Patrick at Creative review shared his thoughts on how the last decade has affected our professional life, and most of it i deeply relate to, specially on how the Internet has changed the life of people that work in design, and to a broader extent, the whole society (at least in developed countries).

Hyperspace Photo by Eole, under a Creative Commons License

Ten years ago i was leaving university, thinking on how i would get along with Business Management, but having fun with Flash 4 on my spare time, while hanging around in IRC and building personal webpages on HotDog HTML editor. At that time, i didn’t even knew there was a job for a digital marketeer much less in advertising.

A few career changes later and past the dot com bubble, i find myself in a place i wouldn’t have dreamed of 10 years ago. The last 5 years have been a reward for always keeping my faith on the enormous potential of the web. New organizational models, the rise of social media, the fall of traditional media, the birth and rise of Google, it’s been a hell of a ride.

What about you, how was your last decade? How has it changed your career? Do you find yourself at the place you envisioned ?

For those times you need a visual brainstorm:

  • The FWA

    (Favourite Website Awards)

    theFWA Awarding sites since 2000, it’s probably the most famous web design gallery of them all. Created by Rob Ford, it features the ribbon-famous SOTD (Site of the Day), Site of the Month, People’s Choice Award and the most coveted Site Of The Year. It is now a full feature web publication, with interviews, articles and even a video channel at FWATheater.

  • CSS Mania

    CSS Mania Probably the biggest CSS web gallery, with over 11000 entries. Tip: if you’re looking for references on a particular industry, just browse the topics.

  • DarkEye

  • Dark Eye With impressive metadata features, we can search at Dark-i by color or keyword. If you’re a web designer, you’re encouraged to create a gallery and promote your work.

  • NetDiver

    Netdiver More a webzine than a gallery, but covering trend categories such as Flashware, Imaginative or Powagirrrls.

  • StyleGala

    SyleGala It used to have the best selection of all CSS galleries, but now it’s rarely updated. Nonetheless, you can find there all the CSS classics, from Jason SantaMaria to Marius Roosendal.

  • Best Web Gallery

    Best Web Gallery Maybe not the best, but it sure is one of the most crafted ones, with a quite useful thumbnail preview on each selected website, and comments on each entry.

  • Design Charts

    Design Charts Not truly a gallery, and not always about webdesign, but always with the hottest new work

  • Webcreme

    Web Creme Covering both CSS and Flash web design, it’s one of my favourites, thanks to the the clean layout and RSS with thumbnails.

  • Straightline

    Straightline The new kid on the block, from Japan

  • Daily Slurp

    dailyslurp.jpg The companion gallery to Design Meltdown, a blog discussing themes and trends on webdesign. Both websites are managed by Patrick McNeil that has just published his new book, The Web Designer’s Idea Book.

From hardlink …

The term hardlink is used by mobile industry to represent the connection between the physical world with the mobile web. QR codes for instance, allow users to capture the data and translate it into a URL.

Mobile technologies offered us multiple solutions to connect the physical to the virtual. And yet, we seemed to forgot one of the most widespread form of these connections: the URLs printed in ads, on the back of business cards, displayed in TV commercials, even in our own skin or landscapes.

dot com Photo: Christian Johannesen, under Creative Commons License

… to softlink

Shortening the description of “URLs used in offline promotion” i’m calling them a SOFTLINKs. They are indirect hyperlinks between a physical object or media and the web, with the intent to create a future recall on the consumer and induce him to visit the website. Hyper-graffiti, call-to-action or content traps, offline URLs have a increasing importance in a brand’s image.

Do you remember the URL?

So what’s in a softlink? What’s the effect of placing it on your marketing materials? Do people actually remember it?

According to the The Magazine Publishers of America and The Newspapers Association of America, they do.

  • Offline media perform well in driving web traffic and search, with media sinergy being a strategic asset. Ads with URLs are more likely to drive readers to advertiser sites overall, with study subjects 13% more likely to visit advertiser websites.< br /> MPA, Accountability Guide

  • 47% of people who responded to a newspaper ad by going online went directly to a URL they saw in the advertisement, but a full 31% chose to use a search engine (overwhelmingly, Google.com). NAA, Newspapers drive online traffic

Web Response Source: Clark, Martire & Bartolomeo and Google study for NAA, Newspaper Drives Online Traffic, PDF

Not only do these studies highlight the importance of a web presence, but there’s a sweet irony in being print associations to reinforce it.

