Archive for the ‘Help’ Category

Ofuz is Open Source; what does that mean?

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Ofuz in an Open Source project.

For developers it’s clear what that means but for most of us it doesn’t. There is a lot of confusion on what the benefits are of an Open Source application.

So I will try to describe the four benefits that matter most for a freelancer of small business.

Long term stability

When you need to select an application for your business, you want to know that you’ll be able to use it for the long run … like forever.

All the software companies — at one point or another — phase out their applications, force you  to upgrade, or even go out of business entirely.

By selecting Open Source software like Ofuz you have the long term stability guarantee. Even if the current developer gets purchased or goes out of business entirely, you will be able to take all your data and the application itself to run it on your own.

This is unique, and the great advantage of Open Source applications over all the Software as a Service you can find online today.

Openness

By definition we are open; more than any other proprietary company, our development process is open and accessible to all, our source code is readable, and our documentation is open to all.

The open source model will guarantee we stay true and honest.





Security

Our source code is open to thousands of eyes to review and give feedback. Overtime Ofuz will have a more secure design than our non-open source competitors.

This is critical as security problems and confidentiality issues of online software has just started.

Personalization and customization

I put it last because this is the most important of all.

Every business is different and we all have our secret sauce that make us serve our customer better than anybody else. By creating our base application with the core features that work for most businesses and then adding a simple but elegant feature to customize and extend it:  the plug-in API.

We invite other businesses all over the world to customize our base and make a Plug-In that will sculpt Ofuz to fit their specific needs.
Those businesses will get a custom application to perfectly fit their business model.

Customizing Ofuz by creating a Plug-In costs a fraction of what is involved in building a custom application from scratch.

The result will be — over time — thousands of extensions and Plug-Ins available to enhance Ofuz and make it fit perfectly into any business model and give you maximum productivity.

This model is not new; it has already been proven by other types of software. Take for example WordPress.
Look at all the plug-ins available: over 11,283 plug-ins available today.

Each of those plug-ins is a specific feature that will make your WordPress blog unique and fits your specific needs. Now look at the non-open source blogging alternatives and let me know how much you can customize them?

That what it means being Open Source. It means you will get an application with long term stability, security, openness and that’s customizable.

How to Create a Free Squeeze Page Using Ofuz, pt3

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

We’re wrapping up our three-part series on how to create a free squeeze page using Ofuz with two screencasts, walking you through the process step-by-step.

Creating a squeeze page on a free Blogger.com account:

Creating a squeeze page on a self-hosted WordPress blog:

Thanks for tuning in, and be sure to get a free Ofuz account to take advantage of over 90 enhancements, just released in Ofuz 0.5.8!

Get emails automatically attached to your contacts

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

This is a short tutorial on how to use Ofuz’s drop box feature to get sent email messages attached directly to your Ofuz contacts.

Once set up, when working on a lead, prospect or even a client, you will have all your associated notes and emails in one central  location.

Previously, to add a note in Ofuz you needed to type it in or copy and paste text. To make this simpler for email messages that you send and want to keep in Ofuz, we’ve implemented a drop box.

A drop box is a special email address that’s generated only for you. You can then use that email address in all of your email messages as a CC or BCC to keep a copy of your emails in Ofuz.

Ofuz will automatically detect to whom you are sending the message and then attach your email to that contact.

If that contact doesn’t exist it will be created and the email message attached to it.

This makes life much simpler – as we are working a lot with emails, it’s convenient to be able to create new contacts or organize your email messages without having to open another application.

You can find the Add Note drop box in Settings → add note drop box.

http://www.ofuz.net/drop_box_note.php

Email address to add notes in offuz

Email address to add notes in offuz

Ofuz drop boxes are like normal email addresses.

In the example below, I use my drop box to add a message I sent to Abhik via Ofuz.

Add note drop box

As seen above, I’ve added the add note drop box as a BCC. Doing so will add a copy of the email as a Note on Abhik’s contact page in Ofuz.

Add the BCC to new emails and the emails you reply to, and you will be able to keep a pretty accurate copy of your conversations.

If the contact doesn’t exist in Ofuz, it will be created and then your email will also be added as a Note.

This is a feature that I use a lot because it enables me to find past conversations and information in a Contact-centric manner.

I didn’t want to have to add a drop box for each email I wrote, so I used a feature of my email software that will automatically add the add-note drop box email address as a BCC to all the emails I send.

