March 2014 | Web design is changing. Of course, that's always been true. This month, Chris Butler looks at what's changing now, starting with modular content and how it changes our design practice, and then works his way back to some of the things that have become "fundamental" to web design... more
February 2014 | Do you know how to tell your users’ story? How do you know? Are you sure you’re not just making it up as you go along? This month, Chris Butler reviews a method for folding user knowledge back into the design process so that we properly understand user needs, create the best experiences for them, and reliably facilitate the right outcomes... more
January 2014 | Six months ago, we began rethinking how we create web content. We were tired of the limitations that page templates and content management systems constantly introduced into the creative process, and tired of the power they had to turn an excited client into a disappointed and resigned one. We wanted to bring freedom and creativity back to web design. This is the story of how we did it... more
November 2013 | Salesforce's annual Dreamforce conference is the place to be for digital marketers. This month, Mark gives us a recap of what it's like to attend Dreamforce, and why you might want to consider going in 2014. more
October 2013 | We've misunderstood search for a long time. That's what Chris Butler thinks is holding us back right now. In this month's article, he makes a compelling argument for designing systems that support better outbound marketing programs, rather than ones that are solely reliant upon inbound strategies… more
September 2013 | It's time we reframed our entire concept of web development, and this month, Mark and Chris have teamed up to do just that. First, in terms of widening the scope of what websites do today — which Mark believes is best expressed by locating them within a broader lead development ecosystem — and second, in terms of understanding what web development as a discipline is becoming — which Chris explains by drawing a distinction between platforms and programs. Sophisticated web development is no longer about creating discreet applications, but doing what he calls information logistics... more
August 2013 | Website content planning is a complex and sometimes arduous process. This month, Chris Butler shares three tools that will help you to regain control over content planning, whether you are guiding an internal team or clients. more
July 2013 | Are you in control of your marketing?
Are you doing all you can to develop leads for your firm?
Of course you are.
But, just to make sure, why don't you take this 10 second test I've created? Quickly answer each of the 4 questions I've listed below. I'll give you 5 points for each "yes" and take away 5 for each "no." If you earn a 10 or higher you've proven your expertise and you don't have to read this newsletter, but earn a 5 or lower and your attention is all mine for the next 10 minutes. Deal? OK--here it is:
Do you know how much revenue you realized in Q1 from leads generated through the Contact Us form on your site?
Do you know how many prospects in your email list meet your base demographic and behavioral criteria?
Do you know which of those prospects have visited your site in the past month?
…and which of those should you probably get in touch with today? more
June 2013 | Over the past year, we've been carefully studying the stages of the buying cycle, getting better acquainted with our audience, and thinking deeply about how they inform our content strategy. As a result, we've emerged at the other side with the strong opinion that the case study is uniquely suited to speak powerfully to the most discerning prospects' concerns, and should be among the most important content we create. And yet, it's often the most ignored. Chris Butler thinks it's time we changed that, and in this article, offers a plan you can put in place today to write great, sales-focused case studies... more
May 2013 | The last year has brought about many adjustments to our process and each one has only strengthened our conviction that design is as important and central to this business as ever. In this month's newsletter, Chris Butler goes deep into what design for the web is all about, how we demonstrate it, and how it is distributed throughout the entire process... more
April 2013 | Successful content marketing leaves you with a problem: More contacts to sort through and not enough information to do that confidently. This month, Chris Butler will provide an overview of marketing automation, from what it is and how it works, to specific techniques that will help you profile, score, and prioritize leads so that you can automate marketing programs that nurture them to sale... more
March 2013 | Are you happy with your website?
If you're like most small agency principals (owners of agencies with fewer than 100 full time employees) I know the answer is probably no. The typical agency principal is typically unhappy with their site. But why is that, and what's the fix? more
February 2013 | For many, the web design and development process is still veiled in mystery. There remains a lot of confusion about when things happen, how long they take, and who is responsible for them, not to mention basic design workflow differences between print and the web. This month, Chris Butler clarifies all of that with a comprehensive survey of the web design and development process, from start to finish... more
January 2013 | Two years ago, we listed all the things that should be on your mind before planning a rebuild — and there are many, from browser compatibility to budgeting. Even after all this time, much of that list remains the same today. But what has changed are the ways in which these individual factors are understood and handled. Since planning is naturally on our minds in January, we thought that this would be a good time to check in on this topic and bring it up to date... more
November 2012 | Here at Newfangled, we've been talking about the importance of web personas to the success of conversion-driven marketing websites for a long time. But it's no secret that many businesses lack the time or expertise needed to craft solidly researched and tested personas. At the same time, even the most detailed personas are lacking until they're placed in the context of the buying cycle. The good news? The buying cycle itself can be a source of meaningful personas. This month, Chris Butler looks at the four stages of the buying cycle and explains how they correspond with personas that everyone doing marketing on the web can benefit from... more
October 2012 | After a year or so of doing responsive design projects, we've learned a lot. We've even firmed up some of our opinions about what we're doing and how we're doing it. This month, Chris Butler reviews what responsive design is all about, gets a little critical, and provides a ton of visual examples of techniques that are working, and even some that are not... more
September 2012 | Have you been avoiding learning how to use Google Analytics because you assume that measurement and analysis is someone else's job? Have the words, "I'm not really a data person," or "I'm not an analyst" left your mouth recently? Well, this month, Chris Butler will share with you a simple, three-step approach to Google Analytics that has been designed to answer five specific questions you should be asking about your website... more
August 2012 | At Newfangled, we've been building sites exclusively on CMS platforms since 2000, so we've had an up-close view of the comings and going of the CMS market for just about as long as it's existed. In some way, content management is unrecognizable compared to what it was in 2000, in other ways, the more things change, the more they stay the same. This month, Mark O'Brien pushes to redefine CMS, from content management system to conversion management system... more
July 2012 | Starting in June, we began a survey of hundreds of small agencies in the US and elsewhere. The survey contained 132 questions, covering the operations, business practices, websites, content marketing, social media, web development and sales practices of participating firms. The survey respondents provided us with a huge amount of information, which we've organized, analyzed and prepared to share with you right here. Let the datastream begin...! more
June 2012 | Have you ever stopped to consider what makes an e-commerce website successful? Good planning? Investment? Good user interface design and consideration of usability? Security? It's obviously a combination of all of these things and more. Beginning with investment and working his way through checkout, this month Chris Butler will take you through the essential issues that make good e-commerce possible... more
May 2012 | Websites can have many unique purposes, but there are really only four simple, core reasons for creating them. This month, Chris Butler explains what these purposes are, and how we often overlook or mishandle them when we're too focused on using our websites to express ourselves... more
April 2012 | Scope creep. It's every designer and developer's enemy. But have you ever stopped to think about why scope creep happens? This month, Chris Butler makes the case that we—not our clients—are ultimately responsible for overloading our designs with unnecessary features and blowing the budget in the process. But he won't leave you hanging. He outlines a simple, three-step process you can use to prevent scope creep for good... more
March 2012 | Why is the design process so rife with opportunities for disappointment and failure? What are we doing wrong as designers? This month, Chris Butler goes deep into the underlying realities of design that pose the most significant difficulties to us in working with our clients to create new things for the web and emerges with some hard truths that will challenge you at your very core... more
February 2012 | This month Chris Butler follows up January's article on content with one that methodically builds a long-term but comprehensive content marketing strategy. If your goal is to make it to the top, you'll need to learn how to successfully master each step in-between and maintain a slow and steady pace... more
