Love website design and development? Love the people who make it great? Check out Happy Webbies! It’s like Happy Bunny for web geeks. You can get desktops of your favorite web gurus bashing bad design or better yet, Eric Meyer can span your chest on your very OWN eric meyer happy webbies TEESHIRT! Watch out! **closes her p tag**
So I got to sit down with Brian Shaler yesterday during the Phoenix BarCamp and really pick his brain regarding his recent boost in popularity on the net.
I’ve been on a big personal branding kick and I’m trying to talk to anyone who’s someone to ask them how they “did it”. Not necessarily to find the best way “in” but to be able to at least assess my possibilities and think of it another way. So when I heard Brian was getting some SERIOUS digg attention and had over 6k followers on Twitter… I started to wonder if he was my next brain-sucking victim in the quest to become immoral. Sounds kinda creepy when I put it that way eh?
Anyhow, when Chuck Reynolds and I finally hog tied him and tossed him into the back of the van, after HOURS of threating to toss him into a vat of scorpions, THE Brian Shaler gave up his secret to his AMAZING popularity rise.
When he first found Twitter, he realized the growth potential of seeding the popularity contest that is viral marketing. How you ask? It’s brilliant really. You follow people… doesn’t matter who really, the more active the better I suppose. Lets say you start following… 3 thousand people… then all the sudden, even HALF of those people return the favor by following you. You instantly have a captured 1,500 user audience in which to broadcast yourself and things you want to become known. Once you have a decent size user audience, communication back and forth can continue the viral campaign, since every @brianshaler twitter statement someone makes is broadcast to all the users twitter followers as well, and these people start to ask, who is this person they’re talking to? Perhaps they too will start following you. All the sudden you have over 6 thousand twitter followers just like Brian Shaler.
He uses this captured market as a launching pad for things to become viral and tracks every link he sends out to this base group so that he can track the SEO effects of his experiment in viral activity. So, lets say… he has a site that he wants to promote. He sends out the link to his twitter followers saying, “Hey check this really cool thing out…”. Because of his extensive research on the SEO traffic produced by his Twittering alone, he knows that he can pretty much rely on about 100-300 click throughs from his Twitter followers alone. So perhaps his twitter followers actually think that this thing that he has sent them is a great idea, so they send it to a friend, two friends or three friends. The viral exponential factor already starts working its magic… but lets say that someone submits it to StumbleUpon or Digg, and the their own viral patterns start to build on top of this small 100-300 base click throughs. Suddenly you have created a mountain out of an ant hill.
The craziest thing about this, is that due to the way the internet naturally is a sharing device, people who will never ever meet Brian are now his number one fan. During the BarCamp we were recording and streaming the presentations. A Brian Shaler follower from Germany found out about the web broadcast and came into the web chat, this follower actually asked Brian to tell his friend (who was also a Shaler follower) that he had flown to Phoenix and had actually hung out with Brian. Crazy eh? Off of merely creating a viral platform to toss things out on, Brian has actually become internationally famous.
Besides creating that viral base for yourself, Brian also seriously recommended building your own brand of yourself. As cocky as this may seem, it really helps promote the idea of “he is someone” much like personalities such as Oprah or Michael Jordan. Then using this identity for everything that you toss out into the sea of the internet, or even in real life. Brian actually has business cards that just say “Brian Shaler” on them… on both sides, nothing else. Why? He says, “If you can’t contact me in 30 seconds using the information on that card, don’t contact me.” This very small piece of printed material just adds to the effect that Brian really is someone you should already know of.
Brian also chalks up his fame to some of the side projects he’s put effort into in the past, and believes that it’s better to have many sites to your brand with lower search rankings than one site with a high page rank. Why? Because different people have different interests and you can reach a larger, broader audience. He has recently broken out his blog from his personal portfolio site, widening his name sake that much more. But you can really see this effect in his creation crappygraphs.com. The whole site’s premise is crappy graphs that really don’t display accurate data at all, but more so a point. After creating only 20 crappy graphs, he decided to create a flash application on the site that allowed users to create their own crappy graphs and submit them to the site. After ten hours of intense manual labor over the course of one weekend, he now gave his crappy graph followers a way to really express themselves…crappily graphically. Crappy Graphs now has over a thousand graphs… why? Because of user submissions. These user submissions have been Dugg, StumbledUpon, and spread throughout the viral universe, and how did Brian accomplish this? By creating one, 10 hour application that allowed his users to express themselves.
