Until we find the fountain of youth, studies show our ability to use websites will drop by 0.8% per year from age 25 to 60, making websites 43% harder for seniors (age 65 and older) to use. Declining eyesight, dexterity and memory create usability challenges that can derail a senior’s interest or online purchase. With seniors making up Canada’s fastest-growing age group and a rising 48% of them…
For my senior project, I produced an interactive media prototype of a social media network for unpaid caregivers at: https://rmafpf.axshare.com/#p=home Wireframes are a key step in developing an interactive solution. Effective ‘how it works’ notations are almost more important than well-drawn screens. Here are mobile screen wireframes I developed for a flower store site. Despite rising focus on…
Our 10th analytics class focused on how to best analyze and understand data.
The top-level message I came away with is a data metric shouldn’t be evaluated in isolation, which is meaningless. For example, knowing only that users spent an average of five minutes on a page offers no insight to validate or adjust your strategy. It may mean only users from a paid referral on one day of the year…
Our 11th Analytics class was about ‘how’ to measure an online strategy’s return on investment (ROI) — which sounds much simpler than it often is.
Some of the many challenges are:
Assessing SEO – It’s hard to estimate the SEO’s ROI because you can’t estimate the full impact of the long tail. A workaround is to multiply the search volume for top key words by 3.3 (or 30% of the possible clicks) but…
The furry intruder in this nativity scene is not hijacking tidings of joy but has a valid role in the story. He answers to Willie, Chuck, Phil or General Beauregard Lee (in Snellville, Georgia) and his roots trace back to Candlemas Day, which is on February 2, 40 days after Christmas. Candlemas marked the purification of Mary after Jesus’ birth; presentation of Jesus in the temple; and Simeon’s designation of Jesus as the light of the world. As this was midway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, superstitious folk used the weather on that day to predict when spring would arrive. Some noted when bears, marmots and other animals came out of their winter dens too early, their shadow frightened them back inside for four to six more weeks.
But February 2nd lacked character until the Celtics gave animals supernatural powers on that day, particularly hedgehogs, which German folklore cites as sensitive and intellectually gifted. During their trip to the colonies, hedgehogs morphed into groundhogs and made their debut from the burrows of Morgantown, Pennsylvania in 1841. One can only imagine how Wiarton hit Canada’s critter map but once hogs made Toronto home…
To put it in perspective: without Willie we wouldn’t have a memorable Candlemas and without a true Candlemas, Mary wouldn’t be purified and that would discredit Jesus’ birth and the celebration of Christmas. So in fact, we can thank Willie for that “most wonderful time of the year.” Now if only he could bring us an early spring…
I think teamwork can ultimately produce the most creative and effective results for many project scenarios. However, the road to success is rarely smooth.
This past term, we were divided into three-person teams for a total of five projects, spread over five courses in the Interactive Media Management (IMM) program. My team included Megan, who was initially from the US and Nelson, who had recently arrived from Venezuela.
Having worked on many team projects, there are some best practices that I think work well in most situations. There are however always adjustments and slight tweaks that come with each new experience.
Much of a team’s success hinges on establishing an effective ideological, as well as a physical environment that motivates everyone and sets them up to perform as well as possible. Within this theme, here are some recommendations that our team applied, as well as some suggestions for improving the next collaborative project’s results:
Have a common goal or vision – It’s good to establish a well-defined goal or vision for each project. For example the goal of our viral video project was to make a video around a theme that would have share-worthy appeal not just in Toronto but also Venezuela. This made it feasible for each team member to turn to their own network for help spreading the video. However, some time was lost posing ideas that didn’t fit our goal because we hadn’t clearly articulated it first. Things might have been a little smoother if we had clearly defined goals and limitations for each project up front, versus midday in the process.
Allocate tasks that play to each member’s strengths – It’s important to make the best use of the unique strengths that each person brings to a team. In my team’s case, Megan’s design strengths were used to fine-tune our presentation deck. Similarly, Nelson’s storytelling skills were applied to tell the ‘before’ and ‘after’ scenario of a pet owner using the old/new website. I focused on managing the projects and steering the strategy, which I’ve done in past incarnations. I think these allocations worked well. That said, it’s good, particularly in school, to provide room for people to develop new strengths, within reason.
Learn about each person’s personal objectives and adjust tasks accordingly – I think it’s always important to learn what people want to personally get out of a project beyond its set goals. Often, I find people want to acquire specific skills, realize experiences or meet other objectives. Knowing this upfront helps you step back from tasks that someone puts a high value on to optimize efforts and keep each member motivated. However, it’s easy to forget the extra time someone might need when they take on a skill that is outside their comfort zone but something they want to hone. Next time, I think it might be best to shift some task allocations to account for this.
Block more face-to-face meetings and working time – Personally, I’m quite content to work remotely on a project and communicate regularly with team members via phone, email or other online tools. However, I’ve found leading teams in the past that some people crave in-person meetings and don’t fully engage without significant face-to-face time. We worked remotely during the weekend leading up to the final project’s delivery. In retrospect, I think working in the same room for extensive hours during this crunch period would have increased engagement, task clarity and helped us work out visual, wireframe challenges at a quicker pace.
Overall, I think we produced some good results, within a short time period. We can enhance these results by applying these refined recommendations to the next collaborative project.
In the crowded pet specialty sector, a manufacturer needs to leverage several social platforms to capture share of voice. But make no bones about it, Google+ is the top dog for Royal Canin Canada (RCC).
Although Google+ has only 540 million active users worldwide (as of October 2013) and a 45% adoption rate in Canada (as of January, 2104), compared to other social networks, its value is beyond the numbers.
Here are 5 key reasons why RCC’s business needs Google+ and how it can make the most of the opportunity.
1. Boosts Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Value - Google+ is more than a social network. It’s also an indispensable tool for maximizing RCC’s SEO. It boosts SEO in several ways but particularly through:
Author Rank integration, which is Google’s tendency to rank articles from verified online sources (such as those with Google+ profiles) higher than others.
Based on Google’s track record for short-circuiting its products, such as Google Reader and Google Buzz, cynics have pondered this platform’s longevity. However, many believe Google+ will prevail as a strong SEO driver. As Jayson DeMers, a Forbes magazine contributor, said “While Google+ won’t become the next Facebook, it’s going to continue to be an influence in search engine optimization in the future.”
3. Offers Opportunity to Enhance Customer Engagement with Unique ‘Hangouts’ Feature - Hangouts enable RCC to engage through face-to-face online conversations with up to 10 of its followers (or one of its 'Communities’) and even stream them live through You Tube. It’s particularly convenient, as participants can join in from almost anywhere via a computer, Android or iOS device.