January 2012 | Are you struggling with content? This month, Chris Butler tackles the ins and outs of content marketing—covering everything from knowing when content works well and when it doesn't, to choosing the right kinds of content, to creating a system to manage the entire content creation process, to how not to let your ego get in the way, to how to avoid burnout. All of that plus much, much more… more
December 2011 | This month, Chris Butler takes a hard look at some recent developments in search and how they impact your ability to measure the effectiveness of your website. With the search-to-stats feedback loop broken, he offers some advice on how to creatively assemble a flexible and secure approach to website measurement... more
November 2011 | For designers, the phrase "Think outside of the box" is beyond cliche. The good news is that there is no box anymore! This month, Chris Butler takes a hard look at how interactive designers have responded to mobile devices and makes a case for taking a broader (no-box) approach: designing for content, rather than containers… more
October 2011 | This month we present full coverage of Chris Butler's presentation at the HOW Interactive Design Conference on measurement for interactive designers. You'll learn how to start regularly gathering data that provides enlightening, qualitative insights, how to meaningfully connect metrics from analytics tools, and how to gather data from real, live people... more
September 2011 | Ten seconds. That's how long your webpages have to get the attention of readers. Though it may sound like a insignificant amount of time, ten seconds is more than enough to spark interest, or, in some cases, lose it completely. This month, Chris Butler explores how a webpage's design can help users get to know its content... more
August 2011 | Payment gateways, PCI compliance, discount codes, sales tax, shipping... the list of ecommerce mysteries is longer than it should be. But this month, Chris Butler brings clarity to each of them and gives you a survey of how ecommerce works, from setup to sale... more
July 2011 | Do I need to use a CMS? If so, how do I choose the right one? We're asked these questions often and wish they had easy answers, but they don't. But perhaps the more important question is, How do I choose the right developer? In this month's newsletter, Chris Butler argues that if you choose the right developer, you will also choose the right CMS... more
June 2011 | This month, we're excited to announce the publication of Mark O'Brien's first book, A Website That Works: How Marketing Agencies Can Create Business Generating Websites! In the book, Mark covers a detailed, nine-step strategic planning process specifically developed for agency website projects. Chris Butler sat down for an interview with Mark to dig in to how that process works... more
May 2011 | How do mobile devices work and what role do they play in our culture? Does the best mobile strategy focus on apps or the web or both? Chris Butler attempts to answer these and other questions in this article, which advocates taking a mobile strategy based upon web content and adaptive design rather than getting sidetracked by the apps marketplace... more
April 2011 | Website usability tests are not the kind of experiences everyone walks away from feeling like a winner, which is exactly why you should do them. They don't just expose the flaws and weaknesses of a website's design or construction; more importantly, they reveal the inability of anyone close to the website to accurately judge it's effectiveness. This month I'd like to share with you the simple usability testing procedure we used on our own website, what we found, and what we're going to do next... more
March 2011 | What, exactly, is the role of design in prototyping? Once a prototype is approved, which aspects of it should designers take literally and which are more flexible? In this month's newsletter, I'll answer these questions and many more in an effort to clarify the relationship between website prototyping and visual design... more
February 2011 | Budgets may be tight, but time waits for no website! So, this month, we offer you some truly practical advice: how to do more with your website with less. From improving search functionality to employing some advanced tracking techniques, here are five different low-cost, high impact things you should be doing with your website... more
January 2011 | Even though creating consumer personas has been a common marketing practice for decades, applying the same principles to website planning tends to be overlooked. But without going through the process of web persona development, your client is much more prone to making guesses or assumptions about who their prospects are. In most cases, their guesses/assumptions will really look more like them than anyone else. Creating web personas, whether they are specific, general, or behavioral, prevents us from mistakenly building websites for ourselves rather than those we want to serve... more
December 2010 | Though it may seem like magic, search engines are the result of a thoroughly mundane—albeit ingenious—technology. But if search engines seem magical to their users, the process of optimizing web content for search engines will seem just as mysterious. Fortunately, we know enough about how search engines work to optimize our content with words, not wands, and in this month's newsletter, you'll learn everything you need to know to do just that... more
November 2010 | Websites don't last forever. Without consistent upkeep, sometimes they barely even make it three years! The rapid change of web technology can overtake what was once state-of-the-art and reduce a website to a quaint relic in pretty short order, which is why it's so critical to realistically consider the "shelf life" of your website when you first build it... more
October 2010 | This month, we go back to the basics of web content strategy and look at the various kinds of content, including blogs, newsletters, whitepapers, webinars, audiocast and video, that you might create for your website and examine the best practices for each... more
September 2010 | While ignoring the inner workings of tracking technology might be tenable for the average web user, those of us working in the digital marketing space are going to need to familiarize ourselves much more with how it all works, even if we have to figuratively hold our noses while doing so. In this article, I want to bring you up to speed on how tracking works, differentiate between limited and unlimited tracking, and explore how limited tracking can actually benefit users and marketers alike... more
August 2010 | Designers, instead of continuing to create confused, unclear and unfocused pages—pages that include more information than is necessary and in a way that undercuts their core purpose—let's adopt a new standard, following a very simple rubric: enabling attention... more
July 2010 | Why do we continue to trust the methods of the mass-media sites? We should know better than that. It's because when it comes to solidly debunking their strategy and providing a better one for our clients, we fall short of a good argument. We—designers, developers, and agencies alike—don't do a good enough job reassuring our clients that following the leader is not only unecessary, but bad for their business. So, for the remainder of this article, I want to dig a bit deeper into two examples of influential but poorly designed sites we're likely to take cues from and then provide a, well, simple plan for staying simple... more
June 2010 | Most of the successful marketing campaigns that stand out in my memory all revolve around characters. Some of them are simply charismatic spokespeople, like Geico's gecko, Nationwide's "Greatest Spokesperson in the World," or, I suppose, Burger King's creepy king. Others keenly represent the intended customer—think way back to Wendy's "where's the beef?" lady, or more recently to Apple's mac and PC guys. In all of these cases, it was decided that a more compelling message could be created by using characters to tell a story, rather than putting the product itself front and center... more
May 2010 | Measurement means all kinds of things to different people. But measuring user engagement with a website's content is what really matters. This month, we go back to the basics, looking at the fundamental metrics of visits, referrers, bounce rate and conversions, in order to advance forward to a new level of measurement understanding... more
April 2010 | If you haven't given any thought to how your website appears and functions on a mobile device, now is the time to do so. Fortunately, the web platform that most popular mobile devices use has been built to handle the existing web quite well, making it likely that your site will at least be functional on an albeit much reduced scale. So rather than facing a complete rebuild of your site in order to stay current, conceiving of a smaller, functionally-limited version of your site for mobile devices is your wisest first move... more
March 2010 | Have you started to get the feeling that you're a lone voice, crying out from the wilderness? You've been blogging for a few years now, but nothing seems to be coming from it. You've tried all kinds of ways of promoting your content, but nothing seems to work. Readers just aren't sticking around. The truth is that no promotion method is going to make your blog a success. Sure, the right luck with social media might get you a spike in traffic, but until your content truly captures the attention of readers, no single spike will turn in to lasting engagement... more
February 2010 | The web--the entire web, including every individual website in it, even yours--is a work in progress. Once the initial planning, design, development and testing of a website is complete, there's actually plenty more to be done. So before you schedule that vacation, make sure you've taken into account the content entry and go-live process, as well as the schedule you plan to follow moving forward with your website content strategy. Content entry? Go live? Content Strategy? If you're hearing this for the first time, then stick around. This article is for you... more
