Sep 4

The Sad State of Scummy Salespeople

Just read this comment from a salesperson at Verizon.

Pardon some of us for trying to feed ourselves and our families. Not all of us blindly sell android to everyone, I for one hate Android and would never own it. But, selling it is a necessary evil. Apple takes EVERY dollar of profit from every sale of their device. If you were in our position you would do the exact same thing, other wise you’d make a minimum wage paycheck or nothing at all. It apparently is some secret that the reason android gets sold so much is because there is actual money in it for the selling rep. If I made the same on iPhones that I make on even my highest cost android handset, I’d never sell a single android phone. Ever. All the tech issues and questions I have to deal with on android handsets is INSANE! Not a single one of them is as stable or as reliable as the iPhone. Not one, I’ve sold them all. They crash, freeze, email never works the same, force closes, and are overall too complicated. But this is the world Apple created for us, we just have to survive in it. Do your homework next time before you lend an opinion about all of us, were just doing what we have to and were all not the same.

Three quick comments.

  1. This is precisely why no one should trust a salesperson at a store. They are simply selling what they get paid the most commission on, which typically means that they are selling the most overpriced product. So, the majority of the time, take the advice that the salesperson gives you, and go the opposite direction. Read your own reviews before you make a decision.
  2. Salespeople are scummy. This guy quite plainly states that Android is inferior to the iPhone, but that he sells it because he makes money on it. What about all of the poor people buying these phones they don’t know (and won’t learn) how to use? How on earth can you feel good about that?
  3. Android vs. iPhone Marketshare Reports are severely flawed. I’d like to see a report with data compiled not only from sales marketshare, but with customer satisfaction and return rates. I’d make a crazy bet to say that less than 5% of iPhones are returned, while a significantly higher number of Androids are returned.

That is all. Your thoughts?

(Source: bgr.com)

Aug 3

Seriously, though, I never considered any career other than puzzles, and I was willing to endure a life of poverty to do this.

- Will Shortz, New York Times Crossword Puzzle Editor

my food storage plan

Which plan are you using? Dilbert’s or Triangle Hair’s?

facebook exiled

Some of you may remember this post in which I detailed why I was dropping Facebook, Twitter, and some of my other online activities. It’s been over 6 months now, so I thought it would be a good time to look back and see what’s changed.

Here’s what I said that I was going to do:

So I’m taking a break. Who knows how long. Maybe a couple of days, maybe a month, maybe more. Let’s call it ‘indefinite’.

I’ve deactivated by Facebook account, uninstalled Twitter apps from my Macbook and iPhone, purged (yet again) my Google Reader feeds, turned off automatic notifications of all non-work or non-family e-mail. I’ve blocked Engadget, Gizmodo, TUAW, 9to5Mac and others from my home network. I’ve even turned off my Ping account (haha, good one, right?).

For starters, I’ve returned to activity on Twitter, which didn’t surprise me. The simplicity and customizability of Twitter makes it easy to get in and get out. Sometimes I get in and get out too often, but it’s manageable.

If I’ve done anything with my RSS feeds, I’ve purged them more. I used to have hundreds of new posts crawling into Reeder every day. Now I maybe have 50-70, the large majority of which I do not read. 

I’ve blocked and unblocked a number of websites from my network. 9to5 and TUAW are back, Gizmodo and Engadget are not. I’ll check out Boy Genius Report maybe once a week to see if there’s anything cool that hasn’t been covered by the number of Apple blogs I follow.

And my Ping account is still off (*crickets*).

I haven’t come back to Facebook though. I smile a little when I think about the 30-60 minutes a day I’ve recovered from dropping that habit (although, I’m sure to have used a similar amount of time on some other unproductive activity). 

I probably seem like I’m wearing this as some badge of honor, like I am above anyone who uses Facebook. That certainly isn’t true. Facebook can be great if you know why you use it, and you’re not addicted to checking it every 20 minutes, by all means, viva Facebook! But it wasn’t something that worked for me.

Looking Back

In over six months, I haven’t missed using Facebook. But, two things have made me consider coming back. One event a couple of months ago, the other that I realized just last night.

First: One of my best friends from high school announced that she was having a baby. I didn’t find out until 2.5 months later. I think a lot of people assume that everyone is on Facebook (heck, everyone is on Facebook), so that is their go-to place for big life announcements. But, my absence caused me to miss it.

Second: One of my great friends from Uruguay, where I lived for two years, e-mailed me this week. We would make contact on Facebook maybe once a month or so. She wrote:

'I'm not sure if you still remember me, but I hope so. I'm writing to see what's new in your life, I can't find you on Facebook anymore which has me a little worried. Cristian (another friend from Uruguay) said he's tried to contact you too, and nothing. Please, if you read this e-mail, give us a sign!

