Official Facebook for WordPress plugin released!

You can find the new Facebook for WordPress plugin in the WordPress Plugin Directory, or read more about Facebook and WordPress on the developers page.

You can find the new Facebook for WordPress plugin in the WordPress Plugin Directory, or read more about Facebook and WordPress on the developers page.

I’m really looking forward to SXSW 2012!

Today is the last day to vote for proposals for next year’s SXSW Interactive Festival (though if history precedes itself, it could be extended), and I’ve spent a good amount of time promoting what I think should be a killer topic for attendees.  “Deploying WordPress:  From Zero to Ninja” will cover business-oriented subjects like developing in multiple environments, the have-to-have plugins, and best practices from the community’s experts for running your enterprise-class application on the WordPress platform.

But I’d like to spend the remaining voting time promoting some other topics I’m really looking forward to, and I’ll update this list over time as I find new panels that catch my eye:

Be sure to check out all of the great WordPress-related panels and give them your vote!  More than 3200 proposals are competing for about 350 slots, and only 8 relate to WordPress!  A little surprising, but that will translate to far greater expectations from the WP-related topics that are picked  🙂

What everybody and their dog should know about QR codes

Nothing sounds very cool if it’s still in 2D, right?  Nope, there’s still one thing.  QR codes are 2-dimensional bar codes that can allow quick and purposeful communication like exchanging contact info, or effortlessly transport a perspective customer to your product website.

Follow along and we’ll talk about where you might have already seen a QR code, how to install a free app on your mobile device or smartphone, and describe some of the more creative uses of the technology!  Future articles will contain more technical information for developers and such, but for now let’s just get everybody up to speed.

Continue reading “What everybody and their dog should know about QR codes”

Snap a QR code from a product at Best Buy to instantly know more than the teenager trying to sell it to you

I was at Best Buy the other night helping a friend buy a new notebook computer, and she saw one of those QR codes I’ve been blogging about.  First of all, I’m excited that those who know me, and those who follow me on my blog and on my QR code facebook page can identify these 2D barcodes out in the wild!  They know what they’re for, even if they haven’t tried snapping a QR code before from their own device.

So, of course I had to whip my iPhone out and snap that QR code with one of the many free reader apps available (search for iCandyMobile in the AppStore, that’s currently the one I use most).  Snapping the code took me to the Best Buy website and immediately pulled up the model information page for the Toshiba computer we wanted to know more about.  We were able to see all of the information that was on the info card next to the computer, plus all the detailed specs that were not on the card and unknown to the teenager wanting to help me.   Cool  🙂

The concept behind scanning a QR code and viewing more information on my mobile is pretty great, but Best Buy has one of the best implementations I’ve seen.  They followed an important “best practice” of ensuring the URL for each QR code took me to a mobile-friendly page which was optimized for my iPhone.  The webpage was attractive and informative, and I could use the nicer features of my smartphone’s browser to be able to zoom into larger images and toggle animated panels of exactly the features and specifications I wanted to see.

Best Buy also took the opportunity to create a long-term relationship with me based on my short-term action of snapping that QR code, which is important in supporting brand loyalty and therefore revenue.  This was accomplished by allowing me to sign into my current Best Buy account, or to create a new one from the product page I had visited.  The page auto-filled my zip code in after I allowed their website to use my GPS location, and I could find other stores with that computer in stock.  From the same page, I had the option to read reviews on the product from other customers, and even add the notebook to my shopping cart with a single click!  Ok, at that point if the product was in stock, I could simply pick it up off the shelf and put it in my real shopping cart parked in front of me, but it’s a great feature when a store has run out of something still available from their website.

Overall, I was very happy with the experience – save one thing.  There were only 2 products out of the tens or more we looked at that had QR codes!  I couldn’t find out more about all of the other products sitting next to the Toshiba notebook, nor could I read the reviews posted by other consumers.  Taking a list of the products I was interested in would have required me to resort to typing out long and funky model numbers on my phone and taking some rough photos of the product myself.

How does one encourage a huge company like Best Buy to spend time and effort on affixing QR codes to all of their retail product displays, their marketing and promotional materials, and maybe even their price tags?  I’m already looking into it, and will publish my findings soon  🙂

Remember, today Sunday Aug 29th is the last day of voting for my panel topic at next year’s SXSW Interactive Festival! So please take the time to vote for my panel entitled QR Who QR: Exploring QR Codes, it only takes a few mins to sign up for an account, and they won’t spam the heck outta ya.  Leave me a comment or question on the page after you’ve voted, I’d love to hear what people think and it happens to help me in the selection process!

Voting has begun for the 2011 SXSW Interactive Festival, and I’d like everybody to vote for my topic on QR codes!

