Inside the industry and inside the agency
A dreary and wet week has come to pass. Let’s hope these sights and sounds from around the web will cheer you up for the weekend.
Burning House Project
This project aims to find the answer to the question ‘what would you take if your house was burning’. Users can submit their answers alongside a (usually) great photograph. A lot of people seem to value their cameras and Macbooks very highly!
960 Pieces of Vinyl
There’s something charming about stop motion animation but you wouldn’t find Aardman pairing Gromit with some dubstep. This incredible video sees a real life audio waveform created from bespoke cut vinyl.
The saying goes that a picture tells a thousand words. Well, this camera can’t quite manage 1000, but it will happily describe any scene you point it at by using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk API.
That’s a Big Vehicle
Next time you curse someone’s poor attempt at parking a Chelsea tractor, take a look at the image below. The $100million Bagger 288 is 311 feet tall, 705 feet long and weighs 45,500 tons. The Bagger can excavate 240,000 tons of coal per day.
Council websites! We have all been there, trying to find a particular piece of information in a blind panic and end up tearing your hair out in frustration because you can’t find what you need mainly down to poor layout and too much information on one page. Although on the rare occasion you can stumble across sites and be pleasantly surprised with the website, this is not always the case.
I have recently discovered this while working on a new council project so I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to mention a handful of nice council websites I have come across in my research.
From Wickedwebs experience with council websites we have learnt that there is a need to have a good balance between functionality and design. This user journey is key and needs to allow the viewer to access information quickly with minimal amounts of clicks.
Design wise, you do not want to over load the site with too many links on one page as this has to appeal to a wide target audience and computer abilities. This is normally solved by good categorisation and useful tab systems which can expand and collapse at a click of a button.
Here are a few of the sites I've seen that are nicely designed and user friendly.
Site 1: Cornwall Council
Site 2: Medway Council
Site 3: Number 10
Site 4: South Holland
Site 5: South Tyneside
Another week has been and gone, so sit back and take a look at some of our less serious finds from the web this week.
Kids have a great imagination, but they don’t always have the skills to draw them out on paper. Imaginawesome takes a kids drawing and the artist behind the project will turn it into something a bit more polished.
Jelly Bean Crazy!
Imagine spending 22 months of your life laying out jelly beans? That is just what went into this amazing (and sugary) music video for Kina Grannis’ song ‘In Your Arms’. 288,000 jelly beans, 1,357 hours, 22 months and 2,460 frames later and this is the incredible result.
Photographer Levi Mandel took some stealthy shots of passers by, printed them out, crumpled them up and rephotographed them to create a curious gallery of fascinating grotesques.
It turns out that, had Jurassic Park actually turned out to be real we wouldn’t have had too much to worry about. Artist Hugh Murphy shows us what would happen if T-Rex attempted a variety of mundane tasks such as riding a bike or using eye drops.
The weekend is nearly upon us, so without further ado, here’s a few not so serious things from around the web.
Clipart Album Covers
The humble clipart, pioneer of desktop publishing is used here to create some iconic album covers. Marvel at them.
It’s a Friday, and instead of doing some work you’re reading this. Really, you’d much rather be on Facebook or reading about Justin Bieber on Twitter but you need to look busy. Lucky for you, there’s Hardlywork.in, turn your tweets or Facebook feeds into an inconspicuous spreadsheet.
This groovy little web app gives us more vocally limited maestros the chance to create our own beatboxing masterpiece by conducting an ensemble of animated beatboxers.
This strangely hypnotic project elevates the microwavable meal to a new level of artistic value. See before and after shots of a variety of microwaved objects.
Hunter and the bear are back for Tipp-Ex's latest campaign that is thoroughly awesome!
Hunter and the bear's previous success has been outdone by Buzzman agency when they return to celebrate their birthday. However, a meteor threatens to end their party and we are asked to pick any year we like to replay the party.
The Youtube platform has been used to its full potential, challenging the user to discover 46 different scenes available and the 8 scenes requiring unique interaction. The search for hidden extras and special features will help push this campaign to the forefront of success as the time spent by the user will reach high levels.
An impressive sequel that has been well executed. I spent a fun half hour searching for little jems. My favourites are 1969, 1980, 1989, 2200. What are yours?
Apparently it's International Scrabble day today so it sounds like a good excuse to try and get our hands on one of these beautiful looking typography led Scrabble boards for the office. The packaging is stylishly minimal and each letter piece sports a unique typeface. Complete with a walnut storage case and a birch box this limited edition piece would be on any design geek's wishlist.
The BEST Awards drew some interesting approaches to digital marketing this year. And there were varying degrees of competencies and technical deliveries from those that entered the digital award categories. As digital continues to expand as a medium and become more fragmented and more complicated, the challenge for brands owners and agencies alike is to maintain focus on what’s important from the brief.
While judging the categories, some entries were highly creative but lacked a well-executed technical delivery, while others drilled home on technical capabilities but at the detriment of the creative and brand experience. Throw in a dose of social media, mobile delivery, and video, and the complete breath of what full service digital can do for a brand, it’s no wonder there were so many different angles the digital entries explored. In truth, there were few entries that used all the digital channels available as part of their overall campaign, but this is no doubt influenced by budgets and time pressures. That said the entries which scored most highly, were those that effortlessly hung their brand communications around the appropriate digital channels, rather than forcing a message into all the channels at their disposal.
