YouTube announced Monday that they are making what we believe to be EPIC changes to the channel options. Other than an overall layout change, there are two new features that we at Renegade are excited about.
1) Channel Trailer
On the new channel, you can put up a special trailer video that appears only to users who are not subscribed to your channel. This is a great opportunity to engage browsing visitors and capture them! Plus it is a chance to set the expectations for what your channel is all about!
2) Channel Art
Finally! The coveted header banner will be available to all users. Channel art is branding that goes beyond just the background image and it is seen on mobile phones, tablets, and in the hovercard anywhere on the site! Here is a template and guidelines on how to start creating channel art.
While we’re really excited about this, not everyone seems to be. The comments on the announcement are littered with foul-mouthed trolls. As an agency we’ve been trying for a year to figure out how to give our clients sexier YouTube channels without having to pay the big advertising sums. Interesting how the users themselves seem to be against this change.
Is this just a case of fear of the unknown and social network change backlash? How do you feel about the changes?
From gaming and social video to personal money and time management, there is indeed a mobile app for everything…or so it may seem. Today’s mobile applications are cheaper and easier to build than ever before. This growth has primarily been fueled by the rapid innovation in mobile technology, which is predicted to soon replace Web 2.0 altogether. With that said, what elements will comprise the successfully viral mobile apps of tomorrow, and who will create them? In varying degrees, future viral apps will embody the five integral elements listed below.
(1) Solve real problems
The viral mobile applications of tomorrow must aim beyond solving small problems. Historically, web applications (including mobile) spread quickly because they addressed our basic individual needs, such as human connection (Facebook, and LinkedIn), knowledge of our immediate surroundings (Foursquare), and discovery of our personal interests (Pinterest, Spotify, StumbleUpon).
It should come to no surprise, however, that there are huge problems affecting billions of people daily—problems much bigger than being the next “Instagram for video.” Although these issues may be quite complex, it is possible that the capabilities afforded by emerging mobile technologies and social media actually could make the mobile apps of the future the missing pieces to the puzzle.
(2) Deep Design
It is becoming increasingly common for mobile and web app founders to consult with UI/UX designers before partnering with actual developers. User experience is everything, and its nuances can make or break the success of an app. Pinterest, for example, utilizes technology that isn’t that much different from Tumblr’s—both are microblogging platforms. Pinterest’s pin board design, however, is a simpler, more intuitive way to display what can seem like an overwhelming amount of information.
Mobile apps, in particular, are operated on devices designed for touch. This requires developers to think ergonomically in designing apps for fingers and thumbs. Whether on the run, in the kitchen, or waiting in the airport, understanding how, where, and when your target audience uses your app is needed for proper design.
Flipboard is an example of a mobile iPhone and iPad app that has brought a familiar element of touch back to the publications we consume. Users “flip” through pages of a digital magazine by swiping their finger over the screen in way that resembles flipping through its paper counterpart.
No longer is design an afterthought to a product’s development. Design has the capability to completely alter the definition and use of a product and set the tone for its relationship with the user. Those who build tomorrow’s viral apps will be visual decoders of sorts—gathering and visually organizing information in a way that is appealing, simplified, and engaging while fully recognizing the relationship between the user and mobile device.
Upon establishing the purpose of the app and approaching the design of the user experience, the following elements are also key:
(3) Instant utility via simplicity
How long does it take the user to realize the core benefit of the app? Are there tasks or processes that could be simplified? Apps will differ in complexity based on their purpose and target audience, but simplicity should be achieved in the app wherever possible, whether it’s reducing steps to complete a task or finding a way to accomplish a specific thing that was once quite complex. Much of what makes Instagram engaging is the app’s ability to apply a number of beautiful visual effects to a photo without the need of a comprehensive photo-editor.
How often would anyone want to use an app again, and who would do so? Successfully viral apps typically give users a strong reason to come back by fulfilling an important or unique task, and/or by finding a way to engage with users like no other app does. Angry Birds is amongst thousands of other games in our mobile marketplaces, but its simplicity, comedic storyline, and variety of harder levels encourages users to come back for more.
Is this an app that users would likely share with others? The app can be interesting enough for users to share it on their Facebook Walls, or the app can have extended social functionality. Draw Something is an example of a sharable app by its ability to bring two people together (either friends or strangers) for a friendly drawing competition. Via a simple and engaging utility, Draw Something built a social gaming experience around something that many people already love to do—draw and doodle. Ultimately, developers must understand the extent and the means by which users will engage others with the app.
