Categories
Inside Radiate Digital

A Look Back at My Journey: from Intern to Team Member

I started as an intern at Radiate Digital in February of this year. Almost nine months later, I was promoted to a full time member of the staff! Although my career at Radiate Digital is just beginning, I am excited to see what my future with the company will bring.

Time Has Passed and Lessons Were Learned

Over the past nine months, I have received a crash course on the industry and what Radiate Digital brings to its clients. From website building to SEO optimization and blog writing, I have learned so much in such a short time.

When I first signed on with the team, I was just a beginner in the marketing industry, a young writer who had only seen a glimpse of what this industry could offer. Thanks to the team here I am now fully prepared to take on whatever challenges that the future holds.

Everyone here at Radiate Digital is a master of their respective fields, and I have learned different things from each and every one of them. Whether I was working on marketing with Elise, website content with Jaron and Chrissie or anything else, each person I worked with was a valuable mentor. I have each of them to thank for making me the employee that I am today.

As of now, I feel like a bit of a wild card at the company, which is fitting because I always considered myself to be a real joker. I look forward to finding my niche and running with it in the future. For now, I will continue to sharpen my skills with the help of my co-workers.

Speaking of Co-workers

The team here at Radiate Digital has been one of the best parts of working for the company. I was warmly welcomed with open arms and felt at home right away. Everyone here is as genuine as they are nice, and I am happy to continue working with them.

Whether we are cranking out some killer content, building websites or engaging with customers, we do it all with a great sense of joy and dedication, and that to me is the sign of a great company.

It’s all about having fun while you work hard. Otherwise, what’s the point?

It All Begins Now

I know that this is just the beginning of what will be a great career with a great company, and I look forward to working hard for our clients every single day of the week!

Categories
Inside Radiate Digital Services Tech and Software

Building an Event-Based Website Using BuddyPress and Events Manager Pro

BuddyPress is a very popular WordPress extension that allows you to turn any WordPress sit Building an Event-Based Website Using BuddyPress and Events Manager Pro

BuddyPress is a very popular WordPress extension that allows you to turn any WordPress site into a social media platform.  With features such as profile creation, friending, internal messaging, wall posting, and more, BuddyPress comes pre-built with all sorts of user-capabilities.

However, in the 7 years that BuddyPress has been around, it’s been expanded and customized to accommodate a number of other uses such as internal networks, fan sites, dating sites, and more.  Basically, any place where you want to better connect people while giving them the ability to manage and update a profile, BuddyPress can be a great solution.

Including event-based websites.

Why Would You Want to Connect BuddyPress with an Events Website?

Any good events plugin for WordPress will allow for user-profile creation.  This will generally allow them to long in to check current or past registrations, cancel registrations, and if you want, create events of their own.

But adding BuddyPress gives users considerable more control over their accounts, providing a more attractive profile page that’s easy to access and update.  In addition, let’s say they make new friends on an event they attend.

They can then return to the site, friend these people using BuddyPress’s default features, and stay connected through there.  They can even see which future events the other is attending and register accordingly.

If you’re allowing users to create events on your site, they could use the social features as a coordinating/communication tool as well.

Truthfully, there’s a lot of ways you can harness the social power of BuddyPress to make a better events site.  Here’s what we did:

The Project

A client wanted us to build them an event-based website for a niche-market that added a degree of social-media like interaction.  While the primary purpose for creating a profile was to register for events, social functionality would become increasingly important as the business and the community within it grew.

We decided that BuddyPress would perfect for this.  Though it doesn’t have any event functionality built in, there are a number of popular event platforms with BuddyPress integration capabilities.

We went with Events Manger Pro because we had good experience with it in the past and they offer BuddyPress support.

The intial setup is relatively simple.  Install BuddyPress and Events Manager from the plugin area of your site.  To add the Pro features of Events Manager, you’ll need to purchase and download it from their website, and then upload the zip file onto your own site.

With these in place, we set up the registration page for BuddyPress.  Users visited that to create their account.  This would then send them an activation email.  Once they activated their account, they could login and start registering for events on the event page powered by Events Manager.

In our case, users had to create a profile before they could register for events.  However, if you wish, you can enable guest registration as well.

