3 Tips On How To Use QR Codes Effectively

By Nathan Moore

Last spring, my wife, Rachael, and I were at the local home improvement store shopping for some flowers. As we were browsing, a particular set of flowers caught my eye because of what was printed on the label - each one contained a QR Code. I thought this was brilliant.

Most flower labels normally contain information about the care of the plant - the amount of sunlight is required, how often to water it, etc. This is the information that I had expected to see when I scanned the QR Code on the label… perhaps supplemented with a nice photo of the flower. However, I was disappointed to only be directed to the company’s homepage.

This company missed the opportunity to utilize the QR Code in a creative and useful way. This was a classic case of use before understanding.

Consider these guidelines when using QR Codes for marketing purposes:

1. Always extend context. If the QR Code is printed on a flower label, give the user information about that flower. If it is printed along with a product in a catalog, link to the actual product page so the user can learn more about the product or make a purchase. Do not simply link to your homepage.

2. Consider providing a mobile site. It can be assumed that users will be scanning your QR Codes on mobile devices. Nothing can kill a mobile user experience more than to serve up a site that is not optimized for mobile devices. Do not take the user to a page that was created using Flash.

3. Understand your market. QR Codes are new and they are still considered on the fringe of interactive media. The people that will recognize a QR Code and understand how to use it are more tech savvy than your ordinary John Doe. Thus, the QR Code should serve as an auxiliary feature, and not the main content. Do not create a marketing piece that only contains a title and a QR Code (unless it is intended for use at a conference for New Media professionals).

QR Codes are trendy, but do not make a mistake of integrating a trendy interactive technology without some strategy to drive it. Always understand how to use a technology before you put it into practice.

categories:  Marketing  Social Media 

Active vs. Passive Business Sites

By Jamie Pilote

So you’ve got a company, and you’ve got a website.  Unless you’re a web-based company you probably hope that people will find your site either by advertising or search engines directing them to your site and that the site visit will lead to business for your company.  This describes the standard passive web site.  It sits there and waits for someone to visit it, hoping to help in the process if it can.

An active site offers something to visitors.  It doesn’t stay the same all the time and is updated to encourage regular visits.  It supplies information that may be helpful to visitors.  These updates don’t have to be drastic or even design changes.  Blogging, social media integration, photo galleries of projects that your company is involved in, or even links to stories from your industry create change and can help drive users back to your site for return visits.

Updating your site (if you even have the ability) in simple ways to provide tools, information or updates to your current or potential clients is a great way to turn your web site from a passive tool in your marketing, into an active one.  Having a site that is a destination as opposed to a stop-through can give your business a leg up in becoming the expert that your clients are looking for and the name that they will remember.

categories:  Blogging  Branding  Marketing  Random Bites  Social Media 

Tips for a Committee-Based Design Process

By Nathan Moore

Design should always be intentional. Always. There should always be a rationale behind the placement, the color, the size, the contrast, the typography, and the relationship with other design elements. Design should serve a purpose. Design should drive action to a certain goal.

There is great value in intentional design… it serves a specific purpose. However, on the other hand, “design by committee” produces mediocre and ineffective designs. The vision and agenda for each person involved in the decision process is different. When there is an attempt to satisfy each of these visions, it produces an average end result and rarely is effective.

Additionally, requests for design changes are likely based upon tastes rather than originating from a strategic process.

So, what if you work at a company where “design by committee” is just a fact of life? Use these tips while working with your design or web development firm:

  1. Try to minimize the number of people that need to “sign off” on the design or have input in design direction.
  2. Have a clear and concise vision for the project on which the entire group can agree.
  3. When reviewing the design, try to identify the intent behind each of the change requests. For example, if the logo need to be bigger, why does it need to be bigger? What is the purpose behind making it bigger? Many times, communicating the identified purpose to your designer will help more than simply listing change requests without context. Your designer may have a better solution for the issue you identify.
  4. Be open to suggestions. Designers design with intent. There is probably a reason why that grey bar is light grey instead or dark brown. Find a designer that will communicate these reasons to you if needed.
categories:  Web Development  Design 

You may know what SEO is, but do you know what SSA is...?

By Jamie Pilote

You may know what SEO is, but do you know what SSA is…?

... and why it matters to you and your website?  With SEO, you’re learning from the web queries that direct users to your site.  What users type into Google, Bing, or other search engines to get to your website. 

But what about once they are there? 

Does your website have a search box?  Do you know what users are entering in that field?  Would you even know what to do with that information if you had it?

Users of our websites give us massive amounts of information; What pages they go to most often, are they linked in to a page other than the homepage, what is most important to your website visitors, what would they like to see more of (less of),  and are there pages that never get seen… and why not?

Knowing how and why users get to your site is only half of the battle.  Putting together, or updating, a site that meets the needs of the users of the site can be the difference in having a site that people go to, and a site that people use.  If you view your website as a tool, is it a tool that your target audience wants to use?

categories:  Anthology Creative  Marketing  Web Development 

The Rise of the Recommendation Web

By Nathan Moore

The web is an organism. It is constantly evolving. It is constantly morphing and changing its shape. It is continually adapting to current trends, new information, and progressive innovation.

In it’s infantry, it was the static web. Then, it became the dynamic web and we began to interact. About ten years ago, it morphed again - this time into the social web. In this era, we have seen the rise and fall of sites like Friendster and MySpace, we have seen services like Facebook and Twitter grow from experiments into online empires. And, we started to see the first glimpses of the recommendation web with sites like Digg and Reddit.

We are now fully entering into the era of the recommendation web - where virtually everything can be viewed, consumed, or purchased can also have a recommendation attached. This begins to shift how we find new information, how we search on the web, and how our decisions are influenced - decisions that we previously were forced to make alone.

So, where does this take us? Facebook and Google each have launched their own “recommendation networks.” Facebook has the now-iconic “Like” button, and Google recently launched +1.These giants will begin to take a stronghold onto the recommendation web.

Facebook will utilize it to connect people further and increase revenue by serving up increasingly targeted ads. Google will utilize it to organize and catalog information on the web and respond to requests accordingly. Both will leverage our existing social networks and what those people recommend to gain insight into our potential likes, dislikes, and behavior.

With the recommendation web, search engine optimization (SEO) as we know it today will be flipped on its head. It will become more important for companies and products to receive recommendations online than it will be to write strategic copy containing certain buzzwords. Search results will be heavily influenced by our social recommendations, and thus, will be catered to fit each individual.

It makes sense that this is the next logical step in the evolution of the web. Companies and organizations should recognize this early and adapt accordingly so they are not left behind in the new era of the web.