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Freelance writing: Orange Exchange

by Dean on February 25, 2010

This blog is now part of The Good Content Company. Thanks for stopping by!

netting new customers Freelance writing: Orange Exchange

Over the past year, I’ve been a regular contributor to Orange Exchange, a magazine published by John Brown for Orange and aimed at their business customers.

Recent articles for Orange Exchange have varied from straight technology write-ups to more in-depth business features. They include:

Windows Mobile vs. Android

“Is an Android-powered smartphone better than a new Windows Phone? Or vice-versa? Discuss…” A short piece that looks at the strengths of both mobile operating systems and the benefits for business customers.

New accessories for Orange customers

Four of the best accessories for your Orange handset, including the Jawbone PRIME handsfree kit and Parrot in-car Bluetooth solutions.

Netting new customers

“A typical visitor to your website will decide whether or not they like it (and want to stay) in the first eight seconds. That’s eight seconds to fulfil a user’s search query; eight seconds to provide the answer to a visitor’s question; or eight seconds to make a sale. An optimised website is vital if you want to promote your business, engage your customers and encourage sales…”

Top 7 iPhone apps

From Facebook to QuickOffice and Nearest Tube.

How mobile working will boost your business

Why using the latest smartphones, laptops and mobile broadband technology, flexible working initiatives have the potential to slash office costs, improve morale and light a rocket under your productivity.

Orange Exchange also has an online version, so you can find many of these articles at


Five ways to build an effective website

by Dean on September 8, 2009

website Five ways to build an effective website

This article, originally written for Orange, offers quick tips and advice for anyone thinking about building a website or blog:

1. Get your website branding right.

A visitor to your website will typically decide whether they like it in the first 8 seconds. It’s why the top section of your website (the bit that fills a 1024×768 display when it first loads up) is vital. In this area, often called ‘above the fold’, your visitors should immediately be able to get a sense of what your site is about and what they can do on it without having to scroll the page.

2. Don’t be a slave to design

The biggest mistake you can make when building a website is to prioritise design at the expense of usability and content. Think about what your visitors will want to see on your site; not what you want to see. Content is king on websites. Good design is to help sell that content more effectively.

3. Don’t make your visitors think

Be obvious with your website’s design and structure. Visitors should never think about where to start or what to click on next. Start by making all of your links the same colour; use consistent and clear navigation; make sure the search box is prominently displayed. 40% of users don’t return to a website after a negative first experience.

4. Know your keywords

Ensure that your website is using keywords appropriate to your market. This will make you more relevant to search engines for those keywords. Ensure that the keywords that apply to your business appear in titles, headings, sections and your website copy. Use Google’s Adwords tool to research popular words and phrases.

5. Tease your extra content

Tease more content on all of your pages, not just your website’s home page. If a visitor drops into your site from a Google search, they’re unlikely to hit the front page. Give them a reason to explore – lists of ‘recent articles’, ‘related articles’ or ‘most popular articles’ will help drive traffic around your site.


Get the most out of your Nokia phone

by Dean on June 11, 2009

nokia n97 Get the most out of your Nokia phone

Nokia mobile phones are amongst the most popular in the world – 62% of Orange users own one. But are you getting the most out of yours?

There’s so much more to owning a Nokia phone than talking and texting? Have you tried MMS or sending an email? Did you know that you can use an N-series phone as a sat-nav? Or that you can update your Facebook profile on a Series 40 phone and watch TV clips on Orange World?

You can do all these things and more with your Nokia phone. Grab your phone and try the following:

Two things all Nokia users should do

Whatever Nokia handset you own, there are two things that you can do right now to get more from your phone.

Back up and synchronise your phone

Installing the Nokia PC Suite is a must. Why? Because you can use it to copy calendar information from Outlook, securely back up your phone contacts, manage files on your phone and install new software (like games and utilities).

