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Tech Thursday: On Website Maintenance

21 August

After some recent car troubles and a sunburn, we came up with an idea for this edition of Tech Thursday.

Ever had a noise under the hood of your car that you don’t want to deal with right now? It’s easier to just turn up the radio- problem solved, right? Nope. Eventually, your whole engine will just implode and you’ll be stranded on the side of the road. Suddenly, you’ll wish you’d had that noise checked out earlier.

Okay, so that’s a bit dramatic, but the point is, regular maintenance on anything is important, websites included. We’re going to offer some ways that you can maintain your website and prevent a crash later on.

What’s in a Tagline?

19 August

Taglines have been around since the dawn of advertising. Brands seeking a way to stand out among competitors, to have their voices heard above all the others, have often utilized these simple yet effective marketing tools. The general goal for a tagline is to be timeless, unique, and true to the business. Remember the whole Verizon “Can you hear me now?” Or TNT’s “We know drama”? Admittedly, there are just as many terrible taglines out there as there are amazing. So, what are the elements of a decent tagline?

You sure do TNT, you sure do.

You sure do TNT, you sure do.

First and foremost, a tagline should be short. It shouldn’t just be your mission statement verbatim, or a list of your businesses promises. You don’t want to make people feel like they’re trying to memorize the first 18 lines of The Canterbury Tales. Where images and logos offer the “show, don’t tell” mentality, taglines are more of a “tell, but tell it quickly.” Your tagline should reflect your mission and overall philosophy. For instance, you shouldn’t be a community radio station with the tagline “The World is Yours.” It doesn’t really correspond with our business, and I also got that from Scarface, so it’s already been used (oh, yeah-taglines should also be original).

You also want something that can withstand the test of time (to a degree). Most taglines have a lifespan of at least a few years: there’s a happy medium of frequency somewhere on a scale of updating your Facebook status  to “This is how it must stay until the end of times.” In other words, creating a tagline doesn’t have to be a “‘Til death” commitment (Coca-Cola has cycled through some taglines over the years), but you will want something that’s going to stick for a bit.

It’s also a good idea to consider the type of business you have when thinking about taglines. Different industries have different tagline generation formulas. Service based businesses tend to use taglines that reflect reliability and quality, along the lines of “Service you can trust.” For example, Orkin recently used the tagline is “Pest control down to a science.” This tagline works because a) it demonstrates what they do (get rid of pests), b) gives them a bit of authority and expertise (i.e. we’re so good, we have this down to a science). This tagline gives the message “We will take care of your problem easily and efficiently, don’t you worry.” It’s not warm and fuzzy, but it is comforting. Examples of warm and fuzzy taglines are Olive Garden’s “When you’re here, you’re family,” or Allstate’s “You’re in good hands” (plus, the whole James Earl Jones bit helps).

Allstate_Tag

I can’t help but read this in James Earl Jones’ voice.

Taglines for product based businesses are less about reliability guarantees, and more about standing out as a brand. These taglines are all about what makes a product special, different from the rest, and rely more on the brand’s story. Some product based taglines that you’re most likely familiar with include “Just do it” from Nike, “Be a hero” from GoPro, “They’re magically delicious” from Lucky Charms, or even “They’re grrrrrrrrrreat!” from Frosted Flakes. These taglines are all award-winning in terms of brevity- two to three words. And, they each hint at a promise. GoPro’s message suggests that YOU can go out and be a hero, with the help of their product. These taglines also address something unique about the product. What sets Frosted Flakes apart from the store brand Sugar Coated Corn-esque Flakes? Well, they’re grrrrrrrrrrrreat! Not just “they’re great,” that doesn’t sell. But “They’re grrrrrrrrrrrreat?” Now we’re getting somewhere.

Gr-r-reat, you say? I'm in.

Gr-r-reat, you say? I’m in.

Last but not least, considering the message of the non-profit sector. These are usually a “good for the community and/or world” message. Most non-profits use simple taglines that emphasize their mission, such as Doctor’s Without Borders: “Medical aid where it is needed most. Independent. Neutral. Impartial.” It’s a bit lengthier than the other examples, but it clearly conveys what the organization does, as well as their focus. People come first, not other institutions or organizations.  Another non-profit example is Smithsonian’s tagline: “Seriously Amazing.” And, if you’ve ever been to any of the Smithsonian museums, this tagline seems fairly accurate.

Smithsonian_Tag

If you’re considering a tagline for your business, this article is a good starting point. In general, short, sweet, and true to your mission are always the way to go. In fact, you know who does a killer tagline? Little Caesar’s Pizza: “Pizza, Pizza.” 

 

Nailed it.

Nailed it.

We Can All Go-Pro

15 August

A couple years ago, when I’d first heard of GoPro, I assumed it was something used exclusively by hardcore outdoorsy people or extreme sports enthusiasts. It may have started out that way, but after watching a 60 Minutes segment with Go-Pro CEO Nick Woodman the other night, it seems like this product has morphed into a household name. I felt pretty inspired by the whole thing.

GoProLogo

An Entrepreneur at Heart

In particular, Woodman’s entrepreneurial spirit captured my attention. Here was an almost 40 year-old guy who seems a LOT younger. This is not solely based on appearance, but use of words like “stoked” (which I love), his high energy level/exuberance, and clear passion for what he’s created. (As an additional disclaimer, I’m terrible at gauging other people’s ages). Go-Pro was by no means his first business idea. In the early 2000s, when he was 24 (my current age), he started a business called Funbug, which didn’t take off.

Everyone loves a comeback story.

Instead of giving up completely, Woodman retreated (abroad and then in his VW van) for some personal reflection, and came back with GoPro. The power of example here doesn’t just lie in the idea of perseverance. Sure, Woodman was wildly successful on his second go-around with innovation, but what struck me was how his approach changed. The idea and prototype process for GoPro started around 2001, but it took another ten or so years before it really took off (check out this timeline from Forbes for an in-depth look at GoPro’s story).

Video Sharing for All

But just why is something like Go-Pro so popular? Besides setting itself apart from regular cameras, or their rivals-the smartphone (it has been referred to as a “rugged gadget,” which seems accurate), GoPro found itself “in the right place at the right time.”

Video sharing, as discussed in a few of our other blog posts (like this one on SEO and online video), is becoming increasingly prominent in the online world. We have sites like Upworthy, YouTube, and Vine, which all rely on video content. GoPro offers a way to create and star in your own video, whether your idea of hardcore is slack-lining between skyscrapers or taking a swig of milk straight from the bottle (don’t act like you haven’t done it).

Example Footage:

Along the lines of the “every day,” there’s this video of the baby on a skateboard. People enjoy it because it’s cute, simple, and accessible. There wasn’t a huge amount of skill required for this particular video (although this baby would probably disagree), so people get the sense of “Oh yea, I could maybe make something like that!”

Other videos are a bit wilder. These take you on a different kind of journey, perhaps in a plummeting-to-the-ground-in-a-freefall sort of way. They’re fun to watch because many of them give you a sense that you’re there, too. You get to see what’s going on, from a safe distance, and who knows- maybe you’ll want to go do something bold, too. For those who enjoy skydiving, surfing, taming grizzlies, running with bulls, or that sort of activity, GoPro offers a way to document it and say “Hey, check out this thing I just did!”

Kudos to GoPro for showing us how marketing, perseverance and passion can help a business flourish (even if it takes some time). Who knows if I’ll ever go skydiving or do that crazy flying squirrel thing, but if I do, you can bet I’m getting it on film.

 

Tech Thursday: Building a Website is Like Running a Relay

14 August

The other day, we thought of an analogy for the website building process: it’s like running a relay race!

To elaborate, there are different legs, or segments, to the website building process, and having clear points of handing off (especially when it’s a collaborative process) keep things organized.

There are 4 legs to the website relay: function (what the website will do), content (what it will have in it- images, video, text), design (what it will look like), and the final stretch- its release into the internet!

(Note: we received many strange looks from passerbys while recording- apparently it’s uncommon for two ladies wearing sparkly headbands to jog in place in front of a camera while talking about websites. Who knew?)

3 Instagram Apps To Make Your Life Way Easier

12 August

I am the first person to admit my life is hardly Instagrammable it seems. But I’m trying to take this opportunity of Instagram to be a sort of ‘stop and smell the flowers’ kind of thing. What little thing can I notice that’s interesting? What artistic spin can I put on something ordinary?

But I’ve recently been looking at Instagram a lot and realizing some people are either way more attractive/on top of it than I am… either that or they have some tools at their disposal I hadn’t considered. Of course, it was (mostly) the latter.

Here are three categories of app you may have wished Instagram had (and other social networks seem to do already) and how you can be the master of your own destiny.

ridiculously-good-looking

Instagram Feat #1: Being Really Ridiculously Good Looking

So I just thought everyone on Instagram was good looking… until I discovered some apps. In particular, moreBeaute2 (I appreciate the Frenchness of that, personally).

There are tons of apps that make you look better with but the subtle(ish) Photoshoppy quality of this one, it is my favorite. Some lipstick, my hair done, and a better camera angle and I would have been Instagram worthy today too! (Apparently VSCOcam can also take this to another level if you like messing with color balance, temperature, etc. but honestly, the moreBeaute2 was enough of an improvement for me.)

Before (yes I tie my hair back usually when I’m working):
2014-08-12 11.46.43

After (Yes, I used this crappy picture on purpose- Imagine how ridiculously good looking I could have been had I used a great one!)

2014-08-12 11.46.37

Instagram Feat #2: Resharing That Person’s Clever Post

So I saw this go by a couple weeks ago and was like YES! (Mainly because I had an accent at one point in my life but worked hard to get rid of it because people made me feel less than with it):

2014-08-04 06.35.14

So how do you reshare something? Well there are two ways:

1) Use the Repost app (gives an obnoxiously large attribution on the image).
2) Use the Instagrab app.

I kind of wish there was a way to attribute that was a little less subtle than having something in the comments and a little less obnoxious that attribution covers up an important part of the image but alas, Instagram can’t be everything.

Instagram Feat #3: Messaging People

So there is no way to message people in Instagram… or so we think.

Kik exists for just such a purpose... but according to Derrick appears to mainly be porn bots looking for victims (um, I mean, send targeted traffic to a paid site). Maybe we’re just not the target audience (apparently 16-20 year olds are the heaviest app users).

There is also Instagram Direct, which is a way for users to somewhat contact other users directly and privately.

Instagram is a lot like Twitter in that its open platform have allowed others to develop using it. Facebook is a more insular model: as users, we have to wait for Facebook to create the things we want.

There is no doubt other things you want to do on Instagram but those seem to be some of the big things available in some other social networks out there. Have at!

P.S. If you want to read an article to make yourself feel better at all those effortless-seeming Instagram posts you see other people do, this article is for you:  http://www.bustle.com/articles/32177-what-i-instagrammed-vs-what-was-really-happening-or-my-entire-life-is-a-lie As someone who has not yet pissed off a loved one or been late to work due to Instagram, I hope my streak continues… but maybe with some better photos in my stream.

 

8 Inspirational People Who Put The Time In

08 August

I love that we live in a video culture, not because I think I’m particularly photogenic but I’ve always thought photos and text captured only part of a reality. A video can really give you an idea of someone’s mannerisms, voice, poise, and process. A video can give you a really good idea of who someone is and what they are about. (That’s part of why we’re doing so many videos this year.)

In a world where everything seems instantaneous, it’s nice to remember that people have put time in to get good at something. The time lapse video phenomenon allows us to enjoy this process without watching paint dry (sometimes in a very literal sense.)

Watching these videos, a few things struck me:

1) It is possible to show improvement over time in a wide variety of disciplines, from drawing to dancing. I kind of wish I had video of myself working six or seven years ago. I bet I type faster, do more complex tasks, and seem much more relaxed. It would be cool to see that!
2) It’s not about looks. It’s contrary to think that we’re watching videos but it’s not about what any of these people look like: it’s about what they’ve accomplished. Even the guy who takes selfies as he walks along, we might notice his beard slowly growing but we more notice the passage of time and how far he’s come. I am not even sure what color his hair is, but I think it’s brown… though I do remember how far he walked and the variety of terrain he encountered.
3) There is the time it took to make the video… and the time it took to get good at the skills in making the video. So it’s one thing to understand that to create a full drag face can take 4 hours to accomplish but understanding shading, contouring, etc. took many many more hours than elapsed in the video. In watching these videos, it’s easy to understand we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

So here are a few time lapse videos (not of grass growing or people aging- ie stuff that would happen anyway) of people doing something.

The Girl Who Learned To Dance In One Year

This Guy Who Draws A Ball

This Popsicle Stick Mansion Builder

This Guy Who Walked Really Far

What This Person Does In Photoshop

This 30 Story Building Built in 15 Days (even if construction isn’t meant to last more than 30 years, as some commenters have implied, still impressive)

This Makeup Job

This Man Who Overcame A Lot To Not Only Walk But Do A Lot More

I don’t know about you but seeing what’s possible makes me not only aware I need to put my time in but happy to do it.