To enable this in Mozilla Thunderbird, go in Edit -> Accounts -> Copies & Folders  then check the box “Bcc these email addresses” and enter your add note drop box.

Thunderbird, send copy of email in Bcc to the drop box

This setting  will add a copy of all the messages sent and attached it to the  contacts in Ofuz.

Some email software like Gmail will also allow you to add a copy of all the email you receive.

In Gmail, go to Settings -> Forwarding / POP3/IMAP, and then in “Forward a copy of incoming email to”, enter your add note drop box.

Add to Ofuz all incoming emails

You can also adjust this with filters and only add specific email messages to Ofuz.

That’s all on this feature.

To summarize, the add-note drop box can be found in your Ofuz settings in the Note Drop box tab.

It can then be used when you send emails to keep a copy of that email in Ofuz.

Nudge a participant in a project discussion

Friday, December 4th, 2009

We have added a new notation in project discussions to address a specific participant. It looks like this: @firstname. It’s like a ping or a nudge.

You see, Ofuz has an approach to project management that’s very much oriented around discussions.

For us, managing a project is primarily about communication and secondly about metrics. Most of the project management software I’ve personally used in the past were mainly metrics oriented: hour per hour estimates, hourly rates, time line Gantt charts… Those are very cool features but most of the time they get in the way of doing the real work, which is communication.

Project Tasks

So in Ofuz, projects are firstly a discussion with everybody involved in the project and secondly about metrics (yes, we have them, but it will be the topic of a future blog post)

In Ofuz, the project tasks have a flow of discussion; to make sure we do not miss anything it’s integrated with emails. So each new comment in a Tasks discussion sends an email to all of the project’s participants. The discussion can then continue with emails – if one of the participant does a Reply All, that email response will also be added to the Tasks discussion.

Discussion in a Task

The result are very well documented tasks, with all the details, progress, and changes that are happening. Yet, it can also be overwhelming.

If you want to get the attention of a particular participant, you can address the discussion note to him.

Example of Using @

Thus, we created a special notation. For twitter users it will look familiar: it’s @firstname or @lastname.

If you nudge a participant, s/he will receive a special email alert that is different than the regular tasks discussion alert.

It starts with: {Ofuz:Nudge}

nudge_in_email2

The participant will receive it even if they have the email alert discussion turned off.

Inspired by the twitter notation, we felt that the “nudge” enables quick internal dialogue within a project discussion, limiting the message overload.

That’s all for today…

Let us know what you think.  Are you using the feature the same way we do ?

Email merge in a targeted email marketing campaign

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Most email marketing solutions today are limited to anonymous lists of emails to whom you blast general newsletters.

For your email marketing strategy to be efficient, it’s important to send the right message to the right person. The best way to do this is to organize your contacts by category, and then send personalized emails to each of those categories.

In Ofuz we call these categories Tags. They can be used as a category or list and are very flexible, and you can apply as many tags as you want with a contact.

Click on a contact’s name (below, see an example of a contact with Tags):
Contact Tag view

Now click on the Edit tags or Add tags link, and it will change to:
contact tag in edit mode

Here you can remove tags or add new ones. For example, I am adding the tag “new product info” to this contact to send him information and news about our products.

Once you have attached different tags to your contacts you can send a personalized email message to all of the contacts with a specific tag.

Ofuz email sending capabilities are simple but quite powerful. You can send personalized messages by first name and last name to as many contacts as you want, and create and reuse email templates in HTML with rich text formating. A cool feature unique to Ofuz is that you can send Facebook notifications for Facebook friends without email addresses.

To send a message to multiple contacts, go in the Contacts tab and click on a tag that contains the contact you want to send a message to.

Then click in the white part of a contact line. See the screen shot:

Select a contact
Select a contact

It will highlight the contact line in yellow and open a menu of options. Click the same way on all the contacts you want to send the message to.

If you want to select all of your contacts, click on the select all link.

Then click on the send message button and it will open the message composer.

Create an email message or customize an email template

Create an email message or customize an email template

You can see in this example the [firstname] placeholder that will be merged with each contact’s first name.

On the top right you have a drop down that may be empty at first; it’s all the messages you have saved as templates.

You can manage your email templates in Account Settings → Email Templates.

Just below the template list you have another drop down with a list of “fields”. Select one of them and it will add a special code in your email message that will be replaced by the contact equivalent.

