Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wake-Up & Smell the Caffeine

Google, a favorite search engine of many people, has recently updated the way that it finds relevant pages and information. Google is leaving behind its “OLD INDEX” for its newest method called “CAFFEINE”. Google Caffeine searches the web is smaller, more relevant sections, and with greater frequency.

Google Caffeine optimizes search for sites that are frequently updated. It’s mean to bring more relevant search results that depend on NEWS, or BLOGS and Social Networks. Additionally, if the search is mobile – I expect it would be folding GPS data into the search results. It has always been true that the more frequently a site is updated with relevant information – the higher you might rank in a web search. Now, more than ever, that is true. In a previous post I spoke of integrating, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and YouTube into a site for well rounded SEO. If you have not already – start a blog, or company Facebook account, or executive Twitter account. Your clients are connected --- are you?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cell Phone + QR = New Business

Trivia Question: What was the first PRODUCT to use a UPC barcode?

Answer: Double Mint Gum in 1974. Pretty cool - eh?

Today, a more robust technology is likely in your pocket. If your cell phone has a camera in it, there is a good chance you could use QR codes to access new and exciting information. Quick Response (QR) codes are new “two dimensional” bar codes that can be read by your cell phone camera and link directly to websites, videos, and shopping carts – just about anything online. These codes are blocky square images that you will start seeing more and more in your favorite magazine, or movie poster or store. Aim your camera phone at it, and once scanned – your phone can provide additional information about a particular product, promotion, or service.

For example: A potential customer is walking down the street, sees a restaurant bustling with happy customers – looks good, but there is a long line. They could simply scan the QR code posted in the window. In a few seconds via their cell phone they could view the menu and specials, or even make on line reservation for later that day. By doing this the restaurant has extended its visibility far beyond the few seconds it takes a customer to walk by.

The Upside

Here is the real selling point of QR. Currently, they are free and easy to deploy. There are a host of free websites (I used KAYWA: and produce your own set of QR codes linked to your website or contact information for example. Print them on signs or your business cards, t-shirts, or paint them on your car… they will all work. This means that potential customers won’t have to try to remember your web address or phone number. This makes it making your business name “stick” with customers a lot easier. These codes have been used in Japan since 1995, and are now cropping up everywhere here in the US. Because it has a history and culture behind it in Japan – we will likely see a jump in innovative ways that the American culture makes QR codes their own.

The Downside

There are two downsides, but I feel optimistic that these issues could be resolved in the short term. The first issue is ‘mindshare’ – not many people know about this yet – or how to use it. I think once we see it demonstrated on mainstream TV, or movies we can look forward to its use growing exponentially. The second barrier is that there is not yet a unified experience. There are various ‘Apps’ on various platforms – and that market has not stabilized yet. If you have a smart phone (Android, Windows Mobile, Palm Pre, or iPhone) search your catalog and download a QR app. I have heard, but not experienced, that Android phones have an app loaded by default.


What Are Your Thoughts?

Please add comments: HOW COULD YOUR BUSINESS USE QR?

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Joy of Working with Other Artists

Through a better part of the 1990’s I was an elementary school teacher. I set up my classroom into collaborative groups, or tables, that students could work in. While this did cause its share of disciplinary problems, the benefit of allowing students to work with each other was rather astounding. When given a task, a group leader naturally rose to lead the group. I found it interesting often the “project leader” (chosen by the group not the teacher) was usually the student who not only who had a strong idea, but was the one who expressed it best to the group. Once a group all bought into an idea – they were “off to the races” – and usually did a pretty good job with the task at hand. LEARNING HAPPENED.

Today, as designer/developer I value the opportunity, not only to work with many great businesses, but with other artists as well. It is a wonderful experience – collaboration. Each time I work with another artist, I feel like my “game” is elevated. I certainly walk away from each experience with new ideas, new approaches, and always humbled by the creative genius of others. I have worked with musicians, and chefs, and stylists, therapists, and theologians – all incredible artists. I want to take an opportunity to share with you a short list of artists that I have had the pleasure to collaborate with:

Matthew Schaefer ( – Matt, a childhood friend, introduced me to the wonderful world of COLDFUSION programming in 2005. YES – coding is an art form. Matt guided me through the first few steps of learning this programming language – and has always been there to look over misbehaving code or offer a more ‘elegant’ solution.

German Barron – German is a fantastic NYC based photographer. He has photographed artists and live performance in NYC for more than 30 years. In 2006 German and I decided to exchange some of our talents – and headed to Miami for what we called a “creative retreat”. I had my sights set on being a photographer, and German needed some updated computer skills. We spent four days learning from each other – along with a few friends. We explored everything from a New Nikon DSLR and lighting, to HTML, and basic web development - an even had a few cervesas.

Kate Bazazian ( )– a longtime friend, Kate and I began collaborating on photo shoots four years ago. Kate is a wonderful make-up artist and stylist, and often works in TV and films in the NYC area. Our photos sessions sometimes go for hours and hours, and I am often amazed at her energy and creative stamina. She has an incredible eye for detail, contagious laugh, and a complete mastery of her art form.

Lindy Bostrom ( – Lindy and I started collaborating on websites as beginners in the late 1990’s. We learned as much what NOT to do – as we learned what makes an excellent site. Lindy is an illustrator and graphic designer who immerses herself in each project. A student of the late David Passalacqua, Lindy was able to produce a variety of stunning designs in a short period of time. It’s from my experience with Lindy that learned the value or iterative design – and elements of its process.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

PanMedia - Design across all forms

When I started my company few years ago, I struggled with finding a name that was both meaningful and unique. As a design company that spanned multiple disciplines - its was difficult to find ONE selling point. Was I a programmer who could design? A graphic designer who understood programming and analytics? Or was a photographer who knew how to build networks of computers? As it turned out....all of the above. And its turned into a struggle, (scratch that) a quest to find a balance between these multiple personalities.

But the question remained-- what do I call what I do? Being just a web developer sounded limiting. The term MULTIMEDIA came to mind. But that term had two problems as i saw it. First multimedia tended to be media that was just electronic (the web, PowerPoint, email) - and I wanted to continue to work in print, and photography, and even signage.

At some point I remembered a term Douglas Adams used in HITCHHIKERS GUIDE to describe an alien race as "PAN-DIMENSIONAL" -- living across all dimensions. Well that made sense. Pan Am, was an airline that flew ACROSS the Americas. So the idea of PanMedia - design across all media forms came to be.

Because of the multi-disciplinary approach of my business and interests, this blog will vary in topic. From photography, to design, to the role of technology in life and business. I also hope to use this blog, my website, and facebook - as an example to my current and future clients as model for social networking their business. The nature of the Social Networking beast is that it keeps changing. I hope to gain first hand experience as to the amount of time and energy it takes to maintain a website, blog, facebook page, regular work, a new marriage, and my sanity.

Next up...The "Joy" of working with other artists