How is technology affecting your shopping this season?

Design Lab 10 Web Design York ME Portsmouth NH

Retail stores are really stepping it up this year and taking full advantage of technology.  But are consumers taking advantage of the information and discounts available?

Mannequins are holding QR codes in stores offering specials and discounts…QR codes are displayed randomly throughout malls…Store-fronts have signs asking their customers to “check in” using foursquare and Facebook Places and receive a discount.  You can even download an app to comparison shop!

.:: QR CODES ::.

Sears and Kmart deployed mobile shopping walls in high-traffic areas including airports, malls, movie theaters and bus shelters across the country. The walls, which feature top toys from Sears and Kmart, provide quick response (QR) codes for each item so that customers can make purchases directly from their smartphones, giving customers an innovative and efficient way to accomplish their holiday shopping. (

Need a QR Reader for your mobile phone? Click Here

.:: foursquare ::.

Last year was the first year for the big Black Friday foursquare specials. There were 12 specials that ran nationwide. This year, that number’s up to at least 20, proving again the growing popularity of foursquare.

What is foursquare?

“Foursquare is a location-based mobile platform that makes cities easier to use and more interesting to explore. By “checking in” via a smartphone app or SMS, users share their location with friends while collecting points and virtual badges. Foursquare guides real-world experiences by allowing users to bookmark information about venues that they want to visit and surfacing relevant suggestions about nearby venues. Merchants and brands leverage the foursquare platform by utilizing a wide set of tools to obtain, engage, and retain customers and audiences.”

Here are some of the nationwide deals that were offered on Black Friday (many of which will also last through the holidays), just by checking in on foursquare:

  • jcpenney: Check in to unlock $10 off a $50 purchase. They’re also donating $25 to the Salvation Army for each Black Friday checkin between 4 am and 1 pm.
  • Sports Authority: Spend $100 and get a $25 cash card. Twenty people who check in (nationwide) will win a $500 gift card.
  • Brookstone: Check in to receive $10 off a $70 purchase.

Facebook Places works pretty much the same way that fourquare does.


In today’s economy, comparison shopping is important to most consumers.  There’s an app for that!  Check out this video to see how you using technology can save you money…even when you’re already in the store!

Using Technology to Shop and Save


(Happy Holidays from Design Lab 10!)


Charitable Contributions – Make A Difference

Charitable Donations

Does your company make charitable contributions or give back to the community?

Kinds of Charity Donations

Charity donations come in many forms. Cash donations are the most common but donations of time, skill and items are also much needed. You can donate clothes, food, water and tents to disaster relief operations. Many charities accept used clothing, knitted items and shoes and distribute them to the needy. Orphanages and shelters would greatly appreciate your toy donations.

You can also donate vehicles, furniture, computers, books, old cell phones and practically anything that you may no longer have a use for but others can certainly benefit from. Additionally, giving your time through volunteer charity work is extremely valuable.

For me, I have chosen to donate my skills and time and to benefit charitable causes.  I have also chosen to run for various charities.  A charity in many ways is like a business so having a professional image allows the charity to hit the ground running.  I have created logos and letterhead for one charity, designed t-shirts to be sold to raise money and donated gift certificates to be auctioned off to raise money for a charity.

Speaking of hitting the ground running, I ran a 5K (sponsored by a client) to benefit the Maine Cancer Foundation and I am currently training for a marathon to benefit the Red Cross and the Health Ministry of the Southern Tier (benefiting those without health insurance).

In January, I will be running the Disney Marathon to benefit Caleb’s Crusade, a charity established by my friends to provide funds for childhood cancer research and to help children and families affected with childhood cancers to cope with their everyday expenses incurred during treatment and relocation.

Reasons for Giving to Charity

Big natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Cuba, and the tsunami in Japan can compel individuals to give what they can to affected communities. Others encounter eye-opening experiences that lead them to start giving to charity.

Many  businesses are motivated to give because of tax deductions associated with charitable donations. In addition, charitable giving is also a good way for a company to strengthen its brand and develop good relations with the community. Giving to charity can also help drive business as many customers are likely to buy from a company that gives back to society.

For individuals, tax breaks are also a top reason for donating to charity. On the other hand, there are also many individuals who give solely out of their desire to help people in need. Others support a cause that they can identify with, they believe is important, or has personally affected their lives. For instance, friends and families of cancer patients or survivors may donate to charity to help fund research, provide treatment, or create awareness about the disease.

For me, it was watching my friends 4 year old son, Caleb, fight a losing battle with leukemia in less than a year.  I witnessed a strong family get stronger but still not have the strength to overcome that terrible disease, even after many forms of treatment including chemo and a bone marrow transplant.

