Let’s Be Friends: A Thought From Wovax

August 29th 2014 in Blog, iOS

Recently, the tech world seems to have taken on the characteristics of a high-stakes political race. It’s Apple vs. Samsung vs. Google and all parties involved have intensely devoted fans and detractors. The name-calling and mud slinging is even finding its way into official ads for the companies – with Samsung being the worst offender if we’re gonna be totally honest here

And while we at Wovax have our own brand favorites (full disclosure: we’re all Mac junkies) we also recognize that not everyone’s needs are the same. Not everyone demands the same things from their smart devices. I can’t customize my iPhone layout? That’s fine because I don’t really want to. You would? That’s awesome – get an Android and enjoy! 

People will sometimes go to great lengths to prove they’re the smartest one in the room. But here’s the thing – no matter what phone you have in your pocket or whatever tablet gets your commuting work done on, you are smart. You’ve weighed the pros and cons of both systems and made the decision that was the smartest for you and you alone. And that’s the important thing. At the end of the day, no one cares what you’re using as long as you can deliver something stunning.

In creating apps for you, we don’t just take an empty framework and pour your website in like cement. We tailor it to the specific needs of you and your users. Our goal isn’t for our brand to be plastered all over your content. Our goal is to get your brand amped up so that it can be broadcasted loud and clear across the web like never before.

At Wovax, we provide our services for both Android and iPhone because we think they’re both excellent tools for accomplishing great things. It’s the not the car you drive – it’s the attitude that gets you there. And our attitude is this: find what works for you, and do it. 

Coworking For Professionals on the Palouse

August 28th 2014 in Blog

This week we made exciting developments on the coworking front. MosCoWork has officially become a part of Wovax, LLC! As we hurtle towards our September 15th opening date we wanted to talk more about the benefits of coworking. Because if you couldn’t tell, we’re definitely excited about this.

MosCoWork coworking progress Moscow Idaho

Many of the people who jump into coworking have been couch surfing. And those couches are in coffee shops. It might seem fun and cool at first. Waltz into a coffee shop, plant yourself at a cozy chair and sip fraps while you mine for gold in startup land. And while the energy of a coffee shop might be invigorating it is often distracting for many, if not most. And there’s the cost to consider. Unless you’re consistently buying expensive drinks every two hours at least, be assured the owners hate you for taking up their space eight hours a day.

MosCoWork coworking progress Moscow Idaho

When you have a coworking space, there is an energy inherent in the location, but it’s much more refined than a public place. While a coffee shop is usually full of focused people working on various projects for school or business, it is also a social watering hole. But a coworking space differs because people are paying to be there for the sole purpose of accomplishing things and being productive. 

MosCoWork coworking progress Moscow Idaho

MosCoWork has two different membership plans.

The optimal one for businesses as it gives you a place for your things is the Pro plan at $150 per month. The Pro plan gives you access to a dedicated desk as well as use of the conference room. The biggest perk of the Pro plan is 24/7 access via an electronic lock that is activated with either a smartphone or keyring fob. (This is like magic – it uses whichever device is in your pocket to sense your proximity so that when you touch the lock with your fingers it opens for you).

The Basic membership is $100 a month. This plan allows you to use any of the open working spaces when you are in the building. Access for this plan is 8 AM – 6 PM. 

Wireless printers and high speed internet are included in both levels of membership. 

MosCoWork coworking progress Moscow Idaho

Much of our excitement for a coworking environment comes from the opportunities outside of work that arise. A community that creates together will grow stronger together. MosCoWork will be a thriving hub for creatives of all kinds; an environment that allows people to learn from and encourage each other. To that end, MosCoWork will also be hosting workshops and other events that range from cooking to filmmaking to web design. 

We’ll see you this September!

MosCoWork coworking progress Moscow Idaho

WordPress: A Brief Primer

August 27th 2014 in Blog

Right now our main focus for apps has been the WordPress blogging platform. We’re big fans of WordPress over here and wanted to make sure you know why.

When we tell people what we do, we often get the classic “okay, you lost me at WordPress.” So what is WordPress?

WordPress is a free blogging platform that provides flexible customization. A WordPress site can be as basic or as advanced as you or your web guy knows how to make it. Web designers love WordPress as a basic framework that they can furnish to their hearts’ content. And if you’re just getting started, WordPress also curates a fantastic library of blog themes that you can choose from.

