Archive for October, 2009
What’s the difference between a good website and a great one?
It can be a fine line, but one you want to cross.
Recently, when discussing this very topic, I used ballet as a point of comparison.
Yes, ballet can relate to website strategy. Here’s how:
Earlier this year I went to a show by BalletX, a Philadelphia-based company. I’ve seen this ensemble a number of times and generally enjoy the performance. This one had an extra spark, much of it fired by a guy named Matthew Prescott.
Matthew was a guest artist and, wow, did he shine.
Not that Matthew was a showy dancer. He just had a wonderfully natural ease of movement combined with superb technical ability.
Now, everyone who dances with BalletX is a high-end professional. Still, Matthew stuck out like a beacon. He was exciting to watch.
No matter what, make it look easy
Matthew showed off his wide smile throughout the program, even when lifting a ballerina high above his head. And sure, she was a flyweight, but really; raising a grown-up body, no matter how light, is tough to do with grace and a grin.
Also, Matthew was keenly attuned not only to the dancers he maneuvered about, but to the audience as well. Everything he did outwardly communicated, “I’m doing this for you.”
So, what does this have to do with strategic web communications?
How to make your website shine (without being showy)
You can have an attractive website with well-written content and that surely goes a long way. But when you’re outstanding it makes a big difference. That’s how you get from good to great.
Here are ballet-inspired pointers for making a website soar:
- Shine without being showy. Resist the temptation to have lots of bells and whistles. Unless you are an actual purveyor of bells and whistles, these are distractions rather than attractions.
- Even if your service or product is difficult to execute, make it seem easy to accomplish. Your instinct may be to show all the effort, but the customer just wants to know you’re a real pro. Of course, if you’re in a technical industry, certain customers will want detailed information on your process. It’s fine to have this available. But don’t make it a focal point on the homepage. Drop it down a couple tiers. The best first impression is of your exceptional value proposition. Convey this in clear compelling fashion.
- Your site must operate flawlessly from a technical standpoint. All actions need to execute smoothly and without delay of process. On the web, performance (not patience) is the preferred virtue.
- Every aspect of your site — design, navigation, text, functionality, search engine optimization — must focus on your audience. Your organization does not exist to serve itself and neither should your website.
- Deni Kasrel
What do YOU think of these tips to make a website soar above the rest? Can you think of other aspects that make the difference between a good website and a great one? Share your thoughts. Comments welcome.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )
Would you attend a talk titled How and Why I Failed?
Many of us are programmed to shirk that one off without a thought.
We want to learn how to succeed.
What about a panel on failure?
A person on a panel I attended at the Global Creative Economy Convergence Summit 2009 suggested the event should sponsor a panel on failure.
He noted there is as much, if not more, to be learned in knowing why a project didn’t work out as there is in hearing why one succeeded.
It’s a great point — especially if your aim is to innovate.
Most attempts at innovation fail. If it were easy everyone could do it.
Experimentation is essential to innovation
Experimentation is fundamental to innovation. Testing to see what does or does not work is an ongoing part of the research and development process. There’s an implicit hope that an experiment may uncover heretofore-unknown knowledge that may lead to a new discovery. If not then testing continues.
We should all thank scientists for having this attitude; otherwise we’d suffer from a multitude of ailments that have been eradicated due to dogged trial and error research.
No one bats 1000
In business the fear of failure leads to paralysis and a play it safe mentality, where no one wants to stick his/her neck out and propose something new. You don’t want to be the one who came up with a faulty idea.
Unless your goal is innovate. Then you’re not afraid of failure because you know that’s part of the deal.
No person, or enterprise, bats 1000.
Failure can lead to smashing success
In the late ‘80s early ’90s Apple introduced its infamous Newton. The device was a PDA (personal digital assistant) before anyone knew what these were or what to do with them. A product ahead of its time, it was also buggy and the Newton failed in the market; big-time.
Two developers of the Newton went on to create the operating system for the first iPods.
The iPhone includes certain elements of the Newton and the rumored Apple tablet, if it is indeed coming to market, will (reputedly) incorporate concepts first introduced via the Newton.
Famous people’s thoughts on failure
Woody Allen, a man whose broken cinematic conventions (and social ones too, but we won’t get into that) said:
“If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.”
“I have not failed, not once. I’ve discovered 10,000 ways that don’t work.”
And for good measure I’ll include a quote by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. It’s from a commencement address Jobs gave at Stanford University where he spoke about his ability to learn and move on from failure:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
The secret to success is to learn from failure
I soaked up a lot of information at the Creative Economy Summit, from people who talked about how to succeed through business strategies, social media and new technologies.
But I think that comment about needing to acknowledge and learn from failure may be the most useful insight of all.
– Deni Kasrel
Do YOU think failure is a critical factor to achieve innovation? Is it a secret to success? Comments welcome.
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This same time last year our nation was reeling from a financial system in freefall. We’re still in recovery mode, however, if necessity is indeed the mother of invention, then the situation will ultimately spur a windfall of ingenuity.
Such was the spirit of the Global Creative Economy Convergence Summit 2009, held earlier this week in Philadelphia.
The agenda featured numerous panels and workshops. I often wished I had the ability to be in two places at the same time. Perhaps someone will be creative enough to figure out how to make that happen.
I still packed a lot in. Here’s Part 1 of my condensed notes, plus one of many memorable slides seen at the conference:
A cool slide
Let’s begin with that slide, screened at the panel on Regional Creative Economic Strategies. It’s from the deck of Karen Gagnon who’s the dynamic program manager of a major urban revitalization project in Michigan called “Cool Cities”.
Gagnon stressed that the success of “Cool Cities” in part relies on the fact that it does not enforce mandates. Instead, the program finds allies in individual cities that are able to gain the input and buy-in of local groups and communities. Get a look at how Gagnon illustrated her point here:
Man, you gotta love that one.
Now here’s more snippets from speakers and panelists at the conference:
Welcoming remarks: Peter Kageyama, Partner, Creative Cities Productions
- The creative economy is all about whales and krill. Google is clearly the whale, but so much of the creative economy is about smaller companies that are the krill in the water, and in aggregate the krill are far bigger; it’s just harder to see.
- We are the most overly marketed to generation ever, yet we believe almost none of it.
- Green is the new black: To attract members of the creative class organizations and cities must reflect their values. Green (in the context of sustainability) is no longer a nice to have, it’s a must have.
Keynote address: Elizabeth Gilbert, author, Eat Pray Love
- The expectation in our society is that we must constantly outdo ourselves, and in this relentless drive, we cannibalize our ability to be true artists.
- We are pressed to be innovative but we must also be gentle and patient with ourselves.
- Follow curiosity wherever it takes you; and for writers, take a line for a walk across the page.
Workshop: Get to ‘Shiny Penny Hell’ and Back
- Shiny Penny Hell is when you have great ideas but you are paralyzed by not knowing how to turn them into things of value.
- Be a possibility thinker.
- There is such a thing as productive conflict — seek out divergent viewpoints that challenge your ideas.
- Explore the outrageous.
- Obsess over value creation.
- To avoid tunnel vision have focused flexibility, don’t lose your peripheral vision.
Keynote Address: The Global Promise of Entrepreneurship, Randall Kempner, Executive Director, Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs
- Innovation is the generation, development and implementation of new ideas that create social value.
- Entrepreneurship is often born out of dire circumstance.
- Entrepreneurship = prosperity
Panel: ABC’s of Mobile Technology
- Mobile is about where you are and what you are doing at a certain time.
- When designing for mobile one size does not fill all; but there are in excess of 20,000 devices, so it’s impossible to design for every one.
- The three most important platforms are the iPhone, Blackberry and flip phone.
- Mobile web designs must be stripped down to essential needs; keep it simple in terms of tasks and navigation.
- Marketing tactics that that work well with mobile include coupons, news alerts/reminders, sweepstakes, text voting polls and surveys.
- The reach of mobile marketing is limited because it’s an opt-in method, but this provides a highly targeted audience that’s receptive to receiving your messages.
- Mobile and social media, perfect together.
OK, that’s a quick glimpse of insights from the Summit. Stay tuned for more.
- Deni Kasrel
What do YOU think of these ideas from the Summit? Anything spark your interest or imagination? Comments welcome.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
Whenever I hear the word “summit” in reference to a meeting or conference my mind harkens back to a childhood memory.
A Cold War event
This particular Summit — that occurred in my hometown of Glassboro, New Jersey — brought together President Lyndon B. Johnson and Soviet Prime Minister Aleksei Kosygin.
The Summit was intended to improve diplomatic relations following the 1967 Arab-Israeli Six Day War. The two leaders were to talk about limiting the spiraling military arms race between the U.S. and Russia.
The Summit was a big deal for Glassboro, which back then, was best known for its delectable Jersey peaches and tomatoes. We had a parade, news teams came from around the world, and the whole thing was the talk of the town.
The event put Glassboro on the map — for a New York minute, at least — however the Summit wound up being more symbol than substance.
A creative Summit
Now I’m excited about another Summit. This one doesn’t include high-ranking national officials, however, it will have scads of substance.
A new supply and demand curve
FYI, the creative economy; not to be confused with creative accounting; is one where ideas, innovation and the power of invention are the coin of the realm. It concerns the web (2.0, 3.0 and beyond), the changing dynamics of the workplace, and other shifts that are occurring with increasing speed.
John Howkins, who wrote the book, The Creative Economy: How People Make Money from Ideas, offers this description:
“The creative economy is based on a new way of thinking and doing. The primary inputs are our individual talent or skill. These inputs may be familiar or novel; what is more important is that our creativity transforms them in novel ways. In some sectors the output value depends on their uniqueness; in others, on how easily it can be copied and sold to large numbers of people.”
As the title of the Summit in Philadelphia implies, it’s all about convergence. Taking a big-picture look at the creative economy the event brings in entrepreneurs, professionals from technology and creative sectors, business and cultural leaders.
The agenda explores elements that drive the creative economy including sustainability projects, public and private initiatives, business ventures, changing workforce models and emerging technologies.
There’s a diverse array of presenters, of which there are way too many to mention. Here’s a small selection to convey the scope of those represented:
- Gary Ackerman, President and Co-founder, M3Mobile
- David Bookspan, Founder, DreamIt Ventures
- Katherine Gajewski, Director of Sustainability, City of Philadelphia
- Elizabeth Gilbert, Author, Eat Pray Love
- Sallie Glickman, CEO, Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board
- Jacqueline Hill, Director, Pennsylvania Minority Business Enterprise Center
- Randall Kempner, Executive Director, Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs
- Jane McGonigal, Director of Game Research and Development, Institute for the Future
- Hilmar Sigurdsson, Managing Director of Icelandic animation studio CAOZ
- Gary Sorin, Director of Operational Excellence, NRG Energy
- Kevin Stolarick, Research Director, The Martin Prosperity Institute at the Rotman School of Management
- Melissa Thiessen, Co-Organizer, Twestival
- Branimir Vasilic, CTO, superfluid
- Paul Wright, Executive Vice President, Operations & Business Development, Micco World, Inc.
If you want the full skinny, it’s listed on the Summit web site, where you can also find a downloadable pdf.
Summit-related conversation is encouraged both in-person and online. Of the latter there are several ways to keep up what’s happening at the confab, including the official blog, Facebook, Twitter (and the Summit hashtag is #GCECS2009), YouTube, Flickr and mobile updates.
I’ll be attending on both days and will be reporting my take on things, once it’s over, via this blog. So stay tuned for more on the substance of the Summit.
What do you think about this Summit for the Creative Economy? Will you be attending? Comments welcome.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )