the invisible man, minimalism, the best marketing is no marketing [Post by Rex Hammock]

I recently ran across an insightful essay named, “The best interface is no interface,” written last August on the blog of the San Francisco-based product design firm, Cooper.

I recommend reading the entire essay, but here is a key quote:

It’s time for us to move beyond screen-based thinking. Because when we think in screens, we design based upon a model that is inherently unnatural, inhumane, and has diminishing returns. It requires a great deal of talent, money and time to make these systems somewhat usable, and after all that effort, the software can sadly, only truly improve with a major overhaul. There is a better path: No UI (user-interface). A design methodology that aims to produce a radically simple technological future without digital interfaces.

At Hammock, we share a similar a point-of-view. We believe that one of the signs of great customer media and content is how well it removes barriers between customers and the organizations with which they choose to have relationships. Taken to its logical conclusion, the goal is to remove everything between the two, or, at least, to make it appear that transparent.

Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek, hammock.com, digital magazine articles, future

(Post by Rex Hammock)

In late December, The New York Times published a digital version of a New York Times Magazine article, “Snow Fall: The Avalanche of Tunnel Creek” that has been deservedly touted as a breakthrough in multimedia storytelling.

While I noted it on my blog at the time, the growing praise it has received made me take a second look — and it’s even more impressive the more I spend time with it.

customer support, screencast, laptop, technology If you’ve ever watched a YouTube video of someone demonstrating how to master a software application (for instance, how to advance to the next level on Angry Birds), you have seen a screencast.

Screencasting is simply the video recording equivalent of a static “screen shot.” With a decent microphone, some screencasting software and basic video editing skills, anyone can create a short screencast.

However, as with all things creative (or, in life), a screencast is only as good as the innate talents and mastery of necessary skills by the individual (or, these days, team) creating it. In my opinion, a gifted teacher like Salman Khan, creator of Khan Academy, is proof that production values are less important than pedagogical skills. See his intro to trigonometry lesson below.

Book creator- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, know content [A version of this post was cross-posted on RexBlog]

Yesterday, Wikipedia added the “ePUB” file format as an export option for collections of Wikipedia articles you want to compile. This may not sound like something new, as the ability to compile — and even order a print-on-demand version of — such a collection of articles has been around for a while.

What makes this new feature significant is that ePUB is a format optimized for display using all the major ebook reader devices or apps (Kindle, Apple iBooks, Google Books, Nook, etc.). While PDFs of such articles were readable on such devices or apps, the ePUB format will provide you with a document that is more book-like.

[By Rex Hammock, cross-posted on RexBlog.com]

A comment by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg yesterday is being given a lot of coverage by tech media and the financial press. However, outside a specific context that Facebook faces, the quote could be confusing to non-tech business decision makers — especially when interpreted to be true in all cases, and not specifically in Facebook’s situation.

Here’s the quote: “The biggest mistake we made as a company was betting too much on HTML5 instead of native … We burnt two years.”

While it is easy to think of many Facebook mistakes far worse (that whole IPO fiasco, for instance), the point of this post is not to debate his quote. The point of this post is to encourage businesses that may have a perfectly wonderful reason for using HTML5 to avoid associating it with the phrase, “biggest mistake.”

google plus at six months review Last July, Hammock Labs issued a brief ebook (we called it an “ebrief”) that reviewed and analyzed Google Plus. We were intrigued enough by Google’s brand new service that we broke our rule of giving a new service and platform a break-in period before suggesting any client use it.

When first launched, Google Plus was not open to company pages, so we suggested individuals log on with their Google accounts and try it out.

We keep learning all the time, in many different ways: The key to success for any collaborative project is to start out with a clear understanding of the objectives.
And the more complex or important a project is, having a common understanding of what the objectives are and knowing the hierarchy of those objectives (from “most important” to “least”), is the best way to help make sure you get it done.

Does good editing make a difference to people who receive your content? It does, according to a test run by IBM and reported at WritingforDigital.com.
Big Blue’s researchers took sample pages from the company’s site, gave them to an editor, and then randomly displayed both edited and unedited versions over the course of a month and measured “engagement” – defined as clicks to desired links on the page.
The edited pages got 30% higher engagement than the unedited ones.
While far from conclusive, the small test underscores the need to present not only content your readers will find interesting, but also to take time to craft and polish that content.
A side note: In referring to the editing of the Declaration of Independence, the writers are correct about the impact of changing one crucial word. But by all accounts, Thomas Jefferson felt each change personally, though he kept largely silent as the committee hashed over his comments. Your editor should always look at the work as a way to teach and improve your contributors’ writing, as a way to soothe ruffled feelings.

Your website’s analytics can provide you with a lot of helpful information: How long people stay on your site, how they get there, what keywords bring them in, etc. But if you don’t know how to drill down deeper and make sense of what your numbers are telling you, they’re not going to do you much good. If you are concerned your web analytics are failing you, TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog has a few suggestions as to why:

  • The statistics are fuzzy: Be sure you’re breaking down the data and not relying on a top-level, summary look.
  • The averages are flawed: Spikes or dips will throw off your averages, so be aware when making a decision based on them vs. looking at the whole picture.
  • Incorrect implementation: If you’re getting no results at all, make sure your tracking code is placed on your site correctly.

The great thing about Twitter is there is no wrong way to use it. Sure, you’ll see missteps in etiquette and plenty of spammers, but for the most part it’s like Thunderdome: There are no rules.
There are guidelines, however, and Proactive Report offers a handy tip sheet from Ogilvy 360 for advice on various strategies—and suggestions on who to follow, what kind of content to create and how to engage for each situation.
If you’re a Twitter pro you will probably recognize the various suggestions, and perhaps have some of your own to add, but if you’re going to be covering an event or handling crisis management for the first time with Twitter this is a great starting point.