Archive for Technology

Gigabit City, Final Report

Social Media, Technologyon December 1st, 2011Comments Off on Gigabit City, Final Report

building the gigabit cityOur friends at the Brainzooming Group have released the final report from the seven working teams for Google’s Gigabit City project in Kansas City. The report includes over 60 different applications for gigabit fiber and perspectives from hundreds of civic, business and social media leaders across the commmunity. LightThread’s managing partner, Simon Kuo, authored the section of the report that focuses on the library’s potential opportunties with ultra high speed broadband. Download the free white paper here.

Gigabit City Video Released

Business Strategy, Social Media, Technologyon November 1st, 2011Comments Off on Gigabit City Video Released

Adcuda has released their video recap of the Gigabit City brainstorming session sponsored by the Social Media Club of Kansas City. LightThread managing partner, Simon Kuo, is featured in this video.

Simon Kuo Interview Video for Gigabit City

Social Media, Technologyon October 14th, 2011Comments Off on Simon Kuo Interview Video for Gigabit City

Simon Kuo, LightThread managing partner, was interviewed for the Google Fiber Gigabit City Initiative sponsored by Social Media Club of Kansas City. Here’s the complete video of his comments.

Links for the Month

Technologyon July 26th, 2010Comments Off on Links for the Month

Here are some links we’ve enjoyed recently that we hope you’ll find useful:

1) Ten free online books for web designers:

http://webdesignledger.com/freebies/10-free-online-books-for-web-designers

2) Ten crowdsourced music video projects:

http://mashable.com/2010/07/25/crowdsourced-music-videos/

3) Top 20 sites to improve your Twitter experience:

http://mashable.com/2010/07/25/improve-twitter-experience/

4) The most common mistakes SaaS providers make:

http://www.readwriteweb.com/cloud/2010/07/saas-lessons-learned.php

5) Tips on finding and approaching angel investors

http://www.readwriteweb.com/start/2010/07/tips-on-finding-and-approachin.php

Until next time, cheers!!!

 

WordPress vs. Tumblr – A Simple Overview

Applications, Technology, Toolson January 11th, 20103 Comments
The ever evolving world of blog platforms can be confusing so we try to help our clients understand the basic differences between the options they are considering.
Functionality & Control
We understand your current personal site is on an Apple platform and requires developer assistance to make changes. Our proposal includes a quote for Tumblr and a quote for WordPress. A WordPress selection can easily be expanded to replace your current Apple site if you choose. WordPress is a robust Customer Management System that has an easy user back-end that allows for page, plug-in, widget and sidebar updates to be made by non-tech experts. WordPress can support multi-page navigation and serve as a robust and comprehensive website with database management and control.  Wordpress is hosted on a server that is user controlled allowing better control over stats and personalization.
Cost and Usability
Tumblr is typically cheaper as it does not require the installation and configuration that WordPress does due to its robust platform. Tumblr offers an extremely user friendly dashboard that makes updating posts easy for text and media alike.  Tumblr is also easy to update from your mobile device. WordPress also offers a fairly simple to use back-end and supports multiple media formats.
Design, Customization and Integration
With WordPress you can create different layouts for internal pages, posts and your homepage.  Tumblr on the other hand is limited with one type of page layout that must be applied on every page on the site. WordPress supports widgets/plug-ins that can easily be added/customized without hard coding vs. Tumblr that must be custom coded for plug-in functionality. WordPress allows you to include native calendars and contact pages which mean you can update them all from the same WordPress back-end. Tumblr can support calendar and contact pages but only from third party sites that requires a separate log-in from the Tumblr back-end.
Search Engine Optimization, Ads and Performance
WordPress is very friendly with the search engines and can be easily optimized with various plug-ins added to the back-end. WordPress can also easily support Ad’s which can be placed in different places on different pages as you choose.  Wordpress also has cleaner code in the back-end which allows for faster performance providing a better user experience.