Got a Mac? No problem. Nokia offers two separate applications for Apple owners – iSync (for synchronising contact and calendar info) and Nokia Multimedia transfer (for managing music, photos, games and other data). You can find them both online at:

Join ‘My Nokia’ (it’s free!)

Sign up for My Nokia (formerly Club Nokia) and you’ll receive regular tips and tricks for your Nokia phone by SMS and/or email, such as: “ever lost yourself in your mobile menu? You can escape at any time by pressing the red Disconnect button”.

You can also sign up for the Nokia Connections newsletter to receive Nokia news, offers and exclusive competitions. You can also register for My Nokia Backup. This enables you to synchronise and store your Calendar, Contacts, To-dos and Notes securely on the web. Put your name down for My Nokia membership at:

5 things all N-series users should do

Nokia’s N-series phones represent the cutting edge of mobile technology. The phone you hold in your hand is a mini computer – a digital camera, games machine, music/video player and sat-nav system all in one pocketable device.

The Symbian S60 software glues all this cleverness together, providing an open mobile platform that is easy-to-use and extraordinarily versatile. Hundreds of extra applications are now available for N-series phones, including: IM clients, games, microblogging software, weather apps and RSS readers. Your Nokia phone can do more than you ever imagined. So why not try the following:

Use your phone as a sat-nav

Nokia Maps comes pre-installed on most N-series phones, enabling you to use your phone as a portable sat-nav system. Find your current position on a map, then use your phone to search for places of interest nearby or to give you turn-by-turn directions to a destination.

Like running? Download ‘Sports Tracker’ for free and track your speed, distance and calorie burn as you jog. If you haven’t got Nokia Maps on your phone or need to update the software, you can find it at:

Discover the online world of ‘Ovi’

Ovi ( is Nokia’s new online portal, which combines a number of different functions – web-based calendar/contact synchronisation (like My Nokia), Nokia Maps, photo and video sharing. Or you can use Ovi’s Anytime Files service to access documents on your PC remotely via your phone.

The Nokia Music Store is also part of the Ovi experience. The software that powers Nokia Music Store downloads is PC-only at this time. It can be downloaded from

Share your photos and videos online

When you’ve signed up to Nokia’s Ovi website, you can use the ShareOnline application on your phone to share your photos as you travel. Give it a try.

Ovi offers free and unlimited storage for your photos and video you can also send them by email to friends or publish them on your social network profile. In fact, N-series phones are ideal for social networking. You can blog on the go with Moblog:UK or Twitter anywhere with Twibble. Browse and download applications at

Listen to free music on

Have you tried mobbler? It’s an Internet radio player for Symbian phones that enables you to listen to radio stations or to custom-build a playlist based on an artist or genre. Find it at:

Turn your phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot

Yes, really. Sign up for a Joikuspot account and you can turn your 3G phone into a secure mobile WLAN hot spot. It’s ideal for connecting a laptop, netbook or iPod touch to the Internet when you don’t have access to fixed Wi-Fi. The Light version is a free download at The Premium version supports VPN access and can be purchased at

5 things all Series 40 devices can do

Don’t own an N-series phone? No matter. You can also do much more with Nokia’s Series 40 phones (I.e. the Nokia 6500 Slide, the Nokia 6220, the Nokia 6300) than texting and talking. For example, did you know that you can…

Poke a friend on Facebook

Orange makes it easy to log onto your favourite social network. Having signed agreements with MySpace, Facebook and Bebo, you can easily access the big three via the Orange World portal. There is also support for Skyrock, Pikeo, Flirtomatic, DailyMotion and Meetic communities.

Install a new game

The popularity of mobile gaming is on the up and the Nokia Software Market ( is the perfect place to grab a new game for your phone. Specify the type of handset you own and then choose from games that include gem-puzzler DiamondMine, Super Tetris and Sudoku Monster.

Widgetise your web browsing

Rather than access Internet info via a web browser, the web widgets at enable you to pull your favourite web content straight to your phone. Top-rated widgets on the site currently include: Wikipedia, Friendster, AccuWeather, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.