January 2010 | I've read plenty of interesting analogies used to explain what building a website is like. I've even written a few myself. From various points of view, a website could be compared to a car, a house, a cellphone, a movie, or all kinds of other things. I've even heard a website compared to a clown (don't ask). Most of the time, these analogies are striving to find the most effective way of emphasizing the time, cost, complexity or purposes of a website project. Rather than construct yet another metaphor around that point, I'm just going to come right out and say it: Building a website is a complex task that takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money. But that's not the really interesting part, is it? more
December 2009 | Building a new website is a big deal. It takes a lot of time and effort from many people. If you were expecting to simply place an order and be notified when your site is done, you should be prepared for disappointment. That is how basic templates are delivered, not how great websites are built... more
November 2009 | We are all librarians now. I'll back that statement up over the course of this article, but if you're already picturing a stern, bespectacled woman who might shush you at any moment, think again. Today, our lives represent a fusion of roles hitherto segregated to a minor piece of society- the author, the producer, the librarian. The libraries I'm talking about are networks of content on the web, and they're run by ordinary users just like you and me... more
October 2009 | Most often when we fail to achieve the results we are after, it is due not to inadequate effort, but to doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons. We tend to set goals far more easily than we determine how to actually achieve them. And yet, when we don't reach our objectives, we are confounded as to why. This truth is at the core of why many companies (including Newfangled) struggle with maintaining a web content strategy: We know the results we're after, but we don't go about achieving them in the right way. We know that our goal is to build our businesses, so we must shift our focus to online engagement. But we are often reticent to let the chaos of constant and ubiquitous content remain the status quo and search engine optimization the only means to that goal. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. So we do, creating plenty of meaningless content and burning out in the process. more
September 2009 | The epitaph on Buckminster Fuller's tombstone reads, "CALL ME TRIMTAB." In life, he used the trim tab, a very small attachment to a boat's rudder that controls its speed and direction, as a metaphor for his own life, which he saw as an experiment to make the greatest impact on the world that he could using the least amount of resources. What a wonderful idea! While he went on to invent many entirely new techniques and structures, I'd venture to guess that Bucky would have preferred to see if a small adjustment could be made to an existing process or device in order to increase its effectiveness and value before going back to the drawing board. more
August 2009 | In his book "What Leaders Really Do," John P. Kotter defines management as "coping with complexity," a discipline that emerged as a necessary component of operating large, complex organizations. Just as coping with complexity is needed for managing groups of people and processes, it is also critical to managing a website. Over the past year, we've attempted to focus in on and refine the process of web development and design, beginning with the planning stages and moving all the way through to quality assurance. Time and again, the management techniques stand out as the defining characteristics of a successful process. While many of our clients begin their relationship with us primarily concerned with production issues, it is not long before coping with the complexity of the process becomes the thing they care most about. more
July 2009 | Imagine touring Paris, guided in real time on your phone by a custom walking tour you created using data from the web. Holding your phone up to the bistro on the corner, a menu as well as reviews from other travelers pops up on the screen, which you briefly scan before deciding to stop for a bite. Before walking in, you pause and reach into your pocket for your debit card, which recognizes your biometrics and holographically displays your current balance. It's a bit less than you remembered. Well, the bistro is a bit pricey, but you had a cheap breakfast... more
June 2009 | In his December, 2007 Techlog column, PC World Editor in Chief Harry McCracken wrote, "More than any communications medium before it, the Web is a permanent work in progress that's always new." Since I read it, I've probably parroted McCracken's line a thousand times to clients, colleagues, friends, and family to the point that many of them probably think that I came up with it. I wish I was that brilliant. Sadly, I am not, nor am I able to actually see into the future with any certainty, though that does not keep me from thinking and talking about it constantly. more
May 2009 | Social media is no longer a novelty. With the number of users of various social networks rising to pretty astonishing levels (Facebook, for example, has 200 million active users globally), it's clear that we've reached a point where social media has been well integrated into contemporary human culture. Now, the trick for all of us is how to practically integrate social media into how we operate professionally, which I expect will be at times fun, confusing, challenging, frustrating, and exhausting. more
April 2009 | In last month's newsletter, How to Write a Newsletter, I focused on the importance of making writing a priority at your firm, how to plan an editorial calendar and research your topics, and the relationship between your email and website newsletter content. Now that we've gotten a conceptual grounding for a solid newsletter writing approach, the next step is to makes sure you're doing all the practical things that will make your campaign effective and productive. more
March 2009 | In most cases, I am more interested in the whys of things than the hows. As a result, this particular newsletter is more about the practice of writing, as well as the strategic considerations of a newsletter campaign, than it is about technological implementation. While I will spend some time talking about how to implement a newsletter campaign, my primary goal is that you finish reading this newsletter inspired to write your own. more
February 2009 | Designing for the Web is more like jazz than a symphony. When you design for print, you can control just about every detail, finely crafting your vision and then conducting the production each step along the way. Similarly, classical composers write every note in advance, even including instructions for how the notes are to be played. more
January 2009 | Google Analytics is, in my opinion, the most valuable application that Google has created so far. Sure, Gmail has significantly changed how we communicate, but if I was really in a bind, I could still get an email message to someone without using it. However, we have become so dependent upon Google Analytics that without it, all of our marketing efforts would be much less effective and perhaps even fail. more
December 2008 | There are few things more satisfying than creating something from scratch. But sometimes, assembling existing components is actually the more efficient approach. Perhaps you don't have the luxury of starting from scratch; the raw materials and time needed to complete the job may far exceed the time and budget actually at your disposal. Or, perhaps someone else has already done some of the work you need to do, better than you could ever do it yourself! After all, we can't all be Tony Stark, right? more
November 2008 | Back in 2006, Eric had to travel all the way to Los Angeles, rent a bunch of video equipment, and hire a team of people in order to make the three videos we feature on our homepage. Once the shooting was complete, he had to come back to North Carolina, edit the videos, do some audio work, convert them to a web-friendly format, and then have our developers embed them on our website. Just think about the time and money that went toward those three videos! more
October 2008 | When I was a college resident adviser, my boss would frequently challenge me with the same irksome rhetorical question-- likely because he knew it vexed me, but also because it was an effective way to get me to really think about how I did my job. He'd tilt his head ever so slightly, raise one eyebrow, and say, "Chris, is perception reality?" I always wanted to answer "no," valuing the absolute truth over what might be someone else's incorrect perception of me. Yet I also sensed that the answer was "yes," because someone's perception could often be their only real experience of me.
So is perception reality? For many companies, the answer is certainly yes. Customers and potential customers will define a company's reputation through their collective influence. Whether by word of mouth, written reviews, news stories, or public complaints, the customer's perception is what shapes the reality of a company's reputation. more
September 2008 | A few months ago, a friend and I found some wild bamboo and thought we'd bring a cutting home to try and raise some ourselves. After several weeks of inactivity and what seemed like complete drying (or dying) of the stalk, I concluded that my attempt had failed. Recently, thanks to Darryl Salerno's presentation at the HOW: Mind Your Own Business conference, I found out some information that would have changed everything. Did you know that, once it has been planted, bamboo takes up to four years to break the soil and begin to visibly grow? It needs all that time just to properly root in the soil. But once it has surfaced, it can grow up to six inches per day! With growth that rapid, the wait seems well worthwhile to me. If only I had done a little research and been a bit more patient!
