Inspiration « Datadial Blog
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On the subject of Inspiration

Jan

June 15th, 2011.

What is a QR code – a quick guide

If you ever seen this strange looking black & white square in any form of advertising on a bus, train, email, business card etc., then you met a QR code.

What is a QR code?
The definition on Wikipedia says – QR code is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) that is readable by dedicated QR barcode readers.

Country of origin
 Japan. Approved by AIM International (Automatic Identification Manufacturers International) standard (ISS – QR Code) in October 1997.

How do you read it?
You need an iPhone or Android phone with installed QR code reader.

What does this code contain?
An URL to a website you try to promote, or text, phone number or SMS (check our QR code to see what’s there).

How do you generate a QR code?
There are already several services like kaywa.comgogr.me or Datadial’s email marketing software.

Is it good for anything useful?
If you think creatively there are many ways that you can use QR codes to promote your business such as on labels, business cards, storefront displays, and embedding promotions and discounts and links to Facebook.
QR codes are already widely used in Japan and increasingly in the UK.  I guess the more tech savvy people will be more amenable to them.

How other companies use it?

  • On their business cards – by placing a QR code on your business card you allow the receivers to save your business card details without any typing
  • In print/magazines – will take a reader directly to your website, without typing your URL
  • On billboards and in advertising on public transport
  • On products

Couple of good marketing ideas how to use QR codes I collected from the net

Put a tag 20 feet tall on billboards all over the country. People in cars take a picture of it, and some of them unlock URLs that win Xboxes and Kinects. Regardless, think big.

Make them surprising & unpredictable – the more surprises, innovative ideas and unexpected offers will be hidden in these QR codes, the more will people check them. Beware of increased number of ‘treasure hunters’ checking every single QR code they come across and leaving your site as quickly as they came, if not a ‘treasure’ found there.

Jan

April 21st, 2011.

Establishing online business credibility with ‘About Us’ page

Having a good ‘About Us’ page allows you to show off who you are, what you do and it allows to make people more comfortable doing a business with your company. Unfortunately, this page is being sometimes overlooked, as the perception is that it’s not that important.

However, according to a Stanford Web Credibility Research, they derived 10 guidelines/factors which effects websites credibility, 3 of them relating to your ‘about us’ page (based on a 3 year, 5500 person study):

  • Show that there is a real organization behind your site
  • Highlight the expertise in your organization
  • Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site

Naturally, testing a different version of your ‘About us’ page should be on your to-do test list. Unfortunately, in most cases ‘About us’ pages get at most several hundred visitors per month, which is not enough to come with statistically valid results within your 6 weeks test period. In this case, here is the list of 3 must have things an ‘About us’ page for small and medium businesses should definitely have if you want to get more sales:

3 Must Haves

  1. Pictures of your office and your team
  2. A passionate story behind your company showing your values
  3. Peoples bio (credentials, certificates, training)

Here is the list of some ‘About us’ pages for your inspiration.

Creative examples:

www.dropbox.com

www.hunch.com

www.technologywithpassion.com (nice animation)

www.tribal.nl (nice animation)

www.6wunderkinder.com

 

Business (ecommerce + service + corporate) examples:

www.gupuds.com

www.crutchfield.com

www.brooksgroup.com

www.fridaysmove.com

www.bigcommerce.com

 

Martina Martina

March 25th, 2011.

What colour hat matches your shoes?

Ok, this isn’t a post about fashion.

If you are familiar with the various SEO techniques that exist, then you might already be familiar with the infamous ‘hats’ and what they all stand for. If you have no idea what I am talking about – you should definitely read on.

White Hat SEO

White hat SEO is the nice clean cut, ethical and moral way to practice SEO. This hat represents by-the-book SEO that doesn’t cause harm or upset to anyone because every success is the result of hard work and quick thinking.

