Posted 01.08.2013

Your Audience Isn’t Permanent

One of the things I’ve learned lately is that your audience isn’t permanent.

If anything, blogging will teach you this. You have to keep feeding “the beast.” You have to keep creating quality content for people to keep coming back.

Music will teach you this. A band will produce an awesome first album. After a while, their second and third album sound just like the first. It all sounds the same. They can’t keep their audience.

I think that’s what makes bands like U2 so great. They’ve evolved throughout the years, not only maintaining their current audience, but bringing in new followers. They’ve had to reinvent their sound numerous times in order to produce something great.

The greatest artists and creators of content, understand that their audience isn’t permanent. They aren’t entitled to anything. No assumptions are made. The time they have with their audience is a gift. Therefore, they make the most of it.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It keeps the creators of content accountable. It pushes people to make something new and better than before.

How have you seen this play out? Is audience loyalty / disloyalty good or bad?

39 Things to do to Guarantee a Perfect Site Launch

Many times, when people get ready to launch a site, they’re so excited about going live and calling the product finished, that they don’t do an adequate job of making sure the site is really and truly complete. It’s easy to do. I’m guilty. You’re ready to share what you’ve been working on for weeks, months even. But, skipping these steps doesn’t provide the quality that your clients need.

Over the years, I’ve compiled a launch checklist of items that help guarantee a perfect site launch. This list ensures I’ve dotted the final i and crossed the final t.

  1. No spelling errors
  2. Content is consistent (capitalization, tense / sense of writing, reocurring and common phrases)
  3. Content has been placed consistently
  4. No test content
  5. Page and content formatting has been tested
  6. Print stylesheets exist and tested
  7. Meta data has been included and is appropriate
  8. Setup accounts on Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools
  9. Sitemap.xml created and submitted to Google and Bing.
  10. For redesigns, make sure old / existing URLs are redirected to relevant new URLs, if the URL scheme is changing.
  11. Images have appropriate ALT text
  12. Page titles are appropriate and SEO friendly
  13. Create metadata descriptions for important pages.
  14. Favicon has been created and displays correctly
  15. Footer includes copyright and a link to the site creator
  16. HTML has passed validation (W3C Validator)
  17. Check for canonical domain issues (e.g. variations in links to should be reduced to a single consistent style)
  18. CSS has passed validation (W3C CSS Validator)
  19. JavaScript is error free (JSLint)
  20. Minify/compress static (JavaScript/HTML/CSS) files
  21. No broken links, internal and external (W3C Link Checker
  22. Check for hard coded links to the staging server
  23. Displays and functions correctly in various browsers (BrowserShots or Litmus)
    • IE7
    • IE8
    • IE9
    • Firefox (Mac + PC)
    • Chrome (Mac + PC)
    • Safari (Mac + PC)
    • Opera (Mac + PC)
  24. Tested at 1024 x 768 Resolution
  25. Tested at larger resolutions
  26. Tested on iPad
  27. Tested on iPhone
  28. Forms have been tested and processed correctly
  29. Required fields have been tested
  30. Forms send to the correct recipient(s)
  31. Check internal search functionality (including relevance of results)
  32. Web statistics package installed and operational (Google Analytics, Clickly, Mint, or StatCounter)
  33. 404 page exists and informative
  34. Full web site build documentation (including platform definition, inventory log, and user, operator, systems, and administrative manuals)
  35. Use robots.txt where necessary
  36. Site backups scheduled
  37. Check and implement caching where necessary
  38. Check download time review and browser compatability: (Google’s Page Speed and Pingdom)
  39. RSS set up (FeedBurner)

Additional Resources / References

The list that I’ve creaed has come from my own personal experience as well as others:

Have I missed anything? Are there other things that you do before launching a site?

Posted 01.04.2013

The Creative Habit

I’ve been reading a lot lately about other creatives and their process. It’s “funny”, typically, everything they say resonates. My process usually mirrors theirs, I’ve just never put words to it.

The Creative HabitThe Creative Habit was written by Twyla Tharp. She’s a famous choreographer in New York and has worked on a stupid number of shows and even won a couple of Tony’s (no big :-) ). Even though what I do, is far removed from dance, our processes are still very similar. She spends a whole chapter talking about scratching.

You know how you scratch away at a lottery ticket to see if you’ve won? That’s what I’m doing when I begin a piece. I’m digging through everything to find something. It’s like clawing at the side of a mountain to get a toehold, a grip, and some sort of traction to keep moving forward and onward….Scratching can look like borrowing or appropriating, but it’s an essential part of creativity.

She goes on to quote a Harvard psychologist who claims there are four ways ideas can be acted upon.

First, you must generate the idea, usually from memory or experience or activity. Then, you have to retain it–that is hold it steady in your mind and keep it from disappearing. Then, you have to inspect it–study it and make inferences about it. Finally, you have to be able to transform it–alter it in some way to suit your higher purposes.

I do this. I scratch through the internet, looking through dozens of RSS feeds in Google Reader. I scratch through Dribbble, Twitter, and Flickr looking for something, anything. Then, when I find something, I retain it, by putting it in Evernote. I’ve told you before, I have over 15,000 notes in Evernote. This is why. I also carry around a moleskine. They might be meaningless to one person, but they hold priceless gems to me.

Everytime I get ready to start a project, I go back through my Evernote account, inspecting. At this point, I’ll usually make a mood board for my clients, pulling ideas that are relevant to their project. When I get ready to push pixels, I begin to transform those ideas into something that is (hopefully) new and unique.

Twyla Tharp was right. Creativity is a habit. I have to constantly be collecting…err… scratching, so that when the moment comes when I have to produce, I have something to pull from.