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A Good User Experience is Not a Bad User Experience.

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

The Wall St. Cheat Sheet  provides a lousy user experience. In fact, although I was interested to see all of these cars, I quickly did a search and found a different website that offered the same content with a user interface that is far better for me.

The Cheat Sheet turns its visitors into old time Morse coders or telegraph operators clicking away rapid fire to see the fastest street legal cars in the World.


Over at The I was treated to the same cars all on a single page, easily viewable by scrolling.


Even counting the time for the Google Search, it was quicker to view the cars and read the accompanying text on SuperCars than on CheatSheet. And it was less work.s

A good guess might be that the Cheat Sheet is focused on driving up page views. Unfortunately, the result is a terrible user experience that in this case resulted in fewer page views.

Here is a tip. On the Cheat Sheet, at the top and bottom of the gallery there are orange buttons to navigate Prev and Next. In between these buttons is a text link “View All”. Save yourself some time and avoid the lousy user experience and click that link.

Users will gravitate towards what is best for them. They may even seek out a better user experience for the same content, as I did. Keep the user in mind as you build out your website and make sure that what you think is a good user experience is not a bad user experience.

Which other sites have you found that have bad user experiences? Please let us know in the comments below.

Virtual Companies Provide Value, Reliability and Creativity

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Working with virtual companies instead of directly with one designer or developer, or even an agency, can be of great advantage. There is a range of talent in any given field. (no pun intended). Take baseball for example.

Levels of Baseball Talent

  1. Occasional weekend enthusiast
  2. Regular member of a town league
  3. Pro – A
  4. Pro – AA
  5. Pro – AAA
  6. Major League Baseball
  7. World Series Championship team
Boston Red Sox Will Call Ticket Booth

Boston Red Sox Will Call Ticket Booth

The typical agency model is to pick talent from the desired level  and hire them to the team based on the market you want to serve. A virtual company manager has the ability to choose from all seven levels and even from ranges of experience within each level on a per project basis.

Workin’ in the Moonlight

A manager has a broad range of technical exposure and is an experienced networker with a group of colleagues that excel in their chosen fields. In some cases these talented people have full time jobs.  They love what they do so much that they offer to take on freelance work at reasonable rates.

Why do colleagues like this arrangement?

  1. An extra car or mortgage payment is always appreciated
  2. Sales, marketing and billing:  acquiring clients is not a  strength or joy for most people
  3. There is often no time or interest in managing a client base
  4. The opportunity to be creative and often try something new is awesome

Why do Clients like this arrangement?

  1. More reasonable rates
  2. High quality work
  3. A great fit.  Appropriate skills for the job
  4. The project is managed on their behalf
  5. Colleagues have been vetted. Client avoids getting burned
  6. Manager picks up the pieces if things fall apart
  7. Manager handles the pricing

Why do Managers like this arrangement?

  1. Ability to serve a wider range of clients due to no fixed costs
  2. Opportunity to work with a range of talent and gain knowledge
  3. Not stuck  with employees with finite experience or talent
  4. Greater diversity of projects
  5. Ability to shift resources as needed
  6. Easily upgrade and improve with more talented colleagues

A Great Fit

Consider the value of being able to match the Auto Body Shop website project with a designer that is a biker or the three authors writing about motherhood with a designer that is a new mother. Every project is unique. One may require a top notch designer that has been an art director for 20 years, while another project simply needs a strong design foundation to be tweaked and updated.

Great Partners

Here at JBS Partners we have partnered with talented colleagues in a range of disciplines.

Design Partners

Chris’s web design talents have increased and benefited our clients for over 7 years now.

Google Adwords Partner

Rori has partnered with JBS Partners since 2008 to provide paid search services through Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Development Partners

We  have a core team of developers that we work with every day, sometimes even on weekends, for a range of clients.  In addition there are specialist in the areas of page speed optimization, anything that needs configuring or troubleshooting on a server, WordPress plugin developers, hosting aficionados, local search and not-so-local search marketers, copy writers and the list goes on.

We have worked with some super talented people in between life events, like losing a job. They  remain loyal supporters of JBS Partners to this day.

I am really grateful that this business model exists and allows me to serve colleagues and clients in meaningful ways just when it means the most to them. It feels like a home run!