Black Hat SEO

This is known as SEO from the dark-side. Bending search engine rules, adopting various naughty techniques and deceiving Google to achieve a quick result in a short space of time. Techniques include things like putting invisible hidden text on web-pages, cloaking – whereby a web user is redirected to a different webpage than they initially searched for, keyword flooding – using hundreds of paragraphs on any one page including every keyword you are bidding for…the list goes on…

Grey Hat SEO

In a palette, black mixed with white = grey, well the same thing counts here.
Tactics used that cannot be clearly described either as ethical or unethical but sit in the middle of the two, are ‘grey hat’. While grey hat SEO is often frowned upon, it is unlikely to cause a site to be banned or shut down…take from that what you will…

Green Hat SEO

New to the collection of hats, green hat SEO represents a less tactical approach and a more procedural one with the main aim of increasing the amount of visitors to a website. Focus is placed on creating brand awareness, becoming trustworthy and gaining customer loyalty as opposed to targeting keywords that will increase impressions and click-through rates only for the user to find that the pages on your website are not relevant to them anyway. It seems the ‘green’ element relates to being friendly (think eco)…the customer is the focus, and the aim is to make them happy.

Blue Hat SEO

This one isn’t “official” just yet and many SEO’s may refuse to accept it. Others however, will understand this hat as one that relates to what is essentially advanced white hat practices. In plain terms, these are advanced internet marketing and SEO techniques that get the results you want in the best way possible without annoying or upsetting anyone. This is not to say that blue hatters are not aware of black hat practices, in-fact it is quite the opposite, blue hatters have an advanced knowledge of both hats, and use this knowledge in a creative way enabling them to manipulate search engines in a way that benefits their site.

So choose your hats wisely and happy SEO-ing :-)

Martina Martina

November 2nd, 2010.

The importance of blogging regularly.

Blogging regularly is important for many reasons. The most obvious being that if your want to retain a degree of professionalism (assuming your blog is not a personal one) then it looks better if you are continuously finding new and interesting things for your audience to read.

Honestly, how eager are you to get involved with a company or a business through its website, when you visit its blog and see that the ‘most recent’ entry has a date stamp of 6 months ago…?

Besides, there are some little gems you may be sacrificing if you neglect your company’s blog – such as:

Being fresh and innovative!

A blog post is an article that varies in length, can be about anything you want and is usually beneficial to the target audience it was written for.  Through blogging, you can use it to encourage people, persuade them or simply to entertain them. Why lose out on something this beneficial? If you are a company or a business that has something you are trying to sell, your blog is the place to do this!

Being seen!

If you want to improve your chances of being visible in search engines (and you do) then well structured posts are essential. A great post can start to rank in search engines over time and could potentially bring in web traffic to your website. (For tips on how to write a great post you can read my earlier article titled ‘Successfully guest posting on A-list blogs’)

Being communicative & media savvy!

Simply because blogging and social media marketing must coexist when it comes to marketing a business, communication is essential.

Social communities, such as Twitter, Digg, and Facebook among others, can be used as a platform for your blog, and so being a consistent (but quality) blogger could create the opportunity for more traffic to find drive its way to your blog. Perhaps most importantly, through these social networks you could gather new business opportunities.

Being heard!

Blogging is a way to explain to your readers who you are as a company. Distancing yourself from the competition is what your brand and your website will attempt to do, but a blog can add that extra panache needed to make your business really stand out. Much like a chronicle, your blog can be how you document the goings on in your company – which will give allow it to develop a voice and a personality.

So blog & blog often!

Steff Steff

October 12th, 2010.

Dowce : Screen capture for the masses!

We’ve all been there, needing to show a friend or colleague something we’re seeing on our monitor but don’t want them to see the entire screen, so we reluctantly fire up photoshop (or paint!), then crop the image, save the image (thinking up some temporary filename and cluttering up yet another folder) and finally email the resulting image – wasting precious time and losing focus on other tasks at hand.

I got tired of this monotony so came up with a solution… dowce - Easy screen capture

Using the tool that sits next to your clock  you can very quickly highlight a portion of your screen and either copy to clipboard, save to your computer, or upload to dowce.com – where you’ll be given back a unique short URL to send out to people.  You can even add a caption and password protect your capture. It literally takes a few seconds and lets you get on with your other jobs.

Pre-launch, members of the team here at Datadial installed it on their office computers and found it to be really useful when composing emails to clients which needed to contain screenshots of statistics and website layouts.  Friends have also started using it to show each other winning (and losing) hands of online poker! It’s one of those tools that once you pick up, you use more than you would expect.

