Web Development

QR-Codes

QR Code it

What can a QR Code do?

A lot of people don’t know this, but QR Codes are actually old technology.  The QR code system was invented in 1994 by Toyota‘s subsidiary, Denso Wave. Its purpose was to track vehicles during manufacture; it was designed to allow high-speed component scanning. With the advent of the smart phone and the capability of such devices to easily read and process these barcodes anywhere, at any time, their potential and use began to blossom.

A QR code is literally a bridge to connect the “real world”  with the “digital world.”  You can’t put “Click here” on a t-shirt or printed brochure, but a QR code gives you virtually the same benefit.  “Scan here” and visit the online destination of my choosing. Basically, anywhere a website button could take you, a QR code can bring you to the same place.

We often generate QR Codes for our clients to place on cards, ads, stickers, or T-Shirts. It can store text, a URL, contact information, phone numbers, SMS whatever. I have used them to link directly to websites, Facebook pages, and even PayPal payment screens.

The possibilities are endless.

The best place I have found to go to generate your code, simple, easy, and free is: https://www.the-qrcode-generator.com/

Good luck, and happy scanning!

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Bright idea

How to work around the Google Analytics Account Limit

Account Limit Reached! You have reached the limit of 25 accounts. Please reach out to your Google Analytics support contact for assistance.

The problem seems daunting, but the solution is really quite simple and obvious (since we all have 20/20 hindsight). I know people that have set up individual Google accounts for EVERY client, but that ends up being a whole lot of user names and passwords to manage for no particular reason (like we don’t have too many already).

The Scenario: You use your Google account to manage Analytics for all of your clients.  After you try to create the 25th account, you get this message: “Account Limit Reached: You have reached the limit of 25 accounts. Please reach out to your Google Analytics support contact for assistance.” That is totally BOGUS!

The Solution: Use a secondary Google ID to create the “new account” for your new website’s analytics, then add your primary Google account as an administrator.  Now, you can log back in with your primary user account and delete the secondary account as a user.  Voila! You now have 26 Accounts in your Primary User ID’s Account list.

This 2 account solution works flawlessly to break the 25 account limit. It keeps everything under one roof, while still maintaining separate accounts able to be shared with clients who want to have administrator access, or transferred away if the client wants to take over complete control of it (a.k.a. transfer to another vendor).

Bravo! To Grant Bivens from Interworks Blog for explaining it in extreme detail here

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Google me.

In 2010, people googled the word “google” over 615 MILLION times according to comScore’s 2010 digital year in review. This suggests that people in general don’t like to use the browser address bar.  After all, “http://www” is not a very user friendly string of characters.  “Is that two colons and one forward slash…or was it two forward slashes and then a colon..or was it a back slash and a semi-colon?!”  Just looking at the many emails I get every day, people often have a hard enough time spelling their own name, let alone remembering how to properly format the syntax of a Uniform Resource Locator (URL).

So what does this mean for me? It means that first and foremost, before you start worrying about targeting keywords for your products and services in organic search engine rankings, you need to make sure that your company name and or URL itself is searchable. For the most part, this is relatively easy to do, and the search engine algorithms normally account for this.  For example, if you search for hats, in the top 5 results you get www.hats.com.  The same result happens when you search shoes or belts – www.shoes.com or www.belts.com will show up in the top 5 results.  But when you search for couches, www.couches.com is not in the top 5 results.  This poses a problem for the people that – although they have your URL, don’t know how to use it.

The above statistic barely holds a candle to the nearly TWO TRILLION searches for  the phrase “facebook.”  in 2010, Facebook grew to the 4th most visited web property.  3 out of every 4 internet users visits Facebook at least once per month. comScore 2010 Year in review also reports that “Facebook accounted for 10 percent of U.S. page views in 2010, while three out of every ten Internet sessions included a visit to the site.”

Facebook is a great place to expand your marketing efforts to. Find your ‘fans’ and enable them to help you spread the word about your product or service.  Obviously ALL your customers aren’t reachable there, but reaching out to the ones that are there is a great piece to a comprehensive marketing campaign.

Go ahead and Google me. You should get a few valid results.

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Load content to the clipboard

I have been looking for a solution to load a block of text to a client’s clipboard at the click of a button; basically I needed a way to “copy” text for pasting without having to actually select and copy it.

Most of the solutions that are available are NOT cross browser compatible. I have looked at  different Javascript, jQuery, and Flash based systems, but all of them were older and were lacking cross-browser compatibility.

Two of solutions that didn’t work:

The solution that does work:

Let me know if you need help getting something like this to work on your website.

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Hits don’t hurt and impressions don’t last.

In the world of websites...impressions lead to hits, not the other way around.When looking into an online advertising program, it’s good to know the lingo before you start. Here are a few terms you should know to get you on your way.

Clicks: A click is when a user actually CLICKS on your web ad. This click normally goes directly to your homepage, or to a landing page you have set up for that specific ad or marketing campaign. Normally this statistic is counted on the site where the ad is placed, so even if the ultimate destination (your web site) is down, doesn’t load correctly, takes too long to load, or the user cancels the action and goes somewhere else, the click still counts as a click. (Normally a click is registered at the exact moment the user releases the mouse button – thus it goes ‘click’, or maybe it goes clack, but I digress…). This method of ad tracking is commonly used because it is easy, simple and does not require tracking code on YOUR website (only on the site where the ad, banner, or link is placed.)

Impressions: Impressions are the number of times an image, ad or link is displayed. In most cases tracking impressions requires access to the site that is serving the ad.

Click Through Rate (CTR): Click Through Rate is one of the vital statistics that you should be aware of. To find your CTR, you divide the number of users who clicked on your ad (clicks) by the number of times the ad was shown (impressions)  For example, if your ad was shown 100 times on a website and 1 person clicked on it, then the CTR is 1 percent. This statistic helps you determine if your advertising campaigns are effective. There are many factors involved in determining the effectiveness of of an (target audience, the content of the ad, position of the ad, etc).

Okay, so what’s a ‘hit’?

Hits: A hit is when a user actually LANDS on one of your web pages. Hit counts tally the traffic your page or site receives. Google Analytics uses the terms “Visits” and “Pageviews”to refer to variations of the “hit.” A visit is a unique person who comes to your website as a whole. A pageview is when an individual page on your website is viewed by a visitor. If you are trying to determine the success of a banner ad through hits, then you need to have a separate landing page set up, so hits from that particular ad are gong to a unique page, often called a “landing page,” and not just directing visitors to the home page.

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Check all Checkboxes with jQuery

I was searching for a solution to this problem and came upon this post. Most Javascript functions that do this rely on the fact that the input checkboxes all have the same ‘name’ property.  This jQuery solution merely requires them to all be in the same FIELDSET.  Clean, simple and effective.  Brilliant solution.  Bravo Brian Cray!

SUMMARY

This code checks/unchecks all checkboxes within the same fieldset. A simple end elegant solution to a problem that would be much more involved in Javascript alone.

HTML

<fieldset>
	// these will be affected by check all
	<div><input type="checkbox" class="checkall"> Check all</div>
	<div><input type="checkbox"> Checkbox</div>
	<div><input type="checkbox"> Checkbox</div>
	<div><input type="checkbox"> Checkbox</div>
</fieldset>
<fieldset>
	// these won't be affected by check all; different fieldset
	<div><input type="checkbox"> Checkbox</div>
	<div><input type="checkbox"> Checkbox</div>
	<div><input type="checkbox"> Checkbox</div>
</fieldset>

The jQuery Piece

$(function () { // this line makes sure this code runs on page load
	$('.checkall').click(function () {
		$(this).parents('fieldset:eq(0)').find(':checkbox').attr('checked', this.checked);
	});
});

You can see it in action here in Brian's site:

http://briancray.com/tests/checkboxes/index.html

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The Crystal Goblet

I originally read this piece by Beatrice Warde in 1998 when I was studying typography. It struck a strong chord with me and still resonates today. Time and time again I am reminded of what a great analogy this is and how even today – over 40 years after its original printing – it still has meaning.  The theory and concepts described, not only apply to print, but to web publishing as well.  With all the billions of web pages on the internet today, the one thing that we are lacking is white space.

The concept of  “Less is more” which applies just as much to the internet and print design as it does to any other form of design, was originally stated by Robert Browning in 1855 in his poem “Men and Women,” although it is often attributed to architects Buckminster Fuller or Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Many people make the mistake of over designing, taking a concept too far, or doing what I refer to as “Logo À Go-Go” – where you use a logo as a design element and stamp it all over the page.

Remember: your design is finished, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

With any further ado, please take a moment to read “The Crystal Goblet” by Beatrice Warde.

The Crystal Goblet, or Printing Should Be Invisible
by Beatrice Warde (1900 — 196
9)

Imagine that you have before you a flagon of wine. You may choose your own favourite vintage for this imaginary demonstration, so that it be a deep shimmering crimson in colour. You have two goblets before you. One is of solid gold, wrought in the most exquisite patterns. The other is of crystal-clear glass, thin as a bubble, and as transparent. Pour and drink; and according to your choice of goblet, I shall know whether or not you are a connoisseur of wine. For if you have no feelings about wine one way or the other, you will want the sensation of drinking the stuff out of a vessel that may have cost thousands of pounds; but if you are a member of that vanishing tribe, the amateurs of fine vintages, you will choose the crystal, because everything about it is calculated to reveal rather than hide the beautiful thing which it was meant to contain.

Bear with me in this long-winded and fragrant metaphor; for you will find that almost all the virtues of the perfect wine-glass have a parallel in typography. There is the long, thin stem that obviates fingerprints on the bowl. Why? Because no cloud must come between your eyes and the fiery heart of the liquid. Are not the margins on book pages similarly meant to obviate the necessity of fingering the type-page? Again: the glass is colourless or at the most only faintly tinged in the bowl, because the connoisseur judges wine partly by its colour and is impatient of anything that alters it. There are a thousand mannerisms in typography that are as impudent and arbitrary as putting port in tumblers of red or green glass! When a goblet has a base that looks too small for security, it does not matter how cleverly it is weighted; you feel nervous lest it should tip over. There are ways of setting lines of type which may work well enough, and yet keep the reader subconsciously worried by the fear of ‘doubling’ lines, reading three words as one, and so forth.

Now the man who first chose glass instead of clay or metal to hold his wine was a ‘modernist’ in the sense in which I am going to use that term. That is, the first thing he asked of his particular object was not ‘How should it look?’ but ‘What must it do?’ and to that extent all good typography is modernist.

Wine is so strange and potent a thing that it has been used in the central ritual of religion in one place and time, and attacked by a virago with a hatchet in another. There is only one thing in the world that is capable of stirring and altering men’s minds to the same extent, and that is the coherent expression of thought. That is man’s chief miracle, unique to man. There is no ‘explanation’ whatever of the fact that I can make arbitrary sounds which will lead a total stranger to think my own thought. It is sheer magic that I should be able to hold a one-sided conversation by means of black marks on paper with an unknown person half-way across the world. Talking, broadcasting, writing, and printing are all quite literally forms of thought transference, and it is the ability and eagerness to transfer and receive the contents of the mind that is almost alone responsible for human civilization.

If you agree with this, you will agree with my one main idea, i.e. that the most important thing about printing is that it conveys thought, ideas, images, from one mind to other minds. This statement is what you might call the front door of the science of typography. Within lie hundreds of rooms; but unless you start by assuming that printing is meant to convey specific and coherent ideas, it is very easy to find yourself in the wrong house altogether.

Before asking what this statement leads to, let us see what it does not necessarily lead to. If books are printed in order to be read, we must distinguish readability from what the optician would call legibility. A page set in 14-pt Bold Sans is, according to the laboratory tests, more ‘legible’ than one set in 11-pt Baskerville. A public speaker is more ‘audible’ in that sense when he bellows. But a good speaking voice is one which is inaudible as a voice. It is the transparent goblet again! I need not warn you that if you begin listening to the inflections and speaking rhythms of a voice from a platform, you are falling asleep. When you listen to a song in a language you do not understand, part of your mind actually does fall asleep, leaving your quite separate aesthetic sensibilities to enjoy themselves unimpeded by your reasoning faculties. The fine arts do that; but that is not the purpose of printing. Type well used is invisible as type, just as the perfect talking voice is the unnoticed vehicle for the transmission of words, ideas.

We may say, therefore, that printing may be delightful for many reasons, but that it is important, first and foremost, as a means of doing something. That is why it is mischievous to call any printed piece a work of art, especially fine art: because that would imply that its first purpose was to exist as an expression of beauty for its own sake and for the delectation of the senses. Calligraphy can almost be considered a fine art nowadays, because its primary economic and educational purpose has been taken away; but printing in English will not qualify as an art until the present English language no longer conveys ideas to future generations, and until printing itself hands its usefulness to some yet unimagined successor.

There is no end to the maze of practices in typography, and this idea of printing as a conveyor is, at least in the minds of all the great typographers with whom I have had the privilege of talking, the one clue that can guide you through the maze. Without this essential humility of mind, I have seen ardent designers go more hopelessly wrong, make more ludicrous mistakes out of an excessive enthusiasm, than I could have thought possible. And with this clue, this purposiveness in the back of your mind, it is possible to do the most unheard-of things, and find that they justify you triumphantly. It is not a waste of time to go to the simple fundamentals and reason from them. In the flurry of your individual problems, I think you will not mind spending half an hour on one broad and simple set of ideas involving abstract principles.

I once was talking to a man who designed a very pleasing advertising type which undoubtedly all of you have used. I said something about what artists think about a certain problem, and he replied with a beautiful gesture: ‘Ah, madam, we artists do not think—we feel!’ That same day I quoted that remark to another designer of my acquaintance, and he, being less poetically inclined, murmured: ‘I’m not feeling very well today, I think!’ He was right, he did think; he was the thinking sort; and that is why he is not so good a painter, and to my mind ten times better as a typographer and type designer than the man who instinctively avoided anything as coherent as a reason. I always suspect the typographic enthusiast who takes a printed page from a book and frames it to hang on the wall, for I believe that in order to gratify a sensory delight he has mutilated something infinitely more important. I remember that T.M. Cleland, the famous American typographer, once showed me a very beautiful layout for a Cadillac booklet involving decorations in colour. He did not have the actual text to work with in drawing up his specimen pages, so he had set the lines in Latin. This was not only for the reason that you will all think of; if you have seen the old typefoundries’ famous Quousque Tandem copy (i.e. that Latin has few descenders and thus gives a remarkably even line). No, he told me that originally he had set up the dullest ‘wording’ that he could find (I dare say it was from Hansard), and yet he discovered that the man to whom he submitted it would start reading and making comments on the text. I made some remark on the mentality of Boards of Directors, but Mr Cleland said, ‘No: you’re wrong; if the reader had not been practically forced to read—if he had not seen those words suddenly imbued with glamour and significance—then the layout would have been a failure. Setting it in Italian or Latin is only an easy way of saying “This is not the text as it will appear”.’

Let me start my specific conclusions with book typography, because that contains all the fundamentals, and then go on to a few points about advertising.

The book typographer has the job of erecting a window between the reader inside the room and that landscape which is the author’s words. He may put up a stained-glass window of marvellous beauty, but a failure as a window; that is, he may use some rich superb type like text gothic that is something to be looked at, not through. Or he may work in what I call transparent or invisible typography. I have a book at home, of which I have no visual recollection whatever as far as its typography goes; when I think of it, all I see is the Three Musketeers and their comrades swaggering up and down the streets of Paris. The third type of window is one in which the glass is broken into relatively small leaded panes; and this corresponds to what is called ‘fine printing’ today, in that you are at least conscious that there is a window there, and that someone has enjoyed building it. That is not objectionable, because of a very important fact which has to do with the psychology of the subconscious mind. That is that the mental eye focuses through type and not upon it. The type which, through any arbitrary warping of design or excess of ‘colour’, gets in the way of the mental picture to be conveyed, is a bad type. Our subconsciousness is always afraid of blunders (which illogical setting, tight spacing and too-wide unleaded lines can trick us into), of boredom, and of officiousness. The running headline that keeps shouting at us, the line that looks like one long word, the capitals jammed together without hair-spaces—these mean subconscious squinting and loss of mental focus.

And if what I have said is true of book printing, even of the most exquisite limited editions, it is fifty times more obvious in advertising, where the one and only justification for the purchase of space is that you are conveying a message—that you are implanting a desire, straight into the mind of the reader. It is tragically easy to throw away half the reader-interest of an advertisement by setting the simple and compelling argument in a face which is uncomfortably alien to the classic reasonableness of the book-face. Get attention as you will by your headline, and make any pretty type pictures you like if you are sure that the copy is useless as a means of selling goods; but if you are happy enough to have really good copy to work with, I beg you to remember that thousands of people pay hard-earned money for the privilege of reading quietly set book-pages, and that only your wildest ingenuity can stop people from reading a really interesting text.

Printing demands a humility of mind, for the lack of which many of the fine arts are even now floundering in self-conscious and maudlin experiments. There is nothing simple or dull in achieving the transparent page. Vulgar ostentation is twice as easy as discipline. When you realise that ugly typography never effaces itself; you will be able to capture beauty as the wise men capture happiness by aiming at something else. The ‘stunt typographer’ learns the fickleness of rich men who hate to read. Not for them are long breaths held over serif and kern, they will not appreciate your splitting of hair-spaces. Nobody (save the other craftsmen) will appreciate half your skill. But you may spend endless years of happy experiment in devising that crystalline goblet which is worthy to hold the vintage of the human mind.

London 1955.

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Social Media and Blogging

As time progresses i find my self more and more embedded in social media sites. Clients often rely on me as their authority and the subject. I often differentiate my updates on Facebook from other networking sites like Linked in or Twitter.

All in One

Some people prefer to have a one point system to take care of all their social media in the same place. Fortunately, there is one easy way to update all of your social media from ANYWHERE – by using Ping.fm. Ping.fm is a simple and FREE service that makes updating your social networks a a snap! “Post From Anywhere » To Anywhere” is their slogan – use your phone, email, IM or one of another 3rd party application and your message will be posted to any or all your choice of social networks on their “mega list”.

An alternate service is Hellotxt which allows you to do the same thing for the same price (FREE)  I am not sure which one is better, but if you have experience with one or the other, please let me know.

Stick and Move

If you are just sticking to one network or another, you can always use an app on your mobile phone to do so:

For the iPhone / iPad:

For the Blackberry:

Blogging

If you are a blogger (like me)  and want to automatically post your blogs to your various networking sites, you can use one of these plug ins:

How to Link Twitter and Facebook

If you want to b eable to update your twitter account with your facebook status, simply install the Twitter application and allow it to make updates for you.  It’s as simple as that!

Add your Linkedin profile to Facebook

This application is available to people who want to post their Linkedin profile on Facebook. They also provide detailed step by step instructions on how to use the app.

Add the Twitter app to LinkedIn

If you are a Linkedin Buff and want to track twitter through the Linkedin interface, simply install this app and it all comes together.

I hope all these links were helpful and informative.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

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Shock Value – Stand Out From the Crowd

In a bold move today – comedian, sports broadcaster, and all around great guy – Colin Cosell put out a public service announcement stating that he will not be wearing pants until more people watch hockey. Watch the PSA on the right.

Akin to the classic 1981 poster campaign where a model makes promises to remove her clothing, whether he knows it or not, Colin is testing the power of internet advertising, Facebook campaigning and YouTube media all in one – through what is referred to as shock value. Granted, it is likely that many more people wanted to see that bikini disappear than want to see Colin Cosell without pants, he attempting to create a buzz nonetheless. Although, I doubt his protest will cause more people to watch hockey, it may cause more people to watch Colin Cosell.

On September 2, I take off the top.

On September 2,I take off the top.

On September 4, I take off the bottom.

On September 4, I take off the bottom.

The display that keeps its promises

Avenir - The display that keeps its promises

As you can see on the left, the 80’s model did in fact keep her promise, although probably not exactly the way people were hoping she would. If you were around back then, and had your ear in advertising circles, you may have heard about this, because it created quite a buzz.  In Oglivy on Advertising, David Ogilvy reports that “all Paris was agog” over this series of posters.  Although nudity in European advertising was nothing new, people were still curious to see what was going to happen.

Is Colin really not wearing pants?  It is summer, so maybe he is just wearing shorts.  Maybe he has a nice pair of heart boxers on, some silk Marvin the Martian Boxers or maybe a pair of white briefs with skid marks. (Gross!)

Regardless of what Colin’s fashion faux pas is, I assume that he is going to keep his promise one way or another, just as our lovely french friend did. I can also guarantee that the people who saw Colin’s first ‘PSA’ are at least a tad bit curious as to what his next move is going to be. If he follows through and does something shocking, different, or out of the ordinary, people will talk, people will listen, and people will come to his website (if you build it, they will come).

Come See What's Inside

Albe created quite a buzz; and it wasn't the first time, or the last time.

The french posters were actually a BtoB marketing campaign from the French advertising agency Avenir who plastered them all over the public transport system in Paris to prove the power of advertising.

Proof is in the Pudding

While I was working as an Art Director at Giaccone Storytellers advertising agency, I designed an ad for Albe Furs which created quite a buzz.  Although I didn’t realize the effect it would have when I designed it, some of their clientele were shocked!  “Come See What’s Inside” was the headline. The visual, although simply a woman in a fur coat, suggested something more, and this suggestion alone caused an uproar.  The client reported people coming in and complaining about it, saying it was inappropriate and other such comments.  He also had people come in and say how much they loved it.  Albe loved the ad and the publicity – both the positive and the negative feedback – he was happy to know that his name was on peoples lips and in their minds. This was not the first time, nor the last time that one of his ads was drastic and bold in tone and message, but each time he used one, he got the desired effect. The owner of Giaccone Storytellers, Joe Giaccone – my mentor at the time – lives by the mantra “You can’t BORE people into buying from you.” This concept rings true with me as well, although I like to take it a step further and say that you CAN shock people into talking about you.

It doesn’t matter if you are Colin Cosell, Avenir, Albe Furs, or anyone else.  Good advertising and marketing stands out from the crowd.  Do something different. Create a buzz around a product or service.  Today is no different than it was 30 years ago (Sheesh has it been that long since the 80’s?  I feel old.) Be tasteful, but be BOLD.  Don’t be afraid to walk the fine line.  Don’t be afraid of the critics. People will talk. Let them talk! Encourage them to talk!  The Irish author Brendan Behan was credited with saying, “There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.” If your name, brand, and company is on everyone’s tongue and in everyone’s mind, you couldn’t ask for anything more.

Although I don’t really want to see a YouTube video of Colin’s bare ass, I am curious nonetheless to see where he is going to take this, and furthermore, curious to see if his bold moves increase his YouTube hits and/or Web site traffic. Only time will tell.  Colin – I apologize if I stole your thunder or ruined your punchline, but show me what you got!

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Silly Error Messages

One of my pet peeves is the “coming soon” page on a web site, only second to the “This site is under construction” notice.  These are two very silly notices to put on your website.  The primary reason that I recommend against  posting them  is because usually they stay posted for weeks, months, or more! If you don’t have content don’t post the link.  If your site is ‘under construction’  just post your name, logo, phone number, or some other USEFUL information and leave it at that. The internet is so fluid, and websites are very easy to change (and anyone that tells you other wise is either lying or trying to make a few bucks off you). There is no reason to post a link to a page until it is actually there.

The other day I was driving to the gym and passed by a sign in a shopping center.  The digital portion of the sign said “NO FONTS.”   Now, the obvious question of “If there are no fonts, why are we able to display this error”  is put aside to ask, why are you posting this message?  The back side of the sign was displaying normally (not shown in photo). A blank sign would have been less silly looking than an error message of “NO FONTS” posted on Route 1 for every one to see.

Many parents and grandparents have been known to say, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  I like to modify that rule and say, “If you don’t have anything useful to say, don’t say anything at all”

Plato said “A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool because he has to say something.”  By that rationale, if your content is available, by all means post it.  If nothing is there to see, don’t post the link to it until it is ready unless you intend to play the fool.

Imagine going to a restaurant and seeing on the menu “Fillet Mignon…COMING SOON”  Now, the customer is thinking… “hmm I could really go for a Fliet Mignon,  lets go somewhere else.”

Look smart, act smart, and people will believe you are smart (whether or not you are ACTUALLY smart  is irrelevant.)

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