Browsing articles by " april.holle"

It’s Time to Dye

By april.holle  //  life news, new idea!  //  27 Comments

Alright, so “crowd sourcing” thing is all the rage, so I’m using it to my advantage. It’s time for you to choose my hair color. That’s right, leaving it up to you fine folks out there to pick what color my stripes are next.

I’ve been sporting the black with teal stripes for a while, and while I like it, I want to mix it up a bit… so below are your choices. Remember, black as the base, so you’re just picking the stripe colors you sillies! To vote, simply leave a comment with the color name. A winner will be chosen at 5 PM today and photos will be posted of the final outcome. :D


Happy, Sad and Somewhere in the Middle

By april.holle  //  general observation, life news, self-reflection  //  No Comments

There are some moments in life that have this perfect duality of Happy and Sad to them. They capture many of the beautiful things in life while some how having that tart center of “reality comes to bite you in the ass”. I often admire these situations in life because very rarely is something so emotionally centered that it can share both extreme happiness and sadness within the same activity.

That being said, today I received this Venn diagram from my boyfriend Shawn Vermillion (he likes it when I give him credit for all the awesomeness he brings to the table), and I suddenly knew that there are other people out there that appreciate the beauty of these life occasions that perfectly depict both happiness and sadness.


Original image is actually on a shirt at Diesel Sweeties, which I fully intend to purchase to proclaim my love for such magnificent emotional moments. Hmm, I wonder if this makes me bipolar…


Growing Smarter Not Harder

First, a disclaimer, I’m not an economics guru or a politics whiz, so what I’m about to put out here is simply and observation from an American Gen-Y female in the technology and advertising industry. That said, feel free to read on if you’re interested in my perspective.

I was recently reading an article called The Smart Growth Manifesto posted on the Harvard Business blog and I thought it had some great points about smart growth and how we may be able to dig ourselves out of this economic hole we seem to find ourselves in today.

If it’s one thing I’ve learned about making mistakes it’s that there are VALUABLE lessons hidden inside each one that help us grow if only we can understand how we made the mistake in the first place. History repeats itself, and if you don’t understand HOW history happened you can’t evolve your process to avoid those mistakes again.

The Smart Growth Manifesto considers the 20th Century Economy to be based on a poor growth model that was unsustainable, unfair, and brittle. Using what we’ve learned in this 20th Century growth model, the article suggests we move to a smarter growth model that provides sustainability, equality and resilience.

This new “Smart Growth” would be based on four pillars, each of which I really agree with and see happening in many successful start-ups these days. These four pillars are:

  1. Outcomes, not income. We no longer base our net worth on how much money or product we make, but how much BETTER our lives really are. We need to create meaningful, authentic value that really makes a difference in peoples lives not just how much money we line our pockets with.
  2. Connections, not transactions. We don’t look at transaction volume alone but dissect how each transaction is connected and how to increase the overall value of the entire system from supplier to manufacturer to consumer by co-creating and collaborating together instead of fighting over “our market share”. We should know that globally our economies are connected and to rise above competition and create relationships for the good of the whole world.
  3. People, not product. We quit focusing on what makes a cheap product and start focusing on the people who make great products. While you may save money going with the lowest bidder, you also get what you pay for. The people behind great work is what really makes all the difference. We should empower people to learn, create, invent and innovate to help stimulate growth and provide new arenas to build better goods and services.
  4. Creativity, not productivity. We need to base success measurements on creativity instead of just productivity. Creativity would measure how much NEW value is actually being created as opposed to simply shifting old value around to different markets.  This would bolster creation of new ideas, shake up the “status quo” and push businesses and economies to become more resourceful and efficient.

These pillars aren’t only found in economies but in businesses, many new “revolutionaries” are already tossing out the old ways of business for these smart growth ideals. Myself, being in the advertising, internet and technology industries are seeing a lot of new businesses turning the tides of the economic climate that are based on these four pillars. The article states several and I have to seriously agree that when I’m reading these principles I can clearly see them in businesses such as Apple, Etsy, Threadless, Google, and others.

I’d love to hear your point of view on what you think of this article and if this really is a full economic movement to “smart growth”. What do you think?


The Eight Irresistible Principles of Fun

By april.holle  //  general observation, self-reflection  //  4 Comments

I found this video, quite randomly one day while looking through twitter links. It really inspired me. This video repeats a few of the messages I hear so many people say these days, but some how it captures how simple and yet how perfect fun is and how important it is to our lives and our happiness.