To give you an idea of what’s on offer, here’s a screenshot of the options you get after you’ve made your selection:

If you choose to Save to dowce.com you’ll receive a unique link to your capture…

It’s as simple as that! For a full demonstration of how it all works and to download dowce for free, visit www.dowce.com

Martina Martina

October 1st, 2010.

Successfully guest posting on A-list blogs.

You are probably already aware of the importance of guest posting to for the purposes of promotion in the world of SEO. The two work hand in hand. However, there is more to guest posting than simply getting your article uploaded to any random blog on the internet – if you want it to be seen and seen often, then you need to be featured on successful high powered blogs that get attention.

As somebody that is fairly new to SEO, I have learned that there are many ways to ‘get a link’, but perhaps more importantly, I have recognised the importance of quality over quantity when it comes to guest posting.

So what shouldn’t you do?

  • Aimlessly send out requests asking a multitude of questions regarding guidelines.

Why? – Because blogs like this usually have set guidelines that can be found on ‘guest posting’ sections of their site. Asking webmasters questions that they have already answered shows your lack of attention to detail. Not a good sign.

  • Ignore the target audience.

Figuring out the niche for that blog, or the readers interests from previous posts that they have on the site is helpful. Of course you may be working for clients or have your own ideas that are far away from the niche theme of the blog that you are approaching. One solution to this is to be creative and to try and marry the ideas that you have, to this niche. For example, I recently found a blog on video-gaming where I wanted to incorporate a client that supplies contemporary decorative art; I came up with ideas such as ‘concept art in video-games’ and even ‘tattoo art inspired by game characters’. These worked well.

  • Follow-suit.

Taking initiative is highly appreciated in the world of guest posting. Don’t be afraid to send some material to the blog owner, rather than simply asking to send some. If they are a successful blog, chances are they will be inundated with requests daily, many of which they turn down. Instead, sending some well written content with a good email explaining your intentions will be a breath of fresh air, will get you noticed and will heighten your chances of getting that post.

  • Be generic.

Go ‘gaga’ with the hyperbole, the numbered titles and the informative language used. If the blog owner wants changes to be made, you’ll be informed, but standing out is the key – a title can make the topic seem boring even if the content is great. Huge blogs of text with no photographs are a no-no. Avoid these.

  • Give up.

If your post was refused but you followed the above steps, chances are it’s going to have been a pretty well put together and thought out piece of work. A well constructed post is never a wasted effort, so don’t waste it – use it elsewhere or use it on your own blog if you can. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. :)

Rob

August 25th, 2010.

Virtual online dressing rooms

The bane of every online Clothing retailer’s life is RETURNS.

On average, the return rate is 11% for t-shirts; 25-35% for casual wear; and over 40% for fitted fashions. The return rate is higher for more expensive items. In countries like Germany, the average return rate for clothing is even higher – around 60 %. Most of the returns are due to bad fit (stats from fits.me.)

The returns bear a very high cost for retailers, as the average time for the item to be placed back into the sales cycle is 1-2 months. Summer apparel, sold in August, and returned in October, is difficult to be resold at any price.

This is just the nature of things – however good clothes look on screen they sometimes just don’t look so good once on one’s own weirdly shaped body!

However, it’s crucial for online retailers to minimise return rates and some have gone the extra mile in developing online dressing rooms.  Online dressing rooms have come and gone over the years, most of them having promised a lot more than they ever delivered – it’s not exactly an easy conundrum to solve.

So I have been looking into current technology. There does not seem to be a whole lot around but here’s what I found.  If you know or any others please let me know.

I hope they give you inspiration.

1. Seventeen


Hot off the press is youth fashion retailer Seventeen’s virtual dressing room

Online shoppers can now try on clothes in a virtual dressing room using a pioneering new augmented reality application that’s being pioneered by a US magazine publisher.

The application detects users’ image through their computer webcam. Then shoppers choose the piece of clothing they want to try on and see what it looks like on them by laying the clothing image over their own image on their computer screen.

So I gave it a go…….

