Google drives designers crazy!

The design-o-sphere is abuzz today with the recent blog post by Douglas Bowman about his decision to leave Google. Douglas was more or less the first real creative director at Google and brought about much of the look and standards that The Almighty Goog has become so well known for. Here’s a short snippet of his blog post that I think sums up his point clearly…

“Yes, it’s true that a team at Google couldn’t decide between two blues, so they’re testing 41 shades between each blue to see which one performs better. I had a recent debate over whether a border should be 3, 4 or 5 pixels wide, and was asked to prove my case. I can’t operate in an environment like that. I’ve grown tired of debating such miniscule design decisions. There are more exciting design problems in this world to tackle.”

He sums it up with this..

“I won’t miss a design philosophy that lives or dies strictly by the sword of data.”

Obviously most of the people linking to and talking about this are taking his side and agreeing with his reasonings. But I’m not the kind of person to respond to a blog post with “Amen, Doug! u Rock!”

I’m not sure I do completely agree with him. Yes, that sounds annoying. Maddening actually. But websites are not art.

Well, most websites are not art. Some are. And the other 99.9% aren’t. As an artist, I’ve noticed a funny trend amongst other artists. Some like to hide behind the shield of their black turtlenecks and macbooks and refuse to change or take other input from other people because they are creating ‘art’. My feelings are, leave your art to your personal website or separate projects.

If you are a designer for a company, you are not an artist.

Essentially, you are a designer of a salesman. Every time you create a page you are making a conscious choice about how you want that salesman to look. Will that salesman sell better to your customer base with a suit on or sweatpants? In that situation you are consciously making a decision about whether you want your site to be formal or casual. Once that is decided, you can start nitpicking. Does your salesman sell better with a blue tie on or a red tie? Based on the solid statistics you get from that, you can make an informed decision that, frankly, does “live or die by the sword of data”. And I ask you, if you were a business owner, is there a better sword to live or die by?

If Douglas is in fact leaving because he’s tired of the nitty gritty details, I can understand that. But isn’t that philosophy of testing and trial and error something that should be going on everywhere? He is right though that 41 shades of blue is a little ridiculous, but if one shade converts your traffic even .001% better, isn’t it worth it?

Art is great, but is the business world the best place for it to live? In my opinion the 2 should not (and to an extent can not) ever co exist. Does anyone disagree?


Plain Business Versus Fancy Business

We are often asked to speak at business events on the promise of internet marketing. Through our association with Dave Wolf of Vistage International - a leading CEO mentoring organization - we were recently invited to speak at Homestead Structures during one of their distributorship meetings.

Homestead Structures is a manufacturer of quality sheds and gazebos. Their distributors are predominantly located in the Northeast. Steve Stoltzfus is the President of Homestead Structures and was the host of this recent event.

He is also Amish.

My career in sales for technical and professional services solutions does not provide me many opportunities to interact with the Amish. In fact, my experience to date with the Amish is zero.

Until yesterday.

Our demonstration to Steve’s group of distributors served as our first foray into business with the Amish. Business as usual it was not. During my time here, we’ve been in some state-of-the-art conference rooms of Fortune 500′s complete with all the bells and whistles. Impressive stuff. Costly too. It makes you wonder where all the money is coming from.

Steve’s company is completely different though. Simple, plain and comfortable is how he rolls. Steve sells the steak, not the sizzle. It’s one of the reasons for his success and why Amish goods are always in such demand.

Our meeting on Wednesday with Steve and his distributors was a rare and privileged look inside a world built and run upon the basic tenants of business:

  • Genuinely deliver a quality product or service
  • Provide product or service at a competitive and fair price

Their approach is as much about what they do as what they do not do. They do not buy expensive art for the lobby. They do not buy expensive imports (or cars in general). They do not give themselves $2 million dollar bonuses.

Their rewards are met each day through sharing in fellowship, enjoying their families and practicing their faith. It is a full day. It is a full life.

To keep the candles lit, they produce a quality product at a fair price with the assurance that you’re getting the best.

I think we all could learn a little lesson about business from Steve and his team. Thanks for the opportunity.

