Don’t think you need a new Performing Arts website? … Think Again

Important meeting with V.I.M.

Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, right? I got to spend 4 days and nights at Disneyland. I had multiple touch points with the brand while?there for a work conference. I spent most of my time in the Disneyland Convention Center. Here the Disney touch was in evidence all around. The convention space was convenient, well designed, easy to navigate and I even got to take a photo with Mickey and Minnie during one of the breaks. It was a great experience all around.

My second touch point was the hotel. I stayed at the Grand Californian, the overflow hotel. The room was nice, quiet but a little worn in ways that I had not seen before at a Disney property. But, there was also turndown service that put mints on my bed so I am still calling it good.

Once the conference was over, I met my wife and went to Disneyland – the happiest place on earth…and everyone on earth was there. We went to a few of our favorite rides but left before we had spent 5 hours there. According to staff it was not close to a maximum capacity day. It was just an uncomfortable experience at a theme park.

If ever there was a need for dynamic pricing for a better patron experience, this was it. I would have paid nearly double to be able to have only half as many people in the park that day.

Even a great entertainment brand has trouble maintaining service levels as the traffic increases.

Which brings me to your website?

We tell clients that after 2 years your site probably needs a refreshed look, feel and functionality. And yes, we sell web services. But, there are a whole host of reasons your website may need an upgrade: Mobile responsiveness is a need not a want. SEO is necessary if you want to be found in this Google-dominated digitalscape we live in. And making sure you are as few clicks away as possible from conversion is just best practice. So, when you think to yourself that my five-year old website is bulletproof ?because it is still functional; check your traffic, conversions and purchase path and then rethink because chances are your status quo can be catapulted.

If you have that hot ticket that everyone wants, you may find that your bulletproof website can?t direct the traffic or optimize conversions.

Re-think your site from you visitor? perspective and it will be a happy place.

-John Olchak

The VR Glass is half full

It turns out when you start dealing with AR and VR and all the requests for one or the other, you are quickly pulled down a rabbit hole that would leave Alice bewildered.

As you may know, we have done a lot of web apps involving Google Earth and when Google decided to walk away from Google Earth, we were first concerned and then moved most of our clients over to Google Maps and finally with the partnership?of a crafty client, we developed a replacement.

(I am getting to the VR part) The new environment is easier to manage than Google Earth and since our client loves to work in/on the paradigm of scripting languages, we have been making break neck progress.

In this new environment, we provide the X, Y, Z, R, Y, P, Xn, Yn, Zn and we get to define the position, zoom, roll, yaw and pitch and we can place anything in to the environment.? None of this is newsworthy of course. But (here comes my favorite part), it turns out that in our attempt to make the admin of our ARTdynamix™ CMS easy to use and yet versatile as all get out, we have created a really nice WCM for the VR folks.

We had already been using ARTdynamix™? for augmented reality to talk to various beacons and to provide specific content based on positioning or geo-fencing. We have also been overlaying video, audio, and images on top of triggers of all kind.? (All of this occurs through use of web services and handshakes with various applications )

Here is the newsworthy part:? Imagine any 3D environment that has basic content translation built-in (in this case our client’s amazing work) then you can utilize the admin interface of ARTdynamix™? to enter the time, location, stage size, avatarID (audio, video, construct – still or animated, text …), orientation and zoom.? You can import the sequence from an excel spreadsheet and be on your way to demonstrating a civil war battle on your App/Site with correct date and event sequence and have the content pop up on the side of the screen to support the visual of the story.? The possibilities are difficult to enumerate – but just imagine.

If you want this tomorrow, it is not quite done yet but next week probably. I am happy to say that our good friend and client Ken J. is at the leading edge of VR content development and we are blazing new trails on this bumpy road to VR Nirvana. (But much of this is ready to roll now and already in use.)

P.S.? Between the time I wrote this and tried to post it, I had a very exciting conversation with an amazing engineer that is developing compression algorithms for 3D environments that are really phenomenal so the gap time — and thus the associated sense of nausea — would nearly disappear.? (so maybe VR will mature before 2023 — but that is a conversation for another time, location, stage size and construct. ?