Just like growing bamboo, maintaining a blog is really a long-term investment. In order to make the investment pay off, you'll need to identify the purpose of your blog, do some initial research in order to formulate a plan, and of course, be patiently diligent in your efforts.
This month, with these principles in mind, I want to answer a question that I am sure you have either asked yourself, or been asked by your clients: Is it time to start a blog? more
August 2008 | Grocery stores employ many tactics to influence shoppers' purchases, including eye-level marketing, grouping products, canned scents, irrational pricing, point-of-sale items, and shuffling of stock. It's likely you've encountered and been influenced by these techniques before, especially if you came without a list. In fact, psychologists say that shoppers who plan their trips to the supermarket by assembling a list in advance are more likely to purchase the items they need and stick to the budget they expect. On the other hand, those shoppers who approach supermarket visits spontaneously are likely to buy more unnecessary items and spend more money. Grocery stores plan for the shoppers who don't plan; that's how they make a profit.
In the same way, any web development project should be planned well in advance to ensure that the goals, scope, budget and timeline are appropriate and achievable. The difference is that, unlike grocery stores, web development companies don't profit from clients who don't plan. When it comes to our clients, we're in this thing together, from start to finish.
This month, I'd like to review the steps involved in a web development project, paying particular attention to the aspects that are often overlooked or underfunded by our clients. more
July 2008 | I do most of my best work in the morning. In fact, I'm writing this at 7:00 am from my desk in our currently quiet, empty office. I don't get here early to "show up" my coworkers; I do it because I know that I am going to do my best thinking and highest quality writing first thing in the morning when the office is empty, the phones aren't ringing, and my inbox isn't growing by the minute. Since the creation of this newsletter is central to our content strategy as a company, I have chosen to work on it at a time at which I know I'll be able to do it to the best of my ability and without interruption. Likewise, I hope you've found a quiet and comfortable corner of your workplace to spend a few minutes reading this. Believe me when I tell you that considering these practical issues of time and place is critical to the success of your strategic pursuits, whether on or offline.
This month I want to focus in on the most important aspect of your online presence: Content Strategy. I'll first briefly review what I mean by content strategy, then cover how positioning directs it, and, once you've identified what yours should be, how to put it into practice.
What is a content strategy?
Put simply, content strategy involves identifying the type of content that will best enable you to communicate your positioning and achieve your online goals, then planning for the creation of that content by allocating time and resources to the effort. more
June 2008 | My first encounter with tagging was on Flickr. I discovered Flickr a few years ago when a colleague and I were chatting about emerging "Web 2.0" websites. He thought Flickr's photo sharing interface was a classic example. On Flickr people add descriptive "tags" to their photos. Two people walking on a beach might be tagged: beach, ocean, john, jane, sand, water, vacation, happy, and blue. At first I was bewildered. Tags seemed so disorganized, unstructured, and random. I didn't understand why people bothered adding tags. How did they hope to use them?
Today I'm a tagging junkie. I primarily tag blog posts and web pages. What may seem like a primitive, even pointless personal filing system is becoming the "connective tissue" of the entire web.
Tags help manage information, but that's just the beginning. They also enable collaboration, create opportunities for discovery, extend value through sharing, and I believe will impact the future of search.
If you've taken my advice to begin subscribing to blogs via RSS, adding tagging to your web 2.0 tool box is critical next step. more
May 2008 | This month I had the pleasure of speaking at Highland Capital Partner's Internet Marketing Summit on the subject of search engine marketing. In my presentation I showed why search marketing is by far the most dominant form of Internet marketing. Over forty percent of all Internet marketing budgets are spent on search engine marketing.
This month's newsletter will review the principles that make search marketing so effective. We've discussed many of them in past newsletters, but this month I'll tie them all together. You'll learn how the combination of context, intent and recommendation make search marketing the gold standard by which all other Internet marketing is measured. more
April 2008 | I (Eric) have been writing our Web Smart newsletters, month in and month out, for over seven years. Which makes this month's newsletter a happy, yet sentimentally somber relief. This month Chris Butler, Newfangled's Vice President, will pick up where our March 2006 newsletter on RSS left off.
RSS is a powerful advance in Internet technology. It's a game changer. Yet, RSS is also one of the most underutilized Internet technologies. If you feel like the Internet is taking over and you just don't know how to catch up, RSS can help. And, if you don't feel that way you should look behind you; there's a rising tidal wave of Internet marketing that is threatening to capsize the traditional marketing boat. It's time to start bailing out that water rising around your ankles, and RSS is the best place to start. more
March 2008 | The search engine optimization approach Newfangled practices is more akin to farming than it is to hunting. Farming involves planting lots of seeds and then waiting patiently as each one contributes to a harvest. There is a place for SEO hunting, that aggressively goes after a few prize keywords. Direct sales of consumer products, for example, may require an SEO hunter. But in my opinion those goals fit an AdWord campaigns more than organic SEO. But hey, if you can get performance in organic search results for phrases like "ink jet cartridge refills" or "cheap airline tickets to Bermuda," more power to ya.
SEO farming on the other hand is about casting lots of compelling content onto your site. As we saw last month this approach is more in line with how search engines work, and it benefits from how searchers search. This month I'll use Google Analytics to demonstrate how you can reap an SEO harvest using a farmer's approach. more
February 2008 | While social media sites like Facebook may be getting all the press these days, it's important to remember that search not only started it all, but is still the most effective Internet marketing channel.
Any Internet marketing strategy needs to be heavily weighted toward search. And search engine optimization is the first place to start. I've written quite a bit about search engine optimization in the past, but this month I'll begin a two part video series on how Newfangled approaches search engine optimization. Here in part one I'll cover the nitty-gritty of how to optimize a specific web page for search engines, and next month, I'll review our search engine performance using Google Analytics. more
January 2008 | I will become platform and computer independent. I'm very close to being able to work from any computer anywhere in the world and I'm moving toward this goal by adopting web-based applications instead of desktop apps. I began this journey in June of 2006 when I started using Gmail. Email is a critical function. If I couldn't accomplish email independence, my dream of platform independence would soon be over.
It's hard to imagine something as pedestrian as email being exiting, but Gmail is one of those tools that makes you wonder how you ever managed to get along without it. If you haven't made the move to Gmail, hopefully, after reading this month's newsletter you'll be ready to make the leap. If you already use Gmail, read anyway. I've highlighted some features and options you might want to know about. more
December 2007 | We kicked off our 2007 newsletters with "Why We Prototype." It was a short re-telling of how we stumbled upon our grayscreen prototyping process. The longer version is recounted in our book, Client vs. Developer Wars.
We'll finish the year off with the subject of prototyping again--but this time we'll talk about how we prototype. We've also produced a ten minute video demonstration of our prototyping process. more
November 2007 | Last May I asked the question, is social media madness? The culture of openness can be perplexing, but whether or not you think social media is madness, there's no denying its growth. And social media's potential for marketing is profound (which is why a 15 billion dollar valuation for Facebook is not entirely absurd). Missing from last May's newsletter was a review of Facebook. While MySpace still has a lead in terms of overall users, Facebook is catching up quickly. According to ComScore, from 2006 to 2007 Facebook's growth rate was 270% compared to MySpace at 72%.