Well this was fun, and after a bit of trial and error I began to get the idea. It’s good to be able to try on women’s clothes in the name of research though I couldn’t get the clothes to fit me though but then maybe that’s because I’m not a Seventeen year old girl.

Seventeen

Hmmm, couldn’t quite get my laptop angled correctly…

Seventeen

Not really sure if this is going to catch on….

2. Fits me:

Next up is technology being produced by Fits me http://fits.me/.  This technology takes the old formula of the user putting in their size and the computer doing its best to recreate your build and to render the product on your body. But this time it looks much more impressive.  I gave it a go and it does a nice job as far as I can tell.

First you get your shape

Then try something on

You can see it in action on http://www.hawesandcurtis.com, though they hardly mention it on their site which surprises me.  Click on the tiny “change my size” icon.

3. Knicker Picker


This is an old favourite and has been around now for a couple of years. This is a sort of online fitting room in that it helps you imagine how a product might look on your type of body, but it’s not attempting anything clever by way of personalising it to your actual shape.

The killer app?

Whilst serving a useful function as an online fitting guide it also doubles up as a sort of online Spearmint Rhino and has become popular with men the world over achieving viral status, which is why if you type in “knickers” in Google and this site comes number one as so many people are now linking to it.  Call me cynical but I can’t help feeling that this may have been as much the objective in the first place as helping out on the fitting issue. It’s due for an update quite soon.

4. Coast Stores


This is just a glorified (or not even that) mood board. I can’t believe anyone is really using this in any serious way. Even the demo doesn’t look very interesting. There is a laborious sign up process and you can’t even get the individual items to move around. So you have shoes pointing one way and handbags the other. Nil points I’m afraid.

Seventeen

Virtual Sunglasses from Brille

This site worked nicely. A bit clunky and slow and really unless you live 100 miles from an optician you’re probably going to have more fun and less waiting going into shop.

A few more editing tools might have been good so that I could rotate my head inline with the horizontalness of the glasses.  There’s nothing technologically amazing about this site but hopefully returns are reduced by giving the user the opportunity to see how they might look once on.

The separate 360 view of each pair of glasses is useful and makes up for the fact that the site can’t quite display the arms of the glasses on my head.  I guess we need some sort of 3D version here.

Anyway, I think I look good with glasses. Any opinions?

And some more just sent in bya reader

Not exactly a fitting room but more a style guide

http://www.couturious.com/ and

http://looklet.com/create#/clothes//1010912C6F013156013A3A012C4A012C7A80F506A

OK I just saw this so thought I would add it to the mix: It’s an ad by Google. Not sure it’s the future but cant be ignored.

Fashion Show with Google from Robbin Waldemar on Vimeo.

Please let me know on rob@datadial.net if you find any other good example of online dressing rooms.

Rachel

May 19th, 2010.

Best & Worst of FOWD Day 2


FOWD logo
Following on from my post after Day One

The Best

John Hicks giving his talk

John Hicks giving his talk (image from m-king)

My favourite today definitely has to be Aral Balkan‘s session. He really knows how to present and make learning fun! It was very inspiring and encouraging on how to make your designs that little bit better by adding an emotional element to your apps/sites. He got the longest applause I have heard at a conference!

But then the loveliest thing was when he acknowledged my tweet of thanks on twitter and his blog. What an awesome guy!

The Worst

umm…
ermmm….
ahhh…

Nope… I really can’t think of anything for The Worst… did I miss something?

Honestly, the whole thing was amazing. I’m really shattered now, but it’s a good tired because I’m also really excited to start doing so many of the things that were presented.

If you couldn’t make it to FOWD this year, I would definitely recommend buying the video pass. It would be really worth it. I’m looking forward to the videos myself because I wanted to go to both tracks so many times today… shame we can’t clone ourselves when the need arises!

In summary…

(I’ll add links to slideshows and downloads as I get them)

  1. Progressive CSS3 Design (Molly Holzschlag)

    Molly presented the plans and workings of the W3C and asked for any web designers who are keen to be voices to the W3C. What I found most exciting was her mention of IE9′s capabilities – it sounds like my optimism about CSS3 in IE9 may be closer to reality than I first hoped!

  2. What will Web Design Look Like in Two Years? (Simon Collison)

    According to Colly it’s going to evolve quite a bit, growing up and getting comfortable with the medium of being online. For example, no longer will we mimic tables with paper and coffee stains; but instead embrace the pixel, the grid and typography. Of course this does require a more mature understanding of grid systems and design fundamentals, but this will make the professionally designed sites stand out from the sea of online content.
    View Slides & Examples

  3. The Art of Emotional Design: A story of pleasure, joy, and delight. (Aral Balkan)

    As I mentioned above, the whole presentation was a pleasure, joy and delight. Aral showed us examaples of how he has made his apps come to life by adding in little emotional attachments, like his famous bird turning red and singing in Feathers.
    Read Keir Whitaker’s write up on Think Vitamin

  4. How to Build a HTML5 Website – Live Demo (Bruce Lawson)

    Up until today I haven’t dabbled too much into HTML5, but Bruce did a live demo which helped to demystify it all. HTML5 is definitely going to be mainstream, and soon. The capabilities of it are awesome, and it is so easy to still support older systems that don’t understand it. In particular I’m looking forward to the day where we can use the <video> tag without having to provide a Flash alternative for IE.
    http://www.brucelawson.co.uk/
    Another good introduction from Smashing Magazine

  5. Rethink Your Job (and Earn More Money). (Brett Welch)

    Everyone knows Web stuff is becoming increasingly commodised, but where the value remains is in expert knowledge, advice and helping your client’s goals. Brett also emphasised starting small, growing in iterations, and the importance of having a marketing plan in place following the site’s launch. We all really admired him for not actually plugging his product in the talk.

  6. Icon Design (Jon Hicks)

    I don’t do icon design very often, so it was really valuable to hear these tips and guides for when I do need to. It’s also very exciting to hear about future abilities like using SVG for icons.
    http://www.hicksdesign.co.uk/

  7. Blending Usability Testing with Interface Design, Prototyping and Rapid Iteration (Dan Rubin)

    I always want to do more and more usability testing, and Dan’s excellent talk really got me excited about it even more. He talked us through a case study of how they had assessed a current site, found the good things and bad things about it, and came up with some suggested changes. He then detailed their technique for testing the changes and how they were able to accurately test them while keeping it in a format that was easy to change and adapt as they went (basically using image maps with an exported Photoshop comp). Definitely a great technique for getting the most value from a test.

Rachel

May 18th, 2010.

Best & Worst of FOWD London Day 1

FOWD logoThe Future of Web Design conference is amazing this year – here’s a quick update after Day One.

The Best

jQuery for Designers session

jQuery for Designers session

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.

The Worst

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)

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. jQuery for Designers: All You Need to Code (Remy Sharp)

    Very inspiring stuff, and I’m now eager to take the plunge into jQuery!
    Download slideshow

    http://jqueryfordesigners.com

  4. 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!

  5. Learning to Love Humans: Emotional Interface Design (Aarron Walter)

    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!

  6. 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!

  7. Smart Tips for Wireframing Brad Haynes

    Wireframes help communication, focus and workflow. This session was a good practical reminder of why we should be using them and looked at which techniques to use where, including some good tools.

Also check out summary of Day 2 »

Belles

December 16th, 2009.

My favourite sites for December 2009

Hi, I’m Belles and I do the business developement and marketing at Datadial.  Part of my role is to surf the net for sites that need our help!

Having looked at a range of sites, from basic to imaginative ones; I have 3 favourites that pop to the forefront of my mind for December.  I especially like these for their design, products, colour and simplicty:

mungomaude

www.mungoandmaud.com

I was drawn to this site, because of the unique name.  I loved all the textures and choices of products and I’ve passed it on to all my friends with dogs all shapes and sizes!

 

hunkydoryhome
www.hunkydoryhome.co.uk

Clean, sharp site which shows off funky, quirky and very original asseccories for your home.

 

yeovalley

www.yeovalleyorganic.co.uk

This site made me want to dive into the picture and soak up the open space! I love all their delicious foods and inspiring recipes.

Happy Christmas!

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