Phone Service Choices

Written: May 23, 2013

For my freelance web business I’m using a cellphone, however you have several choices for your business and home phone service today. Here are some of the phone choices to consider:

Service Initial Cost Monthly 3 Year Cost
Land Line $29-$129 per phone $45-$65/mo. $1,649 to $2,469
Cell Phone $29-$199 per phone $25-$95/mo. $929 to $3,619
Internet Phone $50 VOIP box, $19-$69 per phone $0/mo. $69 to $119

I have used all three of these choices, and I can tell you that the final option of using an Internet phone is my preferred choice today. Now, let’s look at the pros and cons of each choice.

Land Line – Pros

It’s familiar, the same kind of technology that your parents used. It works when the power goes out, and you can dial 911. Need some limited mobility, then use a cordless phone.

Land Line – Cons

It’s the most expensive option, which is why over half of USA households have switched to option #2, the cell phone instead of a land line. They are the largest in size, and will not fit into your pocket.

Cell Phone – Pros

You probably have an old cell phone lying around the house, so why not use it for your home phone number? Cell phones are small, pretty reliable, and SmartPhones are feature-rich. You can still dial 911 and get help. They are small and portable, easy to carry in your pocket.

Cell Phone – Cons

Still a bit pricey, especially for ocasional usage. Fragile when dropped and they don’t like water. During peak usage, your cell phone service can be spotty to non-existant.

Internet Phone – Pros

Most homes and businesses already have a broadband Internet connection, so it’s easy to connect. They are flexible and have features like voice mail that can be accessed from any web browser. The monthly cost of $0.00 is very attractive.

Internet Phone – Cons

You cannot dial 911, so for emergencies have another device to call for help. You have to set things up to get the free monthly price.

How to Spend $0.00/month

You’ve read this far, so you should be curious about what I’m using to get free monthly phone calls:

my free phone setup


To setup Google Voice you can follow a tutorial at Obihai.

After you unbox the Obihai box, you’ll want to go to the web and create an account, follow this tutorial.

Finally, you need to tell the Obihai box about your Google Voice account, and follow this final tutorial.

There you have it, I’m making free phone calls for my home phone number, the sound quality is better than a cell phone, and the voice mail indicator even works on this Vtech phone. From my web browser I can also see or hear my voice messages as well, very slick.

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Changing 100’s of Prices

Written: May 21, 2013

We all love flexibility with our web sites, especially the ability to login and change prices. I have a web client that needed to change hundreds of prices in a quick and efficient manner. At first I thought of presenting a single page with all of the price names and values, but when I tried that it was too much scrolling up and down to find what I was looking for.

The approach that I ended up with was to use the familiar Tab metaphor with the major category names across the top:

We used WordPress on this project to allow the client to login and make their updates using just a web browser. This is the back-end to the web site that I blogged about most recently, see what the front-end looks like.

For the technically inclined, this project used jQuery UI and jQuery Tabs.

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Millions of Choices

Written: May 11, 2013

TCT West is a telecom company in Montana and Wyoming that wanted to offer a way for customers to visit their site and choose services like:

The challenge was that TCT West serves 61 cities, and the pricing, packaging and options change for each city. Furthermore, each service has optional add-ons. In summary, there are literally millions of choices possible, so how do you make that intuitive to the customer trying to order a single service, multiple services, or even a pre-packaged bundle of services?

We started out the design by making it very simple with a single choice: Residential or Business

Bundle Builder


Once you choose by clicking, then a new choice appears dynamically prompting for your City location:



Clicking in this field brings up a City picker:

City Picker


Based upon what you just clicked in the City Picker, you next see only the packages and services designed for your specific city:

a la cart items


As you choose an Internet service then the add-ons appear dynamically:

Internet Add Ons


As you choose each service then the shopping cart populates instantly and shows if you have any discount:

Shopping Cart


Clicking the Checkout button brings you to a summary page where you see all the details of your order:

confirm your order


There you have it, this is how we simplified the process of having millions of choices by offering dynamic content based upon customer choices, one step at a time.

This project was developed in WordPress, see what the back-end looks like in another blog.

For the technically inclined reader, this project used the powerful jQuery library.

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Event Registration with PayPal and WordPress

Written: April 14, 2013

I belong to the Portland Metropolitan Photographers Association and we have events where members need to register and make a payment. Since the web site is built with WordPress I was able to add a new feature using PayPal for payments where members choose between three different options and quantities:

Three options for Add to Cart

When a member choose an option and quantity, clicks the Add button, they see the PayPal cart on a secure web page:

Secure PayPal cart


If they click Continue Shopping, then they are returned to the PMPA page that they started on. When they click Check Out then they can pay with Credit Card or PayPal.


Inside of WordPress they can choose where to place this new event registration using short code:


This is easy for the PMPA volunteers to add event registration to any Page, plus it’s easy for members to register, a win for everyone.

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