web browser snobs

I wrote this post about web designers who are browser snobs 5 years ago.

I’ve embarked on another project with a completely new set of web designers and I see attitudes haven’t changed.

Sure. You can hate on Internet Explorer & love another browser. But if you want people to visit a website and have a good experience, you have to be realistic about the stone cold numbers.

And these numbers aren’t even close. In this example, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari put together don’t add up to the share held by IE. Why would you ignore the reality and shoot yourself in the foot?
click to make bigger

just use the other ad

Good points made in this Ad Report Card article from Slate about what’s killing the effectiveness of online video ads.

Just like “in the good old days” when all businesses threw up a website that was nothing more than a virtual version of a brochure, we’re seeing advertisers use old-school models of creative and scheduling to do video on the web. Instead of developing creative that’s made exclusively for the web, broadcast creative is retooled to work online. Or worse yet, web only content is developed using the ideas that work for broadcast.

As with the writer of the article, using these types of web video ads may be hurting those advertisers rather than helping them.

Even though it’s a new format, it’s the same problem that marketers have always created. People tend to believe the creative tack that works well in one medium will work in the others. Back when I was in radio, salespeople would sometimes hand me a client’s newspaper ad and tell me to produce a radio spot from it. Lots of small businesses lift the audio track off their TV spots to run as radio commercials. It doesn’t work. Each form of media (especially online) needs special consideration to play to that medium’s strengths and work on that unique audience.

we don’t like the masses

So someone sends me a link and when I get to the page I get this:
ie nonsupport

Really? You chose not to build first for the browser that 76% of people on the internet use? You chose to build for the browser that only 16% use?

Sure. It’s a hip and trendy tech-friendly 16%. And Firefox is a better browser. And Microsoft is evil. And etc. And etc. But as I’ve said before, you can’t be elitist if you’re wanting mass market success:

Yes. They’re using an inferior browser. They’re shopping at big box stores. They buy crap to eat. So build your website so it’s at least functional in a crappy browser on dial-up, stock your stuff at Wally-World, and put out a plate of Slim Jims and Twinkies.

If you want to succeed with the masses, you have to hold your nose and work with the masses.

the opti grab of search

I have not commented on the un-coolness of the Cuil rollout because everyone else already has. But as more time passes and the fiasco grows bigger, I might as well throw my two cents in as well.

My first beef is the name. It’s hard enough to communicate simple web addresses. You don’t need the handicap of freaky pronunciations and spellings. And as a colleague pointed out to me, you’d better not have a typo when typing it in or you find yourself in a NSFW environment. Of course, if you can’t type it in directly, you could google it.

When I first saw the press on it, I went to the page to try it out and it was AWOL. As the recent Firefox blowup showed, it’s best not to have a timed event online when everyone shows up at once. This is old media thinking. If you’re having a grand opening for your store on Main Street, you hire the clown, the radio remote broadcast, and the chamber ribbon cutting for 2pm. In an online opening, it doesn’t matter if a guy in his underwear shows up at 3 in the morning.

And finally, the biggest problem is that most of the time Cuil doesn’t work and when it does it’s not as good as Google. Simple queries that should bring back alot have zero results. The queries that do have results are hard to sort through. The columned format stinks.

I’m no super smart former Google employee, but it might have been good to test all this out before a big rollout. As the inventor of the Opti Grab will tell you, it’s best to test products before you take them to market. (even on prisoners)

CtrlAltDel

So today was Bill Gates’ last day. However, there was an incident. As he tried to leave the building for good, this popped up in the door:
bill gates
He couldn’t get it to go away and none of his keys worked. Eventually, he just had to turn the power off to the building and walk away in a huff. When they open back up Monday morning, Steve Ballmer will have to run a scandisk before he can come in.

There is a widely held belief that Bill is the devil. I don’t necessarily think HE’S the devil. But his company and his products certainly can be. I think it’s because the brand and the company didn’t develop along with Bill. He would have been a good candidate to develop an accidental brand, but the growth probably overshot him.

Seattle PI’s Todd Bishop found a Bill Gates e-mail from 2003 by sifting through the documents in the antitrust suits. When you read the email, you can see Bill’s frustration because everyone of us has had the problems with Windows that he’s describing in the email. And there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that Bill was concerned about usability and making the product work. The problem with MSFT was (is?) the company culture and the individuals below Bill.

The lesson for any organization is that fanatic attention to detail and quality assurance can’t fall on one person. It has to permeate the entire group. The one guy approach may work when the company is small. But if you grow enough to be called a monopoly, it can’t work.

opportunity missed

You never want a tragedy to strike in your town.

But if it does, the local newspaper’s online edition should be the source for constant updated information. And that newspaper should assume that it will get hit with a load of visitors from both local and national traffic. There should be a plan with the web host to deal with an influx of visitors.

If there’s not, when the workplace shooting occurs, your online newspaper will look like this:

(Screenshot @ 7:46am 6/26)

And it’s not just news/media that need to think about this. What if your site went to the top of Digg/Reddit/etc tomorrow? Would you be able to capitalize on the opportunity? Maybe you should call your web host today and make sure.

tuned in minority

It has struck me in the last few days how “in-tune” an internet reader is as opposed to the masses that get fed by the 24 hour news cycle.