Cadbury has more than 1 million active followers on Google+, which it leverages for multiple tactics. One of them is a 'Tasters’ Circle’ that engages more than 1,000 loyal fans through 'in-the-know’ updates and hosted hangouts to profile new chocolate innovations. RCC could use Hangouts for veterinarian Q&A sessions or to launch new foods by modelling Cadbury’s Tasters’ Circle.
4. Integrates Well With Other Google Products - Although Google no longer automatically connects users to Google+ when they sign up for the company’s other products, it’s an easy step for many users to take when a single login will do. Plus, having Google+ seamlessly work with You Tube and other products that advance RCC’s goals, makes engaging more convenient for everyone.
5. Effectively Showcases Visually-Rich Content - The platform’s clean layout, with a good balance of positive and negative space works well to profile visually-rich content, including interactive rich media. The Financial Times used this attribute to engage users with a stream of visual content from its correspondents throughout the world. RCC can also take advantage of the platform’s visual strength to showcase healthy pets who thrive on its products. Furthermore, a key insight noted by Social Media Examiner is the value of using interactive rich media to offer up something unpredictable and unique. As cats and dogs in unpredictable scenarios are naturally appealing, the added value of Google+’s suitability for rich media makes for a strong combination.
At this point, RCC has scratched the surface with two Google+ profiles it used as central portals for repurposing content for a couple of years but then abandoned. Part of the challenge may be RCC’s profile was corporate, not socially enticing and far from optimized.
However, with a few best practice tweaks, RCC can optimize its profile, link to its website, promote to a wider audience and start strategically posting. Then RCC can ramp up with Communities, Hangouts and other features to engage more, enhance its customer relationships and boost its SEO.
I was introduced to mark-up language in 1997 through a HTML 3.0 workshop. After years of only green, blue or black screens with white text, I welcomed the capability to display ‘formatted’ text with graphics. But the resulting web pages were sloppy and fell short of good design standards. Most pages had only one text column with cartoon-like images that didn’t line-up and often butted against text.
Creating HTML documents was also tedious. Each section of text had to be individually coded and the same coding was often repeated throughout the HTML. What’s more, revising pages meant weeding through the HTML to change intricate lines of code.
Several years later, I heard about Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and how they saved time and improved quality. Based on their name, I thought CSS were like templates created for every possible web scenario and that you just needed to drop in text/images to produce a page. This sounded great but also limiting; I was sure there wasn’t a CSS to fit every screen’s requirements.
During early classes in this tool development course, I discovered my template concept was inaccurate. More importantly, I learned how practical and versatile CSS are and how they improve design quality on the web.
Rather than serving as finite templates, I’ve learned CSS cite specific directions on how content will be displayed or ‘styled’ and can be applied to infinite screen applications. These directions can be embedded internally in the <head> section of the HTML file they format or kept in external CSS files and referenced in the HTML.*
These directions or rules are written in a specific syntax and stated once in the CSS, as outlined in the Figure 2 example. This functionality enables you to change an entire website’s appearance by just making one change in its corresponding CSS – saving significant web creation and maintenance time.
This benefit is even more relevant in today’s world, where pages are viewed on multiple platforms at different screen sizes. To ensure content is effectively displayed on all platforms/devices, CSS now includes ‘media query’ syntax that specifies screen size parameters, layout orientations and other elements for each environment. I can’t imagine the extra time it would take to produce/maintain these responsive designs without CSS.
Versatility and Design Value
CSS has also evolved with web functionality to become extremely versatile. CSS 3.0, the most current version of CSS, contains options to style almost any element or ‘property,’ such as font-kerning, opacity or border-radius, with a broad range of values. It can even format dynamic content, such as animations and pseudo-class states of an element, such as a colour change when a mouse hovers over it.
Better quality web design and typography is now possible thanks in part to the range of properties that can be styled. In addition, use of the ‘box model’ properties to define layout details surrounding each element on a page also improve the overall design of web pages.
After learning about CSS, I think HTML documents are more like a template or shell. They define the structure of a page and you ‘fill’ them with content. However, without the addition of CSS to complement HTML in this manner, I doubt web development would have evolved to produce the aesthetically pleasing pages we have today in the same timeframe.
*Each CSS rule can also be embedded in the main <body> of the HTML code as a style attribute. However, this defeats CSS’ time-saving value because style attributes then work in the same way as HTML codling alone would.
When social media first hit, all it took to succeed was a cross-platform presence with novel images that encouraged ‘likes’ and ‘shares.’ Fast-forward to today and the bar is much higher. We now apply evidence-based strategies with varied tactics, platforms and even partners to produce success.
Some early tactics like flash mobs and shock experiment videos (e.g. ‘Will it Blend?’) have faded. They’ve been replaced by new options, such as animated GIFs, selfies and six-second videos. Storytelling, is still however at the core of most social media successes, along with often a mix of:
Hewlett Packard (HP) combined storytelling with these other tactics to creatively launch its HP Pavilion x360 computer globally to ‘Millennials' (those aged 16 to 25) heavily via social media, as well as traditional print and broadcast media. The campaign was titled: Bend the Rules to describe the new PC, which could easily 'bend’ or convert from notebook, to stand, to tent, to tablet mode.
The launch also demonstrated a 'think globally, act locally’ mindset that unified the campaign and effectively built its profile via social media channels. Specifically, the same hashtag (#BendTheRules) was used globally but varied tactics were tailored to each country.
For example, in India HP invited Millennials to submit a video, image or text to tell how they 'bent the rules’ to achieve success – with the promise of the winning submission to become a TV film. HP established a microsite featuring Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone as a celebrity spokesperson to build profile and several short videos about career transformations to stimulate initial ideas. Stories feature a custom bike designer and a banker who left financial services to pursue baking, among others. Youth could submit stories directly to the microsite or via Twitter, facebook or You Tube with the hashtag. HP took a similar approach in the UK but added Vine videos made by Vine experts.
In the US, the campaign took a different angle again with an interactive video featuring U.S. pro surfer Ian Walsh on You Tube. The video invited people to 'tweet’ the campaign hashtag and in return, have their twitter handle embedded on Ian’s surf board. The video also featured HP’s rule bender stories from around the world.
To further extend the campaign’s reach, HP partnered with other organizations to offer other contests on the overall theme. This included one of social media’s leading resources: Mashable, which imbedded a transformation theme with #BendTheRules in its weekly Vine challenge.
As the campaign is still running, the full results aren’t in. However the quantity of #BendTheRules hashtag mentions, engagement on various social media platforms, including a new record for the most looped branded Vine video, suggest it’s making an impact.
