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Get easy tips for planning an office makeover. Find out what to consider before making a plan to decorate your home office.

You might also like these tips for planning a room makeover.

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We recently started a really fun project. It’s our first big project in our Florida house, so it’s even more special.

Although we’re mostly unpacked and settled in, we’re still experiencing growing pains from the move. There are a lot of things that we had figured out in our last home that we’re struggling with here.

I’m really missing my basement office/craft room set up. I currently have my office set up in the front living room. It’s large and bright, but it’s also in the middle of the most used part of the home.

My husband works from home and my kids are homeschooled, so it’s not a very quiet area. I mean, I love having them home, but also, I need a space where I can work in quiet.

So I decided to take over what we lovingly call “the pink room.” This room is at the back of our house and we assumed it had been a laundry room at one time.

office BEFORE

We used it for storage until a few days ago. Don’t want to unpack that box? Put it in the pink room. Not sure where to put those pool floaties? Pink room!

It’s a small room, but it has a lot of potential.

We recently removed all of the cabinets and the countertop to give us a blank slate.

I’ve done a few repairs and painted the room so far.

My craft area will stay in the front room of the house and I will be sharing a really fun project for that space soon.

Psst: I just finished this room. Check out my moody boho office here.

Tips for Planning an Office Makeover

Your home office should be an inspirational room to work in. Here are my tips for getting started with your plan.

Decide What You Need

Before you get started, make a list of what your office needs.

Here are some things to think about:

What needs to be in the room? For an office, you will need a desk and chair, but you might also need room for things like printers or a Cricut. Do you have a ton of books that you want to bring in? Are there things that aren’t office related that need to be stored in this space?

Dark or light? Darker colors can be more soothing to look at, but may feel dreary in some environments.

What is missing from your current set up? Is your desk too small? Does the glare from the window bother your eyes? Wish you had more privacy?

Determine your style. Do you like clean, minimal design or a more colorful, boho look?

Think about how you’ll use the space. If you’re the kind of person who prefers to use a laptop on the sofa, plan for that. If you need space for crafting, add that in. Make your space work for YOU.

Plan for Plenty of Storage

Offices require so much stuff. Personally, I love desks that have drawers to hold stuff like pens and tape.

If you deal with a lot of paper, you will need a filing cabinet of some sort. You might also want a bookcase.

Do you like open or closed storage? Some people prefer to look at everything and find it inspiring? Others prefer a cleaner environment and everything behind closed doors.

Comfy Seating is a Must

If you’re anything like me, you sit for an embarrassingly long time. Save your back with comfy seating.

Make sure that it doesn’t cut into your legs when you sit for too long. A lot of dining chairs are guilty of this.

The height of the chair is also important. Make sure that it’s the right height for your desk and for your size. (Taller people are going to be more comfortable with a higher chair.)

If you like sitting with your legs tucked under you, make sure that the chair is large enough for this. (You will also want to avoid desks with center drawers.)

I also prefer a footstool for when I don’t sit with my legs up. It makes sitting a lot more comfortable.

Choose Good Lighting

If your room doesn’t get good natural light or if you work at night, make sure that your room is adequately lit.

For small spaces, overhead lighting might do the trick. For a cozier feel, sconces will probably work better.

Ironically, most desk lights have the worst lighting and are far too bright.

Make Sure that You Have Enough Outlets

Electronics require so many outlets, so make sure that you have enough. If possible, hire an electrician to add more to the space before you get started.

If that’s not possible, add power strips, being careful not to overload them. I like using them for electronics that I don’t use all the time, like my Cricut.

Surround Yourself with Inspiration

Bring some beauty into your space in whatever way that makes you happy. I plan on bringing in fun wallpaper, plants, photos, and vintage art.

A bulletin board is another great way to bring in inspiration. Fill it with inspiring images, paint swatches, fabric samples, or whatever makes you happy.

My Planning Process

When I plan any room makeover, I like to look at what I’m working with, what I want, and what I need.

To simplify this process, I use my printable decorating workbook. It contains everything needed to plan a space.

About the Room

This space is roughly 6.5′ x 8′ with a door that goes to the back patio. I’m looking to make it into a quiet, but inspiring place to write.

