Future of Web Design in NYC

This past week I attended the Future of Web Design conference at the Roseland Ballroom here in New York. Being able to attend events like this is one of the reasons I wanted to move here. There were a few really standout speakers which included:

  • Mike Cus of Carsonified – he spoke about web design in relation to art and how he belives web design is a nascent art form not unlike music or art
  • Derek Powazek of Powazek Productions – Derek spoke about crowdsourcing and group think, and while I thought this was going to be a super-lame social networking talk it was actually extremely interesting
  • Nicholas Felton of Daytum – I saw this guy’s work for the first time via Kottke, it was cool to hear him speak and talk about how exhausting it was for him to create his annual reports

I’m not sure if I would shell out $450 to go next year but it was definitely an interesting day. I also got to see a Microsoft Surface up close and while the technology behind it seems really cool the applications for it were underwhelming at best. There were about 20 people standing around and four people sitting at the Surface, one on each side, and they were playing PONG! I couldn’t believe that the people at MS couldn’t come up with anything more creative for four people to do sitting at this table.

Great Tips for Writing AdWords Copy

I’ve been working on some $10k+ a month AdWords campaigns in the last month or so which has required me to spend some time doing a little research to try to maximize the potential of these campaigns. I found this great article on writing AdWords copy earlier this month. There are some great tips here on how to manipulate your ads to get higher CTR and conversions. In just one example they show how changing the headline from “Meditation Music” to “Music for Meditation” doubled both conversions and the click-through-rate. The example above shows the difference and ellipses can make. If you deal with SEM this is definitely worth a read.

Ambigrams Cooler than Palindromes and Just as Fun to Say

wordsmith ambigram
I’ve been mesmerized by ambigrams ever since I learned what the word meant.  This weekend I found this interview with John Langdon, a graphic artist who works primarily with these cool word designs called ambigrams-

My definition of an ambigram is a word (or name) that can be read with equal ease from more than one vantage point. To me, a logo that has two symmetrical letters or a graphic image that looks the same from more than one vantage point have ambigrammatic qualities, but are not ambigrams, per se. (personal and hair splitting, I know…) Further, though, I think that an ambigram must be readable without an accompanying typeset version of the word, and the letters must not be tortured in complete disregard for their heritage. An image that is symmetrical, but is not attractive or readable, is not, in my opinion, an ambigram.

Web 2.0 Expo New York Pretty Uneventful

The week before last I went to the Web 2.0 Expo in New York.  It was the first time I had been to a big industry event since I went to Comdex back in college.  I was pretty disappointed by what I saw.  I’m not sure if it was indicative of the industry at the moment or more of a commentary on the kind of startups that the O’Reilly crew seem to attract.  

I couldn’t believe how many social networking community website startups were in attendance.  It seemed like one after another with no real differentiators at all. They were all pimping their blogs and profiles and a lot of them were geared towards business.  The idea that someone would buy a copier and then want to join a social network on the web where they could talk about their copier and upload pictures of their copier, etc.  is absurd.  There are many B2B avenues where user generated content will never make an impact.

What I could see as feasible is a social network that the dealers of those copier machines used where they could exchange information on how to sell, what methods were working for them, what kind of ad copy or advertising was working, etc.  But something like that would require Konica Minolta or Ricoh to really make an effort to foster that kind of community – particularly among small business owners who generally are short on time.

Overall, this Web 2.0 Expo was a big disappointment with very little innovation or originality.  I hope that their are more innovative startups out there than what I saw a week ago.  Somebody must be coming up with fresh ideas, whoever they are, they clearly don’t talk to Tim O’Reilly.

Neat JavaScript Slideshow / Photo Gallery Thingy

This is one of the better photo gallery tools I’ve seen using JavaScript. This one seems to be a little smoother than a lot of the other ones I’ve come across. I will probably include it in an upcoming project I will be working on for an artist in my building. You can check out ImageFlow 0.9 here.

(thanks shareabrain)

Super-easy WordPress Upgrades

I have been meaning to upgrade to the new version of WordPress after it came out a few weeks ago but just kept putting it off. Today I ran across this amazing little WordPress plugin that does the upgrading for you (link to download the actual plugin is buried near the bottom of the post under the orange donation button). After you install it and run it, you basically just click on a next button while it backs up your files, turns off your plugins, downloads and installs the new files, and the reactivates all your plugins. I would say it took all of 2 minutes to complete and no brain power on my part.

(thanks duct tape marketing)

Buttons, Lots of Buttons

If you need a little inspiration coming up with some nifty buttons for that next website, here’s a good place to look for some “inspiration,” as they say. These were collected by what looks to be a design firm in Göteborg, Sweden called Dragnet. Their site looks pretty cool, but, unfortunately, Jag inte prata Svenska, so I’m not sure what they’re all about.

Recent Work

Here are two of the sites I’ve worked on most recently:

The first site is a portal for 7 of Westcon’s resellers. We created a series of sites with similar marketing material to promote Westcon’s Busy Season program geared towards the government market during their buying period.

The second site we just finished last week. We created a demo site for resellers to help them market Konica Minolta.

Take the Survey for People Who Make Websites

Over at A List Apart they are conducting a survey for web dorks. Last year they collected data from over 30,000 people. You can take a look at last year’s findings (PDF) while you wait for them to finish compiling this year’s. In the meantime, fill out the survey.

Calling all designers, developers, information architects, project managers, writers, editors, marketers, and everyone else who makes websites. It is time once again to pool our information so as to begin sketching a true picture of the way our profession is practiced worldwide.

Possibly the most important invention of the past century, the web is undeniably one of the most robust engines of knowledge transfer, political and social change, artistic endeavor, and economic growth the world has seen.

This year’s survey corrects many of last year’s mistakes, with more detailed and numerous questions for freelance contractors and owners of (or partners in) small web businesses. There are also better international categories, and many other improvements recommended by those who took the survey last year.

Colorzilla – Great Little Firefox Addon

I am constantly cutting and pasting screenshots into Photoshop in order to get a color match. I guess if I had stopped to think about it I would have realized there must be a Firefox Addon that could do something like this. Luckily I ran across one this weekend. Colorzilla’s dead simple to use and will save me heaps of time.

(thanks craig farrall)