Thursday, November 22, 2012

GIF is American Word of the Year 2012

Language is getting creepy. "To podium" and "to medal" are just going too far in mangled misconstruals of nouns into verbs of intentionality.

Social media acronymic nonsense like YOLO (you only live once), FOMO (fear of missing out), TLTL:DR (too long to load, didn't read) are nuts.

GIF (graphics interchange format) has been proclaimed the "American Word of the Year 2012" by the Oxford University Press, with "omnishambles" (cluster mess) as the UK winner.

According to Wikipedia:

GIFs are suitable for sharp-edged line art (such as logos) with a limited number of colors. This takes advantage of the format's lossless compression, which favors flat areas of uniform color with well defined edges.

GIFs can be used to store low-color sprite data for games.

GIFs can be used for small animations and low-resolution film clips.

In view of the general limitation on the GIF image palette to 256 colors, it is not usually used as a format for digital photography

Digital photographers use image file formats capable of reproducing a greater range of colors, such as TIFF, RAW or JPEG.

More new words and wordings 
to watch out for:

chipmunking = playing university lectures at 2x speed

selfie = photo taken by aiming camera at yourself because you have no friends

generation XL = obese kids

bacon wrap = boost something already good into new levels of excellence

grown-ups = supervisors at work (who tend to be older)

struggle bus = difficult situation

debate smile = fake facial expression in reaction to tough accusation

ambush TV = showing an unpleasant image without warning

photobomb = photo ruined by unexpected intrusion or facial expression

subway salmon = person going wrong way, against the crowd flow

WFIO = we're f'd, it's over

3ullet = "bullet", someone with extreme skills who owns a game or debate

venthole = someone who threadjacks a serious social conversation with personal trivia

leftover crack = something that doesn't exist

bees!!! = something bad or big unexpectedly occurs that you cannot express in words

ironic mustache = mustache grown as a joke that lingers way too long

hobo beard = unkempt unstyled beard that results from just not shaving

wag1 = what's up?

tummy blender = eating things that don't mix well in your stomach, like hot wings and chocolate

fridgety = opening refrigerator door due to boredom, not hunger

ThND = Thursday night drinking because you are unemployed and don't have to go to work on Friday

And the worst of all...

nomming = eating food loudly and enjoyably, with "nom nom" sounds

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New Google User Interface Drop Down Menu FAIL

The new Google search page sucks. The trend to removing tool links and hiding them in a drop down menu is ridiculous. All you have is a lot of empty white space. You have to hunt for the familiar search parameters that were once in the left sidebar.

[Click image above for LARGER VIEW to see what I mean.]

Now the Search Tools, in a drop down menu, is located in the top navigation bar, after Web | Images | Maps | Shopping | More.

To make matters worse, the links are not labeled correctly.

When you click on Search Tools, a horizontal navigation bar appears. To configure search results by recency, you have to click on Past Week, which then triggers another drop down menu with the options Anytime, Past Hour, Past 24 Hours, Past Week, Past Month, Past Year, and Custom Range. Instead of Past Week, it should say Recency or Date Parameters or similar.

At first, I looked for the Search Tools in the drop down menu of the gear icon at the top far right.

Hiding familiar tools in drop down menus is very poor usability, especially when these tools are not numerous and cluttering the page.

As usability expert Jakob Nielsen states, in "Drop Down Menus: Use Sparingly", scrolling menus reduce usability when they prevent users from seeing all their options in a single glance. Nielsen also states that in his studies, drop down menus annoy users.

A web page that hides everything in drop down menus achieves nothing except an empty look and a user interface that is no longer intuitive.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Guest Blogger Scam

Avoid the "sponsored guest post" or "guest blogger" scam.

Some stranger emails you, flatters you, praises your blog, and asks if you allow guest bloggers to submit articles to your blog.

They may even suggest an article title, often without much relevance to your blog topic area. Other times, they'll tell you they will write a post on any topic you choose.

DO NOT fall for this. 

They are typically mediocre writers, crafting short posts, and embedding in their articles links to dubious web objects: their own crappy blog or websites involved with spamming, malware, identity theft phishing, and other exploits.

Why let a bad content creator, with a potentially criminal agenda, use your blog to to add incoming links or traffic to their blog?

These con artist "guest bloggers" will dilute the content quality of your own blog and may endanger your readers with malicious links.

Google will also penalize your blog for bad content and bad links.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Business Succeeds by Being Altruistic

Business is about being kind, nice, friendly. You develop an expertise in a field, then offer products and services that help customers solve problems, meet a need, or enhance a lifestyle. 

People are more important than profits, because the source of profits is people, who become satisfied, enthusiastic, loyal customers.

A very wise slogan is "Be sure to lose a little in every transaction".

This is the opposite of avarice, greed, and con artists. If you "under-promise, over-deliver", you'll gain a reputation of being the best in the business. Top of Mind Choice is the goal and you get there by going overboard, doing more for your customers than your competitors do.

It's all about altruism, providing real benefits to people, in a cheerful presentation, at a fair price, then giving them more than what they paid for.

Sincerely care about the problems your products solve for customers. If you genuinely love each customer who walks into your office or store, and give them superior customer service, you'll weather almost any economic storm.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

How to Ruin a Customer Rewards Program

Customer Rewards Programs were started to show appreciation to loyal customers and to retain them as customers. It's a good competitive strategy.

On Seinfeld, there's an episode where Elaine Bennis kept buying a sandwich at a particular shop because she wanted the free one, once she bought 10 sandwiches. Did she like the sandwiches? Not really. What she liked was getting something for free.

Once the idea of giving customers free stuff or discount coupons started to become popular, mediocre businesses tried to get in on the act. You know, businesses that just imitate successful companies, but only go half way. They wanted to appear to be generous, without giving much value.

So, here's how to destroy a customer loyalty program.

Provide two or more rewards coupons that are stupid....

* "free breadsticks to celebrate Mothers Day"

* "free lube job when you buy 4 tires and a new transmission"

* "free refills on sodas and unlimited salad bar for parties of 10 or more"

* "save 3% on day old donuts this Wednesday 2 PM - 4 PM".

Do something like that and most recipients will stop paying attention to your Rewards Program. They won't open the emails, won't print out the coupons, and won't visit your store or restaurant. 

You'll accomplish the exact opposite of what you intended. Your shabby Customer Rewards Program will drive customers to your competition.

Miserly discounts in Rewards Programs will communicate to customers: "We value your business...very slightly."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Does Your Website ABOUT Page Suck?

Wikipedia Entry vs. About Page

As a web content developer, I pay close attention to what is included, and what is missing, from websites.

The vast majority of websites fail to update their News pages, fail to effectively use a blog, and fail to fully tell the story of a company's founding and progress through time.

Is the Wikipedia entry for your company more extensive and complete than your corporate website's About, History, or Company Background page?

If you don't do a good job describing the origins and evolution of your business, you're missing opportunities to:

(1) increase staff morale and pride in belonging

(2) preserve an honorable legacy

(3) inspire employees to be more loyal and productive

(4) present a good case to potential recruits

(5) connect with your community

(6) provide details for your local historical society and various researchers

(7) attract more visits to your website (expansive About pages are good for SEO) -- which can turn into increased sales and more qualified job seekers.

If you want to improve your website in this area, or other content, usability, or SEO aspects, contact me.

Online History Conservatory

But there's something even grander, and better, than an enhanced About page.

Are you interested in a prestigious, large-scale, multi-media, interactive Online History Conservatory for your corporation or organization -- featuring historical research, photo galleries, video galleries, TV commercial archives, and crowd-sourcing/interactive functionalities?

The Peoria Historical Society is developing such projects for local businesses, using state-of-the-art digitization tools and advanced curatorial capabilities.

Contact Walter Ruppman or Robert Killion for more information.

PHONE 309-674-1921

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Crazy Definition of Insanity?

You know what is really crazy?

How people keep saying over and over again that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Actually, this is NOT "the definition of insanity" but is the definition of FUTILITY or STUPIDITY or OBSESSIVE.

But everybody keeps repeating this phrase, over and over again, so that everybody is now convinced that as long as they are spontaneous and try different things, they are sane.

A better definition of insanity is: expecting everything to go your way all the time (i.e., being pampered by permissiveness and "unconditional love", which is actually not love, but laziness.)

Insanity always includes lack of accountability, due to neglect of self-scrutiny. Acting on mistaken beliefs, like "I'm entitled to this, even if I haven't earned it" or "I won't get caught" or "I can do this, since other people are doing it".

True love sets boundaries and punishes violations. True love always has conditions, like "if you verbally abuse me, continue to cheat on me, or punch me in the face one more time, I'm leaving you" or "if you refuse to do your chores, and curse your mother one more time, I'm giving all your iPads and game consoles to Goodwill".