Chats de Chatillon – the cat refuge with a HUGE heart

If you follow me or my business page on Facebook you might have noticed a bit of a cat-theme going on recently. That’s because I have been sharing stories and fund-raising posts about Chats de Chatillon, a cat refuge based near Parthenay, France. For those that don’t know the link between my business and the refuge, I’ll try and keep it brief.

A few weeks ago I received an email from my friend Micala telling me that a lady named Judy would be getting in touch. Judy had contacted Micala because she needed help with social media marketing and designing a new website. A few days later I had a call from Judy and I was quickly and easily persuaded to help design a new website and manage their Google My Business site. I learnt a lot about the cat refuge in that short call, but when I checked out the Facebook page, I was caught – hook, line and sinker!

My mission is to improve the business website, get more hits on their Google My Business page, and ultimately see more animals being adopted. 

The only way to navigate some administration hurdles with the original website was to start from scratch. Create a new site that would be quick and easy for Judy to update, and include a secure donation link. So I could focus on the Google site I enlisted Rob Smith to help with the website. As an experienced web designer he can do it much quicker and easier than me, and will host and manage the new site.

Devotion

So that’s where we are at this moment in time. Updating the Google site page is done by ‘yours truly’ every morning, using the Facebook posts that Judy writes. And Rob is meticulously creating a new site with English and French versions of each page.

I copy most of Judy’s posts word for word, because if you read any of her updates, every sentence demonstrates the love and devotion to every single one of the animals in her care.

Let me give you an example. This is the story of Blossom, who I was fortunate to meet on my visit at the weekend.

URGENT APPEAL for BLOSSOM

“We are launching an urgent appeal to find either a foster or adoptive family for this precious girl.
She is 5 years old and during this time has had 5 owners. The last owner dangled, and dropped her repeatedly from a 3rd storey apartment, amongst other acts of cruelty. In spite of this Blossom is very affectionate and has so much love to give. She wants nothing more than to be safe in a home, loved and cherished. She is very insecure with other pets and would need to be the only one.
Blossom has settled well into the refuge, but we cannot give this darling girl all the attention that she so badly needs. And it breaks our hearts to walk away from her to tend to so many others.
Normal adoption fees do not apply. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you think that you can help. Thank you”  

That was posted on the Facebook page on 28th June, and shared to the Google site the following morning. Yesterday, the day after my visit to Chats de Chatillon, Judy shared the fantastic news on Facebook that Blossom had been adopted!

BLOSSOM FINDS A FAMILY

My goodness, what an emotional and tearful week this has been. Will you please share our immense joy tonight knowing that BLOSSOM has found at last, a wonderful forever home, safe in the knowledge that she will be loved and protected for the rest of her life? Thank you so much to the kind family that have given her a future destined for happiness. In the short time that she has been with us, it has been a privilege to know such a beautiful, kind and forgiving little girl.

We shall miss you terribly Blossom, but your very special new family will be able to give you all what we cannot, and it time for us to let go. God bless you little pudding.

And that my lovely friends is why I am involved with this amazing cat refuge. I finally got to meet Judy and her husband Alan last Saturday. Myself and Debbie took a trip out with a car-load of cat food, cat litter, treats and toys donated by the good customers of the Ark79 Animal Charity Association.

Injured and abused

When we arrived at 11am we interrupted Judy’s daily routine of feeding, cleaning and cuddling. Each and every cat and kitten receives special individual attention. Some were abandoned, others are strays and a few have been injured, or abused, like poor Blossom.

At the moment every cabin is taken, and foster families are hand-rearing several orphaned kittens. One cabin holds Cleopatra and her little family, including two orphaned ones that she took under her wing. Another is the home of Trixie and her little brood. Next door, and in total isolation, is pretty little Pebbles who has been diagnosed with Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV). When she arrived Pebbles weighed only 1 kg and she was in a lot of pain. Because of her condition, it will be an extra special person that will adopt her.

Sponsored

There is some good news though. When the lovely people at Hot Tubs in France heard about the fund-raising, and Pebbles’ story they offered to sponsor her. They pay a set amount to Chats de Chatillon each month, which helps to pay for her ongoing treatment and the special diet that Pebbles needs. With the money received from other generous donations, the refuge is now able to buy a portable isolation unit, so that Pebbles can go outside of the cabin. She will still be isolated, but can’t infect any of the others cats. And she will be able to lie in the grass and feel the warm sun on the back.

I met Pebbles at the weekend, but sadly didn’t get a chance to cuddle her. I did leave her a few little tasty treats though. And when her noisy kitten neighbours quietened down, I saw her climb down to check them out.