Colors and Style

Muted mid-toned green with patterns. I need the color to be easier on my eyes (literally) and calming, so I’m going with a blue-green shade that’s a little darker than I normally go for.

My current office space is at the front of the house, which gets way too much light. I underestimated the Florida sunshine, I guess.

Every morning, my eyes feel like they’re working too hard because it’s so bright, so I’ve researched to find out what colors are the gentlest on your eyes in an office.

I learned that greens and blues are the best colors for an office. Mid-tones to darker colors are the most gentle.

We painted the room in the color Mattasaurus Rex by HGTV for Sherwin Williams.

I also chose this fun wallpaper (it was my starting point.) I love the colors and the pattern. It will provide a nice backdrop for my computer and be visually inspiring.

Likes and Dislikes About the Room

I like that the space is cozy and tucked away at the back of the house. The pocket door is one of my favorite features.

I hate the popcorn ceiling (spoiler alert, I removed it.) And I hated the cabinets, which I also removed to create a blank slate. We removed the fluorescent light.


I hate the back door and want to replace it eventually, but for now, I’ll just repair the holes and paint it.

Needs and Wants

I need to get an electrician in to make the wiring the proper configuration to hold a light. Since we’re not using the sink, I also need to get a plumber in to cap off the sink pipes.

I also need a bit of storage for BBQ tools since the door goes outside to the grill. Obviously, I don’t want to look at them, so it needs to be closed storage.

I want the room to have a long, wall-length desk so that I can spread out instead of being cramped up on a small desk.

Inspiration Starting Point

This wallpaper was my starting point. I’m obsessed.

Mood Board

Here’s my design plan:


We’re in the middle of birthday season, so we’re pretty busy. I’m hoping to finish by the end of March 2023.

To-Do List:

Patch the floor and baseboards

Get a plumber to cap pipes off

Get an electrician to fix light

Install wallpaper

Build other Alex cabinet

Install desk

Install shelves

Figure out and install storage for BBQ tools

Repair screw holes and paint door

Paint pocket door



Here’s how it’s looking right now. I’m so excited to get this space finished!

Shopping List

I still need to buy a ceiling light, desktop, shelving, rug, storage, and blinds.

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Emy is a vintage obsessed mama of 2 DIYer who loves sharing affordable solutions for common home problems. You don’t need a giant budget to create a lovely home. Read more…

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Strategic Marketing Planning Frameworks For Digital Marketing

Strategic Marketing Planning Reviews – Using  simple frameworks to answer ‘where are we now?’

The start to any strategic process must be an appraisal of the current state of play. When answering the ‘where are we now’ question, key activities need to take place. These activities have been enhanced through digital technology and the information explosion that has resulted from the valuable resource that is the World Wide Web. However at the same time, this availability of information and data does not necessarily mean anything unless you can use this information to create insight.

In this post, I will focus on 4 aspects of digital strategy that should be reviewed in the crucial first phase of strategic marketing planning. The majority of this activity you can argue would occur as part of any internal analysis, however in exploring opportunities and threats it is essential to consider these four areas in terms of the wider marketplace, competition and also best practice.

 1. Review of central platform

Reviewing the central platform can be done through some simple frameworks such as the 5S’s or the 10C’s frameworks. Firstly, what is the site hoping to achieve? Is it grow sales, communicate with customers, add value to the customer experience, build brand values or save the organisation (and hopefully the consumer) money.

Appraise the site through its objective (s) and if you are new to an organisation use tools such as the wayback machine to help you view how the site has evolved over time. This historical perspective will allow you do see how not only the design and functionality of the site have evolved but also how priorities for the site have changed over time.

A focus on the 10C’s framework at this early stage can help structure the review of a central platform.

The first thing to note with the 10C’s framework is that at the centre is the Customer, in digital terms I like to widen this to the term ‘ core user’ who is the core user of the site?

If you can develop an accurate profile across core criteria such as psychological, profile and behavioural variables then you can begin to understand the who, what, where, when, how and why questions. This in turn gives you a great starting point in terms of who the site is catering for.

It is interesting to then identify the Corporate culture of the organisation, and a key area to address here is market position and organisational responsiveness. A full Competitor analysis is then required to consider industry best practice and to review key areas of differentiation.  Then come a group of C’s; Convenience, Communication, Consistency, Content, and Customisation.