The virtual company model has a trifecta of beneficiaries. Have you had successful experiences with a virtual company or seen these benefits yourself?  Please let us know in the comments.


Name Badge Gets 3 Warm Leads in 15 minutes

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

What you are about to read resulted in three warm leads in 15 minutes.

When I arrived at the Managing an Agency Business event I was met with the customary table full of blank name stickers and permanent markers.

Back when it was customary to check-in on FourSquare I used to write my Twitter handle on my name badge since many folks knew me from Twitter.

That was not applicable for this crowd. I wrote my full name and stopped, but 3/4 of the name sticker was blank. Then I found myself writing “WordPress Site Migrations”.

I thought nothing more of this until in just a few minutes I had three business cards in my pocket from people that wanted to meet or talk again about how we could help them.

Managing an Agency Business

Managing an Agency Business. Lightening bolt on my head.

Writing a company name would not have had this kind of impact. Most company names don’t precisely communicate the primary services your organization offers.

In talking with Abe Belini of Komarketing and James Hilton of Simplus Group after the event I found myself explaining the benefits I had experienced of writing what I do instead of my company name on my name badge. The brand name WordPress is something that everyone recognizes and wants. Migrations implies that we can not only migrate a site from any platform to WordPress, but also that we can build sites from scratch on WordPress since that is part of the process of a migration.

When people are in a networking environment and are eager to help others, the first thing they want to know is what you can do. In fact lots of folks show up looking for talent. So, the next time you are at an appropriate event, Abe and James suggest writing what you do on your name tag, rather than your company name. Besides, it is great to leave out some obvious piece of information, like your company name, so that people feel comfortable, even eager to ask you who you work for. It is a very easy way to start a conversation.

Two other take-aways related to growing your business and networking.

  1. Ask for the other person’s business card. Getting their card puts you in control of when and whether or not to call them. Plus, when you tell them that you will email them (since you didn’t give them your card) they will be impressed when you do what you said and they get that email.
  2. Be a presenter or speaker. Don’t stay in the audience forever. People you don’t even know will come up to you like you are an expert, and some will hire you. Great stuff.

Come back here and let us know how it worked for you after you customize your name tag with what you do, instead of your company name. And if you want to migrate to WordPress, check out You will be glad you did.

New SSD Joy Hampered by QuickBooks Error 3371

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

My three-year old Dell Latitude is not keeping up like it used to. So, after a buddy suggested getting an SSD to extend the life of any computer, I bought one.

I used Acronis to clone the existing drive and make it bootable and then put the SSD into the laptop. I was so impressed when the system booted up and booted up fast.

My bloated Outlook came on the screen faster. I have also noticed that closing Chrome with my 20+ tabs open happens instantly instead of over a few minutes.

Two exceptions to my being overjoyed were RoboForm and QuickBooks, which seemed to have a similar issue.

RoboForm did not recognize a registered user. I simply clicked and logged on to my account and was back in action.

The Corsair 240GB SSS - photo by Jim Spencer

QuickBooks Support was not effective

I am using QuickBooks Pro 2009. When I clicked on the icon to launch the program it threw up some arcane error code.

Specifically the error was

Error 3371: Could not initialize license properties

I looked on the support forums and called QuickBooks three times.

I found an entry in the support area that exactly named this error. I followed all the suggestions;

1) Reinstall QuickBooks

2) Uninstall and then reinstall QuickBooks

3) Ensure that MSXMS is installed

4) Reinstall Microsoft .NET

5) Ensure that all Microsoft software is up to date

6) Download QuickBooks from instead of using the original disk. Internet Explorer, which they recommended just looped. Chrome allowed the download.

7) Use the QBInstaller.exe tool

The really iratating part was that on all three calls to Intuit I was told that I needed to buy the latest version of QuickBooks. That is not a software solution, that is sales. I needed to make whole the existing product, not brush by the issue by making another sale.

Besides the advice defied logic. I had already installed QuickBooks six ways to Sunday and it didn’t help. Why would a newer version be any different. I dare say that it would not be different.

A further complicating issue is that the software is near its “end of life”. The support guys helped a bit, but they wanted me to either buy support of buy the product. One the third call after I told him all the efforts that I had made, he sincerely wanted to help me.

