August, 2008

August 31, 2008 | Jon Gilbertson: Three Strikes

Being a customer service professional, I’m constantly studying service experiences. Analyzing each experience to determine its good and bad points and using that information in my own profession to improve the level of service I provide or that of my team members through training. I feel I’m fair and actually more tolerant than most customers because I understand the challenges customer service professionals face every day. That said, I recently had not one, but three less than stellar customer experiences all within an hour and all at different merchants. It was as if it was orchestrated as some sort of training field trip…I was not impressed! Let’s start with a little history.

August 31, 2008 | Ron Lee: Financial Powerhouses Team Up to Test Mobile Text Marketing

image In a move sure to catch the attention of bankers, marketers and retailers, Visa and Chase announced a pilot test of text-message (SMS) based marketing offers from Phoenix-area merchants to be sent to the mobile devices of Chase Visa credit and debit card holders.

August 31, 2008 | Greg Ness: Einstein Talks At TED

August 30, 2008 | Erik Uetz: How Do You Browse? Take My Poll!

Computer screen technology has seen big improvements in the last few years. Old, bulky tube-based monitors, once the only type of monitor available, are nearly extinct. Flat panels have become big, cheap, and ubiquitous. Average screen resolutions are larger than they've ever been before. According to OneStat, as of April 2007, only 8% of online computers were set to an 800x600 screen resolution or lower.

Larger screens allow you to fit more on the screen at once. You can put documents side by side, open more palettes, or view more photos at once. They give you a lot more room to stretch out.

There's a feature in Windows that was added before there were high-resolution screens: the 'maximize' button. It's the button at the top right corner of every window that stretches the window to completely fill the screen, allowing the use of only one window at a time. The maximized mode (or single-window mode) is still popular, even on the big 24 to 30 inch screens.

My follow-up post will touch on the implications maximized windows on big screens have for web developers. Before that, I'd like to conduct a little (non) scientific poll. The information from this poll is valuable because it comes from all of you: a wide range of real people reading articles on the web.

(By the way, did you know a few months ago a feature was added to Google Docs that allows you to create forms that can be emailed or embedded on a web page? The data from the form is put into a Google Spreadsheet. I decided to use this poll to demonstrate how useful this feature can be. To learn more, follow the link just below the form.)

August 30, 2008 | Greg Ness: Where Marketing Is Headed

Steve Rubel at Micro Persuasion blog highlights three key trends that will shape our future media landscape:

1) The Attention Crash
2) Social Networks Become “Like Air”
3) Google: The Reputation Engine

These trends, and more, are discussed in a report (pdf here) from the North American New Media Academic Summit hosted by Edelman in June.

August 29, 2008 | Greg Ness: Why To-Do Lists Run Into Trouble

Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take Hofstadter’s Law into account.

Murphy’s Law: If anything can go wrong, it will.

Finagle’s Law (a refinement of Murphy’s Law): Anything that can go wrong, will—at the worst possible moment.

Hanlon’s Razor (a corollary to Finagle’s Law): Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Callahan’s Principle (a corollary to Hanlon’s Razor): You can’t argue with stupid. [But just think how much time people waste trying.]

August 29, 2008 | Darin Livdahl: Mozilla Labs Experiments with Ubiquity

Mozilla Labs recently introduced an innovative project called Ubiquity that enables the use of simple language to further connect the Web and empower users. Ubiquity comes in the form of a prototype Firefox extension and its interface is a simple command-line overlay in which a user can type such things as “email this to Joe.”

August 28, 2008 | Greg Ness: Great Concept, Superb Art Direction


Thanks for the point to this advertising campaign, Paula. These four ads (check the link above for others in the series) demonstrate some insightful thinking to communicate down-the-road benefits provided by this construction company’s efforts. Bravo.

August 26, 2008 | Greg Ness: The Brand Experience and the Peak-End Rule

Credit Michael Johnston

The Peak-End Rule was put forward by psychologist and Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman. He postulated that “we judge our past experiences almost entirely on how they were at their peak (pleasant or unpleasant) and how they ended. Virtually all other information appears to be discarded, including net pleasantness or unpleasantness and how long the experience lasted.”

There is a lesson for those who are trying to improve their brand and user experience.

August 22, 2008 | Paul Bourdeaux: ANT and duplicate files in archives

ANT is one of the most common tools used by software developers today.  One of the reasons that is is so popular is because it can do anything.  I’m serious.  I bet there is an ant task somewhere that can compile my files, package them in jars, do my laundry, and pick the kids up form daycare.  OK, so maybe it isn’t quite that robust, but it is pretty close.  However, with great ability comes the increased likelihood of great failures in design, and I may have just found one in ANT. 

The tasks to create archive files (zip, jar, war, etc) allow multiple files of the same fully-qualified name to exist within a single archive - by default.

August 22, 2008 | Dean Froslie: Does Your Content Solve Problems?

Online content continually lets us down, but organizations can appeal to users by solving problems instead of delivering sales messages.

August 21, 2008 | Mark Sjurseth: Android closer to final release

It’s a big week for Android. Google finally released a new version of the Android SDK that is reported to be close to what developers can expect from the final 1.0 release later this year. Just after upgrading to 0.9, our own application busted just as the release notes warned it might. Our application is still fairly small so porting to 0.9 was trivial. It’s a small price to pay for what we get with Android 0.9 SDK.

August 19, 2008 | Sara Litton: iPod-enabled wardrobe is on this year’s back-to-school list

It’s back to school time, and frazzled parents are busy with their shopping checklists: New backpack with a zillion pockets— check; new trendy shoes – check;  fancy scientific calculator— check; and the must-have for 2008: iPod enabled jacket with five-function keypad controller discretely attached to your MP3 player—check!

August 18, 2008 | Paul Bourdeaux: Should We Really Be Exposing Our Data As A Service?

ADO.NET Data Services (better known by its Project code name “Astoria”) was released with SP1 for .NET.  The idea behind ADO .NET is that it exposes data, represented as Entity Data Model (EDM) objects, via web services accessed over HTTP.  But is exposing the data this way really a good idea?  I tend to agree with Arnon Rotem-Gal-Oz, and think that this is a horrible design idea.

August 11, 2008 | Sara Litton: E-Textbooks Coming To A College Laptop Near You

The class of 2012 appears to be the largest class of students to hit the college scene. This fall, they will be making their presence known nationwide at 13.6 million students strong. Estimates show that these four-year college students will spend around $4,000 on books throughout their college career. But now, a new eBook service from CafeScribe claims to be a new, easier, greener and less expensive service with which to buy textbooks.

August 11, 2008 | Greg Ness: The First Step In Great Branding: Insight

Here’s a recent quote from Allen Adamson’s blog (author of BrandSimple and the soon-to-be-released BrandDigital):

“The first step in any good brand strategy, the first step to becoming a successful brand, is to get significant and useful insight about your customers. What, as a brand, can you offer that is relevant to them and is different from what they already experience?...In the brand world, understanding what the people want and delivering it better than the next guy is the real heart of gold.”

August 10, 2008 | Greg Ness: The Contextual Web Is Coming And Mobile Is At The Heart Of It

Excuse the fact that this presentation deck is 320 slides: a virtual summary white paper on the mobile revolution to come. And pardon the fact that a few of the slides are difficult to read. In spite of these minor distractions, this presentation from Brian Fling is a good compilation and expansion of other information I’ve seen regarding the impact mobile will have on our society.

August 09, 2008 | Greg Ness: How To Plan Ahead 500 Years

Via PSFK et al.

August 08, 2008 | Greg Ness: Advertising Needs To Match The Experience

Brands are built on experience, not advertising and marketing. As much as those of us in the marketing industry would like to believe that good advertising will overcome a mediocre or poor brand experience, it just doesn’t work that way.

There is an old adage, “Nothing will kill a bad product faster than good advertising.” It’s true. All a good ad can do is compel you to try something. However, if you do try a product, service, or place and you end up having a disappointing experience then you are gone, and any future advertising for that product – no matter how good it is – is subject to suspicion and disbelief. That disappointing experience could be at a retail establishment, on a website, at a trade show, with a B2B vendor, or actually using a product or service.

August 07, 2008 | Paul Bourdeaux: “Perfectly Understandable” Code Still Needs Comments

Recently, Jeff Atwood of Coding Horror attacked the idea of over commenting code. In his blog, he asserts that “Junior developers rely on comments to tell the story when they should be relying on the code to tell the story.” I actually agree with this statement, but one should be wary of trying to make the code tell the whole story. Often times, code that is perfectly understandable to you may not be to somebody else.

August 06, 2008 | Greg Ness: How To Fail: Dish vs. DirecTV

It has always seemed to be a close race between Dish and DirecTV satellite networks, but lately it appears DirecTV is pulling ahead (see Business Week article). According to the BW article, here’s the reason:

“How did pay-TV’s most aggressive player arrive at this juncture? By failing to see the world changing around him. Ergen [Dish Network’s CEO], 55, focused on keeping costs low (he famously requires executives to share hotel rooms on business trips) and declined to bid for the pro football and Nascar programming that DirecTV offers exclusively to sports-loving satellite subscribers. He skimped on marketing even as DirecTV and the cable and phone companies hired actors and star athletes to hawk their services. He missed the high-definition revolution, concentrating instead on flashy technology, such as set-top boxes that can control TVs in two separate rooms. DirecTV, meanwhile, lured new subscribers with dozens more channels in crystal-clear high-definition.”

Dish Network’s actions seem like an object lesson in how to fail. They missed the mark on both technology and marketing.

August 05, 2008 | Sara Litton: Six Reasons Why Mobile Marketing Works

The consumer-worshiped mobile phone has emerged as a viable marketing channel that has marketing executives salivating. It already is creating new and effective ways to reach and connect with consumers at anytime from anywhere.  Here are six reasons why mobile phone marketing is fast becoming a powerful marketing tactic.

August 01, 2008 | Greg Ness: In 5 Years, 90% of E-Commerce Sites Will Use Some SaaS Solutions

Gartner Research released a report today that predicted 90 percent of e-commerce websites will use at least one software as a service (SaaS) solution by 2013. In addition, they forecast 40 percent of e-commerce sites will use an all-SaaS solution by that same time frame.

E-commerce SaaS-based services can include things such as web stores, accounting, shipping, product reviews, product recommendations and “social sales capabilities.”