In reviewing these elements of the framework, ensure that you do this from the customer perspective. One client of mine actually conducted a focus group with existing clients and prospects to get some genuine feedback across these areas. This practice was extremely useful and can yield some interesting results.

The final two C’s are Co-ordination and Control. These are extremely important and very simple things to monitor given the range and sophistication of the various analytical programmes and software that is available.

A key element in any structured development is to understand the starting point. Increasing co-ordination and control are areas that can be benchmarked and continuously monitored through an intervention programme. Key KPI’s in this area are the response rate, update rate and engagement figures.

 2. A review of inbound tools

This aspect covers a review of inbound tools such as SEO and content based platforms including news sites, partner sites and social networks. SEO is, I believe, a specialist skill that should be left to professional SEO experts; however, key things that marketers must consider are keywords and how those keywords translate to traffic to (and conversion within) your site.

It is crucial that your site is working for you and that you analyse traffic using a variant of any of the analytics tools. Social networks although more varied are often more straight forward. Answer the questions which platforms are we using? Which platforms could we be using? And why and then how effective has this activity been? To answer that final question of course would suggest that your social media activity had objectives before you started it. In reality lots of organisations do not, if yours has not then consider what they should be and set SMART objectives for your social media activity.

 3. Review of outbound tools

Outbound tools include email and traditional offline tools. Ensure that you review the effectiveness of your online campaigns. The technology to do this is widely used and extremely useful in terms of reviewing and measuring past performance.

 4. Review of processes

A key test for any online activity is to put yourself in the consumer’s shoes and consider the process of finding or being directed to the website and the process of not just the discovery of the site but also the journey within the site.

Key things to consider in this phase are consistency, clarity and competitiveness. Is the process consistent or are there issues in discovery and functionality? Is the site clear?

Clear in terms of how your journey as the viewer should be and also in terms of look, feel and key messages. This may involve an analysis of both the User Experience (UX) and the User Interface (UI).

Finally is your site different to the competition, this involves the leg work of reviewing the competition and getting to know ‘the way they do things’, but consider your processes in that context. Particularly consider ‘is there anywhere differential can be created?’ and ‘how can we add value to the customer experience?’.

If you conduct a thorough analysis of the above the next phase of the planning process – ‘where do we want to be?’ will become clearer and you will be able to develop some suitable benchmarks against which you can measure the performance of your strategic planning process going forward.

Best Microsoft Office Alternatives For Macos

For a long time Microsoft Office enjoyed a loyal following of individual and business users. However, the forced subscription for its latest version and its high prices saw several alternatives come up outside of its banner.

If you just got a Mac but are struggling with whether to buy Office all over again, there are several Office alternatives for Mac you can choose from, even if all you want to do is edit and send Office documents once in a while.

Some are free suites with many tools, but you can invest in premium options and get extra features – the value may be worth the cost. Here are the best Microsoft Office alternatives for macOS.

1. LibreOffice

This is one of the best open-source Microsoft Office suite alternatives available on several platforms including macOS.

Anyone who has worked with Microsoft Office will quickly adjust to LibreOffice because of the familiar features like the pre-ribbon era interface.

LibreOffice suite has all the pro features in its offline desktop apps, including a recent online component that enables file syncing from OneDrive or Google Drive. This allows you to edit your files right in LibreOffice.

It uses the OpenDocument format (ODF) and supports various other types of formats like those in Microsoft Office.

The fairly lightweight and flexible suite is available in 110 languages, with technical support coming from online, being an open-source software. However, you might not always need support since LibreOffice is pretty straightforward and easy to use.

It also allows you to export files into PDF format, and you can add more features like extra document templates through extensions from the LibreOffice website.

The downside is it doesn’t have real-time collaborative editing nor integrated cloud storage.

2. Google Drive/Google Suite

This free, web-based online suite is a very popular and robust alternative for macOS.

It offers user-friendly and accessible versions of programs, with free and business versions available for different user types.

Google Drive comprises Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets, which are alternatives to Microsoft’s Word, PowerPoint and Excel. G Suite is the enterprise version of Google Drive and comes with Gmail, Docs, Drive, and Calendar for your business.

