The format of this year’s conference is tons better than last year. The atmosphere of the Brewery is great, and the food (which is also outstanding) at the break times gives people a chance to talk to each other and network. It has been much easier this year to meet people and talk to other designers.
It’s really hard to choose a favourite speaker because they’re all so great! I think jQuery for Designers is probably going to have the most impact on my day to day work because it has encouraged me to take a new step into jQuery.
The design clinic time was great, and it was a wonderful opportunity to talk to designers you really respect. I got some great feedback from Mike Kus, who has to be one of my all time favourite web designers because of his original work.
Definitely had to be font.com’s sponsor slot. Not only were they the ugliest slides of the day, the introduction was dated (we know about using @font-face already) and then followed by a whole sales pitch on why we should all buy their service. It was very amusing to see the tweets coming in during the talk!
Don’t get me wrong, their service is great and no doubt I’ll be using it soon, but the talk and presentation definitely gets labelled the worst, after everything else was so amazing.
More to come tomorrow, but in summary…
(I’ll add links to slideshows and downloads as I get them)
Play. Destroy. Create. from Brendan Dawes
I loved his reference to maths and nature, and seeing how he had turned that into something new. It’s about observing things like the trend of technical stuff to non techy people. Some of the things he was showing was simply play to explore and provoke reactions. He encouraged us to play, have passion and love what we do!
How to Get Started with CSS3 from Dan Cederholm
After doing a lot of CSS3 work already, I wasn’t expecting to get much from this session, but was very pleasantly surprised. I now have a list of things I want to try, tools to use, and new ideas generated from this session. Definitely ideal for people new to CSS3, but still lots of great stuff in there for those of us who have already been using it.
Accessibility in Web Design Robin Christopherson
I’ve seen Robin speak a few times, and each time he has something new and very informative. This time he encouraged mobile versions of websites, as the format of them is also much more accessible. He also encouraged the use of Text Captcha because it’s accessible, free and offers a comprehensive API. You Tube are now also providing automatic captioning on their videos!
Making things usable is not enough – we should also make them enjoyable. Don’t compromise on the base needs for t»he user, but look for ways you can add that extra layer of emotive enjoyment – like the Mailchimp quotes!
UX Masterclass with Web Standardistas Web Standardistas
This flowed on really well from the Emotional Interface Design and looked at the secret for making something that is usable really great. The secret is YOU!
Smart Tips for Wireframing Brad Haynes
As much effort needs to be put into offline follow-up as your website itself. You are the main event of your website, and whether or not you follow up enquiries is a huge reflection on your organisation as a whole.
I like to use a website contact form because they’re quick and easy. It’s not always convienient to pick up the phone, especially when you may be on hold for half an hour.
Lately I have had a couple of enquiries for Camden City Council. Although I get an instant confirmation email (from email@example.com) it includes a disclaimer reading “If you do not hear directly from the team involved within 10 working days you may contact the Central Complaints unit direct on….”
If it was suitable for me to call them then I would have in the first place, but for whatever reason I have chosen to email them, and it’s not unreasonable to expect a reply. I still have not had a proper response from them about my enquiries.
These are just 2 examples; unanswered enquiries happen all the time. It’s so common that you’re probably thinking “Well that’s what you get from filling in an enquiry form.”
But I have huge faith in websites, and I know encouraging contact is the main goal of many sites – so why is this rudeness acceptable and website enquiries go ignored?
Janey at Basically Black is an example of how to do offline follow-through well. We recently did a survey of her customers and almost everyone said how friendly and helpful she had been with choosing sizes, placing orders and managing returns.
It’s no surprise she’s seeing a lot of repeat customers and verbal recommendations – and it’s a shame others are missing the trick.
Datadial are pleased to announce the launch of their online reputation monitoring tool. Designed for business and agencies that wish to monitor the online profiles of their brand, products, key staff and competitors.
We have designed the user interface to be as intuitive as possible, with an emphasis on speed of use and productivity, while at the same time a feature-rich interface gives in-depth data about the source of mentions and enables you to tag, comment or share mentions for further action.
- This service should be seen as part of any effective online marketing strategy.
- You will be able to track and measure what is being said.
- Armed with this information you will be able to see the effectiveness of your campaigns, gain customer insight, learn how your brand, products and services are being perceived and also join in the conversation and, if necessary, react to any adverse publicity.