The ever evolving world of blog platforms can be confusing so we try to help our clients understand the basic differences between the options they are considering.  Sometimes discussions regarding platform benefits seem to gbe geared toward programmers making it frustrating and hard to understand for someone who doesn’t make a living writing code. Therefore, we created this quick and easy overview to help our non-techy friends grasp the “so what?” of both platforms. We would love to hear from you on what we need to add or simplify even further.

Functionality & Control

WordPress can easily replace your current website if you choose. WordPress is a Content Management System that has an easy to use back-end that allows page, plug-in, widget and sidebar updates to be made by the non-technical. WordPress can support multi-page navigation and serve as a robust and comprehensive website with database management and control.  Wordpress is hosted on a server that is user controlled allowing better control over stats and personalization.

Cost and Usability

Tumblr is typically cheaper less expensive to implement as it does not require the installation and configuration that WordPress does. Tumblr offers an extremely user friendly dashboard that makes updating posts easy for text and media alike.  Tumblr is also easy to update from mobile device.

Design, Customization and Integration

With WordPress you can create different layouts for internal pages, posts and your homepage.  Tumblr on the other hand is limited with one type of page layout that must be applied on every page on the site. WordPress supports widgets/plug-ins that can easily be added/customized without hard coding vs. Tumblr that must be custom coded for plug-in functionality. WordPress allows you to include native calendars and contact pages which mean you can update them all from the same WordPress back-end. Tumblr can support calendar and contact pages but only from third party sites that requires a separate log-in from the Tumblr back-end.

Search Engine Optimization, Ads and Performance

WordPress is very friendly with the search engines and can be easily optimized with various plug-ins added to the back-end. WordPress can also easily support Ad’s which can be placed in different places on different pages as you choose.  Wordpress also has cleaner code in the back-end which allows for faster performance providing a better user experience.

We hope to hear even more benefits from you!

We Have Client Lift Off!

Applications, Business Strategy, lightthread, Technologyon December 27th, 20093 Comments

The Associated Plastic Surgeons website has truly been the end result of a great team effort between a group of us here in Kansas City. With an SEO expert, a user experience designer/brand identity expert, a seasoned project manager and bizdev expert, a talented front-end web developer, an amazing photographer and a client willing to revamp their entire brand and catapult themselves forward, how could we go wrong? In every area we’ve been able to improve their brand design, site traffic, SEO, tradeshow collateral and ecommerce site. We even introduced them to a little bit of social media creating their first-ever blog that has already generated almost 40 comments!

INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE, CUSTOMIZATION, & STELLAR DESIGN

We designed a user experience and information architecture that led us to developing the “How We Can Help You” section making it easy for visitors to quickly find what they need. We built back-end functionality to automatically highlight the most recent blog posts on the front page to keep content fresh and up-to-date. We placed a “contact us” button in the middle of the page to facilitate user action. The photography on the home page was done just for this site. The design aesthetic was selected to represent the client’s working philosophy to provide their patients with quality, attentive and flawless care.

COPYWRITING & MEDIA GENERATION

We wrote all the copy on the website…all 40-plus pages worth! We created a customized before/after gallery to show the amazing skills of the doctors. We utilized custom photography throughout the site to provide users a view in to what the practice really looks like. We included a “related links” section to support simple navigation and help drive users to other places throughout the site that may be helpful to them.

INTEGRATED MARKETING & PRINT COLLATERAL

In the blog post sample above you can see a postcard we designed to use at the Holiday Mart tradeshow. We also designed a backdrop banner with their logo and the textured background we used for the card. It came out really beautifully! Our developer coded the “share this” functionality specifically for this project, however we are now using this functionality on other client sites as the feedback has been incredibly positive.

E-COMMERCE DEVELOPMENT

As part of the Associated Plastic Surgeon’s brand update and website redesign, we completely refurbished their online store also, where they sell physician-grade cosmetics and skincare products. The store is using the WordPress e-Commerce plugin with some tricked out ways of doing variations, and we’re really pleased with how it’s come out!

