Monday, November 24, 2008

Traditional SEO is dead with intelligent search results

Just saw this video interview on YouTube with Bruce Clay. With the growth of smart and targeted search results based on user behavior and site history keywords and rankings will be a thing of the past. Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have already begun to introducing smart search results technology with localized search, but results based on your behavior will change everything. In fact Bruce use's the term "ranking is dead". This will have a huge effect of the SEO industry and the role of web marketers in site optimization. Essentially the rule book we need to be rewritten. Check it out:

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Quotes to live by when building any web application

I've talked before about the importance of a vision or guiding principles to any major web initiative. Adding to that here is a Dilbert comic and some some great quotes by:

"Good Design at Apple comes from saying No to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much"
Steve Jobs, CEO, Apple

"Simple things should be simple, and complex things should be possible"
Alan Kay, Disney Fellow and VP of R&D, The Walt Disney

"Great Design, It's that ineffable quality that certain incredibly successful products have that makes people fall in love with them despite their flaws."
Joel Spolsky, Great Design

"Launch early and often, but not too early (the first time)"
Carl Sjogreen, Product Manager, Google

I hope you find these useful on your next web project! :)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

BBC goes iGoogle.. Personalized homepages become main stream!

With the modern wonders of RSS I’ve been syndicating the BBC's news feed and not actually visiting their site. The other day I logged on and noticed and significant overhaul. BBC's homepage now offers a completely customized experience. The page real estate is made up of customizable gadgets with feeds of tops news headlines and other information (weather etc) much like iGoogle or My MSN.

This approach now brings gadgets and personalization into the mainstream with the various types of users and different demographics that visit the BBC site everyday. It is a truly remarkable design, and one I encourage you to check out.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Monday, May 19, 2008

Wow, Comcast buys Plaxo

Just recieved and email from Plaxo. Apparently they've been acquired by Comcast. Check out the press release here.

Before Business Requirments you need a Vision statement

This past week I sat down with a co-worker who took over an hour to describe a feature of an application we are building. After the download I was really impressed, this feature was the "killer app" and a high priority item in a product we were building. But I realized something was missing. We needed a way to distill his 40+ page document (filled with loose business requirements and wish list items) and his required 1 hour explanation to something more easily digested. What was missing was the Vision! I've talked about this process in the past and used the term "Definition statement". I was first turned onto this approach at Apple Tech Talk conference that discussed building applications for the iPhone.

The process was at times frustrating but it really forces you to step back and think about what you want to build, which features are important and where you need to make compromises. Our end game was to develop a one page definition or elevator speech that described our feature to the project team. The vision would guide development of this feature and serve as a mission statement or something to hold ourselves accountable to. Interestingly I just finished reading a blog around user experience, which referenced this approach was employed by the team developing Google Calendar (see screenshot above). Creating a Vision statement can be painful, but overall it is a really rewarding process that helps to get everyone on the same page.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

BrightKite: New location based Social Networking site

This morning I was checking my iGoogle and came across the following blog post that reviews a new social networking application called BrightKite. What separates Brightkite from many other social networking apps is that every activity and or event is based around your location which is really cool idea. After watching a video review it also seems to integrate with Google Maps so events and activities are visually plotted out using Google’s Maps API. Sites with this kind of intelligence are definitely the future. And fit into the roadmap of what the semantic web is all about; an internet that offers targeted content centered around what the user wants versus the one size fits all mentality. I've signed up to try the app and look forward to sharing some insights.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The mobile web.... slow adoption

This week I finally entered the Smartphone world with a Blackberry curve. It seems everywhere I look these days people are using Smartphone’s. Whether iPhone or Blackberry I notice a large amount of people's heads buried in these devices at meetings, lunch, out to dinner, cafes or even bars. So I was quite amazed to see the slow adoption of the "mobile web" has been in a recent emarketer article on mobile media advertising.

I can attest that despite liking the access to email and calendaring on my Blackberry the web experience, which is a combination of WML and basic HTML for me was fairly disappointing in this day and age. So I am probably another contributor to the statistic of someone who has a smartphone but isn’t embracing the “mobile web” just yet.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Web evolution

Check out my latest post over at the Hanson Dodge blog titled "Semantic Web – what is it, and how did we get here?". I give a brief history of web evolution from 1.0 to 2.0 and delve into the next evolution into the semantic web. A term being used to describe the next generation of the web as it becomes smarter. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Walmart down for "maintenance"?