Change your wallpaper/screen saver

You don’t have to stick with the default wallpaper and screensavers that come supplied on your Nokia phone. Head on over to, tell the site what handset you own, and choose ‘themes’ to browse through hundreds of new wallpaper graphics and screensavers.

This article was originally written for Orange.


Gadgets for girls

by Dean on May 1, 2009

colorholic 2 Gadgets for girls

This article, originally written for Orange, looks at what companies are doing to sell gadgetry to women. And it’s not just about making phones pink…

Gadgets for girls

Time for a little Marketing 101. How do you sell mobile phones to women? Anyone? If you’re just about to say “make it pink” then shame on you. Colour is largely irrelevant.

For the most part, it’s not aesthetics that sell handsets, it’s features. The big draw of the Sony Ericsson C905 is its eight Megapixel camera, while the Blackberry Bold trades on its anywhere email access. Who cares what colour they are?

Admittedly, personalisation is a growing trend – it’s why Dell has a range of multicoloured laptops and Apple has a rainbow of iPod nanos. But pink is a cliché. Nobody takes pink seriously.

“Anyone with sense can generally see through [the pink] marketing ploy,” says Katherine Hannaford, Editor of “However, it’s obvious that some women are actually buying these gadgets. Why else would manufacturers continue to make them? Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan have a lot to answer for.”

So modern marketing strategies for attracting female customers have become more subtle and sophisticated. And that doesn’t just mean swapping pink for purple, or calling new handsets ‘fashion phones’. Instead, designers are bringing a feminine sensibility to their products.

Just look at how phones are advertised today. The focus isn’t just on design. There’s an increasing emphasis on simplicity and ease-of-use. Women are becoming increasingly technology-savvy and they want a reliable product at a good price. Just like everybody else.


The 5-step guide to better e-marketing

by Dean on April 9, 2009

gorilla marketing The 5 step guide to better e marketing

This article, originally written for Orange, looks at how a good website and a targeted email campaign can help businesses boost their brands internationally without spending a fortune.

The 5-step guide to e-marketing

According to a report by Payment Service Provider Pago, e-commerce sites in the UK now receive more than half of their business from consumers outside of the UK. Are you cashing in?

There are thousands of companies carving out a living online. E-commerce giants like Amazon, eBay and shun the bricks-and-mortar business model in favour of infinite shelf space and long-tail selling.

Online shopping is booming: high-street retailers such as Monsoon and Warehouse are tapping into a lunchtime rush of shoppers who have found that they can browse clothes effortlessly without leaving the office.

How can your business grab a piece of this e-commerce pie?

Step 1: Get a website

You need a website. Or at least a blog. An online presence is vital if you want to engage your customers, promote your brand and encourage sales. A website can provide an unprecedented sales channel during challenging economic conditions such as these.

If you already have a website, is it the best website that it can possibly be? Do people know about it? Most Internet users find websites via a search engine, typically Google. In the UK, Google has almost a 90% share of the UK search market. So not only does your website need to be visible in Google’s search results, you want it to rank higher than your competitors. How do you do this?

Step 2: Provide good content

Content is king. If you’re selling a product, your website must provide interesting and relevant content that benefits your visitor. If you have product listings, think about what else you could provide to enhance them – think extra pictures, a video of the product, testimonials or case studies, a downloadable PDF brochure, an invitation to sign up for an e-mail newsletter (see Step 5: The power of newsletters).

The website, created by founders Martha Lane Fox and Brent Hoberman is a case in point. It’s essentially an aggregator site for furniture stores. But brings the process to life for the web visitor, by offering extra services – thousands of ready-made looks to inspire you, an online magazine and a unique 3D room planner that lets you paint walls, adjust colour schemes and play around with 3D furniture.

If you’re providing information or a service, think about you can present the information in a more interesting way. Can you write a ‘how to’ article or offer “21 insider tips and tricks”? Is there an expert you can interview? A product you can review? What about a special promotion that you can exclusively offer website visitors?

