Contextual advertising has been a big hit over the past half a decade or so, though I wonder whether it suffers from a kind of shotgun approach, whereby you can simply choose a bunch of keywords, pull a lever, and then put your feet on the desk.
Sure, this is typically better than blasting out your message without any concerns about targeting, but it's almost too easy to reach the masses, and you can end up with egg on your face. Context isn't always a positive thing.
As with all advertising, the creative elements of a campaign are meant to stand out for the right reasons, yet every year we see amusing new examples of contextual advertising that's gone wrong in some way.
Here are 16 of the more ironic ad placements I've seen over the past year or so (most of which are contextual). They are often funny, ridiculous and horrendous all at the same time.
Perhaps we'll see less of them in the years ahead as targeted advertising tools evolve, but for now we should understand the importance of choosing a few negative keywords when you programme your next campaign.
I’ve written about inspiring 404 pages in the past, as every site will break from time to time, and I think it makes sense to put in a little thought to how you handle errors.
Your visitors will be more forgiving of errors if you make them smile, ideally while helping them find their way. Also, clever, witty or charming 404 pages can be great for inbound links (as proved by this post).
I wouldn’t file all of the following examples under ‘best practice’, as in some cases there should be better navigation options, but many of them are humorous and on-brand, and may help you to figure out what you can do with yours.
Net-A-Porter is one firm that does a great job of looking after its key customers. It has a name for them: ‘extremely important person’ (EIP). Like VIPs, only with an E instead of a V.
These customers account for a disproportionately large chunk of sales and profits, and boy do they get looked after.
EIP orders are picked, packed and despatched first. EIPs get first dibs at new products (some of which are very limited). EIPs are assigned personal shoppers and invited into the London office for wardrobe planning, and they receive personalised lookbooks (these customers "spend 20 times more than the baseline"). EIPs see exclusive previews and presentations, and they have products bought specifically for them by the buying team.
All in all, it’s good to be perceived as an EIP. The question is whether you know who your EIPs are, and whether you’re treating them any differently, to make them feel like the special people they are?
So, how many of your customers are ‘extremely important’? If you don't really know then look through your data (e.g. customer database, web analytics, social media monitoring tools, etc) to find customer segments in the following areas...
Tesco’s magazine has overtaken The Sun as the most read print title in the UK, proving that retail brands can become publishers in their own right.
The bi-monthly publication has grown its readership to 7.2m, according to the NRS. By contrast The Sun has a readership of 7.1m.
The retailer’s investment in content is a smart move, and it isn’t alone. Asda’s magazine has 6m readers. The M&S magazine has 3.7m readers. Sainsbury’s has 3.4m readers.
By contrast, the biggest newsstand print magazine is What’s On TV, with 2.2m readers.
This tells us what we already know: original, quality content is king. I’m sure you’ve heard that a million times, but try to avoid growing tired of it.
Two years ago I wrote about the 25 things that will make me leave a website in less than 10 seconds. I covered pop-ups, autosound, and a bunch of other user experience face palms. Sadly, most of these things are still used by perpetrators of various shapes and sizes.
In addition, websites can baffle and perplex users in equal measure. I have compiled a list of 20 things that need to be cleaved in two by digital professionals, in order to make the web a better place for all.
No doubt I'll have missed some of your pet hates, so do leave a comment below.
A few years ago there were only a handful of wireframing tools available, which I found either too cumbersome or too expensive to bother with.
Nowadays it seems that a new app for creating mockups is launched every week. Some of them are excellent, and a welcome addition to the UX toolkit.
Many user experience classicists still prefer a pen and paper, and that’s always a smart place to start. I’m slightly odd in that I produce most of my wireframes using Microsoft Excel (well, those columns and rows do make for a nice grid).
These new tools really come into their own when you want to bring other people into the picture, as many of them allow for collaboration.
Anyhow, do check them out, and by all means point at some others in the comments section below.
One of the more innovative uses of social media to revitalise an ailing brand was the YouTube campaign for Old Spice.
The videos, created by Wieden & Kennedy, were widely acclaimed and incredibly popular, accounting for the vast majority of the 307m views accumulated on the Old Spice YouTube channel.
As such, you might think that W&K has a deep understanding of social media, and what makes audiences tick.
It is therefore quite a struggle to make sense of its latest job ad, for a ‘Social Strategist’, to work on the Old Spice account.
Web design by its very nature continues to evolve, as it must, to make the most of modern browsers and the likes of HTML5, CSS3 and JQuery, and to provide a wonderful user experience for tablet and smartphone owners.
Nowadays there is plenty of opportunity to stand out from the crowd, by being ahead of the curve, or by embracing new techniques that can help you to improve the performance of your website.
So I thought I’d round up some of the more recent trends in experiential web design. I say ‘experiential’ because I’m less interested in seeing whether drop shadows have made a comeback.
The focus of this article is primarily about the aspects of web design that directly affect the user experience, rather than particular stylistic trends to do with the look and feel.
Great designers understand how to design for user interaction, and how to encourage new user behaviours and habits. World-class designers introduce emotion and have fun along the way.
Some of these trends aren’t just-out-of-the-oven new, but they’re in here because they’ve become adopted by the mainstream. I have included other design features because they rock, and I’d like to see them on more websites.
It’s worth pointing out that user experience professionals are on the fence about some of these things. Do leave a comment if you feel strongly, one way or another, and be sure to let me know what I’ve missed.
Given the popularity of infographics, you’d be wise to consider using them to help achieve your content marketing goals. They can be great for social sharing, blog fodder and inbound links.
The last time I created an infographic I used – wait for it - Microsoft Excel. Thankfully there are now some far better options, and they're surprisingly easy to use.
I have compiled five of online tools that will help you to create infographics. They’re all free, though some require registration (or to connect your Twitter or Facebook account) and most have the upgrade options.
It is the little things in life that count, according to the old adage, and this is certainly true as far as user experience is concerned. The devil really is in the detail.
All too often some minor oversight on a website makes me furrow my brow, but more and more websites are taking a microscopic approach to user experience and interface design, and the results can be useful, amusing, fun, and functional.
I thought I’d share some of my favourites, as well as a bunch from Little Big Details, a fantastic website that collects these examples of smart user-focused design. It has hundreds to browse through, so if you're interested in UX design then do check it out.