Posts about Facebook's recent controversial announcements about a new advertising platform are all over the new media blogosphere. The advertising model for social media is tricky, and while it's way too early to declare a winner in this space, the last man standing may become even more powerful than Google.
Whether you're inclined to create a Facebook profile or not, understanding how Facebook works and how social media marketing is developing is important for agencies. more
September 2007 | This week I'm heading to St. Louis to speak at a conference for one of our clients. Pet Sitters International is an association for educating promoting, and supporting pet sitters. I'll be talking about how small local service providers, like pet sitters, can effectively market themselves online. Over two years ago I wrote a newsletter called "Let Your Fingers Do The Clicking." I discussed the rise of local search and how it would disrupt traditional local Yellow Pages advertising. Consider it disrupted. The marketing landscape for a small local business, such as pet sitters, restaurants, doctors, and designers has changed.
So what steps should a local business take to recoup losses from Yellow Pages abandonment? And how can they take advantage of the many opportunities this disruption has created?
Step one: read on. more
August 2007 | In our newsletter “The Internet at Work,” I reviewed some of the Internet-based applications we use here at Newfangled. Well, Web 2.0 has been in high gear for a couple years now and today there are vast numbers of web-based applications that can replace just about any desktop equivalent. Word processing, accounting, image editing, video production, database development, customer relationship management, and presentation software all have their online counterparts.
But how do these web apps compare with their offline brethren? Are they as reliable? What about privacy and access? Important questions all, but one thing's for sure, desktop applications are being given a run for their money—er, well maybe not for their money, since these online apps are usually free.
This month we'll review some of these web-based applications and share which ones we use. more
July 2007 | Out back, behind my shed, lies a big, parabolic, dish-shaped hunk of metal. It's my old DirecTV dish. Okay, I still have a DirectTV dish--I had the old one replaced with a High Definition dish this spring. But that old dish lying in a junk pile symbolizes things to come--things that are, in fact, already here.
Television delivery moved from the air waves to cables and the dish. Next, it's moving to the Internet. With this simple shift in delivery method comes an exponential increase in content, an entirely new approach to advertising, and changes in how entertainment is produced and delivered. Get ready for Internet TV. more
June 2007 | There's a lot of buzz these days about Web 2.0, blogging, YouTube, and Google vs. Microsoft. Interest is growing in Internet TV, wikis, and social media. And of course interest in old fashioned search engine optimization is stronger than ever. But what's the net effect? (..."Net effect"--that's a good one.)
Do you know how your website doing among the billions of web pages, millions of videos and all manner of things for sale on eBay and Amazon? Do you know if all the activity of bloggers, RSS feed junkies, and online communities is increasing traffic to your site?
Well, since all this activity is happening on the web, your website is a good place to start measuring. more
May 2007 | Over the past year, as I've been writing about how Web 2.0 relates to advertising and marketing, I've described social media concepts, tools, and websites. This month I delve deeper into the realm of social media.
One underlying value of social media is openness. The suspicious side of my brain looks at the culture of online openness and wonders what madness has overcome our self-preservation privacy instincts. Yet, on the other hand, there's tremendous value being created by the vast connections, collaborative efforts, online communities, and the many tagging and recommendation engines that run on openness and participation.
Has the Internet culture gone mad? Or are we beginning to see a new digital fabric that weaves human and machine into one vast environment of knowledge and resources? And where does marketing fit in this new community? Is it welcome? more
April 2007 | Cooking up an Advertising 2.0 marketing plan usually includes at least some measure of online advertising. Online advertising has many flavors such as banners, blog ads, rich media ads, content sponsorship, email newsletter sponsorships and more. But the most popular flavor? Search engine advertising--with Google serving up the most ads. The lucrative Web 2.0 economy has been bolstered largely on Google's success in turning website traffic into money (I'm trying to avoid using the overused word "monetization"). Google has filled its coffers on ad revenues. Spinning web traffic into gold has emboldened all manner of content-oriented sites, blogs, web-based applications, and online virtual communities and social networks.
The announcement this week of Google's acquisition of DoubleClick for $3.1 billion demonstrates how big online advertising has become.
Recent developments in online advertising and new features--especially search engine advertising, makes it time to review and expand upon this important facet of Advertising 2.0. more
March 2007 | Blogs are the center of gravity in the Advertising 2.0 world. They are the voices of conversational media. But blogging is also a focal point for other aspects of digital marketing. Search engine optimization and marketing, online advertising, online public relations, and even branding all engage blogs in one way or another. This month's newsletter addresses subjects such as "what makes a blog a blog," "how many blogs are there," "how to find blogs," and "how advertisers and marketers can engage bloggers to promote brands and services." So let's get right to it... more
February 2007 | Technology disrupts. But it also creates opportunities. Web 2.0 is disrupting traditional marketing and advertising, in its place a new form of advertising is evolving - I call it Advertising 2.0. more
January 2007 | The year 2000 was a pivotal one for Newfangled. We began work on what has become the NewfangledCMS, and it was also the year we first started grayscreen prototyping. While our CMS is the most appreciated by our clients, grayscreen prototyping is really the heart of how Newfangled works. In fact, I would go so far to say that without grayscreen prototyping we would have gone out of business well before our CMS ever had the chance to mature.
This month's Web Smart newsletter digs into the reasons why we prototype. And why we couldn't get along without it. more
December 2006 | Last month we reviewed the new Newfangled website which had been in the works for over a year. Not all websites take that long to build--in fact we've launched significant sites in a little less than a month (not all websites are built that fast). However long one works on a website, there comes the day when we "send the site live." It's a day of great anticipation and anxiety. Getting everything together, making last minute changes, testing everything for the umteenth time, dealing with technical details, and finally pulling the trigger can be a momentous event.
This month's newsletter serves as a preparatory document for going live with a new site. Dotting all the I's and crossing all the T's before a site launch will make for a celebratory experience rather than a potentially fearful one. more
October 2006 | It's time for an update on the state of the browser again. This month, the new Internet Explorer 7 was finally released. Having defeated Netscape some years ago, Microsoft was able to rest in its victory for quite a while. But nature and economics abhor a vacuum, and the browser space was soon filled by Mozilla's open source Firefox browser. And, of course, Apple has its own popular browser, Safari.
Anticipating the release of IE7, Firefox launched it's version 2 browser, and Apple has a Safari update in the works.
The million dollar question is, will the new browsers help or hurt? more
September 2006 | Until recently, putting video on a website was not the simplest of endeavors. Digitizing media from video tapes required special equipment and detailed knowledge of video formats, codecs, frame rates and a host of other options that bewilder the digitally impaired. Once a video file was obtained there were further considerations such as which browser video plug-in to support, whether to stream or download, as well as file size and download speed concerns.
But significant improvements and simplifications for getting video on the web are underway. It is now possible to go from VHS to the web quickly, easily and even possibly for free. This month's newsletter explains why adding video content to a website is becoming so much easier and it walks through a sample process for taking a video from VHS tape to a website. more
August 2006 | Me and type go way back. At RISD I did an internship with Barry Moser whose fine, press limited-edition books blew my mind. Hot type printed on handmade paper--it's a thing of beauty. My degree project was designing, illustrating, printing and binding an edition of 50 handmade books. I still remember taking a file to my 36pt metal type to tighten up the kerning for the book title. Setting type by hand, justifying with coppers, tins and little slips of paper--typography was not for the lazy. more
July 2006 | Much of the world's stuff, especially digital stuff, is online. Music, books, opinions, news, photos, illustrations, movies, videos, data, software - it's all there to be had. A natural result of everyone having access to all this stuff is the act of sharing. Mashups, derivative works, and re-use of everything from music samples to photographs have created an altogether new genre of content. Marketers are only beginning to learn how to use trendsetting and viral campaigns to build a cultural "buzz." Generating talk can often be more effective than broadcasting to the mass market. more
June 2006 | So, we're busy working on our new Newfangled website. It's targeted to go online in September. As part of this effort I've been reviewing past newsletters. Wow, five years of monthly newsletters - that's a lot of content! Some of these old newsletters will soon be removed or re-written since their information is out of date. more
May 2006 | Last month we began to define "Web 2.0" as a resurgence of web based applications and services. Many startups, backed by venture capital, are creating all sorts of new web services. There are now hundreds, maybe thousands of sites that can help you store, access, discover and share websites, news, blogs, videos, music and even friends. more
April 2006 | Wikis and Swikis and Blogs are tools of the Web 2.0 renaissance. Not sure what I'm talking about? Well that's why we write these newsletters. Next month, in part two of this newsletter, I will describe tools like wikis and blogs, but for literary purposes (the title) these tools are representative of the overall Web 2.0 phenomenon, which is our primary subject this month. I think you'd agree the title flows much better than "Social Bookmarking, Folksonomies, and Link Clouds! Oh My!" more
March 2006 | RSS feeds are one way to keep your content out in front of your audience. RSS help you keep tabs on your favorite sources of information. This month we'll review RSS, how it works, how to publish a feed, and how to use an RSS reader. more
February 2006 | Many people misunderstand the goal of search engine optimization as distinct from search engine marketing. Applying SEM expectations to SEO can lead to significant frustration and disappointment. more
January 2006 | The past year has been one of some transition for Newfangled. We've moved offices, moved employees, changed phone and network providers, and implemented new administrative software systems. After a year of trial and error searching for flexible and affordable business infrastructure tools, we've discovered a few that have really been great. These internet based systems have allowed us to keep our company running smoothly - no matter where any of us might be on any given day. more
December 2005 | Everyone wants to be number one in Google. I'm happy to have a few phrases that hit that golden spot myself. But in the not-too-distant future (and for some that future is today), the notion of being number one in Google will come to an end. more
October 2005 | "What can I do for fun, right now, today?" My daughter, Katie, came out with this snappy expression when she was four years old. This month's newsletter is just for fun. That's not to say that fun can't be serious business. One of the coolest things about the web is that is enables just about anyone to share their creativity with the entire world. There are some pretty creative folks out there - albeit sometimes with a bit too much time on their hands. So take a break from work for a few minutes, and rejuvenate your own creativity by enjoying bit of fun on the web - right now, today. more
September 2005 | Over the past year our monthly newsletters have addressed the topic of search engine optimization and the fundamental need for relevant content a number of times. I won't revisit that topic again this month, but I will apply these lessons specifically to advertising agency and artist websites. Given that fact that "Words Make the Web Work" (Oct. 2004), what happens when the primary content of a website is pictures and not words? Advertising agencies, design firms and especially fine artists ultimately create visual products and display them as jpegs on a website. When primary web content is pictorial, its most relevant subject matter remains invisible and irrelevant to search engines. Read on for some ideas on how to overcome this unfortunate, yet common problem. more
August 2005 | This month's newsletter is a short summer follow up to last month's newsletter about the current state of web browsers. It's also short because, for the first time in ten years since starting Newfangled, I've been able to take a week long vacation (two of them, in fact). Thank you, Mark O'Brien! Last month we reviewed the current crop of browsers and discussed some positive movement toward adopting browser standards, including the way Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are implemented. Cascading Style Sheets have been around for quite a while - if you're a web designer this subject may seem archaic - yet their effective use depends a lot on how all the various browsers support CSS standards, and that's where it gets tricky. This month we'll describe what CSS is and why it's so helpful. We'll also discuss how they can be implemented in the context of an imperfect web browser environment. more
July 2005 | Can it be? Has it been three years since we last wrote a newsletter about the Browser War? A lot has changed since 2002, and it's about time we updated you on this fundamental web development topic. Three years ago, we did some math and computed that, accounting for browser versions, computer platforms, and operating system versions, there were over 245 distinct browsers in use. That was three years ago! I don't think my math skills are capable of calculating how many there are now. But aside from the continuing proliferation of browsers, there is some good news too. Today's browsers have some great new features and, wonder of wonders, they are more standards compliant than ever before. This month we'll review the browser landscape, highlight new features, and provide information related to how Newfangled supports these new browsers. more
June 2005 | At Search Engine Strategies New York, I was able to preview the new Urchin 6 (now Google Analytics) website traffic analysis system. We have been happily using Urchin 5 for our sites, but the new Urchin 6 has some impressive new features. Now that Urchin 6 has been released and I've been able to use it for the past month, I'm even more impressed than I was with the preview. more
May 2005 | The homepage is, of course, the most important page on your website. If your site were a book it would be the cover. Your site's homepage ought to establish the site's main theme, and begin to hint at the most important content. more
April 2005 | Last month we reviewed the topic of local search featuring Google's new mapping system. This month I'll review other new Google features. Among the most interesting are Blogger, Google Desktop, and Google Answers. more
January 2005 | Over the course of my ten years in business development for Newfangled I have seen some excellent potential projects bite the dust based solely on a negative response from someone in the prospect's IT department. This is particularly frustrating when said technologist was not even part of the sales conversation. If we could only have discovered technological objections earlier, we could have provided answers or re-evaluated the needs and saved everyone involved from wasting their time. Some technology hurdles are objective - such as requiring Microsoft based technology. Other hurdles are subjective - such as how an IT professional feels about a particular vendor. more
December 2004 | For the past two months we've been writing about the power of words on the web. When it comes to website marketing the dictum "content is king" is true. The most popular sites always provide the best and most interesting content. Website marketing efforts are rewarded when frequent, quality content is added regularly. For the past year Newfangled has been busily building and testing new NewfangledCMS tools that help maximize content based marketing. Email newsletters, advanced tracking tools, search engine sensitive pages, and a Google optimizer make the most of your content. But all these tools are useless without one essential ingredient - content! more
November 2004 | Last month we wrote about how words make the web work. We talked about how good writing is rare on the web. In part because the work involved in writing well is often underestimated. more
October 2004 | When speaking of website content, the word "content" is an utter abstraction. Reliance on abstract words like "content" to stand in for specific, concrete realities is necessary in order to communicate broadly about concepts and ideas. Newfangled in particular relies on the term "content" quite frequently as we discuss the web development process. We talk about how we prototype the structure, content, and functionality of a site using grayscreen prototypes. We highlight the many benefits of content management using the NewfangledCMS. Yet when it comes down to it, the definite, concrete written words contained in a website are critically important to how a website works. This month we examine how the effective use of words can make or break website marketing. more
September 2004 | Online advertising is back. After the burst of the dot com bubble in 2001, online banner advertising dropped dead. Now that the technology world has recovered and the internet has matured, online advertising is again garnering attention. This month's newsletter addresses the pitfalls, benefits, and opportunities for online advertising. It specifically reviews the popularity of Google AdWords. You might be surprised at how inexpensive and effective online advertising can be! more