Combined with a unified global theme, global hashtag, proven tactics and partnerships, I think its success can be credited to the following measures:
Promoting and offering engagement opportunities on social media channels where Millennials reside, versus relying on traditional media
Leveraging local celebrities, like Deepika and Ian, who attracted their own social media influencers
Creating a contest that invited clever interpretations of a concept beyond HP, versus just images of people bending its product
Providing a base of ideas to help people create entries, versus just a 'blank slate’ invitation
This multifaceted, strategic approach created unique, click-worthy content to raise awareness of HP’s unique product. Hopefully this is the start of other new and creative twists as HP’s social success evolves.
Image: Mix of sample tweets posted under campaign’s #BendTheRules hashtag.
Taking Users In Through the Out Door With Interactive Video
A key content strategy objective is to speak to your target audience or user and draw them into the story. The rising trend of interactive video enables you to do just that – almost literally.
Interactive video is a technique that blends linear film or video with interaction options. It’s been on the rise since 2005 thanks to the growing quantity of users who can access the internet at broadband speeds, combined with streaming, flash and other technologies that support it.
Exploratory Videos - Videos that allow the user to move through a space or look at an object, such as a painting, from multiple angles, as if they were looking at it in real life. The object or space is depicted using video loops, not stills, creating a more “live” feel. An example of this is Look Around by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
Hypervideo or Video Click-throughs - Videos encoded with clickable hotspots that users are invited to try and in doing so, control the story, such as this Shoot a Bear ad.
Conversational Videos - Videos that enable the user to interact with it, as though they were having a simple conversation with the characters in the video.
V-Commerce - Video solutions that integrate e-commerce, marketing, merchandising goals. An example of this is a Ssense celebrity music video. It enticed users to click desired fashion items worn by the celebrities. In clicking, they triggered a process to purchase that item.
Static video helps an organization emotionally connect to users through a story that comes to life with sight and sound. It also enables you to communicate several messages with much less risk of misinterpretation than text, images or audio alone. Combine video with social media and today’s other distribution tools, and it becomes mobile, searchable, shareable and measurable.
Interactive video propels these benefits to a new level by creating a powerful, user-centred digital experience with hands-on engagement. I also think these videos are particularly effective because, they:
Empower the user to control the story and sometimes the amount of information they want to take in at a time.
Elicit a high volume of opens, views and shares, because they are still rare enough to be novel.
Deliver a message that’s likely to be reinforced, as users may re-play and change their responses to see different outcomes.
Interactive videos can be used for various applications, such as:
Instructions and training
Promotional ads for cars, electronics, travel and consumer packaged goods
Movie and game promo trailers
Fundraising and awareness campaigns
In particular, I think they offer huge value to not-for-profits. This is because they can bring the user into the story, pull at their emotions to foster empathy and drive offline actions like donations.
For example, an anti-abuse interactive video by Marshall Fenn Communications achieved this by bringing the user into a chilling, domestic scene with a father threatening his son. Users were persuaded to stop the abuse by calling a 1-800 number to donate to Boost for Kids Foundation.
Videos like this are often produced as part of an agency’s pro bono efforts to give back to the community. We may see a rise in these not-for-profit videos, as technologies become more cost-effective and the number of free or nominally priced DIY solutions grow.
I think we’re just beginning to scratch the pixels of interactive media’s potential to evoke emotions, engage users and deliver rich experiences that create real world impact.
Image Source: Composite image featuring clip from Carly’s Cafe, an interactive video that enables the viewer to experience the sensations of autism.
As an interactive media professional, social media complements and integrates with almost every digital project at various stages throughout its lifecycle. This ranges from connecting with clients/partners via social media to promoting projects across multiple social platforms. This factor makes it imperative for professionals in this sector to understand and effectively use social media, starting with self-promotion of their personal brand.
I think interactive media professionals, particularly those focused on the digital strategists track, should have these three social media platforms in their toolkit are: SlideShare, LinkedIn and Twitter.
If you’re focused on developing digital strategies, one of your key assets is how you think and apply your expertise to develop impactful solutions. Work samples show results but employers or clients need to know that you can replicate success and one way to do this is through thought leadership. You can showcase this aptitude through blog posts, as well as presentations and articles – then re-purpose and amplify them through social media.
One effective but lesser known social media platform for promoting your thought leadership is SlideShare. This Web 2.0 based slide-hosting platform has 60 million unique visitors and 215 million page views per month and is among the 120 most visited websites in the world.
Here are four ways to gain maximum results from SlideShare:
Use SlideShare to tell your stories - from leading edge approaches to everyday hacks that might be intriguing. In his post on ‘7 Proven Tips for Using SlideShare to Promote Your Brand, Matthew Capala, Founder of SearchDecoder and NYU professor, recommends using colourful images and text to show your talents, while weaving a tale. You can also embed work samples, video or even add audio to your presentations, if effective.
Keep titles short and use key words, as well as tags to shape your brand - Personal branding specialist Roger Parker recommends limiting presentation titles to 70 characters or less and including keywords. As the title becomes the presentation URL, you need to lead with the best 34 characters for your profile, including your most important keywords. You should also use tags (via the platform) to highlight topics profiled that you want associated with your brand. This makes your presentation and you easier for interested visitors to find.
Imbed links in your presentations - Links to other sources and sites (including your own) can add another value to the viewer. At the same time, HubSpot, an inbound marketing hub, suggests these links can refer the viewer to your blog posts or website, via valuable content.
Promote your SlideShare presentations via other social media channels - Once you’ve uploaded a presentation, promote the link via your other social media platforms, such as LinkedIn.
A core foundation for interactive media or almost any other professional today is to have a LinkedIn profile. As one of the first social media platforms, LinkedIn has become the 'defacto standard’ business-oriented social network.
Here are four top best practices for deriving maximum benefit from it:
Set-up a thorough keyword-rich profile – At the onset, you need to create a thorough profile for yourself. This includes using specific key words to describe your expertise throughout your profile – from your professional headline (at the top, under your name) to work descriptions. Using strategic key words helps recruiters to find your name more readily in searches for specific roles that match them. According to Brenda Bernstein, at Social Media Examiner, many people limit their opportunities by only optimizing the keywords in their job titles.
Customize your profile URL – Take ownership of your LinkedIn URL by customizing it to your profile with a URL that is your name without a mass of random letters/numbers tacked on the end. It only takes a few minutes with these steps from LinkedIn.
Build a network with a personal touch - It’s important to build your LinkedIn network by inviting people you’ve worked with, both in paid and volunteer roles, or genuinely connected with offline. The proper etiquette for this is a customized invite that cites how you met and a common interest. People may accept your invite without it, but a personalized request stands out; when you work in a competitive sector it’s great to differentiate yourself at the start of a relationship.
Maintain, nurture and leverage your contacts – Much as it’s a best practice in the offline world, it’s beneficial to ‘reach out’ to congratulate a valued contact on a recent success you’ve noticed, like their company’s growth or an award win. Similarly, when you’ve just finished a successful project, reach out to a client/manager to request a recommendation. A LinkedIn recommendation (versus an endorsement click) is particularly credible as the software prevents people from fabricating false references. Better still, offer someone else a reference to build goodwill for the future.
This recent Forbes article, written by Ken Krobe reinforces these recommendations and offers several other practical tips.
Twitter is a core platform for connecting with valuable resources, keeping up with industry news and even participating in online chats. It is also where many leaders, agencies and innovators working in digital media communicate with each other and share their ideas. Since industry players are on Twitter, it’s important for interactive media professionals to have an active presence there as well.
Once you’re there, here are my top recommended best practices for optimizing Twitter’s benefits:
Use up to two Hashtags in your tweets– Hashtags (i.e., putting a # symbol in front of a word or a term that is pertinent to your tweet but with no spaces) enable you to organize your information around a given topic. According to the Social Media Examiner, a hashtag also makes it easy for others interested in the same topic to find you and raises the potential of your tweet being read, commented on or shared by at least 35% .
Include photos or hyperlinks in your tweets – When you add a photo or insert a hyperlink to a website/page for more detailed information in your tweet, you lose a few of the allotted 140 characters per tweet. But this loss is more than made up by the increased probability someone will read, reply to or share your tweet if it contains a photo or URL link (as this Shift study points out). Photos also link offline events with your online presence. Where possible, try to link to third-party news articles and other websites, not just yours, and use https://www.bit.ly.com to shorten hyperlinks.
Flatter others and share their tweets – One of the keys of social media is interacting with others in a positive way and building goodwill. As in the offline world, often the onus is on you to make the first move by posting a tweet about something that interests your followers but is not necessarily about you. You can post helpful tips or articles that profile your insights and digital successes, while building goodwill. It’s also important to share by retweeting (RT) that is repeating someone else’s tweet verbatim or in a modified tweet (MT), which substitutes words or shortens text, while retaining the meaning.
Use lists and Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to manage your tweets and Twitter stream - Use Twitter’s list feature to categorize your contacts on twitter into groups, such as clients, partners and interactive media resources. Set these lists up on a dashboard platform like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, so that you can easily monitor, schedule and manage your interactions with key contacts on Twitter.
These are just three platforms that comprise a good foundation for an interactive media professional.
Personally, I suspect my interactive career will build on my communications background, potentially with a focus on digital and interactive content strategy. As such, I think these platforms will give me a good base for engaging with like-minded professionals, as well as profiling my expertise and approaches.
How Strategic Hierarchy Coding Helps Your Audience
Extracting meaning from words and sentences is only part of the reading process. We also need to logically move through text, images and other elements from the most to the least important on a page or screen. Stress increases when you only have time to skim read and are forced to skip details in the hope of catching all the pertinent points.
A deal breaker on making the difference between material that is easy to read, navigate and enticing is visual hierarchy. This is the formatting the developer, designer or content creator uses to organize text, pictures and other visual elements and guide the reader’s eyes through it.
To do this, they apply specific characteristics, such as size, colour, contrast and position, to make some elements more or less prominent than others and categorize them. This formatting helps the reader draw meaning from relationships between elements and find what interests them. A sub-set of this is typographic hierarchy, where characteristics are applied to each part of the text. This can range for example from one prominent coloured headline, set in bold weight, in the largest point size to mandatory but less relevant copyright text rendered in black, light weight, six point text.
Print newspapers demonstrate the value of visual and typographic hierarchy in the simplest way because without it, we’d be overwhelmed with identical black letters forming a sea of grey.
Visual and typographic hierarchy is equally, if not more important, in digital copy but requires additional considerations, particularly as its appearance will vary depending on the browser and device the reader uses to view it.
To ensure that the different hierarchy levels are clearly displayed on a digital screen, you must:
Use legal syntax to specify typographic characteristics or declarations within RuleSets as they are called in Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), as well as corresponding ‘attributes’ for elements in the HTML documents.
Include workaround RuleSet coding CSSs for browsers that may not recognize or have not adopted the specific tag yet.
Consider the hierarchy of the web pages themselves and how each element can be altered to accommodate a subsequent element’s code. For example, a early declaration for all body text (body) that sets a color value as grey can be overwritten with a more detailed RuleSet for sub-set element, such as a line item (li), that’s subsequently documented in the CSS. Also, if an element, such as a paragraph, is nested within another element or ‘parent,’ such as a div in the HTML, it will inherit the attributes of the parent.
Use relational measurement units, such as em, which is generally 16 pixels high or percentage (%) for text, versus specific pixel measurements. Similarly, use scalable declarations for objects or space declarations, such as ‘max-width for containers, to create screens that are responsive and can effectively display on varied devices, and maintain hierarchy proportions.
Build additional RuleSet layers into coding for mobile devices to tell readers how to interact and make sure they can do so. For example, this includes including drop-shadows to highlight buttons and ample spacing around them to ensure the reader can easily tap them.
Fortunately, tools for setting typographic hierarchy were set-up from the onset in HTML 1.0 through heading or ‘h’ tags for heading elements. These tags enable you to establish headings, ranging from <h1> for the most important content, to <h6> for the least important. Heading elements do more than control how the typographic hierarchy will be displayed. They also tell search engines ‘how’ to index the organization and structure of the web pages so that others can find it on the Internet.
There are default values for each heading element that most browsers will use to display them. However, you can also adjust or append these values for the specific scenario and its purpose by setting up specific declarations in the CSS.
One of the key principles of layout design is to keep it simple, often by limiting a document to two typefaces and three or four point sizes. So even though there are six heading tags, it’s not advisable to use all six. In addition to heading elements, RuleSets are also set up in a document’s CSS to define attribute values for other elements, such paragraphs, footers and captions.
This Smashingarticle (Figure 1) shows how <h1> to <h4>, as well as other elements can be used to show visual, particularly typographic hierarchy on a web page.
As per the way web coding works, the CSS serves as the directions for a how elements on a web page or pages will look. As such, specific details, such as the font, colour and point size, of block-level items, like paragraphs (<p>), that begin on new lines are defined once in the CSS. The specific CSS is then named in the main HTML document (ideally in the head section). In contrast, the main HTML document contains the web content, such as text copy and images, that are displayed according to the directions outlined in the named CSS.
So looking at the HTML for this page (Figure 2), we can see that: <h1> is used for the Smashing blog title. The RuleSet in the corresponding CSS specifies that this text will be rendered at 100% of the <h1> default size, which is 2em or two times the size specified for the body size in the CSS. The margin defaults to the first value of zero set as the element.style, at the top of the CSS.
