Spam - universally disliked.

Plugins to minimise your comment spam

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Spam - universally disliked.We all hate spam - the electronic kind, that is, although I haven't heard of anyone except tv presenter James May who likes the tinned stuff! Spammers are sophisticated and relentless, and use 'spambots' - automatic spamming - to leave nonsense comments on your website or contact form data. Typically you receive notification of comments and forms via email, and who needs more junk email?  Thankfully there are measures you can take to keep these pests at bay. Mortein for the Internet. With WordPress' modular construction, we use Plugins to combat spam (as well as add some amazing functionality to sites). One of the most popular for killing off spam is Akismet, which is free for personal sites or via a donation should you wish, and via a monthly billing system for high-traffic, commercial or money-making sites. It's very thorough - it stops 99% of spam comments making it to your inbox. Akismet comes bundled with WordPress even though it's a third party application. It is THAT effective. We've been using it until recently. However... I've recently discovered that Akismet uses its own server to process data. What's the problem with that? Well, as far as your readers are concerned, their data is being sent to a third party server, including their IP address. This could raise privacy issues and potentially make some of your readers annoyed with you. We are currently trialling Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin on most of our client sites as a result of a successful trial on this site. It has a growing reputation, and works on the client side, not the server side. In other words it sits on your website and does it work, not on a third party server. People leaving comments have to simply tick a box to prove they're human and not a spambot. Because of the coding behind the plugin, the tickable box is invisible to spambots. So - no tick, no submit comment. For you, the user, it's easy to configure; if you wish you can simply install it and not touch a single option. It's free to use - which is often something our small business clients take into consideration. We will be trialling AntiSpamBee next on this site and will roll out to interested clients in the new year if we like it and think it's as good as its reputation. Again, it's a free plugin. It also sits on the client side and doesn't use any third party servers to block spam. Mollom is a big player in the anti-spam stakes, and offers a free version as well as a paid one. The downside with the free version is that you must wear the Mollom logo on your website. Paid plans start from 30 Euros a month, so depending on the rise and fall of the Australian dollar, this could either be a cheap or expensive option for a small business owner. Another possible point of contention is that data is sent to Mollom's servers; there's that third party issue again. If you'd like to try any of these spam-fighting heroes on your site, contact us and it shall be done.
hr2go vital people

Websites: HR2GO Vital People

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hr2go vital peoplePamela Dickerson provides HR services to companies of all sizes across Australia from her base in Dubbo, particularly in the mining and construction industries.  She needed a site which would load quickly and allow visitors to buy and download documentation. Once again WordPress provided the appropriate solution for Pamela's needs.
Charles Alexiou

Websites: Charles Alexiou

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Charles AlexiouThe brief for this sleek monochrome site was clear: simple and elegant, with the ability to feature a full screen image portfolio. Charles Alexiou is a designer specialising in full fit outs for new or renovated properties - although he is planning a retail upgrade to the site, offering merchandise which will allow them to have a little of the Charles Alexiou luxury look in their own home. We are also planning on developing the site in a number of languages, as Charles works internationally.
Africa Australia Infrastructure Conference

Websites: Africa Australia Infrastructure Conference

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Africa Australia Infrastructure ConferenceThe inaugural Africa Australia Infrastructure Conference will be held in September 2012 in Sydney and is organised by one of our long-standing clients OctoberFirst Consulting. The conference website is evolving as the event draws near to include the ability for online registrations and payments. At the time of writing - November 2011 - interested parties can download sponsorship information and pre-register for the event. Like many of our sites we are also responsible for all graphics on the website.

Websites: Eastwood Chamber of Commerce

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Eastwood Chamber of Commerce This is another site we have revamped from an original we built a few years ago. Eastwood Chamber staff wanted the ability to update their own site, and they also wanted one that looked more up to date. WordPress was an obvious platform, and the theme we chose has a specific Events post feature which automatically ceases to display invitations once the event date has passed - a perfect choice for a Chamber of Commerce. In this case we also provided the capability for the site to display several pages in Chinese and Korean. The number of multiple language pages is small at the moment but may grow with the site. We've covered more about this site in our blog. Thanks to the Sitepress Multilingual plugin, adding the ability to have Chinese and Korean pages was a breeze. A bit of a tweak in the PHP database made sure the characters displayed properly. The translation works throughout the site, taking into account info on posts and pages, but also dates and other information. Lovely.
Devine Law at Work

