Monthly Archives: August 2010

10 eBay Facts You Might Not Know

eBay, the world’s largest marketplace, has hundreds of millions of listings live at any given moment. It was founded in 1995, the company has grown from just one curious computer programmer to over 15,000 employees. It has now become one of the most recognized brands around the world.

In this article, we will take a deeper look at the history behind eBay and some of the most entertaining facts about the company that you might not know.

1. eBay was Originally Called AuctionWeb

This screenshot is the earliest example of the AuctionWeb homepage, circa March 1997, but the basic design did not change from May 1996 to September 1997.

The site we now know as eBay was launched during Labor Day weekend in 1995 as “AuctionWeb”, by entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar in his living room in San Jose, California.

The decision to change the name from AuctionWeb to eBay was made by Omidyar and Jeffrey Skoll, eBay’s first full-time employee and president, in mid-1997. The change was spurred by the fact that most customers referred to the site as “eBay,” and the initial media coverage also used “eBay” more than “AuctionWeb”.

So, where did “eBay” actually come from? Long before AuctionWeb existed, Omidyar went to Sacramento to register the domain echobay.com for his planned business name Echo Bay Inc., but it was taken. He came up with “eBay” on the spot and registered it instead.

2. The First AuctionWeb Logo Was Called the “Death Bar”

The logo of eBay “evolves” for several times. Before 1997, the eBay logo was in dull colour (black and navy blue), the employees of eBay even thought the logo was “old” (can you imagine?)

Luckily, in 1997, the company hired CKS Group, an ad agency owned by Bill Cleary, Mark Kvamme, and Tom Suiter (all three of whom had previously worked at Apple Computers), to revamp their corporate identity, including visual imagery, typography, the website, and recommendations on advertising. Inspired by the visual imagery behind Eastman Kodak and Apple, among other brands, Cleary and his team created a logo that would appeal to the masses. The final result was the multi-colored logo spelled e-b-a-Y in overlapping letters with baseline shifts. The logo was chosen out of five or six other designs and had the “friendly, open and accessible” personality that the eBay team was looking for.

eBay in 2003

3. The First Item Listed on eBay was a Broken Laser Pointer

On Labor Day weekend in 1995, computer programmer Omidyar wrote the code for what he called 
an “experiment.” He wanted to know what would happen if everyone in the world had access to a single global marketplace. To test his idea, he came up with an auction website, where he listed a broken laser pointer that he was going to throw away. In the end, a collector bought it for $14.83 (Interesting, who will buy a broken laser pointer?)

4. The eBay HQ Building Names Reflect Categories on eBay

Not many know this, I think, except their employees. There are seven buildings at eBay’s headquarters in San Jose, California, and they are all named after categories on eBay.com: Collectibles, Jewelry, Motors, Music, Sports, Technology and Toys.

All of the conference rooms are named according to the corresponding building theme. For example, in the Motors building, rooms are named after type of cars, and in the Music building, rooms are take the names of various musical instruments.

5. Jack Sheng Was the First to Reach a Feedback Score of One Million

As of November 13, 2008, Jack Sheng was the first eBay seller to receive a Feedback score of one million. He currently has a score of over two million. It took Sheng eight years to earn a Feedback score of one million, but it only took him 18 months thereafter to reach two million.

To congratulate Sheng, the eBay staff created a special “Shooting Star” for his seller profile and named a conference room after him. Nice setup, Sheng!

6. Fixed-Price Format Trumps Auction Format

For over a year, fixed-price format (Buy it Now) has accounted for a majority of merchandise volume. Approximately 59% of sales during the second quarter of 2010 were purchased via the “Buy It Now” feature.

7. You Can Adopt a Pet on eBay Classifieds

Looking for a pet? Check out eBay Classifieds (formerly Kijiji); it’s a local listing site that is free of charge and open to everyone. Pets are among the most popular listings. Dogs are the pet of choice, with the most popular canine searches being Yorkie, Chihuahua, Boxer, English Bulldog and Pitbull. And for the feline fanatics, the most popular cat breeds searched are Persian, Siamese and Bengal. With Petfinder as a partner, over two-thirds of pet listings are from shelters, so you know you’ll be giving a deserving puppy or kitty a new, happy home.

