interface design – don’t be too clever

clever interface that no-one understands

I saw this elegant series of elevator buttons in a building I visited a couple of weeks ago. Most buildings run with B1, B2 or similar for their underground levels, and a G for Ground or L for Lobby.

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense to call the ground floor level zero, and the underground levels should be negative numbers. A moment’s thought about it and you’d work out what was happening, but it’s obviously proven to be such a problem that someone in the building has added the sticker onto the interface to save people the trouble.

When you’re working out how to label everyday things, it’s not necessarily time to be clever at the expense of usability.

b&t bootcamp sydney (8th September 2010)

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the b&t digital bootcamp Sydney (program (pdf)). I thought it was a helpful thing to go to, as it was targeted at marketers who have larger budgets than I’m used to. There were a lot of case studies on show that I’d seen before, but enough new things to make it worth spending the time.

I wasn’t able to stay for the whole day as I had some other work commitments, but during the time I spent there, I heard a lot of different speakers. In general, they promoted their email addresses or corporate websites rather than personal twitter accounts: this usually suggests to me people who aren’t particularly involved in social media, but I think the lessons on display were broader than just social.

Here were a few of the lessons I picked up.

Jules Hall – www.the

talking about your product is about more than features

Making something participatory makes it more memorable. Think about how you can involve people in your communications, and empower them to share your story. How can you set up a community that lets people share these stories (the added benefit is the ease of monitoring what’s being said about you).

create content that is useful for your audience, and happens to mention your brand

eg. AA iPhone App (the British equivalent of the NRMA). Know what kind of things you can drive to, and your customers will drive further, and break down more. Note that the Michelin Guide was originally created to encourage motorists to drive more, presumably so they would need to buy more tyres.

the problem with social media

It’s so easy to get started, you can end up doing a lot without knowing what you’re trying to accomplish. A social media idea must be built on an understanding of our consumers, and solve a need state. At the very least, you need to be monitoring discussion of your brand on twitter, so you can respond to crises in a timely fashion.

Demonstrating what you stand for, by creating valuable experiences that people want to share.

Your creative checklist: – is it useful? – does it entertain? – does it connect (people)? – does it educate?

Brendan Watmore, ninemsn
A lot has changed since 1995. There was a time when you would have to physically travel to another city with an old bromide copy of a logo. Today, this kind of thing is inconceivable – it’s too easy to email files, and electronic workflow has made the workflows even of the mid 90’s unrecognisable.

The same innovations that are providing a lot of channel options are fragmenting the audiences.

People love content. The relationship between audience and content remains the same.

Underbelly 2 years ago was the most downloaded show on ninemsn (250,000 downloads; 1.2M views). The previous leader was McLeod’s Daughters: 3-4000 episodes). This is still with serious barriers – viewers had to download an application before they could download the show.

How do people move around a content-rich site like ninemsn? It’s generally via related links. Sites are tracking how users click around in an effort to provide audiences with what they want.

Some advertisers are starting to tap into that knowledge. There are several approaches to make the most of this: – sponsoring a content hub – a site with heavy branding that keeps the user on the page by providing them with the content they want.

The changing face of online advertising: increasingly, the clickthrough won’t be the goal, but the time spent engaged with the branded content, and the reach that’s achieved. People so often make their actual purchase offline – making tracking more complicated.

We have tools to optimize clicks and track performance, but we’re being dristratcted from the real opportunity. Instead of asking “what’s my clickthrough rate?” ask “why is that person looking at this content in the first place? Targeted content (an unpaid rep with a weight-watcher’s message) led to a much higher rate of engagement with the content.

Tell your story better. A lot of advertisers have a great story that doesn’t come across well in a 30 second ad or a print spot.

A lot of the feedback around the #ausvotes election was that there wasn’t much depth.
online advertising would have provided the opportunity for that depth of interaction.

The line between editorial and commercial with a large publisher. It’s an important line, not often crossed, but it changes depending on the environment. Very strong in news and current affairs, in lifestyle areas, not so strong. It’s not about connecting brand with content that’s already being created, but connecting your brand with what is understood about your audience.

elivra lodewick – adshel

What the outdoor channel is doing to move people to online. There’s nothing traditional about “out of home” advertising anymore. What’s so special about outdoor? what has recently happened to outdoor so it can keep up?

Since the 1960s, time spent out-of-home has doubled. This is a combination of working longer hours, increased commuting time, and a tendency to socialise more and more out of the house.

This means that out-of-home (OOH) advertising – billboards, street furniture, panels in different spaces – is increasingly effective. Achieving reach is becoming more challenging due to increasing fragmentation.

Outdoor is usage-independent. Outdoor ads stand in their own right, every day, for everyone who passes by. 75% of respondents consider it to be non-invasive – they look forward to when an ad changes (this number seems high). 70% of people agree that outdoor is highly impactful.

What works best? Nail peoples’ attention with a crisp, immediate message. An outdoor panel is to the eye what a shout is to the ear. Posters punch you in the face, then pick you up and dust you off.

