Herman Miller Chairs in Denver - Expensive Chair, Cheap Tables

So, I'm outfitting my office which has me thinking back to all the great articles I've read over the years about offices. There's Joel on Software's 12 Steps to Better Code which is largely just common sense of developer types explained using traditional business language. And Jason Calacanis about how to save money running a startup which is largely more of the same.

Cheap tables and Expensive Chairs (like... Aeron chairs)

Jason's tip that really resonated with me was this one:

Buy cheap tables and expensive chairs. Tables are a complete rip off. We buy stainless steel restaurant tables that are $100 and $600 Areon[sic] chairs. Total cost per workstation? $700. Compare that to buying a $500-$1,500 cube/designer workstation. The chair is the only thing that matters... invest in it.

Drupal 4.7 Released

Drupal 4.7 has been released. Here's the announcement on Drupal.org, and here's the story on Digg.

Very exciting stuff. It's more of an evolutionary released than a revolutionary one in my opinion, but there's enough evolution that it's headed towards lots and lots of fun. I've been implementing sites based on the nightly cvs and betas and release candidates for a while. Now I'll have to start upgrading sites.

SEO Advice

It seems like SEO is the hip new thing to be talking about, so I guess I should talk about it too.

What my clients do

When I'm working on a new site for someone, I do a few things to try to make sure that it is "search engine optimized" but it doesn't take extra effort for me or for the client. I ask them to create the content for their website and create titles that are descriptive. I ask them to get some periodic content (like a forum or a newsletter) about whatever it is that is important to their business or website. And that's it. The website should handle the rest of it for you.

What I do

Me, I just implement Drupal and in my theme and in the features I add to the site (my "module mix") I make sure to follow the Webmaster Guidelines from Google and some of the tips from Matt Cutt's blog.

The Result

The websites rank well. Sometimes for stuff I don't even want them to rank well. For example, on my personal calendar I have some classes I took at The Passionate Palette which is a great cooking school in Southern Denver. Depending on a variety of factors, my personal website ranks in the top 5 sites for the search phrase "passionate palette". I didn't do any magic and no fish oil is involved. Simply building the website the right way from the beginning gets this ranking.

Also note that this ranking is based upon content within my site - i.e. within my control. If someone is going to sell you a link exchange program to get better search engine ranking, ask them why they need to rely on a practice that the search engines disagree with.

I'm in the Lullabot Podcast

Yes, that's right, I was in the Lullabot podcast. I'm not cool enough for Jeff to interview me, but a question I submitted on the podcast tip line () was included in Jeff's interview with Zack Rosen in their 11th podcast. My special piece comes in at about 35:20 into a 53 minute podcast. Definitely the longest podcast I've listened to, but if you're interested in civicspacelabs or Zacke Rosen or any of that stuff, it's an interesting podcast.

Necessary Conditions for Happy Employees

A couple things I've noticed in my limited career:

1. Seasonal events

like barbecues, holiday parties, picnics, potlucks, chili cook-offs and the like. Pick a friday of the month, tell everyone to plan ahead, and it will take care of itself. Nobody gets much done Friday afternoon anyway, so it isn't a big productivity loss.

2. Monthly meetings and awards.

One of my favorites on this was the award for the last person to arrive at the monthly meeting from Connexn. The last guy in the room received a trophy made out of a can of really bad beer. People who had done something good got a "GOBOSH (GO Big Or Stay Home). People who had been there for n*years got an anniversary certificate. People like awards. As Napoleon said "give me enough ribbon to cover the tunics of my soldiers and I will conquer the world." And when you give these awards - announce the person's name (learn how to pronounce it before hand), say "thanks", and look people in the eye.

3. Employee Appreciation dinner/breakfast/vacation

Some places spend lots of money on fancy dinners and think that's right - I don't think that makes much marginal difference beyond a hot dog from Mustard's Last Stand. Some places dont' do anything - that clearly won't work either. I like the idea of, first, doing things that help your employees get their work done and that keep them happy (like breakfast burritos on Friday morning once a month) and, second, that reward a common interest like a friend who works in a ski town and whose company flies employess who have worked there for 3+ years to Mexico for a vacation at the end of the year. All the employees take week long vacations in the spring/fall off-season anyway, that's part of the attraction of working in a mountain town. Letting them do it together builds corporate love.

Moral of the Happy Employee Story

These won't guarantee happy employees, but man if you don't do these things that's one sucky company.If these don't exist, start them.

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