BusinessMarketingSocial MediaTechnologyUncategorizedWeb Development

5 Words I Would Use To Describe Panda Rose

If you’ve known us at Panda Rose for a long time, you know these 5 words fit us well, and if you are just getting to know us or want to know more, here are some things you can expect!

Knowledgeable:

I often hear people use this word to describe us at Panda Rose. Every employee is extremely knowledgeable, and quite multi-talented. If one person is ever stumped on a project, we collaborate and brainstorm with each other to reach a solution. This method is quite effective for us at Panda Rose, as so many employees are talented and knowledgeable in areas above and beyond their job title. Something really cool about us, is we actually train you how to manage your website on your own! We find it valuable for our clients to have control over their website and know how to run/oversee things.

Creative:

(Or as some might say: quirky!) When I think of creativity, I think of Ms. Frizzle, the teacher on Magic School Bus! Her dress had different shapes and colours, her hair bright red and a little crazy sometimes, and her personality was always adventurous! And didn’t she have a pet lizard?

Ms Frizzle
Yup, she has a pet lizard!

Anyway, while none of us drive a magic school bus (sadly, cause what a fun commute that would be), I would say this creative description suits us well! Most of us have quite adventurous personalities (and if you don’t believe me, watch a few of our YouTube videos and you’ll see what I’m talking about!) I would say our work matches Ms Frizzle’s outfit: it’s eye-catching, leaves a lasting impression, and displays your businesses personality perfectly (minus the tackiness)! Plus if you have glowing planet earrings you can believe we’re going to highlight it! In other words, whatever makes your business unique, we pay attention to the details and will design your website, mobile app, social media pages, etc. accordingly!

Upbeat:

We like to have a good time at Panda Rose, and love to connect with people and network! If you are local to Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, and Saint Albert you have probably met someone from Panda Rose! We all love to laugh and have a good sense of humour, making us easy to get along with. One of my favourite social media posts we did was Father’s Day 2019. We sent out a bunch of dad jokes from people in the office, and you guys loved it! Creating an office and business atmosphere where people feel comfortable to express some of their biggest ideas, comes down the people. We are excited about your business and your future and our attitudes sure show it!

joyful jumping panda-man

 

Supportive:

Panda Rose is located right here in Spruce Grove, and if you know anything about Spruce Grove, you know that we love to support each other’s businesses! Am I right, or am I right? This stretches as far as Stony Plain, Edmonton and surrounding areas. Good chance that if we work with you, we also look for any way we can support your business, such as buying your products because we genuinely love them or using your services! We are in the business of helping businesses, and we honestly want to see your business thrive.

Spruce grove

 

Profitable:

We know how to work hard! We put in the time and effort it takes to generate results for your business so you see a profit. Your success = our success! Not sure if digital marketing, web development or any variety of things we offer will help your business thrive? We’ve seen time and time again that it does! But don’t just take my word for it, you can see for yourself! Check out our testimonials section on our website, and send us an email to see what we can do for you!

FutureMobile AppsPandemicProductivityProgrammingTechnologyWeb Development

Foundation is Panda Rose’s internal user-interface toolkit, which we built from the ground for rapid-development of rich, interactive applications spanning multiple platforms. Our initial targets were web-based single page applications and mobile iPhone and Android applications, and recent developments have allowed us to add Mac and Windows to that growing list.

Foundation integrates very closely with our internal backend framework, Kojo, and most who’ve worked with Foundation have encountered it in its conjoined form, Kojo-Foundation.

Our foundation has a bit less rebar and cement.

Standardised Technologies

We’ve rolled the first version out over the past couple years and achieved many of our objectives. The development cycle in Kojo-Foundation utilizes a core of well-standardised, well-understood web technologies: PHP, HTML and CSS, TypeScript and React. Our cross-platform environment allows all versions of an application to share common business logic and even presentational views, and our common toolkit of components allows the application to shape-shift into different environments. A straightforward plugin interface allows individual applications to easily expand the core, and the expansive reach of React Native means that no capability of iPhone or Android is out of reach.

