We have been hard at work over the last few months bringing something new to the table, VisionFriendly.com introduces VF Web Partners. VF Web Partners is a division of VisionFriendly.com dedicated to fully managed e-marketing and internet solutions for small to medium sized business looking to get fully immersed in the online world.

VF Web Partners

The idea for VF Web Partners came about discussions regarding all of the different pieces to consider when building and promoting a website. There are tons of options out there for ways to build a website, who to choose to build the website, and how to drive traffic to it. We make it easy by providing a one stop shop to accomplish our customer’s goals online. By having a team of dedicated specialists (VisionFriendly.com) backing VF Web Partners, we are able to bring everything together under one roof. This means that our customers only need to call one company to get the answers they need in a highly responsive fashion. This means NO MORE running around and putting different pieces together because the company who built your website can’t do SEO or the company who designed your website doesn’t have the capabilities to build it.

Why you need this…

The reasoning behind the division of VisionFriendly.com and VF Web Partners is simple. VisionFriendly.com will remain to be the all in one company that handles individual pieces of an internet solution because VisionFriendly.com is truly a custom web engineering company, while VF Web Partners will take care of taking the thinking out of building a website so business owners can focus even more on running their business and less about building a website.

As opposed to VisionFriendly.com’s fully custom internet solutions, VF Web Partners has packaged up a few commonly asked for web design and e-marketing offerings to bring 6 TOTAL SOLUTION packages to the marketplace. VF Web Partners is designed to make things simple while also being all inclusive handling both informational website and ecommerce!

See the future for travel (youtube video). This may not be web or computer related, but it’s close.

The United States government has given the public access to its massive analytics database. The government runs a customized version of Google Analytics that collects information from visitors to 3800 total websites run by government agencies, and the results are fascinating

The desktop PC is alive and well

The first thing to note is that people still turn primarily to desktop PCs when they need information from the government. Here’s the breakdown from those 1.4 billion visits:

plat share

I was surprised at how small the share is for tablets, but that’s in line with recent figures showing a slowdown in tablet sales.

Note: Visits from devices running Linux account for a number equal to almost exactly 1 percent of all desktop traffic, although it appears that the government lumps Linux in with the mobile category for some reason.

Windows PCs still make up most desktop traffic

win vs mac

And among those desktop visitors, the PC is still dominant, with Macs accounting for roughly 1 in every 7 visits.

It’s certainly a safe assumption that the United States is one of Apple’s strongest markets for Macs. A more global breakdown would most likely shift a few points to the Windows slice, which aligns nicely with the consensus that Windows has about a 90 percent share of the global market for conventional PCs.

Windows 7 is insanely popular

The five-year-old Windows 7 is the clear winner on the desktop, with Windows 8.1 a distant second (but still larger than the entire Mac installed base). This chart shows the versions in use on all Windows PCs

windows share

Windows 7 rules; Vista and XP combined are less than 10 percent

The percentage of visitors clinging to the unsupported Windows XP is still higher than I suspect Microsoft would like, at 5.8 percent. Windows Vista is fading faster, with only 3.9 percent of visitors sticking with it.

Again, a global snapshot would probably look different. In China, for example, the percentage of PCs still running Windows XP (typically in pirated versions) is undoubtedly much higher.

Note about Windows 8 versions:  Windows 8.1 PCs (88.2 percent) outnumber Windows 8 PCs (11.8 percent) by roughly an 8:1 ratio. Some of those PCs were shipped with Windows 8.1, of course, but clearly many more have successfully upgraded via Windows Update.

That success bodes well for Windows 10, which will arrive as a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs this summer.

Internet Explorer is still the most popular desktop browser

desktop share

Usage for Chrome and Safari is estimated (but probably accurate)

The government figures show the total number of visits from desktop PCs and Macs. After subtracting the very small number of Windows Phone visits, the remaining number for Internet Explorer is exclusively from desktop PCs running Windows, because IE isn’t available on any other platform.

Likewise, Firefox is, for all intents and purposes, exclusively on the desktop. (Yes, there’s a mobile Firefox, but we’ll assume for this analysis that its share is negligible.)

In the mobile world, Safari rules

mobile tablet share

Calculations and Assumptions: For strictly mobile browsers (the Android browser, Amazon Silk, Opera Mini), every visit is from a mobile device or a tablet. For Safari, it was assumed that Apple has roughly the same percentage of use on the desktop that Internet Explorer has on Windows; all remaining visits are, therefore, mobile. For Chrome, which also runs on desktop and mobile platforms, we subtracted the total calculated for desktop usage and entered the rest as Chrome visits from mobile devices and tablets.

Note: Chrome has about a 1-in-3 share on both desktop PCs and in the mobile/tablet category.