Looking at Figure 3, we can see that <h2> is used for the article title (Taking A Closer….). With typographic hierarchy, it’s important to clearly differentiate the important from the less important elements and so if size is an attribute used to do this, the variance should be significant enough to make a visual impact. In this case, the h2 is set as 2em or two times the default and bolded with a font-weight of 700. In the h2 RuleSet circled at the bottom, there is a font size of 1.5em, which is overwritten by the previous RuleSet for h2. It’s also worth noting that the li (line item) class is used for the author’s name and date and rendered at the smaller, default size just below the <h2> tag in the HTML.
In Figure 4, <h3> is used for the article sub-headings (beginning with The Aspects Considered) and at a size of 1.5em (as specified in the CSS section at left) that much smaller than the h2 tag. In this same figure, there is a <figcaption> tag circled in the HTML and its corresponding CSS declarations. As it is of significantly less importance than even the body text, it’s declared at .875em, or less than the body text, to help visually depict the hierarchy.
In Figure 5, <h4>is used for tertiary sub-headings in the latter part of the article to organize additional ‘ephemera’ points that are hard to evaluate. As the name suggests, these points may not even be worth saving for the long-term. To clearly position them as add ons in the hierarchy, the CSS RuleSet declares them to be rendered in contrasting san-serif font from the rest of the article, as well as the 100% default text size.
This is a very simple example of how visual hierarchy, particularly typographic hierarchy, is reflected in HTML and CSS.
However, as the industry evolves, there are ongoing discussions about the best scale, including text size, xheight and spacing for each heading element. It is particularly challenging to maintain visual hierarchy in responsive designs, which are scalable to mobile devices and tablets.
In response, designer, web strategist and author Jason Pamental has proposed a modern scale for body text and h tags that account for proportion changes across multiple devices. I suspect this is just the beginning as design and coding experts work toward the best solutions to maintain visual and typographic hierarchy in HTML and CSS in varied platforms.
Sometimes the best way to tackle writer’s block is to type ‘anything’ on the page with plans to grow, refine or even replace it. Brainstorming is a similar approach but can be even more intimidating because no one wants to look publicly look stumped or too outlandish. Plus, the pressure is on to justify participants’ time with an outcome.
Here are five tips from varied sources for implementing a successful brainstorming session:
Set the Stage with a Laser Focus - Tom Kelley, a partner at Ideo, a global design consultancy noted for innovation, recommends starting a brainstorming session with a succinct statement of the problem and ideally ‘focusing it outward on a specific customer need or service enhancement rather than inward on an organizational goal.’ He also suggests numbering ideas and setting an idea quantity goal to motivate participants.
Mine and Connect Insights in New Ways - Building on his notion that ‘an idea is a novel combination of previously unconnected elements in a way that adds value,’ Mark Johnstone, VP Creative, at Distilled, a global online marketing agency, recently issued a presentation on how to think of good ideas. He recommends finding the elements within customer insights, competitive insights and product truth, then looking for possible connections.
As an example, he showed how Distilled helped an insurance client by connecting: * customer insights that small business owners wanted to know what to do with social media… with… * competitor insights that the insurance sector offered long, verbose guides that few read with… * product truth that insurance supports small business owners’ interests.
Subsequently, the insurance company produced a series of visually concise guides for small business owners. To find these insights or product truths, he suggests using mind mapping or Google searches on your brand, your competitor’s brand or your category with the word love or hate.
Although not every brainstorming session has a marketing goal, I think you can adapt this approach to fit other scenarios. For example, you can mine insights about a target audience, what competitors are doing and the challenge’s attributes, then look for the connections.
Incorporate Improvisation Techniques - A big part of successful brainstorming is thinking in ‘what ifs’ and building on each other’s ideas. Taking this a step further, Liz Caradonna, an associate at Zocalo Group marketing agency, suggests incorporating the ‘yes and…’ process improv performers use to collaboratively create sketches, into brainstorming. The brainstorming facilitator can do this by acknowledging a person’s idea and then extending the idea in a ‘yes and…’ manner. They might do this by asking the group where the idea leads them or if it offers any potential or surprising implications for the project. This also invites more people to share ownership of an idea.
Try Journey Mapping - Recently I participated in a brainstorming session that used journey or experience mapping to enhance an annual conference for diverse stakeholders. For this exercise, we developed personas for conference delegates and divided into groups, with each taking on one or two personas. On posted mural paper, we identified key touch points/milestones in the conference attending process and what would be the personas’ emotional 'highs’ and 'lows’ in the process. With the highs and lows identified, we re-grouped and shared insights from this process that forced us to delve deeper into 'what’ delegates really want. This exercise provided a good foundation to then brainstorm tactics for mitigating the lows and leveraging the highs through promotional and other options.
Although this example was for a conference 'journey,’ the approach could easily be adapted for other scenarios, such as a receiving a healthcare service or purchasing a product online. For reference, the University of Virginia covered this approach in ’Ten Tools for Design Thinking,' produced by the University of Virginia.
Park Negative Comments - We’ve all heard the golden rule about not criticizing ideas during brainstorming. Marilyn Barefoot, President, Barefoot Brainstorming, cited a constructive way to avert this issue in a presentation she delivered at the IABC Canada Conference in November, 2012. She suggested setting up an easel to serve as a 'parking lot’ for any negative thoughts. Anyone who thinks an idea won’t work must write their reason on a post-it note and tack it on the easel. I think this is an effective way to appease a naysayer without dampening the group’s momentum.
As many experts suggest limiting brainstorming to 1.5 hours or less, you may not want to use all these tactics in one session. However, if you’re conducting a more extensive half-day workshop, you may want to schedule a couple of exercises with breaks in between, which is what happened in example 4.
Either way adding these tips to conventional brainstorming best practices might well earn you an ovation from participants and maybe an encore request when the next creative challenge comes up.
According to Nielsen Norman Group’s (NN/g’s) usability studies, a person’s ability to use websites drops by 0.8% per year between ages 25 to 60, making websites 43 per cent harder for seniors (age 65 and older) to use. Declining eyesight, dexterity and memory create usability challenges and in doing so, derail a senior’s online purchase.
With seniors making up Canada’s fastest-growing age group and a rising 48% of them using the Internet, an increasing number of online users, will face these challenges. For those who don’t start using computers until later years or after retirement, there’s the additional obstacle of trying to grasp common web terms like URL, download and double-click, which may sound like a foreign language.
Studies also indicate that senior users are afraid of making mistakes and potentially ‘breaking’ something, while others may hesitate to try an alternate path if the first fails.