It is widely used, though not as function-rich as Microsoft Office, plus you can access it from anywhere.

G Suite integrates with your Google account, so you can open Word documents from Gmail in Google Docs and even access beautiful templates, add-ons, Google search capabilities, and superior built-in research tools.

Not only is G Suite great for productivity, it also offers up to 15GB of free storage. Plus, its Offline mode lets you work on documents while offline in Chrome.

The downside is it doesn’t have a desktop app, lacks a few Office features, and documents aren’t always duplicate images of Office document versions.

3. iWork Suite

iWork is a built-in program in your Mac which works like Office. It includes Pages, Keynote, and Numbers, which are Apple’s broad equivalents to Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.

It is simple to use, has a beautiful but straightforward interface, and is more lightweight than Office.

Numbers offers a blank canvas for you to begin from, making it easier to add tables, images and charts. It also removes that feeling of being a ledger, unlike Excel that has a grid view.

Pages is also simple to use and doesn’t have layers of options like Word, plus you can collaborate with other users as you work.

The presentation application, KeyNote, helps you create beautiful presentations without the hassles of PowerPoint.

All iWork apps can export and import Office formats and other formats compatible with other suites. However, the iCloud version requires an Internet connection to use and isn’t as fully-featured as the desktop client. The good thing is that you can access documents from anywhere as it enables cross-platform collaboration.

4. Calligra

Its tabs are set on the right side of the screen, so the page you edit won’t take up the full screen.

With Calligra, you can read DOCX and DOX document formats, though it doesn’t allow you to edit them. This can pose some challenges if you get Office documents from other people, as they’d have to send documents in formats like Open Document Text (ODT) instead.

5. Office Online

This alternative gives you free access to Office for Mac and is a basic, browser-based Office suite version.

The latest version also includes Mail, Calendar, Sway, People, and OneDrive, but with a limited Office experience.

While it lacks some functionality like WordArt, and text boxes, charts, equations and custom macros don’t load in Excel sheets, Office Online is still a versatile alternative.

You can still open files, edit, and keep document formatting.

6. Polaris Office

This free tier Office alternative offers tools for creating and editing multiple file types like DOCX, PPT, HWP and XLS.

It works across platforms and syncs your account among your devices so you can create and edit from anywhere, with AWS (Amazon Web Services) security for all your data.

Besides editing PDF documents and converting them to PDF, you can also convert image and voice files to documents where necessary.

Polaris suite supports German, Russian, English, Korean, and French languages.

Wrapping Up

Most of these capable alternatives are compatible with files made in Microsoft’s programs. This way you can create and edit documents on macOS.

Image Credit: G Suite, Apple, LibreOffice, Calligra

Elsie Biage

My passion has always been to share every bit of useful information I find on tech, with the ultimate goal of helping people solve a problem.

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Why You Don’t Need To Work In An Office Ever Again

The virtual workforce. Telecommuting. Mobility baked into everything. The cloud.

Nearly all the big trends facing small companies doing business in the ’10s speak to the increasing irrelevance of one of the hallmarks of the working world: the office.

We’ve all worked there, whether we had an individual office with a window and a door, or just a small patch of carpet in a sea of cubicles. And generally an office isn’t a bad place to spend the day: It has climate control, an IT department to fix problems, and sometimes even free coffee. But most of all, offices offer camaraderie, and the chance for employees to have impromptu meetings and bounce ideas off one another.

Unfortunately, offices are also terribly, terribly expensive. Even in the down economy, real estate in a prime area such as midtown Manhattan can cost $50 per square foot per month and up, and that’s not including utilities, furniture, and build-out expenses.

So maybe you don’t need an office after all. With a largely mobile workforce that is often working from home, a car, or a nearby café, what’s the point of stocking a fridge that no one will ever use? Why not ditch the office for good and go 100 percent office-free?

Many people already do this, but if your job involves more than just tapping away on your laptop and making the occasional phone call, running a company without an office can be challenging.

Here are the big issues–and how to address them.

Dealing With Employees

One of the biggest fears that many employers have about telecommuting is the worry that remote employees won’t do their jobs. Leave staffers alone at home all day, and they’ll just watch TV, do the laundry, or play hooky, leaving you to foot the bill for a day off. Those concerns seem to be misplaced, however. In fact, some studies have shown that employees who have more flexibility (including telecommuting options) work harder and longer than if they were at the office. This is why many employers are happy to outfit their staff with smartphones and laptops: A mobile device makes it incredibly easy to take your work home with you.

Making the rules of remote working crystal clear should mitigate most management problems.


Another big challenge with remote work involves communicating. You can’t just walk over and drop a file on a junior staffer’s desk or round up a few people for a quick meeting. So how do you keep in touch, and keep everyone on the same page?

Instant messaging has been the communications medium of choice for most virtual or far-flung organizations. Choose a platform, and require all staffers to sign in to their account at the beginning of each workday. If employees aren’t going to be available for a while, whether it’s for lunch or other duties, have them update their IM status to reflect where they are and when they’ll be back.

Of course, having a workable phone network is critical too. Although many people have forsaken landlines these days, if employees’ cell phone reception isn’t perfect, they’ll need to change networks, acquire a VoIP system, or even invest in old-school wires. As a small-business owner, you may have to pay for some or all of this expense.

Next Page: Managing Client Meetings

Are Mechanical Keyboards Good For Office Work?

Mechanical keyboards have gained immense popularity recently due to their durability, ergonomics, and tactile feedback.

Many people prefer them over conventional membrane keyboards because of their comfortable typing experience and improved accuracy.

But are mechanical keyboards good for office work? Yes, they are! However, you have to consider various factors when selecting a mechanical keyboard for office work.

Increased durability: Mechanical keyboards are built to last and have greater resistance to wear and tear compared to membrane keyboards.

Enhanced responsiveness: Mechanical keyboards provide a more tactile response when typing, which can reduce fatigue and increase your typing speed.

Improved accuracy: The individual key switches on mechanical keyboards enable more accurate typing and reduce the chance of typos.

Customizability: Many mechanical keyboards can be customized with different key switches and keycaps, allowing you to create the perfect keyboard customizations and shortcuts for your needs.

Quality sound: Mechanical keyboards produce a distinct sound when typing, which can be pleasing for some users.

The decision on whether to use a mechanical keyboard at work will depend on various factors, including your office setup and its tolerance to noise, comfort and ergonomics, keyboard design, and other similar factors.

Below are these factors in more detail.

The noise level of a mechanical keyboard will mainly depend on the switch type. There are three main categories of switches. These categories include:

Linear switches

Tactile switches

Below are these switch types in more detail.

Linear Switches

Tactile Switches

Another factor to consider when selecting a mechanical keyboard to use in the office is comfort and ergonomics. You need a comfortable keyboard since you spend a lot of time on your keyboard while at work. Most mechanical keyboards have ergonomic features such as adjustable height, split keyboard designs, and more.

Additionally, some mechanical keyboards come with wrist rests and other ergonomic accessories. These features help reduce fatigue when typing for extended periods.

The design is an essential factor to consider when selecting a mechanical keyboard to use in the office because it can drastically affect your user experience. Mechanical keyboards offer enhanced speed and precision, allowing for a smoother and more comfortable typing experience. 

Mechanical keyboards are designed to reduce strain on the user’s wrists and hands, making them ideal for long typing sessions.

You should also consider additional features when selecting a mechanical keyboard to use in the office because doing so can help improve your typing experience and productivity. Mechanical keyboards offer faster and more accurate typing due to their tactile feedback and keycap design, making it easier to type for long periods. This makes them ideal for office environments where speed and accuracy are critical.

Additionally, mechanical keyboards often come with more customizable features such as macro keys, RGB lighting, and other specialized functions that enable you to perform your tasks more efficiently. Furthermore, mechanical keyboards tend to be more comfortable to type on, reducing the risk of wrist and hand fatigue or injuries that can slow down your productivity.

Other features, which include wireless connectivity, make mechanical keyboards ideal for offices where mobility is essential. Ultimately, mechanical keyboards can balance comfort, precision, and productivity, perfect for office environments.

Media & macro keys also make a mechanical keyboard ideal for office setup, as they allow you to quickly switch between programs or open specific files with a single keystroke. This makes accessing documents, programs, or websites manageable since you do not have to sift through multiple menus or windows. Furthermore, you can assign specific tasks or commands to a single key, making mechanical keyboards ideal for quickly performing complex operations without remembering complicated commands.

