James Wynne is Director of User Experience for Sandstorm and has been in digital product development since 1996. He has worked as a UX designer for a myriad of clients including large eCommerce brands, mobile device manufacturers and integrated marketing agencies.
Over sandwiches and soda, our Technology and Usability Director Michael Hartman talked to the team about new possibilities Drupal 7 features open up and how we can use them to continue to provide exceptional content management solutions. We were inspired enough to keep discussing Drupal long after the last bite had been eaten. In fact, we're still talking Drupal this and Drupal that. And the conversation isn't likely to end anytime soon!
It has been an amazing week for our development team at DrupalCon Chicago 2011. We absorbed Dries Buytaert’s keynote, mingled with other Drupal 7 developers, danced to a song about Drupal (not kidding!), and attended session after session on topics like theming, design, user experience, implementation and configuration. We had a blast and learned a lot!
We’re so proud that Chicago got to host the Drupal conference this year. And we’re so grateful to all those who made DrupalCon Chicago a success. Most of all, we’re looking forward to the future of Drupal, which is only looking brighter and brighter!
Check out our pictures from DrupalCon Chicago!
Back in September, Kevin Thau, Twitter’s VP for business and corporate development, announced that Twitter is not a social network. This got a lot of buzz in the blog (and micro-blog) community, but clearing up the labeling of Twitter is most relevant for people not familiar with it. They're the ones who don't know what it is. And if you come into it with a social network/Facebook mindset, you’ll only get frustrated and feel disappointed. Only Facebook can do Facebook. You have to approach this part of your social media strategy with a Twitter mindset.
So, what is the Twitter mindset? What do you DO on Twitter? It's very simple:
- Share – Facebook is about sharing who you are, Twitter is about sharing what you’ve found. Use bitly, tinyurl or any of the other little link web sites to share the articles, blogs and web sites you like, and add a little comment about why.
- Reply – While it might not be a social network, Twitter is a social place. Engage in conversation. It’s fun and easy!
- Retweet – If you simply want to pass along a tweet you found interesting without adding a comment, click the retweet option. You can also retweet the traditional way, by copying and pasting it, and adding “RT @(insert author’s username)” in front. In the few characters that are left, add your own commentary.
The best advice is to just dive in. Once you see how others are tweeting, you’ll get it. And don’t forget to follow our Chicago marketing firm @SandstormDesign!
Twitter has reached almost 200 million accounts, and has just added its seventh language – Korean. As Twitter expands worldwide, so does the opportunity for you to grow your business just as far.
Twitter will become increasing vital for networking and maintaining relationships with your overseas contacts, just as well those in the States. On top of that, it offers another valuable (and free) avenue for marketing your brand online (in seven languages, perhaps?). As you know, we kind of have a thing for marketing and branding.
If your company doesn’t already have an account, get one. And if you have one but you’re not using it, start now. If there were ever a time to jump on a bandwagon, this is it.
They say you learn something new everyday. And today we learned quite a bit from our Technology and Usability Director, Michael Hartman, who shared some key takeaways from a ‘Putting Research into Practice’ training seminar by Human Factors International, Inc. One of the most intriguing findings was from a study by Tractinskya, Cokhavia, Kirschenbauma, and Sharfib (2006) where participants made a split second decision (500 milliseconds) about the attractiveness of a web site.
Turns out the average attractiveness ratings stayed about the same when the exposure time was extended to 10 seconds. This means users’ impressions about a web site’s aesthetics are made in less than a second. They don’t really change their mind after more time on the site. We all know how important first impressions are. Which is why aesthetics are extremely critical if you want a user to stay on your web site for, well, more than a second. If you ever need a little help with your website design, you know who to call.
2010 was a spectacular year for Sandstorm! At the beginning of the year our office space grew, and as the year went on, so did our staff. In 2011, we’re anticipating even more growth for this Chicago marketing firm.
And the Sandstorm staff is looking forward to another type of growth – we’re hoping to grow some healthier personal habits! I asked around the office for the Sandstormers’ New Year’s Resolutions, and from the results, it looks like we’re a pretty health conscious bunch. Here are the resolutions:
- Surround myself with positive people
- Drop 5% body fat
- Stop eating high fructose corn syrup
- Eat better and be nicer
- Run on the treadmill every week
- Cook more home cooked meals
- Read new books, one classic novel, one work of fiction, and one fluff read
- Eat more organic food and less pizza
So, with salad on our plates, gym shoes on our feet, books in our bags and smiles on our faces, we at Sandstorm Design wish you a very Happy New Year!
At Sandstorm Design, we live and work by the “Yes, and” marketing strategy. It is one of our core values and reflective in absolutely everything we do. So what is the “Yes, and” marketing strategy? For us, “Yes, and” is a way of thinking. It is being open to new ideas, thinking outside of the box, and drawing outside the lines. It is doing what is asked for, or expected, and then coming up with something new and interesting to also think about. It is always striving to be better, and innovative, and three steps ahead of what’s next.
If you’ve worked with us before, the “Yes, and” marketing strategy is very evident in our creative work. Usually, we will give you one concept that’s exactly what you want (we hope), and another that gives you a new idea to consider. The goal is that, regardless of which concept you go with, we challenge you and show you something unexpected.
And, until now, we sort of thought that we coined the “Yes, and” marketing strategy phrase. Recently, I came across this article that proved otherwise. It also outlined how special “Yes, and” truly is (we invent airplanes ☺), and how the counterpart “Yes, but” also plays into the mix.
The idea of Google advertising on TV is a little weird to me. They’re a search engine, and the leader in their industry...what do they need to advertise for? But when I saw the first commercial in their “Search Stories” campaign, I was very impressed. They took something as quick and trivial as a 20-second search, and demonstrated the monumental impact that it has on a person’s life.
Before learning search engine optimization and working at an interactive marketing agency, I never really understood the importance of search engines. But in today’s world, Google is the first place that most people turn for literally every decision they make. If you have a question, odds are that Google can answer it.
And that is a really important thing. Because in doing so, Google, a search engine that is mathematically pulling data based on relevance, obtains a persona and a voice. It’s your trusted advice-giver, resource, and industry-expert for everything life throws your way. And it knows me so well! Today, I found this fun little tool that lets you create your own Google Search Story. I built a quick one about a user’s first experience with Sandstorm Design. Check it out, and please share your stories with us too!
Zak recently emailed me an article about why bronze medalists are happier than those who win silver, with a small note that read "reminded me of you". I didn't even have to read the article to know what he meant. I hate the B+, the second place, the silver, the most defeating words from a potential client, "We really struggled with this decision, the two companies we narrowed down to were so great..." you know the rest. You get the B+, the 89%, the race through your head if there was anything else you could have done, had a stronger pitch, shown more expertise, presented a more cohesive plan, a better demo, etc.
For years we have been working on going for the gold, striving to make that emotional connection, and helping our clients do the same. Strategic marketing and strong branding can't necessarily help silver medalists, but it can help companies who are tired of hearing from their sales team that a competitor just won their business, again. With strong positioning, a consistent brand, and a strategic message, marketing can bring a brand to life, clearly demonstrate added value, and in the end, be that one "gut" feeling that makes your company win the gold (over and over again). Ready to start training for that gold medal?
The Web Marketing Association has honored us with the 2009 WebAward For Outstanding Achievement in Web Development and Design for National Association of Realtors' Green REsource Council website. The Green REsource Council was founded to make the knowledge of green real estate practices available to everyone and is the only environmental real estate designation addressing multiple specialties for agents and property managers.
We are very proud to be recognized for our green design work, and continue to strive to build intuitive online user experiences.