iPhone app tracks your bike route using GPS

The app speaks for itself. You tap the Start button and ride.

When you pause for oxygen to take photos it stops the clock so it just measures your riding time.

At the end you tap the Stop button.

 .  .

When you tap the Done button, the real fun starts…

It emails you 2 links.

The first link is to a map with your route drawn on…

MTB route Bayview Skyline near Nelson NZ

The second link is a Google Earth File (KML) that downloads the Google Earth-compatible track of your route.

This is awesome – you can fly over the terrain seeing a 3-D view of your route. This screenshot is only half the story – the excitement is dynamically moving the scenery around.

3-D view of the route in Google Earth


The app is the Cyclemeter from Abvio.com.

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QR code checklist

Even smart people can get distracted qr code on bum and goof up when it comes to QR codes…

Q1 Why Why Why?

This is crucial. Why scan the code? What is the benefit to me? You need to have a benefit and you need to spell out the benefit.

Without a good why-I-should-scan then your QR campaign is going nowhere.

Researchers found that 52% of repeat code snappers said the process only “sometimes” produces a fair exchange of value. For 15% of QR users the platform “rarely” delivers value.

Q2 What happens next?

Explain what is going to happen next. A video? A phone call? A website? If it’s a website then it had better be a mobile-ready website.

Q3 Who?

Who is going to scan? Do they own a smart phone? Do they know what a QR code is? Some 60% of QR fans are male and 53% are aged 18-34. Is this your target group?

Where, when, how?

Where is the QR code located? Does the punter have internet connection and is it safe? Does he have the time?

Beach volleyball hotties

qr code links to betfair mobile website

close-up of that qr code

Gambling company Betfair sponsored 2 beach volleyball players to have QR codes on their butts.

What would you expect to see next when you scan?

  • Something sporty?
  • Something sexy?
  • Something sporty and sexy?

The answer is: none of these. Scan the code and you see this transactional mobile website where you can login and bet on horses. Boo.


QR code resources

Not all scanners are equal and not all code generators are equal.

The best free QR scanner for your iPhone.  I have tried 2 other scanners and this is faster and better. The first one I tried could not scan some codes and the second had annoying adverts. This is faster than both. Google is behind this scanner.

Make your own QR codes with this free online QR code generator – copy them or print them or whatever you like. Unlike some QR generators it does not insert spam links – it just gives you the plain barcode. Google is behind this generator as well.

Very easy to create QR codes that contain:

  • Your contact details (vcard)
  • A URL
  • An event (time, place, etc)
  • A geo location
  • An SMS (text message)
  • An email address
  • A phone number
  • A WiFi network
Do remember to follow the why-what-who-where checklist. Happy scanning…


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QR codes: mixed results or 100% crap ?

This is the best I’ve seen.

QR code

Printed on a letter from New World supermarkets about a wine promotion. It explained that the QR code would take me to their mobile website.

It worked perfectly and took me to a website about different kinds of wine.

Missing ingredient


What’s missing ? There is no reason to scan. No payload. No benefit to me. No voucher. No special deal.

And no benefit to the supermarket either. I’ve not bought any more wine.


Tesco was worse

The QR code was next to the card reader right at the till. This is the worst possible place to have a QR code in a supermarket – the only place where you are rushed. Even the toilet would be a better location.

I came back into the store and scanned one at an empty lane. And the code took me to a random page on their normal full-size website with no benefit to me and no call to action. Eek.





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This (sales killer) needs fixing

Looks like they've sold out but they haven't

No they haven’t sold out of child tickets…

Nothing on the child line was clickable.   Spent 10 minutes puzzling and mine-sweeping* the screen to figure out what to do.

This usability boob is on the InterCity coaches online booking site.

The page before this had defaulted to one passenger. On this page I had to

  • Reduce the number of adult tickets from 1 down to zero with the green down arrow.
  • Then a green up arrow appeared on each of the other rows.

I wonder how many people understand this screen – and how many people give up?

*Jakob Neilsen – usability guru – coined the expression mine-sweeping to describe moving your cursor around a web-page to find anything clickable.


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SEO and everything else

For many people, SEO means “everything about a website except the colours and pictures”.

They know what web design is: that’s the colours and pictures. So everything else is called SEO. Sometimes it’s even shorthand for “getting the damn thing to work at all”.

They usually have a new website and they are puzzled why their results are so bad. They come to me asking about SEO.

I explain that all websites have 2 stages:

Stage 1: Getting more visitors → Stage 2: Getting more action
SEO Credibility
Paid search (AdWords) Visual design
emails Value
Banner adverts Good offer
Social media Brand
Offline Usability

I explain that yes I can do SEO but maybe we need to look at the whole picture first. SEO is one way to get more people to visit a website. One of several ways.

But it’s very often the second stage that needs fixing: they do get some visitors but they don’t get any action.



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Seth Godin++

Seth Godin's blog

Seth Godin is a marketing guru – author of dozens of books including Purple Cow.

A recent idea on his blog is a workflow audit…

Go find a geek. Someone who understands gmail, Outlook, Excel and other basic tools.

Pay her to sit next to you for an hour and watch you work.

Then say, “tell me five ways I can save an hour a day.”

Whatever you need to pay for this service, it will pay for itself in a week.

Great idea, but is Seth missing the big benefit?

We all have at least one routine task that takes so long that we only bother if we really have to. This could be

  • putting pictures in a blog post
  • putting photos in an email
  • making a back-up

Now just think if the geek showed us a slick way to do the pain-in-the-ass task? The benefit isn’t the time saved – it’s the uplift in quality and performance.


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What a 30% boost looks like…

online booking

This is in my top-10 list of ideas. Letting website visitors book their own medical appointment online. Like booking a flight or a holiday.

Ultralase is a national chain of laser eye clinics in the UK. Some 90% of their business comes through their website.

At the time I was Interim Web Manager. We had already done several 10% improvement projects and were gearing up for a production-line of small improvements. Online booking was a left-field idea: a possible game-changer.

It seems so obvious now – but it was a tough sell at the time. They were doing very well thank-you beforehand. And now they are doing very-well-plus-30%-thank-you. And another validation is that their 2 big rivals are doing online booking as well now.

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Pinpoint – english non-profit website

Pinpoint website
Pinpoint is an english non-profit organisation, providing practical help and moral support for parents of disabled children.

As well as helping parents and children, they have a role in telling government bodies and politicians what parents want and don’t want. The website plays a key role in co-ordinating information and building an active community.

The Pinpoint website has over 300 pages of

  • information
  • events
  • numbers to call
  • a forum
  • a blog
The site was initially built by my friend Graeme Whippy of Meerkat Web Services. As well as supporting the site now, I’ve done these projects:

Video integration

Added videos to the site including a slick way for site visitors to navigate between videos.


A key role of the site is promoting community events for disabled children and for their parents. I’ve extended the functionality to include regular repeating events as well as one-off events.
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QR codes

QR code - a 2-D barcode

My first project with QR codes.

It’s a very promising technology and it’s huge in Japan – driven there by smart phones that can read them.

I’ve done many projects using the old-style picket-fence barcodes. Printing barcodes on letters, envelopes, pallet labels, work tickets, sticky labels. And scanning them in warehouse and retail applications.

QR codes may have an even brighter future if and when the readers become ubiquitous (like in Japan) and then all kinds of novel uses will magically appear.

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  • John Hyde


    John Hyde

    Freelance problem-solver and business technologist.

    Specialising in website results: getting your website visitors to do what you want.


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    email me@johnhy.de