Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"I could give a rat's ass about design."

I met with a new agency partner today to talk about redoing their site. It was the first time we had met with a Denver advertising agency that was focused on results and were willing to be a model for their own clients on what they could achieve with a website that works.

I gave my speech about how being at the top of the search engines was key to getting new business. After that, the site should include a solid lead generation program, be usable, and establish thought leadership. Design is last on the list of priorities. The site should have a decent design, but the focus of the site should not be on design , it should be on bringing in leads.

After my speech, the President of the company said, "I could give a rat's ass about design, as long as it brings results." That was the point when I knew we were entering into a great relationship with an agency that is run by executives who sincerely want to get results for their clients and not pat themselves on the back for their great design or creative work.

Google makes Life magazine photo archives available to the public online | Media | guardian.co.uk

Google makes Life magazine photo archives available to the public online | Media | guardian.co.uk

Google is going to create an archive of all the Life magazine images online for the public. Just another reason why we love you, Google!

Fusionbox Adds Staff

Fusionbox is thrilled to announce the addition of Lindsey Jamieson to our Denver Interactive Team. Lindsey was one of the rising stars at McClain Finlon and she brings project management and account management experience to the table. We love her because she is smart as a whip, super energetic, and wins people over instantly.

From Search Engine Low Down

Couldn't have said it better myself...

From Jeremy at Search Engine Lowdown:

SEL: "Top 8 Most Important Things I’ve Learned About Interactive Marketing

It’s been my honor to follow Andy’s and Garrett’s lead for the last year. These were incredibly large shoes to fill, and moderating this blog is not something that I have taken lightly. My hope was that I’ve done it justice. And unless THK decides to generously give this blog to me, this will be my last post as I leave MSA today.

In the meanwhile, below are what I think are the most important tidbits of information that I’ve picked up about interactive marketing over the years. Some of them are pretty obvious, but then again:

1. Never forget that it is interactive. There is nothing more essential for conversion than a site that responds to the needs of the target market.

2. SEO never ends because it is a mindset, not a project.

3. The best way to have a search engine friendly site is to have clear and concise performance goals before the first line is coded. Your goals should affect the brand, the tone, the products, the pricing and the overall architecture. Retrofitting a site for SEO is almost always second best.

4. If you are not committing yourself to understanding and immersing yourself in your Web site’s analytics, you are in the wrong business.

5. PPC will never get less expensive. Success should be determined by overall conversion"

Dave Gannon :: Denver Freelance Web Designer + Print Designer + Information Architect Blog

Thank you to my friend, Dave Gannon, who did some digging and found out who was behind Obama's design and site dev. Glad to hear Obama went with local talent.

(Dave's a great freelancer!)

Dave Gannon :: Denver Freelance Web Designer + Print Designer + Information Architect Blog: "Here's who built Barack Obama's website and Logo
Monday, November 3

I did some research - code digging, and found out some info on who was responsible for the amazing campaign design/logo/website of presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

It looks like Barack kept it local by hiring all Chicago, IL designers/programmers.
Sol Sender: Obama Logo Design
Simple Scott: Obama Website Design/Coding/Creative Direction
Walker Hamilton: Obama CSS Coding/Design"

Monday, November 17, 2008

YouTube to test video ID with Time Warner, Disney | Technology | Reuters

YouTube to test video ID with Time Warner, Disney | Technology | Reuters

It'll be interesting to see how this all shakes out. One would think that media companies would want to capitalize on the reposting of their content.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fusionbox Web Site Design and Development

Blogging to Create Thought Leadership

With Web 2.0 and new media, many companies embraced blogging. But only a few are doing it right.

When executed correctly with a strategic and credible approach, blogging can build thought leadership online and foster dialog between customers and brands.

In this post, I'll discuss some of the ways you can use blogging to reach these business goals. But first, what are most companies doing wrong?

The biggest mistakes I see are corporate blogs created merely for the sake of doing so. "Other companies are blogging, so we should too" (even if we have nothing to say). And then there are the blogs that function as thinly veiled undercover marketing tools, fake blogs or "flogs."

In the blogosphere, there is nothing more important than credibility. What's more, social media communities will turn quickly upon disingenuous and self-serving attempts at blogging. Worse, they won't forgive and they won't forget, so don't shoot your blog in its digital foot.