I started noticing the Killer Tomato scare in the mainstream media and on hastily written signs at restaurants on Sunday. However, I already knew about it from a Nashville veggie lover on the Wednesday before.

Articles of impeachment were introduced in the House against President Bush on Monday night. Have you seen it on your cable news channel or in the newspaper yet? (caveat: there’s a tad bit of hype to it)

I read about the US strike in Pakistan this morning on the web. I consumed several types of traditional media today before I heard about it on the radio coming home this afternoon.

And I notice this happens over and over. People get in a tizz over something and I’m wondering why because I read about it a few days ago. Or I have started to notice that memes on the web will get picked up by the yucksters on the cable and network news shows a few days after they’ve fizzled online.

Here’s the thing — I am in the minority. (and if you’re reading this, you probably are too). The great sages who are saying the time is NOW that EVERYONE is getting news/info off the web apparently haven’t been talking to people in the real world. Everyone is not uploading videos and commenting on blogs. There’s a time gap (and sometimes a plain lack) of knowledge as it’s disseminated on the web and then through traditionally media.

Because of this, even though it’s egalitarian, the knowledge on the web comes with a heavy bias. It’s leaning toward those tuned-in consumers who are generating the some of the content and who are in the minority. The results don’t pan out in the real world. Don’t believe me? Ask Ron Paul.

Of course, the traditional media comes with its own long standing biases and the need to perpetuate its business model. But traditional media is not dead. It’s just slow and bloated. And the masses are even slower consumers of it.

So there’s opportunity for all here. The traditional media can start working to feed the hummingbird minority consumers. And the web can start bringing more of the lumbering hippos into the fold. They’ll either meet in the middle or one will crush the other.

a conversation that’s happening somewhere RIGHT NOW

Clueless Marketing Guy #1 — We need to synergize our viralness on the web2.0 gravytrain.

Clueless Marketing Guy #2 — What?

#1 — We need something cool and interactive on the web that engages our customers.

#2 — Let’s put our :30 ad that we’re running on TV on our website.

#1 — Hey, we could also put it on that TubeYou thing.

#2 — (smugly) You realize this makes us cutting edge.

junk in the trunk

I have a love-hate relationship with Penelope Trunk.

On one hand, she does sometimes have a far-sighted vision for where the concept of “work” is going and how to deal with the realities of the new workplace. Sometimes, she gives good advice.

On the other hand, some of her advice is not only bad — it’s borderline crazy. You should really not take a vacation day without telling your boss, show up late for work, use company time/resources to start your own business, lay down on the floor of your workplace’s bathroom, or accept sexual harassment. (all things she has actually suggested as career advice) If the ethics of the “new American workplace” degrade to this level, we’d better get ready to polish our chopsticks as China eats our lunch.

I’ve never met Penelope Trunk face to face, so I have no idea what’s she’s really like. (although I only missed her once at a meeting in Nashville by a few hours) But her online personality seems abrasive, condescending, and she’s way too transparent with her personal life.

Last week, she (the career sage) got fired from her job as a career columnist for Yahoo! Finance which is a bit surreal.

She cites the reason that she was canned was that financial content gets a higher CPM than career content and her high traffic (that she cites from *ahem* Wikipedia) was bringing down the CPM of the whole finance package. Aside from the use of Wikipedia as a source for traffic figures, that makes no sense.

I don’t know if she was one of the top traffic draws for Yahoo!. She was a polarizing personality that drew lots of positive/negative commenters. Even now, she’s still getting lots of both mean/rude and positive/supporting comments on both her blog and final Yahoo! Finance post. But even if she was a huge draw, Yahoo! was right to get rid of her. If you’re driving traffic, ratings, etc that stem from shock value, you’re hurting your long term brand. Look at the brand equity of “The View” before/after Rosie.

I think the real reason that she was fired was because of a new problem that we are going to have to deal with as a result of the new world of web publishing — the self-made expert.

While I’m always preaching that ANYONE now has the power of worldwide publishing, there’s the problem that ANYONE now has the power of worldwide publishing. That means the fringe voices that were previously kept at a whisper because of their vulgar, obscene, hate-filled, or nonsense ideas now have a platform. There’s no/low barrier to entry. And while the web is a great equalizer, if you get picked up by a platform like Yahoo!, it enables you to shout a little louder than others.

Anyone can market themselves as an expert on the web. It’s like the old cartoon — on the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. How many experts have the credentials or the ideas to back it up? It’s a world of buyer beware. When you find an “expert” on the web, you’d better make sure you’ve gotten the real thing.

So while the vitriol behind some of the comments toward Trunk are pure hatred, I think some of it is akin to the townspeople riding the snake-oil salesman out on rail after his sham has been exposed.

square hole round peg problems

Here’s the thing that people get wrong about their web presence:

It’s not about building a second version of yourself, your business, or your industry online. It’s about starting fresh with a new platform to reach a new audience.

But people continue to want to fit their old models and their present strategies into an online plan.

It’s like trying to hook a horse up to a car.

It’s like putting white-out on your computer screen.

Stop applying the old answers to the new questions.