Ok everybody, voting has begun and I need your help!  Your voting accounts for about 30% of the decision-making process for any given programming slot.

Here’s how to help promote my “QR Who QR” SXSW panel topic:

  1. Create an account on the SXSW website at http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/users/register.
  2. Click the email verification link they send you to activate your account.
  3. Go to my topic’s page at http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/6768 and click the “thumbs up” button!

Also, please leave me a comment or question about what most interests you about those crazy barcodes, I’ll respond quickly and it helps to make my topic more popular!

Thanks everybody!

A really cool example of why *you* need a QR code app on your mobile device

This is what this whole QR code thing is about, right?  Wtf do I care unless I can do something with it!

But what if you’re reading a news article and wanna quickly take it with you?  Or you walk up behind your co-worker playing a remix of your favorite YouTube video and wanna share it with your friends on facebook in 2 or 3 clicks?

Here’s the answer.

I’ve attached a QR code to every page on my blog site, so if anything catches your eye before you have to catch your bus, you can take it with you in an instant.  How cool is that?!  Think of all the sites (more captivating than mine) where this would be useful to you.

Update: I don’t put QR codes on every page any longer.  I prefer simpler layouts these days.

Take a look at the right-hand side of my page, under the title “take this page with you”.  Pull out your smartphone, start up your QR code app, and snap a pic of the barcode to instantly put this url on your mobile device.

How I did it.

I found a WordPress plugin to create the codes, and while it isn’t very configurable or feature-rich, it does the job nicely!  Time invested?  It took longer to write the article than implement my “take it with you” QR code widget.  I still think I’ll write my own WordPress plugin and share it with the community, as there are many other features I’d like to implement to really prove how useful these blocky 2D barcodes really are.  Plus, it’ll be a fun challenge for me  🙂

Need more help?

Try checking out my QR Who QR: Exploring QR Codes page to learn how to get a reader app installed on your mobile device, and see what you’re missing!

Please remember to vote for my SXSW Interactive Festival 2011 panel topic on QR codes beginning Aug 11, 2010 at noon!  Visit http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ to create an account and vote for “QR Who QR: Exploring QR Codes” with Grant K Norwood of Springbox.

Blogging is hard.

Well, I assume so, I haven’t really started.

However, I’ve spent the last 4 days consumed by my new grantnorwood.com site.  I’m all over the place for sure – spending my time across developing my core vision, planning features, designing the look n’ feel, writing code, configuring servers, creating my initial social presence, and of course somewhere between the gaps I’ve begun to work on the content for all this web-based real estate I’ve obtained.  Nobody is gonna follow me if the content isn’t at least mostly appealing to my audience on occasion, right?

Oh yeah, note to self, decide who my audience is going to be.  That probably should be closer to the top on my list …

But I’ve now gotten a better idea of the commitment I’m making and the direction I want to take things.  I won’t saturate people with my most random thoughts, that’s personal facebook kinda stuff (and there’s plenty of that).  My plan is to maintain grantnorwood.com as my root professional presence within the intertubes we love so much, so that nobody has to wade through dumb stuff to find the good stuff.  Sound like a plan?

Here’s what I’ve done so far:

  • Repurposed grantnorwood.com as a blog site running the latest WordPress content engine and a custom theme.  I used to host client demos and such here.
  • Created a custom color scheme using a “tetrad (double contrast)” model for my new site at http://colorschemedesigner.com/.  I’m still learning about color, which sounds funny, but I’m not a trained graphic artist and really have to try hard to keep learning!
  • Created a new facebook page for my SXSW voting campaign.  You should definitely go “like” my page on QR codes, it is the topic I’m promoting for my panel at the 2011 SXSW Interactive Festival.
  • Added an AddThis widget to my blog allowing visitors to quickly share the pages they find interested via almost any social networking application, like facebook, twitter, google, myspace, digg … well you get the idea.  It’s always on the right side of every page, so use it!
  • Enabled XML SiteMap protocols and such, and designed a process where I can automatically publish new and updated content to Google, Yahoo, Ask.com, and Bing for better search results and more search-generated traffic.
  • Enabled Google Analytics for tracking the pages on my site, which allow me to see what content is the most popular, and what I need to focus on to ensure only the highest quality content that is of interest to people makes it onto my site.
  • Ran the Yahoo! YSlow tool against my pages to be sure performance is satisfactory.
  • Formatted links and URLs so they are more easily shared on facebook with nice thumbnails and appropriate excerpts.
  • A whole lotta technical stuff I won’t bore you with …
  • Wrote this post on what I’ve done.

Please stay tuned, more quality programming is coming your way!