For the initial stage of the website, profiles were mostly used to track and store additional user information.  BuddyPress makes adding additional user field’s very simple, letting use customize profile layouts as we saw fit.

In our client’s case, profiles actually represented two people (specifically a couple) instead of one.  BuddyPress gave us the ability to add fields for both.

Another feature we were able to utilize was internal messaging.  Though we had this disabled for standard users, admins on the site could message either specific users or mass message everyone through the website.

Messages were stored both on the user’s profile and sent to them via their primary email address.

Future Planned Updates

There are a number of updates currently planned for the second phase of the website including:

  • Paid memberships/membership tiers (using an additional plugin)
  • Friending capabilities and internal message for paid accounts
  • Special event prices for paid accounts
  • And more

Trouble We Encountered

While the combination of these two WordPress add-ons allowed us to implement a number of features, some of the above functionality had to be modified and tweaked within the actual code.

Also, though Events Manager is setup to work with BuddyPress, the integration isn’t quite as seamless as we would have liked.  For example, Events Manager allows you the option of exporting attendance rosters for events.  However, these exported lists don’t pull the extra profile data found in the BuddyPress profiles.

This was especially troublesome in our case since that extra data contained the info of the second person in the couple.

Also, if you’re looking at someone else’s profile, trying to see what events they’re attending, the default layout/organizing is a little confusing at first.

Lastly, we’ve had a slight issue with some users not receiving their activation email.

Ultimately, We Recommend BuddyPress and Events Manager Pro

Are they perfect?  No.  Do they have some limitations?  Yes.  Will you need a design and/or developer to help with some styling, coding, and site navigation?  Definitely.

But using these two plugins allowed us to provide a website that does quite a bit for a really affordable price.

Categories
Design Inside Radiate Digital Tech and Software

Customizing WordPress: Free Themes, Premium Themes, and Frameworks

At Radiate Digital, we use WordPress as the platform for over 90% of our websites.  WordPress is an incredibly popular and powerful platform that can do just about anything.

Yet it also manages to offer a relatively simple CMS for users to access and update content that appears on their website.

Though just about anyone can learn to create a page or add a blog post to a WordPress site, getting it to look and function how you want it to takes a little extra effort.  Default, WordPress looks a little…vanilla.

 we use WordPress as the platform for over  Customizing WordPress: Free Themes, Premium Themes, and Frameworks

Maybe you like vanilla.  That’s fine.  If we’re talking about scented candles, I’m a big fan of vanilla.  But when it comes to design, I like to think we can do a little better.

This is where the use of ‘themes’ comes into play.

Themes are what add the beautiful design to a WordPress site.  They can also add some additional functions such as shortcodes.  Technically, every WordPress site has a theme.  Even that picture above is a theme.

But not all themes are created equal.

 we use WordPress as the platform for over  Customizing WordPress: Free Themes, Premium Themes, and Frameworks

(it’s like a rejected scene from a Frozen ripoff)

The Freebies

There are a lot of free themes out there for WordPress.  You simple go to a themes website, download one, upload it onto your website, activate it, and there you go.  Your WordPress site now has a design.

However, free themes tend to come with a different kind of price.

Free themes typically offer very limited if any customization, meaning that any other site using that theme is going to look incredibly familiar.  They usually also feature the theme designer’s name at the bottom.

And frankly, a lot of free themes just don’t look that good.  Generally, these freebies are best left to a personal blogging site or that website you were forced to set up for your dad for free.

Premium Themes

As you might have guessed from the name, premium themes are ones that cost money.  The prices on these can range quite a bit depending on how robust they are.  They might offer an extensive amount of homepage options and arrangements or multiple looks for interior pages.

They might also involve things like Woocommerce for stores or some other sort of inventory system. Typically, they’ll provide you with some different color and font options, and let you tweak things so that the site looks a little more ‘you’.

That said, even premium templates often give off a certain “out of the box” feel.  Now depending on what you’re looking for, that might be fine.  It’s also important to remember that themes take support to make sure they stay up to date with the latest version of WordPress.  If the company that made the theme disappears or stops supporting it, you might run into some issues.