For example, add first name and it will add this weird [firstname] code. Place it anywhere you want, and when you send your message it will replace that code with your contact’s First Name.

If you are not ready to send the message yet you can save it as a draft and come back later to finish it.

If it’s an important message that you plan to send to a lot of users, it’s better to first test it. To do that, save the message as draft, go into Contacts and select yourself, and then send the message to your self.

Once you are satisfied with the result, send the message to your appropriate list.

Add task to a project using your email

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

This is the new feature of the day. We just added a new drop box for projects.

Now each project is associated with an email address; if you send a message to that email address it will automatically create a new task in that Project.

The project drop box email address is on the bottom left of the Project page. See the screen shot.Email drop box for the project is circled in yellow

If you’ve never used a drop box, you may wonder what those weird email addresses are everywhere.

They are email addresses to send content to Ofuz — can be a note on a contact, task, project task or task discussion.

If you have an open project you are actively working on and want to stay on top of it, even if you are not in front of a computer, then the drop box becomes handy. To begin, just add the project drop box to your address book. For example, create newtask-17@ofuz.net with a name like Project x51.  Then, any time you think of a task for that project, just send an email to that address. It can be from your smart phone, public web mail or your email client; perhaps because you don’t want to open Ofuz.net just for adding one task.

If you have not used drop-boxes yet, try it. In your settings page you will find one area to add new tasks and one to add a note to a contacts.

Regarding the one to add notes — if you add it to your auto Bcc it will put a copy of all the emails you send attached to the appropriate contact.

Have fun, let us know what you think.

What is Ofuz ?

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

The goal of Ofuz is to simplify the task of managing your contacts and related duties by means of our innovative collaboration features.

Ofuz is designed for small businesses. We made it very simple to use and quick to learn.

If you already use Email and Facebook, Ofuz will feel like a natural progression.

Ofuz makes it trivial to interact with all the people in your network, including prospects, customers, vendors, employees, and co-workers.

Ofuz integrates with your web site and email client, allowing you to create new contacts and notes automatically. Users that submit a form through your site will become contacts in your Ofuz account. Further, when you send an email to someone, he or she becomes your contact in Ofuz and their email is added to your notes.

We are now in private public beta.

Ofuz Register

Ofuz Contacts

Ofuz Contacts

Ofuz Tasks

Ofuz Tasks

Ofuz Project

Ofuz Project

Features:

  • Contact management
    1. Organization by Tag (infinite level of categories)
    2. Facebook import (sync anytime with Facebook to add new friends)
    3. Google contact import (soon you can export back to your Google contacts)
    4. LinkedIn import (with csv text file)
    5. Outlook, Thunderbird, Mail contact import (using csv text files).
  • Notes, Document & Files
    1. Add notes to your contacts to track progress on a sale or work done with a customer
    2. Attach documents for a sale or project.
    3. Allow your contacts to upload files themselves
  • Tasks and follow-up
    1. Manage your to-dos
    2. Attach tasks to a contact
    3. Categorize
    4. Set due dates
  • Customer portal
    1. For each of your contacts you can share notes and files
    2. Open access to your vendors, prospects or customers so they can provide you with needed documents
    3. Eliminate emails and download problems to exchange notes and files.
  • Send Emails
    1. Send Mass mailings
    2. Opt-out option with each email sent
    3. Add merge fields to emails, personalized with your contact’s real name
    4. Manage personalized and specialized mailing lists
    5. Send announcements for new products, discounts, and sales
  • Co-Workers
    1. Invite co-workers to share contacts and projects
    2. Share the same contact with one or more co-workers
    3. Invite vendors and customers to participate in projects and share discussions, notes, & documents
    4. Decide who can see what at both the contact and project level.
  • Manage project
    1. Share projects with all the people involved
    2. Follow discussions
    3. Receive email alerts
    4. Share notes and documents
    5. Follow up on progress
    6. Organize priorities with drag-drop tasks
    7. Full email integration with dicusssions
  • Web forms
    1. Create new contacts with web forms
    2. Add web forms to your site; new contacts get added automatically
    3. Organize with tags for follow-up
  • Mobile (iPhone, Android, Palm Pre and soon Blackberry)
    1. View and search your contacts
    2. Add contacts
    3. Manage your tasks
    4. Sync in real-time with Ofuz web
  • Invoicing (coming soon)