Although we can’t stop aging, interactive professionals can adjust their solutions to accommodate these differently-abled users. To attain maximum benefit from this audiences, it’s advantageous to counter 'ageism’ through interfaces that meet seniors’ as well as younger users’ needs.
In reviewing numerous articles/studies to identify recommendations for accommodating seniors online, I found many suggestions pertain to Jakob Nielsen’s 10 usability heuristics that should apply to interfaces for users of all ages. Some however are more specific to seniors or require extra diligence (see below).
Furthermore, I think thorough testing with seniors is imperative for any site that includes this older demographic in its target market, with extra diligence for testing error and recovery messages.
Key User Experience (UX) Design Recommendations
Here’s a list of key recommendations from varied sources, aligned with Nielsen’s heuristics that can be applied as a basis for increasing senior users’ online equity as valued customers/clients/patients or employees:
1. Visibility of system status -
• Diligently incorporate visual cues to show users where they are in the website, such as highlighting the current menu versus forcing them to rely on memory.
• Display messages that tell users when a successful action needs to be processed before the screen refreshes to reassure them all is well.
2. Match between system and the real world -
• Offer familiar, tangible words with explanations as alternatives to common 'techie’ terms that may confuse newcomers to the web. For example, use 'picture’ instead of 'icon.’ I learned the importance of this when I once hired a 70-something-year-old copywriter, who was perplexed by my reference to 'blind copy’ in email use.
• Use meaningful symbols/icons but prudently to avoid image-overload and always include text labels.
• Consider offering a back-up visual to a standard convention in some cases to improve clarity. For example, use a traditional filing cabinet image along with the standard hard-disk icon, which some seniors find cryptic.
3. User control and freedom -
• Make Forward and Back arrow buttons prominent and well spaced apart.
• Include text alternatives for all media items, not just images.
4. Consistency and standards -
• Follow platform conventions and try to keep key task steps consistent for as long as possible. Conduct thorough usability research and workflow analysis upfront with seniors to give a site design optimal longevity.
5. Error prevention -
• Given seniors’ 'fear’ of failure, take extra care to build error-reduction and quick recovery measures into solutions.
• Make forms short, easy to complete and designed to accept anticipated punctuation variations, such as phone numbers and credit card numbers with and without dashes.
• Separate hyperlinks with ample space to avoid erroneous clicks.
6. Recognition rather than recall -
• Display relevant topic items during searches in much the same manner as Google does (as stats suggest seniors like and use search more than other users).
• Use different colours to distinguish between visited and unvisited links to help users keep track.
7. Flexibility and efficiency of use -
• Offer an option for adept users to take a more proficient path (with less prompts), if desired.
• Overcome dexterity challenges by offering alternatives, such as: Alt key strokes and Enter key pressing instead of double-clicking and dragging menus; up and down arrow options instead of scrolling.
8. Aesthetic and minimalist design -
• Stick to sans serif fonts but not condensed versions.
• Ensure point size is at least 12 points. Use the scalable 'em’ unit or percentages (e.g. 120% for big text) in cascading style sheets (CSS) to avoid coding restrictions that keep type small.
• Use high contrast dark type on light backgrounds or vice versa but avoid pattern backgrounds.
• Avoid putting yellow, blue and green together, as they are hard for seniors to differentiate.
• Ensure designs are responsive, as many seniors are taking to tablets. I saw this with my elderly mother recently who found a tablet easy to use and less intimidating than a laptop/desktop computer.
9. Help users recognize, diagnose and recover from errors -
• Prominently position error messages and use plain language to help the user understand and course correct. Specifically test error text with seniors to ensure clarity.
10. Help and documentation -
• Offer a phone number option for help/support, not just an email or web page.
• Aula, Anne, Learning to Use Computers at a Later Age, Computer Human Interaction Information Visualization Research Group.
• Canadians in Context - Aging Population, Statistics Canada, 2011.
• Connected Canadians: eCommerce and Internet Use Statistics, Canadian’s Internet Business, October, 2013
• Kantner, Laurie and Stephanie Rosenbaum, Usable Computers for the Elderly: Applying Coaching Experiences, Tec-Ed, Inc., 2003.
• Nielsen, Jakob, Seniors as Web Users, NN/g, May, 2013.
• Nielsen, Jakob, Define Techy Terms for Older Users. NN/g, May, 2013.
• Nielsen, Jakob, 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design. NN/g, January, 1995.
• Revera Report on Tech-Savvy Seniors: Key Findings, June, 2012.
Where Will You Work Today? - Exploring Employment Models in Interactive Media
Like many fields, the interactive media industry (IMI) offers various employment business models, including being: an employee/contractor, a freelancer or self-employed business owner. Personally, I’ve experienced the highs and lows of being an employee, as well as self-employed.
Being a full-time employee offers the key benefit of financial stability via a regular income, plus healthcare and other benefits. You’re also spared accounting tasks, as your employer manages your income tax, employment insurance (EI), Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and other deductions. Psychologically, I like the camaraderie that comes with full-time status, particularly when your team/organization achieves significant goals. From a skill development angle, I also like the opportunity to see a project through and track its results. This is often not possible when you’re a contractor/freelancer brought in to develop and launch a project.
Some of employment’s drawbacks are that you may have to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). This means you must take extra care not to discuss your employer’s confidential initiatives outside the office, even if they are the most interesting part of your job. Also, your employer owns the intellectual property (IP) for anything you create/develop. This means you can’t leverage these items or even their specs for another employer or personal profit. Another disadvantage is that an employer can limit how you spend your free time, including volunteer work or Board appointments, if they see it as a conflict.
I’ve been self-employed as freelance PR/marketing consultant. Within this scenario, I’ve usually been contracted to work on-site or retained to manage a project/ongoing client via a home office. I like the freedom of setting my own schedule and dedicating myself to innovative projects for preferred clients. It’s also beneficial for claiming business expenses on taxes. One disadvantage is the extra legal, accounting and other administration work, including filing taxes, that come with this role.
The major disadvantage or challenge of any type of self-employment is you need to secure clients and projects. This can be problematic as many prospects don’t understand all the steps involved in interactive media and want to cut corners to save costs. Sofia counters some of this resistance by offering different product lines to suit varied budgets, which sounds like a great solution.
We learned last week that about 60 per cent of the IMI companies in Canada generate revenue of less than $500k. Based on this, I’m curious about best practices for sweat equity in the IMI because I suspect some of us will be offered it, particularly if we’re self-employed. Sofia recommends approaching it cautiously and limiting it to two per cent of our billable time.
As for the third model, I’ve hired contract staff for specific projects but haven’t had the full responsibilities of being a business owner, managing all aspects of employees and their work. As Sofia described it, I think this level of administration would be quite challenging to balance with the day-to-day tasks of generating business and completing client work. I suspect it would also be rewarding, as having employees enables you to take on larger projects, than when you’re working solo.