Although there isn’t a clear-cut formula as to what embodies a viral mobile app, the ones that are viral have varying degrees of the above elements. Entrepreneurs, developers, and brands should find innovative ways and approaches for their apps to encompass these elements. In the words of Forbes technology contributor, Eric Jackson, “Fortunes will be made by those who adapt to and invest in this new greenfield [mobile applications]. Those who own the future are going to be the ones who create it. It’s all up for grabs.”
-- Thomas Varner
Think back to the days when you used to actually write on paper. I’m talking about school papers, journal entries, and letters to your pen pals. Okay, are you back there, before the days where everything started as a Word document, a blog post, or an e-mail? Just how often did your paper wind up looking like this?
I know, in my life at least, doodling has overtaken many a sheet of paper as I search for an idea... or admittedly just procrastinate. Therefore, it should be no surprise that this blog post starts with the modern-day equivalent.
How often do you find yourself staring at the Google homepage poised for greatness, if only the right inspiration would come? There I was just a few days ago. The “I’m Feeling Lucky” button was particularly grating my nerves, as I was feeling quite the opposite. So I clicked. With that single click of the mouse (okay, tap of the touchpad) I opened the treasure box that is the Google doodles archives.
Most of us are familiar with Google doodles, even if we don’t know they have a specific name. A doodle is the way Google modifies their logo to celebrate a special date or person. This practice started back in 1998. Google explains it best:
“In 1998, before the company was even incorporated, the concept of the doodle was born when Google founders Larry and Sergey played with the corporate logo to indicate their attendance at the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert. They placed a stick figure drawing behind the 2nd "o" in the word Google, and the revised logo was intended as a comical message to Google users that the founders were "out of office." While the first doodle was relatively simple, the idea of decorating the company logo to celebrate notable events was born.”
Some doodles are more memorable than others. Some are reminisced about long after their 24 hour featured life-span, while others fade into oblivion. Some doodles made a big cultural impact. There are many doodles you may have never seen, because some are specific to a country other than your own. Personally, I wonder what the Google doodle will evolve into next, but for now, one thing is for sure… everyone has a favorite. Without further ado, here are my top 5:
5) 30th Anniversary of PAC-MAN
In my experience, this is by far the most talked-about Google doodle. In fact, Google keeps a playable version here. According to Mashable, the PAC-MAN doodle consumed 4.8 million hours of time, which was broken down to cost $120,483,800 in productivity. Truthfully, I don’t want to admit to how many hours I contributed to that total, but I am happy to say I didn’t factor into the monetary productivity hit, since I was still a student.
4) Scientists Unveil Fossil of Darwinius Masillae
Find a kindergartener and ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” You are likely to hear answers such as “doctor”, “teacher”, and “police officer.” I was the strange five-year-old that replied, “paleontologist,” and often had to explain to the questioning adult what that word even meant. (For those of you who don’t know, a child-like explanation is a person who digs up dinosaur bones.) For many of my younger years, I put a lot of effort into learning about dinosaurs and trying to become an actual paleontologist. Although I have since set aside this goal, paleontology still sparks a glimmer in my eye.
3) First Day of Spring 2009 - Design by Eric Carle
I am very thankful that a love of reading was instilled in me during my impressionable childhood years. I don’t know exactly who to thank, but I’m sure my bookishness can be attributed to my family and first grade teacher. Anyway, one of my favorite books was Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I loved the format, and style of the book. This doodle conjures up fond memories of an easier time. As an aside, I recently bought a finger puppet version of this book as the “perfect” first birthday present for my friend’s son. Terrified doesn’t even begin to describe how he felt about the caterpillar puppet. Needless to say, I don’t think this will be on his list of favorite doodles when he’s older.
2) SOPA / PIPA
This one might only make the list because it’s fresh on my mind. That being said, there is no denying the impact this doodle had. Users who clicked on this doodle were directed to a petition to tell congress not to censor the web, and over 7 million people signed it. I probably particularly like this censored Google image because I love books such as Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World and 1984 in which the government CONTROLS and CENSORS. And while I enjoy works of fiction dealing with these themes, I have no desire to live in a world of censorship.
1) Alexander Calder's 113th Birthday
I’m an artsy person (notice I didn’t say artist!) and if forced to choose, I would pick Alexander Calder as my favorite artist. I’ve written a couple of reports on him as a matter of fact. I love whimsical, I love bright colors, and I LOVE 3D design. What makes this doodle really noteworthy is the fact that it was Google’s first doodle made entirely with HTML5, so it was the first doodle that really did something. I happily recall my excitement that day as I made the doodle mobile bob serenely. So, the fact that this commemorates my favorite artist, coupled with the game-changing nature for Google doodles, makes this the number one doodle in my book.