Mechanical keyboards with USB pass-through are also ideal for office setup because they allow you to connect multiple devices like a mouse, microphone, or external hard drive.

Durability is another critical factor to consider when selecting a mechanical keyboard to use in the office because it can significantly impact the cost of ownership. If a mechanical keyboard is not durable enough, it can suffer from premature wear and tear, increasing maintenance and repair costs. Durability also affects the lifespan of the keyboard. A more durable keyboard lasts longer and provides more value for money.

Additionally, some office environments require a certain amount of ruggedness, so a durable keyboard is essential for optimal performance and reliability.

If you’re using a mechanical keyboard in the office, you should keep a few tips in mind. Below are some tips for using a mechanical keyboard for office work.

Another option is to use a keyboard mat. The mat is a dense material you place underneath the keyboard to absorb the sound created by the mechanical switches. Using one or more of these sound-dampening options ensures that your mechanical keyboard is quiet enough for use in an office environment.

Proper typing technique is essential for using a mechanical keyboard for office work. It is important to familiarize yourself with the motion and force of the keys to ensure optimal performance. Doing so also helps to reduce typing fatigue and improves your accuracy.

Keeping your wrists in a natural position when typing on a mechanical keyboard is vital. Stretching your wrists too far forward or backward can cause fatigue and strain. It is also essential to type lightly, as the weight and pressure of your fingers can add up over time and cause injury.

Finally, having the right posture when using a mechanical keyboard is essential. Sitting up straight with your shoulders back and your feet flat on the floor will help you type in a relaxed and comfortable position. Taking regular breaks throughout your workday will also help reduce fatigue.

An ergonomic keyboard is an excellent investment if you use a mechanical keyboard for office work. An ergonomic keyboard provides comfort and reduces the risk of repetitive strain injury (RSI) caused by long hours of typing. Ergonomic keyboards are more comfortable and come with features such as split keyboards, adjustable angle settings, and palm rests.

The palm rests help to keep your hands in the correct typing position, reducing strain on your hands and arms. Ergonomic keyboards also often have programmable keys for everyday tasks such as copy and paste, allowing you to work more efficiently and reducing the strain on your fingers. Investing in a good ergonomic keyboard is wise if you use a mechanical keyboard for office work. It can help you avoid injury, stay comfortable, and work more efficiently.

The optimal placement of a mechanical keyboard is crucial and will depend on the size and layout of your desk, as well as your height and arm length.

When positioning the keyboard, it is crucial to ensure that the keyboard is at a comfortable height. You should place the keyboard at a level that allows your wrists to remain in a natural position while typing. Additionally, you should set the keyboard close enough, so your elbows are bent at approximately 90 degrees. This will help ensure that you are not stretching your arms too much, which can lead to fatigue and discomfort.

Ensuring you place the mouse on the same level as the keyboard is also essential. This will allow for smooth and easy navigation when switching back and forth between the keyboard and the mouse. Additionally, you should place the mouse close enough to the keyboard so you do not have to stretch out your arm too much when transitioning between the two.

Placing the keyboard in an area with plenty of space is also essential. Doing so will protect you from accidentally bumping into nearby objects or surfaces.

You can type comfortably and accurately on a mechanical keyboard in the office by ensuring that you place the keyboard in an appropriate spot. Doing so will help you be productive in the workplace and reduce the fatigue and discomfort you may experience while typing.

Mechanical keyboards are great for office work. They offer many features that make typing and other office tasks much easier and more comfortable. They are also durable and reliable, with many models providing long-lasting performance. Most models also offer customizable lighting and ergonomic designs, making them ideal for office work. Therefore mechanical keyboards are suitable for office work since they provide a comfortable and efficient typing experience.

Yes, you can use a mechanical keyboard in the office, as long as it is not too loud and does not disturb other people. You can use various methods to dampen your mechanical keyboard noise, such as using O-rings or adding a noise-dampening foam or a mat.

Yes, mechanical keyboards are a great choice for office work. They are durable and provide excellent tactile feedback and accuracy, which can help improve your efficiency.