Long-term, self-employment is a viable option for me. However, I would like to pursue employment or contract options following graduation to ‘learn the business’ through my own efforts, as well as through osmosis from the work of those around me.
The Jetson’s Streetcar is here but will it help me?
As an occasional TTC passenger living in ‘transit-challenged’ South-East Scarborough, I’m motivated to learn about new improvements to Toronto’s streetcars. The website page entitled ‘The Future Is… our new streetcar’ is a nice to know statement but I want to learn how this will help me.
Usability Criteria for the Content
I’m looking for the content of this page to give me the information I need to attain maximum value when I ride one of these new streetcars. For this content to be useful to me, it must meet specific usability criteria.
First, I want the content to be engaging enough to hold my attention but concise enough so I can get through it fast. The content should also be organized and clear so I can quickly learn what I need to know and remember the key points that impact me.
Most importantly, the content must have utility by answering the following practical questions:
• How do these new cars compare to the old ones and how much has changed?
• How will the new streetcars improve my experience travelling around Toronto, particularly in rush hour?
• What should I do to attain maximum benefits when I take a new car?
How Does it Measure Up?
The site’s bright images, simple layout and ample negative/white space are compelling but I’m not sure where to begin reading.
The page is organized according to the streetcars’ key features: Comfortable, Accommodating, Accessible and Giving You Choices. Each section includes a set of factual bullet points. Unfortunately, I can’t find any logic in the specific sequence of the sections or bullets to guide me through and help me remember them. Some, such as ‘spacious interior’ and one that cites specific capacity details, would have been more effective if they’d been clumped together. Furthermore, these bullets describe the cars’ features in isolation, but not in relation to passengers.
In looking for specific information that compares the new with the old cars, I come up short. The exception is the last bullet in the Comfort section that tells me the new cars will hold almost double the passengers as the current streetcars.
I, like many other Torontonians, want to know how the new cars will improve the passenger experience, particularly service time metrics but there are minimal details. Interestingly a bullet point about capacity is the last one in the Comfort list, even though it may have the greatest impact on alleviating congestion and improving service.
From this page, I’m not clear on the specifics or extent of new benefits I can leverage. As an occasional cyclist, it would help me to know about the bike storage area and processes for using it but I might miss these details because they are under the somewhat unrelated 'Accommodating’ heading.
I expect ‘Giving you choices’ will answer most of my benefit questions. This section mentions vending machines, ticket validation machines and reminds me of age-old fare processes. If I scroll to the bottom, I learn a little about how to use the vending machines but not what type of consumable or other items they offer. There is also no information about the validation machines, how I should use them and why.
There is a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page listed in the left side menu but not conveniently linked to the ‘The Future is…’ page. It includes ‘General Information,’ ‘Passenger Experience’ and ‘Seating’ sections, among others, and positions much of this information from the passenger’s perspective. The last point in the ‘General Information’ section even outlines service improvements but since the heading is so vague and irrelevant, I almost miss it. The ‘FAQ pages answer many of my questions but this useful content is neither referenced in or linked on ‘The Future is…” page. Some repetition and consistency between this and ‘The Future is’ page would have improved the latter’s usefulness.
Based on my usability criteria, ‘The Future is..’ page is not very useful and I would not recommend it. It provides a scant quantity of practical information that partially answers my questions but much of it is challenging to find and not presented in a way that would improve retention.
I can find more passenger-focused practical information that answers my questions if I take the time to thoroughly explore the FAQ section. But who has time, when there’s a streetcar to catch?
How to Entice or Ignore Online Prospects and Profits
Gallup and Forrester are both global research and advisory firms with websites that are visited by clients, as well as prospects who may need their products/services.
Gallup has an organization-centric website, which appears to have been designed with no concern for attracting new business leads or growing current accounts. In contrast, Forrester has a customer-centric website designed to help prospects/clients find and learn about the products/services that will meet their needs and paths to initiate transactions.
Here are three ways that Forrester’s site is customer-centric in contrast to Gallup’s organization-centric treatment of comparable web features.
First Impression and Prominent Messages
Gallup’s home page is a mosaic of articles and highlights from its recent reports. Other than the Gallup name in the top left corner of the site, there is no overall message to anyone visiting the site. There are also no sub-heads or captions that invite visitors to purchase or even explore any of Gallup’s services. There are grey buttons at the bottom of some articles that offer the potential of more data but their message is generic and doesn’t speak to prospects/clients or even allude to a potential to help these external audiences achieve their goals.
At the top of the Forrester site, there is an overarching headline that speaks in second person to prospects and how Forrester can help them ‘make better decisions.’ This section also lists the two key management functions Forrester supports: marketing and technology. Under each of these functions, the site lists relevant roles (e.g. CMO, analyst relations, sales) and each one is hyperlinked to a page dedicated to persuading people in that role how Forrester can help them. These pages offer text, video and interactive options that relay Forrester’s understanding of the role, its needs and challenges, relevant articles/presentations and a tailored summary of specific products/services that may be of value. There are also three smaller sections on the home page that invite the prospect/client to learn more about big data, global data or attend a free online presentation/event.
Menus and Prospect/Client-Relevant Pages
On Gallup’s home page, prominently positioned, bright menu headings cite its research categories and link to research highlights. In contrast, two dull grey menu headings on the screen’s far right identify the services (Strategic Consulting) and products (Gallup Analytics) Gallup sells. On the consulting page, there are a series of bullet points that boast in third person about Gallup’s expertise with general references to clients as the recipients. However this page doesn’t give prospects any details about the service options available or offer responses to potential questions they may have. The analytics button leads to a page that gives prospects/clients a few sentences about how specific products can help them in general.
On Forrester’s site, there are prominent menu headings for each of its product/service offerings. Unlike Gallup’s organization-centric product/service pages, Forrester’s offering pages provide answers to prospects/clients’ anticipated questions about how they can use its products/services. They do this using compelling text explanations, video, downloadable documents and client testimonials.
Initiating a Relationship via Menu Items
If a prospect seeks Gallup’s analytics or consulting services, they must select the relevant menu item, complete an online form (which is at the bottom of the services page) and wait for a response, with no indication of how long it will take.
Once a prospect is in a service offering section on Forrester’s site, they can also complete an online form to pursue a service. However, they are also offered an option to accelerate the process by directly connecting with an account manager. And if prospects/clients want to purchase a report/product, they can quickly do so by selecting the desired report/product from online lists and completing the sale via the e-commerce section of the site. This convenience is not afforded Gallup’s prospects/clients.
Overall, Forresters has taken steps to make its prospects’/clients’ website visits relevant, efficient and practical. It also offers them a rich, experience where they can find information through varied communication formats. And to further ensure the website meets the prospect/client needs, there is a ‘Help’ menu item with solutions to resolve various challenges the site might potentially pose.
Having spent much of my career using PR/marketing communications to achieve agency clients’ or employers’ mandates, I believe strategic communications are imperative to any organization’s success. Fortunately, options for communicating are rapidly evolving. Where we were once limited to static written/visual communication, we now have tools to draw our audiences in, dynamically tell them a story and engage them to play a role. With the growth of mobile, we can reach time-strapped audiences, almost anytime, anywhere, and tap into their up-to-the-moment needs.
As online tactics emerged, I’ve integrated them into my communication strategies through web and social media channels. I like the non-linear flexibility of digital and the satisfaction of producing a tangible product. I’ve also dabbled with Google analytics, developed WordPress websites and even produced a multimedia annual report. I know however I’ve just scratched the surface of digital’s potential for PR/marketing and measurement.
At the same time, multiple sectors are waking up to the value of using interactive digital media to converse with stakeholders who are seeking answers, information or entertainment. Nowhere do I think this is truer than in healthcare, which has always been my preferred sector to work in.
A decade ago, I developed a business case for implementing wireless solutions in healthcare to improve productivity and reduce medical errors. In doing so, I discovered wireless technology’s potential to help capture the most accurate data at the point of care, ensure information consistency and improve patient outcomes in numerous other ways.
I can see how these benefits are multiplied when interactive media is used to: empower patients to take an active role in their care or educate healthcare professionals and help them meet their patients’ needs. Even though the health/fitness sector is only two per cent of Canada’s interactive media industry (as per IMMT718 presentation), I think this sector will increasingly seek digital solutions. These solutions will be needed to meet the needs of an aging population and offset rising costs with clinician shortages. And once Canada reaches its goal of an electronic medical record for every citizen, even more possibilities may open up.
I want to ride this digital wave in healthcare because I find it interesting and fulfilling but I need to get ahead of its interactive Tsunami by boosting my digital skills. Once acquired, I would like to apply this digital expertise to frontline projects that impact patients/healthcare professionals via various ehealth or mhealth platforms, such as PC/Mac software, mobile phones or tablets, web solutions via a portal or even kiosks. Alternatively, I think it would also be exciting to leverage these skills to meet the rising interactive and multimedia content demands in healthcare PR, advertising and other promotion disciplines.
I find it challenging to determine which job category, as defined by the 2012 CIIP Survey, might be my best fit within the interactive media industry (see graph below). This indecisiveness stems for my experience as a PR practitioner, where to succeed, you needed:
* Business/administrative skills to win, plan and manage projects
* Creative skills to write copy and develop other content; and
* Technical skills to quickly troubleshoot issues that threatened tight deadlines, along with a knack for rapidly adopting new tools.
I was fortunate to hone these skills and also a solid visual design foundation through my first career as a graphic designer.
I understand from recent IMMT718 lectures that a digital strategist straddles business/administration, as well as creative job categories. Subsequently, I think this may be my ideal role, because it builds on my strategic planning and business skills but also requires creative thinking. To be an effective digital strategist, I think I may need to first gain some experience as a content or user experience developer, which I would relish.
However, no matter where I end up, I want to gain a solid grasp of analytics so I can objectively address the value of solutions, including strategic digital communication tactics, and opportunities for improvement.
Summer’s here and we’re scrambling for offline time to enjoy it. From roadside stands to festive events, savvy marketers shift strategies to engage us while we embrace the fleeting warm weather. For many, the season includes cycling on that timeless icon: the bicycle.
From the early posters of the late 19th century, the bicycle has featured in advertising or served as a platform for it. These…
Social networks offer benefits to many – including scam artists. With its share of fake personas prowling for targets, LinkedIn is no exception.
At least my LI invite from “Joey” Winnebago, a Car Expat at Chevrolet India who studied at the Winnebago Culinary Institute, offered comic relief.
What makes Joey and other bogus contacts stand out? Like the pods substituted for people in a Sci-Fi flick, your new contact is likely fake if…
1. Their play-on-words name is so tacky, their parents should be charged for long-term humiliation.
2. Their years of experience add up to more than a lifetime. (Joey has worked for 113 years, including 66+ at Chevrolet India – long enough for most people to die of boredom.)
3. Their name and headline/title are too close for anything but a really bad joke.
4. They are employed by a US fast food chain in a country with an oppressive political structure likely to ban any North American franchise.
5. Their photo looks like an actor from an off-hours infomercial or MAD Magazine’s 1970s mascot.
6. Their skills & expertise are endorsed by other fake and faceless people. And they have no text references.
What concerns me is Joey is a first level connection to three of my level-headed contacts….or have their profiles been duped?
(Note: “Joey” is a pseudonym first name to protect the not-so-innocent.)
When I turned on the TV to appease a panicked neighbor, reality hit hard with the fall of the first tower. In the days after 9/11, I craved answers, as well as signs that we weren’t on the brink of Armageddon.
On 9/11, Miami Herald reporter Leonard Pitts Jr. won mass attention with an angry letter to terrorists entitled “We’ll Go Forward From This Moment.” From that moment it also seemed his columns on 9/11 evolved into a growing call for Americans to rise above the horror and be the best they could be….to each other.
Two days later his “Hatred is Unworthy of Us” article stood out to me. It offered comfort and inspiration. On the 12th anniversary of 9/11, I checked to see how Mr. Pitts had fared. Turns out, he’s thriving and continues, as one fan, Connie Schulz (Cleveland Plain-Dealer), says “ to challenge us to be bigger than we thought possible, and then shows us how to get there,”
Re-reading his September 13, 2001 column was bittersweet. Remove the US icons and you’ll find much of it is as relevant today, even in our own backyard where a Premier aligns diversity with violence. I think we need to keep heeding this message and find ways to rise above actions, policies and programs that challenge it.
Hatred is as unworthy of us today as it was just after 9/11.
Just learned that my Blackberry Q10 has shipped – about 18 months after my last device started sporting crackberry cracks. As a patriotic Canadian, I’ve been waiting patiently (or at least that’s my excuse).
I’m elated and it’s like the night before Christmas with visions of….
Finally having a really SMART phone that’s actually made it past high school.
Finally learning what all the hype is about Instagram – the exclusive club I’ve been barred from until now (maybe).
Finally having enough space to open and READ a link – without being abruptly shut out, if I can get that far.
Finally being able to actually use the Coffee Tweets app my kid created for me (w/o old BB functionality).
Finally being able to still “thumb” coherently on the much loved physical keyboard without looking like a complete dinosaur :)