After a few hours I was finally told about the “Entitlement” folder. That is the culprit. Deleting it and then installing QuickBooks was the solution.

I believe that this is the file path - C:\Documents and Settings\\Local Settings\Application Data – I deleted the entire Entitlement directory.

A sad face at the MFA - photo by Jim Spencer


If you are trying to start QuickBooks and get the error

Error 3371: Could not initialize license properties

then go delete the Entitlements folder and its contents located here  C:\Documents and Settings\\Local Settings\Application Data.

I am not really clear whether Acronis failed to copy the data completely or accurately or these software packages have something that prevents copy data and logging in.  The latter seems more likely.

I am grateful to the third support person for providing the answer despite his reluctance. That was the difference.  The new SSD is still wonderful and I will hold off replacing my “end of life” software until there is a genuine need.

Have you run into similar situations and found unexpected solutions?

How BuddyPress Evolved in 2011

Friday, January 27th, 2012

How BuddyPress evolved in 2011

While pretty much everyone who spends time on the web knows about WordPress, not many people I talk to have heard about its community-oriented companion: BuddyPress. For those of you who’ve never heard of such a thing, here’s a rundown of what BuddyPress is about:

  • BuddyPress is a plugin that turns your self-hosted WordPress site into a membership based private social network.
  • Your members can create a complete profile with information you specify (including a photo).
  • Members can post status updates, message each other publicly and privately, and friend each other. They can even each have their own WordPress blog.
  • BuddyPress allows you to set up forums where your members can discuss, collaborate, and debate.
  • BuddyPress automatically generates an activity stream for each user, letting your members see what posts people are  commenting on and which forums topics their friends are spending time on.
  • See live examples at the BuddyPress Showcase.

Sounds pretty great, so why haven’t you heard of it?

Earlier versions of BuddyPress were resource intensive, loading a lot of unnecessary JavaScript and CSS onto pages and slowing them down. BuddyPress was also not customizable unless you were willing to hack some serious code. Even earlier versions were more challenging to set up and configure properly. These factors slowed adoption and limited active use to “advanced” programmers.

Fortunately, times are changing! In the fall of 2011 BuddyPress 1.5 was released with a serious list of improvements and new features.


First and foremost, BuddyPress’s JavaScript and CSS files now only load when they are needed instead of loading everything everywhere. This can result in a huge performance gain on sites with a lot of traffic.  I know from personal experience that the new BuddyPress can handle communities with tens of thousands of active users.

New Theme

The default theme that comes with BuddyPress has been redesigned to be more beautiful, flexible, and usable. It now looks great on mobile devices, has four new widget areas, and allows for page-specific featured images. The profiles, activity streams, comments, and forums have all been redesigned for better readability as well.

The new BuddyPress 1.5 profile and activity stream

The new BuddyPress 1.5 profile and activity stream


BuddyPress has been extremely customizable since it was officially launched in 2009. Version 1.5 features a brand new administrative interface that lets you specify the URL of your profile pages and forums, create and reorder profile fields with a drag and drop interface, and upgrade BuddyPress with less hassle.


Last but not least, for the hacker within all of us, BuddyPress comes with a brand new BP_Component class which makes it easy for plugins to extend user profiles and more.

All in all, these enhancements make BuddyPress a very attractive out of the box social networking solution. If you’re interested adding BuddyPress to your WordPress site, feel free to send us a message and we’ll be happy to help.

For more information, check out:

Have you heard of BuddyPress? What is your experience with BuddyPress? Let us know in the comments please.

Mission Success on Empire Avenue

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

I just ran my first mission on Empire Avenue.  Here is what I learned.

What is a Mission?

Missions drive social engagement. I setup my Mission to ask people to visit and click on the social sharing buttons on the left side of the page. You can click on the ones right here on this page if you like. :-)

Each mission provides an award of Empire Avenue currency, in this case 1,000 eaves. I arranged to have 30 missions available to whoever wanted to participate.

The 30 Missions cost me 60,000 eaves. I opted to mail all shareholders, which cost another $2,875 or so I think because I have 474 shareholders and this was my first Mission. I can see that sending Mail for a second Mission is more than twice as costly at 5,850 with the same award and number of Missions.