8. Mobile is Used for Big Ticket Purchases

Looking at mobile behavior on eBay’s apps, we can see that mobile commerce is an increasingly important focus for the company. One item is purchased every two seconds using eBay mobile apps, and in 2009, eBay users bought $600 million of merchandise using their mobile phones. On the last earnings call, eBay CEO John Donahoe predicted that number will nearly triple this year to $1.5 billion.

It’s no wonder that mobile is such a focus for the company. Users are shelling out big bucks on their mobile phones. So far in 2010, the most expensive item sold via eBay’s mobile app was a 1985 Piper PA-46-310P Malibu airplane for $265,000. The transaction was successful and resulted in the exchange of positive Feedback.

Another big ticket item bought via the eBay app this year was a 2007 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder for $139,000. So far this year, it’s the most expensive car bought via eBay’s mobile app.

An exciting addition to the eBay app roster that will make mobile shopping even easier is Red Laser, a popular iPhone app that scans barcodes in stores, and returns the best prices for the same item online and at other stores. eBay recently acquired the app and will soon integrate Red Laser’s technology within its eBay applications — eBay Marketplace, eBay Selling, StubHub and Shopping.com. (Cool…)

9. The Most Expensive eBay.com Purchase: A Jet

A Gulfstream II Jet that sold for $4.9 million in 2001 is the record for highest eBay sale price yet. The record sales price was more than three times the previous known eBay record of $1.65 million. The jet was sold by Tyler Jet (now, Tyler Jet Motorsports), the world’s largest business jet dealer at the time.

10. eBay was the First to Live-Tweet Its Earnings Call

Richard Brewer-Hay, eBay’s corporate blogger, was the first to live-blog a company’s earnings call using a Twitter feed. During the Q2 2010 earning’s call, Brewer-Hay tweeted away using the hashtag #eBayQ210.

Prior to that, he had worked in conjunction with eBay’s legal team to create social media guidelines for reporting company information on behalf of eBay to dodge any legal issues.

Brewer-Hay has played a key role in eBay’s growing presence on various social networks, but there are over 40 other eBay-owned Twitter feeds, including eBay Radio, eBay Classifieds, eBay Green, and PayPal.

Contributed by:  Erica Swallow is an Editorial Assistant at Mashable, working primarily on writing, editing and managing supported feature content.

Congratulations to Our Winners – FreakyFoto Contest

After a month of fierce competition (especially between the top 3 contestants), the FreakyFoto Contest finally comes to a perfect full-stop.

Congratulations to Sor Mo Molly, our winner of FreakyFoto Contest! And she have got herself a Canon IXUS 130 Digital Camera which worth RM1,100! She took part in the contest only after 2 weeks it is launched, and she took much effort to promote her freakyfoto on different social media like Facebook, Twitter and MSN, and her final votes reached 548 votes! Congratulations to her again!

The competition between the three runners-up was aggressive too, as their number of votes were very close to each other. The runners-up are AiMeiLi, Aeroplane, HoLSehLiao and they will be given a Western Digital TV Live HD Media Player (worth RM400), a Western Digital My Passport Elite Ultra-Portable Hard Drives 320GB (worth RM250), and a Logitech Speaker Set X-210 (worth RM130) respectively.

It does not only end here…We have ten consolation prizes for ten of our contestants who have got the 5th to 14th highest votes!

List of Winners

1st Prize
Sor Mo Molly

2nd Prize
AiMeiLi

3rd Prize
Aeroplane

4th Prize
HoLSehLiao

Consolation Prize (not in sequence)
Dolphin
sion
Alien-licious
Princet4u
khai
Mr. WoW
Robot handsome
ayu (boc)
Insp. Chin
luluchai

**A kind reminder to all winners, please submit your full personal details to wow@serverfreak.com so that we can make the arrangement for prize delivery.

Last but not least, ServerFreak would like to show our appreciation to each and every contestant who took place in this contest, and made this FreakyFoto Contest a successful one.

Hope to see you again in our upcoming event, in near future!

10 Tips for Corporate Blogging

There is a study on “how corporate blogging can help small businesses”, and it is found that small businesses with corporate blogs receive 55 percent more traffic than small businesses that don’t blog. As the blogging culture grows rapidly in the recent years, companies should be taking note on how to improve their blogs, attract more readers and get more results.

