Choosing Your Domain Name – Some Common Mistakes

If you’re planning to build a website for your business, picking a good domain name (or names) is helpful. You’ll make it easier on your potential visitors if you have something that reflects your business (or you), is spellable, and can be typed fairly easily. If you manage to have a good search engine keyword in there, that’s a bonus. To illustrate, it’s often helpful to see the wrong way. Some examples that I see frequently:

Gratuitous Hyphenation

This one comes from good intentions. Let’s say you’re thinking of using the phrase “West Philly Cheese Steaks”, which is your company name. People are sitting in a meeting and somebody writes “” on a board. Someone says that “westphillycheesesteaks” is really long and doesn’t look like a word. Spaces in a URL don’t work, so they try “” instead. More readable! Just one little problem – if someone is trying to type that name, they will tend to have trouble.

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Updating Your Own Website with a CMS – It’s Possible, To a Point

Most of the websites I develop have features that allow the site owner to update the site content themselves. This may consist of adding articles, blogging, adding photos, putting in calendar entries, and lots of other things. All of this is great – you don’t have to call (and possibly pay) your web developer every time you want to change something; the DIY spirit is thriving! If your site needs mostly have to do with adding and changing text, and you have a good level of computer proficiency, this can be very simple and work extremely well.

But there are limitations. If you’re the type of person who responds more to pictures, photos, colors, and other graphically-oriented material, this becomes much trickier. I ran into this recently with a client. He wanted his site to have very strong visual impact, and he wanted to be able to make this happen himself. Text was not as important to him. With any content-management type of system, your main tool is an editor application. His first complaint was that he could not get enough font size and style variations. Despite my love of graphics, I am a very text-oriented person, and often take pains to warn clients against too large fonts, too much bolded text, and other things that make you look like you’re shouting, have bad taste, or have simply had too many testosterone shots. He was not deterred, though. 🙂 We clearly disagreed on some issues, but in the end I had to agree that if he sees his thoughts that way and wants to express them that way, it’s valid.

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Quietly Blocking Your Friends

Have you ever stuck any of your friends in the spam filter? Maybe “acquaintances” is a better term – in some cases people I know have added me to their mailing lists without asking, and just started spamming away. Of course, people who have enough of a clue to be courteous will give you an opt-out link on the email, or at least they’ll ask you to let them know if you don’t want to receive the missives. And then you have everyone else, and best of all, they don’t know who they are.

At first, upon receiving 10-year-old jokelists or unwanted commercial emails from people I knew, I would politely explain that I’d be glad to get jokes they’d written or personal messages, but not impersonal stuff that doesn’t interest me. Predictably, this caused offense no matter how I worded it. In our peculiar online world, if I tell someone that I don’t want to see an old jokelist, that shows that I hate the sender, or that I’m just being a jerk. After all, as I’m helpfully reminded by bumper stickers, mean people suck!

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Is It Possible to Like Ads? Yes: Stephanie Courtney

Stephanie Courtney

I consider myself a very cynical person about advertising. I know it’s crucial for product promotion, keeping the economy going, and all that. But it often seems like people are trying to trick you into doing something. And sometimes, they truly are. Or the advertiser assumes that you’re an idiot. And sadly, there may be enough idiots out there who actually will buy the product, perpetuating the ad stupidity cycle. And possibly worst of all, a lot of it seems like pure lies, plain and simple. The old-school, foot in the door, say anything, keep the relentless pressure going even if the subject/victim is clearly indicating that they’re not interested – this approach is incredibly annoying, but still widely practiced.

Fortunately, it seems that a lot of ad execs now understand how cynical people are, and have adapted. I’m finding that more and more ads are actually fun to watch, and I never thought I’d say that. Wit, creativity, and charm seem to be coming back into style. How quaint! Verizon had an ad where two young kids were very slowly and patiently telling their parents how to use a cell phone. The parents had the innocent, nervous look of children on their way to the first day of school. The reversal of roles and the spot-on acting made it absolutely hilarious.

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Philadelphia – Brief Verbal Snapshots of Our Visit

Here are some of my impressions of our Philadelphia trip. This is a work in progress.

Upon arriving in Philly on Amtrak, the gorgeous station made for a dramatic welcome to the city. The warmly-colored marble extended far upward in an enormous art deco style main room with long, vertical line motifs. I reflected upon how New York had allowed the original, beautiful Penn Station to be demolished, to be replaced with the crummy one they have today, and how nice it was that Philly had not let a similar thing happen.

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Dear Mrs. Pelley, My Favorite Teacher,

School can be a peculiar place. Though lack of work reliably produces failure, having intelligence is no guarantee of satisfaction or success. Obviously there are multitudes of other factors that interfere with academic success, such as extremely bad family backgrounds, terrible neighborhoods, and dozens of other problems which I won’t tackle here. In retrospect, I, … Read more