Original video link:


Tasty Online Marketing for Restaurants

Consumer reports have continuously found that consumers (just like you and me) prefer the recommendations of their peers instead of other advertising means. Why? Because it’s (for the most part) unbiased and since these friends and colleagues know you well, you assume they would know what you like and have your best interests at heart. Yes, word of mouth marketing is alive and well, and will continue to thrive.

Restaurants have always relied heavily on word of mouth marketing. When you want a delicious meal, you often ask your friends or read reviews from critics. But what if our reviews of our favorite tasty places could be shouted from the rooftops to all of our connections? With the advent of social media and user-generated content, word of mouth marketing has become a tidal wave of great marketing opportunities that just need to be harnessed. So how can restaurants get on board and start surfing the wave? Here are some unexpected ideas…

Start monitoring, join the conversation, and some shameless self-promotion never hurts either. Twitter is particularly handy because it’s short and it’s RIGHT now. Lots of twitter users are looking for suggestions on where to go or watching where other users are going. Twitter can be a great venue for the customer satisfaction pulse. If someone has an issue, it’s great to provide on the spot customer service, and this can create amazing brand loyalty. Also, what a great way to help loyal customers (your Twitter followers) know about menu updates, specials or just how much you love them.

Yelp, Urbanspoon and other Review Sites
These great sites will help you keep up on what people are really saying about your establishment. Don’t ignore these reviews. Sure, you can’t please everyone, but if you’re looking for suggestions on how to improve your service, look no further than these treasure troves of great info. Tip: Don’t be afraid of the occasional nasty/rude review. These bad apples make the rest of the great reviews more genuine. Sometimes you’ll even get a loyalist on your side that will discount those mean mentions. Also, many review sites have iPhone applications, so going mobile is a snap and free to you.

Google Maps
Get yourself listed! With Google Maps it’s free to list your business and may be more helpful than you may think. Let me tell you why. Google is the number one search engine and is moving forward with blended search results (particularly local). This means it’s more likely a map result will get precedence over other content. Want to be on the first page? This is a good way to do it! Also, Google Maps is a leading service in mobile mapping technology, so if someone is looking for a good place to eat while they’re out and about, you’ll show up! Also, Google will aggregate most review sites and average those reviews, making it really easy for consumers to get the scoop on your delicious venue.

Meetup, Upcoming, Facebook Events and other Event Sites
Looking to promote a particular event at your establishment? Broadcasting it on local-based event sites is a great way to get visitors that didn’t even know you existed before. Also, look to partner with groups that may need venue suggestions. If you have a particularly slow night (say Tuesdays), offer them up a great deal (maybe happy hour prices) to host their group. This is a great way to start brand loyalty with new faces.

Flickr and YouTube
Got a camera? Take some shots of your famous menu items to share with fans and people that might be interested in learning more about your restaurant. This will help people get a better understanding of portions, how delicious your food is, etc. Also, there’s a great chance these photos will show up in blended search results! Got a video camera? Even better! Take a video tour of “behind-the-scenes” to give guests a unique experience on what goes into creating the amazing dishes you offer. This can really create buzz and be a nice personalized touch, especially if you already have fanatical brand loyalists.

Hope your mouth is watering with all these delicious new marketing opportunities that online relationships offer. Now that you’ve had a taste, how do you think you could harness this new trend to get more patrons?

Originally written for On Our Minds – Santy Integrated’s blog.


Keeping on Task and Tracking My Time

By april.holle  //  project management, user experience  //  No Comments

I’m a big fan of the whole Getting Things Done system, however, I’ve always been a list person. However, in Getting Things Done David mentions my lists:

To-do lists make you feel like you have to get everything done on them today, instead of pacing yourself.

When I read what David had to say about to-do lists I realized why I had this love hate afair with my lovely life-leveling lists. So what’s a girl to do?

Well, while looking up GTD type accessories to keep my life together even in the busiest of times, I happened to find David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner. This handy tool has saved my life!

It keeps my love of lists intact while making me remember that if I don’t get everything done it’s OK, because I’m awesome for just even finishing three items today. For each set of three tasks I complete it has a little “go get ‘em tiger” type message, and when you get to a total of nine completed items, it reminds you that you may burn out if you keep going like you are.