*I realized that most of our blog visitors stay not more than 3 minutes on our blog posts. I will keep this post as short, simple, precise as possible (as we understand time is money).

1. Establish a Content Theme and Editorial Guidelines

First, you should define your blog theme. Then choose a blog name that fits well with your company’s expertise. Your blog should provide information for consumers interested in your area of business. For example, ServerFreak’s blog provides information of web hosting, technology, social media, web design, etc. which is highly related to our business field.

Secondly, create a set of editorial guidelines that your bloggers will follow. Even though you company currently does not have a blogging team, or perhaps YOU are the one who blog for your company, an editorial guideline is important as it guides the following:

– what topics to cover?
– how the post should be written?
– how often to update the blog?

2. Choose a Blogging Team and Process


Choose a team of core bloggers to begin your blogging adventure. Select individuals that are knowledgeable and comfortable writing about the areas you would like to cover. Also, it’s key to choose people who write well and have a great online presence (I believe you do not want to see any grammar mistakes in your corporate blog). Of course, this highly depends on your company affordability to hire a blogging team, and also your willingness to “invest” – remember, it is proven that corporate blogging helps to grow small businesses.

3. Humanize Your Company

Don’t let your customers think that they are reading something from a company. The conversation should come between people (you and me), not between a brand and one person. Bloggers should have their own personalities and writing styles. Always keep in mind that your blog is about people connecting and conversing with people, not a corporation.

4. Avoid PR and Marketing

Do not sell your products through the corporate blog. There are other appropriate places for that, and your blog should not be one of them.

Your blog should add value to your readers. Readers like to read blog for more information, and they (including myself) seriously hate the pressure of hard-selling. And for the times that you do not have an opinion on an important topic, gauge your community’s opinion by taking a poll or interviewing key people. I personally think that poll is fun, and thus I have created a poll on our blog’s side bar. Have a look!

5. Welcome Criticism

Often times, corporations avoid to opening up their websites and blogs for commenting and interaction, because they are afraid of the harm that criticisms may cause. Make it a policy to welcome criticism, thinking of it as an opportunity for feedback and improvement. There are lots of ways to deal with negative feedback, so don’t be afraid to open up to your community.

6. Outline a Comment Policy

Be aware that if you open up your blog for full feedback (which you should), you will get a variety of comments — constructive, complimentary, hateful, and spam. Be prepared for everything. Create a comment policy that your team can follow, and make sure everyone is on same page. Outline the types of comments that should be responded to, deleted or passed along for follow-up.

7. Get Social


You can never under-estimate the power of social media. Make sure you utilize the “share tools” so that your visitors can pass along your content to their friends, or even friends of friends – that is when you can expand your brand awareness. Imagine if your readers find that your content is pretty interesting and are looking for the “Twitter”, “Facebook”, “Digg” buttons to share it, but they can’t find one in your blog, isn’t it you are driving away your potential customers?

Implement a social media strategy for your blog is vital too. Start creating the appropriate profiles across social networks that your readers and customers are active on. Usually, Facebook and Twitter are a good start. When you post on your blog, announce the new post on your social networks and ask for your reader’s opinions on the subject. Promote your social presence on your blog, by implementing links, buttons and widgets that link to your social profiles. This will enable readers to stay connected with you across platforms.

8. Promote Your Blog

Just as you would promote any other company initiative, get the word out about your blog. Share the URL on your website, social networks, business cards, e-mails, and advertisements. What I did is that I shared the

ServerFreak’s blog URL on my email’s signature. Everytime I reply an email to clients, they can see the link in my email. Of course, they might not click it, but at least they know that we do have a blog!

9. Monitor Mentions and Feedback

One way to get a pulse on your blog and its effects on the community is to monitor mentions and feedback.

To make things easier with Twitter, set up custom search columns in a Twitter client, such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, or CoTweet. The columns will update in real time, keeping you up-to-date on brand and blog mentions at all times.

10. Track Everything


I believe that you are always curious how many people are reading your blog? where are they from? which post they are most interested with?

You can track all this! If you currently do not have a web analytics tool, check out Google Analytics, a free analytics tool with an easy-to-use interface.

