Old Dogs and Other New Tricks

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Well, there were times that I thought I’d never be able to say it, but my kitchen is complete.  Now, what am I going to write about?  How am I going to make analogies to IT and data collection to remodeling?  Hmmm…

As I grow older, I realize that I do not know everything.   For the past several months, we have been upgrading and updating our webstore.  This project reinforced the notion previously stated.   I cut my teeth on stacks of punch cards, old IBM single-digit mid-range systems, and CRTs.  Learning about SEO, rankings, meta-tags, keywords, and other things I cannot spell has been both a curse and a blessing.

Ltron direct logo

This is the logo for our new and improved webstore!

I did not do this on my own.  In fact, this was a total team effort, from the CEO to the operations people.  I have to give (much of the well-deserved) credit where credit is due: our new employee Tony.   Tony came to us as a co-op intern last year from Rochester Institute of Technology, RIT.  We were lucky enough to employ him for two of his internships/co-op requirements.   His area of expertise was web development for search engine optimization.

Well, Tony did not seem too interested in learning about RPG, COBOL, or FORTRAN, so I did not have much to barter, but he did teach me about SEO, 301-redirects, analytics, and the overall feng shui of a proper website design.  You may have the most intuitive, user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing site in the world, but if you cannot be found, you’ve wasted your time.  In other words, if you’re not on the first or second page of a search, you’re on page # ”who cares”.

There is so much more than what you see on the webpages.  Much of the work goes on behind the presentation.  What is an “organic search?”  Before this latest episode in my quest for knowledge, I thought it was a method of finding natural food stores.  Well, simply put, an organic search is optimizing the way your store or product is found on the web without paying someone to feature you.   What does “meta” mean to you?  First off, there is the meta tag title (say that fast a few times).  The meta tag title is what the search engine will display after a search.  It is usually the highlighted active line of a search that can be clicked to send you to the webpage.  Meta tag description is a short narrative that is displayed under the meta tag title.  Meta keywords are general words that are used in general searches that will bring you to the meta tag title selections.  For our purposes, words such as “scanner,” “2D,”, “license”, “data collection,” etc. will pertain to the product/service we want to highlight in order to be found.

How do you want to capture a prospective customer?  How do you want to catch someone’s eye?  How do you want your products to be displayed?  How easy is your site to navigate/search/find/purchase? What is the overall user experience?   How easy is it for you to get paid from orders?

And, speaking of getting paid….wow, you don’t realize how many fingers are in the pie when it comes to getting paid.  The credit card company gets x%; the authorization people get y%; someone else gets a piece.  After greasing all of the palms, you have to pay your staff and eke out a profit with the rapidly evaporating margins.

There is tons of other stuff that pertains to filtering, descriptions, pricing, suggestions; the list goes on and on.  I just glossed over a very small subset of topics.  The site visitor sees the tip of the iceberg as most of the workings lie underneath.  All-in-all, it has been a great learning experience.  I encourage you to always welcome the changes and the challenges that new projects and new opportunities bring.  Your head may hurt at times, but it is better than atrophying.

Old dogs can learn new tricks!  It may be time to toss the COBOL manuals…