We spend a lot of time working on the right font pairings in our projects. We try not to get super geeky on you, but sometimes we do want to share the process, get your feedback, or just communicate why we did something.
This is a great short animation on the history of type, showing great key points for anyone.
Sometimes systems and industries get big. The way its always been done grows bigger and bigger as time and more players join. The cost of entry becomes higher and the reward is smaller.
I love what Actor / Writer / Director Zach Braff is doing on Kickstarter. The film industry has a broken model of funding. Zach highlights it really really well by outlining the issues. The money guys have too much say in the production, casting, etc. And I totally get why they want a say, but they are also investing for the wrong reasons.
Radiohead changed the game with their last 2 albums being self released and a “pay what you want” model. A price point that did really really well for them. Nine Inch Nails, and many others have tried this model and found great success.
When you change the rules, you change the game, and who the winner is. When the winner is the customer, trust me, I think everyone wins.
Are you using wordpress for your website content management system or blogging platform? If so you need to read this.
In recent news over the last few days, hackers have been targeting and sucessfully gaining access to wordpress admin panels by brute force. The most common issue is out of date plugins / wordpress files, and simple dictionary based passwords.
So what do you do?
4 easy steps to keep your site secure
- Stop using ADMIN as the username.
If you are using admin, login, create a new user with full admin rights. Then logout as admin, and in as your new user. Delete the old admin username, and assign all posts, content and pages to your new user.
- Use secure passwords
8 – 12 characters long, with upper, lower case letters as well as a number. Using names, birthdays and uniqe spellings can help. Like Thom@s1198 would be secure.
- Keep WP and all plugins up to date.
WP makes this process pretty easy. Regular updates should not take long, and are usually pretty painless. In your apperence > Plugins screen you will see which plugins need updated. And WP core can be updated from the dashboard home screen. Be sure you have a recent database backup before doing these updates.
- Avoid using too many plugins.
Yes, there is always an app for that. There are 100k+ plugins for wordpress. Anyone can write a plugin. Often plugins can leave security holes and cause a drain on the server. Remove any and all unused plugins, and always check the plugin reviews before installing.
Factor1 members: We’ll do this for you automatically. We do these checks often, but will make a special effort this week to keep your site secure.
Not a member? We can perform a full site security scan, which includes a database back up, run all WP core and plugin updates, evaluate all user logins, and remove any and all issues we find. We have a one time fee of $50.
When was the last time you used a company’s mobile app, and their desktop web site side by side and been shocked that the mobile is better? Yesterday I was using the ebay app on my ipad. I have buying and selling for years. Seriously, I think it drives my wife nuts. For years I have seen ebay upgrade their desktop experience, but also over complicate it every time.
Yesterday I spent some time listing a few things on the ipad app. Sure I shop and monitor from the ipad, but always assumed listing would be painful as it is on the main desktop site. I was pleasantly shocked.
With mobile apps, you are forced to start over, and re-think the process, the way you plan a user flow, and the interface for touch. So many businesses just continue to adjust the current version, but rarely do they tear it down to start over. The usual reason is time and money. But saving a little time and money by the company costs their customers time and money. This can lead to customer loss over time, and leave room for a competitor to come in and out innovate you.
Start over every now and then. Strip it back to the process and flow, and build something fresh. Use that experience and insight you have earned from the current version and make something better. Build the 2.0.
Who says public service announcements are limited to actual problems? I give huge props to The Martin Agency for their Cool Whip ad and for breaking the rules and really making a legit problem blown out of proportion with a PSA. I mean come on, who hasn’t ruined a cake when spreading some icing.
I love reading about designers and what their personal mantras are. Dieter Rams is one of the most influential industrial / product designers in our time. He made Braun a household name in the 50s and 60s by creating simple products that worked well. Design trends that are still being followed and copied today.
When asked if he thinks his work was good, he responded with the statements he designs by
- Good design is innovative.
- Good design makes a product useful.
- Good design is aesthetic.
- Good design makes a product understandable.
- Good design is unobtrusive.
- Good design is honest.
- Good design is long-lasting.
- Good design is thorough down to the last detail.
- Good design is environmentally friendly.
- Good design is as little design as possible.
I look at these 10 guidelines, and I think they apply to every facet of design. Web, print, branding, but further, and into architecture interior design, landscape design, fashion, etc. Im pretty sure Ikea, Apple and Audi follow these rules as much as they can, and I think it shows.