Learn from the data and adjust your blogging guidelines accordingly.

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, re-posted by Erica Swallow, and summarized by WOW.

10 Cool Facebook Status Tips and Tricks (Part 5/5) + 1 More Tip

9. HOW TO: See Your Status Update Stats

Have you ever wondered how many times you have updated your status on Facebook? The Facebook app Status Statistics, can tell you this and more.

This app analyzes your updates and gives you the details of the average word count, the average word length, the number of statuses per day, etc.  You might not  find the information useful, but at least, it tells how or how not “lengthy” you are when updating status. What’s more is that it generates a graph that shows you what time of day or what days of the week you normally update.

Old statuses are also searchable via the app, without having to scroll back through your history.

10. HOW TO: Play a Trick On Your Friends in Your Status Update

I personally find this is the coolest trick on Facebook.

This clever link “http://facebook.com/profile.php?=73322363” looks like it could be a URL for anyone’s Facebook profile, but actually it takes anyone logged into Facebook to their own profile page.

If you try it out, be sure to remove the link preview (thumbnail) that Facebook automatically add. Have fun, and don’t be too mean…

11. HOW TO: Add Emoticon Animation in Your Status Update

Yes, you can now add a emoticon with animation in your status update!

I just discovered this application from one of our clients. Credit to her!

This application is called Facade. Simply “Go to Application” and update your status there. See the example above?

Have fun with us, have fun with Facebook!

Thanks to Amy-Mae Elliott.

10 Cool Facebook Status Tips and Tricks (Part 4/5)

7. HOW TO: Have Fun With Facebook with Upside Down Text

Want to be different among your Facebook’s friends? You can update your status in “upside down” text, just like the image shown above.

Facebook does not provide this type of application; however, with the use of some external sites you can achieve the same effect.

TypeUpsideDown.com and UpsideDownText.com are just two examples of sites that can flip your text. Try now!

8. HOW TO: See Status Updates From Around the World

If you want to get a glimpse of the thoughts of Facebook users from around the world, head over to OpenBook.

Created by three San Fran web developers with a serious privacy message in mind, the site aggregates the status updates of everyone whose privacy levels are set to “everyone.”

You can narrow your searchable results down by gender and keywords to find out what people are saying about a certain topic. Or you can just browse the recent searches.


Contributor: Amy-Mae Elliott

10 Cool Facebook Status Tips and Tricks (Part 3/5)

5. HOW TO: Add Symbols to Your Facebook Status

It is common when we type “:)” in any of chatting applications (i.e. Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, etc.), the text will transform into a smiley yellow face. However, Facebook does not work that way! In fact, the only symbol you can create in a Facebook status update through the shortcut keys is a ♥, by typing “<3.”

How to add a symbol then? Back to basic, just copy and paste some universal symbols (click this link) into the box, as you can see in the example above.

PC users (strictly PC, unless you have a numerical keypad for your laptop) can also access some symbols by hitting “Alt” + various number combinations (on a numerical keypad).

 

6. HOW TO: Turn Your Status Updates Into a Word Cloud


There is a really fun way to visualize anyone’s status updates (even an entire country’s) as a word cloud. The Status Analyzer 3D application will look at what it is you have been chatting about lately and generate a list, and then a pretty, colorful, animated cloud as pictured above.

You can share the results with others on the social networking site by posting it to your friend’s wall or by adding it to your profile.

P/s: Please forgive me if you see any “improper” words or languages  in the image above. This image is taken randomly.

 

Thanks again to Amy-Mae Elliott.

 

10 Cool Facebook Status Tips and Tricks (Part 2/5)

3. HOW TO: Pre-Schedule Status Updates


While SocialOomph, Sendible and HootSuite offer the same kind of service, the simplest way to schedule Facebook status updates is by using the easy, free Later Bro service.

Just sign in with Facebook Connect, select your time zone, type in what it is you would like to say, set the calendar and clock to when you would like to say it, and presto!

 

4. HOW TO: Tag People in Your Status Updates


This new function was announced in September 2009, but I bet not many of us know how to tag a person in our status. Before I knew about this, guess what? I even type “Tag: Friend’s Name” hoping the effect of my friend’s name “to be linked“.

