December 28, 2011
Website Gardening Techniques III: Guidelines for New Technology Tools
There’s an annoying piece of graffiti I see almost every day on my running route in Tremont. “Don’t believe the hype,” the graffiti says. So I start thinking, “What hype, which hype?” The graffiti annoys me because I do know that some hype is actually relevant hype; some hype is about new ideas or technologies that actually have utility in the real world.
And I bring this up with respect to QR codes. I’m sure you’ve seen them already on flyers, on posters… they look like weird bar codes.
A QR code can be read by your smartphone using an app. You run the app, point the smartphone’s camera lens at the code and it can scan it and take you to a website.
The utility of QR codes is that they eliminate a lot of typing on tiny cell phone keypads. From a marketing perspective, using QR codes on your printed material shows that your business or organization is on the leading edge with a popular, useful trend.
You can receive the most benefit from QR codes by using them wisely and in contexts where they make sense. For instance, Lake Metroparks has started to use them on outdoor plaques. Their code conveniently links to maps and a lot more information about nature, helping the park district to make these outdoor signs much more interactive.
You can generate your own QR code here: http://qrcode.kaywa.com/.
This is a win-win situation because it doesn’t cost much (just a voluntary donation) to use QR codes.
There are many other win-win tools for engagement out there for organizations and businesses, such as Facebook, Google Places, Groupon and Foursquare.
So how does one sort through all this and decide what to do? When you evaluate whether to invest your organization’s time and/or money in technology, you might want to think about these guidelines:
Is the business providing or assisting with the technology local?
In today’s economy, it is a good idea for local businesses to do business with each other when possible, and there are distinct advantages to this. Local businesses can respond more to your needs and provide more personal relationships. The longevity of the local business is a good factor to consider as well.
Is the technology sound?
Does it work well on multiple platforms if this is a criterion for the application of the technology?
Is the technology reasonable for your business’s or organization’s application?
Place yourself in your potential customers’/web users’ shoes and think how they would use the technology. Is it difficult to use? Easy? Intuitive? Does it make sense for your business or organization, or is it just gimmicky?
Is there a long-term commitment to supporting the technology?
Invest your efforts in a business that focuses on its core offering. Even if a business is huge, such as Facebook, this doesn’t necessarily translate into a long-term commitment toward a technology. For example, Facebook stopped its Facebook Deals program after running it for only four months.
Does the technology have a strong developer base?
Some free tools (such as WordPress) are successful because they have a strong developer and user base, even though the offerings are free. The more users and developers a particular technology has, the more likely it will be around for a long time. If you are not familiar with current web trends, it may be difficult for you to determine if there is a strong developer base. In this case, consult with a web professional before investing a lot of your time.
In conclusion, there are plenty of tools for engagement in the Web world. Evaluate them carefully, then go ahead and engage!
Lakenetwork is a family-owned business providing website design and development for companies, professionals and organizations in the Cleveland, Ohio area and beyond. We specialize in providing the most cost-effective and appropriate solutions for clients’ online needs. We are located in Eastlake, Ohio.