According to Kieran Potts, who runs Bath-based website design company Vintage Web Works, many companies – especially small businesses – try to do too much with their websites.

“I often receive invitations to tender for websites with all the bells and whistles,” he says. “They want social networking, user forums, video galleries, all wrapped up in over-the-top Flash-based eye candy. But what almost always brings people to a website is good content, not the functionality or design. You’ve got to have original, interesting and genuinely useful content that people won’t easily find elsewhere.”

Step 3: Nailing down your keywords

Google assesses and values the content of web pages by analysing the frequency, positioning and prominence of the words on it. If you’ve built a website and you’re producing good, regular content, the next step is to point people towards it. “Over 80% of all internet journeys now start with a search,” says Lucy Allen, MD of LBI Netrank, one of the UK’s largest online brand positioning agencies. “So integrating search engine marketing into any e-marketing campaign is vital.”

Keyword research is the essence of successful e-marketing. Think about the words that describe your business. Write them down. Now what words or phrases would you use to find the same information on the web? What would you type into a search engine? If you wanted to get your bath re-enamelled, you’d probably type “bath enamelling” into Google; if you’re looking to make business cards, you might type “business card design”.

Type the keywords that match elements of your business into Google and see what comes up. Note the companies that appear on the first page – these are the guys that you want to compete with. Brainstorm some basic keywords and use online resources such as Google’s free AdWords Keyword Tool to identify extra keywords and phrases that will be relevant to your business.

Step 4: Do-it-yourself SEO

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the art of tweaking the pages of a website so they are more visible to search engines. “It’s a hugely powerful tool,”explains Patrick Altoft, MD of SEO company Branded3, “allowing small unknown companies to compete on an equal footing with the likes of Amazon and eBay. Moving a website to the top of Google’s rankings is like taking a back street shop and re-locating it to a prime High Street location – sales shoot up overnight.”

“We started working with one local client, an electric fire retailer, in May of this year. After 4 weeks their turnover had quadrupled purely as a result of search engine optimisation. At present they are on track to achieve sales of over £1 million in their first year’s trading.”

Each individual page on a website needs some form of SEO. While a website’s homepage is the front door or shop window, the majority of visitors will often parachute into individual pages as they click on links from a search engine listing. Here are some Do-it-yourself SEO improvements you can make without calling in the experts:

    Update your site on a regular basis. Search engines love fresh content.
    Use appropriate keywords in the titles of your articles. Try to add keywords, key phrases and keyword variants into the copy (sparingly), into the ALT Tags for any pictures you use and in prominent sub-headings.
    Use keywords in your URLs – I.e. If your URL structure doesn’t use hyphens like this, consider changing it.
    Build links from trusted sites. “Today the Google algorithm is heavily biased towards links,” says Patrick Altoft. “Put simply the more high quality websites that link to your site the higher it will rank in the search engines.”
    Boost link-building by interlinking your own pages. I.e. refer to your other articles and link to them regularly.
    Submit your site to search engines and online directories.
    Send out electronic press releases using a site like
    Start an ‘affiliate program’ and encourage bloggers to promote your products for a small sales commission.
    Comment on other sites in your area of business. Include a link back to your own site.
    Talk to your readers. Ask them what they want, what they like, what they don’t like. Businesses often pay for this sort of market research information – you can get it for free.
    Publish an email newsletter.

Step 5: The power of newsletters

Finally, publishing an email newsletter once or twice a month is a great way to bring people back to your site. Emails are ideal for building relationships with your customers and keeping them up to date with new products.

The most effective way to get people to sign up to a newsletter is to offer them a ‘killer freebie’ in return – a useful PDF report or a money-off voucher. The aim is to attract 20% of your visitors to become regular readers.