There are many things to love about WordPress, but for now we’re going to tell you just a few of the ones we think are the most important.

WordPress has an excellent control panel – the dashboard. Logging into the dashboard on your browser will give you the ability to make posts and edit content anywhere on your site. Uploading media, previewing a change before it goes live, and controlling your search keywords (more on that in a minute) are all easily accessible features. If you have an app, the content would be pushed out onto devices the second you hit the “post” button.

mobile WordPress app

Uploading media such as photos is literally drag-and-drop.

One of WordPress’ main strengths is the control that it provides you over search engine optimization (SEO). Every post and page that you create can have its own description and keywords. And because the code is simple and easy to navigate, search engines are able to be highly efficient as they crawl through the site. In addition to the default features, there are hundreds of plugins that you can use for getting the most out of your SEO.

User management on WordPress allows you to collaborate with a team while keeping an established hierarchy. The administrator runs the site and sets permissions for the editors who streamline site media and the authors who write the content. One of the most important user features is the commenting system. As we’ve discussed, interaction with blog readers is essential, and WordPress makes it simple for anyone to comment within seconds.

A crucial component of any successful brand is an independent identity. Setting up WordPress on your own domain is simple and will make your site more accessible and professional (wovax.com vs. wovax.wordpress.com).

And because mobile is now the master that web content serves, WordPress provides apps that allow posting from tablets and smartphones.

IMG_0041.PNG

So meta. Such convenient. Very WordPress. Wow.

Info dumps are never helpful, so we’ll leave it at that for now. Soon we’ll discuss more about the customization features of WordPress; specifically our top plugins that you will find incredibly useful.

Toto…I Don’t Think We’re On Dial-up Anymore

August 25th 2014 in Blog, The Web

We’ve been talking quite a bit about the changing nature of the web. Barely two decades old, it has already seen a massive upheaval in its very nature because of the way it is consumed.

This is nothing new. One of the most recent communications technology to see such a transition in its youth was film. Within a few quick decades, the technology rapidly progressed from silent films to talkies to full blown Not-In-Kansas-Anymore Technicolor. And all along the way, industry giants who staked their careers on the old iterations kicked and screamed as they refused to change despite their relevance fading before them. Charlie Chaplin hated talking pictures. And you probably haven’t seen him in one, have you?

And while Chaplin was able to crank out a few more silent masterpieces well into the 30’s, he was an exception, not the norm. And with countless alternatives to your blog at users’ fingertips, the web is far more unforgiving.

The votes are in and the statistics have spoken in favor of mobile web.

By using tablets and smartphones, more than half of the internet’s digital democracy have made their choice. And while mobile usage has been on the rise for some time now, the final word that’s pushed us into this new direction is the high volume of app usage. We’d like to show you some numbers that we have found supremely helpful in making clear the new state of the web.

Flurry Analytics released a study in 2011 that shows the mobile-dominated progression of US web traffic. By the end of that year, the average user was spending far more of their time in apps as opposed to browser web. And it doesn’t stop there.

Currently, app usage is at an all-time high. As more and more websites get with the times and have apps made that keep their brand alive in the mobile shuffle, their users have responded eagerly. Just this January, 55% of web traffic was from mobile users, and 47% of that was from apps. For the first time mobile web had overtaken desktop usage, and it wasn’t a fluke or random fluctuation.

Just last week, Comscore released a detailed report of where things stand as of June 2014. We highly recommend giving it a read, but the main takeaway is this: mobile web usage is now at 60%. And 52% of that? It’s apps.

Wovax wordpress mobile app smarthphone

A smartphone user checks the Wovax app for the Supreme Court of the United States Blog.

These numbers make it crystal clear that there is not a push for mobile web. It’s just happening. And it isn’t just smartphones. People are buying mobile devices such as tablets because they’re generally more cost effective and portable than even a laptop. Although their method of accessing the web is changing, they want to be able to interact with it in the same way they have been. And smart website owners are keeping pace. So make sure that you don’t get left behind with the silent films and dial-up.

And Introducing MosCoWork!

August 22nd 2014 in Blog

A topic that we have explored here and will continue to do so is that of web design changing based on the evolution of the technology we use to access it. But it isn’t just the web that’s changing. The way that we work is changing as well.

Wovax is no exception. Currently we occupy an office space that was the shipping room for a small publishing company that acquired their own building last year. In a few weeks, we’ll be moving into an exciting new project that our owner Joe is heading up: MosCoWork, a coworking space located in Moscow’s downtown.

Coworking has a number of advantages for startups and freelancers.

If a company hasn’t grown quite enough yet to justify renting their own office space, they may look into sharing a coworking space with other companies in the same situation. Think of it as a roommate scenario for businesses.

Zonaspace Russia coworking Moscow Idaho MosCoWork Wovax wordpress apps

Zonaspace in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Creativity and collaboration flow freely in coworking environments; networking happens on a daily basis as clients for multiple businesses come through and employees at various companies who wouldn’t usually cross paths get to connect on a regular basis.

And it’s not just for entrepreneurs and freelancers. The strengths of coworking have been recognized by many successful companies long after they make it big. Pixar co-founder Steve Jobs wanted employees at the animation company to network with fellow colleagues in other departments. Given the solitary desk-anchoring nature of animation, various departments didn’t stray too far from their wings of the building. He kept this in mind as he designed the main building on Pixar’s campus and created the Atrium, a large common space that houses not only the cafeterias and refreshments, but the only bathrooms in the building.

Video game company Valve employs an even more unorthodox approach in reaching their goals. At Valve, there are no managers and no one tells you what to work on. You decide for yourself and you then do it. Desks are on wheels so that as projects come and go, people can rearrange themselves accordingly. Valve took a great risk in giving that much trust to their employees. But the creative and driven people turned that freedom and power into hit franchises like Portal and Left 4 Dead as well as the wildly successful Steam (it’s like iTunes for games).

Citizen Space San Francisco MosCoWork Moscow Idaho

Citizen Space in San Francisco, CA

Coworking isn’t just for businesses, either. Freelancers are a welcome staple of the experience and having maverick professionals rotating in and out as they please brings an exciting and interesting roster of individuals in contact with each other.

The space that we will be occupying is currently being renovated. Over the next few weeks, we’ll bring you updates of the progress as we get closer to our move in date. MosCoWork will be open to businesses and freelancers starting September 15th!

If you are in the area and would be interested in finding out more about the membership options at MosCoWork, follow us on Facebook for further updates as we begin our countdown to launch date.

MosCoWork Moscow Idaho Wovax WordPress App Coworking

MosCoWork in Moscow, Idaho

Cultivating Blog Loyalty

August 19th 2014 in Blog

You’ve done it. You’ve started a blog. You’ve dreamed of this moment; start a blog, pound out an article or three every week while leaning back and collecting that sweet banner ad cash. The way you see it, you’ll be telling your boss to shove it in less than a month!

It’s not a bad idea. You’ve found a niche you’re passionate about and one that you know inside and out. You’re honestly a pretty good writer. You make words sizzle and pop and you don’t even have an English degree.

Go you!

But it doesn’t happen. Two months later, you’re sitting at your desk at 2 AM, frazzled as you try to figure out why you aren’t getting that crucial fuel in making a successful blog run: traffic. You’ve been sharing it to your Facebook and your friends seemed mildly intrigued. Your aunt from Vermont even commented on the actual blog a couple of times!

Go you, right?

There’s plenty going for you. The passion is there. The drive is there. The niche knowledge is there. So what’s going wrong?

If the web is a city, then you’re not leaving your neighborhood. To be blunt, you haven’t really left your house and you’re wondering why you’re still single.

wovax wordpress mobile wordpress blog smartphone social media app iPhone android iOS idx real estate marketing

If this tree would just uproot and walk around, he might make some friends. Don’t be this tree. No, the bush doesn’t count. That’s your cat.

How do you fix this?

There are countless blogs on the internet and everyday countless more are created. Most of them  will never be seen by anyone outside of a small friends circle.

Don’t let that be you.

The web that we now live in is social.

You have to go out and make friends. There are incredible tools at your disposal and you already use many of them. But you may not be using them to their full potential. Let’s look at a few.

Use Twitter. Every time you make a blog post, have a tweet sent out. But how do you build your followers? Twitter is a very friendly social platform and less personal than say, Facebook. Twitter has a great system for searching keywords that people are tweeting about. Have you ever tweeted about a company and within the hour the company’s official Twitter responds to you? That’s what you need to do. Find your audience and engage them! Massive corporations are now using social media on a very personal level and this should show you how important this kind of connection is.