Innovative, concise brand communications, delivered across the most useful digital channels in a way that embraced technology won my vote. And of course, backing that up with tangible analytics justifying campaign success and value.
Stuart Wells, Managing Director at agency Wickedweb talks to Figaro Digital about best practice within design and build - Article by Jon Fortgang - Figaro Digital
"If you build it," runs the line in baseball drama Field of Dreams, "they will come."
That was back in 1989, but until comparatively recently the same theory underpinned plenty of design and build projects. Now that Google decides on ranking, campaigns are seeded on social and the mobile frontier opens up, brand managers and marketers need to approach the planning and construction of their sites – and in particular SEO - with scientific precision.
Wickedweb are a full service digital agency who specialise in this field. Established in 2002, the company's work with a range of clients over the last decade has provided them with a clear perspective on some of the most persistent challenges – as well as the greatest opportunities – open to digital marketers seeking to optimise their presence across all channels.
"We speak to some new clients now," says Stuart Wells, Managing Director at Wickwedweb, "who've been through maybe two or three versions of a design and build project, and they're a bit nervous at the start. They're saying to us, 'we've made these mistakes in the past, we've seen these errors crop up. How can we mitigate the risk and improve our top level approach to a design and build project?'"
For Wells and the team at Wickedweb, the answer to that has involved establishing a clear best practice procedure which, they believe, helps brands refine their objectives and focus on achievable goals with measurable value. So what, for Wells, does best practice within design and build actually entail?
"Most projects start with a client saying, 'I want to deliver this'," he explains. "'I want to do it in three months and this is how much I've got to spend.' But the reality is, at that point, nine out of 10 clients don't know what it is they're looking to achieve, they don't know how long it's going to take and they don't know how much it's going to cost. And the agencies tendering for the job don't know either, because until you get into those detailed workshops and discussions, you simply don't."
Wells uses a three-part model to describe the approach best suited to streamlining and unifying that process. "There's the budget," he says, "There's the deadline, and there's the delivery. The methodology by which a large scale design and build project is delivered is all-important. In years gone by you'd see the 'waterfall' methodology, where you do one stage of the project, agree it with the client, sign off and then move to the next stage."
The problem with that approach, explains Wells, is an inherent lack of flexibility. Budgets change, deadlines shift and objectives are reconceived. "A lot of times that ends in disappointment. We inherit a lot of clients who've been through that relationship. What we're looking at now is a more agile way of working, where we'll ask the client not necessarily to commit to a definite budget but a budget range, not to commit to an absolute deliverable, but to a deliverable range. And not to set their heart on an absolute deadline but to a range of dates. That way you can enter the project and be far more open and pragmatic and say, 'What is actually achievable here? What are you looking to do as a business and what can we do to give you as much value as possible?'
Given his experience, what, for Wells are some of the most persistent challenges facing brands and agencies as they embark on a project together? Though brand managers may imagine the tighter a brief the better, that isn't always the case.
"Eighty per cent of briefs are actually too specific," he explains. That might sound counter-intuitive in a field where clarity of purpose is key, but more information, it transpires, doesn't always mean better information.
"Most brand and marketing managers will have a good idea of what they want to achieve. Let's say it's an integrated campaign – they'll be aware of some of the things they can do in social media, some of the things you can do with a CMS. But they may not know the best things that can be achieved at that point in time. Often agencies will respond to those client requirements because the clients have been very prescriptive. But that may not be the best way to achieve a client's underlying objectives, because there are new methods or more technically advanced ways of doing things." As an example, Wells cites advances in browser-technology versus Flash. But the point, he says, is that agencies should be able to analyse a client's top-level objectives and then present that client with the best routes to achieving those aims, rather than having to stick to a rigid, pre-ordained road map.
Starting with SEO
Key to any design and build project is SEO. For Wells and the Wickedweb team, it's the foundation on which everything else rests. So how does best practice apply here?
"To get the best results in SEO," says Wells, "you have to be there right at the beginning. Your organic search strategy has to be considered right at the start of the project. And that search strategy needs to filter through to the content audit – understanding where content is going to be placed. It needs to filter through to the information architecture stage, ensuring that the structure is correct around the content and search strategy. And on the back of that it should fall into design and build in a way that's fairly straightforward. You're then at the point where you've got the right foundations for search."
Dealing with data
Though the focus is inevitably on the launch of any campaign, when it comes to looking at data, this is the beginning rather than the end of the story.
"The brands that we see doing best in digital are the ones who understand their data best," says Wells. In the past this meant relying on disparate methods of analysis. "Now, with newer platforms and technology – Sitecore for example - we're able to work with customers, look at the data, look at the audience and actually prescribe the user-journey we want people to go down as we engage with them. That strategy can be put in place right at the beginning of the project and be constantly checked and progressed throughout."
While agility and flexibility are key, Wells acknowledges that the speed with which digital technology moves means specific strategies must themselves remain fluid. What works this year may need revising next. But remaining nimble, adaptable and open to change is a surefire way for brands to protect – and see measurable returns on – the investments they make in digital.
Best Practice in Practice – 10 Tips For Design & Build
- Choose you partner agency on who they are – as people!
- Get the background on senior figureheads leading all key roles within the agency
- Ask about their internal project management processes and methodology, status updates and meetings
- Ensure you know your SLA, response times, maintenance and support retainers
- Ensure you know how they and you will measure the ongoing success of the project
- Ensure you have portability
- Ensure you have performance
- Ensure you have scalability
- Ensure you have targeted content
- Ensure you have data and information
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