They can also sometimes have compatibility issues with different plugins.

Lastly, even though the tools and settings are all there for you, it can still be quite a bit of work for the average computer user to get a template setup correctly and looking like what it’s supposed to.  That’s why even people who use a theme often team with a professional WordPress user or developer to set up and manage their site for them.

WordPress Framework

Frameworks are where some people start to get a little confused.  A framework isn’t a theme, per-se.  It does go on top of the WordPress foundation like a theme does.  It’s installed in the same place as a theme is.  It often has settings very similar to what a theme has.

But it lacks an actual design.

Typically, a framework has something called a child-theme placed over top of it.  This uses the functions and capabilities of the framework, but puts a unique design to it.

Think of it like the human body a car.

WordPress is the engine.  The framework is the car frame and suspension.  The theme/design is the body and paint job.

Many (if not most) themes come with the framework and the design bundled together.

Here at Radiate, however, we don’t use pre-made themes.  We make custom WordPress designs so that our clients get exactly what they want out of their website.  But we do use our own Framework.

It’s Called the Radiate Framework

After designing and setting up quite a few WordPress sites, we decided to build our very own Framework.  Why?  Because we knew the kind of features and functionalities businesses wanted, and we wanted to be able to provide that on a stable platform for an affordable price.

Our framework provides the perfect groundwork for a fast and flexible website.  Behind the scenes, it comes preloaded with a number of useful features such as staff sections, portolio displays, a long list of useful shortcodes, custom headers on every page, and more.

Simply put, it comes with a lot of tools preloaded but can still be molded to meet the diverse needs of our clients.

What’s Best for Me?

Ultimately, it depends on what you want.  WordPress as a whole is a great website platform.  It’s our favorite platform.  If you’re creating a hobby blog for fun, a free theme will probably handle your needs.  If you want to take that a little more seriously, a premium theme is an easily affordable solution.

Just remember, with either of those options, you’ll still need hosting and a domain name.

That’s why we bundle all of that into our custom website designs.  If you want a website made your way with a stable framework, website updates, ongoing maintenance, hosting, and domain management, might we suggest having us craft something for you on our Radiate Framework?

You can checkout our Portfolio page for just a few examples of sites we’ve built on it.  Visit our sister-site LaunchRunner and you’ll find a few more.

Or if you’re really serious about it, visit our contact page.  We’d love to chat.

What is your experience with WordPress themes?  Do you have any questions?

Categories
Inside Radiate Digital

Intern Time with Ally

We have a bit of a tradition here at the Radiate Digital offices, that you may or may not already be aware of. Each year, as we start getting into the warmer summer months (can you believe it’s already May?), we have our interns share more about their experiences with our agency. (Last year we heard from Chrissie.)

This time around, it’s a bit different, because today happens to be Ally’s last day with Radiate Digital (no we didn’t kick her out, she accepted a full time position with another company). So, as a wrap up to her time with us, we had Ally share more about what she did as an intern and what she’ll be doing for her new career. Take it away Ally!

We have a bit of a tradition here at the Radiate Digital offices Intern Time with Ally

As I approach my final day at Radiate Digital, I can’t believe how much valuable experience I have gained! I have been doing all kinds of writing, from blogging to SEO keyword pages to infographic research work. I really wanted an internship that allowed me to focus almost entirely on writing, and my experience at Radiate Digital has been that and so much more!

As a Communications and Journalism graduate of the University of St. Thomas, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to pursue a career in. However, I have always been passionate about writing, and this internship has proved to me that my aspirations of becoming a writer are on track.

My Role at Radiate

As mentioned above, I have been writing constantly for a variety of our clients. It has been so useful to practice writing in different styles and tones that reflect a specific client’s vision and brand. I have also learned more about using WordPress and getting familiar with the platform, which is incredibly beneficial to have under my belt! I get to learn new things and research new topics that I would have never known about before. I feel like I am always discovering more about happenings in the community and in the world.

The Radiate Atmosphere

I am definitely loving the idea of coming into work, plugging in my headphones, and writing all day. The office vibe is very relaxed and inviting, which is the perfect environment for someone like me! There’s always something funny happening, my favorite moment was watching all the boys in the office have a competition for who could race up the stairs the fastest…it got really intense! In all seriousness, though, I can’t say enough good things about everyone in the office. People have been so friendly and helpful that it was easy for me to feel like a welcomed member of the team!

My Next Steps

Now that my time at Radiate Digital has come to an end, I have accepted a full time position with Mintahoe Catering and Events as a Project Coordinator. I will be doing event planning and social media work for the Nicollet Island Pavilion. Event planning is another one of my passions, and I am thrilled to begin this next chapter in my career. I am so thankful for my time at Radiate and all of the amazing people that I’ve met along the way.

If you or someone you know is looking for an internship, we’d love to hear about your skills! We are always looking for new interns at Radiate Digital. Just hop on over to our contact page and send us an email!

Categories
Design Inside Radiate Digital

Now Offering 90’s Inspired Retro-Site Designs

 we generally strive to create beautiful Now Offering 90’s Inspired Retro-Site DesignsAt Radiate Digital, we generally strive to create beautiful, modern designs that are made to scale across a number of screen sizes and devices.

But we realize that not everyone shares our aesthetical tastes.

So rather than dragging established sites into the mid-2010’s kicking and screaming, we thought we’d broaden our offerings. For those who thought the internet was just fine when it first became a thing, we’ve got the perfect solution for your business.

Retro Throwback Sites!

Are you ready to party like it’s 1999?

Let’s be real, between ripped jeans, high-waist pants, and excessive amounts of denim, the 90’s are pretty cool again. It’s probably only a matter of time before 90’s web design comes back to being cool again too.

With our retro sites, not only can we appeal to a bigger audience of later adopters, but we can be simultaneously be ahead of where design trends are inevitably heading.

But enough talking.  Time to show you exactly what we mean:

 we generally strive to create beautiful Now Offering 90’s Inspired Retro-Site Designs

We’re fairly certain that if Radiate was around during the 90’s, our site would have looked something like this.  Truth is, we like this design so much, we might just switch over to this being our main site. As you can see, there are a number of amazing features about these retro sites such as….

Repeating Background Patterns!

Who wants a boring solid color or high-res image for the background of their website when you can have a pattern that repeats the same thing for all of eternity?

White Text Over Dark Backgrounds!

Nothing pops like white text over a black background. This is just a scientifical fact. Will reading this text lead to potential blindness 15-20 years from now? Who cares? That’s a long time away, and we’ll probably have robot eyes by then anyway.

Speaking of text….

Excessive Text Overload!

People come to your website because they want to know every single thing there is to know about you, and they want to know it immediately. What better way to learn all of that than to read giant paragraphs of text on the homepage?

It’s really about as close as you can get in real life to downloading chunks of knowledge and skills like they did in The Matrix.  With our websites, you’ll become the chosen one.  Just maybe don’t try dodging bullets….

Tiny Stock Images!

You’re going to need some extra room to display all that text. The easiest solution is to decrease the size of pictures on your site. People didn’t come to your site to see pictures. They came to read text.

Paragraphs on paragraphs of text.

Since the images are so small, stock photos will work perfectly. People won’t even be able to tell the difference between them and unique, professional photography.

Gratuitous Amounts of Drop Shadows!

Drop shadows are cool because it looks like your text is hovering over the page. Basically magic. We’re making magic happen on your website.

You’re welcome.

The Return of Impact Font!

It’s called Impact for a reason. Because it hits your corneas like a left hook from Apollo Creed in his prime. Too many websites feel passive these days. With Impact font placed everywhere, visitors will feel like they’re being attacked when they land on your homepage.

Attacked with awesomeness, that is.

Content Designed for a 15in Square Monitor!

Sure, some (read: most) people have large, widescreen monitors sitting on their desks these days, but we think monitors were plenty good when they were between 13-15inchs and mostly square shaped. That’s why all of your site content will be inexplicably crammed into left corner of your browser, ready to show all of it’s glory at once.

Unless your on a phone or tablet…

Zero Responsiveness!

Who wants people looking at their site on a phone? Internet browsing was created for computers, and with our retro sites, it’ll stay that way. These websites will in no way attempt to adapt to a smart device, leaving those mobile viewers with two options:

– Pinch and zoom so they can actually read your excessive amounts of paragraphs.

