Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Facebook Fan Page Vanity URL

Have you started a fan page for you company but it's a long, ugly URL?

You can pretty it up with a Vanity URL. All you have to do is log in to the personal account the fan page is linked to and go to http://www.facebook.com/username/ and find an available name for your facebook page.

The only requirement is that you have 25 or more fans/likes/followers.

If you already have incoming links to your old URL, do not worry, they should stil work.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

County Tourism Manager; and Workforce Development Award

Economic Development chose the following categories and award winners:
  • Agriculture Award- Galloping Goose Vineyards and Lambco, LLC.; Posthumous Agricultural
  • Legacy Award - Tommy Dell; Business Expansion Award - Ridge Engineering, Inc.
  • Redevelopment Award - Bruce and Suzanne Reamer and Classic American Homes for Salernos
  • Restaurant & Catering; Small Business Award - Simply Stone; Tourism Industry Award -
  • Kevin Atticks, Maryland Wineries Association and Barbara Beverungen, former Carroll
  • County Tourism Manager; and Workforce Development Award - InfoPathways, Inc.
Click here to read more of the Press Release!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Beginning Your Website Project

Need a new website design and don't have the slightest idea where to start the process? We can help! Below are a few things to think about before we dive in. The suggestions below may make you feel like you're doing our work for us – but that is not the case. Utilizing the suggestions below provides us with a solid starting point so we get it right the first time. In the end, we can save you time, money and get your website launched on schedule. The biggest benefit of this approach is that the resulting website will reflect your organization’s personality.

1. Tell us what you like. Do some web research. Look at different websites including your competitors, websites related to your industry, and possibly websites that have nothing to do with your products and services. Tell us what design elements you like in regards to design, navigation, function, colors and style. For example:
  • Do you like the navigation menus across the top or down the side?
  • What colors are you attracted to and/or what are your company colors?
  • Did you run across particular layouts you liked more than others?
  • Was there a background pattern/texture/gradient that you liked most?
  • What font families/styling/coloring stood out to you the most?
2. Tell us what you don't like. If you already have a website and we’re talking about an update or total redesign, tell us what you don't like about it and what's currently not working for your company and/or clients. While researching ideas related to #1 above, if you find a website with blatantly awful design/content/structure, note it so we also have examples of design elements you dislike.

3. Write your website content. Have at least a rough outline of the content you want on your website. Think about your current customers and the customers you want to attract – how will your website help them? First you may need to consider what pages will be in your website. InfoPathways will provide you with a suggested Site Map; the skeleton of the site structure. Write (or if you already have it, copy and paste) your content in a word editor like Microsoft Word or Note Pad and email it to our development team. We’ll format the text to improve its visual appeal and readability. As the website nears completion, you can send us content revisions, if needed.

4. Collect your imagery. Send us your logo and any other graphics or photographs you need included or want considered during the design process. However, keep in mind that first impressions can make or break you.
  • Graphics: Old logos and graphics may need freshening up.
  • Photographs: It is not likely that images taken by your staff with point and shoot cameras will be of high enough quality to produce a professional website. But do share these with us anyway. You can also purchase photographs form stock companies. And lucky for you, InfoPathways staffs a professional photographer, should you have the need.
  • Other: In branding yourself, you want to have a consistent look and feel including but not limited to your logo, website, advertisements, brochures, handouts, business cards, post cards, etc. If you have any additional designed material that should be considered in your website design, please share them with us. All of your material helps us conceptualize the design.
5. Function over design. After reviewing our suggested Site Map, consider the navigation of your website. You may want to make changes based on the needs of your potential/current clients. It needs to be easy to use so your website visitors can find what they are looking for within a few clicks. If a visitor cannot find what they need quickly, they will go elsewhere.

6. CMS. Will you need a Content Management System for your website where you can update targeted website content on your own? A CMS can add to the cost of the project, but if you need to make updates often, you will likely recoup your costs in a reasonable timeframe. However, some updates should be filtered through your website company not just because the cost makes more sense, but your time is more valuable when applied to your specialty. Let us know what you want to take charge of and what you want us to handle. We’ll talk to you about your options.

7. Incorporating other elements. Other elements could be as simple as a graphic image that needs to be incorporated, logos of partnership companies that should be noted, or any minor detail related item. It could also be a bit more complicated, like Facebook and Twitter apps to connect your social media or setting up a Blog. Another thought would be incorporating email marketing such as Constant Contact and a ‘Join Our Email List’ sign-up box or and setting up visitor tracking with a solution like Google Analytics. Many of these elements affect design. Some affect cost. Let’s try and figure out everything upfront so there are no surprises.

8. Involving your team. Asking for input from your team with consideration of what the website should provide and look like can be very beneficial. However, these types of discussions should be completed before starting your website development. Not only do we (InfoPathways) need firm decisions to base your design on, but involving too many people will lead to delays. During the development of your website, one person at your company should be the lead contact for the website. They need to be available and have the authority to make decisions and provide imagery and/or content in a timely manner.

9. Domain and hosting details. Launching a website can be quick and simple. However, it can also be a nightmare.
If you do not have a website yet, we need to decide on your domain name and where you would like to host the website. Think of your domain as your address and the hosting as the monthly rent. A domain can be purchased for one or more years. There are multiple hosting providers to select from. You can host with InfoPathways, which we prefer, to keep everything in one place.

If you already have a website, you need to at least know where your site is hosted and how to access the account (your login and password). If you are not in control of this account, it is likely your current/previous web team is. If this is the case, ask them kindly for the information (the account and FTP information). Some web developers do not let go easily and this is where the nightmare can begin.
Having your information upfront will help us stay on track with your target launch date.