While a web presence is obvious to big US centric companies, many small businesses are yet to get their URLs and companies in developing countries are still looking for the right way to build their web strategy. It’s still quite ordinary to find small business owners that don’t realize of the web’s importance on the purchase funnel, so these reference studies should help broaden their minds.

Keeping your customers URL happy

It sucks when reading a newspaper article and realizing you can’t bookmark it for reference or later review. Perhaps that explains how the Amazon Kindle is performing better that expected. Or why QR technology is booming, even if it’s mostly used as a hack to insufficient advertising real estate and excuse to accountability..

Google Qr print ads Photo: Chika Watanabe, under Creative Commons License

When creating an offline media ad, it should be taken in account that people do take mental URL notes for later reviewing, so let’s keep their task simple. A memorable URL is even more important offline, and from big brands to small business, it has become common practice.

It’s my opinion that prefix subdomains should be used only if there’s a clear need to reinforce the brand name. Web aliases and brand/campaign domains are much better way to insure a later recall (heck, they’ve got less dots). As for the long, long URL, with dozens of query parameters, don’t do it unless you invested in some heavy SEO. You’d better use URL shortening services like TinyURL, that now even allows a custom alias (altough i never seen it offline).

I know unique names are hard to get, and with all that cybersquatting around (now with the new ICANN brand TLDs), it’s a legal and brand manager nightmare, but if you want your consumer share of mind you have to play the game.

Softlink like Google Adwords Adwords

The next time you need to choose a softlink for offline promotion, do it like you’re optimizing for AdWords, with some of their performance tips:

  • Choose an effective keyword: that means find a short, distinctive and sticky domain or alias
  • Make your URL bold: don’t put it a 7pt size, near the footer, in a 2 frames sequence or whisper it on a radio spot.
  • Avoid the use of similar or confusing character sequences (I and l, or example). ALLCAPS is a bad idea, but you could try Camel case for a change.
  • Target your softlinks by using several matching options: i wouldn’t go as far as Converse did recently by using dozens of URLs in a campaign, but registering similar domains, synonyms or type mismatches are all valid domain options to consider.
  • Optimize your softlinks with a focus on themes and call to action phrases: That means that sites like GetTheGlass.com or halo3.com/believe should be awarded also in this category.
  • Include prices, numbers or promotions. It doesn’t get closer to direct marketing than this: audi.com/R8.
  • Use your powerful brand name in the softlink. If your brand isn’t there yet, you could try your luck with some unique domain names, like this one
  • Drop the http:// and the www. Your users are not that dumb, and your webmaster should know how name servers work by now. Save a few keystrokes, save the ad.

With this info and tips, go ahead and spread some softlink love on your next campaign.

Some might say the internet, and digital imaging in general have caused a revolution in the business of stock photography. This might be true from the buyers’ point of view, as there’s an almost infinite range of work available online, from the exclusive rights-managed photographs for someone in the advertisement industry creating a large budget campaign, to the royalty-free microstock for a small webdesigner creating a local website.

2465450172_6a7f8eacd5.jpg © Pedro Pinheiro

On the other hand, from the seller’s perspective, if you’re a semi-professional photographer (meaning that you don’t live of your photography, at least not exclusively), the ratio between the work involved and the money you get for it is still not very attractive. I’m not talking about the photographic work (I’m not defending getting money for crappy work), but the time effort in promoting your work. This is due to two main reasons – the market for microstock is heavily fragmented, so to make any non-trivial amount of money from $1 sales (from which you get $0.50), you have to upload a lot of photos into lots of different services, and tag, categorize, and price-range every single photograph on every of those different services. The second reason is that at the other end, it’s very difficult to get your work into the big services like Getty or Corbis – it’s a “you don’t pitch your work to them, they’ll find you” kind of situation, that usually only works for big professional career photographers, and not for semi-pro photographers even if they have a good and relevant portfolio.

There’s a service that is trying to bridge this gap, PhotoShelter. For me personally, it hasn’t worked because it’s too complex. The idea is great, you upload your work, set the kind of rights available for each photo and the price, but I find that the whole process is just not… elegant. To be fair, you do get to keep a much higher percentage of the sale price as compared with all the other services. They’ve even created a way to import your photos from flickr, but you end up having to redo a lot of the meta-work you’ve already done previously. It works for professional or very serious semi-pro photographers with a lot of time they can devote into selling photographs, but not for everyone.

This week Getty announced they’ve struck a deal with flickr to “scout” for good photographers and photographs and invite them to make their work available on their collection for sale. This is a good step (although opinions differ, PhotoShelter had quite a strong reaction to the news), but it may only take care of the top, rights managed end of the spectrum.

2390329808_2229f5b530.jpg

© Pedro Pinheiro

What would be a real revolution for the semi-pro (or even amateur) photographer? What if flickr extended itself into (also) being a stock photography website? Their whole system is beautifully simple, to the point that a lot of creative professionals go there to seek visual inspiration. In part this is due to their system of rating photographs by what they call interestingness, an automated system that takes into account the views, comments, and other factors of each photograph, and which makes (usually) the best and more appealing photographs come to the top of every search. It’s an online social model that has really worked towards a tangible goal.

Flickr could make a killing in the mid and lower end range of the market. With the same ease that the rights of photographs can be set (from copyrighted to a creative commons license), they could have the option to set a “for sale” flag, with a simple price matrix of resolution/rights, and take care of the whole process for photographers. They have one of the broadest collections in the world, the exposure, the user base, the almost perfect rating system. If they could overcome the legal hurdles and create a “for sale” system with the simplicity they’re known for, it would be a real revolution for semi-pro photographers and the stock photography business. You’d get the ability from the same amount of work, of being able to “show off” your work, and also make some money from it.

This is a guest post by Pedro Pinheiro, a Twitter buddy and a photographer. I asked him to write a few words about the changes on digital photography and specially the whole stock business. One of my main pictorial sources of inspiration is Flickr, and was interested to know how a talented photographer (earning some online revenue from their work) felt about the recent Getty images + Flickr deal. Perhaps it was just Yahoo running away from Microsoft (Corbis CEO is Bill Gates), perhaps it was another industry adjusting to the online world. Pedro knows the best. Thanks @ppinheiro76.

Absolut BeKanye

By in Uncategorized

Kanye West seems to be haunting me these days, as i finish listening the Lil Wayne album (produced by him) and now this: Be Kanye.

BeKanye

Branded entertainment has found a new home on the web, with collaborations between brands and media industries. From sweepstakes to sponsored videocasts, the growth of online content is being fed by partnerships with brands. One of the most active participants are movie studios, and altough many brands are only trying to cash in on the big names like “Star Wars” or “James Bond”, some campaigns actually feel relevant to the film plot.

Such is the case for Mercedes-Benz and their latest van, Viano. Together with Hamburg agency Syzygy AG, they’ve accomplished a beautifully executed website, The Best Place For Heroes.

mercedes-viano.jpg

Mercedes partnered with Disney, and based on the story of the blockbuster movie “Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian” created a interactive narrative where the beauty of their online video navigation stands out.

“> Narnia Creature

From becoming a Narnia mythical creature (yes, that’s me above) to a hero message board (aren’t these the new guestbooks ?) the whole experience makes you wonder if you’re in a movie website, in a theater or just enjoying a road trip adventure on the new van. Be sure to turn you audio on and explore the online chronicle.

Source: Ars Thanea Blog

missaomuxima.jpg

Today is my birthday.

But a different one, since i decided to have no celebration, birthday candles or the usual drinks. However, you will have the chance to offer a unique gift.

Not for me, but rather to Missão Muxima, a charity group empowering children and educators at the Arnaldo Janssen’s Child Foster Center in Luanda, Angola.

My sister is one of the founders, and they need all the help we can get, so this year’s birthday don’t spend your money on gifts but rather

( Paypal to info@missaomuxima.org)

Your gift will provide better life care to the children, and allow Missão Muxima to carry on with the previous work.

With your help, this will be one of my most special birthdays. And to the children also.

Thank you