Switching Beats: The Dog No One Wanted

Switching beats to cover dog adoption and senior dog care.

His hair was once a rich black; time speckled it white. He once stood tall and confident, but he hunches over now. He used to run effortlessly, but the arthritis causes him to shake. He can’t see as well or hear as well as he used to.

He was found emaciated, dirty, and wandering the streets when animal control picked him up almost a year prior. They were going to euthanize him. There was no room at the local shelter and he had overstayed his time, until one day a spot opened up at another shelter, a shelter where I volunteered.

Meet Jasper.

Jasper looks out from behind a chain link gate at the pairs of feet walking quickly by him. Some stop to look at him occasionally, but most do not.

A little girl runs over to him squealing and squeezes her chubby little hand through the gate. “Mommy look! Let’s get this one!” Jasper gently gets up and lowers his head to sniff her fingers, covered in Cheetos powder. His stub of a tail briefly twitches excitedly.

A woman in stilettos and overbearing perfume glances up from her iPhone. She scrunches her nose in disgust. “Oh no! That’s an old pitbull. Don’t you want to get a cute little puppy?” She shuffles her daughter onwards to the next kennel, where a crowd gushes over a puppy sitting in its own urine, gnawing at its tail.

Jasper lays down and places his head on his paws. If you listen closely, you can hear a soft sigh.

Most people have reservations about adopting a senior dog, especially a senior pitbull. Pitbulls have received a reputation of being aggressive. Senior dogs are underestimated.

After months of being transferred between shelters and foster homes, Jasper finds a home with an elderly couple who meet him and fall in love. Though not far, he runs, and though not as easily, he listens. Jasper plays excitedly, snuggles lovingly, and enjoys walks loyally. Jasper is the senior dog no one wanted.

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Opening the Conversation

One of the biggest challenges facing many organizations is the struggle for collaboration.

Collaboration is crucial for the success of website campaigns because of the various levels of information that websites present. Larger organizations typically offer many services that require their own areas of a website. Those areas are then managed or overseen by their respective team of experts. For example, the products featured on a website may be determined by a merchandising department, and membership services may be established by a membership department. Every area of a website has its own stakeholders and every area will have its own focus, it is therefore important for the cohesiveness of the website that these areas achieve a sense of unity.

The success of different areas of a website is determined by the unified front of all stakeholders. A unified front can be achieved with the introduction of various components.

The Liason

A liason is someone who helps different groups work together by maintaining lines of communication. For example, a website manager or project manager can take the lead in bringing together department heads to discuss their areas of a website and any opportunities for collaborative efforts.

The Meeting

Collaboration is best achieved by working together. A meeting brings key stakeholders in the same room to discuss various factors of their areas of the website. A conference space is a great location for a meeting because it brings everyone together with minimal distractions. If there is room on the wall, a white board is helpful for brainstorming and creating visuals. If stakeholders are not all located in the same building, conference calls or video conferences are also viable options.

The Plan

Every collaborative effort requires a plan of action. Goals must be established to help determine the success of a website. Is the website’s goal to increase sales, membership, subscribers, visits, or something else? Different areas of a website may have different goals, but it is important that these goals are communicated prior to any efforts. Once goals are established, a plan of action must be formed. The knowledge and experience of a website manager is beneficial in helping achieve established goals.

The Execution

Website content must be regularly updated. The fresher the content, the greater the likelihood that it generates interest. If various stakeholders generate different content for a website, it is important that someone monitor the content for consistency in tone, syntax, and structure. Knowledge in website standards, conventions, and usability approaches are also beneficial in the execution of website efforts.

The Follow-up

It is not enough to hold one meeting about the use of a website. Meetings must be regular to help review analytics, whether goals have been achieved, and to form new goals as necessary. Website collaboration is an ongoing process that involves continuous open lines of communication. Only then can an organizations efforts with their website succeed.

J. Kazmir Resume

Objectives

I am interested in expanding my experience in user experience design and social media, while applying my skills in digital content management, analytics, usability, and marketing strategies.