Sharing & SEO Improvements
We also added a slew of social sharing capabilities – prior to this redesign the ecommerce store had no variations shown, was difficult to add new products to and offered no sharing or descriptive capabilities. We feel they’re set to do some real online business now, and we have done some things to make this store more competitive in search engines, where it was never found before.

SHARING & SEO IMPROVEMENTS

We also added a slew of social sharing capabilities – prior to this redesign the ecommerce store had no variations shown, was difficult to add new products to and offered no sharing or descriptive capabilities. We feel they’re set to do some real online business now, and we have done some things to make this store more competitive in search engines, where it was never found before.

BRAND IDENTITY

One of our favorite things about the new site is the special logo and identity for the ecommerce store. We did the store under a separate domain name so that we can do Google ads directly to it (bypassing the main website) yet the navigation in the header on both sites seamlessly moves you back and forth. We made this site a rich cream, as opposed to the green APS website, to distinguish them. We found some unique patterns to use inside the logo and for the frames around the product images, and we also like using it as “wallpaper” behind the logo bottles as they appear to sit on a shelf (see the postcard below, used to announce the site launch.) It’s the little things that give this store the stylish appeal we felt it deserved and that buyers wanted to see when shopping for beauty products.

Why did our client like this site? We delivered it per their budget and schedule. In fact, we accelerated the main site’s launch by two weeks to have it ready for the client’s appearance at a 25,000 attendee trade show event. Even better and obviously the most important stat…they are getting new patients as a result of the site…within just days of launch they had two new cosmetic surgery patients! We look forward to future work with APS as they are a fantastic client with a similar philosophy to ours…take good care of your customers and they will come back time and time again.

Highlight Midwest

StartUps, Technologyon November 15th, 2009Comments Off on Highlight Midwest

Highlight Midwest was held a few weeks ago in Des Moines, Iowa. Silicon Prairie News had a team of people there and covered it extensively. You’ll find their stories here. It was a great meeting and reinforced what a terrific entrepreneur community exists in Iowa and how Des Moines’s character of “big town with a small town feel” really means everyone knows and supports everyone else. Here are video highlights of each of the keynotes, with our own CEO, Simon Kuo in the first one:

Joe Olsen, CEO of PhenomBlue:

Mike Draper, owner of SMASH:

BarCampKC 2009

Technologyon September 28th, 2009Comments Off on BarCampKC 2009

This year’s BarCampKC had a strong turn out with a great collection of developers, entrepreneurs, and technologists. The user generated conference focuses on technology, blogging, and business projects local to the area.

The event was held just down the street from LightThread at JavaPort. I only attended the tail end of the conference but was lucky enough to see John Crawford talk about new happenings with StoreEnvy as well as learning more about CCCKC.+

Below is a short video that gives you a glimpse of the day.

BarCampKC from Zachary Cobb on Vimeo.

Web-Based Project Management Tools

Applications, Business Strategy, StartUps, Technologyon September 23rd, 20094 Comments

I had the privilege of speaking the Mid-America Project     Management Institute’s 2009 Professional Development Days conference this week. Both sessions were great with good questions  and active participation. My presentation was titled, “Project  Management Tools in the Digital Age” and highlighted web-based,  simple, and valuable tools that can be used in any type of company size and industry. We use many of these tools in our day-to-day business to manage our projects, teams and our selves.

It is important to remember that a tool should help you facilitate  your work…NOT add more work to your day. You need to  understand your work flow and identify where you need help prior to tool selection.  Tools should help you create, build, and develop projects; lead, direct and advise your  teams/sponsors/clients;  assess, measure, and analyze your  progress, and most important, be  simple to use.

Project Management Tools

Basecamp – We use this tool to manage our virtual workforce teams  and to easily communicate with our clients. We are able to set  milestones, assign to-do tasks according to milestones, upload files,  and communicate through the forums.You can build templates and customize the tool to match your brand. This tool eliminates our  dependency on email and allows 24X7 access to project status.  

