Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Finding A Good Web Designer Is Easy With MWD

Many potential clients don't know much about web design and can feel lost when it comes to finding a good web designer. Confusing "tech-speech", hidden costs; charging outrageous fees and committing clients to long term "update" charges and proprietary software packages that only they can use, often turn off potential clients and worse, landing some in financial crisis!

Knowing what makes an effective website is only half the battle. Communication with the designer is crucial.

Here is some verbiage to understand as you seek a designer:

• Dynamic Content (Interactive features on a website. The content the user sees is sometimes updated based upon the users input. Dynamic content can be information stored in a database, user input, or even cookies. Forms and a Search option on a site are perfect examples of dynamic content.)
• Search Engine (A program (website) designed to search a database of information from and about other websites. Google, Yahoo and others use this kind of program to create a directory of sites which you can then search through.)
• HTML (how to write the code that displays the website)
• CSS (Cascading Style Sheets - controls font colors and sizes and removes code bloat)
• Server (A computer that delivers web pages to users. It is the "computer" where website files (the whole website) reside and are accessed through the Internet. A server can also be called a host or node.)
• SEO (Search Engine Optimizaztion - how to get top ranking in search engines for your keywords)
• Graphic Design (The design of logos, navigation graphics and editing images)
• Composite (Comps) (The look of the website without actually creating it. This is achieved with graphics only, and is usually presented to the client in printed form or as an attachment in an email.
• Contact Page (The page in a website that contains all information as to how to contact a business or individual. This usually includes a mailing address, phone number, fax number, email addresses and any other criteria that may be necessary. This page can also include a map and directions.)
• Content (The body of a web page. Content includes words, selling points, graphics, animations, etc. that do not comprise the framework of the page. This is the information that changes from page to page.)
• Debugging (Detecting, locating and correcting errors or problems in a computer program or web site.)
• Forms (Interactive elements which allow a user to input information to be utilized by the website. Forms can be used to gather information supplied by the user in order to help the user interact with various components within the site.)
• Homepage (The entry page to a website, also known as the index page. Often mistakenly referred to as the "Portal" page.)
• Hosting (Most commonly thought of as the place (think of a heavy-duty computer) where your website's files reside. An Internet host has a unique Internet address (IP address) and a unique domain name or host name. A host can also refer to a Web hosting company.)
• Marketing (The process of planning and executing the promotion of a website via printed and other media, and the Internet. How you make others aware that your website exists.)

Some things to look for while looking for a designer:
Is the designer's website professional looking and clean cut or is it full of Google ads and affiliate banners or links at the top of the home page?
If it's the latter keep looking for another web designer because they are attempting to gain a living via advertising instead of their web design skills.

Do they claim "award winning" designers?
Anyone can apply for a web design award and often get one because these award sites usually offer awards with one goal in mind - getting links back to their website. Emblems from web design guilds may look impressive, however if you check into the means to attain these you will see that most of them charge a fee for membership with minimal requirements, and thus anyone with the most basic web design skills can gain awards or buy memberships and that is not always proof they are quality designers. That can be better assertained by the guidelines offered in this article.

Do they Guarantee a Top Listing in the Search Engines?
No. Genuine web designer can guarantee a top listing in search engines and especially on Google because they change their algorithyms often. What used to work last week may not work next week as Google is preventing any methods that attempt to manipulate their search engine. A top listing can usually be achieved by providing unique and interesting content on the web pages, by the designer having a good knowledge of SEO and by submitting the site to numerous other websites so it has adequate links. Some designer sites are SEO Ripoffs and use spam techniques that will get your website banned.

Do they provide Site Hosting?
A web designer that boasts hosting is known as a reseller for a large hosting company. This means they have bought a large space on their host site and they host the sites they design in that space (i.e., shared hosting), and they will be your sole tech support. Sometimes they have a computer they use for a server in their home. Either way this is not a good idea because if they get sick or their computer breaks down your web site will be down also. Often they do not keep up with expensive hardware or software upgrades to prevent hacking attemps and other problems and thus your website will be more vulnerable than if it was on a real host.