- The results will help you with planning for future campaigns, enabling fine-tuning and therefore saving you money.
At this point the software is still at a beta stage, so we are inviting as much user feedback and suggestions as possible on design and functionality. Signup to track one phrase is free, so please go here to signup for an account.
Thank you to Steff for passing on this lovely graphic illustrating the differences between Helvetica and Arial.
I’ve just returned from a frantic couple of days at SMX London. As usual there were some really great discussions on the current trends in search marketing, SEO and Social Media. Many of these made more sense in the bar afterwards for some reason. There will be a complete roundup of the best tips coming over the next couple of days.
Certainly the most thought-provoking session of the day for me, the original version of this was made in 2005, and it’s scary to think how close to reality many of the events and prediction in the short actually are, and how many aren’t too far from reality.
April 20th, 2009.
A bold statement to make maybe, and a few months ago I would have laughed at anyone making such a claim, but over the past few weeks and months Twitter has evolved into something unique that Google, and indeed no other search engine has managed to achieve.
Lets get one thing straight – Google is still the search engine to beat when it comes to archiving vast quantities of historical information and giving users a simple interface to retrieve this stored data. If you want to find expert reviews of that new LCD TV that you’re thinking of buying, research your homework, find that website that you can’t quite remember the URL of, look for a good cheesecake recipe, and whole host of other search query types, then Google is your first port of call.
However, where Twitter is coming into its own is enabling its users to get real-time access to information from real people.
Three main factors have contributed to Twitters strength in this area and will act as barriers to entry for others,
1. Twitter turns users into publishers – on Twitter people are the key. Everyone using the service is a publisher. Posting information, ideas and facts that effect and relate to them.
2. Achieved a critical mass – over the past few months the enormous growth of the Twitter user base means that with the huge amount of information being published every day by a massive number of users now increase the chances are that someone will have posted on the subject you’re looking for, and if needed you can even contact them directly.
3. Mobility – The concise nature of the service means that it is one of the first web services that is truly suited to use away from the computer and gives people the ability to post and access information on the go.
One of the first examples that brought home the power of the service to me personally was when travelling through London a couple of weeks ago only to experience the usual travel chaos.Â A quick Twitter search on my phone revealed that depressingly there had been a fatality, and the station was unlikely to reopen for some time. With the use of Twitter I was even able to meet up at a bar with some friends who were also stuck in the area, and we then got updated via a Twitter travel service when the station had reopened.
Twitter isn’t just suited to turning miserable Friday evening travel chaos into drinking sessions. Even the major news outlets are waking up to realise the power of the service. During the G20 protests in London, Sky News, who were the first to announce a dedicated Twitter correspondent, dispatched three ‘Twitter reporters’ into the area who were tasked with reporting up to the minute news via their Tweets and the use of Twitpic for images. While following the progress of the events on both TV and the major news corporations websites, I increasingly found that is was Twitter search that was providing information far in advance and in many cases in more detail than was being provided though traditional sources.
It’s not just real-time national and local news where Twitter gives access to information that other search engines don’t. It’s also a great resource for “real peoples” product and service experiences. People are now far more likely to Tweet about their opinions on purchases than they are to blog about them or add their views to a reviews website. Consumer electronics, airlines, hotels and internet services companies have all been on the good and bad side of Twitter publicity. An added dimension is given by the ability for these companies to contact their users directly.
With user growth and usage being directly proportional to the volume of information continued growth can only mean increasing the services usefulness as a search engine.
Mainstream media has been among the first industries to wake-up to the potential of Twitter, and on the whole have embraced it as an additional news channel.
So what is next for Twitter? I can see their real-time search results taking on additional dimensions, perhaps some form of relevance ranking, additional sorting options and further integration to tie it more securely to the service. Monetisation of these search results is probably not too far away
The pleasure was all the greater given that no PR effort had been made to get a write up.
“Wine merchant Yapp Brothers is celebrating its 40th year in the business with a suitably swish revamp of it’s online home. The fresh design combines a stylish layout with a pleasantly personal tone, and offers several useful new features. These include an ‘easy wine selector’, which makes selections based on the colour, style, grape and price of your choice, and a food-and-wine matching facility that tells you which tipple goes best with specific meals.
Yapp Brothers specialises in wines from the Rhone, Loire, and Provence regions, many of which you won’t find anywhere else, and sells a great deal more besides”
Not sure what we had to do to get 5 stars
Apparently there is a recession.