Education

Quinnipiac University (Expected 2017)
Master’s Degree, Interactive Media – User Experience Design

Central Connecticut State University (2011)
Bachelor of Arts, English, Summa Cum Laude

Web Guru

I am currently in charge of my company’s e-commerce website for which I write content, create graphics, and manage thousands of product images and descriptions using a content management system (CMS). I use an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to control additional product details such as pricing and Data Sets for permissions.

Additionally I create and send out email marketing campaigns using MailChimp. In the upcoming months I will also be executing a social media strategy.

Administrative & Research Assistant III

My desire to write and do more website work brought me to a new role. In this role I created, proofed, and edited presentations, manuals, reports, and manuscripts.

As part of my website work, I also planned, updated, and managed websites for an organization’s projects using WordPress, HTML, and CSS.

Manager

Though I enjoyed my work as Web Guru, I received an opportune offer for a management position at another company. As Manager, I lead marketing efforts, while providing feedback to the General Manager regarding employee morale, customer satisfaction, business issues, and suggestions to heighten company’s success.

I also interviewed, hired, supervised, and assessed the performance of my fellow team members.

Web Guru

After several months of working as a member service representative, I was promoted to Web Guru. As the Web Guru, I copy-wrote, revised, and managed website content, while also instructing and assisting stakeholders in use of the Content Management System (CMS).

To maximize website traffic, I monitored the site’s analytics and collaborated with the marketing and sales teams to make appropriate changes.

I served as the Project Manager for additional program websites, which I created and managed using HTML, CSS, and Adobe Photoshop.

I also assisted in launch, production, and quality control of the digital versions of the organization’s publications.

Member Service Representative

My previous managerial role came to an end after the ownership decided to close the location, so I received a job as a member service representative with another organization. As a member service representative, I lead support with website accounts and website functionality using Content Management System  administrative tools.

I also developed web usability templates to help with website support and collaborated with the Web Manager on website usage feedback and recommendations.

Manager

After working customer service for a company during college, I was promoted to Manager. As a Manager, I was responsible for overseeing my facility’s operations. I hired, trained, and supervised a team of employees. I monitored paperwork, reports, membership payments, and feedback. I also lead the location’s marketing campaigns to attract new members.

J. Kazmir: An Autobiography

As a child I wanted to be a writer.

My parents’ immediate reaction was laughter. They thought it was cute. As I got older, they realized this was not a joke and things escalated from funny to serious.

“There is no money in writing,” they told me.

I forgave them.

When my family and I moved to the United States from a country in Eastern Europe shortly after the fall of Communism, we had a few suitcases, several hundred dollars, and no command of the English language. It was instilled in me at a young age that if I was going to make it in this life, I would have to learn English and work hard at a paying job.

I entered the workforce immediately after turning 16 and saved everything I earned with the intent of paying for college; my parents couldn’t afford to help.

I went on to study English literature. I would teach it. It was a guaranteed paying decision that my family supported, but my heart wasn’t in it. I was lost and I wanted to find my niche.

After college I started working a customer service position, where I listened to the frustrations of the patrons’ with the organization’s website on a daily basis.

“I can’t find the information that I’m looking for…” “I don’t know how to reset my password…” The complaints were constant.

To expedite the process of assisting with the website, I developed boilerplate responses that included step-by-step instructions along with screenshots. I also kept a log of feedback and areas of the website that needed improvement, and shared my notes with the Web Manager at the time. My superiors took notice, then when the position opened up, they recommended me for it.

I knew very little about website architecture and design, but I learned. I ordered and read books from front cover to back cover, absorbing every bit of helpful information that I could apply to my new opportunity, and I wrote. I wrote and edited pages of information about the services that the organization offered. I held meetings with stakeholders where I shared feedback and analytics. I butted heads with individuals who, while initially were against implementing any changes to the site, realized that my work was creating positive changes.

After some time, I went on to pursue other leadership and web opportunities, and in doing so, I learned more and accomplished more.

I fell in love with my line of work.

Now, my parents share with their friends and colleagues my successes, not with laughter, but with pride, and I feel at peace. I have come a long way to do something that I love.