Microsoft and Amazon are far behind in mobile -BlackBerry who?

The shares for Windows Phone, Amazon Kindle devices (which run the Silk browser), and BlackBerry are fairly easy to calculate.

They’re also very small.

Amazon devices has about 1.3 percent of total mobile and tablet traffic.

Windows Phone has about 1.2 percent of that total.

BlackBerry has only 0.3 percent and has nearly disappeared from view completely. That’s even worse than it appears, given BlackBerry’s historic place as a staple of government-issued mobile devices.

Both Amazon and Microsoft have higher market shares, as measured by current sales, than the usage figures shown here. But the Apple/Android juggernaut had a head start on both platforms of several years, meaning that the installed base will lag current sales.

You have probably been hearing a lot about Net Neutrality lately. Last Tuesday the rulings for Net Neutrality changed. What this means to us as small business owners at this time is unclear. What we can do is be knowledgeable on what Net Neutrality is and where it stands today.

To see what this means, watch this video:
Net Neutrality

Understand what Net Neutrality is by viewing this video:
Net Neutrality

We are concerned about how this will affect the Internet as we know it.

As a part of the VisionFriendly.com family, we wanted you to be aware of Net Neutrality and will keep you informed as developments occur.

The internet as we know it is being discussed and decided in a courtroom between the FCC and major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, etc.

Our freedom of information is being threatened, and our universal connection that we have all come to take for granted could be lost. If Net Neutrality is lost, companies big and small will have to pay a premium to each ISP in order for their site to be accessible “normally” on their users computers.

It’s speculated that ISPs could eventually censor certain content and sites from being seen by their users if the ideas or opinions don’t match the ISPs’.

Here is a video that can better explain how Net Neutrality works and what could happen if ISPs get control (Warning: Brief Use of Adult Language):

Basically it all comes down to litigation that has been around since the beginnings of the web which stated that there is no such thing as “long distance” or ‘premium charges’ for accessing any given area of the internet – you only pay for bandwidth, not by which site’s you visit.

Website owners may eventually have to pay extra to ISPs to have their content delivered with the same priority as Amazon or Netflix or other big players that can afford to pay a premium. For those that don’t pay, their website experience could be intentionally throttled down on page load time and potentially blocked altogether.

Web developers primarily use two different types of programming languages when building e-commerce sites.

One language delivers the car pre-assembled to the web server. The other delivers just the parts. Both have their advantages. The choice usually depends on the size and sophistication of the proposed online store.

Smaller online stores

Smaller businesses often choose a site built to integrate with Word Press blog software, which allows the site administrator to add content as easily as producing a Word document.

Besides being simple for the client to maintain, Word Press sites are also usually less expensive to build. In this case, the language used delivers the parts, not the car.  The advantage is that it is easier to swap parts while the page is running.  However, the page loads more slowly because it must run through every single step of the logic every time one visits the page. The good news is that this is not all that noticeable to the visitor of a smaller site.

Need for speed

But when there are dozens of products on each page and lots of bells and whistles on the site, our customers often select a site built for speed. The language we use for this type of site, called “C#,” is one of the modern “pre-compiled” languages. It delivers the car already assembled, so to speak, so the server knows more of how the page is supposed to work. The page loads more quickly because the pre-compiled language makes it unnecessary for the page to go through every single step of logic.

In addition, C# programming language is more flexible and customizable, so the resulting online store can include more sophisticated features.

So if you are thinking of taking your store online, consider which e-commerce programming language is best for your circumstances. If your site is smaller and you will post much of the information yourself, then a Word Press site is the way to go. On the other hand, if your site will contain a large number of products, images and sophisticated features, you will not want to keep the customers waiting. For that very important reason, you should have your site built with a pre-compiled language that loads pages faster.

VisionFriendly.comQR codes are popping up on everything from magazine ads to bus shelters. Slowly but surely, Americans are learning to point and click.

ComScore in their June 2011 survey of the funky, black and white squares found 14 million mobile users in the US have scanned a QR code. That sounds like a nice number until you put it in perspective. That’s only 6.2% of all mobile users!

Not surprisingly, 60.5% of the code scanners were men, mostly between 18-34 with an income of over $100k.

Where did they find these codes?

Nearly half said they saw the QR codes in print magazines or newspapers. A close second with 35.3% was product packaging. Posters, business cards, flyers and storefronts also made the list. The two strange choices were websites (27.4%) and TV (11.7%).

Websites perplexes me because the usual purpose of a QR code is to link the user to more material which is generally located on a website. If you’re already there, why make you jump through hoops to use a code? Why not just show me what you want to show me or create a link?

TV is odd because you’d have to either be very quick or use a pause command to stop the TV commercial long enough to scan the code. I’m surprised that even 11% of the people mentioned that option.