Building up trust

I was very lucky to meet Clemence on Saturday too. Judy had previously told me that people often visit the cat refuge to help out or just to spend time with the animals. This benefits the cats and kittens because it gives them some extra special love and attention, and helps to build their trust. And in Clemence’s case, as soon as she saw the kittens her face lit up. She didn’t stop smiling, and is so gentle with them, and them with her. I’m sure she would move in with them if she could.

The time went too quickly though, and after an hour spent with three orphaned kittens who were causing mayhem in the living room, it was time to go.

Bittersweet

I listened to Judy and Alan telling us why they set up the cat refuge, and the rules and regulations they had to satisfy. And you cannot question their dedication and determination to provide a sanctuary for all these beautiful creatures. I wanted to take every single one of those adorable animals home with me, but I had to leave empty-handed. On the trip back with Debbie, we talked non-stop about which one was our favourite. But every time we mentioned one name, we came up with a dozen more.

Judy and Alan are hoping to take a day off soon to say Thank You in person to the lovely people at Ark79, and to Nicola and Tim from Hot Tubs In France when they are in Sainte Soline at the end of July.

Me and Debbie are already planning another day trip to the cat refuge. Until then I’m going to be extra nice to my hubby and see if I can persuade him to change his mind. I don’t want to be leaving Chats de Chatillon empty-handed next time.

Can you help?

With Micala’s help we are trying to raise vital funds for Chats de Chatillon cat refuge to enable them to keep doing their amazing work. We want to put together a lovely feline Pamper Hamper as a top raffle prize (for pampering a very lucky cat, not the cat’s owner!). If you can help by donating cat-related products, such as grooming brushes, treats or toys, please get in touch. Donations need to be received by 10th July so that we can start advertising and selling the raffle tickets.

Alternatively, you can donate cat food, cat litter, toys, bedding, or money, which goes towards ever-increasing maintenance and vets bills. Contact me or Chats de Chatillon via our Facebook pages to arrange drop-off points. If you would like to sponsor a gorgeous fur baby, please get in touch with Judy.

And Thank You to every one who has made a donation so far. The impact you have had on these little tiny lives is absolutely incredible.


Location

Shirley Atkinson

SAA IT Test Consultant

79120, Sainte Soline, France

SIRET – 835 373 515 00013

©2020 SAA-IT-Test.com

Contact

Need additional assistance? Please contact us:

saa.it.testing@gmail.com

FR: +33 (0)7 83 16 61 11

UK: +44 (0)7940 435970

Hours

Mon: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Tue: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Wed: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Thu: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Fri: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Sat: Closed
Sun: Closed

Pretty ginger cat waiting to be adopted

Fund-raising in aid of Chats de Chatillon

With my good friend Micala Wilkins, from Alacim Social Media Marketing, we are organising several online events to raise money for this wonderful cat refuge. Based near Parthenay in France, Chats de Chatillon is a non-profit association run by husband and wife team, Judy and Alan Lewis.

The refuge desperately needs funds to purchase two portable isolation units. Extra money will also help them to keep on top of ever-increasing maintenance and vet’s bills. 

Isolation

The Chats de Chatillon cat refuge takes in abandoned, abused and injured cats and kittens on a daily basis. They get calls to take in ‘refugees’ all hours of the day and night, and they very rarely say No.

New cats often need to be isolated until they are given a clean bill of health by the vet. Sadly, some of these cats have infections or viruses that can be treated, but cannot be cured. They have less chance of being adopted, and will remain in isolation for the rest of their lives. 

Having portable units will improve the quality of their lives enormously. They will be able to lay in the sun and play in the grass, without being a risk to other animals. 

How can you help?

If you own or know a business that makes or sells cat-related products we would love to hear from you.

We want to create a luxury ‘Feline Pamper Hamper’ to be the 1st prize in an upcoming raffle. If you can donate items to go into the hamper it would be fantastic. But even if you can’t donate a kitty product, you can still help by sponsoring one of the cats in isolation. Alternatively, you can make a monetary donation. 100% of the proceeds will go to Chats de Chatillon. 

Businesses that sponsor, or provide donations will get a special mention in all online advertising for the fund-raising events. If you can help, or want more information, please get in touch with me, Micala or Judy,  

On behalf of everyone at Chats de Chatillon, thank you.

Your support and donations will help improve the quality of life of our feline friends

Chats de Chatillon kitten

 

Little Miss Polly & Pretty Pebbles

white cat sat on windowsill
Little Miss Polly

Miss Polly (right) has been diagnosed with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Until we find someone special who can give her a loving home she must be isolated from other cats. 

