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Blink

There’s a long-running school of thought on the web that surfers make snap decisions about a web site. In The Big Red Fez, I said three seconds. No, said others. They said sites need to be deliberate and dense.

I was wrong. They were wronger. AJ points us to: news @ nature.com. Web users judge sites in the blink of an eye. Potential readers can make snap decisions in just 50 milliseconds.

Headline of the year

Lisa Gansky points us to: Eminem remarries sweetheart he vowed to murder
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Bibliographies

When I wrote about stuck systems, I wasn’t looking for a bibliography system. But that’s what I got. A bunch of them. One worth noting is Jonathan Otto’s That’s Crazy HOT!. Also this one from Devin. And a ton that were already built, which I won’t get into here. Also heard from plenty of librarians about magazine articles, old books, etc. etc.

Each online solution works in its own way, but I wonder if anyone can figure out how to make the solution so viral it becomes the standard (which was the real point of the post). I’m glad to know, though, that I never have to hassle with a bibliography again!

Jeff is right…

In his inimitable way: BuzzMachine–Beware the Googeyman.

Jakob, on the other hand, inadvertently explains why keyword advertising is such a brilliant invention. And then goes on to explain why Permission Marketing is a pretty good idea.

Setting expectations

Diego Rodriguez is right, of course: metacool: On Seth and prototypes and storytelling. Your protoype is part of your story, and you need to make that clear. Show someone a photoshop page pretending to be a website and the expectation is that the site is working and this is what it’s going to look like when it’s done.

Show them a printout of that same page, and the story is very different.

I differ, though, in how you tell the story. Disclaimers don’t work. At all! Instead, it needs to be in the way the prototype feels and is presented.

The problem with prototypes

"This is just a sketch."

"…a rough draft…"

"…something we threw together…"

I’m a huge fan of prototyping. Prototyping just about anything is faster and more effective than ever before. It makes hypothetical questions go away and surfaces real issues. It gets things moving. And most important of all, prototyping eliminates fear.

BUT

If you use a prototype to try to persuade someone of an idea, be careful. Most people you know are not as conceptual as you are, especially about stuff you really care about. The first prototypes for an iPod or a book cover or a Starbucks or a six-year public works construction project certainly did not impress the outsiders who saw them.

Too many times, I’ve gotten excited about an idea and created a conceptual prototype. And almost every time, people, smart people, didn’t get it.

Here’s my new prototype rule of thumb: your prototype has to be better (better build quality, faster interface, better lighting, whatever) than the finished product is going to be. That’s what people expect anyway–they see your prototype and take off 20% for reality.

I was wrong

Trekking to Patterson, NJ tonight. Went to Yahoo maps, typed in the address and boom, "That address doesn’t exist. Here are directions from the nearest town."

So I went back to my source. Checked it twice. Copied and pasted. Did a second Google search to be sure the address was right.

Turns out that Paterson only has one "t".

I share this with you because it’s a great example of how dependent we are on the search engines to fix our mistakes for us. Should Yahoo Maps have "known" that Paterson is often spelled with two "t"s? Of course.

The danger zone is when only some of the obvious mistakes are caught. We’re being trained to be sloppy, and expecting that will always work. Watch a kid search on Google–they don’t even try to get the spelling right. Why bother?

Farming and hunting

Five thousand years ago, every human was a hunter. If you were hungry, you got a rock or a stick and you went hunting.

The problem was that all of the animals were either dead or really good at hiding.

Fortunately, we discovered/invented the idea of farming. Plant seeds, fertilize em, water em, watch em grow and then you harvest them.

The idea spread and it led to the birth of civilization.

Everyone got the idea… except for marketers.

Marketers still like to hunt.

What we’re discovering, though, is that the good prospects are getting really good at hiding.

I hate it when facts ruin a good story

Jake Bialer kicks sand in my Windy City reference: The Straight Dope: … And what about "Windy City"?.

The windy city

Chicago, it turns out, isn’t so windy. They call it that because when they were bidding for the World’s Fair in the 1800s, Chicagoans were bragging so much, they were "windy."

Which has nothing to do with this: USATODAY.com – Whole Foods goes with the wind but something about stories with windmills in them leads to odd word selections.

Shea Gunther points out that buying wind power is a great marketing story. And he’s right.

As the price of energy (and the side effects its creation cause) increase, the how and where of product origins are going to matter more and more.