So while the rest of us are trying to figure out the best way to market some silly viral ad campaign, Brian will be tossing links out into his twitter feed and reaping the click throughs, Diggs, and Stumbles.
** I was forced against my will to name the following links… part of the verbal agreement to be talked to by THE Brian Shaler. But do check them out anyhow. You’re welcome Brian. **
For those of you who DON’T know you Brian Shaler is, check out his blog, his personal portfolio site, his famous twitter account (6k followers and counting), the ShalerJump and of course Crappy Graphs.
I had a GREAT TIME at the 2008 Phoenix BarCamp today! I was a little… OK maybe more like VERY nervous about having to stand up in front of people and tell them about things that I might have some expertise in. But once I saw that everyone else was just as informal, I got into the grove of things. All the discussions were very informative, some of them so much so they were over my head, but thats ok!
I’ll just go over some of the great points some of the speakers had regarding their topics and discussions. Anyone that was there, feel free to pipe in regarding what you thought was interesting, points I missed, etc.
Pam Slim author of Escape Cubical Nation started off the day speaking about how growing start up companies can avoid becoming the cubical corporate environments that the entrepreneurs came from to begin with. There was a fairly voiced concern from the business owners in the room regarding how to avoid becoming that which they didn’t want to employed by to begin with.
Pam offered a simple common sense approach to really keeping the soul to your company, meet and get to know your employees. That a business owner should know what his/her employees really want to get out of their time with the company, and to realize there really isn’t any binding contract for these employees to be invested in your company if you don’t return their investment by investing in your employees. She mentions that open, honest communication is key to this relationship between employee and employer.
To really spend the time to know what each of your employees is interested in and their personal investment and interest in your company. She says to build on what your employees want to learn and do, this will enforce trust in you and foster a real value of your company to your employees instead of merely being a “job”. This will help take the pulse of your company’s true interests and values from the ground up.
Understand that perhaps some of your current employees final goals in their career may mean starting their own business, or moving away from your company in some other way. Foster this growth in your employees, perhaps once they have broke out on their own they’ll send business back your way, or other potential employees that will be a great fit for your company. Make sure you aren’t buying into the mafia mentality of you’re either with us or against us, and if you leave you’re against us for sure.
Open, honest communication allows for huge growth potential in your company when your employees are allowed to honestly express their ideas and true feelings on company projects and directions. Instead of wasting six months on a dumb idea, Fred over in development, will simply be able to express… “you know that’s not the brightest idea, but I’ve been toying around with this other thing and I think it might work…”. Don’t make yourself or your employees “check their soul in at the door”, make sure everyone is in agreement that all your companies practices align with your company’s overall goals and values.
Derek Neighbors from Integrum Technologies spoke regarding rapid business growth and how your company can live through culture changes from creative culture to command culture and back again.
Derek started out with a recap of Integrum’s rapid growth due to new projects and contracts that they were taking on at a very rapid pace at the very beginning, and that when you loose sight of your company’s core values things can get messy VERY fast. They had become a beast of command and control with sour employees.
So, once they finally realized that they had become the beast that they tried to run away from, they revisited their core company goals and values. Then they took the pulse of their employees, finding out what really motivated them every day to get out of bed and drive to work, and how those motivators aligned with the company’s goals and values. Aligning your employees goals and the company goals will make each teammate personally responsible for their part within the company, allowing for self-motivation and interest in the company as a whole. Making you less responsible to your immediate manager and more responsible to the company as a whole. Derek says, “Sometimes people have a hard time figuring out who’s the boss when they visit the office.”
Derek sighted that these key communication between employee and employer was an extremely important part of really getting back to their creative, coordinated company that they had originally envisioned. Today, Integrum is a team of eleven VERY talented, VERY driven close-nit people that get things done and done right. But, without that reassessment of their goals and how their employees fit within those goals was key to that success.
I asked Derek, as part of a fast-growing company, what can I do as an employee to help foster that feeling of a creative culture instead of a command culture. Derek’s advice was to share my opinions and ideas candidly, build team activities that bring us closer together as a whole, and become entrepreneurial within my own company (build activities to promote and foster teams and the company within itself).
Alright so at this point everyone has read the 2007 Web Design Survey at A List Apart. If you haven’t, you should… really. This is the first time we’ve ever had a survey for the web industry alone, and while it’s not necessarily scientific, it is a good sampling of the community, nearly 33,000 web professionals.
The December edition of Refresh Phoenix shared the survey results and open discussion was has regarding what statistics we thought were interesting finds throughout the document. Such as:
16% of web workers polled were female. Why is it that females are not prevalent in our industry? Check out a great set of interviews by fadtastic, where they contacted several of the industry’s leading female web designers to ask them the same question.
85% of web workers are white. What causes our industry to be so monochromatic? How is it that world wide there is still a serious racial rift in computers and design? Does this matter? Does this need to change?
53% of web workers said their field of study was directly related to their career. Leading one to reconsider the age old myth that you don’t need to be a college graduate to be in the web industry. Salary data also suggested that a bachelors degree helps boost web workers into that $40-60k salary range.
28% of web workers are in-house, 23% are self-employed and 22% are part of a design/advertising firm. This even split reminds us of all the employment possibilities there are. It also makes note that there really isn’t a large majority in one working environment.
23% of web workers work 30-40 hours a week, 42% 40-50 hours a week, and 12% 50-60 hours a week. So remember when you’re punching out at 7 pm that you’re not the only one out there!
When looking at the salary range data, salaries tend to bottom out at 40-60 k a year after 5 years of experience. The highest paid are Information Architects and Usability Experts. The self-employed/freelance sector made the least, under $20,000 a year. However, this does not split full-time freelance and part-time freelance, so some of this may be supplemental income to their full time positions as well.
Project Managers and Information Architects seemed to be the most satisfied with their jobs, while designers, web designers, webmasters, and the self-employed were the least satisfied when looking at Job Satisfaction data by job title.
72% of web workers polled have a personal site or blog. This doesn’t seem unnatural that web savvy people would have their own sites, but what is interesting is that the percentage of people who blog across gender and salary ranges did not vary greatly. In other words, 72% of EVERYONE in the web industry has a personal site or blog. The real question is how often do they blog on their blog? hehe
One of the questions posed was, “What would you like to see survey statistics on that were not included in this document?” Answers ranged from “Percentage of web workers who have ADD?” to “Ratio of hours worked and salary.” The best questions that are currently not answered by the survey were, “What are the range of benefits?” and “What’s the percentage/range on working conditions (corporate vs. casual)?”
Still, my brief synopsis doesn’t do this survey justice. Please, if you haven’t already, read the full survey. It’s full of interesting information regarding education, salaries, work environments, how we stay current in trends, and more.
So I got a recommendation from Erin Enriquez at Terralever to take up watching the new internet series Quarterlife. The premise is basically this intern writer decides to take up video blogging about her two roomates and the two guys that live across the courtyard whom are all friends. It’s a pretty decent concept, but some of the writing smacks of your usual sitcom plot drama, he loves her but she’s dating his best friend type stuff. What I think is interesting is the whole site really isn’t dedicated to the show at all, its dedicated to the young creatives that the show is suppose to emulate. Granted, I personally connect with Dylan (the shows main character), but I dunno if I need another social network out there. It’s awesome to give young creatives a place to muse and mingle, and some of the talent on there is pretty crazy. Take for instance the Etchasketchist, yes… he creates all his art on the old school etch-a-sketches. Funky eh?
Anyhow, I’m going to take this a step further. I was reading some of the forum posts on the Quarterlife site and came across a post regarding how internet series were going to be the end of conventional television. I don’t see this as being quite so true. We always thought that the internet would be the end of printed materials, and yet here we are years later with just as many (if not more) newspapers, magazines and books. The simple beauty of media is that it all works together, and every time a new media is created, it just adds to our ability to share information in more ways than were previously available. However, the internet is truly unique at this time given the ability to share video, text and audio at speeds and over social networks and gaps that were previously impassable. The fact is, people are simply used to getting their media in a particular way, there is a reason a particular distribution method has worked for decades, and that method will continue to work. Take for instance newspapers, the first real news sheet was created around 59 B.C. in Rome, but we still use it today. Why? Because of the delivery device, ease of use, cost, user comfortability, etc.
Rather than count the days until you no longer own a cable box, appreciate the connection between the two media sources. Enjoy the fact you can catch the episode you missed last night on the web or submit your votes for your favorite episodes online. I love being able to go onto a show’s website after a show and get more information on the story they just covered. After all, you can only cram so much into an half hour or even an hour. Unfortunately, since it’s still very new the coverage is still spotty, sometimes you can’t find the show you wanted more information on, sometimes they even TELL you it’s going to be on the website, and you go.. and it’s not. Once more and more users expect that connection to be there and the networks realize that they need to feed the addition to their shows online, the coverage will pick up and it will become just another arena for them to be competitive in.
So until next time tune in, tune out and log on.
If you love funky, designer tees check out Threadless.com, not only can you score some threads, you can submit designs to be printed and score other designs! I love having control over what could be printed next, not to mention, being able to submit your own designs into the running.
If you already love Threadless already, check out Blik! Think of it like Threadless, for your home, office, or anywhere else you can use surface graphics. They have a bunch of different sets for you to choose from and each set comes in a variety of colors. The sets are also VERY affordable, coming in around $25 – $50 a set depending on the complexity. And the best part? Most of them are remove and re-stick so you can use them in your rental!
Super cool, eh?
November, the month of brisk winds, first frosts, pumpkin pie, giving thanks, and now… national blog posting month. That’s right folks, for the month of November I will be posting every day.
While there have been some discussions on how blog posting frequency doesn’t matter, I believe that I truly do have something interesting and even possibly helpful to share with the world every day. If I didn’t feel that way, frankly my life would be pointless.
So, to celebrate this new goal, I’ve created a new blog template for EVofC and I have also purchased aprilholle.com in hopes to perhaps switch over to that as my new site, someday. I also plan on building out my about section to feature my 43 things list, last.fm music selection, digg.com favorites and stories, and flickr photos. I’ve decided instead of updating my about page all the time, it can automatically update for me as I live my life, making it that much easy for you to keep track of me. Kinda scary huh? So keep checking back for that.
I’m also tossing around the idea to maybe create a wordpress theme section and start creating themes for the masses. Perhaps also expanding out to a creative section where I can add tid bits like new wallpapers, photoshop brushes, and creative type links that I use on a regular basis for others to be inspired by.
Anyhow, November’s looking to be a pretty exciting month, and remember to check back EVERY SINGLE DAY for that new bloggy bit by yours truly. If you think you’d like to hear about any topic in particular, feel free to comment and I’ll be sure to look into it. I’m sure by the end of the month I might need some coaxing. hehe
If you spend any time at all watching viral videos online or are into viral marketing, you NEED to watch this video!
The team over at Cakke has mashed together some of the greatest viral moments (online and off) into one amazingly funny video. It’s really interesting to note just how many of them you have personally seen. Sometimes we don’t even know we’re participating in a viral activity, but this video really drives it home how many times we’re touched by this marketing magic.
In fact, I’m virally promoting this video right now… weird huh?
Recently we’ve completed four sites for Civigroup Companies. Within those sites you’ll notice several instances of sIFR (flash replacement text) inline with content. This is no easy task for sIFR text.
While trying to accomplish this feat of magic, I spent quite a bit of time researching different aspects of sIFR and how it works with CSS to understand how to make this work properly and of course, all while being cross browser compliant! So, in order to perhaps save someone else the time and hassle of trying to figure out the magic equation, I figured I’d share my experience.
Step 1: set the sIFR class on a span tag where you want the text to be.
<span class="h1inline" style="width: 325px;">Heritage. Commitment. Vision.</span>
Notice the width style attribute, this is required to make sure safari does not include extra space behind the span and before the rest of the copy.
Step 2: set the attributes in the sIFR-screen.css sheet to make it an inline block element along with the rest of your styles.
Notice the display: inline-block; this is also a safari required attribute.
Step 3: Tune height if necessary in the sifr-config.js
This will help if you plan no not only having your sIFR text inline, but also a link. I was having difficulties with the underline of the hover state being cut off by the flash doc.
And viola you have sIFR text inline!
I have been seeing the WaitLess Sprint commercials on tv lately, I figured it was just another bad commercial gimmick like the Alltel’s commercials Man Cave. But honestly, the way Sprint has married their TV commercials with the web is genius! Waitless.org is all about spending less time doing the boring things in life, to spend MORE time doing what you want to do. The videos are hilarious and they’re a great sample of what viral media should be. Check it out and have a laugh at all the awesome ways you too can save time and wait less!