She arrived at the refuge in May this year. Abandoned in the town centre, she was suffering from an extremely deep bite at the base of her tail that had caused a huge abscess. The vet thinks she may have got infected when she was attacked.

Polly has a pure white coat and is extremely affectionate. She longs to be loved. Aged about 7-8 months (born approximately Sept 2020) she is still only a kitten. She is such a happy, friendly little girl, and loves to race around.

Quality of life

Pretty Pebbles came to us in such a terrible condition that she would not have survived much longer. She has been diagnosed with Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV), and like Miss Polly, she must stay in isolation.

When she arrived Pebbles weighed only 1 kg. She was such a good girl being cleaned up and cared for. Never getting cross or lashing out, even though she was in a lot of pain. 

Because these two infections are caused by different viruses unfortunately they cannot share accommodation. Having portable isolation units will improve the quality of their lives enormously.

 

SAA IT TESTING

Quality Assurance

 

 

“Our aim is to help you improve the quality of your customer’s experience and increase the visibility of your business, by providing expert advice and offering a range of affordable solutions and services”.

let’s talk

 

Continuing the Cookie Compliance Story

Planning Cookie Compliance
 

Having previously written a couple of blogs which focused on Website Legalities for the small business owner, there are still a few questions that need to be answered. And in recent reviews of a couple of Wix websites, one of these questions is ‘How can I make my Wix Website cookie compliant?’ 

Intuitive

I’ll try and answer the Wix question and provide a little more background to it. Both of my clients’ websites were built using Wix ADI. This is a very simple website template which allows the non-technical business owner to design and manage their own website. And I admit, when I was updating their sites, it was very intuitive and easy to use. 

One of the issues highlighted in my website review report, that impacted both sites, was that they were not GDPR-compliant. (GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation). Apart from some missing mandatory business and activity details, there was no Cookie and Privacy Policy information. This might not sound very important, but if you own and publish a business website, or even a personal blog, then you have to adhere to EU regulations. The GDPR regulations are there to inform, and protect everyone’s personal data. The use, and misuse, of cookies on websites has always been contentious because some companies argue that the use of cookies helps improve the customer experience. This is true in some cases. When you visit a new website and accept the cookies, it means it is easier for you to log in next time you visit the same site. 

Sharing Data

The downside to that, is that to make the customer experience more personal you have to supply the website with certain personal and financial data. That is not to everybody’s liking, and certainly not mine. There have been instances where personal data has been shared to third parties, and people subsequently bombarded with spam and marketing emails. In some severe cases fraudulent payment transactions have occurred. And all this is from companies they have had no previous contact with. 

Marketing Purposes

So what does all this have to do with Wix and cookie compliance then? To protect personal data all websites have to inform their visitors about the cookies generated by their website, or by links to and from their website, for example to social media pages, and for analytical purposes. Some cookies are essential, others are non-essential and for marketing purposes.

If you want to quickly check how many cookies your website uses go to your browser and type in your website url. Click on the security padlock and you will see some site specific data displayed, including the number of cookies used by your site. 

CookieBot Report

One of the tools I use during my website reviews that specifically checks for cookie compliance is CookieBot. Simple to use, no sign-up and in less than an hour you receive an email containing a summary of your website’s cookie compliance and a report on the types of cookies being used on your website. 

If you are not compliant it will tell you the reasons why. In most instances it is because your site does not give the visitor options to accept, reject or manage the cookies. This is where your Cookie Banner comes in. 

cookie compliance cookiebot feedback

Wix Cookie Plug-in

So the two sites I reviewed that were on Wix did not display a cookie banner. For my business website I use WordPress and there are multiple free applications, or plug-ins that you can add which generate a GDPR-compliant cookie banner. I actually use the CookieBot plug-in because it’s free and has great reviews. I assumed that Wix would have a similar app and checked their support pages for Cookie Compliance information. 

Surprisingly, although they have quite comprehensive information about preparing your Wix site for GDPR, unfortunately, the only Cookie banner add-on available is the Cookie Alert Pop-Up app.  Unfortunately? Yes indeed. The average review rating for this ‘Wix-recommended’ app is 1.7 out of 5. And the reviews are appalling.

CookieBot to the rescue (again!)

Trawled the internet to find out how to resolve this, because I did not want my clients at risk of being fined for non-compliance. I couldn’t find a solution, but to cut a long story short, Emma Lawrence from Languedoc121techcame back with the answer! 

CookieBot can be installed on your Wix site. Hurrah! But not on the Wix ADI version. Booo!

You have to switch to ‘Editor’ version, because to configure the cookie banner correctly you need to manually add in lines of code, and you cannot do this in Wix ADI. If you are not technical then do not try this at home.