August 2004 | Newfangled stresses that content management is the foundation upon which a website can become a powerful marketing and communications tool. But content management won't accomplish this automatically. That's why the NewfangledCMS has advanced tracking tools that can further transform a website into a powerful marketing tool. This month's newsletter describes our advanced tracking tools and also functions as a how-to manual for our clients who use them. more
July 2004 | This month's newsletter about analyzing website traffic is an update to a previous newsletter we wrote way back in April of 2001. This updated newsletter goes into more detail about how to use, read, and analyze the information contained in an Urchin report. We've also provided some general benchmarks for evaluating the information contained in a site's Urchin report. more
May 2004 | This month's newsletter is the second in a two part series on search engine optimization. Part one was one of our most popular newsletters yet. I'm very excited to write this month's newsletter because it describes a NewfangledCMS search engine optimization application that we have been working on since last September. This tool tracks inbound visits from Google, on a page-by-page, phrase-by-phrase, individual user session basis. It helps to quantify and refine your search engine optimization efforts. We've been using this tool on our website since November, learning and refining how it works. Now we get to show you how it all works! This month we describe a search engine strategy we've employed that works very effectively. more
April 2004 | Two years ago we wrote a newsletter about search engine optimization ("Struggling with Search Engines"). This month we begin a two part series on search engine strategies and new advanced NewfangledCMS search engine optimization tools that will soon be available to NewfangledCMS sites. Some of the terms we'll use in this newsletter were explained in the original newsletter. more
March 2004 | This month's newsletter makes the argument that content management is the foundation upon which the future of web development will be established. The potential usefulness of a website, to any given company, is contingent on what that company does. A manufacturer, a retailer, and a non-profit organization will all benefit from the web in radically different ways. However, the ability to easily add and change site content is the foundation for any future usefulness of a website. Upon the foundation of content management there are many new and exciting possibilities that can be explored. more
December 2003 | Back in 1997 I was browsing through the business section at Barnes and Noble trying to find help. I was a young guy who found himself in transition from designing and coding websites to managing a growing web development company (my one â€˜professional practices' course at RISD wasn't cutting it). A book happened to stand out, probably because it was small, short, and the average chapter length was about one page. It was called, Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith. This month's newsletter is a book report on this marvelous little book. While not web specific, it can help any agency or design firm not only hone their own marketing message, but help their clients to do the same. more
November 2003 | I have to admit, that even though we're a web development company, I've never enjoyed working with our own website as much as I have over the past few weeks. We want you to experience the same thrill of using a website that actually produces results you can see and measure. We want you to see the potential for using the web to market your own services as an advertising agency or design firm. It's time to reconcile the past, and fall back in love with your website. Toward that end, we are making a special offer to rebuild agency or design firm websites to include all the features mentioned in this month's newsletter, and more! more
October 2003 | How much is a website? Do your sites work with search engines? How much is a website? Will I be able to add pages to my site? How much is a website? What happens if you go out of business? How much is a web site? There are a host of frequently asked questions when it comes to web development. The new Newfangled website answers many of them. However, we think our new "Infrequently Asked Questions" section is much more interesting because there are some questions that rarely get asked, but really should. more
September 2003 | Splash pages are dead, well mostly dead anyway. In 1999 I wrote an article for Web Techniques magazine called "Web Sites That Really Make a Splash" (July 1999). In it I talked about the appropriate and inappropriate uses of splash pages. By a splash page I mean a "cover" page for a site that leads into a home page where links into the rest of the site are found. Splash pages typically use animations, sound clips, and perhaps animated tag lines. If the first page on a site has a "skip intro" link, it's a splash page. In the article, one of the appropriate instances for using a splash page was for a design company (like yours and mine) to show creativity. In fact I would venture to guess that most of you reading this newsletter currently use a splash page on your site. I hope, without ruffling too many feathers, I can persuade you that splash is now dead. more
August 2003 | I receive between 300 and 400 spam emails every day. Spam is not just an annoying time waster, but it is also beginning to strangle email as a useful means of communicating and as an appropriate marketing tool. Unfortunately, there are very few solutions to this problem. Most anti-spam efforts being made today focus on dealing with the spam you get, rather than eliminating it. This month's newsletter provides an overview of the growing problem, some tips for staying off as many spam lists as possible, and some advice on how to contend with the spam you are already receiving.
There are five stages we all go through as we deal with spam. The first stage is bewilderment. The first time we receive spam we are bewildered at why we've received an unsolicited invitation to meet with someone we've never heard of, or why we've been offered a solution to grow more hair, or why a senior aid to an African dictator needs our help to protect 10 million dollars. At first we are genuinely perplexed and not sure what to do with this information. The second stage is anger. As we continue to receive more and more email we start angrily clicking on the "remove me from list" link, or we might reply to messages with angry requests to be removed from the list that sent us the email. By replying, we are unwittingly helping the spammers by confirming that our email address works. As a result we get more and more spam. The third stage is frustration. As the amount of spam we receive increases, we are forced to spend more and more time slogging through it. The fourth stage is sophistication. At some point we get used to distinguishing spam from real email, and can quickly scan our inbox to identify and delete the spam. We might even learn how to set some email filters to automatically move email with certain words directly into the trash. Ultimately however, spam will win. Finally, we reach the fifth stage when we come to realize that we need an automated way of managing this problem. At this stage we resign ourselves to having to pay for a special service or software that will help us contend with spam. more
July 2003 | Many advertising agencies and design firms have been cautious in their involvement with their clients' websites. In some cases they have avoided the web all together. Those who do offer web services often struggle to win their existing clients' web business. When won, producing and delivering a site that makes their client happy, and the agency money, has been elusive. This is one reason Newfangled Web Factory, and other web development companies exist. It's because your clients have been coming directly to us. Many of our clients have agencies and design firms, but we never meet or speak with them because the web project is seen as being outside their expertise or capabilities. We'll take the business, but frankly we feel that you should, "keep your clients to yourself!" more
June 2003 | One aspect of Newfangled's agency alliance is our design consultation. Typically when we are working with an agency or design firm they will send web page layouts to us for review before presenting them to their clients. This allows us to provide technical and information design feedback to the agency so that they can be confident that what they present will be easily produced. We have written a couple of newsletters that provide some tips for print designs as they transition to designing for the web. We're often asked for recommendations for books that can further help in this transition. While there are plenty of books out there on this subject, there are few that provide practical help without getting into the minutia of HTML coding (which most print designers don't want to deal with) or becoming too theoretical. One book that does an excellent job of providing concrete information design tips for the web is Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think. This month's newsletter is a book report on his book as well as a short list of other books we recommend. more
May 2003 | A website costs as much as a car. The range of options and costs associated with buying a car are actually a very good comparison to the cost of a website. It's possible to buy a decent used car for under $5,000 that should be perfectly adequate to get you where you need to go. Similarly, buying a new car can run the gamut from a bare bones Kia Rio for under $10,000 to a high end Porsche 911 for $80,000 plus. Beyond the desired car's look and style, there are many other considerations that will affect its cost like how many people fit in, how fast it goes, what options are included, etc. This month's newsletter is intended to provide a rough framework of how Newfangled approaches project pricing. It looks at the major factors that we consider when creating a budget. more
March 2003 | Building an e-commerce site is a challenging process. Certainly there are some technical challenges, but more critical are the challenges related to the customer's expectations. Additionally, how a company manages their offline business practices has a direct impact on how their online system will function. Finally, there are quite a few details that need to be explained and discussed when building an e-commerce site. E-commerce sites tend to have a much broader range of scope and complexity then other kinds of sites. This month's newsletter will describe various aspects to e-commerce sites and identify the particular aspects that tend to complicate e-commerce projects.