To mention someone in a status update just type “@” (Shift + 2) in the status bar and start typing their name as it appears on Facebook. An auto-generated list will then come up with people in your social circle whose name starts with the letters you have typed. The feature also works with pages, brands, events and companies – just like the example shown above!

Hit the name you want, complete the update, click share and the name will become a hyperlink (you won’t see the “@” symbol) and will appear in blue text – it is linked!

 

Source from: Amy-Mae Elliott

 

10 Cool Facebook Status Tips and Tricks (Part 1/5)

1. HOW TO: Add a Dislike Option to Your Status Update

“Like” buttons are everywhere on Facebook. We can like a shared video, like a friend’s status, like a photo, or even like a comment. We can choose to “Unlike” something after clicking the “Like” button, BUT  is there a “Dislike” button for us to dislike or disagree something on Facebook? Or, if you want to update your status or share something that your friends can actually “Dislike”? Yes, we know your friends can choose to “comment” on your post, but where’s the fun in that?

Here’s an application on Facebook called Status Magic which allows you to add a “Dislike” button to any status updates posted. Guess what? You can even customize the second emotion to anything, such as “Love”, “Hate”, “Disagree” or even “LOL”.


2. HOW TO: Hide Status Updates From Certain People

Did you know? If you click “Account” on the top right of your Facebook page, you will find the “Privacy Settings” where you can select whether everyone, just friends or friends of friends can see your status updates.

However, there is a way to narrow those options down even further.

You can select specific friend lists to see your status (relevant for work, special interest groups, etc.) or even individual people by name, which is useful for anyone organizing a surprise party.

To take advantage of these options, click the “padlock” icon just below your “what’s on your mind” box on your wall and a drop down menu should appear. Selecting “customise” will bring up more options such as “Make this visible to” and “Hide this from” with the option to make your selection a default.

[To be continued…]

Thanks to the contributor: Amy-Mae Elliott

15 Web Design Mistakes You Should Know

When starting a new online business website, most of the time we would seek for web design services to develop a website for us. No doubt that the web designers can get your ideas and needs onto your website, but it is sometimes better for us (as a client) to know the basic to-do and not-to-do when developing and designing your website, to avoid unnecessary problems in future. In this article, I am going to list some of the web design mistakes which I think is best, not to be included into your website when you provide your ideas to your web designer.

1. Do not seek attention, but provoke it

Avoid being only an attention seeker – attention is never enough! The idea of your website should be in such a way that it should provoke the visitors to go through the website at least once. How to attract the visitors to go through your website? The Home Page (or landing page) plays an important role as it reveals the basic idea of the whole website. Home Page with interesting content is crucial; from my personal experience, putting images on Home Page works pretty well (But, not too many images – why? you will know why when you read about the 3rd point).

Your Home Page should tell the basic idea of your website

2. JavaScript

There is no doubt that the JavaScript is for good and allows interactivity, yet there are some problems that we tend to face. Despite of the fact that it is a great technology, yet its use is recommendable when it is needed the most. The browsers like IE exploits the security problems, and makes your web page bloated. The JavaScript links ought to be avoided because these links tend to create problem, and since then, their use have been restricted.

3. Avoid Fancy Apparels

Less is more! Sometimes, we have many ideas that we want put into our website, making it more fancy, colourful and stylish; yet we tend to forget the basic essence or message we would like to deliver to our visitors. “Overdressed” website makes the visitors confused. We should bear in mind that most visitors visit your website for information, and readability of the website is important! It is recommended for you to have a theme for your website, which includes the theme colour and font type. Take an example from Twitter, the two theme colours – blue (light & dark) and white is simple yet Recognizable! The font type for your content should not be too fancy too, Arial, Helvetica, Tahoma, and sans-serif fonts are highly recommendable for your web pages.

Twitter – good example of using simple theme, yet very recognizable!

4. Never Make Assumptions

Assuming things would screw your rapport badly. This happens when any external link, automatically opens up in a new window discarding the fact how the user wants it. The main point is to provide this liberty to the user itself and allow him/her to open up the link anywhere he/she wants to. This way, you won’t be forcing your page on the visitor.