Shortly afterward, my ex-husband, the father of my two older sons, was diagnosed with brain cancer.  He is an active, otherwise healthy Little League coach and father of 4 (remarried with 2 more boys).  Three years post-diagnosis, he is maintaining his quality of life after having undergone chemo, radiation, numerous surgeries and trial medication.

Two years ago, a lifetime family friend was diagnosed with liver cancer and at the age of 33 and after less than a year of fighting, lost her battle with cancer.

Whether the donation comes from an individual or a business organization, giving to charity – for whatever reason, in any form, whether a big or small amount – will help make a difference in the lives of many people who are in need.

I hope that you will join me, in your own way, in helping the cause of your choice, so that together we can make a better world.

QR Codes: What are they and what do they do?

QR Codes - Design Lab 10

Have you heard of QR codes or QR Code Readers (or the mobile apps that read them)?  Maybe you’ve just seen some weird looking images start popping up in magazine advertisements, t-shirts, flyers or posters?

Whatever the case, if you’ve wondered what they are and why you’ve started to see them, read on!

QR (stands for Quick Response) codes are two-dimensional images that can be scanned by smart phones and that can contain text, contact information, connect to a wireless network, or open a web page in the phone’s browser by encoding the information in the image.  They can even contain pre-formatted text messages!  This makes it possible for people to link a print ad (or any other print material) to the internet and their mobile device.

While all of this may seem strange and even a little unbelievable, QR codes have actually been around for a while.  They were originally created in Japan in 1994 and used to keep track of inventory.  In the last several years creative uses for the QR codes began to emerge…

In 2007, the Pet Shop Boys released a single criticizing the British national identity card concept. The single came complete with a QR code linked to the critique.

In 2009, QR codes were created for character design and promotional materials in the Shane Acker film 9.

Within the last year, QR codes have emerged as a possible mainstream marketing trend, but it’s still in the early stages of popularity.  You can expect this to be a growing trend!

A standard QR code can contain up to 7089 characters!  The possibilities are endless…

  • a link to your website
  • real estate flyers
  • a vCard
  • coupons
  • “secret” store front sales
  • pre-printed / formatted text messages from your clients phone requesting you contact them
  • an easy way to “check-in” to social media site
  • and the list goes on!

Free QR Readers are available for almost every mobile device. You can find one by clicking on the Application Store icon on your mobile device or follow the link below to access the application store for your specific device online.  Once you arrive at the App Store search for “Free QR Code Reader” and download the application.

Android App Market

Apple App Store

Blackberry App World

Windows App Marketplace

Now, try out the reader on the image below:








Social Media – Facebook in 15 Minutes a Day

With over 500 million active users who spend more than 700 billion minutes per month
online, Facebook is a natural first stop for marketers looking to reach an online audience.

The biggest benefits of Facebook include:

• Reach (Nearly everyone is there!)
• Ease of use (If my dad can figure it out, anyone can)
• Ability to add numerous media, including audio, images, and video to your page
• Ability to email entire groups of fans at a time

If you decide to go the Facebook route, your first step is to create a “Like” page for
your business. This is basically a profile for your business. Until recently, these pages
used to be called “Fan” pages. Personal profiles limit the number of people you can be
friends with, while “Like” pages do not. Also, “Like” pages enable you to create an RSS
feed and build custom applications. There are a number of tutorials online with stepby-
step instructions for creating a “Like” page.

However, if that’s overwhelming, I recommend you outsource this. You should be able
to find someone affordable who can set this up for you. Be careful though, there are
lots of people jumping on the Facebook bandwagon who want to make a name for
themselves as social media experts.

Once you have created your Facebook “Like” page, your daily 15-minute to-do list
includes the following:

1. Update your status. Be sure to make it relevant to your audience. Skip the
“breakfast” posts unless you’re a chef! (1 minute)

2. Add new blog posts, videos, photos, etc. to your wall. Many other social media
sites like Twitter as well as your blog can be set up to add these updates
automatically to your wall. (2 minutes)

3. Review comments on your wall and respond to them. (4 minutes)

4. Review your news feed and spend a few minutes commenting on posts and
updates from your contacts. (4 minutes)

5. Respond to invitations and messages in your inbox. (2 minutes)

6. Locate new people to invite to your “Like” page by checking out the friends of
current page fans (2 minutes)

This timeframe may seem ambitious, and it is! You may also need a very fast internet
connection to pull it off. Depending on how many messages and posts you actually
get, and how quickly you want to add new friends, you might choose to be a bit more

Still, the idea is to focus on the most important activities and stop when you’re done.
Sure, you could easily spend the whole day puttering around on Facebook, but your
goal is to set a time limit and use it to the max. If you have extra time, you can go back
and play Farmville or challenge a friend to a game of Text Twist. Or you could decide
to add more friends or get more involved in a conversation. In the meantime, though,
get in, get out, and get customers!