Have you been inspired to create a doodle? While there is already a team of illustrators and engineers (called doodlers!) in place at Google specifically for this purpose, Google accepts submissions for future doodles at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, they run an annual contest, Doodle 4 Google, with the winning doodle being featured on the homepage. Unfortunately, I certainly stand no chance of winning a Doodle 4 Google contest in the modern era of doodle animation, so instead I’ll continue to enjoy the doodles of others in times of procrastination need.
What are your favorite Google doodles? Did you know you can buy customized items with your favorite Google doodle?
-- Allison Rossi
Despite full acceptance of my social media addiction and narcissism
, I have fought hard against my demographic’s title of "Generation Me." Generation Me
is characterized by our supposed egotism and lack of professionalism and drive - all of which may be demonstrated by our delight in sharing through social media. Although I do not agree with the stereotypes of laziness and lack of motivation, egotism and narcissism are pretty apt themes. So, as a reluctant part of Generation Me, I stand here to declare my absolute love for Facebook Timeline
and the infinite possibilities it presents for personal ego inflation…and business growth.
After Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook Timeline at the F8 Developer Conference last September, I sat in eager anticipation with my pointer trigger finger ready to click as soon as testing opened. A few hours of poking and prodding at my profile later, I was full on head over heels for Timeline (not that it was a hard sell).
At the F8 Conference Zuckerberg said, "We're more than what we did recently." With that in mind, Facebook Timeline expands social sharing to what users did in the past -- last week, last year, their first Facebook post, or even their birth. Imagine the possibilities!!! I get giddy at the idea that the next time I go home to visit my parents I can rummage through a dusty box of pictures and then later upload to my Timeline photos of when I lost my first baby tooth or crammed my toddler face full of birthday cake.
Not only does Facebook Timeline indulge my social sharing (that may sometimes border on over-sharing), it's also pretty. While the old profiles weren't poorly designed, Timeline features a profile picture and a cover photo that gives profiles more visual customization without them getting circus-like (see MySpace profiles of late
). Links to my Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram are now all featured more prominently, and those feeds are shared automatically on my Timeline, making it easy for Facebook to be the hub for social media. As with previous Facebook makeovers, there have been a fair amount of complaints from users, but in time, Timeline won't seem so foreign and users will forget that they were angry.
Currently, there are no Facebook Timelines for brand and company pages; however, given Facebook's commitment to continuity, I think we can look forward to those soon. Timeline for business will provide all the perks of the revamped, visual-heavy design (and more visible Facebook ads
) but also present some challenges like an even shorter window of opportunity
to catch users' attention.
So, I may not be fond of the term "Generation Me," but I accept that I am a part of it and gladly embrace media like Facebook Timeline that speaks to all my self-centered sensibilities. After flirting with social media and courting different platforms, I think Facebook Timeline just may steal my heart.
How do you feel about Timeline? Have you made the switch yet? Tell me below in the comments!
- Kristi Murphy
The need for good and effective design does not just make spaces more practical or nicer to look at; it also helps maintain a sustainable environment. The effective use and re-use of materials is a practice that can change the world in immense proportions.
The problem is of course the amount garbage we dispose of, the rapid consumption of the natural resources and the toxic waste we are being exposed to, but how do we deal with this problem? Annie Leonard has a very interesting solution. In the video Annie shows us in very simple but effective ways how our consumer habits and electronics companies’ way of selling is poisoning our earth and our lives.
The whole system needs a great restructuring and this is where design is so incredibly important. Good design, the effective use of the right materials without harsh chemicals, and a renewable (recyclable) materials system are the key to an effective sustainable environment that won’t harm the earth, others, or us.
If we don’t get people to care then world will become a waste dump. In my opinion, the solution is getting the right education and demanding eco friendly products. In today's society the consumer has all the power. If people start to demand green products and reject harmful chemicals, then the seller will have no choice but to make those changes. Raise awareness, change peoples habits, turn them into active participates and make a change.
I’ve always disliked bar codes. The peel-off variety leaves a sticky residue that will nettle me until I scrub it away with Goo Gone. The embedded style isn’t much better: The humdrum lines and numbers are a constant reminder that a million other people have bought the exact same book, calendar, model airplane, etc. Bar codes are like the bland side dish in an otherwise delicious meal— they lack pizazz and originality.But even something as flavorless as a bar code can become a piece of iconography in the hands of a talented graphic artist. For example, Duane Reade now features the Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty on its products. This creative tweak emphasizes the company’s New York roots and provides consumers with some unconventional eye candy. Enterprises like Vanity Barcodes sell quirky designs but also offer clients the option to create their own.