Are they in your country?
It's not so important that a designer be in the same city as most design communication can be covered by phone or email. However if they are in another country you may have problems if they don't complete the job after you paid them (and no legal recourse) you're screwed. Check their contact page for phone, address and email to make sure they are in the same country.

Most important: Looking at a designer's own website is not always proof of their ability because they may be too busy to keep their own website updated. Looking at their web design portfolio will give you a better idea of their skill level.

Before you look at a large agency (which often farm out web designers), your neighbor's kid, or someone in your office that knows a little Microsoft Word, please contact Mark Wolfe Design!

The Anatomy of an Agency Infographic

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs 1955 - 2011

By now we've all heard of the passing of Steve Jobs. We've all lost a truly great mind that can never be replaced. One of the reasons I have always loved using Apple, is that it was always engineered and promoted with an elegance, design and sense of quality never before seen by technology or the public. Not every one gets it, but those who do are participants of a special group who appreciate quality, aesthetics, performance and marketing.

Apple under Steve Jobs was bolstered by people who were MBA's and marketing specialists. This set Apple apart from the mainstream at the time. This made the mainstream work harder and employ those elements to their products.

Design, quality, understanding the market and being true to your values. What a concept. That's why I love Apple and that is how I approach my work. MWD and Apple sort of grew up together and during that time I've tried to learn from Steve and Apple. Hopefully I will still continue MWD with these core values and strive to be an active apostle of these for years to come.

Thanks, Steve.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Creating a virtuous circle with search and social media: a Q-and-A with GroupM Search CEO Chris Copeland

This blog series, featuring interviews with speakers from the SES Conference & Expo, scheduled Aug. 15 to 19 in San Francisco,  is brought to you by Incisive Media.

This Q-and-A is with GroupM Search CEO Chris Copeland.

How do you see the influence of social media changing search engine marketing?

Research we’ve conducted looking at the impact these channels have on one another suggests that search has an authority to it and that consumers are becoming more and more reliant on the views of others, whether or not they are trusted friends in the social graph. With that being said, it makes sense that Google and Bing continue to move toward a model where third-party opinions factor into the relevance of a results page and help keep consumers from abandoning search as their decision tool of choice.

In the future, I expect two things to happen:  1) the signals will get better thanks to scale and data and create an even greater need for brand-owned assets to be optimized across social media for search inclusion; and 2) social media will begin to be more like search with relevance and intent forming experiences more so than ever before.

When companies are trying to figure out the return on their social media investment, should they be taking the intersection of search and social into account? How so?

In 2009, we released a study that showed a 94% increase in search (click-through rate) for three advertisers when consumers saw the brand’s social media in-channel as well as search listing. So, if a brand wants to give attribution to a channel for its impact on search performance, the social channel is a good one to consider. It is clear that a virtuous circle exists between the channels with consumers bouncing from one to the other to fulfill their research needs on the pathway to making a decision.

What advice would you give companies looking to use paid, earned and owned media as part of a single campaign? How do you make those components harmonious?

When it comes down to digital signposts, outcomes and measurement are important. We see each step of a consumer’s journey as an opportunity put a sign out to direct them to their next encounter with a brand. Consumers are willing to shift between mediums from paid to owned and earned platforms to expand their knowledge and make the best decisions. Brands need to have a strategy for connecting and execute on this strategy by determining the right media type for the moment.

There are obvious times when in order to create scale and establish reach, paid media is the best solution. But, more and more often we see consumers wanting opinions from their social graph and beyond using social media and the wisdom of an earned response from a community built up on behalf of a brand. The data and measurement components validate the process. If brands cannot measure the movement and connectivity between their brand and consumers, they have lost sight of their own relevance in the process and then outcomes will be questionable.

How can businesses use the data they’re getting from their search and social marketing efforts to improve their marketing efforts? How do you create a virtuous circle?