Before the Mission I had small numbers of social mentions;

  1. Likes – 26
  2. Tweets – 15
  3. Google+ – 11
  4. Stumble Upon – 2
  5. LinkedIn – was added during the Mission, started with 4

Mission Description and Text

Title: Provide Social Sharing

The Details…

 Likes 19

Mission: Please click on the social sharing buttons on the left side of to Like, Tweet, G+ and/or Stumble please.

Thank you very much!


What you see is a very simple and brief title that is clear about what the mission is.  The Mission text makes it even clearer. I said “please” twice, at the beginning and end on purpose and followed-up with “thanks”.


Mission Results

The 30 Missions yielded the following new numbers;
  1. Likes – 41 (+15)
  2. Tweets – 63 (+48)
  3. Google+ – 28 (+17)
  4. Stumble Upon – 2 (+0)
  5. LinkedIn – 6 (+6)
For a total of 86 new mentions in all, (adding up the numbers above in the brackets).
That is nearly 90 actions from 30 Missions.
I also picked up maybe 20  new Twitter followers, some new shareholders and a friend on Flickr.


Mission Lessons

The sharing tools that I installed uses the page name instead of the meta title to share the page. So, on Twitter every link was described as “Home” instead of something much more meaningful and helpful.

So, I got a lot of tweets like this;

Home via @fairminder


Instead of like this;

WordPress powered Websites, Blogs, and Marketing. via @fairminder


To resolve this I need to add a custom navigation menu which will allow me to change the Home page title to anything I want while keeping the navigation text simply “Home”.

19 people “Liked” the mission on the mission page. This likely helped spread the word inviting others to do the Mission.

I also posted news of the Mission on the Team Zen Facebook page. I think the shareholder was the primary driver though.

The mission only took about two hours after being launched in the morning around 10am EST.



It is interesting to translate virtual the social currency and “spend” it in a way that may bring value to the JBS Partners website and my business.

I will try this again for sure. I might try a lower Mission reward (500 eaves) and see if it works as well. I am only asking for a click after all.

This generated a lot of Tweets in one day, more than 50. So if you are a Klout watcher, this is sure to nudge your score up.

I would like to try specifically asking for Just Stumble Upon. It may be that folks don’t have accounts. However, I have seen a lot of traffic generated by Stumble Upon so it is worth going after with the right kind of content.

I am a satisfied Mission customer.

Have you tried an Empire Avenue Mission? What was your experience?

You can read more Empire Avenue success stories here.

Screen Shots for Setting up Outlook 2007 Email on cPanel Hosting

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Ready to set up Outlook 2007 email to connect with your mail server?

Here is what you will need to have in hand;

  1. A display name for the email recipient ( Jim Spencer )
  2. Email address ( )
  3. Email password
  4. Domain name ( )
  5. Incoming mail server ( – if you host with JBS Partners, just replace with your domain name
  6. Outgoing mail server (

Click on Tools and then Account Settings



Under the Email tab click on New



Choose Microsoft Exchange, POP3, IMAP or HTTP




Select the box at the bottom - Manually configure server settings or additional server types, and click Next



Choose Internet E-mail and click Next



Fill in all the information listed below;

  • Your name: How you would like your name displayed in your messages
  • E-mail Address: Your full E-mail address example;
  • Account Type: Choose either IMAP or POP3
  • Incoming mail server:
  • Outgoing mail server (SMTP):
  • User Name: Your full e-mail example;
  • Password: password for the account

When complete,  click the More Settings… button at the bottom right



Click on the Outgoing Server tab and

check off My outgoing server (SMTP) requires authentication and

choose Use same settings as my incoming mail server

Then click Next



Click on Next, and then Finish to complete your setup!





No Graphics Instructions

1 – Click on Tools and then Account Settings

2 – Under the Email tab click on New

3 – Choose Microsoft Exchange, POP3, IMAP or HTTP

4 – Select the box at the bottom - Manually configure server settings or additional server types, and click Next

5 – Choose Internet E-mail and click Next

Fill in all the information listed below;

  • Your name: How you would like your name displayed in your messages
  • E-mail Address: Your full E-mail address example;
  • Account Type: Choose either IMAP or POP3
  • Incoming mail server:
  • Outgoing mail server (SMTP):
  • User Name: Your full e-mail example;
  • Password: password for the account

6 – When complete,  click the More Settings… button at the bottom right

7 – Click on the Outgoing Server tab and

8 – check off My outgoing server (SMTP) requires authentication and

9 – choose Use same settings as my incoming mail server

10 – Then click Next

11 – Click on Next, and then Finish to complete your setup!


Let us know if this was helpful or how we might make it even easier for you.

Note: cPanel hosting accounts have a button to click that will configure your email client for you.

Empire Avenue for Content Promotion

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

I wrote a post on Slide Presentation Tips for Conference Speakers.

Promoting quality content effectively is all about leveraging influence. Using a network is an effective method.

Empire Avenue for Content Promotion

I joined Empire Avenue back in April and have enjoyed many benefits, including an entirely new network of positive and motivated people. I am making friends. Here is my account –

I am a member of a couple of Empire Avenue (EA) groups that congregate on Facebook.  I posted the following on the Team Zen group;

Need someone to buy your shares? Tweet, Like, +1 or Stumble this post and I will buy your shares - Probably at least 100 shares if you leave a link to your acct. If you buy back I will too. Tomorrow.

Ad Structure

  1.  It starts with a subject near and dear to every shareholder’s heart – getting someone to buy their shares. This is important because it causes their share price to increase, which is good.
  2. The second sentence makes the request. I ask for some social media attention using the conveniently located buttons in the sidebar of the post.
  3. Then I clearly define what is it for them. I will buy 100 of their shares. I put in “probably” just in case I ran out of currency. Anything is possible right?
  4. Then I made a second offer to buy more of their shares if they purchased some of my shares, something called a “buy back’.
  5. Lastly, I let them know the buying would start the following day.


Team Zen Did What?

The offer was available for 21 hours beginning after midnight. The group has about 1,000 members from all around the world.

The Facebook posting received 6 Likes.

About 15 members of Team Zen visited my post and hit the button(s).

The sidebar social widget on the post shows the following now;
(see the image here on the right)

Like – 15
Tweet – 22
+1 – 9
SU – 133

Stumble Upon is under represented in this group. I think one person used Stumble Upon.

This group has an affinity with Twitter it seems, despite being in a Facebook group.

A handful of participants bought a few of my shares after I purchased their shares, usually less than 50.

A small number began to friend or follow me today.

Quite a few postings did not include a link to their account, so I ran into the challenges of using the EA search box. It failed me more than once.

More than one person commented that they were happy to help and did not want me to buy their shares. the general tone of all the comments were very supportive and encouraging. I appreciate that.


Key Benefits and Takeaways

I got to get to meet new people and made some good connections.  I don’t see the same opportunity for this to happen on EA, although EA it would not have happened without EA.

The post got almost 200 page views just during this 21 hour period.

There were about 30 visitors from Facebook, and handful from Twitter and the rest came from Stumble Upon.

The project earned a link from a blog to my speaker tips post. Thanks for that.

There is also an outstanding offer to cross-promote

A few more people are better equipped to present now. Yippee!!!

And I think a few more people know about JBS Partners now.


My Flawed Reward System

I spent around 100,000 eaves, which is a lot in my mind.

Offering a flat 100 shares is simple and clean, but flawed, here is why.

A couple of participants have a huge audience and influence while others are still growing them. Compare over 50,000 Twitter followers with 27, for example.

In addition, participant share prices varied from 25 to nearly 120 per share.  Spending between 2,500 and 12,000 to buy that 100 shares for the same action makes no sense.

Offering to spend a flat number of eaves, instead of shares,  makes more sense for next time.

For example. If I had offered to spend 5,000 eaves, this project would have cost only 75,000 eaves, instead of 100k.  I could have allowed five more participants.


What’s Next?

I would definitely like make this offer again, as long as it is ok with the community.

When I try this again it would be interesting to try it over on the X Bar Empire Avenue group on Facebook. They have about 700 members.

The offer will be  eaves instead of shares.

Two things would be great to figure out;

  1. Ways to  compensate for the variation in size of audience and influence
  2. To see if quality blog comments can also be encouraged.