5. Colour Scheme

As it is said that colour scheme holds a lot of relevance in deciding onto the destiny of your website. A vibrant colour scheme would surely lead your website nowhere, except being a headache. Colours set the mood and they should be used in accordance to the basic idea of your website. For instance, for a environmental-concept website, green is frequently the suitable colour scheme to apply. Besides, your colour scheme should not overshadow the real message of the site – visitors need to see the message, not the colour!

Green Colour Scheme for Environment

6. Grammatical Errors

Nothing can spare your website’s reputation of the horrifying damages that it would encounter if it contains simple grammatical and typo errors. Make sure that you double check the content before making the website live. You can, at least, check your website content with Microsoft Word’s Spelling and Grammar function (press F7).

7. CAPTCHA is your way

What is CAPTCHA? CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. Still not cleared yet? Maybe the image below can tell you all. Yes, we often see this CAPTCHA while sharing a link on Facebook or sending an email, etc. This CAPTCHA is to ensure that the response is generated by human and to minimize spamming activity. Nowadays, it becomes a necessity to have CAPTCHA filters to be able to reduce the spams that one encounters mainly on the comments and the registration section.

8. Simple Navigation System

Make a clear and simple navigation system, preferably not those drop down menus that hide the information. A straight forward navigation in front of the eye is what the visitor looks out for. Take an example of a web hosting website, if your menu contains several buttons with very similar meaning: Instant Website, Business Email Hosting, Business Hosting – aren’t you making your visitors confused among the three options since they serve almost the same purposes? Keep it simple and clear!

9. Avoid Whatever Turns Out in Excess

“I want a Flash website” – think again! The use of Flashy images and the glittery animation no doubt can bring some excitement to the visitors; however, this “excitement” tends to overshadow the real purpose of the website. In addition, it annoys the visitors at the first place only because it increases the website loading time, and it becomes the biggest turn off. It is recommended that you can still have a simple slideshow on your website – less is more!

Flash Upgrade Required- you may turn down your potential customers

10. Avoid Unnecessary Registrations

Spare your visitors from the additional headache of registering themselves for any information. Visitors might probably just close your website if you require them to register – you are driving away your potential customers! Try to avoid this procedure unless it serves a purpose and the visitor is willing to do it (such as register for a contest).

11. Special attention to the Link that you provide

Keep in mind the fact that the links that you provide on your webpage are more likely to be visited if the visitor is interested in your site. Just make sure that you highlight them, also that you underline them. In normal situation, link is often underlined and coloured in Blue. This text format might not match with your website theme, but it is so recognizable for decades and it really can tell your visitors the message: “Click this link for more”. Additionally, please make sure all links are linked to the right place!

12. Avail your Footer with some Essentials

It is always recommendable that you provide the footer of the web page with the essential links, so that it avoids the unnecessary effort in scrolling again to the top. Like the example below:

Footer with essential links makes Convenience

13. CSS over HTML

With the advent of CSS, HTML is no more indispensable. HTML is simpler to use, so does its features – simple and too limited. CSS is an easy, fast and reliable option available that is laden with ample of advanced features.

14. Pop-Ups are really not Happening

Whether you like it or not, pop-ups (even the flashy and attractive one) are a real source of distractions and annoyance. In addition, most internet browsers (by default) block these pop-ups, and require the visitor’s permission to temporarily allow pop-ups, which again create another hassle to them. The effort seems wasted. Avoid them!

15. Usability Test

It is by far, the most important set of mistake that cannot afford to be overlooked. This is the sole factor that decides on to the quality of your web age in different environments such as Firefox, Opera, IE, Safari, Chrome and many more. We had experienced this once before we launched our new website. We found out that our website is not viewable in Opera. Fortunately, this issue was solved finally, and luckily we realized it before the website is officially launched!

You should test and find out the following before the website is launched:

  • Are the images not broken/ disabled/ shrink?
  • Is the text readable even after the JavaScript is disabled?
  • Is the consistency maintained?
  • Is the web page accessible on the individual browser?

Hope the tips above give you a brief idea on “what web design mistakes we should avoid” when starting our very first website. Did you know? You need web hosting to make your designed website available online. Contact us for more information on web hosting: sales@web-hosting.net.my

Source & Reference from: Jenny Warner
Jenny is from PixelCrayons, a creative web design and development agency that specializes in custom web design & development, markup services, CMS & E-Commerce solutions.