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Archive for the ‘Redesigning the Web’ Category

Looks like Google is breaking their self imposed word count limit on their home page today to promote Google Chrome. I can’t say I blame them. Google Chrome has the potential to make a significant impact on the web over the next few years. It ties everything they’ve been doing for the past 5 years together into a package that could minimize Microsoft’s role in the web.

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Four technologies that combined would make a perfect corporate intranet.

Wiki + Blog + Tags + Search = Corporate Intranet of the Future (the same might be true for Corporate Internet as well)

Is there a company that has figure out how to combine these technologies into one killer app?

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OK, so here’s the most disappointing news so far regarding the iPhone. No ability to install your own applications. Hopefully this is only temporary but if it is not, it will be very interesting to see what applications people develop for use in Safari on the iPhone. I’m looking for this to jump start a whole new market for iPhone web apps.

The download speed of the EDGE network could be problematic but I expect there to be a huge number of developers who will be using Safari to add the “missing” applications to the iPhone the same way developers are using Opera to improve the Wii. The early adopters of the iPhone are sure to be technology geeks who are willing to spend around $500 for a mobile phone. They’ll be the first to discover and discuss the missing features and you can bet there will be a lot of developers who will find a way to add these features. This is going to be fun to watch.

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A quote from Albert Einstein that we should all put into practice.

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. ”

I repeat this in my head every time I’m designing a web page or web site or doing anything else for that matter.

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What is it about corporate web sites that make them lag behind all other types of
sites? I’m talking about company sites such Oracle, Honeywell, and GE where
little has changed over the last several years other than the design. I see very
little effort to turn these sites into interactive environments for customers. Most
company sites are bland information sites filled with marketing hype that few
people will ever take the time to read. When will these companies understand
this and start investing in the best marketing tool available right now?

To get started on making your site more interesting, consider the following:

  • Start a blog – even better, throw out your marketing hyped product pages and turn them into blogs that are part of your corporate site. Have your product managers contribute to them at least once a week.

    Also turn on the comments, the information you receive with be
    invaluable.

  • Tag your web pages – corporate site search engines are some of the worst available…it wouldn’t hurt to fix this problem but tagging your web pages can improve customer’s search and provide a new way to find information.
  • Use RSS – Provide RSS feeds for your content. Data sheets and white paper feeds are a great way to update customers with the latest product information. You should use customized RSS feeds to generate sales leads. Supplement your email campaigns with RSS. It won’t be long
    before RSS surpasses email usage.
  • Simplify your home page – Stop putting all of your marketing promotions on the home page. People will not read a cluttered home page and it makes your company look like it doesn’t have its act
    together.
  • Graphics – Can we all agree to stop using generic pictures of people in an office environment? It’s safe and it’s boring. Try to stretch your ideas and come up with some interesting photography which
    goes along with your promotions.
  • Landing pages – create custom landing pages for your paid advertising. It’s a huge waste of money to send people to your home page. Your home page has the highest dropout rate. Why send people there?

I’m sure I’ll think of several more suggestions later but this should get you started. As marketers, we need to look for new ideas. We’ve gotten away from innovation and have relied upon our old ways to get things done. If you want to stand out in the market you have to lead the way. Stop following the old business rules and find the edge of your business.

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If I was Microsoft I’d be very worried about Web 2.0. With AJAX there is a huge
opportunity for a company to completely replace Microsoft Office with an online
version. For the first time, I’ve found myself having the desire to start using and
storing Word files online. This would be a huge benefit for me since I use several
computers through out the week. Transferring files through email is becoming a
nuisance.

One example that I’ve started to look into is gOFFICE. They have a word
processor ready to use and spreadsheet and presentation products are in beta.
They still have some work to do but it shows the promise of using your browser to
support tools that were once only thought of as offline products.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the first company that figures out how to
leverage Web 2.0 to not only build products such as this but leverage them into
an online collaborative environment. Perhaps Chalk will be that answer. Stay tuned…

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I was trying to remember the name of this company the other day…

http://avc.blogs.c
om/a_vc/2005/07/cyber_nostalgia.html

Nothing epitomized the dot com era more than Kozmo.com. You could order a
candy bar online and they’d deliver it in an hour. I can’t imagine why this business
model didn’t work.

Oh how I miss the fun and innocence of the late 90’s.

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The next frontier for web access is from our cars. This has the potential to
drastically change how web developers build sites.

Most automotive manufacturers provide navigation systems with touch screen
displays. Now imagine using the web on this screen. The possibilities of this
technology are endless. You could pull into a drive through and place and pay for
your order from your car. You could spend the day traveling and use your GPS to
book a hotel room in an upcoming city. You could view the upcoming gas stations
in the next town and view gas prices before deciding where to stop. Of course
these great new opportunities have the potential to expose several design flaws
with web.

Over the past several years minimum screen resolution has increased but with
in-car touch screens the resolution will decrease both horizontally and vertically.
This makes it more important than ever to build your site using style sheets that
can alter the look of your site based on the display device.

Usability is another factor that needs to be taken seriously. Sites will need to be
designed to take advantage of voice recognition and screen readers. Screen
readers like JAWS still remain outside of most site development plans. Although
a significant number of people rely upon this software to use the web every day,
many sites are not built to support it. In car web navigation may be what is
needed to push screen reader development into the mainstream.

Navigation and layout will be another factor in site development. With touch
screens, mouse-over effects will become more annoying than useful. We’ll have
to rethink how we navigate people through the site. Less content on more pages
will reduce screen scrolling but overwhelm navigation. The right balance will have
to be found. Large font sizes and line spacing should be used but this too will
reduce the amount of content on the screen.

Over the next couple of years we’ll be entering a very exciting frontier on the web.
Web access from the car will drastically change how we view site design and
development and open up all kinds of new business potential. I can’t wait for this
to happen.

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Searching the web I’ve found 3 great articles written by Joshua Porter on this
topic:

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RSS has changed how I navigate the web and I’m sure I’m not alone.

I use the Firefox extension, Sage, to track about 70 RSS feeds. These feeds
provide me with all the latest information on web design, marketing, sports news,
and technology news. What I’ve found is that I rarely visit these 70 sites. I use the
feed to read the latest content postings and then proceed to the next feed. If I
click on a topic and visit a site, I often find that I don’t continue further into the
site. Instead, I click back to the feed and look for the next topic which interests
me. I’m using the feed as the primary navigation for the site.

Why do I use the RSS feed for navigation?

The simple answer is that I’m not looking for one particular piece of information or
an answer to a question. If I’m focused on finding something, I’ll navigate a web
site to find it. When I’m reading content from an RSS feed I have a different
focus. That focus is to learn more about a topic I find interesting. I’m only going to
the site to read about that topic and then I return to my feed to see what else of
interest has been recently posted. RSS feeds show the latest content changes
and are topic specific so they­re more efficient to use as the primary navigation.

What does this mean to web site owners?

As web designers and developers, we need to consider how people use RSS to
navigate our sites in addition to how they use the main site navigation. Currently,
there aren’t any best practices built around this approach. It is up to us to
experiment and test different solutions to find what works best for our users.

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