Although the instructions are clear it is not something I would recommend anyone attempts if they are not tech-savvy. When I realised that I needed to switch to Editor version I had to ask my client’s permission. One client does not want to switch because she has only just mastered the ADI. So I have had to point out the risks and she accepts all responsibility. The other client accepted and the CookieBot plug-in has been successfully installed. Phew…

If when you check your Wix website you find it isn’t compliant do not load the Wix Cookie Alert. It is not EU compliant, and it cannot be uninstalled. Ask for help in installing a third party plug-in such as CookieBot. Preferably ask an experienced, professional web designer, such as Emma from Languedoc121tech.

Finally

So, along with my previous blog posts, with this one you should now have all the information at your finger tips to make your business website cookie compliant .

Fan-blooming-tastic!

And you have remembered to create and display your Cookie and Privacy Policy?

I hope this has helped. Yes, it’s long-winded, but I wanted to provide as much information as possible, but make it easy to read and understand. If I have missed anything, please let me know. Thank you for taking the time to read it.

Shirley Atkinson

Feel free to share – Sharing is Caring 

Location

Shirley Atkinson

SAA IT Test Consultant

79120, Sainte Soline, France

SIRET – 835 373 515 00013

©2020 SAA-IT-Test.com

Contact

Need additional assistance? Please contact us:

saa.it.testing@gmail.com

FR: +33 (0)7 83 16 61 11

UK: +44 (0)7940 435970

Hours

Mon: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Tue: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Wed: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Thu: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Fri: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Sat: Closed
Sun: Closed

Improving your Local SEO

google my business map and description

Google My Business – profile and map for SAA IT Testing

As small business owners I’m sure we have all heard about Google and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). We might not fully understand SEO, because it’s a fairly complex subject all about algorithms, search terms and keywords. But if you want your business website to rank higher in search results, then employing a SEO expert will help do that – for a hefty price.

Large companies employ teams of SEO experts to monitor trends, research and analysis data, and constantly update and refresh site pages. For small businesses though, your best Local SEO friend is Google My Business (GMB). 

According to the most recent edition of Moz’ Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, Google My Business continues to be the biggest driver of local SEO success, with quality links coming in at a close second. 

What is Google My Business?

In a nutshell, GMB is a business listing on Google, similar to Yell.com or ‘Pages Jaunes’ in France. But the bonus with GMB is the advantageous local SEO that it brings with it.

GMB was developed to standardise the information that is displayed by Google in Google Search and Google Maps, so you can be found more easily by potential customers. It helps ensure that your customers have up to date information about your local business, for example your opening hours, address, and contact details. Additionally, you can add links to your business website, share posts, offers and other information the same as you can on social media. It also allows two-way communication between you and your customers by allowing them to create reviews and you to respond. 

How does it work?

When you claim your business listing on GMB and you are verified as the owner of that address (you receive a letter in the post with a code to confirm in the GMB set up), you will be a named business location on Google Maps. Your GMB listing will be as detailed as you want it to be, and it will all be highly visible in three important Google areas: 

Google Knowledge Graph

Google Knowledge Graph SAA IT Testing

This is the box that displays your business information. When someone searches on your business name, this panel appears on the right-hand side of the Google Search Results. On mobile devices it will appear near the top. It’s a really useful summary of the information that is important to new and existing customers, especially if they want to contact you. 

If you have several social media sites…Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest…your profiles in each one should be consistent. The same goes for Google My Business. And if you have a business logo – display it! 

Make sure you have a profile image so you are more recognisable. Complete the profile section, making it relevant to your business, and appealing to your audience. 

Google Local Park

These are the top Google listings that will appear below a map when someone searches for businesses in a particular location

Google Maps

Pinpoints your business on a map, with a summary of the address, opening hours and provides directions to your location.

Added Extras

As if that wasn’t enough, when you set up your GMB listing you get access to Google My Business Insights, which tells you how many people have searched for your sites, what they searched for and the number of page and post views. 

You can also build a free, single-page business website. This doesn’t mean that it should replace a full-blown business website, especially if you are a hotel or tradesperson. These types of industries will need higher-quality design, comprehensive lists of services and professional photography The GMB version is very limited, but you can add a resume, products, images, services and prices. Use it as an extra social media platform. The ratings and reviews in particular will help your business rank higher in search results. So encourage your customers to give you feedback. Share GMB listing with them, link it to your business website.

Here’s my Google My Business Listing, check it out and see just how much you can do to enhance your online business presence. Get your business noticed. Keep your profile and business details up to date. Improve your Local SEO quickly and easily.

If you need any help or advice setting up your business listing then please get in touch. I’m always happy to help.