Wow this is the second time in just over a week I’ve stumbled across a big name dot com that is down for "maintenance". Having worked in this field for a while I’ve used “maintenance” pages like this on sites big and small as a more graceful application error page or during an upgrade or deployment.

I’ve always thought that when you’re a multibillion dollar retailer like Wallmart or a big name social networking site like LinkedIn it puts you in a different league where you have uber redundancy and 99.9% uptime. Seeing unexpected maintenance pages like this especially on Wallmart (a site that generates a lot of revenue from ecommerce) validates that my above mentioned approach is still used for websites of all shapes and sizes!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Great new book on social media for corporations

Last week I attended a webinar title "Join the Groundswell in Enterprise Social Software" hosted by Lithium and authors of a new Forrester book titled "Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies ".

It focused on successful examples of using social media to enhance a company’s dialog with its customers online. The reoccurring theme was that people are already talking about your brand online whether it is on blogs, discussion boards or portals. And the recommendation was to embrace this medium and participate in the discussion versus becoming a spectator. Ultimately doing this will give you a deeper understand of your customers and help to retain and recruit new brand advocates.

There was some great advice for things to consider before adding a community and social networking feature to your site. If you’re currently wrangling with community and social media ideas and want somewhere to start I would suggest doing what I did and ordering the book.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

LinkedIn down... even the pros have problems

I went to log in to LinkedIn today on my lunch break today and I was confronted with an error message "LinkedIn Will Be Back Soon". Its reminder that even the pro's with lots of money and uber server architecture experience occassional technical issues with their web applications too!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Useful Web 2.0 directorys

It seems like every other day there is a new cool web 2.0 application startup. I've got to be honest even for an enthusiast like myself it’s hard to keep up to date.

Below some sites and useful directorys I use to keep up to date with the latest and greatest web 2.0 sites:
I hope you find them useful.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

You've bought a web application, now maintain and enhance it!

Maintenance and updates of web sites never really seemed to be a big problem in days gone by. Once in a while you would add a new press release, update the company page or tweak something here or there. However with the shift from web sites (static) to web applications (dynamic + data driven) and the move from web 1.0 functionality (1 way communication) to web 2.0 (bi-directional communication) the modern web application requires much more attention.

A Web application with Web 2.0 functioanlity can do much more for your business than its Web 1.0 cousin:

  • It will connect you with new and existing customers
  • Sell your product
  • Reduce your support costs
  • Increase your brands awareness
  • Build community
However with all these new features it is unrealistic to think you can buy a Ferrari without maintaining it! The amount of upkeep is often challenging to communicate and sell to clients. Most of them are used to spending a portion of their marketing budget on the build with a few yearly updates and not a lot of additional promotion of their site. Therefore it is our job to educate then what has changed in the last 2-3 years since their last website redesign.

Modern sites and the content on them can be driven by any number systems including:
  • Content management (CMS)
  • Ecommerce
  • Community and social media
  • User generated content
  • Rich media engine
  • Analytics
Add to that traffic building and emarketing programs and frequent updates are a reality of doing business online. Investing in a dynamic sites means a commitment of time and cost to keep your web application up to date. Not only by adding fresh content, but by adding new features and refining your application to give users a reason to return.

As the web evolves and new features come along you should constantly be thinking about how to leverage them to improve and enhance the user experience, adding engaging content and providing tools that encourage interaction. Critical Mass have coined the term "Always in Beta" and developed a concept around that theme. And I think this idea of Beta pretty much sums up my feelings on the modern web application. It will never be done, and nor should it be. Make sure that you allocate budget and earmark time for adding to and embrace the rewards of going Web 2.0!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Web 2.0... another bubble?

I found the folllowing video title "Here Comes Another Bubble v1.1 - The Richter Scales” which chronicles the rise and fall of some prominent Web 2.0 companies among other things. And it sparked my interest and got me thinking, are we headed for a dark place in 08?

The web is a fast moving place where one thing is guaranteed .... change! What was the status quo in 2007 won't be in 2008. Techcrunch has an article that discusses a possible Web 2.0 crash in 2008.

Companies will come and go. But one thing is certain, last time the web crashed in the dotcom era it seemed your website was an optional expense, something that could be cut from the budget. Now things have shifted, a companys website is mission critical, so to are the services offered by many websites! The web is the first place people most people go to find things. So your website is as important if not more than your bricks and mortar establishment, especially when its got an ecommerce component attached :)

So without further ado heres the video, see you in 2008.