A college saw a QR code was on a soda cup from a fast food restaurant. He was in the car, so he didn’t activate the code until he got home, which put him in the majority. 58% of QR code users say they scan codes at home. 39.4% said they do it while in a retail location, grocery stores, restaurants, work and on public transportation.

Most likely we have a long way to go before QR codes become part of the common usage. But the fact that people are scanning at home shows that mobile isn’t just for those on the go. More and more we’re seeing people using their cell phone as a substitute for their computer and that’s going to have a big impact on online marketing.

Stay tuned.

Kevin PeschAs we all know Technology waits for no one. It moves faster each day with no end in sight. What was new this morning is considered old by the afternoon. What was working on Internet Explorer (IE) 7 won’t with IE 8. Keeping up with the latest technology can be a nightmare and to make matters worse It gets more confusing with each new added custom feature.

I understand they added some new fancy widget up loader that can simplify my life by saving seconds in my batch upload but why do I have to read ten pages just to understand how to use it? Let’s not forget  the migraine headache that is digital video which has me constantly screaming “PICK ONE FORMAT AND STICK WITH IT!!! ”

There has been a war waging on the Internet, one that seems endless and with no real winner in sight. Just a pile of videos waiting to be left in the digital dust and forgotten. They are the WMVs, FLVs, M4Vs, ….. the list goes on and on. These formats were the engines that drove the digital video movement YESTERDAY. But today the format war seems to be continuing with no real solution.

Sure your  FLV (flash video) will play on Internet Explorer but what about Firefox? Chrome? Safari? These are the questions you have to be asking yourself if you want your video to be seen by as many people as possible. We have the questions but what about the answer?  Can the answer lie within the code? Can HTML5 be our savior? Can it end  the war and  be that hero we have been waiting for? Or is it more like a hero in training?

Let’s start off right and with as little technical jargon as possible. HTML5 video is a video tag from HTML5 which is the new version of HTML.

Confused?!?!? Ok, one of the ways you create a website is with code called HTML. HTML5 is a new version of that code and HTML5 video is a player created out of this code that can detect what browser you are using and adapt to a video format that can play in your browser.  It claims to have the ability to play in most web browsers and mobile devices. You can see an example of the player here.

HTML5 PlayerAt first glance you probably won’t notice a difference but if you open another internet browser, (IE, Firefox, Chrome) you will see the player change. That’s because the code is detecting the browser and switching the video to a format that works best for that browser. The code is relatively simple and can be found at Video For Everybody, Video JS. These sites provide the necessary files and simple step by step instructions for upload. Problem is, you need to convert the video file, THREE TIMES?!?!?

The biggest downside of HTML5 video is the amount of work that will have to go into converting the video for the web. What took one conversion (of a familiar format) now takes three conversions which have to rely on open source converters that often produce inconsistent results and take a great deal of time to convert . The big payoff is during that sales meeting you can pull out any Internet device and show that presentation video without any worries of compatibility.

A simplified breakdown reveals HTML5 player requires three different video  formats to be so cross compatible. These three formats are the old H.264(MPEG-4) and two relatively new formats Ogg and WebM. These two new formats are claiming territory through new updates in most web browsers except IE9. Not to worry IE will play the H.264 format which is referred to as ” flash fallback.” WebM and Ogg are the self proclaimed winners of the new digital video format war and with all the browsers backing them it’s getting harder to disagree. Yet all the hype is quite reminiscent of HD DVD, Beta Max… anyone.

OK, I know I haven’t written anything for over 4 months.  And how do I expect people keep coming back if I don’t add new content more often?  Well, I don’t have a good answer, except over the last 6 months we have been focusing on building a new 100+ page website with any free time we have had.

Allow me to introduce the new VisionFriendly.com website proudly debuting on Leading the Way Online.

If you haven’t seen the site I strongly suggest checking it out. It’s chocked full of information about the Internet and marketing your business.  We have 4 blogs, 16 products, 20 services and whole lot of site prototypes for your review.

And from now on, we will all be keeping our social networks and blogs updated more regularly.

Look for a quarter of phones to be smart by 2011.  That’s double what it is today accuring to Kiplinger Letter.  New chips will speed processing and technology will make the airwaves less crowded.  battery power will be less of a problem. 

Worldwide sales for smart phones will be 600 million by 2011 with retailers dipping their toes into m-commerce, (mobile online sales).

As I have stated before, in four or five years your cell will replace your home and office phone and your home and office computer and become part of your dashboard and radio in your car.  Your smart phone will become part of you, as you won’t be able to leave home without it!

Oh yea, what happens if you lose it, drop it or throw it out the window?  Don’t worry everything will be backed up in the “Cloud”.