August 4, 2015

Cities, States Tackle Disabled-Parking Placard Issues

Image: The Parking Professional, August 2015
The International Parking Institute had me explore the challenges jurisdictions face in making changes to their disabled-parking placard programs. The result: Solutions to Disabled-Parking Placard Usage, a feature article published in the August 2015 issue of IPI's member magazine, The Parking Professional.

Excerpt: “The 100-foot walk from a parked car to a building entrance is nothing for most people, but it is a slow slog for someone gripping a walker or crutches and shuffling forward a few inches at a time. The trip is not especially fun in a wheelchair, either.

“Drivers with mobility impairments aren’t looking for sympathy, but they want reasonable access and they don’t like being cheated out of it; hence their ire when finding parking spaces reserved for people with disabilities occupied. The odds are good that at least some of those spots are being illegally used by drivers who don’t need them.

“And while feeling cheated is bad enough, a driver with ambulatory limitations can feel downright violated when he or she is targeted by placard thieves. In Baltimore, Md., for example, 20 to 25 percent of disabled-parking placards were being stolen every month on average prior to recent reforms, fueling a burgeoning black market for them, according to Peter Little, executive director of the Baltimore City Parking Authority.”

Jurisdictions featured include:
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Portland, Oregon
  • ...and more
The magazine is an IPI member-only benefit, so just email me at mark [at] for a PDF copy of the article.

July 11, 2015

Not Designing Your Site for Mobile? Read this.

© SSA Globe - July 2015
The Self Storage Association had me delve into the need for mobile-friendly website and software design for the July issue of its member magazine. Here are selected insights from sources I interviewed:

“2014 was the tipping point for Internet traffic where mobile traffic surpassed traditional desktop access. Whether you sell self storage management software or own a self storage facility, it’s important to be aware of how your customers make contact with your brand.”
—Samuel Kiesinger, marketing director, Syrasoft LLC (Baldwinsville, New York)

“Google expects a webpage to load on your phone in one second. The reason is because a user will likely move on if a page doesn’t load almost instantly.”
—Janet Chiu, owner, CyberTurf Strategic Media (Rockville, Maryland)

“The secret to survival is to stop thinking that the end-goal of digital has anything to do with a device. And start thinking about the end goal of becoming connected, integrated, and efficient.”
—Andy Main, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP and U.S. leader for Deloitte Digital, in April 20 blog post ‘Digital isn’t what you think it is’ (excerpted with his permission)

“Don’t jump with every new trend, but think through a plan of action. And never forget that a well-run business with solid employees remains the foundation.”
—Glenn Hunter, president, DOMICO Software (Oakland, California)

Read the whole article: Designing for a Mobile WorldSSA Globe - July 2015 (PDF).

June 9, 2015

Headed to #AMP15

Association Media & Publishing's 2015 annual conference comes to Washington, D.C., June 15–17. I look forward to connecting with association communication pros, and will tweet/retweet the best of what I discover.

You can also follow #AMP15 on the association's own feed at, or get more conference details here.

June 1, 2015

Back to Business

After serving for the past year as executive director of the Association for Commuter Transportation for the second—and final—time, I've returned to full-time client service and content creation. You can reach me at mark [at]

February 26, 2014

Google SERP Snippet Previews

Want more traffic? No, no, not the four-wheeled highway-clogging kind — the come-to-my-website kind. Getting your site, or specific pages on your site, to show up high on the first page of organic search engine results for your top keywords is arguably the best and most cost-effective way to attract those clicks. A conversation today with my friendly local SEO expert, Janet Chiu, got me thinking about my own site optimization. And that led me to learn more about 'snippets'.

Snippets are those little descriptions Google (and other search engines) show beneath each search result on their pages. The description explains what that site or page of content offers. If the website publisher fails to provide a search description, or provides a lousy one in Google's eyes, Google et al. fills it in with whatever text it deems appropriate from that page.

That means you and I have a choice: create the best possible snippet, or...let Google do it. OK, so Google is hands-down way smarter than me. I mean, they have driverless cars roaming the planet taking photos of our houses and whatever else they feel like. But when it comes to crafting a snippet for my site, I'd much rather be in the driver's seat.

A snippet is not mere window dressing. It's really a little sales message that (hopefully) persuades a visitor to click-through to your site. Making sure it says what you want gives you a better chance of connecting with a visitor.

After I tweaked the snippet for each of my sites, I realized — frustratingly — that a number of days could pass before Google finally displayed the new version. Bummer. Luckily, thanks to a great SEO tutorial at, I found a handy site that previews your draft snippet for you as it would look on a Google search results page:

I gained a new appreciation for just how complex SEO is while talking with Janet. If you really want to get it right...hire her! Meanwhile, I hope you find this tiny tip useful.

January 10, 2014

Welcome, EFA-DC Members

Thanks to all who attended the Saturday, Jan. 11 meeting on the 'business of freelance writing'. For those who didn't get a chance to download the hand-out, just contact me so I can email it to you.