It’s a common dilemma you want to build a fantastic new web presence, but you have many voices in the office competing to be heard and postulating about what will make for the most effective next iteration of your website. A lot of questions get thrown around in brainstorming sessions, but what you might need is a very simple roadmap to make use of all of the opinions and allow key players to weigh in and be heard. Matt won’t brag about it, but he has written some fantastically helpful articles that will aid your team in mining your internal data about what you already know about the web in such a way as to put your thoughts and insights into some groupings that any design or marketing team can use.
And you can also read THIS ONE that Matt outlined and wrote for the author.
If you want to follow up with us to launch or lead your next big project, you can share your team’s findings HERE.
Every team that is deeply involved in the success of your organization possesses valuable knowledge, insights and understandings of your core audience. Don’t leave that data un-mined; put it to work for you and take ownership in communicating about who you are and what you do in a powerful, creative and beautiful way.
Last week a friend of ours mentioned he was having website issues. As we dug into the conversation, we found out that ‘issues’ actually meant his site had been offline for 4+ months. Yikes! Now he hosted his site with a friend, who was “working on getting it back up”. But 4 months is too long for any level of friendship when it comes to business if you ask me!
So why do you need to host with a reputable company.
To avoid the horror story we just heard, here are a few things to make sure you have when finding a good web site host.
- Server load. How many clients do the have on one server. Some of the cheapest companies have thousands of accounts on one server. Think of that like a roach motel.
- Server access. Do you have FTP and control panel access? You want to be able to log in, and manually save down files, run backups, etc. Maybe not you directly, but you want to make sure you have the access so you can hire someone else if needed.
- Storage and bandwidth. Most businesses need under 1gb of storage, and 5 – 20gb of monthly bandwidth. Churches that podcast are a different story. You want to make sure you have a hard number. Companies that offer unlimited have a limit, they just hide it and decide on a case by case basis. I know far to many people with normal usage sites, that have been suspended for “resource abuse” by these unlimited companies. Frankly It baffles me that they can advertise this.
- Support. Can you actually get a hold of someone when you need to? Many companies have amazing support, some make you wait hours. Find one you are comfortable with, because it hurts to have a massive site issue, and no one to talk to about it.
- Backups. Do they run nightly and weekly backups? Are they offsite? Is the database included with that?
- What restrictions do they have on WHAT you can host. More important, what are they keeping off the server that other users may be hosting. You never want to be on a server that allows porn, torrents, file sharing, etc. Its bound to tie up the server, and possibly get shut down.
So next time you need to find a great place to host your site, make sure you think through these points. And in case you are wondering, YES the factor1 severs meet all the above with flying colors and we are super picket who we host. We rarely, and I mean rarely host anything unless they are a client of ours.
Like life, emotion can also rule in our business lives, especially when it comes to marketing. Despite decades of proof about developing strategic marketing plans, we still let our gut instincts or the most powerful voice in the room dictate the paths for how to best engage with our audiences. Especially handicapped in the marketing arena, small organizations by their very nature, do not have a team that is dedicated to developing a strategic plan for how to connect with current customers and new prospects.
We all need a plan.
A plan that we have thought through, consulted, checked, double-checked and really worked on. The plan needs to aim at our goals and our dreams. But, working a plan is harder than running on emotions and “in the moment” results. It takes intentionality to get these end goals that we are each seeking.
The rewards of developing and tracking on a marketing plan are great. A plan can leave contingency for opportunities, spontaneity, and “going with our gut”, but a plan well developed can act as a compass or reference during these key moments. A plan influences how we spend our time, how we treat people, what we do and what we will not do. Achieving our greatest dreams and goals are the ultimate reward.
So what is your plan?
- Have you thought through you target demographic?
- Have you researched thoroughly what has worked for you in the past and what is working for your current competitor?
- Do you have a list that is power-ranked of all the available marketing opportunities for your company?
- Have you brought in any outside ideas, resources or professionals to elevate your ideas to a new height.
- What about a budget? Did you scrape together some intentional money yet to attract new customers and retain your best?
Go get it!
Start developing a strategy for how you are going to get from here to there. Then work the plan and stay with it long enough so that you can give it a fair evaluation as compared with your goals.
Samsung released a new video promoting its eco-line of washing machines. They used a common modern video style of documentary / user produced look, even though its highly produced with skilled directors and video teams.
The take away here, for me, is that telling your story in a simple, clear fashion, is an easy win. The video is cute, funny, and minimal. Few words are said, no motion graphics or gimmicky bullets. Simple video, with a splash of creativity. Probably the best washing machine commercial I have ever seen. Is the product more environmentally friendly or better cleaning than the others, who knows, but If my needs for a washer change, I know I’ll likely give samsung more credit than I did before.