Link Your Facebook Employer to Your Fan Page

After launching Design Lab 10, and having an appreciation for the value of social media networking and marketing, I quickly created a Fan Page on Facebook. I then went back to my personal profile and input my company as my employer (partially because I am a stickler for detail, but mostly to take advantage of one extra place to promote the company). What I found was that in doing so, I actually created an additional page (a Community Page) for Design Lab 10 and it wasn’t linking to my Fan Page as I had hoped.

A Community Page is usually not properly maintained (you can go in and claim it, but don’t be fooled, that doesn’t do you justice or make it link to the Fan Page that companies put time and money in to maintaining). Some of your “fans” “like” activities are being wasted on the Community Page. Additionally, those fans don’t receive the updates that they would if they “liked” your Fan Page.

I looked at others’ pages and they seemed to be experiencing the same shortcoming. I even checked with people I consider to be experts in this type of glitch and no one seemed to have the answer. Until recently!

After numerous hours of research and combining lots of other people’s knowledge with mine, I am writing this post to share how to link your Facebook profile employer link to your company’s Fan Page.

Since Facebook has recently launched a new profile page, please take note as to which profile version the directions below refer. These first few steps are the same regardless of which profile version you are using.

In order to complete the directions below, you will need either Firefox or Google Chrome installed on your computer. Most of us have one of those (or both) but if you don’t you can click on the link below. You don’t need to be technically gifted to use either of the developer add-ons, don’t worry.

To get and use Firefox follow these two steps:

1. Install Firefox and run the setup.

2. Install add-on: Firefox Web Developer

To get and use Google Chrome follow these two steps:

1. Install Google Chrome and run the setup.

2. Install add-on: Web Developer extension

Now, you will need your Facebook Fan Page unique URL ID number. To get it:

1. Go to your Fan Page.

2. Look in the web browser bar and after the last forward slash (“/”) you should see a number* – copy and paste that number to a blank document so you can have it available.

*If you don’t have a number in the browser bar because you have renamed your Fan Page, don’t worry. Click on the Photos tab and then click on any photo or album. The number is now displayed in the browser bar at the end of the URL. Copy and paste all of the numbers after the last equal sign (“=”) – that is your ID number.

This is where which profile you have comes in to play.

Follow these steps if you have the old profile:

(Make sure to use either Firefox or Chrome when doing these steps.)

1. Go to Profile -> Info tab -> Edit

2. Select Education and Work -> look for Employer field box (with Add Another Job below it) and put your cursor in the box so you can find it easily.

3. Open the Web Developer add-on that you installed.

- In Firefox, go to Tools (on the top bar of browser window) -> Web Developer -> Forms -> Display Form Details

- In Chrome, look to the right of the browser bar and you’ll see a little picture that looks like this: Click it and then Forms -> Display Form Details

(You’ll see a whole bunch of coding “gibberish” at this point, don’t worry, that means you’re doing it right!)

4. In the box where you left your cursor* paste your unique URL ID of your Fan Page that you copied before.

*It should be next to code highlighted in yellow that looks like this:

- the last number of the code could be a 0 or a 1, depending on how many jobs you already have listed.

5. Turn off the Web Developer add-on and continue filling in the form as you would normally%u2026TA-DA!

Follow these steps if you have the new profile:

(Make sure to use either Firefox or Chrome when doing these steps.)

1. Go to Edit Profile -> Education and Work -> Edit

2. Write in the name of your company in the field to add a new employer and hit enter.

3. Open the Web Developer add-on that you installed. (

- In Firefox, go to Tools (on the top bar of browser window) -> Web Developer -> Forms -> Display Form Details

- In Chrome, look to the right of the browser bar and you’ll see a little picture that looks like this: Click it and then Forms -> Display Form Details

(You’ll see a whole bunch of coding “gibberish” at this point, don’t worry, that means you’re doing it right!)

4. You will see a red outlined box around the name of the employer that you just entered and the other fields that will get filled in regarding this job. In the 7th grey box within the red outlined area, paste your unique URL ID of your Fan Page that you copied before.

*It should be next to code highlighted in yellow that looks like this:

- the last number of the code could be a 0 or a 1, depending on how many jobs you already have listed.

5. Turn off the Web Developer add-on and continue filling in the form as you would normally -TA-DA!

What a relief and congratulations on a job well done! If you think this was daunting, or need help, feel free to hire a qualified person to do it for you (hint, hint). If you enjoyed the information, please leave a comment, or go “like” me.