The secret mobile phone battle

by Dean on February 9, 2009

iphones The secret mobile phone battle

This article, originally written for Orange, suggests that it’s not technology that makes a great mobile phone, it’s usability…

The secret mobile phone battle

Over the past two years, we’ve seen some dramatic changes in the ‘physical’ design of mobile handsets. But while manufacturers have added more memory, GPS, higher-res cameras and touch-sensitive displays, one element that’s often overlooked is usability.

Now that Apple’s iPhone has given the mobile market a kick up the backside, the battle is on to create the best mobile ‘user interface’.

At the high-end, it’s all about making mobiles smarter, evolving them from mere phones to internet connected handheld computers. It’s going to be a lucrative market.

As consumers, we typically upgrade our phones every 12 to 18 months when our contracts expire. Various factions want a piece of the pie – Microsoft’s Windows Mobile, Symbian, RIM’s Blackberry OS, Apple’s iPhone, the Google-backed Android OS and the Linux Mobile (LiMo) foundation.

So who’s winning the smartphone battle?

While Apple is the current media darling and Microsoft continues to trumpet its corporate friendliness, it’s actually Symbian that boasts the largest global market share – 60%.

You might not recognise the name, but versions of the software power over 200 million phones made by Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Japan’s NTT DoCoMo. In comparison, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile and RIM’s Blackberry have only an 11% share, the iPhone a mere 5%.

The enormous popularity of Symbian is the main reason why Nokia paid out £209 million for the complete rights to the OS. It then surprisingly announced that it was making the software available to developers for free.

New open source platforms

Why Nokia didn’t just keep Symbian to itself? On the one hand, the new, non-profit Symbian Foundation is a bold attempt to combat the growth of Windows Mobile – sooner or later Microsoft will get its mobile software right.

On the other, Nokia is levelling the field against the Google-backed Android mobile platform, which is also open source.

The appeal of an open-source platform is that applications can be freely written for it without having to pay a license fee. A common set of developer tool also encourages innovation.

Imagine what can be achieved on the next wave of mobile phones when absolutely anybody can design an application for them. Things are about to get interesting.


Going high-tech to beat the recession

by Dean on January 7, 2009

binary code Going high tech to beat the recession

This article, originally written for Orange, looks at how businesses can save money and work smarter by using the latest Internet services and tools:

Going high-tech to beat the recession

It’s no secret that the UK economy isn’t in the best of shape – petrol prices are rocketing, house prices are tumbling, inflation is at a 16-year high. A debt-laden Britain is drifting slowly towards a recession and businesses are starting to pass around the life jackets.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. “[A recession] is when big and medium-sized companies retrench,” media tycoon Felix Dennis once told The Economist. This gives “small firms and entrepreneurs a chance.”

The Internet age

Doing business in 2008 is increasingly about making the most of the Internet. A website can act as your global shop front; clever Google advertising can raise your profile; an email newsletter can enhance your marketing efforts. Better still, online applications such as Skype, Google Docs and LinkedIn offer ways to streamline your workflow and trim costs. Even Facebook can be used to your advantage.

Beyond basic website browsing and email, there are a number of web applications that can help you work faster and smarter. For example, installing VoIP software such as Skype or Vonage can slash the cost of traditional phone calls.

VoIP calling is surprisingly flexible and calls can be routed to landlines (at reduced rates) not just other VoIP numbers. A service like Skype is also ideal for business travellers, enabling them to call internationally (for free) using any hotel’s broadband connection.

Skype can also be used as an Instant Messaging client, for conference calls, and for face-to-face video calling if you invest in a suitable web cam. It’s not the best solution for group video conferencing, however. Free software such as Oovoo supports six-way video chat for free, negating the need for a standalone video conferencing system. WebEx is a more advanced service, combining group web conferencing (via chat and video) with the ability to share and present content stored on your computer.

The virtual office

If the future of business demands a connected (and interconnected) workforce, then this workforce can easily work from home rather than in an office.

Chat tools such as Microsoft’s Live Messenger can connect people instantly, for free, no matter where they are. AOL’s AIM Pro is an ideal business choice as its chat traffic is automatically encrypted.

