June 29, 2007
June 28, 2007
The future of search
Insightful summary of a presentation from Marissa Mayer of Google on where search is headed. Especially interesting was this note:
"According to Mayer, someday in the future Google could automatically search content in all languages and present all the translated results to the user on the same page, regardless of language!"
June 27, 2007
June 26, 2007
My son sees me shaving and tells me I should use some new-fangled shave gel because he saw a commercial for it on TV and "it works great." My son is six and has never once shaved his face. I tell him that he can't believe everything he sees on TV. That some messages are just trying to get you to buy something.
I try to deconstruct some of the messages to show him what I mean:
"Four out of five dentists recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum."
My take: Most dentists would probably prefer you not chew gum at all.
"Buy this car - it received a five star side-impact rating."
My take: Maybe it loses half its value in the first year and gets terrible gas mileage.
"You may have already won $1,000,000."
My take: We're almost certain you didn't win anything.
Dudley Moore once made a movie called Crazy People in which advertising execs started telling the truth in their ads. (Volvo: They're boxy but good.) In this cynical age of transparency, in which we've been bombarded with advertising and spin our whole lives, companies can gain a lot of credibility by being brutally honest. Admit your mistake when you mess up. Make amends. But most of all, don't mislead us.
June 25, 2007
Here's one to add to your bookmarks. Have you ever had a PDF that you wanted back as a Word document? Or an Real Audio file you wanted as an mp3? Dozens of file conversions like this are made easy thanks to Zamzar.
Nothing to download, nothing to join. And best of all, it's free.
June 22, 2007
Friday fun: Name that chip
Frito-Lay is involving its customers in a new contest to name a flavor of its popular Doritos chips. After giving the chips a name, which prints right on the bag as you watch, you even have the chance to write and produce a commercial for it.
As marketers look for new and innovative ways to gain our attention, this kind of "participatory advertising" is becoming more and more common.
June 21, 2007
I hear some organizations refer to their website as "just another channel." While I think the web IS just one part of an organization's overall plan, it is, or at least can be, a game-changer.
Saying the web is just another channel - like print or radio - is like saying airplanes are just another kind of car.
The fact is, the web changes what's possible. It should force organizations to re-think their communications and marketing strategies. How will offline campaigns leverage the website and vice versa? How can the website help shape the direction of future product offerings? How can the website help us better understand, engage and involve our customers?
The great Marshall McLuhan would examine technological advances with a critical eye and ask of them certain questions. The first of these was "What does the medium extend?" The car extended what was possible by foot. The phone extended what was possible with voice. Radio and television extended the ability to disseminate information and images to mass audiences. But the web extends more than all of them. It extends what's possible with communication - enabling previously impossible methods of collaboration, learning and sharing and removing the constraints of authority, time and distance.
Yes, the web changes what's possible. Your organization's website should take advantage.
June 20, 2007
I've stumbled across a lot of stories lately about giving better presentations. As you know, selling your idea to a potential client or your internal powers-that-be is often just as important as the idea itself. Being able to communicate effectively increases the chances your idea will gain traction and be given the attention it deserves.
The format for many of these presentations is the dreaded Powerpoint. Speaking in public is hard enough. Creating an engaging visual presentation to accompany your talk makes it even more difficult.
Fortunately there are many good resources to help you give a better presentation.
As for the things to avoid, comedian Don McMillan pretty much nails it.
June 18, 2007
25 Websites to Watch
June 15, 2007
Friday fun: It's a Wonderful Internet
June 14, 2007
What's a Wiki?
June 13, 2007
The Implicit Web is Watching You
We've all seen links like "Most Popular Articles" or "Most Emailed" on a website. Or e-commerce recommendations like "You might also like this" at a place like Amazon or LL Bean.
The concept is simple: sites are becoming "smarter" and more able to present information in a personalized way. This personalization used to be done based on explicit information the user had provided - an age, a sex, a zip code, a profession. But now, more implicit, behavioral factors are feeding this revolution.
I highly recommend this article on The Implicit Web.
June 12, 2007
Once in a while we get the budget, authority and time to make something big happen - a new project or a website redesign.
But most of the time that's not the case. Our sights are lower - our tasks are smaller. We find something wrong, we fix it. We add new content to fill a gap. We improve the search results by adding meta-data.
A website is never finished. It's both a blessing and a curse. It will always need updating and always have room for improvement. Products can undergo incremental improvement too. Stamps that you don't need to lick. Notes that have sticky stuff on the back. Ketchup in a squeeze bottle. Cars with anti-lock brakes.
I enjoyed one summer I spent working construction building townhouses. I always liked the satisfaction of walking off the work site at the end of the day and being able to look at a wall or a roof that you had helped build that day. Progress was clearly visible. That's not always the case when your job involves pushing paper (or pixels). But by making the little things a little better, we can get that same sense of daily accomplishment in the digital age.
June 11, 2007
And he never even saw Wikipedia...
June 8, 2007
Friday fun: Accidental discoveries
June 6, 2007
Much has been written in the past few days on the logo for the 2012 London Olympics. People have called it horrible, ugly, a waste of money, etc.
Seth Godin chimes in today with his thoughts on logos. In short: a logo is just a empty visual. It gets filled in with meaning by the product or company.
I agree. But that's still a pretty ugly logo.
June 5, 2007
June 4, 2007
Scale-ability: Wait gain
My wife has a weigh scale in our bathroom that's pretty neat. You enter your sex and height and it gives you back your weight and estimated percentage of body fat.
Believe it or not, my problem with this device is not with the numbers that it gives me (although they could be better). My problem is how difficult the thing is to use. There are only two buttons on the face which looks nice and simple. But simple only works in product design if the experience is as simple as it looks.
Here's what I have to do to use my wife's scale:
- Push Set (default choice is "Adult")
- Push Set to choose Adult
- Toggle the arrow button twice to show "Male"
- Push Set to choose Male
- Hit the arrow button 19 times (or hold it down and wait for fast-forward) to enter my height (the default height is 4 feet, 4 inches!)
- Hit Set
- Jump on, hold still and wait.
Ugh. I think I lost weight (and patience) doing all that.
This scale is only used by my wife and me. Our sexes and heights don't change. Yet we have to re-enter them every time as if we've never used the scale before.
Your website's visitors can get equally frustrated if you repeatedly ask them to give you the same information. User experience expectations have risen greatly over the last few years. Customers expect you to know and remember them.