A Better Tomorrow, a Better Website

They call me the Web Guru.

I’m the one that companies and organizations call in to help “fix” their websites.

“Your website isn’t broken, it just needs better organization, graphics, content, layout, usability tests…”

Website challenges vary, much like the objectives and structure of the companies they represent. Some websites contain robust amounts of information on thousands of pages, but lack cohesiveness and are poorly organized. Others are in their infancy with little valuable content and an undetermined focus. Still others have not had their aesthetics updated since the ’90s and could badly use a face-lift.

Website architecture is what I eat and breathe every day. I gorge on research about latest trends, studies, successes, and faux pas. I immerse myself in a healthy debate with my employers on why certain changes on their websites should be made. I know what I know and what I don’t know I explore eagerly. “This is how we’ve always done it” is a rebuttal that I have learned to brush aside, as it has neither benefit nor merit. Then, when my work produces measurable success, whether revealed in analytics or positive feedback, I embrace the respect earned from my fellow colleagues.

Respect paves the way for opportunities of improvement.

Improving websites isn’t just about the websites themselves. The process involves a deep examination of the organization’s culture, goals, and strategy. The undertaking is not intended for a one-man army, but a team of collaborators who are able to engage in an open dialogue while bringing to the table their own levels of expertise. At the head of the table you’ll find me, the Web Guru, prepared to tackle this week’s website challenges, armed with a toolbox of experience, resources, and an appetite for change.

Broken Links

Picture this: You’re planning your next vacation. You go online and type in your search words to find out more about what there is to do at the desired destination: “Fun things to do in San Jose.” Sanjoseca.gov looks promising. *CLICK* Perfect. The page’s headline reads, “Things to Do” and now you’re on a roll, clicking away, opening tab after tab, each with a different website of possibilities and opportunities! Mexican Heritage Plaza? Don’t mind if I do!

Wait a minute!

sanjoseca.gov broken link
Note: This link has been fixed since the writing of this post.

The Ghastly Broken Link

Let us first define what a broken link is and then move on to what causes broken links:

“A broken link is a link that doesn’t work, often resulting in an error page” (Network Solutions).

How do you know that you’ve clicked a broken link? For starters, you’ll reach a page that you were not expecting. Instead of finding the content you were looking for, you will find a page with an error message, typically known as the “404” or “Not Found” error message. For example, follow this link to find out how you can win $1,000,000!

Did you win?

404 error pages can appear differently on different websites and can be basic or they can be customized. We’ll cover custom 404 pages later. Here is the Internet Explorer 404:

Picture

Why It’s Important

The Culprits

So what causes broken links? Here are some culprits:

  • The page no longer exists because it was removed from the website, but the website guru(s) forgot to remove the link
  • The page name changed or the URL changed, but they forgot to change the link
  • The URL was misspelled when the link was created, but they didn’t notice
Aside from causing a bad user experience, broken links also result in poor search engine rankings, may decrease traffic to your website, and (if you are trying to sell a product/service) may cost you money!

What Can I Do?

If your website’s broken links have got web users down, do not panic, there are steps you can take to make things right again and help prevent future issues:

  • Check those links! If you have a smaller website or too much time on your hands, you can do this manually by clicking all the links on your site. Otherwise, take advantage of one of the many tools available to check those links, such as Google Webmaster Tools (with a Google account).
  • Fix those links. Once you find the broken links, fix them or remove them.
  • Limit external links. Unless you are a hacker, you have no control over pages on other websites. Pages are constantly evolving, so if you link out to them, there is no guarantee those links will always work.
  • Monitor internal links. If you make changes to your website that will cause broken internal links, find those links and fix them.
  • Add 301 redirects. If you want outdated URLs to lead to a proper page, add a 301 redirect. This can be done a number of different ways and most content management systems have a process in place to accomplish this.

Don’t be afraid to make changes to your pages. Websites are like living organisms because they change and move. Move with them, not against them and together you can make web users very happy.

Stay tuned for more on how you can make your website better.