Thursday, November 19, 2015

USA Today: Department Stores are Being "Killed" by Specialty, Online Retailers

From USA Today (November 19, 2015) under the headline: Here's What's Killing Department Stores - The subhead answers the question: Specialty, online retailers are winning over consumer with better selection, prices.

The story outlines the struggle traditional retailers are having with an anemic 1.2% average revenue growth projected for Q4 compared with 15% growth for Internet and catalog retail. This confirms the long-term trend we've seen (since 1996) when we expanded our brick and mortar retail operations to include an online catalog. Over the next seven years our Internet business grew to be much larger than our traditional retail stores, and a leader in our segment. (We subsequently sold the company to a venture capital firm in 2003.)

Not that doing business online is easy. But working with companies across a wide range of industries over the last dozen years we've noted some common features among those who build successful online businesses. These include a deep understanding of their core customers, a compelling value proposition, and a willingness to invest in both operations and marketing.  When those pieces come together, the results can be gratifying. Unless you're a one of the big department stores. Here's a link to the USA Today article:

Here's What's Killing Department Stores

Friday, October 16, 2015

Multi-Language Website Redesign Enables Expansion into Global Market

The redesigned website is clear evidence of our client's strategy to grow their business in the global market.  It's also the most extensive multi-language project we've ever done, with five languages available, including English, Spanish, French, German and Portuguese.

We've been helping PromoQuip with website design, development and online marketing services for the last five years. During that time the company has continued to grow and evolve, developing innovative new products to serve an expanding base of Fortune 1,000 customers, many of whom have a global presence. The multi-language functionality of the new website is designed to help PromoQuip execute on their long-term, international growth objectives.

Here's a link to the launch press release with additional comments on their business and strategy from the company's founder and president: PromoQuip Launch Release

Thursday, October 8, 2015

New Printek Website Showcases Focus on Mobile Printing Market

We launched a new website recently that's noteworthy not only because of the site’s elegant, clean design, but more importantly because of the strategic thinking behind it.  Our client is Printek, based in Benton Harbor, MI.  They design and manufacture a wide range of mobile printers that are used all over the world.  Because they have a long history in commercial dot-matrix printers they wanted to clarify their strategic shift toward mobile in their global marketing and branding, with fully responsive mobile design.  We worked closely with their management and marketing team designing and implementing the new site to accomplish these objectives. You can see the results here:

This project could be a case study demonstrating how a well-conceived business strategy drives design and development in a clear, coherent way.  Here’s a link to the launch announcement with comments from their President and COO: Printek Launch Announcement

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Website Redesign Highlights Birth Center's Home-Like Environment

Our latest website redesign project was a first! Over the last dozen years we've worked with clients in all kinds, from retail to manufacturing, to high-tech, the arts, and non-profits. Now we can add birth center to our list. The Goshen Birth Center project gave us the opportunity to explain the benefits of a nurse-midwife supported birth as an alternative to traditional (in the hospital) child birth. The website is an information resource on water birth and the role of certified nurse-midwives in providing a safe, relaxed, birthing experience. Here's a link to the release with more info: Goshen Birth Center Launch Announcement

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Java and Flash Both Vulnerable to Attack (Again)

We noted a recent post in ARS Technica (UK) that Java and Flash are both vulnerable (again) to 0-day attacks. These weaknesses in the code could allow hackers to install malware on end-user computers or potentially execute malicious code remotely. Adobe issued an advisory saying the bugs in Flash will be patched.

Meanwhile, Google announced they would start blocking Adobe Flash ads on their Chrome browser on September 1. With Flash ads now defaulting to "pause" users will have to "click" to play the ads. (We say "fat chance".) With a little more than half of all desktop computers running Chrome this is a big deal to advertisers. Firefox too blocked Flash due to security concerns.

With repeated security concerns and performance issues we saw this coming and shifted our website development work to HTML5 like three years ago. Given these latest developments we recommend making this shift sooner rather than later.

For more on this, check out the article posted at Business Insider:

Business Insider article: Adobe Flash is Dying a Death by 1,000 Cuts

Monday, July 27, 2015

New Traffic Safety Website Streamlines RFQ Process

We recently launched a new Website at to improve our client's RFQ process. They custom quote quantities and shipping rates on a wide variety of traffic safety products they sell and ship nationwide. This makes shipping cost a significant variable. We used a combination of design and technology to help solve the problem. Here's a link with details on the launch: New Traffic Safety Website Announcement 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Redesigned Website to Build Support for Hiking Trail Volunteer Group

We just launched a completely redesigned Website to help build membership for Prairie Trails Club, a group dedicated to the expansion of hiking trails in North Central Indiana. The addition of a "Join" function now allows visitors to quickly and easily support the clubs efforts by both memberships and donations. Here's a link to the launch announcement: New Website Highlights North Central Indiana Segment of American Discovery Trail

Friday, July 3, 2015

Our "Growing Your Business" Workshop coming July 16 at National College

I'll be putting on a workshop entitled "Growing Your Business:Website Design and Optimization" on July 16th, starting at 10:30 AM at National College in South Bend, IN. The program is being sponsored by SCORE Michiana. Over the course of this 90 minute program I'll walk through and explain the three step process we use to design and market compelling websites that help businesses reach their strategic objectives.