– Buy a real computer like an adult

Optimized Exclusively for Internet Explorer!

Remember when Internet Explorer was king of the internet? Those were the days.

In honor of the retro functionality, we’re optimizing these sites to run exclusively on all versions of Internet Explorer.

Will they still work on modern, functional browsers?  Possibly. No promises.

They should, however, work on Netscape just fine.  No guarantees on whether or not you can get Netscape working whatsoever though.

Built in Lycos Search Functionality!

Google? More like “Who-gle?”, am I right? Everyone knows search engines peaked with Lycos, so we’re bringing it back.

 we generally strive to create beautiful Now Offering 90’s Inspired Retro-Site Designs

“Lycos, go get these people an awesome 90’s style website!”

Ready to Get Started?

If this sounds like everything you’ve been dreaming of your website being for the past 16 years or so, then let’s get started!

Just hop over to our contact page, fill out the form, and simply say “Bring me back to the 90’s”. Alternatively, you can copy and paste lyrics from Nirvana, Pearl Jam, or Creed, and we’ll know exactly what you’re looking for in a website.

Can’t wait to get started with you!

What do you miss the most about the 90s?  What website did you visit the most during the 90s? Were you even alive during the 90s?

Categories
Inside Radiate Digital

Meet the Intern: Ally

Next up for intern introductions is Ally. Ally is also joining our team as a writing intern. And, just as we did with Kevin (and other interns past) we’ll let Ally speak… er, write for herself.

Take it away, Ally!

Next up for intern introductions is Ally Meet the Intern: Ally

Please state your name for the internet masses:

My name is Allyson Lorraine Leonard.

What did you come to Radiate Digital to do?

I came to Radiate Digital to get my career started in writing and digital marketing.

Walk us through your first day experience:

I had a great first day! When I first arrived to the office, I was immediately introduced to everyone on the team. I got my email set up and got straight to work on my first official blog post! In the afternoon, Elise and a few other coworkers treated me to lunch at Panera. It was a great way to get to know people a little better!

What are you most excited about moving forward?

Just getting the opportunity to write as much as I do is so exciting, but I am excited for the little side projects as well because it’s a chance for me to learn something new. However, I think I am most excited to write for our wedding industry clients, since I have spent the last 3-4 years working in the wedding industry and it is one of my biggest passions outside of writing.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I really wanted to be a famous singer. I play piano and sing, and I was always writing my own music and playing mini “concerts” for my family. That dream followed me into my teenage years, and I even went on to major in Music Business during my first semester at college, but realized that I would rather do something else as a career.

If you could give advice to your 14-year-old self, what would it be?

Don’t obsess over boys! It’s way more important to focus on yourself and what makes you happy. Everything else will fall into place.

Who is your hero (real or fictional)?

My mom is definitely one of my heroes. She is truly my best friend and has always been there to support me through thick and thin. I love you, mom!

What is your jam right now?

I’ve been on a bit of a country kick lately, so I’m going to have to say “Leave the Night On” by Sam Hunt. That song always puts me in a good mood!

Without looking it up, what is the capital of Trinidad and Tobago?

I’m not sure!

(The answer is Port of Spain)

Have you liked Radiate Digital on Facebook and followed us on Twitter?

Yes to Facebook! I don’t use my Twitter as much as I should, but that is definitely on my to-do list.

Would you encourage others to do the same?

Absolutely!

End of Interview

There you have it, folks. Ally Leonard, a new addition to our writing team! If you would like to read her first blog post, you can find it here.

Are there any questions you have for Ally? If so, write them below and we will make sure she responds!

Categories
Inside Radiate Digital

Meet the Intern: Kevin

Last week marks the beginning of another set of interns here at Radiate Digital (or as we’ve affectionately dubbed #theRADlab). First up is Kevin, and rather than tell you all about him, we thought we’d let him speak for himself…. And, he should be pretty good at it, since his main job will be writing!

We’ll let him take it from here. Enjoy!