Smartsheet – This tool was recommended by a colleague. For you spreadsheet lovers out there this tool may be the one for you. In addition to basic project management capabilities, you can produce summary reports and access the tool from your phone through their mobile application. A very interesting aspect to Smartsheet is their on-demand workforce. If you need resources to help with simple tasks (primarily research oriented tasks) they have a virtual workforce to help you (for an hourly rate of course).

@Task – This is an enterprise level tool and can be integrated with a variety of applications such as Oracle, Peoplesoft and Salesforce.com. This tool has very impressive reporting capabilities that can support the most detailed of managers and the highest level of executives. If you have large and complex programs this tool may be the one for you.

Team Management Tools

Echosign – I have to say this is my favorite tool lately. Echosign allows you to improve your sales contract cycle time from weeks to hours by allowing online signatures that are in compliance with the ESIGN act making the online signature as powerful as a hand-written one. Red-lining is supported as well as multiple signatures/initials throughout the document. The client/contractor you are requesting to sign does not need to have signed-up for the application and can provide their signature in a matter of seconds. We have had 15 contracts signed in the last month and have yet had anyone experience any issues or confusion…in fact a few of our clients are now using this tool for their business.

Freshbooks – Contractors love this tool so we love it too! Freshbooks make invoicing super easy and helps you keep track of what is paid vs. outstanding. Reporting is included and the open API supports integration with Quickbooks and Basecamp. If you are looking to improve your billing cycle time then we suggest you take a look at Freshbooks.

Dropbox – A backup server that finally doesn’t require you to load the document twice. This application synchronizes with your hard drive automatically! You get 2G of storage free and automatic notification when any file is loaded or changed. A tool that helps you with your current workload, doesn’t require extra work and is so easy grandma can use it.

Self Management Tools

Skype – Yes, many of us online types have been using Skype for awhile but for those new to the “geek” scene this tool is a nice surprise. This VoIP application allows unlimited free domestic calling, video calling and instant messaging with other Skype users. You can also quickly upload files and send resource links during conference calls.  The tool integrates with a multitude of  address books and allows calls internationally and to non-Skype users for a premium charge.

Remember the Milk – Built with the “Getting Things Done” philosophy this is a great tool to manage all aspects of your life …personal, school and work. They have a variety of mobile app’s to support an on-the-go lifestyle and include map integration that can track where you are to notify you when you are in the vicinity of getting a to-do done. I personally like the tag cloud capability to help me see where my time is being spent and to highlight where I can get two birds with one stone.

Google – The mother of all tools. In addition to gmail, calendar, and google docs we also use google groups, google voice and google  reader to help simplify our daily responsibilities. Yes, you do sometimes have a glitch here and there but the flexibility, accessibility and simplicity outweigh any of the bumps you may experience from time to time. What makes us the most excited?? Google Wave invitations go out to a lucky 100,000 on September 30th and we can’t wait to see what new opportunities arise post-launch.

We are always looking for new and improved ways to operate our business so if you have a killer tool that we didn’t mention here please leave us a comment and let us know about it!
Cheers,
Lisa

Successful and FREE Press Release Sites

Applications, Business Strategy, StartUps, Technologyon September 8th, 20091 Comment

We are often asked for good business resources from clients, colleagues and friends alike and we like nothing more than to share helpful information! A popular topic as of late is where to find good press release sites. I recently posted this response to a LinkedIn question and thought our visitors here at the LightThread site may be interested as well. Please feel free to leave your favorite press release site in the comments section.

We published a press release in April of this year through a variety of paid and free online PR channels and tracked our results. We experienced the best results from prlog.org. We obtained front page search results within 24 hours of release and 4 months later continue to get front page search results. Our business profile on prlog also continues to show up in search on google page 5. Prlog also made it easy to link on your facebook profile in addition to bookmarking through delicious.

In fairness, we did not try prweb or prleap so do not have comparative results to share. Additional sites that produced front page results upon release were pressreleasepoint.com and prurgent.com. Keep in mind the free sites take a bit of time to set up your profile but once you use them the first time they are much easier to use again in the future.

Cheers,
Lisa