Instagram your life. Are you a cooking guru or fashionista on a budget? Awesome! Let’s see! Show us the cool swag you scored at the local thrift store. Show us the freshly-baked cookies from that recipe you just improvised. And like Twitter, Instagram has keywords. Go find other people with your interests and connect with them. Like their photos, comment on them, share ideas, make new friends!

Oh, and I wasn’t picking on Facebook earlier; Facebook is an excellent social tool! Just be sure to bust out of your comfort zone. Make a fan page to keep your personal profile separated (and there’s a friend count limit anyway).

Consider how your current (and potential!) fan base is choosing to read your content. More than half of web traffic today is coming from mobile devices. Does your website look cluttered on a smartphone? Probably. Get an app. Put it in the App Store or the Google Play store. Link to it on all of your social media profiles. Let people know that as they try to read content on the go, you’re right there with them.

Apps such as ours give your followers the entire blog experience in a much cleaner mobile environment, complete with all the commenting and social sharing features that they would have on the desktop site.

But amid the excitement of discovering social media’s power, there is an important thing to keep in mind. Don’t be obnoxious. For instance, a popular tactic on Twitter that generally backfires is following thousands of random accounts in the hopes that they follow you back. If they haven’t within a few days, you’ll just unfollow them, right?

Don’t be that guy.

wovax wordpress mobile wordpress blog smartphone social media app iPhone android iOS idx real estate marketing

“Read my blog! Read my blog! Read my blog! Why won’t you read my blog?”

Don’t use other people as a means to boost your follower count. Care about and interact with them. Don’t pretend to. Really do it. Talk to your followers on all of your social networks. Ask questions. Engage them. Get their opinions. Come up with creative ways to involve them in your content.

If you ignore people and treat them as nothing more than another notch in your popularity count, they won’t care about what you have to say. And why should they? You haven’t respected them or their thoughts, so why expect the same in return?

The new social web isn’t a one way road anymore. Your blog is no longer a beacon of enlightenment on a hill, basking the dirty peasants in a divine glow. The new social web is now a close-knit village where everyone can interact in an increasing variety of ways.

The Changing Mobile Web

August 15th 2014 in Blog, The Web

Change.

That’s a scary word, isn’t it?

“Let’s make some changes.”

“It’s time for a change.”

“Our way of life is changing.”

None of these are necessarily comforting statements to hear.

What about familiarity?

Now that’s a word. After all, familiarity is comfort, isn’t it? It’s safe. It’s relatable. Often, it’s home. Change is not any of those things. Change upends and reshapes what has come before.

But looking back on the history of technology, we witness much change in very short windows of time. In a century’s time, we went from massive steam-powered industrial machines to small convenient automobiles, not to mention flying. The telephone was introduced towards the end of that century and in a hundred years, mobile phones where taking the form of portable satellite powered devices. By the end of the 20th century, we had the internet which, in less than half a decade, had become as ubiquitous to staying informed and connected as the five o’clock news. If there is one thread that we can trace through the remarkable progress in technology through our lifetimes it’s change.

And there’s that word again.

As a means of public telecommunication, the internet is barely two decades old. But we have certainly seen it change many times over. The internet is a tool that relies on speed and ease of use. And the content has always reflected how we access it.

wovax mobile web wordpress idx mobile apps

Early internet users on their way to buy a faster modem. Photographed c. 1995

The internet of today is not the internet of 1996 for example. Those were the days. The days of the wild west internet where 56k modems roamed free, severely inhibiting web designers. Design and presentation were often sacrificed at the altar of efficiency and speed.

Now designers are only limited by their imaginations; our internet speeds are instant and immediate. And it’s in our pocket.

We have pocket computers now.

Let that sink in for a moment. Really think about what it means.

Pocket computers. Content is no longer limited to heavy desktops or a coffee shop table to settle down with your laptop. It’s in the palm of your hand whenever you need it to be. And once again, the design of the web has changed.

On a computer, the amount of screen real estate to work with is nearly unlimited. Mobile devices require a different kind of browsing. It needs to be easily accessible, clean, and easy to read with absolutely no clutter in sight.

And with over half of the web’s traffic now on mobile devices,  you have two choices.