Last week marks the beginning of another set of interns here at Radiate Digital  Meet the Intern: Kevin

Please state your name for the internet masses:

Hello, interweb folks. My name is Kevin Withers.

What did you come to Radiate Digital to do?

I came to Radiate Digital to work with an inspired team that has a clear vision for their company and their clients. It is my hope to learn here and become an influential voice in the content writing industry. I want to create something that really turns heads.

Walk us through your first day experience:

The first day at Radiate Digital went off without a hitch.

After a slippery drive down the frozen highways of greater Minneapolis, I safely arrived at Radiate Digital’s brand new location. The office, while still under construction of sorts, seemed like an excellent place to dig in and create some killer content.

After meeting the team, who were all welcoming and friendly, I quickly learned that their compassion ended once the Uno cards were dealt at lunch.

Seriously, the gloves come off and the shivs come out when it comes to Uno.

The rest of my time was spent rolling up my sleeves and creating content for a few of our clients, all of whom represent industries that are as fascinating as they are a joy to write about.

What are you most excited about moving forward?

I am excited to meet new clients, learn new industries and create content that helps their businesses grow. There is a neverending string of content to be created, and I can’t wait to go to work for our clients.

Other than that, there is always revenge to be had at the Uno table…

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I always envisioned myself as a novelist/soccer player, writing my stories as I sat on the bench for team USA in the World Cup. I guess I never pictured myself as a starter. #alwaysarealist

If you could give advice to your 14-year-old self, what would it be?

Write more fiction, even when you don’t feel like writing at all.

Who is your hero (real or fictional)?

I’d like to say someone who has influenced my way of thinking, like Thomas Jefferson, but the more I think about it, I have to go with Link. He looks good in green, listens well and always manages to save Hyrule from evil forces.

What is your jam right now?

Eric Hutchinson’s “The Basement”

Without looking it up, what is the capital of Trinidad and Tobago?

The letter “T”, of course.

(While we applaud the creativity, the answer is Port of Spain)

Have you liked Radiate Digital on Facebook and followed us on Twitter?

Ummmm… I have now.

Would you encourage others to do the same?

Absolutely!

End of Interview

There you have it. Kevin Withers, our newest writing intern! If you would like to see his first blog post, you can find it here.

Are there any questions you would like to ask Kevin? If so, write them below and we will make sure he responds!

Categories
Inside Radiate Digital

We’ve Got a Pretty Big Announcement for Small Businesses

We can’t keep it a secret anymore.  We’ve had something pretty big in the works for the past year, and the time has come to let everyone know.

And no, we’re not being bought by Google….

Radiate Digital (that would be us) is officially launching a special subdivision geared directly towards small businesses.  It’s called Launch Runner.

ve had something pretty big in the works for the past year We’ve Got a Pretty Big Announcement for Small Businesses

What is Launch Runner?

Launch Runner is an all-encompassing internet marketing company specifically designed for small business.  With Launch Runner, even the smallest of businesses can get a custom website, email management, professional photography, hosting, and online marketing at a price they can afford.  We can even do video production!

In other words, your business gets its very own internet team.

How is This Possible?

We’ve spent a lot of time working with small businesses, and we know what they want, what they can afford, and how to make those two areas come together.  Launch Runner is designed with pre-built packages tailored to the typical business’s needs.

From there, we have available upgrades, a-la-carte items, and other options to make sure that our clients are getting services they actually want.

Why is it Separate from Radiate Digital?

As we’ve said, we know small business pretty well, and their needs tend to be a little different than mid-large sized businesses.  In order to provide the best service possible to both markets, we decided to separate the small business side of things.

The result is better service for everyone!

What Does this Mean for Radiate Digital Moving Forward?

As far as we’re concerned, the sky is the limit.

How Can I Show Launch Runner Some Love?

First, you can check out the brand new Launch Runner website here.  We will forewarn you, it’s still a bit of a work in progress, but it should give you an idea of where we’re going.

Once you’ve done then, make sure to like it on Facebook and follow it on Twitter.  We’ll be posting all sorts of useful tips and tricks for small businesses, start-ups, and entrepreneurs.

What’s the Rocket Guy’s Name?

