WordPress registration: better than average

Registration forms can have you tearing your hair out. They want every personal detail known to man, moan if you don’t enter them in exactly the right format – and throw up hopelessly vague errors if you get anything wrong.

There truly are some shockers out there. And that’s probably why the good ones stick in your head.

I stumbled upon one just the other day. The sign up form for really is a thing of beauty. It’s clear, straightforward, and only asks you to type in four bits of information.

What’s more, it includes this delightfully playful text that sums up just what we all really think about agreeing to terms and conditions:

Legal flotsam: I have read and agree to the fascinating terms of service”

I wonder how they got that one past the legal team. Nice work, WordPress.

Porn, pharmacies and phone sex. Who’s using the photos on your website?

It’s never been easier to find photos for your website. Pile-’em-high-sell-’em-cheap stock photography companies like iStockPhoto, Shutterstock and Fotolia allow you to purchase photos for as little as a pound or two.

These sites have drastically cut the cost of getting hold of images without worrying about copyright issues. I use them, so I should know. But there’s one big problem: when you pay so little, you don’t get any control over who else uses the photos.

Those images are sold again and again and again. Some of them are exceptionally popular – and that can spell embarrassment for your website.

I’ve trawled iStockPhoto – one of the biggest stock imagery sites – to bring you these five examples of stock photography that’s been rather, well, overexposed. If you’re looking for images to illustrate your website, steer well clear of these.

From web hosting to chief marketing officer

Lady with crossed arms

Plenty of websites seem to like the look of this lady. When she’s not urging you to “get more now” over at Midphase Hosting, she’s also putting in an appearance at Data102, a Colorado Springs hosting centre.

Then there’s marketing. She’s been standing in as a chief marketing officer for Brand Week – and been involved in this article about self branding. Busy lady.

A tired metaphor for growth

A tree growing in a hand

If you’re growing a business, here’s one visual metaphor you might want to steer clear of. It’s a very well-trodden path, you see. It might have been Clydesdale Ventures that first used this image. Or maybe it was Ian Brodie. Or Accelerate Media.

In hard copy, the books Recession Thriving and Trading Pain for Peace both have strikingly similar covers. Those green shoots of recovery are certainly spreading. (more…)

Why I love using Twitter

I have a confession to make: I think Twitter is utterly fantastic. Sure, it can be a bit distracting at times, but that’s nothing self-discipline (and leaving the iPhone at home) won’t solve.

It seems not everyone agrees with me. Rather like Marmite or Manchester United, Twitter’s one of those things people love or hate. They get it or they don’t.

Well, in an effort to introduce you to the world of Twitter (and convert any sceptics out there), here are six reasons I think it’s great. It’s not just people saying what they had for lunch, you know.

  • It’s a great source of information. People on Twitter are a friendly bunch all-round really. There’s always someone who’ll answer your questions, whether you want help buying a laptop, or advice on the best place to go for lunch.
  • There’s interesting stuff to read. Where I used to turn first to Google Reader for my fix of interesting articles, I can now be pretty sure of finding handpicked gems in the stream of tweets from people I follow.
  • It gives me an outlet when I’m working by myself. Working from home gets a bit lonely sometimes, but at least I can partake in some online banter with fellow tweeters if things get too boring. Think of it as an online watercooler.
  • It’s good for networking. For me, LinkedIn seems too formal and Facebook is too much about people I already know. But with Twitter it’s easy to find people working in my profession, so I can share ideas, offer (and receive) advice – and maybe even pick up the odd client.
  • You hear about news first on Twitter. All the major news outlets use Twitter now (here’s The Guardian and BBC News), but you’re more likely to pick up on breaking news as it spreads like wildfire through the system. The Hudson River plane crash is a great example.
  • Occasionally you get free stuff. If it’s material gains you want, plenty of companies run promotions and giveaways on Twitter. I’ve blagged a free case of beer and a CD so far. It’s not quite the conveyor belt from The Generation Game, but there are opportunities out there.

I could go on, but if you’ve not been convinced by those points, there’s no hope for you anyway. Don’t use Twitter? Go on, sign up and give it a go. You can follow me for a start.