SAA I.T Test Consultant

 

‘Sharing is Caring’

If you found this useful then let me know – and let your friends know!

 

 

Location

Shirley Atkinson

SAA IT Test Consultant

79120, Sainte Soline, France

SIRET – 835 373 515 00013

©2020 SAA-IT-Test.com

Contact

Need some help? Please contact me:

saa.it.testing@gmail.com

FR: +33 (0)7 83 16 61 11

UK: +44 (0)7940 435970

Hours

Mon: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Tue: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Wed: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Thu: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Fri: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Sat: Closed
Sun: Closed

 

What is a Generation Group? 

Let’s start with a simple question. Do you know which generation group you are in?

There are so many different terms that it has become quite confusing, especially as I now see business articles referring to target audiences as Gen X, Gen Y and Baby Boomers. These are terms frequently used in the news and in marketing, but what do they all mean?

A recent article I received, about finding the best social media platform for my target audience, had me scouring the internet to find a concise definition. Then I thought, if I don’t fully understand what generation groups are, other people will be just as confused.

It’s not just a personal thing. From a business perspective, we need to be seen on the right social media platforms. We have to know which groups our customers fall into, because different generations have their own social media favourites. 

Our Ancestors

When people talk about Generation X it can be a bit baffling. It seems to me that it’s because when we think about generations we think about the family – parents, grand-parents, great grand-parents, etc.

 

This is one way of looking at it and it’s called ‘Familial Generation‘. You and your siblings are one generation, your parents, aunts and uncles, are another, grand-parents are another. And so on. 

When you hear talk about Gen X, Gen Y and Millennials there is a different term for these and this is when it gets a bit mind-boggling. These are called ‘Sociological Generations‘. It’s a bit of a tongue-twister isn’t it? I think it’s more important to know the actual group names, than understand the definition but I’ll try and summarise it.

Life Events

Putting people into sociological categories – Baby Boomer, Generation X, Y, etc is more complex because it’s seen from two different perspectives.

One is based on birth rates as documented by the census, which considers population expansion and contraction. So if there is an age difference of 5 or 6 years between siblings, according to the census they could be in different sociological generations. If your parents were very young when they had you, you could potentially belong to the same category, as defined by the census. That part of it is probably the most difficult to understand. 

The other way of defining sociological generations is through life events that link groups of people. Sociologists look at common life events and shared experiences to define the groups.  

For instance, ‘Generation X’ grew up with parents who divorced and mothers who worked. Personal computers were just coming on the scene. And there was that cross-over from analog to digital. Along comes MTV, Atari, computer games, Apple, YouTube, Facebook. It’s these elements which are used to define the X, Y and Zs.

Therefore, in marketing terms, it’s the sociological generations that we are referring to and should try to comprehend.

Identify the Generation Group

generation group and year of birth

 

I’ve made it into the Baby Boomers group (1963) so this article, about finding the Best Social Media Platforms is actually pretty accurate when I think of how I interact with the world wide web.

Knowing the generation group will help to focus on the right social media outlets. That will give us more time to focus and improve on other business areas, such as our websites, or improving our content

It won’t be a ‘one-size fits all’ for every business scenario, and there might be some trial and error. But, when we’re running a full-time business, this ‘Generation Game’ might give us more time to spend with our loved ones. That has to be a ‘Brucie’ bonus.

 

‘Sharing is Caring’

If you like this article let me know – and let your friends know!

 

Time for a review. Overcome your fear of criticism

 

Fear of criticism

Maybe our fear of criticism goes back to our school days. Spending hours writing essays only to have them marked and returned with lots of red lines and teacher’s comments.

I’ve also been subjected to a wide variety of appraisals and work reviews in the different organisations I have worked for. Most of them provided encouraging, constructive criticism and feedback, especially in my early years in the Civil Service. And yet I still used to dread the annual Performance Appraisal Reviews and the fear of criticism. I imagine we are all the same. We think – hope! – we are doing a good job, but when there’s a review on the horizon we start to worry about getting negative feedback.

I was very lucky to be assigned to experienced managers who understood the difference between constructive and destructive criticism and how it can affect a person’s self-esteem. Their feedback encouraged my personal development and gave me the confidence to take on new challenges throughout my career and in my personal life.

Humiliation

However, there is one incident which stands out in my mind more than any other because of the way it made me feel. Little did I realise that how I felt at that moment was going to influence how I treated people I worked with in the future.

In my first contract as a freelance Test Consultant I was working for a very large corporate company. The job meant I was working away from home, with people I didn’t know and learning a new complex system. Everything was different, I was way out of my comfort zone but wanted to make a good impression because this was the career I loved. 

