Words-Pictures-Web

An eMarketer Blogging about Media & Technology

Archive for the ‘Web Design’ Category

Converging on Convergence

Posted by buddyscalera on November 19, 2008

As interesting new web technologies become available, I am overwhelmed by the sheer number of sites I need to visit….just to keep them fresh. (There are some feeds and whatnot to streamline these services, but that just becomes another site to visit.)

Recently, I’ve been trying to leverage these services by incorporating features into my personal website. As web technologies pendulate toward the middle, I am one step closer to converging on convergence.

My goal is to make my personal website a little more compelling for people who come to check it out.

Examples:

  • This weekend, I added my Twitter feed to my personal website. It’s just a little piece of Flash code that I was able to drop right into my web template. Very easy and elegant. (Note: I tried to use the Javascript code, but it just kept breaking.)
  • I also added a Facebook “badge” to my homepage. It’s really basic, but it looks kind of nice.
  • Then I synched my Facebook with my Twitter. Sort of sounds dirty, doesn’t it? Anyway, now, when I post to Twitter, it automatically feeds into my Facebook “current status.” Nice.

You can check out my handiwork at: http://www.buddyscalera.com. Feel free to look at the code and see how it’s done. Very simple and easy to do, even for an HTML novice.

Eventually this blog will probably migrate over to my website too. I really like blogging here on WordPress, but I get frustrated when I can’t control my widgets or outbound links better. So, we’ll see.

Now, I am off to find new convergence tricks.

Posted in facebook, freeware, fun stuff, new media, technology, twitter, Web Design | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Techronyms for Search

Posted by buddyscalera on May 25, 2008

In the technology business, there’s a new acronym for every new product, idea, or process. They call these “techronyms.”

Anyway, I find that mnemonic tricks sometimes help me remember techronyms and people’s names.

I wanted to share a quick one that comes up all the time when I talk with people about Google Adwords and Yahoo Search Marketing. Here’s one to help you remember the difference between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

Remember that the “M” in SEM stands for “money.” The “O” in SEO is for “zero-dollars.” That’s because SEO is free.

As I think of more techronyms, I’ll post ’em. If you’ve got any, post ’em.

Posted in Google, marketing, new media, Search, SEM, SEO, techronyms, Web Design | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Want to Write Better? Ask a Designer

Posted by buddyscalera on May 4, 2008

Writers write. That’s what we do, right?

While we’re at it, maybe we should build a wall between us and those pesky Web Designers. Right? Wrong. Very wrong.

Back when I broke into this Internet business (circa 1995), there wasn’t a big difference between writers, web designers, and programmers. If you wanted to create for the web, you pretty much had to learn the technical tricks to get it up there. Basic HTML, Photoshop, etc.

To learn about design, I spent time with print designers. They taught me critical lessons about how to control the eye on the page.

The most important thing they taught me was to…write less.

Designers often use white space to draw attention to a specific element in the layout. Most designers are excited about using their talents to help you communicate your message. But if you weigh it down with too much copy, it ties their hands.

Review every sentence, headline, subhead and picture caption. Ruthlessly trim the total number of words.

If you’re developing website copy, run a draft past a designer before submitting it to your clients. Designers will help you understand how much will fit on a page…and how much will suck the life out of the design.

The web is a visual medium. And writing less copy is one of the best ways to deliver messages with visual impact.

Posted in Web Design, writing | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Tissot Thinks I’m a Dummy

Posted by buddyscalera on April 15, 2008

I love the Tissot T-Touch Watch, so I’ve been checking out their website to see when they’ll be announcing the new model. It’s a splurge, I know, but I really want one. It’s really the coolest watch on the market today.

But surfing their website, I felt a little sad. This big, powerful mega corporation thinks I’m a dummy. Dont believe me? Check out the screenshot of what popped up when I was clicking around their interactive online demo at the Tissot T-Touch website.

Dummy marketing by Tissot

I mean, so WHAT if I’m not that bright? I never claimed to be the smartestest person in the world. There’s no reason to insert insulting little messages around your site. It doesn’t exactly encourage me to buy your big, mean, bully watch.

Then again, maybe that’s the new marketing trend. Rather than tell people how smart they are for buying your brand, you can tell them how dumb they are. Maybe they call it “Dummy Marketing.” And it’s so cutting edge that they can claim a “first-to-market” status on Dummy Marketing. Brilliant!

Here, I’ll give it a try. Thanks for reading my blog, Dummy.

PS: Dummy Marketing is (c) 2008 Buddy Scalera. So there.

Posted in marketing, Web Design | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Finding purpose in your website

Posted by buddyscalera on April 5, 2008

Most businesses that want to set up a webpage have a basic sense of why they need a website. Simply: Everyone has a website, hence, I need one.

This is pretty sound reasoning. If you dont have a website, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to connect your service or brand with your potential clients.

Unfortunately the rationale stops there. That is, their website ends up being just a digital version of a Yellow Pages ad. Name, address, phone number, and a product blurb.