Outdoor advertising can be made context-relevant.

Outdoor had one major deficiency: lack of accountability, measurability and reach numbers. Following a 5-year development process, a new tracking system has been launched. MOVE: measurement of outdoor visibility and exposure.

A few developments:

  • Bluetooth-enabled phones can receive a message-request from a nearby billboard.
  • APN has rolled out digital screens on the way to and from the domestic airport at Sydney, Melbourne.
  • 260 panel digital network in the Syd International airport as part of its $5M upgrade.
    almost all advertising screens are digital – passengers receive a customized message. Advertisers can sync their messages with arriving flights.
  • 250m x 30m screen in beijing. $32M for a big digital screen. (olympics)
  • A chip in the car key for a car owner can show a greeting message to a car owner.
  • – augmented reality billboard in times square in june.


Kevin Walsh –

Google doesn’t know what is the “best value credit card”, but people watching what’s happening don’t necessarily know. If search knew the actual answer to questions like “best value credit card”, then all the marketers could go home. But search is fundamentally flawed.

  • 95% of all australian internet users search
  • 56% search at least once a day
  • 7 pages of results during each session

Customer service function: imagine if a phone caller had to ask 7 times before ge
tting the right answer. But this is the case for search.

Search is worth an estimated $1bn in australia – and Google has 90%+ market share.

$1 out of every $2 spent on digital is spent on search. But this is puffed up by people who only use online search in their advertising and it doesn’t include SEO or organic search tactics

People are starting to use URL search as navigation (ie they type the URL into the search box).

Paid search has been the realm of digital agencies, while organic search is the realm of those who set up websites themselves. Massive difference between what works in each.

There are different types of campaigns to run: campaign-based search and “always on” search. A lot of marketers sell based on the tools they have available.

Guideline of whether you have your SEO/SEM balance right? 70% of traffic should be coming from organic search, and 30% should be coming from paid search. if you’re 60/40 the other way, then you’re under-utilizing organic search. if it’s 20/80, then you’re under-usitilising the organic search techniques, and over-spending on paid search.

39% of searchers make a purchase
67% of search users are driven to search by an offline channel.

if you run a TV campaign, you should be running an online campaign in conjunction with that, with search as call-to-action for advertising.

Be careful, though. Your competitors can easily interfere with this kind of campaign: the trademark protection in search is pretty lax.

If you’re asking people to search for a term, make sure you’re in the top of the search results. eg. “we killed the asterisk” NAB campaign. Bankwest targeted it with “we saved the asterisk”

Things to watch out for:

  • beware on trying to be #1 for this list of terms.
  • beware of customers guaranteeing that you’ll be number one for a search. Black hat tactics can be penalized by google.

John Galloway – Don’t call it “the year of mobile” the hyper factory

It’s not a year, it’s more like a decade.

  • mobile click-through rates are 1-5% vs online – 0.05%
  • 25% of FB visits are via mobile
  • twitter’s mobile web activity increased 347% (2009)
  • youtube mobile web activity increased 160% (2009)
  • mobile cost per action 5 times more cost effective than online
  • Eric Schmidt (Google) predicts mobile advertising to surpass online
  • Mobile consumers are engaged hunters, not impressionable browsers
  • There are 4 times more mobiles than PCs
  • A Definition of Mobile Marketing: the set of practices that enable organisations to engage, communicate and mutually exchange value with their audience in an interactive, contextually relevant manner through any mobile device or wireless network.

    On-deck (eg vodafone live: – free-to-access, walled garden) vs Off-deck (outside the walled garden)

    Social Networking: social agencies are talking about how to make mobile part of their comms strategy.

    Don’t get the tools confused with actual strategies.
    SMS / mobile-web wap / mobile VOD / direct ### response / mobile TV / mobile search / Integrated media support / RSS / bar or image code / gaming, mobile music / content downloads / bluetooth
    None of these are strategies: they’re components of strategy.

    mobile subscribers (thousands)
    VHA: 6,895 (+584)
    Optus 8,224 (+591)
    Telstra 10,387 (+681)
    Total 25,506 +1,856

    mobile subscribers: 25,506 (119% of population)
    = 7.8% growth in less than 1 year.
    source: Nielsen report on mobile devices, 2009

    mobile coupons
    – measurable, single-use coupons within reach of most Australians
    – Mobile coupons to reach 12 billion by 2014
    – 57 percent of consumers say they want to receive a coupon on their phone

    Based on google searching, people are actively looking for your brand.
    Mobile behavior is “snacking” – people use mobile internet when they have some downtime.

    Client: I have to have an iPhone app.
    You: Great! Why?

    You can do amazing things on an iPhone app, but the ROI might not be there. A gimmicky iPhone app may be cool, but people will keep it for 2 weeks, and then get rid of it.

    Australia: 12-15% of the population have smart phones – not all of these are iPhones.

    Location-based services, on behalf of a brand. 42% interested in LBS ads/ offers
    Allows parents to locate kids (yike!)
    Social networking: over 800M people worldwide will be in a social network by 2012.

Book: They Were Pilgrims

Book: They Were Pilgrims

It’s been a while since I finished reading a book – I’ve been doing a lot more skimming of different books (or starting books), and trying to learn Hebrew vocabulary, so this feels like an achievement of sorts. This book is a collection of 4 biographies of Christians who lived in the 1700s and 1800s, none of whom lived beyond 31.

David Brainerd (1718-1747), Henry Martyn (1781-1812), Robert Murray McCheyne (1813-1843), and Ion Grant Neville Keith-Falconer (1856-1887) were all remarkable in the scholarship, and their various life achievements, but also in their passion to go to remote peoples and share the Christian gospel with them.

What do I gain by reading these biographies of people who I’ve already out-lived? On the one hand, a sense of terrible inadequacy. What have I done with my life, really, when by their ages, they’d gone and done amazing things in unreached parts of the world? The person who loaned me the book had a more comforting perspective. Do the most you can with what you’ve been given, knowing that God will raise up people who will accomplish these things as He needs them.

If you’re not a believer, what might you get from this book? A sense of the way the world was in a bygone age, where travel was far more life-threatening, where people – even those weighed down with illness – could summon up the courage to follow their dreams. And perhaps a sense of a passionate faith that you might not get the chance to see very often these days.

DVD: Green Zone

DVD: Green Zone

Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass (who worked on the second and third Bourne movies) team up again to tell a story about the WMDs that were missing in Iraq. It’s a political thriller, meets and action movie. Not bad, but not amazing either. If you like Matt Damon and explosions, then you should watch it. If not, then you probably won’t get much out of the film.

Fix espresso, Surry Hills

Fix espresso, surry hills

Toby’s estate coffee. 54 Foveaux St, Surry Hills. I’ve spotted the Toby’s sandwich board on the street a few times, but never made the journey up the arcade to find this little place. There are a few seats inside against the glass wall, and a series of couches nearby further up the arcade.

The barista is up for a chat if you’re interested, and the prices are good. $3.20 for a large coffee, and no decaf tax. If that is too much for you, then there’s also a buy 8, get 1 free card for regular customers.

The menu is really simple: toast, croissants, bagels, banana bread. The decaf coffee is pre-ground and bought weekly. It’s a well-made, but tasted a bit metallic to me – not my favourite cup.

Kay Geez Cafe, Kogarah

Kay Geez Cafe, Kogarah

Aroma cafe. Shop A1, 5-9 Belgrave St, Kogarah. It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to check out a new cafe in Kogarah. This one – on a corner – has a mix of indoor and outdoor seating, and a big amount of the indoor space taken up with the counter and coffee machine.

Impressively for a small place, they have a good range of food options, including some clearly labelled gluten free options. They also have aroma-branded keep cups up for sale, for those who have an interest in being seen interested in helping the environment.

Ask one of the helpful staff for a decaf grinder, and – once you’ve paid the 50c decaf tax – you’ll be able to get a smooth, earthy decaf latte.

Central cafe and bar, haymarket

Central cafe and bar, haymarket

Dimattina coffee. Shop 2, 18 Lee St, Sydney. With a high ceiling, (split level in places), this licenced place offers live jazz music on Friday nights. In the evenings, it’s a bar, but in the mornings, there’s an elaborate (if pricey) breakfast menu. Service is variable, but largely depends on staff levels and how busy the place is.

They have a decaf grinder, where the coffees are ground to order. Hot, slightly thin coffee: quite pleasant.

St Moritz chocolate lounge, cafe bar darling harbour

St Moritz chocolate lounge, cafe bar darling harbour

Campos coffee. Shop 109/2 Darling Drive, Habourside Shopping Centre. This is an upmarket place – a large decaf latte and some vegemite toast goes for $9.50 – but the quality is certainly there. If you’re looking for a place in Darling Harbour to escape the filter coffee that so often goes with conferences, then this place is close enough that you can sneak over.

Having their own decaf grinder, and a couple of friendly staff, the quality is really high. They offer a smooth, slightly nutty decaf ready to drink.

Terakaza cafe, Pyrmont

Terakaza cafe, pyrmont

Danes coffee. 252/243 Pyrmont St, Pyrmont. You’ll only find this place if you’re taking a pedestrian overpass from harbourside back towards Harris St: I chanced upon it one day, and – seeing the Danes sign – logged it away for future reference.

Though it doesn’t have much in the way of natural light to recommend it, the wooden furniture and cheery attitude of the staff is enough to drag you in from the corridor in search of food, cakes, or perhaps a sandwich

There’s no decaf grinder – the decaf is preground in a (sealed) glass jar. Nonetheless, the coffee (though slightly thin) is pleasant and drinkable.

There’s also a bathroom (for customers only). An obscure little gem.