Here's a link where you can register if you'd like to attend: Growing Your Business Registration

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Recommended read: "The Unexpected - Breakthrough Strategies to Supercharge Your Business"

When Howard Brodsky and co-author Dustin Klein got in touch to request my input on their upcoming business strategy book, I have to admit, was scratching my head. While their credentials are impeccable, (Howard is co-CEO of CCA Global Partners, a $10B company with 3,000 locations worldwide and Dustin is the co-author of an Amazon #1 best seller), I wondered if anyone could possibly bring anything new to the subject of business strategy.

Having just read the completed text, I'm happy to report Howard and Dustin have indeed delivered a fresh take on turning your customer service department into a source of sustainable competitive advantage. (Michael Porter take note!)

The book's full title is The Unexpected - Breakthrough Strategies to Supercharge Your Business and Earn Loyal Customers for Life. It outlines a practical approach for transforming "standard" customer service interactions into memorable, loyalty building experiences. It's about delivering the kind of service that turns regular customers into enthusiastic brand advocates. It's noteworthy too that these customers for life now use social media to share their experiences creating amazing, credible "word-of-mouth" that can drive significant revenue growth and profitability.

Filled with real world examples, it's an easy, but an important and insightful read. (You'll find my comments and customer service experiences starting on pages 31 and 65 if you're so inclined.)  Given it's value and potential impact, The Unexpected is our latest "recommended read".

Here's a link to the website where you can read more or jump to the Amazon page where you can order a copy of the just published book in hardcover or as an eBook: 


Friday, April 17, 2015

Latest site launch illustrates how to build a more authoritative website

Our latest site launch illustrates a key step in building a more authoritative website: Lots of unique content presented in a well-organized, easy to understand way. Details in the announcement.

Monday, March 16, 2015

WSJ Article: "Thieves Steal Company Web Addresses"

I wanted to share and article from last week's Wall Street Journal; it's an important reminder on securing your company's Web address. The article was titled "Thieves Steal Company Web Addresses" in the March 12, 2015 issue of the WSJ. It led with the point that cybercriminals targeting businesses are stealing more than customer passwords and credit card numbers these days. Some are stealing the company's Web address (URL) itself.  

There are a couple of cautionary tales therein including; they had their Web address hijacked by Chinese cyberthieves. As a result they were offline for 11 days and lost an estimated $50,000 in revenue while they struggled to get control of their domain back. 

As the article explained, hackers use a variety of methods to gain control of a company's domain, including phishing emails that can capture a domain owner's keystrokes or passwords. Other "social engineering" methods are possible. You need up-to-date security software and solid internal processes to protect your company from these and multiple other hacking hazards.

I would add that cybercrooks (or your competitors) may also watch your domain ownership expiration date to swoop in and grab it the instant it becomes available. If that happens, getting it back can be difficult, and/or expensive. We suggest you purchase your domain for multiple years and that it's set to "auto-renew" to mitigate this risk,

Here's a link to the WSJ article: "Thieves Steal Company Web Addresses"

While new online security threats seem to come up every day, there are some basic steps you can (and should) taek to insure your IT "fences" have no glaring holes in them. We have a nine point checklist that might be a helpful reference. Let me know if you would like to have a copy and I'll fire it over. Click to Send Me an Email

Glad to assist. 


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Nasdaq breaks 5,000; is this dot-com bubble 2.0?

It was March 2000 when the Nasdaq last touched 5,000 (briefly). It was a tumultuous time for those of us who were growing Internet companies in the midst of the late 90's dot-com bubble. Now, fifteen years later, the Nasdaq is back in the 5K neighborhood, which leads to the question: Is this dot-com bubble 2.0?  We don't think so.

While there are some overvalued individual companies, the larger composite index is in a very different place today. There's real cash flow. PE ratios are rational. And the Nasdaq's recent performance generally in line with the S&P 500 and Dow. But in the interest of considering both sides of the "bubble 2.0" question, check out this video on CNBC.

Friday, February 27, 2015

IndigoH2O wins Gold in international water tasting competition!

Precept client, IndigoH2O picked up another medal in the Berkeley Springs water tasting competition, this time a Gold! We're proud to have worked with Yuri from the very start. We credit his success to his perseverance, hard work, creativity, and incredibly good water! Details here.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Collaborative Side of Web Development

Illustrating the collaborative side of website development Precept worked with company founder Carol Lee providing technical and design guidance to help her launch a new site; details on WebWire

Thursday, February 19, 2015

IndigoH2O Goes to the Oscars

Precept client IndigoH2O will have their signature bottled water in this year's Acadamy Awards  swag bags. Details in today's front page South Bend Tribune story...IndigoH2O Goes to the Oscars

Friday, February 13, 2015

Restoration Project Protects Native Plants and Animals

Precept client R-Value Foam has announced completion of a restoration project that helped protect native plants and animals. Here's a link to their release: R-Value Press Release