Prior to the "dot-com" crash of 2000, the marketplace was filled with businesses that wanted to sell online. Many ill-conceived business plans were enabled by venture capital with the primary motivation of getting their companies to an I.P.O. Perhaps the most detrimental result of all that hype was that genuine businesses with solid products and markets got caught up in the rush and made many costly mistakes (paid out of their own earnings, not from venture capital). After the bubble burst, e-commerce companies closed their doors. At that time companies that invested their own money realized that the online market wasn't as easily grabbed as they'd hoped. Additionally, the expensive and complex e-commerce systems that they hastily built, trying to keep up with the "dot-coms," were extremely buggy and undependable. Many companies were seriously hurt and their expectations were entirely unmet. more
January 2003 | Newfangled's Client Manager system is an extranet designed for the purpose of creating and maintaining password protected client pages for advertising agencies and design firms. This system is available to our agency partners. This month's newsletter takes a look at how the Client Manager system works, identifying its features and discussing how it benefits an agency.
Newfangled's Client Manager is an agency specific extranet. Extranets are password-protected websites that enable communication and the distribution of information within a specific group of business partners. The Client Manager extranet was created to facilitate the transfer of information between an agency and their clients. Because agencies and designers communicate in a visual medium, the web is an ideal venue for presenting works in progress. more
December 2002 | Sometimes it's the simplest things that can seriously complicate launching a website. Domain name issues are amoung those little details that, if not caught, can create problems. For example, most clients expect email and website hosting to be grouped together. Understanding the differences in these two services can be confusing and complicated. One of the reasons this happens is a failure to understand that hosting a website and hosting email are actually two different services. This month's newsletter discusses potentially confusing aspects of hosting, and defines some technical terms.
At its inception the Internet was used solely by computer geeks and techies. Today the web has grown to become something we use on a daily basis. It's amazing how quickly the Internet went from obscurity to becoming something we take completely for granted. We hardly give a second thought to how this incredible system works. more
October 2002 | New England Gas Company needed to integrate four distinct websites into one. Since ProvGas, North Attleboro Gas, Valley Resources, and Fall River Gas had merged into one company, the new www.negasco.com website needed to combine the information of all four. This created some complex information design problems since terms, conditions, and policies were not yet consistent throughout all three regions. The new site also needed a completely new design and some new interactive features. To compound the complexity, the redesign project needed to be directed by a committee of more than ten people from various departments within New England Gas Company. Oh yeah, one other challenge, the project needed to be completed in less than one month. more
September 2002 | Surveys can provide an effective means for research, marketing, and customer service. Unfortunately, they typically take a considerable amount of time to create, distribute and collect. Online surveys solve the distributing and result collection problems. Newfangled has a website survey application with the ability to create unlimited custom online surveys using the simple NewfangledCMS interface. more
July 2002 | Web development would be great if weren't for browsers. Of course without them we would still be back in the days of Lynx - anyone remember that old text-only browser? Browsers have made the web what it is today, but they have also made developing sites for the web an extremely tricky business. This month's newsletter is part one of a two part series on browsers. Part one will review the history of the Netscape/Internet Explorer browser war and where the battle lines are drawn today. Next month we'll highlight current design issues that can be problematic with regard to browser compatibility. more
May 2002 | This month's newsletter reviews the fundamental principles behind database driven web development. While content management is an important aspect of database driven web development, there are other more foundational benefits to this approach that are often overlooked.
How database driven sites work
A database driven approach to web development simply refers to the use of a database for storing a website's content. It involves the separation of a site's content (words and pictures) from its design (the look, feel, and navigation). The design is most typically stored in template files. When a site visitor requests a page by clicking a link, a template draws the appropriate information from the database before it displays the result as an HTML. more
April 2002 | Search engine registration and positioning can be a confusing issue, especially when we receive so many bogus offers for "top 10 guaranteed placement" services through daily spam email. There are, however, many ways that you can actively work on improving your placement and increasing traffic in search engines. This month's newsletter provides background information on how search engines work, and how you can maximize the value of your search engine registration and placement. more
March 2002 | Nobody likes getting spammed with unsolicited, irrelevant, and often offensive email. I've had to get used to the fact that a few minutes a day will be taken up hitting my delete key in Outlook. Getting spam email is a universally annoying problem. There are however, acceptable, appropriate, and effective ways of using email marketing. Email marketing has not been irredeemably corrupted by spammers. Thanks to spammer though, we have to learn how to break through the spam clutter when sending legitimate email.
The proliferation of spam makes marketing through email a challenge. Unfortunately spam pollution has obscured many appropriate and effective uses of email marketing. Nevertheless, email is still a powerful means of marketing. Perhaps technology will someday cure the problem of spam altogether, until then we just have to get used to using filters and spam blockers to minimize unsolicited and undesired email. At least we aren't wasting paper and ink when we trash our email. more
January 2002 | Last month we examined how understanding common web development fallacies can help avoid some of the problems inherent in web development. We specifically looked at how developer fallacies, those wrong approaches and misplaced assumptions that we can be blind to, can cause problems. more
December 2001 | Web development can be a particularly tricky endeavor. The complexities of hypertext, technological concerns, and contending with inflated expectations can cause web development projects to quickly spiral downward. One of the ways we can avoid some of the problems inherent in web development is by recognizing common fallacies that can lead to negative experiences. We can avoid these traps if we know how to look out for them. Misconceptions often exist in the minds' of the developer's clients (which we will discuss in next month's newsletter), but the misconceptions that exist in our own minds can be even more dangerous!
It can be tempting to blame and criticize clients when projects go bad. But more often than not, problems can be traced back to mistaken assumptions on the part of the developer. Recognizing these fallacies can help clarify our responsibilty as the developer in a web project. more
October 2001 | Extranets share protected information with business partners, clients, and special customers. Extranets are one example where the web can show measurable return on website investment. Extranets take advantage of the web's ability to share information in ways that other mediums simply cannot. It is unfortunate that complex and expensive content management issues have made it unrealistic for many companies to effectively utilize extranets. We have been able to utilize our NewfangledCMS to overcome these barriers. This has introduced our clients to some of the exciting and practical ways the web can be used to facilitate and enhance the way they do business.
Both intranets and extranets are just like any other website except that they require user name and passwords to access the information. Extranets are distinct from intranets in that they are intended for users outside the company (whereas an intranet's users are those inside the company). Extranets are used to provide information to business partners, clients, special customers, or anyone else who needs access to information that would not be appropriate for the general public's consumption. Extranets can contain special pricing information for retailers, resellers, or wholesalers. Extranets might contain detailed product specifications and instructions, resources for product reps, or information on their product's latest features. At Newfangled we use an extranet for maintaining password protected client pages. On our client pages we post company and client contact information, links to pdf files of project related documents (proposals, contracts, creative briefs etc.), production schedules, and layouts of work in progress. more
March 2001 |
Designing for the web can be really fun. Unlike other mediums, where you might not be sure exactly how things will look until you get back a proof from the printers, or see color separations, there is an immediacy to web design, where what you design is exactly how it will look. more