David Seah's Emergent Task Planner

David Seah's Emergent Task Planner

So how do I use it?

  1. I start my task list by listing my “permanent tasks”, thinks like meetings or items that are ABSOLUTELY required today.
  2. Then I list all the other tasks by priority that I need to finish that I know of. Many of these are carried over from the previous day’s list.
  3. For each task I make an estimate of how much time I think it’s going to take me to complete.
  4. Then I fill in the time grid based on the estimates, this allows me to know how much “free time” I have during the day for those random tasks or meetings that may popup
  5. I then use the bottom under the task list to jot down any tasks that pop up during the day that aren’t URGENT but need to be carried over through-out the week
  6. When I finish a task, I still get the satisfaction of checking it off, and I also fill in exactly how much time it really did take me to complete.
  7. Get Productive, Wash, Rinse, Repeat!
  8. Then at the end of week I use the completed sheets to fill in my time sheets at the end of the week.

Design Easter Eggs: Moo Stickers

By april.holle  //  design, speaker reviews, user experience  //  No Comments

Sometimes design is all about the details. Recently, the following design Easter egg was pointed out to me. On the inside flap of Moo Stickers is a lil happy guy that says, “You ain’t seen me, right?” and if you break the flap stapled on the other side he says, “Eeek! You broke it. No cookies for you!”.

Secret moo man

Originally uploaded by hallywoods

When the detail is put into these little corners where often it is overlooked by designers and never given a second thought to consumers, something magical happens, a clever little bit of “secret” is shared between designer and consumer, both are enriched by the process.

If you liked this lil design Easter egg, check out Paul Annett’s recent SXSW panel, “Oooh that’s Clever!: Unnatural Experiments in Web Design” on slideshare for more magical design moments both in print, envirnoment and web.


Pulp Browsers > Browser Wars

Found this little gem the other day on Twitter. For all of us who enjoy Pulp Fiction as much as we hate broswer testing, I bring you… Pulp Browsers.


Everything You Know About Web Design Is Wrong – Print in Disguise

By april.holle  //  design, speaker reviews, user experience  //  1 Comment

Has web design transcended into it’s full potential? If you ask Dan Willis of Sapient, he’ll say it’s just print in disguise. He believes that while web design certainly has just begun to blossom into the medium that interactivity the world wide web has to offer, it’s not quite there yet.

Even as Web 3.0 edges its way, web design is still ruled by “print-style” design, pushing web centric content (such as up-to-minute story updates or geo-targeted results). He argues that there is more growth into “Transcendent Web” on the horizon, and cites five different primary elements that will push web design to new heights.

  1. Ambient Awareness
    Micro-blogging such as Twitter allows users to become aware of a bigger picture of who someone is via small 140 character updates, allowing a fuller personalize perspective into that person’s life, culture and perhaps society in general.
  2. User Created Context
    Users now create their own experience online, selecting the ways to they want receive their information (RSS feeds vs. reading on the blog), the more you try to control how the user moves about the web, the more they rebel and go else where for their information.
  3. Random Voyeurism
    Humans like to experience what it’s like to be someone else, to share an honest moment that provides insight into others, the web offers new ways to experience this through personal blogs, micro-blogging, photo and video sharing.
  4. Self-aware (but ultimately uncontrollable) Content
    Content on the web now knows what kind of content it is through the use of xml, tagging and keywords, but ultimately this content can be used by anyone for anything in or out of context. Once you put content out there, it can be mashedup and reused completely.
  5. Experiential Content
    With video, images, real-time micro-blogging, and other content available, many web interactions could be exploded into entire experiences as if the users were almost “there”.

To learn more check out the SXSW Highlights Video or download the 15-page paper by Dan Willis.


Woman with a Gun

By april.holle  //  life news  //  No Comments

My good friends Matt and Chris took me out shooting on Sunday at Shooters World. Matt had is little mino camera handy and snapped some footage of my deadly accurate first-timer aim. :)

Aprils First Shootout from ClowerPower on Vimeo.

Guess I can check that off the “I should do this” list. Thanks guys!

What is this?

This little blog happens to be the personal ramblings of one April Holle - I'm female, outspoken, webbie, a community evangelist, and Principal of Made Better Studio. Check out the about section for more info.

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