What I didn’t bank on was being assigned to a manager who let her personal life interfere with her professional life, to the extent that on her bad days, she publicly criticised and humiliated people. Less than a week into my new role, I was verbally attacked in a room full of people – because I had saved a file in the wrong place. She should have quietly point out the correct folder structure, but instead she shouted, finger-pointed and called me an ‘over-paid simpleton’. 

Embarrassment

I sat there open-mouthed and fighting back the tears. People were staring at me. I felt embarrassed and physically sick. I couldn’t even manage an easy escape because the door was the other side of the room. Instead I bit my lip, walked over to her desk, and I asked her quietly and apologetically if she could show me where the file should be. After correcting my mistake I walked down to the Ladies loo on the floor below and cried my eyes out. I had never felt so humiliated in all my life and convinced myself I was going to get sacked. I left work that day ready to pack my bags and even started looking for a new contract!

The next day she acted as if nothing had happened. No apology was ever forthcoming but it occurred so frequently, with different people, that eventually she was reported and moved to another area. Under a new, encouraging, more professional manager I became a team leader and stayed with that company for two years. I learnt new skills and gained knowledge and experience using new testing tools, but the most important thing I learnt was how to give feedback. 

Negative Feedback

If you have single-handedly set up your own business, set up Social Media accounts, manage the financial affairs and created your own website, hats off to you. You deserve a massive pat on the back. It doesn’t matter what line of business you are in (unless you are a web designer!) or how well you are doing. You have successfully done something a lot of people can’t or won’t do for various reasons, and one of those reasons is fear of criticism.

When you’re starting out, you know a business website is an essential marketing tool, but a good web designer costs money – even bad web designers cost money! And although it’s a recognisable investment, if you can’t afford it, your only option is to go it alone.

There are lots of sites, like Wix and WordPress, which can help you create a simple, straight-forward website. Don’t let them fool you into thinking it’s an easy task. You still have to think about what pages you need, getting the right template, writing the content, uploading images, etc. Maybe that doesn’t sound too difficult, but if your website is going to stand out from your competitors then it needs to be aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. 

So, now we’ve added a couple of plug-ins and widgets to improve the website ‘look and feel’ and it’s ready for publishing. Who are the first people we ask for feedback? Our friends and family of course. Because of our fear of criticism we can rely on them to be positive – and even if they are really honest, we know it will be in a nice, positive way. But does that mean we are already worrying too much about what other people think and, more importantly, what our customers think? 

What is Criticism?

Negative criticism from an unqualified, uninformed source is of so little value that it’s meaningless. It makes zero sense to pay it any of your valuable attention.

Extract credit – Jim Connolly 

As a small business owner we have to learn to deal with these fears, because as soon as your business is online it’s visible and open to criticism. So to survive it’s essential that you stop negative criticism from affecting you.

Jigsaw puzzle showing the words constructive criticism - fear of criticism

To do this try to understand more about the critic than the criticism. If they are an expert in their field then, even if their comment is negative, it might be something worth taking onboard. The key difference between criticism and feedback is our perception of it.

Criticism is often taken to mean that we are being judged by another person in a condescending manner. So when people are criticised by others it can be a fairly unpleasant experience for the receiver.

Destructive criticism doesn’t help anyone. In fact it can lower a person’s self-esteem and make them feel like a failure. Constructive criticism, on the other hand can help to develop the abilities of that person, and create a positive change.

What is Feedback?

Feedback is generally understood to be information that can improve the performance or development of a product or a person. For example, a company has released a new product on the market and wants to evaluate the public’s response. There are different ways to go about this. They might hold a small event where samples of the product are given to members of the public and they have to provide feedback. The company can then understand how well the product has been received and act on this feedback. 

For people,  a manager might give feedback in a personal appraisal, or to a group of employees when they complete a new project. A lot of companies hold one-off, end of project ‘Lessons Learned’ sessions.  Key stakeholders are asked to provide feedback for the project as a whole – what went well or not so well and what can be improved. 

Lessons Learned

Lessons learned is all about understanding what you all did right and what you all could have done better. It’s not about finger pointing. It’s about learning. And this is why, when I perform my business website reviews, my feedback report isn’t all about what is wrong with the website. It’s about pointing out what works really well and what can be improved. 

I always ask for feedback and, from what I’ve received, the majority of my clients generally agree with my comments. Issues are fixed, suggestions for re-wording are applied, website layout and functionality is improved. A lot of the changes are quick, easy, inexpensive and effective. 

Very occasionally they don’t want to make any changes, which is fine. I’m not going to force my opinions on anybody. However I will point out that if one of the issues is that your website is not legally compliant, then that is not just my opinion. It’s the law! 