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Ray Zalinsky Road Trip

Ray ZalinskyAlthough not as lengthy of a trip as the Tommy Boy venture (but very close to as much fun), yesterday Mark Fischer and I did some old fashioned door-to-door, pounding the pavement sales calls to businesses throughout the greater Philadelphia area.

We want to express much admiration to the many security guards we encountered that did their jobs and would not permit us to pass through to any possible decision makers. Also, we want to apologize to the young lady at the one business that opened the door for us but then took a “tongue lashing” from one of her bosses for letting us through. Thank you!

As Mark and I were venturing through one of the business parks we became curious as to how many other internet marketing/SEO companies send their sales force out cold calling on businesses in this manner. Further more, how many SEO firms have a sales department and do any type of prospecting?

We have been very successful with generating leads online (obviously), but we like to be more aggressive with introducing our services to others. It is still surprising how many businesses do not understand what we do and that a website automatically gets ranked.

I would love to hear any practices or structures that other SEO firms have for their sales and customer service departments. Please include funny stories. Of course, we would love to offer advice on those tough situations.


You Do Not Have To Get It…

You simply just have to accept it!! Getting it is what we do!

Internet marketing is an absolutely essential piece of your overall marketing plan, regardless of your business model. It is easier to track ROI than most other marketing efforts. Some businesses need to do a lot and some may just need to do a little. Some companies may just need a strong link building campaign. Other companies may need to combine link building with social media and a strong lead generation campaign to find their success.

Even if you are starting out and the first step is simply getting indexed by Google, or your keyword phrase is number two in the organics and you want to be number one, you simply have to accept that an internet marketing company with talent and experience is going to help make a difference.

It is not about having too much or too little SEO. It is truly about having the right amount to meet and exceed your goals and expectations.


5 High Profit Reasons To Add Press Releases To Your Web Marketing Strategy

I was sitting down tonight getting ready to do some press release marketing for a customer and I realized that I had an issue. My selfish intention of the press release to was to promote the business and hopefully create some traffic to the site and therefore leads.

The problem with this approach, if you’re not familiar with press releases and their intention, is that simply “promoting” a business with ad copy disguised in a press release isn’t exactly proper etiquite. It can also get you banned from the better press sites if you’re found doing it often.

After doing some research online and reading many other’s opinions, I came to the conclusion that if you want to do a true PR campaign, then you can’t just always make stuff up… your company should truly remain news worthy. If this seems like to much of a hassle, or if you’re an affiliate marketer or something where you’re strickly generating leads, then the opening of your business may be the only news worthy thing you ever do… but I wouldn’t recommend that as a long term business strategy.

Why are press releases important?

I didn’t always believe in press releases, but have found many reasons why it is not only important, but in many cases imperative.


Googling your name in the search engines.

Google (and the other engines that wish they were google) knows that content that is on press release sites has been already seen by a human and the press release wire site. Therefore, it gives it a bit more credibility. Write a press release per week for three weeks with your name in the title of the press release and watch what happens within days when you google your name. The releases will kick many of the existing pages right out of the results.


Industry site pick ups

We wrote this press release on February 19, 2008 and because the release had two specific words in it, it ended up getting picked up by a well known mortgage industry site the next day. Because of that pick up, we received many inquiries and solidified an ongoing relationship with an exciting start up that has an ongoing need for internet marketing.


Media Attention

There will be times that you will be writing about a topic and a reporter will be researching that topic at about the same time. If that’s the case, there is a great chance that your release will get noticed. If it does, you may get a call from the reporter, or they may quote from your release directory. Either way… more traffic.



Press releases and articles are two of the only ways to get more indexed search results under when people search for you name. The engines are only going to reference so many pages from your site. But, you can build up a list of press releases and then build links to those releases. This allows you to pick and choose what you want people to see when they search your company name if done properly.


Link Building

Let ‘s not forget about one of the most important things… building links. Each press release you write will end up getting posted on multiple sites. Each one of these sites will link back to your site, if you do the resources box properly (most, anyway… some don’t allow the resources box).

So, what do you write about? Well, I’m going to get back to that next time… subscribe to my feed and you’ll be updated when I post 14 and a half Killer Press Release Ideas For Your Site!