We’re still working on that one.  Possibly Ricky?  We’re definitely open to suggestions.

ve had something pretty big in the works for the past year We’ve Got a Pretty Big Announcement for Small Businesses

Do you have any questions about Launch Runner? Would you like to share any other thoughts about it?  Do you have any name suggestions for our rocket guy?

Categories
Inside Radiate Digital

Why We Love Gmail

In our last post, we talked about the differences between web-based and desktop-based email.  Ultimately, we favor web-based email because it can everything you need it to, you can easily access it from anywhere, and there tend to be less issues with it.

Today, we’re going to get a little more specific.

Today we’re talking about our favorite email platform: Gmail.

A Little Bit About Gmail

 we talked about the differences between web Why We Love GmailGmail, created by Google, is an email platform that was released to the public in 2007 after a few years of private beta testing.   Though it was still considered a work-in-progress at the time, it didn’t take long for Gmail to gain a strong following.

Gmail offered a sleeker interface, more inbox storage, and superior security compared to Hotmail and Yahoo.

Today, Gmail is the most used web-based email service in the world with over 425 million active users.

Why is it so popular?  Why do we recommend it to our clients?  Let us tell you…

The Many Perks of Gmail

It’s hard to decide where to start with Gmail.

Like pretty much any email system, Gmail will store your contacts, emails, calendar events, reminders, etc.  You can create event invites that go out to other people and you can even create entire shared calendars.

Additionally, Gmail has a built in chat feature that many refer to as g-chat.  With the chat feature, you can instant message your contacts for quick replies and discussions.  Those chats are then saved in an inbox folder so you can reference them later.

With the chat feature, you can also start a Google Hangout (video chat) with up to 10 people (15 if you have a premium account).  In a Hangout, you can talk face to face, share you computer screen, upload documents, and more.  If you don’t have a camera, you can also do voice chats.

Sounds pretty great, huh?  But wait…there’s more!

The Google Suite

 we talked about the differences between web Why We Love Gmail

Truth is, Gmail is actually just one piece of a bigger product.  When you create a Gmail, you’re actually creating a Google Account.  With your Google Account, you get access to everything Google has to offer.

If you’re an Android user, you have the added benefit of syncing everything directly to your phone.  Don’t worry, iPhone users can still sync up their Gmail and calendars with their phone.  It’s just not quite as seamless.

Your Google Account can be attached to your business’s Google+ page, YouTube Channel, Analytics, AdSense, and more.  It also allows you to give Google reviews and comment on YouTube videos.

Attached to your Google Suite are two other big tools: Google Drive and Google Docs.

Cloud Storage for the Win

Drive is Google’s cloud storage system.  With a free Gmail account, you can store up to 15GBs of files, documents, etc. online, where they can be accessed from anywhere you can find an internet connection.

You can also easily share files from Drive with anyone you want.  If someone sends you a document in an email, you can save it directly to your Drive.

Drive can also be installed on all of your electronic devices.  If you use multiple computers, this makes it very easy to start a project on one computer and finish it on another.

Personally, I have three computers and my phone, all of which are synced with my Drive.  I never have to worry about accidently leaving work at the office or losing important files if my computer crashes.  It’s pretty great.

Drive also integrates easily with Google Docs.

Fewer Downloads.  Better Collaboration

Technically speaking, Google now considers Drive and Docs to be one tool, but for the sake of explanation, let’s separate them.  Google Docs is essentially an online version of Microsoft Office.

With it, you can create text documents, spreadsheets, slideshow presentations, etc.  They aren’t quite as robust or powerful as Word or Excel, but for most, they can do what you need them to.

Also, they’re free.

But the best part about the Google Docs tools is convenience.  If someone sends you a Word document, and you want to edit it and send it back, rather than downloading it, editing it, re-uploading it, and sending it, you can just do it all online.

No downloading necessary.

Or you can have multiple people working on and editing a document or spreadsheet simultaneously.  Changes happen in real time, and you can even see who is accessing the file.

Going Pro

Gmail (and the Google Account that comes with it) is absolutely free.  However, if you want a professional email such as tim@radiatedigital, you will have to get a Google Apps account.

