10 September 2015

When I write an advertisement, I don't want you to tell me that you find it creative. I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product. When Aeschines spoke, they said, "How well he speaks." But when Demosthenes spoke, they said, "Let us march against Philip."
—David Ogilvy

13 March 2014

New gig at an old employer

I'm joining archer>malmo's Digital Services team this week. This was the first agency I worked for (public relations, 2001-2002) and I am excited to be back!
My primary client is a pharmaceutical company in the veterinary market. So, I'll be writing the truth about cats and dogs.

19 February 2014

Don't Make Me Think [Revisited] is out!

Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think is my favorite book on Web site usability, and he has just published a completely updated version. It's arguably the Elements of Style for Web planning.

If you're too busy to read the book, or the rest of this post, the book's title is great advice in/of itself. Don't make the site visitor have to approach your site like a puzzle or mystery... spoil the ending and get them to the right page quickly.

Since the first edition of DMMT came out waaaay back in 2000, Web designers and developers have relied on Steve’s guide to help them understand intuitive navigation and information design. Now he's back with fresh perspective and updated examples and a new chapter on mobile usability.

02 January 2014

This is kind of the way I felt when I got my first iPod. But I have to give this guy credit for operating his reel-to-reel, in front of an audience of VIPs, without looking at the interface. (Close Encounters of the Third Kind)

16 December 2013

MBQ reprints my "Makers" article

MBQ Inside Memphis Business reprinted my article about the MidSouth Makers in its December 
2013 issue. The story originally appeared in its sister publication,  Memphis Flyer, in October.

It's titled "Makers in Memphis," and it should be archived here.  
I've also posted a one-page PDF of the print version here on my site. 

As this tech-influenced DIY community gained momentum, makers began to evolve from hobbyists into entrepreneurs, spawning their own markets and creating new products and services. Despite the movement’s grass-roots, anarchic vibe, these bands of inventive makers equipped with open-source technologies have begun to inspire new innovations in manufacturing, engineering, industrial design, hardware technology, and education.

09 November 2013

"Past-Perfect Storm" on the Mississippi River

"I crawled back down to the water's edge because I was afraid to stand with the wind roaring so hard. Then I immersed myself in the river like a scared possum."
Prepping for a Cub Scouts campout, I was looking up John Ruskey's recipe for "Raft Potatoes" that I included in a 2000 Memphis Flyer article about his Mississippi River canoe guide service, Quapaw Canoe Co. When I turned in the article to Flyer editor Bruce VanWyngarden, he asked for two additions: The recipe (since I mentioned it in the story) and an account of danger on the river. I emailed John, and he promptly sent me a thousand-word paragraph describing a storm he kayaked through four years earlier. I added line breaks and moved the paragraph order around where it made sense. The raft-potatoes recipe is at the bottom of this post.

07 November 2013

Don't let Stanley Kubrick design your web content!

"So, I went to that company's site," the business reporter told me. "What do they do?"
I was embarrassed by that question about my PR client and frustrated that I had little or no input on their site's content. All key pages on the niche BPO provider's site were dominated by slogans, vision statements, mission statements, graphics of world maps, etc., but no clear description of what specialized services they provided.

To put it in terms of science fiction movies, the reporter needed to see a web site that read like Star Wars, but her  experience was more akin to watching 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I'm a fan of Stanley Kubrick's movies and Arthur C. Clarke's novels, but I thought the famous 1968 collaboration between the two suffered from serious gaps in story-telling. Kubrick meant to take a non-verbal approach to the movie, reaching the viewer at a visual or visceral level rather than through conventional narrative.