Search has been the single biggest Petri dish of consumer intelligence for the better part of a decade. Every search is an expression of consumer intent. Every click is a response (positively or negatively, depending on whether or not they clicked your ad) to the connection your brand tried to create and their intent. Now, social layers in their ability to follow information, share information and take up arms as an activist on your brand’s behalf. The combination of intent expressed and relevancy between the consumer and a brand cannot be gathered anywhere else compared to the depth and degree that search and social offers today. This can shape everything, including your future marketing efforts, by tightening up the connection points via signposts on the journey. It can also shape future product development and macro business decisions. The data, when measured properly, is just that powerful.

Can a corporate blog place too much emphasis on SEO? How does one find the line?

Priority needs to be given to your owned assets based on the role you want them to play in the journey consumers are taking. If your brand is built on hearing from the authority of your own people in a confined setting, then you should optimize it to the fullest. If you believe that third-party opinions and a variety of experience beyond blog formatted text are important, then you have to find balance. No one sign will get people from A-to-Z, so the weight you give to SEO efforts should be proportionate to the impact and influence that asset will have on your brand in helping customers reach the final step of a journey to engagement.

Related Posts:

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

5 Tips for Using Humor in Your Social Media Activities | Social Media Examiner

5 Tips for Using Humor in Your Social Media Activities

Published July 28, 2011 Printer-Friendly

social media how to

Can you remember something funny? Humor can go a long way with social media.

Are you considering using humor with your social media activities? If so, this article reveals some tips to get you on the right track.

Why humor?

It’s no surprise that using humor in advertising is an effective way to connect with your audience and humanize your brand or company, but what about using it for social media?

Adding humor to your social media strategy can be a great way to get people’s attention.

If you appeal to your audience emotionally, you’ll have a much better chance that they will further engage with your brand or product. Doing so will help your customers remember you, share your content and have a better understanding of what you stand for.

Finally, an emotional appeal differentiates you from the millions of other companies out there bombarding their social channels with nothing but self-promotion.

If you’re not “humorizing” your brand, product or business, then you might be missing out on a ton of unseen potential.

Here are 5 tips to help you get started:

#1: Ask yourself WWJD?

(What Would Jerry Do?)

Jerry Seinfeld has a simple formula for comedy. He takes everyday situations and asks himself, “What’s funny about this?” Apply this type of thinking to your brand, product or company.

A perfect example of this is Otterbox, a manufacturer of protective gear for handheld devices. Check out how they take a seemingly boring product and make it funny as hell.

#2: Keep it clean

Steer clear of controversial topics and jokes in bad taste. A good example is earlier this year, fashion designer Kenneth Cole tried to be funny but instead won the award for most insensitive tweet of the year.

kenneth cole

The offending tweet was eventually removed entirely from Cole's feed, and a statement about the incident was posted on his Facebook fan page.

#3: Wittiness is terribly underrated

Twitter and Facebook updates can go a long way with the right quip. Use your wittiness to compete against big budgets. Here are three perfect examples of how the wit is mightier than the ad dollar.

Here’s a tweet from “Rebel Red,” part of the www.MiddleSisterWines.com.

rebel red

Their philosophy: Smile! It won't mess up your hair.

A witty take on a popular quote for a Facebook update from Cups and Cakes Bakery.

cups and cakes

Join them on Saturdays for Cupcake Super Happy Hour!

And a brilliantly funny Facebook update from Boccalone: Tasty Salted Pig Parts.


Known for their authentic Italian sandwiches.

#4: Just because your company is serious doesn’t mean all marketing has to be

Don’t take yourself too seriously. Poke fun at yourself by doing a parody of your company or your industry. HubSpot wears their marketing mullet loud and proud—mixing the business up front with the party in the back. Check out how they spoofed social media with Foursquare Cops.

And in this video parody, IBM had some fun with Art of the Sale.

#5: The best humor comes naturally

Experiment by recording video interviews with quirky customers and employees. Again I reference Otterbox as they apply this principle very well. Check out:

Being Funny Is a Risk

Some people might not appreciate your company’s brand of humor. Business owners need to observe their target audience to make sure humor fits.