Mechanical keyboards are incredibly durable and can last for many years. They provide a satisfying tactile experience and excellent accuracy, making them great for typing. Additionally, mechanical keyboards have a wide range of adjustable features, such as programable keys and backlighting, allowing you to customize the keyboard to your needs.

Some mechanical keyboards are louder than regular keyboards due to the mechanism they use to actuate the keys. However, many mechanical keyboards with quiet key switches are also available, which can minimize the sound.

Yes, mechanical keyboards are generally more expensive than membrane keyboards. This is because mechanical keyboards use individual mechanical switches for each key, which are more expensive to produce than the rubber dome switches used in membrane keyboards.

Additionally, mechanical keyboards are often designed with higher quality materials and features such as customizable lighting and programmable keys, contributing to their higher cost.

Planning Key To Portal Roi

Unlike other enterprise-wide applications intended to improve the bottom line, corporate portals tend to live up to vendor’s promises and, more often than not, begin to save companies money as soon as they go live.

According to a just-released Delphi Group study, only 2% of portal installations failed to return any ROI. This compares very favorably to CRM installations, which, by some analysts estimates, fail 40% of the time.

The Delphi report, which looked at hundreds of installations, found that 22% of firms reported ROIs between 21% and 50%, while 18% of installations returned over 100%.

But, as with most IT implementations, there is a caveat emptor: poor planning prior to installation will negate management’s reasons for installing the portal in the first place and probably lead to poor ROI.

“Whenever my clients come to me and ask me ‘Who do we pick for portal technology?’ I’m like, ‘Back up a second,’” said Laura Ramos, an analyst with Giga Information Group. “‘Let’s talk about what the portal is going to do.’”

The are at least three things that must be decided prior to picking a vendor, said Ramos. One: what problems will be addressed or solved by installing a portal? Two: what is the state of your current IT infrastructure? (A grandiose vision of an enterprise-wide portal probably won’t work on 23 un-networked, proprietary databases.) And, finally, how will you measure the success or failure of the installation?

This last decision may be the most critical. “When you ask people to talk about what it is they’re going to measure they start to get real clear about what is important in a portal and what isn’t,” said Ramos.

Nathanial Palmer, vice president, chief analyst and author of the Delphi Group study, found the highest ROI comes from a well-planned implementation strategy with relatively simple goals like eliminating excess paper work and printing. “By in large the greatest value came from fairly prosaic applications,” said Palmer.

AmeriKing, the largest franchisee of Burger King’s in the country with 376 restaurants and 13,000 employees, for example, saves over $192,000 per year through volume discounts on office supplies by incorporating a centralized purchasing function into their franchise-facing portal that allows its store managers to buy from Boise Cascade’s online store.

At many corporations some of the biggest savings come from the integration of intranet web sties onto shared Web and application servers, said Nate Root, a Forrester analyst. This simplifies IT’s job and reduces the need for extraneous hardware and software purchases, and maintenance costs.

“Going into a portal effort a lot of companies have dozens or hundreds or even thousands of different intranet sites and, by putting a portal in place, they can consolidate all that and get rid of all that old excess infrastructure,” he said.

Hewlett-Packard, for example, consolidated some 1,200 intranet sites when the company instituted its portal project, Root said. “They built up over time because it was so easy to put a Intranet site up.”

Savings can be further enhanced through the use of single-sign-on and authentication tools. When Verizon was consolidating GTE and Bell Atlantic, the company discovered 60% of internal helpdesk time was spent answer password questions, said Root.

“From an access perspective,” said Robert Lancaster, senior analyst at the Yankee Group, “providing single-sign-on through a portal environment relieves a huge amount of IT strain purely because people only need to remember a single password for up to a dozen applications.”

Finally, from an IT perspective, portals are relatively simple installs. ‘Simple’, of course, is defined by the scope of the implementation, but most IT departments can handle the technology with relative ease. Problems tend to creep in from the non-IT issues such poorly thought out usability or taxonomy (the portal’s organizational hierarchy) issues, said Giga’s Ramos.

“A portal is a glorified Web server when it comes down to it, with a little bit of custom application server type development and a little integration work but its nothing that the IT shops that are out there now can’t handle,” agreed Forrester’s Root. “Nine times out of 10 its organization and content, and that kind of stuff that gets in the way.”

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