New technology has created ways for consumers to connect with brands. To explore them, covet them, and purchase them. A website can serve as the ultimate sales team, providing potential customers with answers, incentives, and even comparisons.

So as you work with your web developer, select someone who tries to get a deeper understanding of what you want to accomplish and how you want to tell you brand story. He should be spending a lot of time trying to understand you and your brand story.

Then he should be giving you insight into features and tools that can help you communicate your brand message. Maybe it’s a blog or viral video. Or maybe it’s just something as simple as a comparison chart or an RSS feed.

There’s usually some enhancement that can make your website a little more effective. If you’re not finding this in your web development team, then maybe you should search the web for a new team that’s in tune with your brand goals.

Posted in marketing, new media, Web Design | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Google’s Usability – Only 76%?

Posted by buddyscalera on March 23, 2008

At first, this may seem like a criticism of web usability legend Jakob Nielsen, but it’s really not. When it comes to web interface, Nielsen was a true pioneer and continues to be a voice within a world that he undeniably influenced.

No, this is a different take on the same data that he uses to inform his clients. And the industry at large, hence, probably even my clients.

A new article in SEORoundtable.com referenced a study conducted by Nielsen that “One-Fourth of All Internet Users Cannot Perform a Simple Google Search.” The lead noted that “usability expert Jakob Nielsen blogged about how difficult it is to perform a Google search

Now, considering what I know of Google, I wondered how “difficult” it can be to perform a Google search.

Anyway, according to Nielsen’s research, there is evidence that suggests that nearly 1/4 of Internet users cannot actually use Google. Now, he readily admits that 76% of the people he surveyed CAN use Google, but he’s more interested in the 24% who CANNOT.

Well, this glass-half-empty perspective is the part the grabs headlines. Listen, Nielsen is a web usability pioneer, so I am not surprised that when he talks, people listen. But this is sort of the opposite of what the headline should have been.

The headline should have read “76% of Internet Users Leverage Google.”

Consider for a moment what Google does. Based on a few words (aka keywords), Google gives you a list of websites that you might want to “visit.” Despite the fact that these are only digital destinations, we’re asking people to consider at least two abstract concepts:

  1. The idea that there are networked computers that lead to an online destination that doesn’t really exist in the real world and…
  2. There’s some kind of engine (another real world object) that helps you find this non-existent destination.

Even if people don’t need to wrap their hands around the abstractness of it all, they do learn pretty quickly how to use Google to find what they want. If 76% of people have learned how to use Google, that is a testament to the usability of the site. Heck, that’s probably significantly higher percentage of people than learned how to set the clock on their VCR.

Nielsen’s research is probably well designed and would likely stand up to research scrutiny, so it’s doubtful that it’s somehow loaded (to get a specific result). But if you look at the “task” they asked people to perform, then it’s even more impressive that they got a 76% success rate. In Nielsen’s own words, “in one of our test tasks, to find “a strong vacuum cleaner that is easy to use, can pick up pet hair, and costs under $300”)”.

Well, Google would only be one starting point in your web search. If you were a user, you might be looking to buy something, so you’d focus on shopping sites right? But if you were in a research mode, you might also try a review-oriented website.

But if you really wanted to know if it was “easy to use” you would have to look past the marketing copy. Because every vacuum cleaner will claim that it is “easy to use.”

So how do people find out if it’s easy to use? Reviews! Professional reviews, social network reviews, and user-generated reviews will tell you if something is “easy to use” which is a highly subjective qualification. Google is designed to find word matches on facts, not offer a subjective opinion on quality.

Now, back to our 76% success rate….considering the test question, Nielsen should be amazed at how many people were able to use Google to actually find information that helped them find a vacuum cleaner. What other tool has this kind of usability success rate?

Consider the huge differences in education, experience, and attitude of Internet users. Yet, Google created something simple, yet incredibly powerful, that bridges the gap between the gap of human diversity. Let’s face it, Google’s success is due in part to it’s ease of use. People like powerful tools that are simple and pleasurable to use.

Finally, this study wasn’t just about Google, it was about searching on the Internet using a search engine. Google may be the biggest player in search, but Google isn’t the whole Internet. It’s just one corporate brand that happens to dominate their category. Would those people tested know how to use Yahoo? Ask? MSN?

Also, if Nielsen polled those same people in a week, would they have still been unable to use Google? It is an exceptionally easy tool that actually fosters learning.

I deal with clients every day. Most of them do their own research, and I wonder how they will respond when they see a headline like this from an industry legend like Jakob Nielsen. Will they wonder if Google is “easy” enough to use? Will they feel that Google may not be the right channel for communicating their brand message to their target audience?

Of all people, Nielsen should have been headlining the fact that 76% of people can actually use a common tool like Google to make use of the increasingly complex Internet. Not the opposite way around.

Posted in Google, Search, Usability, Web Design | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »