when times are bad?

  • SEO Cheatsheet: Found this very good SEO cheatsheet which can be very handy for quick reference if you some basics of SEO (my earlier two posts of SEO can be read here and here): http://anton.shevchuk.name/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/seo-cheatsheet.pdf
  • Jason Fried’s talk at Business of Software: It is a great talk given by Jason from 37 signals on Momentum, Focus, Planning, Interruption, etc. It is a long talk and if you don’t have time and then read these notes.

Choosing a Javascript Framework

Javascript frameworks have come a long way since I started working with them around 4 years back. There are a lot of frameworks available out there now which provides developers the ability to fight the cross-browser problems and enable them to do work more efficiently.

Here are some points to keep in mind when deciding which Javascript framework to use for your project:

  • Active community: This is very essential as when you run into some problem with the framework, you need some place to post your problems or search for solutions posted on similar problems. For this, there needs to be an active community.
  • Project requirements: Does the framework provides most of the functionality that your project requires ? One more thing to keep in mind is that you should not choose a heavy framework when your requirements are very light. For example, if your project requires very small DOM manipulation and no features like autocomplete or datatable, then avoid using a very heavy framework like YUI.
  • Support A-Grade Browsers: More than 90% of people in the world use A-grade browsers to browse the internet. So it is essential that the framework support all these browsers.
  • Framework History: Is the framework mature ? Does it have a dedicated core team developing it ? How often are the fixes/updates released ?
  • Documentation: This is essential to cut back on the learning cycle. If the framework is well documented and has a decent set of examples, the it becomes easy to adopt.
  • Framework Extensibility: If the project requires a feature not provided by the framework, can you implement that feature by extending the framework ? This also forms a community of developers around the frameworks, who releases their extension for others to use.
  • API Syntax: You get to notice this after you start writing code using the framework.

Some of the frameworks which follow most of the points above:

  • JQuery: This is the best framework in my opinion. It is light, easy to learn and easy to extend. There are lot of plugins available for any functionality that you may require. It has got a good following with even Google using it.
  • Yahoo UI Library (YUI): This is also a very good framework which provide lot of read-to-use javascript components like data table, autocomplete, in-window popups (Panels), etc. I have written about some of the problems in this framework in a separate post here. It is being used by Yahoo themselves and LinkedIn.
  • Mootools: This is also a nice framework like jQuery, but I have not used it myself. Here is a review on it.
  • Dojo Toolkit: It is one of the oldest framework out there with lot of ready-to-use components like YUI. Only downside with Dojo has been its documentation.
  • Prototype: Prototype is a popular framework and one of the oldest like Dojo. I have used it initially just for its AJAX part, but it is more than that. There are lot of plugins available to extend its functionality. Development with prototype forces you to work in an object-oriented way by way of providing its own classes.

Overall, I will recommend everybody to explore jQuery for their project requirements. I have been using it very extensively in LifeMojo and will be writing about some of its good plugins in my next post.

[On Web] Effort, Patent Process, Tips before and and after funding

Here is the list of some good articles I read this week and last week:

  • Effort: Seth Godin has an intersting post on “Is effort a myth?”. He gives a four step list of things that if anybody can follow each day, he can become the fittest, best rested, most intelligent, best funded and motivated person in his office or his field:

    1. Delete 120 minutes a day of ‘spare time’ from your life. This can include TV, reading the newspaper, commuting, wasting time in social networks and meetings. Up to you.

    2. Spend the 120 minutes doing this instead:

    • Exercise for thirty minutes.
    • Read relevant non-fiction (trade magazines, journals, business books, blogs, etc.)
    • Send three thank you notes.
    • Learn new digital techniques (spreadsheet macros, Firefox shortcuts, productivity tools, graphic design, html coding)
    • Volunteer.
    • Blog for five minutes about something you learned.
    • Give a speech once a month about something you don’t currently know a lot about.

    3. Spend at least one weekend day doing absolutely nothing but being with people you love.

    4. Only spend money, for one year, on things you absolutely need to get by. Save the rest, relentlessly.

  • IP/Patent Process for Startups: Pluggd.in has two part guest post on the Patent process by Dilip of GreyB. Read the posts here and here.

    Your idea or invention should be:

    • Novel
    • Non-obvious
    • Enables
    • Written Description
    • Clear Claims
    • Best Mode
    • Patents are of vital importance to the commercial success of techno start-ups
    • A patent is a shield for competitors
    • A patent gives a strong position to negotiate with investors, an investor provides the conditions for a swift growth
  • Tips for Before and After your Funding: Medianama has this interesting post on tips for before and after your funding by Sanjay Anandram, Sanjiv Mittal, Manu Parpia.

Apart from this, last week was full of posts on the Sequoia Capital’s Doomsday meeting with its companies and the email sent by Ron Conway to his portfolio companies.

Time Breakdown of Webapp Development

Exactly my sentiments when I am developing the LifeMojo webapp.

Powerpoint Magic

Seth Godin has recently posted nine steps to powerpoint magic, do check it out:

Here’s the deal: You should have to put $5 into the coffee fund for every single word on the wordiest slide in your deck. 400 words costs $2000. If that were true, would you use fewer words? A lot fewer? I’ve said this before, but I need to try again: words belong in memos. Powerpoint is for ideas. If you have bullets, please, please, please only use one word in each bullet. Two if you have to. Three never.

More on it here.

On a similar note, Namit (My Partner at LifeMojo) pointed this video on “Present like Steve Jobs”. Do check it out: