We’ve been growing pretty quickly these past few years, and when that happens you often need external support. More often than not we’ve turned to agencyland to find help.
Sometimes we’ve needed to bring in an agency on a tactical level, to help us with a specific – and perhaps one-off – project. On other occasions we’ve taken a longer-term view, with the aim of forging a strong relationship and retaining the agency.
Finding the right partner is just as difficult as hiring the right staff, and just as crucial. It goes without saying that not all of the agencies we’ve seen have been successful in winning our business. Sometimes there is a real sense of disappointment, especially when you like the people and their work, when you talk them up, when you know they have the skills, and when they fail to deliver in the meeting.
So here’s a list of common reasons why agencies don’t get hired. Many of these points also apply to consultants and freelancers too. To win more work, try to avoid some of the following...
I’ve sat in on some really interesting customer experience talks over the past year or so. Most recently I participated in a roundtable at our Digital Cream event, moderated by Dr Mike Baxter, who asked the following question: “What’s the difference between the customer experience, and the user experience?”
Mike defined as the former as being “big picture”, whereas the latter is “an in-session, microscopic view”. Indeed, customer experience is a much broader church than user experience, though the two should be closely aligned.
How then can you set about improving the customer experience? In this post I have compiled a list of the areas that I think offer the biggest wins for anybody looking to delight customers.
Recently I listed a bunch of creative 404 pages, which a) made for light reading, b) show that it is possible to deal with problems in an engaging way, and c) goes some way to prove that an interesting 404 page is an easy way of generating some extra link juice.
Since it’s Friday here’s another slice of fun.
Finding Easter eggs used to be a case of running around the garden once a year. Then came along computer games, which included ‘Easter eggs’ in the form of hidden treasure. Some websites have Easter eggs too, and I thought I’d point you at a few of them.
A note: this post shamelessly references this thread on Reddit, which contains a number of other examples.
I’ve spotted a few outdoor ads / campaigns recently that I think are worth sharing. They blend innovation, creativity, technology and interactivity in a number of different ways.
You may think that offline ads aren’t especially relevant to internet marketers, but some of the more successful viral ads have been based around offline events (the Carlsberg biker video, for starters), and often involve real people and real reactions. If I was in charge of brand marketing for a large company then I’d be ploughing this particular furrow with vigour.
These ads can generate an incredible amount of noise and love (as highlighted in the TNT example below). It’s telling that a big budget TV ad such as Volkswagen’s ‘The Force’ is seeded online first these days. In terms of a feedback loop, there is none better than the internet.
Anyhow, some of these ads contain sound, so you might need some headphones. Enjoy!
In the past year or so there has been a trend in web design towards the use of scrolling, which can help to engage visitors and provides a feeling of movement and animation.
These web pages are entirely static, and rely on the visitor to interact in order to generate the ‘movement’. Back in the day if you asked for this a developer would reach for Flash, but nowadays HTML5 (which has a <ParallaxScroll> tag), CSS3 and JQuery are usually employed to achieve scrolling effects.
I’ve collected a bunch of scrolling websites that are built with the arrow keys in mind. Some of these are more 'animated' than others, and some scrolling websites feel a little bit clunky, but all of them are interesting and creative web experiences.
I’m not yet convinced that scrolling is something that e-commerce companies should be embracing en masse, but it can certainly be used to support brand and product campaigns, given that the best examples are inherently narrative. Portfolio-based websites (such as the two agency sites I've featured) are another area where scrolling could come into play.
Scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, keep those websites scrolling…
Often, on the web, links break or users type in the wrong URL. Sometimes pages go AWOL. At this point a 404 page is displayed, and I thought I’d compile a few of the more recent ones that I’ve spotted.
The thing with 404 pages is that they are often overlooked and uncared for. Ours is in need of a humour injection, though it ticks some of the more important best practice boxes by including a search tool, sitemap and link to the homepage.
Based on many of these examples, this post should be filed under inspiration, as opposed to best practice, though if you are going to revamp your own 404 page then be sure to help users dig their way out of the hole they’ve fallen into.
For many of us Twitter is now a core part of our daily lives. Despite this there remains no sign of 'Twitter Pro', for professional users, though its API is used by developers to create the kind of tools that help us to manage our accounts more easily.
Many tools have emerged to plug gaps in Twitter's functionality, some of which we have written about in the past. So far this year I've started to use a few new ones, as highlighted below. Do check them out.
Just five of the world’s top 50 brands have claimed their profiles on Pinterest, the latest social platform to claim the hearts and minds of the digerati.
I looked through Interbrand’s list of 100 brands, stopping at the halfway mark, to see whether social media marketers were adopting Pinterest in their droves. On the face of things, they’re not.
Of the 45 brands yet to create official Pinterest accounts - assuming that they do - only one is still available. The rest have been claimed by individuals with a bona fide claim to the username, or have been bagged by brand squatters.
Almost two years ago we wrote about Made.com, which had just launched after receiving £2.5m of backing from the likes of Brent Hoberman.
Made.com is a bit like Naked Wines for the furniture, in that it bypasses retailers, connecting consumers directly with wholesalers in order to supply “beautiful furniture without the high street markup”. It’s an innovative idea that we liked, and we said it had an excellent chance of success.
However, there’s a problem. I’m one of the people at Econsultancy who receives comment notifications for our blog, and that Made.com post regularly attracts unhappy customers who complain about poor service, faulty products, cancelled orders, the courier company, and – most commonly – the lack of a telephone number on its website. It's been bugging me.
Most of the digital professionals I know need to create at least one slideshow a year, whether for an internal meeting, a client briefing or a conference talk.
All too often I see slideshows that contain great content and ideas, but sometimes the slides are cluttered and confusing, or worse, boring.
Thankfully help is at hand, to enable you to create wonderful slides in 2012.