So how should you blog if you want to create thought leadership? Corporate and executive blogs are communication platforms, and to get noticed and stand out writers need to share provocative ideas. Whether that means new perspectives on industry issues or discussing strategic concerns, thought leadership happens when you post original and relevant ideas.

Still, having great ideas is only half of the equation. With no attention or readers, your ideas will fall on deaf ears no matter how revolutionary they are.

In order to maximize your visibility and reach, start by researching the most popular bloggers in whatever vertical your going to be writing about. Then, comment on their posts and start a conversation. This helps you get your foot in the door and gain credibility by association. Chances are they'll link to your blog too, which is a big help from a what marketers call an "influencer."

As you write, make sure your posts utilize search-engine friendly titles, keywords, and links. A little SEO can go a long way propelling your blog to the top of the rankings, which lends further credibility to your words.

Add video and sound to your blog as well. Studies show that blogs with interactive media, especially video and podcasts, capture more returning visitors and offer a "stickier" user experience.

Don't overlook social media channels either. By adding social bookmarking buttons, readers can digg, del.i.cio.us, Facebook, etc. your content and expose it to their networks. Again, being connected to these key influencers is a proven and effective method to build thought leadership.

None of this will happen overnight, however. It may take months of blogging before you start to build readership and gain recognition. Monitoring your blog with web analytics will provide further insight into your efforts while showing you what content is the most popular with readers.

Remember that a corporate or executive blog must create dialog between management, customers, and readers. Companies and brands can leverage blogs successfully to share information that otherwise would remain internal. Blogs humanize companies by giving a face to an organization, and well-written content can create loyal brand supporters. Always enable comments on your blog to foster conversation.

Allocate the resources for your blog before you start writing. If it's a company blog, make sure you or whomever manages the blog has time to update it frequently, ideally posting new content every two or three days. Nothing looks worse than a blog that hasn't been updated in three months.

Creating thought leadership online is tricky business. As you can see, many companies are prone to the mistakes and mishaps that arise when their blogs are used for the wrong reasons. In the blogosphere, credibility is paramount.

Developing thought leadership is about gaining credibility with readers and establishing yourself as the authority on whatever topic you write about. Do this and you'll become one of the "influencers" I mentioned above. Key influencers are, by definition, thought leaders.

Fusionbox Web Site Design and Development

Fusionbox Web Site Design and Development: "Search Marketing Boosts Brand Awareness"

Fusionbox is going on seven years as a Denver web design, Denver web development and Denver search engine marketing firm. When I tell people where I work, they almost always say they have heard of Fusionbox. This is true despite the fact that we have never done any traditional advertising. I'm convinced this is true because we dominate the organic rank for many of our keywords. And doing this creates brand awareness.

I spend quite a bit of time talking to clients about the tremendous return on investment that organic search engine marketing can bring. Most clients know that seo means getting to the top of Google, but not every client knows that a search engine marketing initiative can have the same benefits as a traditional PR campaign.

Here's a quote from Enquiro that illustrates this point:

"In a first-of-its-kind online study commissioned by Google, researchers discovered a significant correlation between companies in the top organic and sponsored ad placements and consumer brand affinity, brand recall and purchase intent." - Enquiro Research - www.enquiro.com.

Contact Fusionbox to find out how internet marketing can spread your brand awareness and effect your bottom line.

Denver Interactive Marketing News from Fusionbox – Colorado's Premier Interactive Agency

Denver Interactive Marketing News from Fusionbox – Colorado's Premier Interactive Agency: "Fusionbox has just completed and launched a redesign of the Morris Animal Foundation website in order to make the code search engine friendly and to fix usability issues, and limitations of their current CMS.

Fusionbox has quite a bit of success with the Morris Animal Foundation site whose donations are up 23% over last year despite the economy because of our search engine marketing efforts.

We've also created a new site for Morris for their Happy Healthy Cat Campaign. We'll be launching a search engine marketing and social media marketing campaign to get the word out on this great cause."

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Card Sorting for Information Architecture

Many of our clients ask us what method we use in determining the best information architecture for their users. One effective and easy way to accomplish this is by using a technique called card sorting. The beauty of this technique is that you don't need an Information Architect in order to do it and it's effective in understanding how users categorize information.

