I build websites for a living so I’m pretty good with getting things on my blog set up the way I want them. Thing is, between work, family and the blog, I’m short on time, so I end up not doing some things that I wish I could. But... If you've been reading Petworth News for a while, you have seen some changes on the site lately. Well, I didn't get more free time, instead, I started working with a small start-up company called Lorem, who has a Petworth connection. And they're great.
A few weeks ago I was contacted by Jesse, a Petworth resident who lives on Georgia Avenue who works for Lorem. Jesse told me how they work with bloggers and other small businesses who use Squarespace and Wordress, to enhance their websites, fix broken issues, design new features and more. I use Squarespace to host this blog, and while convenient, it's not really the most flexible platform, and certainly their customer service is not the most helpful. Once you set up a site, it’s pretty much a “do-it-yourself” affair after that. Lorem's pitch sounded pretty awesome, so I decided to work with them to make changes to the blog. Smart decision.
So what’s new on Petworth News? Lots!
- Facebook Comments! I’m pretty happy to say you can now comment on every article using your Facebook profile or you can continue to use the other comment tool that’s been on my site since the beginning. You can choose to have your comments appear also on Facebook, or just here on the site. And it works vice versa, if you comment on the Facebook post, it'll appear here on the blog. Neat.
- Featured Articles and Content! If you look at the top of the homepage you'll see a new section of featured articles and other content. Lorem added a customizable section at the top of the blog’s homepage where I can share useful content like the Security Camera Program or Area Listservs (or giveaways!). Hopefully you find this useful, too.
- Twitter Cards! What the what now? Suffice it to say that "Twitter cards" are just a way for Tweets to appear when a link from the blog is shared -- they look more like a Facebook post. This one is really just a “it looks better” thing.
- More Ads! Yeah, I know no one is really excited about ads, but almost all the ads on Petworth News are for local businesses, so there's real value to you and to sponsors. Soon sponsor ads will appear at the top of articles, and in-between articles on the homepage making it easier to see and interact with the ads. (For now they're google ads, but those will go away.)
- And more... There’s a bunch of other smaller tweaks they’ve done for the site, like adding a pop-up for people to subscribe to my Weekly Newsletter. It was a really easy experience working with Lorem.
I reached out to Sam Wilcoxon, the CEO and co-founder of Lorem, to learn more about them, and to say thanks. Sam told me how Lorem is a New York City start-up that won a place with the prestigious TechStars start-up accelerator in Boston. Sam said their goals are to help small businesses and blogs with tweaks, enhancements and changes, with a la carte prices from $5 to $25 for a tweak all the way up to really large site changes. Sam started the company with Charlie Fogarty and recently brought Jesse onboard to help with sales. They have a system that allows their US-based developers to easily view a website in real-time sharing with the customer via a cool little chat widget.
"Email can be like volleyball," Sam said. "Instead of wasting time emailing back and forth with customers, we connect our American developers with our customers via chat, so customers can ask quick questions, or even get fixes and changes made instantly, while they watch."
"When you're using a 'do-it-yourself' web platform, you're in a box," Sam said. "It can be really hard to figure out who to choose to help you make changes. We fix that and connect you to an expert in under 10 seconds. What we do is free you from the limitations of that 'do-it-yourself' box and help you be more successful on the web."
Some examples of simple $5 - $10 work that Lorem can do for Squarespace, Wordpress, Weebly, Wix or Shopfiy customers:
- Add new pages
- Create contact forms
- Create or fix mobile views
- Various integrations (like adding a Mailchimp pop-up or related links box)
- Google analytics
They can also create new page templates and designs, do interactive ecommerce and advertising integrations, etc.
I really love these guys. They took my "wish list" of changes and knocked 'em out quickly, and made tweaks from my feedback. Even though I'm web geek, I'll be using Lorem again, and I've already referred another big DC blog to them.