The end goal: fully native applications that look and feel great on every platform, with a cycle of development and maintenance that is as straightforward as composing and updating simple web pages.

The Sequel

In 2020, however, we took a pause along with the rest of the world, and out of this we’ve produced a sequel.

The world of frontend development, driven by JavaScript and its derivatives, is notoriously dynamic and fast-changing (much to the displeasure of managers the world over) and much had changed over the course of our initial development cycle. Here we had a chance to reckon with those advancements and plot a course forward.

Further, over the past few years we’ve encountered many pain points in the modern web development toolkit. A toolkit which, to be sure, is wonderful, largely free of cost, and enables vast leaps of individual creativity, but also adds heaps of complexity to a toolkit which is, at its core, simple, intuitive, and eminently teachable to a broad audience. In short, the very qualities that introduced many of us to the creative potential of the web many years ago.

A Return to Simplicity

Simplicity is beautiful.

At the core of our effort is to return to that place of simplicity and rapid, accessible development, while taking on and making broadly accessible the many wonderful advancements of the past 20 years which enable us to do more and reach a broader audience than we’d ever have imagined, hacking together homepages in Notepad in 1999.

In the coming weeks, we will count the ways.

Link RoundupProductivitySEOWeb DevelopmentWordpress

There are a lot of lists out there about “20 Best Free Plugins!” and “Top Ten Essential WP Plugins!”, but you know what isn’t out there yet? A top list of Deborah’s favourite most handy plugins. Some of them may be found in some of the other lists out there, but some of them are a bit more random. So without further ado: Deborah’s Favourite Most Handy List of Plugins in 2020!

So here we go, in no particular order:

Classic Editor 

Johannes Gutenberg
Classic Editor: the editor that Johannes Gutenberg would have used.

This is probably on a lot of other lists out there. I have to be honest: I hate Gutenberg. In fact, I think the original Gutenberg is rolling in his grave at the thought that his name is being used for such an awful page builder. I’d rather just write everything manually than use Gutenberg, that’s how awkward it is. But thanks to sensible people out there, the Classic Editor plugin exists, to bring back the WYSIWYG editor. My life is made easier.

If you like, you can disable Gutenberg, or leave it enabled so that any other users who DO like Gutenberg (weirdos) can still use it. Conveniently, it opens automatically to the user’s last-used editor, so you don’t have to worry about repeatedly switching back and forth.

Schema & Schema Default Image 

Google structured data rich snippets results
All that fancy stuff like the sidebar there and whatnot? That’s because of structured data.

Schema is very simple and straightforward for getting your structured data markup in the right format, which makes your site look a lot better in Google search results. It’s helpful for your local SEO and great for people who are simply searching for you (or didn’t know they were searching for you).

The Schema Default Image plugin goes hand-in-hand with Schema, adding an option for you to designate a default image if your pages or posts don’t have a featured image, which is a nice little add-on.

Honeypot for Contact Form 7

It works on Winnie, and it’ll work on spammers.

Contact Form 7 is a great contact form plugin, but as with any contact form, you can end up getting a lot of spam. Thanks, but I don’t want to buy viagra from random Russian people, and neither do the clients for whom I build websites. I mean, I assume they don’t.

ReCAPTCHA is helpful in decreasing the spam, but I find when I implement CF7’s quiz feature AND the honeypot, it makes a huge difference! Overkill? Maybe. But nobody likes spam.

Header, Footer and Post Injections 

Get it? Header!

Sometimes you end up having to use a theme that makes it very difficult to plugin bits of code in the header or anywhere else, and you can get this done all in one place without having to use 5 different plugins. It’s also another one of those really straightforward plugins that is simple to use. It even takes into consideration accelerated mobile pages.

Code Snippets 

Code Snippets is a bit like Header, Footer, and Post Injections, but you can insert lines of code one at a time and enable and disable each of them as you please. It adds them to your theme’s functions.php file automatically. The graphical interface is nice, and allows you to add comments and tags for notes for yourself (or other admins). I don’t always need this plugin, but I’m really glad it exists!

Use Any Font 

Seriously, ANY font!

