Mary Higgins Consultancy

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Comments on your website: why and how?

Scattered Autumn Leaves

Are your comments scattered?

If you use a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress or Blogger you probably take it for granted that readers can interact with your content via comments. You might choose not to allow comments, and heavily moderate them, but you know it is easy to deal with whatever comes your way.

Recently one of my clients has been hit hard by spammers. We often see this go in cycles. I use Askimet on all my WordPress client sites and it does cut down the spam to nearly zero. Most of the time. But occasionally we will be targeted and have to suffer through the inconvenience of multiple spam messages appearing, waiting to be moderated.

I usually advise clients to have the WordPress ‘Discussion Settings’ as shown below because it is a fairly easy to do this, it encourages more people to comment, and any unwanted comments are screened before they appear.

Wordpress Discussion Settings

For the client in question, we closed comments on older articles, and the spam stopped clogging up inboxes. A few days later we were able to open the comments on older posts and no more spam.

Why allow comments at all?
You want people to read your site, and you want them to come back. One way of encouraging that is to allow comments. People can ask questions about your company, or the post you have written, and that dialogue is the first step in building a relationship. Yes, it does also give people a platform to leave negative comments. But isn’t it better to deal with that in a controlled way rather than ignoring a potential problem? Sometimes your critics can become your best advocates. A well-handled

What if you are not using a CMS?
This has always been a problem. You have a lovely HTML/CSS website but no CMS behind and no wish to add databases or any of that malarkey. So you are left with a site where no one can interact with you unless you funnel them off to somewhere like Twitter or Facebook. What can you do? Well, it looks like Disqus has come up with a solution that might just be the ticket.

Disqus has been around for a long time and the idea you can comment around the Internet and keep track of all your conversations is a very powerful idea. Now you can add this directly to your website even if you aren’t using a CMS. Once you have registered your website with Disqus (which is free) you can simply copy and paste the code onto your pages and away you go. There are various ways to track and moderate comments and the implementation appears to be straightforward and seamless.

How good is it?
I haven’t started using it, but I’d love to hear from anyone who is. Is this the solution HTML/CSS implementers have been looking for?

UPDATE:
I decided to try it out with a spare domain I had (don’t ask…) and it took less than 5 minutes to get it set up here:

Everything Cow screenshot

No comments yet, but the implementation was very easy. If you have a website and you want to allow comments, this could be the answer you’ve been looking for!

Florist Follow-up – Happy Valentine’s Day!

 Orchid and tulips at Mary Clark Flowers photo by Mary Higgins

Yesterday I talked about how important Valentine’s Day is to florists, and the preparations that Wendy from Mary Clark Flowers in Chillwack, BC, has been making for the last few weeks. Today I saw this posted by my friend Megan Lynch on Friendfeed (a fantastic social media community) about Florist Susan Occhino and her dispute with Amazon:

“…She says six weeks ago, when she started selling her goods through the mega online retailer, she was pleased to see sales go through the roof overnight — from about one order a day to 100.

But then Amazon pulled the rug out from under her floral joy.

“They said your account is currently under review because you’re very new, you have no feedback and we’re gonna hold the money up to 90 days,” Susan says. She claims she made over $10,000 in five days, but that so far she’s only seen $45.02 of that.

Susan needed those funds to buy more supplies for a very important holiday in the flower world — Valentine’s Day — so instead of leaving her customers in the lurch, she drained her bank account to ship what orders she could last week…”

From The Consumerist, Florist Drains Bank Account To Ship Valentine’s Day Orders After Amazon Holds Up Her Payments

 

This has a huge impact on Ms Occhino and it is not clear how the matter will be resolved. In the meantime there will be disappointed people who didn’t receive the flowers that were ordered for them today.

I’ll keep you posted on what happens with this story, and I hope your day goes well, flowers or not!

The busiest day in a Florist’s Year?

Mary Clark Flowers Valentine Roses by Mary Higgins

Valentine Roses at Mary Clark Flowers, Chilliwack

What day do you think is the busiest for a Florist?

Mother’s Day? Easter? Christmas?

Those are all busy times, but the single busiest day of the year is Valentine’s Day. One of my clients, Wendy, from Mary Clark Flowers, has been gearing up for weeks for the Big Day. Wendy has years of experience in floral design and knows the cyclical nature of the business. Her preparations start well in advance, almost straight after the Christmas rush, and it starts with making sure her suppliers can all accomodate the orders she will need fulfilling. Although there are perennial favourites like red roses, Wendy also likes to cater for more adventurous orders, too, and when clients know they want to create an individual statement with exotic blooms or unusual flowers, Wendy always knows where she can source the very best.

Mary Clark Flowers Valentine pic by Mary Higgins

Apart from running her business at Southgate Mall, Chilliwack, BC, Wendy also teaches the Floral Design Certificate at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV). The courses keeps her skills up to date and she is passionate about passing on her love of flowers and design on to a new generation. Learning how technology can make her life easier has been a priority, and she has incorporated new tricks into her everyday schedule that help with productivity. Learning how to organise and archive photos from her store and her teaching, and how to optimise pictures to send via email all make her life a little easier. She has already embraced blogging and is looking at moving to weekly updates.

There is even an handy Instructional: Quick Guide to Ordering the Perfect Bouquet for those people who are unsure on what ordering flowers entails. This has proved to be a very popular post, along with the ‘Christmas Countdown‘ series.

Knowing your business, your customers and the rhythms of the year is one ways you can ensure success. Preparation for the busy, and not-so-busy times is key to making sure things run smoothly. Do you know what your daily/weekly/monthly/yearly ups and downs are? Do you track them? Can you predict them? What changes do you make throughout the cycles?

Mary Clark Flowers Valentines by Mary Higgins

 

Do you communicate effectively with your customers?