Being funny may not work for healthcare, financial services or any highly regulated industry.

The target market must always be considered. Running tests and focus groups to gather feedback is always a great idea. Try using an online survey to test your attempt at humor against an internal audience before you send it out. Comedy is subjective so don’t expect to please everyone.

Using humor in social media levels the playing field between big-budget creative ad agencies and a clever marketer. Try having fun with your social messaging. You’ll know it’s working when your customers enthusiastically reply, “That’s gold, Jerry!”

What do you think? If you’re using humor with your social media, let us know how it’s working for you. Leave your comments in the box below.


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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hiring a Social Media Agency? Read this First! | Social Media Explorer

News Flash: Not everyone who says they understand or have used social media actually knows what they are talking about.

I know, that’s not much of a news flash for many of us. We’ve been watching as this tremendous growth of social media has created a mass-market of companies selling huge lines of BS to brands who honestly don’t know the right questions to ask. They are like really smooth men with pick up lines that are so brilliant you don’t even see them coming. They know if a company is looking for help with social media, it is likely because they don’t understand it themselves. Therefore, if they talk in buzz words and “fake it ‘till they make it” the company will never realize they are clueless.

This is so prolific you can’t really point a finger in one direction. I’ve seen it with agencies, I’ve seen it within corporations, and I’ve seen it amongst “consultants.”  And honestly, it isn’t that these are bad people per se, they are simply trying to capitalize on a market that is booming and trying to learn as fast as they can. That’s just capitalism taking its natural course. However, it can be really unfair for companies who are placing a tremendous amount of confidence in these providers to not at least have a clear understand of their real capabilities.  Therefore, this post will provide a list of “red flag” pick up lines I’m seeing a lot.

Social Media Red Flag Pick Up Lines

Social media is a great strategy for every company. If you don’t have a social media strategy you will be left behind.

Social media isn’t the “right” answer for every company. There are several factors to consider before diving into a social media strategy. Do you have the resources to support a social media strategy for the long-term? Are there natural places within your current marketing strategy where social media can be integrated? Are there conversations happening about your industry already?

You must have a presence on Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and…

There is no magic list of social media channels that applies to every company and industry. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are not the end all be all of social media and for many companies they are the “wrong” places to be. The big question here is whether or not your audience is actually “participating” in a social media channel. If they are which ones are they using? The reality is that for many industries Facebook and Twitter are not the right channels, but represent a drain on resources that could be better allocated to social media sites where their audience actually participates.

We will manage your entire social media presence for you…it’s effortless for you

There are definitely companies that will do this for you, but it raises a huge red flag. Social media isn’t about pushing out a bunch of marketing messages, it’s about engaging in conversation.  Who would you allow to have a direct conversation with your customers and prospects? What kind of training is involved before you let someone pick up the phone for the first time? Allowing a social media provider to manage all of your social media channels without active engagement and commitment from your team to support them can be disastrous.

We developed a strategy for Company X that led to over a bazillion fans

Anytime a provider uses the number of fans or followers or views as a gauge for the success of a campaign, I throw up a little in my mouth.  Were the fans and followers relevant to the company? Did the people who viewed your video do anything as a result? Did any of these people do anything that actually contributed to the financial goals of the company?

We have an experienced social media team

Unfortunately, this is more often than not a bold faced lie. There aren’t enough people who have successfully created, implemented and measured a social media strategy for a business to work for all of these providers who are making these claims. I’ve seen this range from people who have no “real” experience in social media to a team of fresh out of college “interns” being managed by one person who has a little bit of experience. Make sure to ask exactly who will be working on your account and how much experience “each one” has in social media. Also, make sure to ask what companies they have developed and implemented social media strategies for. You will likely have some junior people in the mix, but you should have at least one who has been in the space long enough to know their elbow from their “rhymes with smash hole.”

Social media is special. Your current marketing strategies won’t work, that’s why you need us.

Social media is another tool in your marketing tool kit. It isn’t any more special that email marketing or paid search advertising. Each one of these requires and understanding of what you want to accomplish and a clear understanding of how it can help you reach your business objectives. Social media isn’t any different. In many cases, social media will compliment your current marketing strategies with a little twist.