The first choice is to stay in the familiar. The same ol’ desktop site with its gorgeous real estate and five acres of prime ad space. You can let your users access the desktop site from their mobile devices. After all, those things have mobile browsers don’t they? They do indeed. And everyone hates them. Mobile browsers are an afterthought for the on-the-go reader. It’s the thing you grudgingly resort to when it turns out that your favorite cooking blog or fashion review didn’t get on the ball and put out a mobile-friendly app.

wovax mobile web wordpress idx mobile apps

Our favorite shopping site on a mobile browser.

The other choice is change. But this kind of change isn’t scary. It’s the same amount of old and whole lot of new. The website that you and your readers know and love gets to stay. But those readers now have a new option for their mobile devices; an app that makes it easier than ever to stay connected and keep doing all the things they have been. Interaction via commenting, seeing mobile-friendly ads that don’t frustratingly explode across their small phone screens. It’s all there in a new package that doesn’t replace any of the current infrastructure, but rather is a compliment. And the advertising that keeps your lights on? It gets to come along too.

Even so, the attitude of website owners has been akin to that of the family dog when a newborn is brought home from the hospital. It’s a big change. It’s loud and smelly and leads to a whole lot of trepidation on how to approach the situation.

But it’s fine to relax. No one is getting replaced. There’s a new addition to the family but no one else is going anywhere. Desktop web is here and for now, it is staying. And now there’s the mobile web to deal with. It’s not just around the corner. It’s not the next big thing. It’s already here and it is thriving, growing even bigger and stronger in traffic than it’s previous incarnation.

It’s change. And at Wovax, we truly believe that we can assist in making it a familiar one.

Why Moscow?

August 13th 2014 in Wovax

Let’s play some word association. Idaho! Did you say “potatoes?” That’s okay. Lots of people do. While the rest of Idaho does indeed produce a third of potatoes in the United States, out here in our corner of the Gem State, there are no potatoes in sight.

Wovax is located in Moscow, a tiny town tucked away in the beautiful Palouse.

The Palouse is a region full of rolling hills that primarily grow wheat and legumes. Throughout the intense summers and long frigid winters, the hills cycle through three primary colors – green, light brown, and white.

wovax idaho idx real estate moscow palouse MLS wordpress mobile app smartphone iOS Android iPhone

Moscow is home to around 24,000 people, many of whom are students. The University of Idaho is located here and Pullman’s Washington State University is less than a ten minute drive across the state border. These two institutions certainly play a big part in making Moscow what it is. Like many classic American small towns, Moscow enjoys an enriching and often tight-knit community that sees the downtown transformed into a gathering center for young and old. Summers bring the Farmer’s Market, a vibrant bazaar that frequently boosts popular vendors to more permanent brick-and-mortar eateries. There’s the internationally renowned Lionel Hampton Jazz Fest. Artwalk brings out the very best in local craftsmanship, painting, photography, and so much more.

wovax idaho idx real estate moscow palouse MLS wordpress mobile app smartphone iOS Android iPhone

There are wine bars and brunch hangouts. A trendy consignment store that has separate locations for infants and their grown-ups. An arthouse theater to catch the latest from across the pond or from the Far East. Coffee shops and pubs that host live music on a regular basis and give the many students a relaxed atmosphere to plow through a book.

wovax idaho idx real estate moscow palouse MLS wordpress mobile app smartphone iOS Android iPhone

Nature lovers thrive here. Fishing, hiking, hunting, camping, biking…it’s all accessible just a Subaru’s drive from town.

So what is a tech company like us doing in Idaho?

While Moscow is known as “Heart of Arts,” the arts aren’t the only area in which creative people are thriving. Several tech companies have been on the rise here in the last few years, and several of them have been wildly successful.

Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. has grown to over a hundred employees and was purchased by CareerBuilder back in 2012. Populi, a growing online directory system for colleges is also located here. While they are growing into what many would consider something to be more at home in a place like, say, Silicon Valley, these companies have proven to be so successful because of the hard work and close community that this small wheat field town has enriched them with.

wovax idaho idx real estate moscow palouse MLS wordpress mobile app smartphone iOS Android iPhone

Wovax is proud to be a part of this thriving community of the Palouse. Just as many other creative industries have been decentralized by new innovations in tech and staying connected, so has ours. And since there’s plenty of room to grow out here, we look forward to seeing what other new companies the creatives of Moscow are brewing.

If you’re ever in the area, stop by and say hi. On the Palouse, our doors are always open.