Be Kind

One of the reasons behind this post is a conversation I had recently with a new client. She admits she’s not technically minded but has still managed to build her own website. However, when she saw that someone on Facebook had left a rather derogatory comment, she was understandably upset and demoralised. Personally, having just started my review of the site, she has done a bloody good job and we’ll work together to make it even better! 

If you’ve never received bad feedback maybe you don’t have a fear of criticism, and you’re incredibly lucky. Your parents and teachers must have been a lot nicer than mine. But next time you leave a review or a comment, if you know it’s a small business, try and be a bit more considerate. Your criticisms can be hurtful and demoralising. I appreciate it’s not always easy, especially if you’ve had bad customer service, but imagine how you would feel if you were being publicly humiliated. 

I know how I felt and it’s not something I would even wish on my worst enemy. 

 

SAA I.T Test Consultant

 

‘Sharing is Caring’

If you like this article let me know – and let your friends know!

 

 

Location

Shirley Atkinson

SAA IT Test Consultant

79120, Sainte Soline, France

SIRET – 835 373 515 00013

©2020 SAA-IT-Test.com

Contact

Need some help? Please contact us:

saa.it.testing@gmail.com

FR: +33 (0)7 83 16 61 11

UK: +44 (0)7940 435970

Hours

Mon: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Tue: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Wed: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Thu: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Fri: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Sat: Closed
Sun: Closed

 

The New Normal

What can we do to get ourselves and our business back on track?

woman on stairs and the words All Ideas Grow Out of Other Ideas is imaged on the steps to the side

Having been in Covid-19 confinement and business lock-down since March there is now a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. In the next few weeks several European countries are relaxing their restrictions and allowing businesses to reopen. In France this will only go ahead if the number of confirmed coronavirus deaths does not rise, and as long as the businesses that are allowed to open apply strict health and hygiene guidelines.

But although we all say we’ll be glad to get back to normal, I think we know it’s not going to be the ‘old normal’. It’s going to be a ‘new normal’. 

And that leads me straight into an article I read yesterday that I want to share with you. The author shares the same views as me and the article itself provides some good, solid advice. So why re-invent the wheel?


One thing that I think this pandemic has taught all of us in business is that we need to be flexible and ready for change, so it might be worth recording everything you’ve learned, and continue to learn during this crisis, so you can have a contingency plan in place to help you through the next few months.

 

The above quote is from the latest post from a blogger that I follow and admire, Cindy Mobey. She’s a freelance writer and marketing consultant, and I must admit to being just a little bit jealous of how easy she makes blogging look. Her style of writing is natural, intelligent and easy to read. It’s also informative and thought-provoking. 

Are you ready for the ‘new normal’?

Cindy has kindly given me permission to share the article on my website, and here it is. Please read the full article – Time for a new normal? and let me know what you think.

How can I help?

Location

Shirley Atkinson

SAA IT Test Consultant

79120, Sainte Soline, France

SIRET – 835 373 515 00013

©2020 SAA-IT-Test.com

Contact

Need some help? Please contact us:

saa.it.testing@gmail.com

FR: +33 (0)7 83 16 61 11

UK: +44 (0)7940 435970

Hours

Mon: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Tue: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Wed: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Thu: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Fri: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Sat: Closed
Sun: Closed

Business Blogs – When is the best time to blog?

It occurred to me this morning that I hadn’t posted a business blog in a while. With so much going on with coronavirus, self-isolation and people disobeying the distancing rules, why would anyone be interested in a blog about websites? Or website testing? 

So then I started thinking about the reasons why I should do a blog and it got me thinking about optimisation. It sounds like a random train of thought doesn’t it? But I’m talking about ‘optimisation’ in a business blog kind of way. And at 6 am on a beautiful Sunday morning I’m sat at my desk researching ‘Business Blog Scheduling’. 

I know the reasons why I should be submitting regular business posts. It’s so that it keeps my website fresh, helps with SEO and search traffic, helps build a good relationship with clients, etc, etc. But doesn’t how often we need to publish a blog and the optimal blogging frequency vary, depending on the type of business you have?  

 

top part of a round white clock face showing numbers and the words Prime time

Image Credit

General Blogging Guidelines

So as a result of my early morning research I did actually come up with a few general guidelines.

  1. Publish a new business blog at least once a week
  2. Always publish on the same day
  3. Focus on creating high-quality content

Great. Now I have my guidelines all I have to do is find a way to make user testing sound interesting. That’s the hard bit. But then, reading different articles this morning, I noticed that Guideline #1 isn’t strictly correct. It doesn’t always have to be new content. If you have posted something previously about a topic that is still relevant, or has come back in fashion, re-use it. There’s nothing to stop you giving it a bit of a tweak – re-cycling! – and republishing it. It counts as a new business blog, just don’t keep re-using the same one every week.