Social media is the only marketing strategy you need.

Social media is not a silver bullet. It will not fix problems within your current marketing strategy and quite frankly it is more likely shine a big red light on them. It is also not the “only” marketing strategy a company should use. Good marketing is a combination of smart strategy and well-thought out tactics that are executed within marketing channels where their prospects and customers play. Putting all of your eggs in the social media basket is extremely risky.

If you don’t know a lot about social media and need some help, that’s okay. But make sure you prepare yourself so you hire a solid provider who can contribute to your goals. There are some really solid providers out there if you look hard enough. The best tip I can give you is to ask for specific examples and references. Then actually check them. Otherwise, there are plenty of people who have some great ocean front property in Arizona they’d like to sell you.

Have you heard some really bad social media pick up lines? Are you seeing a lot of social media snake oil out there? What raises a red flag for you? How can you help someone select a legitimate social media provider? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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Tagged as: Facebook, Marketing strategy, Social Media, social media agency, Social Media Marketing, social media strategy, social media tips, Twitter

About Nichole Kelly

Nichole Kelly

Nichole Kelly is a social media measurement speaker, consultant and coach. She is also the publisher of FullFrontalROI.com, where she shows how to measure and multiply social media ROI. Don’t be shy … Join the conversation with Nichole on Twitter @Nichole_Kelly.

Other posts by Nichole Kelly

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Beyond the billboard: The future of out-of-home advertisements [infographic] - Holy Kaw

The traditional billboard is getting a face lift. The advertising game has had to adapt to modern technology in other portals, and now out-of-home advertising isn’t far behind. Digital billboards are just the beginning; be prepared for multisensory and personalized ads whenever you leave the house. We explore what you can expect in the infographic below.

(Click on the infographic below to learn more.)

Via Column Five for BuySellAds

Like infographics? So do we.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Obey Plagiarist Shepard Fairey

The recent decision by a judge to clear street artist Shepard Fairey poses some troubling scenarios in the future regarding what is art and what is stealing. This site I found illustrates very well where creation leaves creator and vice versa:

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Comedy Central's New Logo Looks More Like... | Gather

Yet another knee-jerk, corporate move to make an established logo that was well liked and well known, well, more corporate.

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Starbucks unveils new logo - Holy Kaw!

This is a case of stream-lining a logo too much. The brand is well known, but the logo is a major reason most people are initially drawn to this product. Starbucks touts this as a way to incorporate all of their products under one brand, but the Starbucks name is just as powerful as the logo art. To take the Corporate name away from the mermaid art is very risky. I'm not sure if this works for me, a long-term fan, but it may be a sign of how other corporate brands follow suit.

Two tragic examples of branding changes that people rejected recently were The Gap from last year: http://tinyurl.com/2eg6ux5, and the orange juice company, Tropicana back in 2009: http://tinyurl.com/qfucjq.

The corporation is often chided as being too dominant and, well corporate. This logo literally solidifies this opinion and is unwise.

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HowStuffWorks "10 Awesome Ad Campaigns You've Never Heard Of"

awesome ad
George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images
Everyone's heard of the "Pause that Refreshes" Coca-Cola campaign -- which is why it's not included in this list.

There are a lot of innovative and creative minds toiling in the field of advertising today. Thanks to the advent of user-friendly desktop image manipulation and design programs like Photoshop and Illustrator, bending reality to an ad executive's whims is easier than ever. Because of these two factors, agencies worldwide have been churning out a treasure trove of awesome advertisements.

But not all of these ads make their way across the globe. Due to social mores, some are too racy for some Western sensibilities. Others speak more to a particular nationality or cultural group than others. And some, on the other hand, are hyper local; the campaign is too expensive to create more than a single billboard in one location.

Whatever the cause, some of the great ad campaigns around the world don't make it across all borders. As such, we present 10 of the better ad campaigns that may have slipped below the radar.

The one in Columbus was amazing.

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