The media will have it that the world is in meltdown and that it’s armageddon out there.Â
Woolies, MFI and Adams have gone to the wall.Â Well honestly, I am not surprised.Â Woolworths and MFI were awful businesses stuck in a time warp and deserved to die.Â They were slothful and easily out done by more dynamic competitors.Â MFI have done nothing in the last 20 years to dispel their brand image of producing low quality, dated furniture.Â Â Woolworths were kidding themselves if they thought that people actually enjoyed entering their shops.Â They may have been cheap but even the bargain hunters appreciate clean, well presented shops.Â I never went into Adams but they looked pretty dated even though they were relatively new.
Other companies are retracting as well.Â Marks and Spencer are closing some food halls but so what.Â They had over expanded in the good times.Â The fact that they are closing a few poorly performing shops isn’t the death knell.Â It’s just a little tightening following a gluttonous expansion.Â And maybe it means that the consumer, who is a little more careful these days would prefer not to pay an excessive premium for nearÂ identical products being sold next door.Â
The care free spending attitude has changed and retailers need to adapt, but it doesn’t mean that people won’t spend money if the product is well priced and well presented.
This all reminds me of a previous hullabaloo in 2000 when the .com bubble burst.Â The world’s press then tried to write off the whole Internet as a busted flush, when in fact there were many businesses doing very nicely online thank you.Â It was only the news grabbers who had borrowed millions to set up spurious, hubristic .com world beating websites that failed to succeed.Â They were poorly thought out businesses and poorly executed.Â They too deserved to die.Â There were many smaller, prudent businesses making a decent return throughout this period.
So, as before and as now there may be some troubled waters but there is no reason for retailers to panic.Â (Though for bricks and mortar businesses, they need to renegotiate their exorbitant rents with their landlords).Â This is especially true online.Â People still have money and they would prefer to spend it online. Anecdotal and personal experience shows that online sales on most websites are growing.Â Latest sales figures from those retailers that have reported on Christmas sales also supports this:
John Lewis – online sales up by 27%
House of Fraser – online sales increase of 150%Â (1.7 million visitors over Christmas period)
M&S – online sales up by 29% (although down 7.1% overall)
Ocado – up 97%
Sainsburys – online sales up 27%
Thorntons – online sales up 25%
Next Direct – up 1.1% increase since last year
Aldi visitor traffic up 64% year on year
Play.com Sales up 20%
Our own clients at Datadial have also reported record online sales.Â
The big question for these retailers is how to return to charging full value for their products and services and to get away from the omni present discounting.Â This is the subject of my following blog.
We took a dogs dinner of an old website and transformed it into a work of art that converts users to buyers. AsÂ always the project was delivered on time and on budget.
Yapp Wine Merchants website now has a fresh, modern design, packed with tools to help you find the wine you need.Â It is unfrightening and designed to cater to Yapps broad user base.Â We’ve made searching for wine fun and easy whilst retaining Yapp’s connoiseur edge.
Everyone has their own ways of looking for wine so we implemented 4 ways to navigate the site:
- The Easy Wine selector uses dynamic searching
Watch your search results change dynamically with easy to use search sliders. Have a play.Â The great advantage of this is thatÂ it all happens onÂ one page with no hopping backwards and forwards to and from search results.
- The Food and Wine selector allows you to search for wine by Food Type by clicking on images of different food types.Â This is not rocket science but is dis-armingly useful.
- Advanced Search - for those who really know what they are after.
Search by Regional maps
- “You recently looked at”
Isn’t it annoying when you look at lots of different items and then have to re-find them by re-doing the searches.Â Well we eliminated this problem with the “You recently looked at section” so you dont have to re-do previous searches.
- Tell a friend / Bookmark tools
Not strictly a navigation tool but so simple and effective.Â How else can you let your loved one know what you want for Christmas?Â Simply post your choices to your Facebook page and invite others to have a look.
Search engine friendly
As always with Datadial, the site is built to be search engine friendly
All pages from the old site have been redirected to the relevant new pages.
The site uses Friendly URLs so http://www.yapp.co.uk/Wine-List/Rhone-South/Chateauneuf-du-Pape/ instead of
Integrated stock control – the site is integrated to draw stock levels from Sage accounts.
The site is fully content managed, giving Yapp control over all aspects of the site including creating offers, mixed case offers and product information.
The site is also integrated with Datadial’s email marketing system.