This is increasingly the age of the ‘virtual office’ – one that’s always open and always accessible via any broadband connection. Microsoft might not like it, but traditional desktop applications like Outlook, Word and Excel are being challenged by likes of Gmail and Google Docs.

The advantage? These apps are free. Your data and documents is also stored online, so they can be accessed via any connected device – a PC, laptop, PDA, even an Internet-connected mobile phone. This sort of remote data hosting has been dubbed ‘cloud computing’.

The Google Apps Team Edition software is ideal for businesses who want to embrace this cloud computing concept. It aggregates Google’s key online office applications, enabling remote-workers to share a common Google Calendar and to securely share documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Google Docs supports Microsoft’s Word, Excel and PowerPoint file formats as standard.

Zoho is another high-profile suite that includes an online word processor, spreadsheet and presentation tool. It differentiates itself from Google’s offering by offering an array of extras, including: an online wiki, project management, CRM and invoicing solutions.

Replacing the desktop

There’s no end to the tasks that you can outsource to Internet applications. Highrise, for example, isn’t just an online address book and contact manager. It’s a shared task-list, personal assistant and CRM widget. The team behind the software (37signals) also designed Basecamp, a must-have collaborative tool to help teams virtually track and manage ongoing projects.

Little by little, desktop applications are being replaced. Adobe’s new PhotoShop Express brings rudimentary photo editing and sharing to an online app; while automated online backup services like Carbonite can securely archive your important data.

Need an extra pair of hands? Log onto and hire yourself a remote-working office assistant who can handle basic administration duties, data-input, transcription and other secretarial projects. If you know where to look, you can find copywriters, designers, SEO consultants and PR execs all willing to work by the hour.

While the concept of cloud computing is still in its infancy, it’s not just small and medium-sized businesses that can benefit. The Telegraph Media Group (TMG) recently switched its 1,400 journalists from Microsoft Office to Google Docs. “It’s quickly becoming clear to many enterprises,” says TMG’s chief information officer Paul Cheesbrough, “that cloud computing offers them a cost-efficient and low-maintenance way of catering to the needs of the modern day employee.”

How can it help you?


Can Facebook and business really mix?

by Dean on September 25, 2008

Social networking and your business

This freelance article appeared in the Orange Business Matters newsletter. It takes a look at how social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn can be a useful promotional tool for small businesses.

Here’s an excerpt:

Social networks are key influencers – the electronic equivalent of word-of-mouth. The interconnected nature of Facebook means that if somebody contributes a comment on your company’s page, this will show up on their news feed, which in turn shows up on the news feed of anybody they are ‘friends’ with.

If just one employee has 100 friends, that’s 100 people who are subconsciously exposed to your brand.

Setting up a Facebook page for your business can have several advantages. At the very least, it can act as a directory listing for your company.

Establish a Facebook group and you can potentially use it as a free company intranet. You can post business updates, employee news, even make use of the Facebook chat feature as an alternative to traditional IM clients.

You can read the full article by clicking on the image below.

Social networking and your business


Beat the recession

by Dean on September 25, 2008

Beat the recession - Orange Business Matters newsletter

This “Beat the recession” piece for the regular Orange Business Matters newsletter is about how going high-tech could help businesses save money.

For the most part, it’s about ways that businesses can use the Internet to find free productivity software, collaboration tools and virtual workers. For example:

The Google Apps Team Edition software is also ideal for businesses who want to embrace this cloud computing concept.

It aggregates Google’s key online office applications, enabling remote-workers to share a common Google Calendar and to securely share documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Google Docs supports Microsoft’s Word, Excel and PowerPoint file formats as standard, so there are few (if any) compatibility issues.

It’s not just small and medium-sized businesses that can benefit from working in the ‘cloud.’ The Telegraph Media Group (TMG) recently switched its 1,400 journalists from Microsoft Office to Google Docs.

You can read the full article by clicking on the image below.

Beat the recession - Orange Business Matters