With Google Apps, you get all the features listed above and more.  For $5 a month (or $50 a year), your Apps account comes with 30GB of online storage.  If you’re going to be storing a lot of files in the cloud, you can grab a $10 a month account that comes with unlimited storage (and a few additional bells and whistles)

Are You Convinced?

 we talked about the differences between web Why We Love GmailYou’re probably wondering if Google paid us to write this post.  They didn’t, nor did they secretly buy us.

The truth is, we use Google for pretty much everything, and it works great for us , and we have no doubt it can work great for you too.  We have yet to encounter a client who went with a Google account and was disappointed in the end.

Even the ones who just use it for their email.

Do you use Gmail?  What other Google Apps do you use?  What email service would you recommend?

Categories
Inside Radiate Digital Services

Web-Based vs. Desktop: What Email Client Should I Choose?

There are a lot of email clients out there Web-Based vs. Desktop: What Email Client Should I Choose?

There are a lot of email clients out there. In case we just lost you, an email client is what you use to check your email

Some are web-based meaning you can access them through a web browser such Chrome, Firebox, or even Internet Explorer (though we wouldn’t recommend that).   The most common examples would be Gmail, Y-mail (or Yahoo Mail), and Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail).

Other email clients are desktop based.   That means you have a program installed on your computer that you use to access your email.  The only one we see businesses using currently is Microsoft Outlook. While they used to be the norm, desktop email applications are considerably less popular than they once were.

And for good reason.

Since the program is installed on a single computer, all of your email is on that computer.  Accessing it from another computer or getting it to your smartphone can range from tricky to impossible depending on your tech abilities.  Unless you’re still wielding one of those old school Blackberry phones.  Those did great with Outlook.

Sometimes, just getting the email to your main computer can be a problem.  Outlook operates differently (and more complexly) than, say, Gmail.  Because of this, we have seen countless businesses running into errors with Outlook.

  • – New emails not showing up
  • – Sent emails being returned
  • – Users getting logged out
  • – Users not being able to sign in
  • – Etc.

There are a lot of email clients out there Web-Based vs. Desktop: What Email Client Should I Choose?

If we got a dollar for every Outlook-related issue we’ve run into, the entire Radiate Digital team could probably retire.  That’s why we strongly recommend clients use web-based clients.  They’re easier, the more adaptable, and these days, they can do just about everything Outlook can do and in some cases, more.

Perks of Web-Based Email

See, there was a time where programs like Outlook were superior because they could hold multiple emails accounts, they could store and organize contacts better, and they had very useful calendars.

But email clients like Gmail have all of that now.  What’s even better is they can easily sync all of those things to your phone so your phone clients and email clients become one.  Your phone calendar and your email calendar are the same too.

I remember the first time someone sent an email invite for an event and a reminder popped up on my phone a few days later.  I didn’t have to set or save anything.  My phone just knew that I had an event because of the email.

There are a lot of email clients out there Web-Based vs. Desktop: What Email Client Should I Choose?

Programs like Outlook come from a time when people had one device where they checked their email.  Things have changed drastically since then.

Are there instances where Outlook still might be the best choice for someone?  Yes.  But those instances are few and far between.  And they’re only going to become more rare.

But All of My Stuff is In Outlook

Change can seem difficult.  We get that.  You have to relearn how to use it.  All of your information is in the old system.  But those shouldn’t be enough to hold you back from switching over.

Web-based clients are actually much simpler to use.  And for our clients, we’re always here to help and answer questions.  As for contacts, events, old emails, etc., all of that can be ported over from Outlook to your new email account.

That way, everything is there just as you remembered it.

So what’s holding you back from going with a web-based client?  We’re not exaggerating when we say that about 80-90% of our clients’ email issues have involved Microsoft Outlook.

That is why we personally recommend web-based email clients over desktop email every time.  It’s can do all of the same things with fewer headaches.

What’s Our Favorite Email Client?

That’s an easy one.  Gmail.

What’s so great about Gmail?  We’ll answer that in our next blog post.  Come back next week to see why we think Gmail is the bee’s knees.

Do people still say bee’s knees?  Do bee’s even have knees?  What email client do you use?  Feel free to share answers to any of these questions below.  We’d love to discuss them with you.