Wow. First, the thought hit me how rude I was. These are two of my great friends from an awesome time of my life that have tried to communicate with me, and haven’t been able to because I ‘don’t like Facebook’. That seems petty of me. I almost signed back in to Facebook on the spot because of that e-mail.

Third (a bonus!): My daughter, Aidyn Jane, was born just over two weeks ago now. I posted updates and pictures on Twitter, and even Google+. But over the past week I’ve had multiple friends say ‘Congratulations, now why didn’t you tell me?’. I thought I had. But then I remembered that I have about 10 friends that use Twitter or Google+. Facebook would have been an effective way to share the news.


I’m still at a crossroads on whether I’d like to return to using Facebook. If I did, there are a few things that I would do differently.

  1. I’d slice my friend count in half. And then probably in half again. I’ve done this a couple of times before (I was pushing 700ish ‘friends’ at one point). I wouldn’t worry about if so-and-so would be offended that I had defriended them (and they probably wouldn’t notice anyway, since I haven’t been on there in months).
  2. I would disable every app I saw.
  3. I would create Groups, and try to implement them as close to Google+’s ‘Circles’ as possible. There’s something to be said for sharing certain things with certain people, and only viewing certain people’s updates in groups.
  4. I’d post rarely, and lurk rarely. Maybe it’d be a daily thing, but probably not. Maybe a weekly one. Although, I know that this can get out of hand quickly and all of a sudden I’m sucked back into the Social Media Refresh Loop.

I keep feeling like there has to be a better way to share things and communicate with the people that I’d want to see them, without getting on Facebook. My requirements are simple:

  1. Some sort of status update
  2. Easily viewable photos, preferably not shrunken, overly tagged ones
  3. An easy archive, preferably one not enclosed in the Facebook Walled Garden

I like the idea of Google+, but I’m not sure at what point it will catch on to the point that all of the people I wish would use it are using it.

So, if you’re on Facebook, and we’re friends… maybe you’ll see another friend added to your count one of these days. Then again, maybe not.

website teardown: what newlyweds look for in apartments

I was looking at the heatmaps for the website of the apartment complex that I manage, and found some interesting data. I honestly think that heatmaps are the best way to see how your site is getting used. It’s visual, it’s quick, and it’s easy with the right tools. I use Reinvigorate.

The Bavarian Condos is primarily a married housing apartment complex just south of Brigham Young University. The typical person looking at our condos is an recently engaged or married couple between the age of 20-26. So, if you’re advertising housing to that specific demographic, then this data may interest you as well.

Fancy Heatmaps

I designed this site using Pagelines built on top of Wordpress. I wrote the content, and prepared the site. Here’s what I thought people would be interested in:

  1. Pricing
  2. Pictures, pictures, pictures
  3. Video, if possible, of the apartment
  4. Scheduling a tour

And here’s what I wanted people to know before calling:

  1. Pricing
  2. Answers to basic questions re: animals, utilities, etc etc.

Here’s our first heatmap, depicting the homepage:

The three most clicked areas on the page are the following:

  1. Link to the Floor Plan
  2. Link to Pricing
  3. The ‘Send’ button on the contact form

Here’s our heatmaps from the Floor Plan page:

Overwhelmingly, visitors are looking at Pricing after looking at the Floor Plan. Very few are looking at the ‘Virtual Tour’ page, which actually has the pictures and video of the apartment. A few visitors skip to the FAQ page, but I discovered that these are the same visitors that looked at Pricing from the homepage, and are now wheeling back to the Floor Plan.

One more, here we have the Pricing and FAQ pages:

Pricing page leads directly to the FAQ, with 80% of visitors going from the Pricing Page to the FAQ page.

The FAQ page looks a bit like swiss cheese. Clicks all over the place, but very few clicks in the navigation area. So it looks like this is where many of our visitors stop looking at our page and leave.

Conclusions and Improvements

So here is the typical trail through our website:

  1. Homepage
  2. Floor Plan
  3. Pricing
  4. FAQ

Here is the less common trail:

  1. Homepage
  2. Contact form

Basically, my first attempt at this site has not been purely effective. I know that people are looking for pictures, because they ask us to see them. However, despite spending quite a bit of time creating a YouTube video tour of the apartments, my ‘Virtual Tour’ is the lowest viewed page on the site. People are looking to the Floor Plan, Pricing, and FAQ. If they can’t find the information they want easily, they’re jumping directly to the Contact Form.

So, I’m going to make 4 changes to the site to hopefully make it easier to use and quicker to find the information people are looking for:

  1. Consolidate the Virtual Tour and Floorplan pages.
  2. Consolidate the Pricing and FAQ pages, since the FAQ already includes the pricing. I will, however, change the link to say Pricing and FAQ to make it easier.
  3. I will add a paragraph above the contact form to the effect of ‘Please see the Frequently Asked Questions page, if you still have questions or if you would like to schedule a tour, please use the following form:’

Am I missing any big clues on how to improve the site from these heatmaps? Let me know.