Audition and maybe get tickets for the Cannes film festival…

…courtesy of Stella Artois in a very creative/imaginative campaign for the brand behind the beer:

Check ou the campaign blog:
http://www.pwrnewmedia.com/2011/anheuser-busch/stellaartois.com/media/en/pages/video.html

And obviously let the fun begin by trying out the audition to see your webcam feed used in the screening audition process…

The Cannes audition process may commence from here

Enjoy

Atrix: Motorola bringing you the dream setup

Atrix Laptop Dock

Just checking out the Engadget site specifically the “Motorola Atrix 4G, HD multimedia dock, and laptop dock hands-on” post and what can say but WOW.
I think this looks like a dream come true and if they have put a decent camera in there I think I’m in love…

The laptop dock is basically a screen with full size keyboard that pretty much turns it the phone into a laptop!

Sony Atrix Laptop Dock
Sony Atrix Laptop Dock

The phone dock allows you to plug in mouse, keyboard and hook up to a full HD screen !

Sony Atrix Phone Dock
Sony Atrix Phone Dock

Check out the engadget video that shows it all working and much more. It is really impressive if that is the type of experience that can be expected on the final version…

I was impressed with the Droid / Milestone but this is just great…

The User experience that is shown in the video and the amount of ways it can be used plus all the functions available through the WebTop application is just amazing.

PS: when are we getting this in Europe and moreover in France???

Checking the speed of your pages for SEO

UbiKann tested on GTMetrix

You may have recently seen articles that explain how Google will be checking the speed at which your pages load and will be using it in their page ranking system. I had read about it on the Register’s article “Google tweaks search results with mystery site speedometer“.

I then realised that a company I have worked with in the past has a tool that allows you to test this type of issue for your site and even allows you to record the results over time…

UbiKann tested on GTMetrix
UbiKann tested on GTMetrix

Check out Gossamer Threads GTMetrix Site Performance Analyzer. They have just added a new system that allows you compare up to 4 reports/URLs. Oh and it’s free, oh yeah… :)

Getting Google results in English

I was recently getting very frustrated because I was constantly getting results from Google in French in both IE8 and Google Chrome due to having either a Windows installation in French or other similar French language preferences even when going into “Manage Search Providers”, I couldn’t find the option to obtain UK or US but mainly English based results!

This is what I found out that may help you too!

The solution if you want the results from Google that you type in the top right hand corner of IE8 to be in English, is to click on the link below and choose Google Search as your default search provider:
http://www.ieaddons.com/en/search-helpers/

When I went into Manage Search Providers and clicked on Find More Search Providers I was also getting an error page!

FireFox 3.6: pages move with your movements

Christopher Blizzard demonstrates how the upcoming Mozzila FireFox 3.6 can change the page orientation if your device has an accelerometer system (Thinkpads, Macbook pros). You can see how this works in the video below:

Are agencies no longer the flavour of the month?

Following on from the Twitterer is a mainly a narcissist article, the currently trendy term of “Consumer intelligence” seems to be giving clients the jitters (so agencies see it). Companies that understand the need for a consumer “pull” strategy where the emphasis is on the consumer, fits with the need to quickly respond and listen to the consumer, analyse new behaviour and habits. In a very interesting Ad-Age article the journalist explains that companies feel they don’t need agencies as much!

There is a great quote from the CEO of Unilever Paul Polman:

“Maybe the most extreme example of this is to be found in consumer-generated content, where we have invited consumers to develop communications for Omo and Vaseline as a complement to those generated by the company, and in the case of Peperami, we have even dispensed with the agency in favor of exclusively ‘crowdsourced’ content.
“However well traditional advertising agencies read the signals and recognize the need for radical change in their capabilities,” he said, “few agencies can address all the communications needs of a brand. … This is making the management of agencies increasingly complex, and raises challenging questions on how best to measure the value added by the respective partners and consequently how to manage remuneration.”

The current economic situation pushes clients to search for financially viable solutions, or at least good ROI you can present to your boss. From an agency perspective, we know this is without being prepared to accept a reduction in scope or speed to market. Although the speed to market aspect can often be better managed by agencies, the “same scope, with reduced budget” is just not always possible. Sure you can provide cheaper solutions but that generally implies a reduction in quality, even though clients may agree to it. Clients rarely anticipate the reactions from their project sponsors and hierarchy and it can fall back on the agency.
Clients who have previously externalized their marketing and branding requirements are now looking to internalize what they had given away to agencies over the years according to the above article. The likes of Forrester are pushing to get marketing and brand managers (sorry Forrester prefers Brand Advocates) to be use ‘invaluable’ Forrester insight and work in house rather than go through agencies as much.
Would this have anything to do with some of the larger digital agencies producing detailed market reports (ex: Digital Outlook) and complex dashboard systems that provide the same type of ‘insight’ Forrester is selling to clients?

I’m not sure Forrester is my idea of a company capable of seeking and identifying trends in the digital arena to serve as a catalyst for the client’s brand coverage but hey I work in an agency so I would be biased. Without denying the importance of the number crunching and analysis, it is just a small ingredient of the digital marketing mix.

Although the above article does not touch on the details or definition of an agency I think there is a tendency to consider them all to be the same. In the same way that Jon discusses how both Forrester and Gartner don’t go into enough details in their Content Management comparison reports, I feel they do the same when discussing and comparing agencies. Good digital agencies do provide support for the above areas mentioned by Forrester and far more. The intricacies and issues of implementing complicated technical solutions are part of a digital agency’s normal day. They also have a good understanding of all the other ingredients of the digital marketing mix, how it all works together down to the small details that Forrester don’t even touch on!

The history of wireframes etc.

Just came across a great post over on the Made by Many blog that provides an insightful history of wireframes and how designing webpages has evolved over the years to see the convergence of information/experience architect and designer ‘savoir-faire’ and far better wireframes in the process ;)
Yes the article is called the future of wireframes but it’s also the history of how we got where we are now…

Living the blogging life; ups and downs

I just came across a post on Jeff Atwoods ‘Coding horror’ site (can’t even remember how I ended up there), and a post about blogging, more specifically the reactions you can get from irate people. I’m not sure his recommendation to ignore people is ‘the’ solution but it’s an interesting point of view and account of his own experience with flame wars and irate people with comments like “I stopped reading your blog years ago“! Interesting read, especially for people that blog themselves…
PS: Sorry I remembered he has a good review of the Dell XPS M1330 and I had recommended this laptop to a client, Anne-Sophie, webmaster of the Adecco France website and reminded me she was also happy with her red laptop!

Funny .Tel domain name advert

Just came across this advert for the .tel domain name. Even though it is not new I’d never seen it and I find it quite funny. Especially when you view it on Youtube a little banner at the bottom that invites you to buy the song on iTunes, “Sweet about Me” by Gabriella Climi…

Experience Architecture in website designing

The importance of experience architects in creating or updating a web site is often underestimated. There is a general tendency to fudge the initial user experience phase (sitemaps, personas with their specific user journeys and wireframes) or even skip it and jump straight to concept designs that are then fleshed out to ‘wow’ the client. The whole rationale that consists in understanding what functionalities and services are required on the site and structure them in a coherent manner, hopefully even test them before designing commences, is omitted. Defining the main functionalities of a site, then having an experience architect (who worked on that first phase) to sketch it out and analyse it should precede the functional specifications but most of all the design phase. Designers that have extensive web design knowledge as well as experience architecture knowledge are few and far between so you are unlikely to obtain the optimum result by starting with the design.

Card Sorting
The initial phases, when analysing the structure and organisation of an existing site in view of updating it ‘can’ benefit from card sorting. This consists of taking the different sections and seeing how users sort the different sections / areas into groups. It can help you understand how users would expect these different areas to be organised and therefore, where they would expect to find them. Different logical taxonomies may appear following the analysis as different user groups may sort cards in different ways. There are also 2 different types of card sorting, ‘open’ where no structure is predefined and ‘closed’ where participants are asked to place the cards in a pre-defined structure. Card sorting is not recommended to simply test a current site but should be considered as part of the process involved in defining the structure of a site that is being created or updated / redesigned. It can also help when adding or updating a new area to a site. As Nielsen explains more users are required in card sorting than in usability testing though. A fair amount of analysis is required to obtain useful findings.

Sitemap, user journeys, wireframes
By creating the recommended set of ‘sitemap / user journeys / wireframes’ you are capable of seeing black on white the optimum route a person will take. The organization and categorization of content blocks should be logical but can be modified to optimise the user journey outcome. A site should usually provide several optimised user journeys for the different types of target users / personas that have been identified.

Simplify the site and structure
Generation Y as opposed to generation X and the baby boomers are more net fluent and savvy online, capable of delving through content until they find the information they feel relevant and trustworthy. Their experience and knowledge provides near instantaneous gut feeling about a site. Uncluttered, simple pages with straightforward navigation principles just feel good. A pleasant experience on a web site that easily allows you to find what you are looking for is memorable simply because it is unfortunately a rare experience. This new generation and generations to come are a primary targets, neglecting them is not an option.

Simplify the design and content
Simple ways of communicating, avoiding the “noise” traditional designers want to apply in order to personalise or own their design can complicate things. Twitter, like SMS are two extremely simple ways of communicating, their restrictions simplify the communication.
Now is this to say that design is just powder in your eyes? Well, when applied by talented designers that know their target audience, how to play and innovate with the chosen medium and how to further optimise the previously crafted user journey, then obviously no.
A friend of mine works at the “Musée des Arts Décoratifs” in Paris, we discussed this concept when applied to modern decorative art. I was comparing the concept to artists capable of choosing specific material(s) and their ability to amplify the user experience and overall design through the selection of specific material(s). The technology but also the interfaces mechanisms of web sites are in this perspective key elements that a great designer will know and use to further his / her design.

Accessibility, standards, usability and web 2.0
Web applications are becoming more and more complex to the extent that they are starting to compete with desktop applications (ex. Google Maps and Mail, Flickr etc.). The interaction provided as well as both usability and accessibility when relying on standards are far better. Although the ‘web 2.0′ term is often used as a buzz word (see Zelman’s web 3.0 article) the term has undoubtedly helped spread the idea of more savvy websites, thought through and help improve user experience.