10. Launch goal. Choosing a reasonable launch date is crucial and it is important that this date can be flexible. In ideal situations, websites can be completed by the initial launch date goal, but keep in mind that your part and our part may encounter unexpected hurdles as well as additions and changes to the project. Time management is also a big hurdle that we see a lot of clients struggle with. Make sure you have time to complete your part; writing and editing content, collecting photos and responding to our web designers and developers with feedback. Our experience tells us that launch dates are missed more often due to the time it takes the customer to write and assemble the content. We’ll do our part to keep your project moving.


Give us a call at InfoPathways – together we can brainstorm great ideas and solve your website challenges with the help of these basic stepping stones!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Microsoft Outlook 2010 : SHARING EVENTS WITH CLIENTS & COLLEAGUES

Microsoft Outlook is the email client included with the Microsoft Office Suite. It is designed to operate as an independent personal information manager, as an Internet mail client, or in conjunction with the Microsoft Exchange Server for group scheduling, email, and task management. It manages email, calendars, contacts, tasks, to-do lists, and documents or files on the hard drive. Outlook helps you communicate through email, phone support, and group scheduling capabilities. Outlook also helps you share information by means of public folders, forms, and Internet connectivity. Outlook 2010 includes new features and capabilities to help you stay connected with people and better manage your time and information.

1: Add Events to Outlook Calendars
Click New Appointment to start or double click on the date you wish to schedule the events. An untitled event window pops up allowing you to enter a title/subject, location, date (a range, if needed) times, and notes. You can invite others (required, optional and resources), change the default reminder (15 minutes prior to events), change time-zone, apply categories, mark as high or low importance, and much more. Invite the appropriate parties to your events, whether they are business colleagues, clients or friends. When you are finished, click Save & Close. The calendar event will be posted to their calendar and should you make any updates to the event item, they will be informed of the changes. It’s a great way to keep everyone on the same page.

2: View Other Calendars
Outlook 2010’s calendar view lets you add the calendars of your team members, as well as your home and work calendars. Click Calendar to get started and then click Schedule View in the arrange group of the home tab. Next, click Add a Calendar at the bottom of the calendar view area. If you enter someone’s name in the text box and press Enter, Outlook will search your contacts for that person’s information and add the calendar entry in the “My Calendars” list.

3: Create a Calendar Group
If you often need to view the calendars of everyone on your team at the same time, you can create a calendar group. Begin by clicking Calendar. Then, in the “Manage Calendars” group of the home tab, click Calendar Groups. Choose create new calendar group, enter a name for the group, and click ok. Select the names of the contacts you want to add to the group, click group members, and click ok.
At InfoPathways, we have a company calendar which we use to mark business and social events that everyone may be interested in, as well as to let others know where different team members will be (at meetings, business expos, class, on vacation, etc.). Having one central calendar for the main business/company events will reduced the number of calendars you need to view at once. You can view multiple calendars at once by using the check boxes in the “My Calendars” list, but if you want any level of detail, you’ll need to limit the number of calendars you view at any one time.

4: Open & Use a Shared Calendar
Before connecting to someone else’s calendar, they need to give permissions to share it in order to give you and others access. To do this, you need an invitation to share (Share Calendar) and they need to change their permissions (Calendar Permissions). You can open a shared calendar by clicking Open Calendar in the “Manage Calendars” group and clicking Open Shared Calendar. In the open a shared calendar dialog box, click Name to select the person from your contact list. Click ok, and the shared calendar will open in your calendar window.

5: Archive Old Calendar Entries
Depending on how busy you are, you may have lots of old appointment information taking up space for no good reason. You can archive the appointments you no longer need by changing your calendar properties and setting up auto-archive. To do this, right-click your calendar in the “My Calendars” list and click the Auto-Archive tab of the properties dialog box. Click Default Archive Settings to use the default settings for archiving your calendar entries. Or click the Archive this folder using these settings and enter the settings you want Outlook to use. Click Apply and then click ok to save your changes.

6: Sync Outlook 2010 & Google Calendar
Making sure that your calendar is available to you whenever and wherever you need it is important. That's why Google Calendar works with a number of desktop applications and mobile devices. Google Calendar sync now supports Outlook 2010. Outlook 2010 is available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions, and currently only 32-bit is supported. (To find out if you have 32-bit or 64-bit, go to File-Help and you should see information to the right about your version of Outlook.) To start syncing your calendar with Outlook 2010, download Google Calendar sync version 0.9.3.6. Once you install it, a settings window will appear. Enter your account’s email address and password, choose your sync option and sync frequency, and you’re done! (Note: if you’re already using Google Calendar sync, you’ll still need to download and install this new version in order to be able to sync with Outlook 2010. If you need help, take a look at Google’s getting started guide.)

7: Add Holidays with a Few Clicks
Adding national/religious holidays manually for a whole year in Outlook calendar is a time consuming job. By using “Calendar Options”, you can promptly import all holidays into Outlook calendar. It contains a huge list of countries, each with different holidays which can be imported instantly.
  1. To begin with, launch Outlook 2010 and on the file menu, click Options.
  2. You will reach Outlook option dialog. From the left sidebar, select Calendar and from the main window, select Add Holidays.
  3. A new dialog will appear showing the list of countries. Scroll through the list to find the desired country to add respective holidays. Click ok and close Outlook options dialog.
  4. Now click Calendar from the left side bar of Outlook main window.
  5. To check the added holidays move to the month having holidays. You will see holidays of specified countries in the calendar.
  6. Click the imported holiday event to add more details to schedule meetings, appointments, events and invitations.

We hope these Microsoft Outlook tips were useful to you. Please contact us if you would find it useful for us to provide a Tailgate Training session on ways to use your Microsoft Outlook.