Ever have that one website you have to build where the client’s font ISN’T a Google font? That’s when this comes handy. You can upload one font for free and it converts it into a web font. Mind you, if you need more than one custom font, you’re going to have to pay, but usually I only need one custom font. It plays nicely with various editors and page builders too.

Disable admin notices individually

I can’t be the only one who gets tired the plethora of notifications in WordPress. It’s either “give us a rating!” or “upgrade to premium!” or “really useless information that takes up half the page!” and you have to click the little x to close them out every. single. time.

Notifications blocks
Dude. Nobody even cares.

Well, Disable admin notices individually solves that problem for you. You can dismiss a message permanently. And don’t worry, if you didn’t mean to dismiss one, you can go into the settings and un-dismiss the message. Additionally, different users and the messages they have dismissed are independent of each other — if I dismiss a message, another admin logging in will still see it until they also dismiss it.

WPFront Notification Bar

I’ve seen a lot of pages out there with a COVID-19 notification bar to alert site users to what their business is doing in response to COVID-19. If you want one of those that you can extensively customise, then this is the plugin for you. Of course, it’s not just for COVID alerts, but for any alert your heart desires. You can set cookies so that it doesn’t pop up for the same user for a certain length of time, or you can set it so it pops up every time. You can adjust colour, size, location, scroll, how it closes (or doesn’t close), and just about anything else you’d want to do. It’s an impressive little plugin if a notification bar is something that you need!

Redirection

This is not a political endorsement.

This plugin is great for handling 301 redirects. Some of our clients have ecommerce stores and rather than un-publishing a product, they’ll delete it for whatever reason. Of course, when they do that, I get the wonderful notification from Google Search Console telling me that we’ve got a 404, oh no! Redirection is great at handling and sorting out that problem so that users aren’t sent to an “oops! 404 page not found!” page. It can handle conditional redirects it even tracks errors.

Accelerated Mobile Pages

This plugin isn’t for every website, but if you write a lot of articles, recipes, or sell products through an ecommerce store, this plugin can make a huge difference. It puts all of your posts into an AMP format, a stripped down version of your post that is mobile-friendly and gives you a chance to show up in the Google News carousel. Since implementing AMP for a few of our clients, we’ve seen a huge upturn in traffic to those pages.

There are lots of upgrades you can purchase for this plugin, but the free version is more than enough to work for most of our clients. It’s worth mentioning here that there is a free plugin, AMP Contact FORM 7 – AMPCF7 to make Contact Form 7 work with AMP. It hasn’t been updated in two years, but it hasn’t failed me yet.

And have I mentioned yet that having your own ecommerce store can be far more beneficial than selling on third-party platforms? Indeed, you can boost your own store‘s SEO with this.

Contact Form 7 Database Addon – CFDB7

If you’re worried about missing contact emails or accidentally losing the data that people have submitted, this plugin is handy. It stores each contact form’s information in a database on your site. You can export it as a CSV file, delete individual entries (or all) if there are duplicates, and it requires no configuration at all.

Special Mentions

I think that a lot of lists cover these plugins, but it’s worth mentioning anyway without needing to go into detail.

Augoptimize – our favourite plugin for optimising image sizes, scripts, and generally speeding up a page. We use it in conjunction with a subscription to ShortPixel.

Wordfence – Excellent for website security. You’d be amazed at how often people try hacking pretty much ANY website.

Yoast SEO – The best tool for SEO!

What are your favourite handy WordPress plugins? Let me know in the comments!

BusinessCareersEducationMarketingProductivitySelf-ImprovementUncategorized

Two simple rules that will LITERALLY save you millions of dollars going to an Ivy League school for an MBA

While there is a massive amount all of us can learn about business from a MBA program, I have found that two lessons I’ve learned from my exposure to these programs have been incredibly fruitful in helping me manage strategy and tactics while growing a business and navigating through both good and difficult times.

Don’t be Married to Your Business

If you haven’t learned about the Sunk Cost Fallacy , I recommend you read over the linked site. Just open it in a new tab. It’s ok, I’ll be here when you get back.