To perform a card sorting exercise, grab a bunch of index cards and write each section of the site on a card. For example, Home, About Us, Contact Us, Services, Careers, Products, etc. Make sure that you capture every section that you want to have on the site. This process often helps you discover what sections you need.

The next step is to put the cards in piles of subjects you think belong together. You might group together About Us, History, Executive Bios, and Board of Directors sections. Once you've done this, record what sections go in which pile. Just make a list of each section.

If your site is complicated and deep, and you are concerned about
usability, it makes sense to go through this process with different user types. Get volunteers from your company to create their own piles of content. This often reveals that users might expect a certain section to appear in a place that you did not previously think of. That's okay. In fact, that's good. You are not going to accommodate everyone's expectations, but you will start seeing patterns in the way different user types organize content. You may also discover that some content sections belong in two categories. You can also treat these kinds of expectations by using cross links.

Sometimes you will find that you have sections that don't seem to fit into any pile. Sometimes these oddball categories suggest an important user path. When that is the case, use a call to action directly on your homepage (above the fold, of course, or consistently across your site.

Your information architecture, while it should be intuitive, is not going to account for every way a user will get to the information they need. You need to consider many paths to the same information whether it's by using internal links, calls to action, or a search tool. The most important aspect of information architecture is to make sure that users can get to the information they want easily. You'll also want to direct them to the information that you want them to see. This is called key user paths. Whenever you can, make sure that your key user paths consist of three clicks or less.

This simple exercise can reveal patterns of user preferences that you may not have considered-- especially if you are really close to the project. Card sorting is easy to do, doesn't take much time, and reveals a lot about key user paths and expectations. Perform this exercise and no one will even notice your information architecture, or forbid the worst, have to learn how to move through you'll site. The benefits of this are better usability which, in the end, means more sales, leads, or user loyalty for you.

Ivy Hastings is a Project Manager at Fusionbox, a Denver Web Development company. Ivy is a graduate of UC Berkeley and a member of the Board of Directors for Arts Street, a Denver, Colorado non-profit that teaches kids job skills in the Arts.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Fusionbox Opens New Orleans Advertising Agency

October 23, 2008 – New Orleans, Louisiana – Following seven years of successful growth in Colorado, Fusionbox, a leading Denver interactive agency specializing in web design, development, and search engine optimization (SEO), announced the opening of a new office in New Orleans, Louisiana.

As a leading Denver and New Orleans interactive agency with clients from across the nation, Louisiana was an ideal place for Fusionbox to expand. The company will be able to interact personally with local clients while offering expert SEO and web development services.

Fusionbox offers the New Orleans business community an agency that caters to the interactive needs of evolving companies. Strategic, usable web design and search engine marketing are complemented with an emphasis on web analytics.

With a growing client base throughout Louisiana, especially within the oil and gas industry, Fusionbox recognized the opportunity to expand while maintaining the focus on client service the company was built upon. Fusionbox will remain committed to search engine friendly web design, open source web development, and results-proven search engine marketing services.

Fusionbox President Alexander Groth said “New Orleans is seeing a renaissance after the devastation of Katrina. The city seems focused on the future, and we’re very excited to be here now during these important first steps of technological growth.”

The new Fusionbox office will be located in New Orleans’ historic French Quarter. With this expansion, Fusionbox also hopes to help the New Orleans community thrive in its continuing recovery from Katrina. Fusionbox will aid in this recovery by bringing jobs to the city and offering assistance through community service and involvement like the company does in Colorado with non-profit organizations like Arts Street.

To learn more about our move to New Orleans, contact Ivy Hastings at 504.307.3447

Interactive Agencies are Getting all the New Business

Interactive agencies in Denver and elsewhere are taking business from traditional agencies because those they continue to struggle with their interactive services. We see it all the time. Many agencies are focused solely on design and don’t consider usability, search engine marketing or even conversion rates.

Case in point. We helped a Denver advertising agency cut up and program their site. I asked them what their goals were as they related to the new website design. They said they wanted to use the site as a lead generation tool. This was ironic since they had placed the “Contact Us” link at the very bottom left of the site in tiny font where no one would see it because they did not like “how it looked” in the top navigation.