December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, have a Happy New Year!

December 30, 2008

Response time is a factor...

Your ability to respond online is a vital factor today. Especially if your site and reputation could be at risk. Case in point Twitter and direct messages.

Twitter lets you send a private message directly to someone else that is following you by placing a "D" in front of their user ID.
D @davidmead this is private, shh!
But quite a few people were under the assumption that if you placed "DM" in front it would work the same - not so.

ss-dmfail-2008-12-30Someone found these not-so-private private messages floating around and created a site called DMfail which listed them for all to see. It was covered on TechCrunch and there were plenty of tweets about it.

Twitter was quick to implement a change and now if you did place a "DM" instead of a "D" your message was private once more, rendering DMfail without content. All this in a matter of hours.

It's great that they can be quick enough to remedy this as promptly as they did, but I still find it funny that Twitter has not implemented OAuth if their users security was utmost in their minds.

Whatever type of website you run you must have this thought in the back of your mind at all times - As soon as it's live, it's not mine anymore. Search engines, scrapers, and browsers all enable whomever to do virtually whatever they want with your content. You have to be listening and have the ability to respond at all times.

December 22, 2008

Is it an Application or a Web Site?

Have you ever asked a client that? Have they been able to answer to your satisfaction? I’m sure this question is being asked and if it’s not, it should be, especially as we move more and more into the cloud we’ll come across this.

Is there a difference?

Let’s turn to our friend shall we?

They have web site defined as:

“a connected group of pages on the World Wide Web regarded as a single entity, usually maintained by one person or organization and devoted to a single topic or several closely related topics.”

And an application (program) defined as:

“a program used for a particular application”

So, when sketching out ideas, this difference should be forefront in your mind especially when it comes to wireframing out pages. If people arrive and are presented with a web site “design” (content, sections, and related topics), are they going to miss the fact you’ve actually built something to manage their finances?

But what if you have both, behind a login?

It is highly likely that you could have an application as part of web site, but they should be distinct. You should separate them with a different layout and design — reinforce the purpose and try not to make one fit the other for the sake of “keeping a certain look” or “limiting templates”.

Same users, different audience.

Ubiquitous 37Signals example

highrisehqWe all seen them mentioned a million times before but 37Signals do a great job of separating web sites from applications. I use Highrise to manage my contacts. It presents me with all the information in a way I recognize as an application. Everything from the layout to the design esthetic tells me I’m here to do a particular thing — Manage my contacts.

So next time you are presented with this, ask the question, then build accordingly. Your users will thank you for it.

December 16, 2008

Dangers for celebrities on Twitter

As we've seen technology such as blogging, social networks, and micro-blogging become a real option for marketers to "spread the word", the celebrity has started appearing online.

This instantaneous delivery can work wonders to promote a product or person but more and more I'm starting to hear rumblings of discontent from the "early adopters".  This doesn't seem to stem from the fact that advertising is creeping into Twitter streams (we all knew it was just a matter of time) as most people who've been online for some time can sniff out the fake blogs or hyped tweets.

What's happening is some of the real celebrities are writing and putting their own thoughts out into the electronic ether - and "fans" are finding them dull or overbearing.

One celeb on Twitter I follow is Stephen Fry.  To me he get's it, sending photos from his iPhone and following everyone who follows him. He fits in.

But my wife has recently stopped following someone she really liked (acting wise) because they turned out to be very "full-of-themselves" online. I too tried to follow someone I liked on-screen but found it was just too much.  They just weren't interesting at all.

Now I'm not saying that every celeb is dull as dishwater, far from it.  Just that they (and their marketing folks) should think twice about stepping out from behind the curtain.  Dropping followers, or worse being blocked, could go to losing points both online and in "the real world".

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December 2, 2008

Goodbye Pownce

The news came today that Pownce has been acquired by Six Apart, and will shut it's doors on December 15th 2008.

Coming on the day that the USA confirms its in a recession can't be great news, but I don't think this move is solely economy driven, though Six Apart recently laid off some folks.

Pownce came on the scene and offered more than Twitter, by letting its users share links, files, and calendar events.  Though for me it never really had a sense of community that I could tap into, like Twitter. At least they are letting people know early and are offering a way to export your posts.

I'm glad to see some of the team go over to Six Apart and it reads as though they are taking the technology with them, but I wonder is this the next step for some of the other messaging services?

Twitter still has not defined a real way to make money (Pownce offered inline ads) and the name-of-the-game is increasingly aggregation for a way to navigate the current social web.  Will Twitter buy, or be bought by, some blogging software or possibly one of the search engines?

As is so often the case I think the thing on most peoples lips is "pity. what's next?"

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