Basic gist of this fallacy goes as follows “the more you invest in something, the harder it is for you to stop investing in it.” We are all guilty of this. That significant other you spent over a year longer than you should’ve trying to keep the relationship together when you knew it was long over. That degree you finished because “well, I’m already 50% of the way through it,” and then proceeded to follow an entirely different career path in which everything you learned has been tangential to your current life. Even the business you’ve been working on for years, but never got any traction with.

When you are working on a business plan, or developing a business, you will find only after you have invested a lot of time, sweat, money, blood and tears into it that, unfortunately, your original vision was not that good. At which point you have a sticky situation, should you keep investing in the idea, or is it time to spin things down? I have seen many, many people stick to an idea long past it’s sell-by date, and the history of business is littered with business folks who went to the grave still trying to get that “great idea” to start to pay off.

Here’s the thing, sometimes your idea does suck.

Yep, sometimes it just isn’t as great as it felt it would be once it is built, and all the polishing and reconfiguring of the original idea might make no difference at all. It just is not going to take off as it exists.

So what does that mean? Well, luckily there isn’t a holy covenant between you and your company or your business direction. It is not a mortal sin to decide to drop that original business idea. In fact, that is the sign of a good business person.

YouTube, originally started as a dating site. Yep. Their selling point was that you could upload videos of yourself so people could get to meet the “real you,” before deciding to date. At the time, it seemed like a great idea. Dating sites were hot and making money hand over fist. However, in a very short period of time, it was clear that it was not the brilliant idea the original creators thought it was. Now, they could’ve superglued themselves to the original idea and simply tried to polish it further, making the video interface cleaner, making the matching algorithm better, a whole list of minor perfunctory changes. They could’ve decided that they were married to the original idea, ’til death us do part.

But they were good business people, and decided instead to concentrate on what was working and what wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, they tried almost everything to get stuff working. They even went onto Craigslist and offered women $20 a video to join and upload videos. Still no one came forward. So they said, screw it, let’s let people upload anything they want, forget the dating aspect. The first video ever was this one. YouTube took off and they sold themselves to Google for 1.65bn. If they were married to the dating site idea, they likely would’ve gone out with a puff of smoke, but because they were willing to divorce themselves from that idea and see what else worked, Chen and the other original team are doing quite well for themselves today.

Stick to your Guns

In short, this rule means: Don’t give up so quickly, just change your tactics and keep trying. The fact you built the tech to begin with and the fact that you’ve invested so much in it means that there is something there. However, there are so many external factors that lead to your plan not working. In some cases, the market simply is not ready yet for your product. In other cases, the strategy you are using to sell you product is not properly targeted to the sector in which you would do best. In a surprising number of cases, it’s simply bad luck in finding the right investors, employees and clients. If you stick with it, you are more likely to succeed.

As my father always told me as a kid, “You miss every shot you don’t take.” I hear that some other great hockey player may have said this as well… Might’ve played for the Oilers for a while. Since they haven’t won a Stanley Cup in a long time, I’m guessing that’s why the name evades me, probably Kelly Buchberger. Kellys always have great ideas.

However, I can hear you all screaming at your phone: “Doesn’t this rule fundamentally contradict the previous rule?” Oh, I can see why would think that. The previous rule says that if something isn’t working, you shouldn’t continue to bury money into it. That’s the entire point of the sunk cost fallacy. However, I am not saying you continue doing something that is not working. I am saying you should look at what you have already done, learn from it, and adapt accordingly. Do not give up now that you have learned so much from lack of success. You should look at what you have built and then go, what can I do with what I have built.

You know what doesn’t work.

Which means that the category of possible actions that will work is smaller and easier to choose from. Sometimes the pivot is as major as what happened with YouTube, where the whole model was dropped, but the technology was kept. They stuck to their guns, the technology they had developed that worked and worked well. They got rid of what didn’t work, the original business idea. In the end they were very successful.

Take the chance, invest in the technology, build your ideas, but be willing to fail fast and pivot. If you are not getting traction with your current strategy, there is nothing wrong with changing tact. In fact, that is how most of largest businesses today have got to where they are.