What do you think?



Empire Avenue Resources

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

A continually growing list of off-site Empire Avenue resources around the web.

Empire Avenue Resources

The Official Resource Site

Empire Avenue’s list of blogs, videos and news –



Robert Scoble’s interview with Dupes, the founder of Empire Avenue – from Apr 14, 2011, 52 min YouTube video


Empire Avenue Chat on Twitter


What: @EAvChat Worldwide  Fun chat 4X a week about #EAv & Twitter
Days: Sun, Tues & Thurs
Time: 7pm ET
and Sun 7pm GMT
Hosts: with @Domino_Oracle & @mqtodd
Hashtag: #eavchat



Blogs – news, opinion, how to, guides

Blog posts about Empire Avenue with tips, new, discussion sand suggestions

Blog posts with tutorials, videos and the newbie guide –


Tools – rankings, ROI calculators, shareholder sorting

Great tool to check your stocks –

Tool to help you track the best dividend earners –

Stock buying Recommendations from Team Zen

Tool to find high dividend and high ROI stocks to buy –

Link that allows you to see account data about any stock. In the URL string just replace fairminder with the stock name you are interested in. Useful to see how many shares someone owns in you. -



Facebook Pages / Groups

Empire Avenue Facebook Application -

X Bar –

Team Zen –


Do you have a favorite resource for Empire Avenue? Share it here or leave a comment about the links above.  If you want to join Empire Avenue here is a link.

Empire Avenue – How to Setup Your Account

Monday, June 27th, 2011

I joined Empire Avenue two months ago on 4/25/11. It is kind of like Twitter over four years ago in that most people don’t seem to get it. It is an influence stock market.

Empire Avenue


When your Purpose and Motive in joining and participating are clear the experience is more worthwhile.

You can join EA to;

  1. Amass virtual wealth, called Eaves
  2. Develop a high dividend yield. Over 1% is popular with investors
  3. Connect with new people and nurture existing networks
  4. Get people you don’t even know to increase your follower counts on Facebook Twitter, Flicker, YouTube and Linkedin
  5. Sell products and service that you sell other places
  6. Learn about the mechanics of virtual investing, and thereby real investing
  7. Find someone to finally fix that computer problem

Once you join, you typically take part by buying and selling shares in other people who have also joined.  Their value is based on social activity or online influence on major social networks as well as social activity on Empire Avenue, including the buying and selling of shares with the virtual currency called eaves.

The customary gaming part in social sites is present with all kinds of achievements that give not only pretty medallions, but also more eaves.

You can also buy your way in with cold hard cash if you want to. You can buy eaves, the virtual currency, and you can buy upgrades, advertising and luxury items.

Once you decide why you want to join keep that focus in mind as you make decisions about buying and selling shares, participating in communities and so on.

How to Start

  1. Go to and register after you consider your ticker. Four letters is cool or use your typical online name – whatever you want to be known by.
  2. Fill in your profile completely.
  3. Upload a smiling photo of yourself.
  4. Write a full and complete BIO so people can get to know you.
  5. Fill in at least 50 interests. If you add 50 you earn some eaves. :-)
  6. Connect your Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube and Flickr accounts.  If you have large followings people will buy your shares right away.
  7. Connect RSS feeds. Keep in mind that Empire Avenue (EA) only tracks your top five accounts. So, just put in your top five blogs and then request that they be upgraded by clicking on that button.
  8. Join a few communities, again based on your motive, and engage with people.  Remember you earn eaves for your social activity on EA.
  9. Be sure to visit the Settings / Edit profile and fill in the requested information there to completely fill in your profile.
  10. Think about the kind of people you want to engage with. Whose attention do you want to get?
  11. Start buying shares. You may want to get the attention of people who;
  • are in your industry,
  • might become customers,
  • live in your area,
  • are influential,
  • offer really high dividends,
  • that might increase dramatically in share price, you get the idea.

You don’t have to buy back. Just because someone buys your stock, doesn’t mean you have to buy theirs. Some people believe you should. Make your own rules that fit with your purpose and motives.

That’s how I suggest you get started on Empire Avenue.  I will write a few more posts about Empire Avenue in the future.

Go to and create an account.  Leave a message below about your experience.

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