Website: Devine Law at Work

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Devine Law at WorkElizabeth Devine with her law practice Devine Law at Work has been a client for several years, and we persuaded her it was time for a rebuild so she could manage her own site through the WordPress CMS and also enhance her site with a business blog - something she'd been considering for a while. We chose a theme which handles FAQ beautifully with an easy-to-use custom FAQ module as her site has an extensive FAQ - likewise events, as Elizabeth is a popular speaker on legal and IR/HR law matters. We're confident Elizabeth is going to really enjoy editing her site and adding blog posts. At the time of writing, November 2011, the site has only recently been launched.

Monitoring your social media channels

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How much time each day should you spend monitoring your social media channels and seeing what people are saying about you or your business? An hour? Two? It sounds too hard, doesn't it? What about ten minutes a day? While you're sipping your morning cuppa. I found an excellent resource on Hubspot which explains how social media works to market your company, in case you're unsure or sceptical, and also how to monitor what people are saying about you and how to measure the impact on your business, i.e. what percentages turn to leads. This is a slideshow and while it unashamedly plugs Hubspot at the end, the information supplied is valid and relevant. If you're spending too much time monitoring your social media and wondering what to make of it, I suggest you view the show and enjoy your next morning cuppa. Here it is:

Google+ for business – grab your page now

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Google+Google announced this week that it had extended Google+ to allow users to create pages for their company or organisation. Get in quick, particularly if you have a business name that could be confused with someone else's. Why should you? It's an extra SEO boost for your company, as you can link your own website with your Google+ page. Andrew Cherwenka of The Huffington Post explains it rather nicely in this article. We know that Google wants its new service to not only rival Facebook but knock it out of the water. Google+ is a cloud service whose file-sharing abilities are a boon for organisations as it works hand in glove with Google Docs - and we know that Facebook doesn't have an equivalent. Picture a group of contractors, all working on the same project, sharing their files in real time on Google+. They are all in the same 'circle' and people outside that circle can't see or access the file. Rather than emailing files back and forth, files are checked in and out in real time. For small business, Andrew Cherwenka has a comment to gladden your heart: "Google Plus makes it pretty easy to sort followers into groups (they call them Circles) and send targeted, relevant messages to these smaller audiences. Brands can create robust content calendars with posts intended just for certain cities, ages, gender and languages. Imagine Pizza Hut sending a family dine-in update to 35-year-old mothers in Toronto and a take-out offer just to 22-year-old guys in Thunder Bay. To brands, that's gold." We're experimenting with the new business page for Google+ at the moment. It's superbly easy to set up. Within five minutes of setting the page up we had it linked to the sociables section on this website. Finding the contacts to go in circles is slightly harder. Unless your contacts fill in relevant information and add an image you can recognise, you may well be adding the wrong John or Jane Smith to your circles. We'll keep you posted.                  

Websites: Catitude

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CATitudeOur own cat herder Sabrina Ferguson loved working on this job. Being a cat person, searching through image libraries with client Sharon to find the perfect photos of cats to enhance this site was a task made in heaven for her. First of all we created the CATitude logo based on Sharon's requests for look, style and colour. Colours decided, the website evolved quickly, with a delivery time of three weeks from shaking hands on the initial deal. This is another WordPress site, using an extremely easy to use yet good-looking template. The brief was light, bright and white with accents of blue and also an acid green. We chose images that blended with that cool, modern colour palate, with plenty of deep-etched or isolated cat images. Clients can book a consultation online, book Sharon’s services and pay for them online without leaving the site. CATitude offers a cat sitting service on Sydney’s lower north shore, so you can leave your cats at home while you’re away. Cats get terribly stressed when you put them in boarding facilities, so Sharon visits up to twice a day, feeding, brushing and playing with your cat or cats. Having worked with Sharon to build this site, I can recommend her; she’s studied cat psychology, has a remarkable Siamese who is almost human and she LOVES cats. Yours couldn’t be in better hands. As she says, it’s all about the cat.