Identify your audience

Guideline number 2 is about being consistent and routinely publishing your blog on the same day. This is where I think we need to experiment to find out what works best for our own business and for our customers. But the first step has to be identifying your business blog audience.

My services are not going to be required by everybody. To be honest I probably have a very limited audience – owners of small and medium sized business enterprises – SMEs. And it doesn’t really matter what line of business my ‘audience’ is in. If they have a business website then they are a potential customer, even web design businesses.

I regularly work with a couple of web designers, reviewing their work during and after publishing, because catching bugs earlier means it easier and less expensive to fix. When you’re busy it’s easy to miss little things, such as broken links or poor navigation. Lots of little things can lead to one big, bad customer experience. So sometimes, it just helps to have a fresh pair of eyes look over the content and usability. 

There you see, I have drifted off into my own little testing world when I should be focusing on the task in hand and telling you about the ultimate goal.

The goal, of course, once you have identified your target audience is to successfully maintain a business blog that will increase website visitors. Making new connections and continuing to engage with existing customers or clients, will hopefully start generating new sales. 

Experiment

Different audiences will have different needs. If your business blog is a tool for providing up-to-the-minute information about products that you sell then you probably need to publish short, promotional blogs on a daily basis, or even several times a day. Whereas if you provide technical services, like testing for example, then that requires a longer, more detailed blog. So I think for me personally, once a week should suffice.

If you’re not sure what your blog readers need then you might have to experiment and see what formats and frequencies get the best reactions. See which format is a consistent favourite and continue with that. 

Now comes the hard part – creating high-quality content.

Avoid Burnout

This came up in several of the articles I read this morning and probably made the most sense. We all start off with so much enthusiasm, especially when people like or share our posts. But trying to consistently write something that’s interesting, in whatever line of business you are in, can be exhausting. There are a couple of ways to overcome this and avoid burnout.

First of all, why not share the load? Try inviting a guest blogger to write for you occasionally to add a bit of variety and a different personality. (This could work for me, and I have already got a couple of people in mind). Alternatively, if you really don’t like writing content and this is what puts you off blogging then you could hire someone to do it for you full-time.

Second, try writing and stockpiling articles for when you haven’t got time to keep to your business blog schedule. I have started adding articles or other blog sites to a ‘Favourites’ folder for future inspiration. I also check out Google search trends and try to use them as topics or keywords.

Timing

A lot of research has gone into analysing blog post timing data. Which Social Media platform is best for your business depends a lot on your target audience. I doubt many of my potential clients would be on TikTok for example. Pinterest is another one I don’t bother with, and I only have an Instagram personal account, not a business one, and even that is rarely use. You don’t need to have a business presence on all of them if it isn’t going to do anything for you. It just makes it harder to manage.

Mobile phone and tiles spelling Social Media

My business networking focus is on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. To get the best from these platforms for my business I need to look at the research.

Well, I have looked and basically the answer seems to be ‘it’s complex’ because it depends on your industry and your audience. Fortunately, I know my audience and thankfully. the research does confirm that these are the best platforms for my industry sector. That’s a bonus. 

However, I don’t intend to make this post any longer than it needs to be, so I’ve added a link to an easy to follow Info-graphic. Under normal circumstances it provides all the optimal posting timings for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. It also includes data for business sectors such as B2B, B2C, Higher Education, etc. 

Best Time Scheduler

Unfortunately, at this moment in time, there is nothing remotely normal about what is going on around us. Schools and the majority of businesses are either closed or employees are temporarily working from home. Our travel, work and home schedules are different, which means that our access to the internet and social media is different. 

In a few months there will be more data analysis on the best times to post a business blog, based on the lock-down period.  So I’m going to put creating an all-singing, all-dancing ‘Best Time Scheduler’ on hold for the time being and write some new content for my once-a-week business blog. 

I’m sure my audience will let me know if they want more from me, but for now, I think it’s time for another cup of vanilla chai before I go out in the garden and pull a few weeds. Happy weekend everyone!

Stay Safe and Stay Well

Shirley Atkinson, SAA IT Testing 

Location

Shirley Atkinson

SAA IT Test Consultant

79120, Sainte Soline, France

SIRET – 835 373 515 00013

©2020 SAA-IT-Test.com

Contact

Need some help? Please contact us:

saa.it.testing@gmail.com

FR: +33 (0)7 83 16 61 11

UK: +44 (0)7940 435970

Hours

Mon: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Tue: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Wed: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Thu: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Fri: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Sat: Closed
Sun: Closed