In terms of marketing, a designer bar code seems like a nice step toward an attractive, streamlined product. But do these mini art pieces actually scan properly? Supposedly yes, although the Duane Reade products also include a traditional bar code as a backup. Will customized versions one day replace the default? Possibly. Right now the price of designer codes makes for an expensive investment. Companies will have to decide whether a cute design is worth the cost.
After all, not everyone is as obsessed with bar code aesthetics as I am.
— Nicole Duncan
Google has finally entered a serious contender into the social sphere with its launch of Google+, the new project that turns the established search giant into one, collective social network. Known as “Google’s answer to Facebook,” the program introduces some new and improved ways to share and connect with people. Here are some of the coolest:
The Circles+ feature is a new approach to the well-known friend lists. Unlike Facebook or Twitter lists, Circles+ allow users to make several different friend groups for sharing different content. Now, close friends, family, and professional connections can be organized as such. Plus, the company has added a little fun with animation accompanying the creation of a circle.
Sparks is a new content feature. Users can choose certain topics like fashion, health, or entertainment and the engine recommends interesting and relevant content based on the information from other Google products like Google Search. The idea is simple- make it easy for people to explore their interests and allow them to share it with their friends. Sound familiar to Twitter?
Hangouts are a new way to group chat. Instead of inviting one person to chat, a user can just start a “hangout” and let other friends join. The best part is that the chat screen shows whoever is currently talking, so although you could be in a group with 10 people you will only see one person at a time.
Google+ has been in the works for over a year, and the final product is well designed and innovative. The company has already dominated the search field, but until now has never made an impact on the social sphere. Is Google+ serious competition for Facebook and Twitter? We’ll find out.
Volkswagen is, as usual, doing things differently and getting some some positive attention for it.
||This morning a composer friend of mine posted a video on Facebook of "piano key" stairs. His post had nothing to do with VW advertising and less to do with marketing in general. He just found the video interesting because of his relationship with music (I'm sure of this because he posted the Swedish version of the video and he definitely doens't speak their language).
|After finishing watching the video, I clicked on the link, expecting to be directed to some sort of music school related experiment site, and was (momentarily) suprised to be directed to a lightly branded VW website proclaiming (once I ticked the UK flag for English):
"This site is dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun
is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better. Be it
for yourself, for the environment, or something entirely different, the
only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better."
This mini guerrilla campaign/behavioral experiment is doing exactly that:
The piano installation was created to encourage people to make the healthier choice to take the stairs instead of using an escalator. The before and after shots of the staircase vs. the escalator prove the trick works.
The next video depicting "The World's Deepest [Trash] Bin," an outdoor public garbage can that makes a cartoonish sound of something falling very very far, had the effect of getting park-goers to not only throw away their own trash, but also to clean up the rest of the park just to hear the falling sound again.
Next, they promise to come up with a fun way to recycle.
I say, GO TEAM VOLKSWAGEN (BDB Stockholm)! This bare bones project of theirs sure is a great example of a lot of good things advertising: marketing as service, combining online and offline, and making a good idea viral by keeping it open-ended and by not shoving a ton of branding down the throats of those who couldn't care less about cars (i.e. my buddy the composer).
Enough has been written about Twitter in the past month for me to avoid explaining the phenomenom. A great guide for marketers getting started on Twitter, written by Drew Neisser, is here. I'm going to jump into the conversation with a bit on one Twitter app, and then quickly digress into one of my [brilliant] rants…
I heard on the radio this morning that plants can now Twit. For $99, plant lovers can get their plants to talk back to them via Twitter. Botanicalls is the name of the device that will tweet your plant's water needs to you (and said plant's followers), so you don't forget to take care of it. It turns your plant into a living Tamagotchi! HOW COOL!
This made me think what if… What if I/we/somebody created a climate change awareness campaign using Twitter to publicize the decay of our planet?! I know scientists are using sensors to track climate change, so let's make the sensors tweet updates in layman's terms, buy up some digital and outdoor ad space (ad space that targets world leaders, influencers, and big business execs — that is, those with the power to fund and enforce change), and go live!
P.S. I tweet, and I'm easy to find. Let's follow each other!
||Lion Brand Yarn has a great method for keeping their customers engaged: free pattern sharing.
The Lion Brand website has over 2,000 free knitting, crocheting, and yarn craft patterns. They also offer videocasts of how tos, a wealth of free information for anyone who knits, crochets, or wants to learn how.
This is a great resource worth sharing!