Augment those angry birds

Yeah, yeah … it is not that the new Angry Bird’s movie comes from a game that is compelling about the story. All of that is well known fact.

What is interesting about the Angry Bird movie release is the fact that the marketing of the movie involves augmented reality.

In order to build a buzz around the opening of the movie, Rovio ? the makers of the game ? created a big AR promotional campaign to grab the hearts of the players, and attract new audiences to both the game and the movie.

The campaign introduced the brand new game ? Angry Birds Action! ? in which the famous little birds are main characters of a puzzle set in a top-down 3D world. Next, they introduced a series of QR codes that were added to the movie?s official merchandising, cross promotional campaigns and credits. In order to activate additional features, you will need to scan the code.

The codes have been cross promoted by brands ranging from McDonald?s to Lego.? Once the code has been scanned, then you get to enjoy exclusive content, and activate new features in the game.

Every cross promotion has its own special branded mini-game and to play all the games, it will be necessary to scan the code for every cross promotion which incentivizes the fans to visit the promoter?s location and make a purchase in order to get their hands on new games.

This is a quite sophisticated promotional technique, which for the first time is taking advantage on the wider reaches of AR.? The campaign was made possible by Zapper for Rovio.? A job well done!?If you want to add Augmented Reality to your project, just give us a call. (We already have some great applications in the works that I’ll be telling you more about soon.)

Happy Bird Out.

I know it’s a pain but you have to do it

I count myself among the many who groan at automatic password changes, passwords that aren’t easy to memorize…and just about any security measure that makes things less ‘handy’. I do it because I have to do it…and probably because I tell others they have to do it.

But the recent hacking at Target, is reinforcement. http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-target-encrypted-pin-breach-20131227,0,1295751.story#axzz2pJ8FvT3e

The fact is…we (and you) now are obligated as web providers, employers, clients and folks who manage other’s data. The simple things do matter and as much as we want to pass them by…don’t do it.

Here are a few simple musts — I’m sure our tech team will have many to add:

Make your password complex – and don’t be obvious
Don’t give everyone access to your network -have separate ones where possible. Change that password often
Don’t join just any network
Don’t upload files that you are not sure of to your network, website or internal file system
Don’t turn-off the auto-logoff on your computer/site.
DON’T open the emails you don’t know – even if you are curious.

Let common sense prevail and remember…it might be a pain but it has to happen.

Binge TV Watching – How it can/should impact your web site?

Recently, I saw a discussion (CNN as I recall) regarding the changing habits of TV viewers and primarily how netflix has impacted those habits. (As an aside, Netflix shows us that major stumbles can be turned around.)

The discussion surrounded the recognition that many folks are now watching whole TV series in one sitting – i.e. binge TV. I am one of those viewers. They were using the ‘House of Cards’ as an example because Netflix launched the entire season on the same day.

But I do think there was an element lacking from this discussion. I don’t sit on the couch or lounge and watch 12 hours of TV. While I might find that a nice break, I don’t do that and don’t believe it’s typical. In reality, I am usually on my computer working and my iPad is running through the season next to me. My attention to each of the activities varies greatly – I often am rewinding because I realize I’ve missed 45 minutes.

But what do my and others viewing habits have to do with your web site? Same song – different verse.

It’s all about competition for the eyeballs. Can your web site stand up to a great TV series or movies online? How do you compete for the visitors eyeballs? What attracts their attention might be about design, information, the 3 second impact….but it also might be about when they are browsing?

Consider this….does it matter when someone is browsing your site?

Might someone during the workday be more apt to search sites without volume or flashy images that capture your eyes and others?
Might a Saturday afternoon movie watch need to get right to the information because their attention span is shorter?
Might someone eating dinner, using the iPad and talking with the family be looking for different content?

Might this depend on your business? Yup. These are things I think about every day — (even as I am web surfing).

Cowpath Website Navigation

We’ve all heard the experts and read the articles about the best way to set up your web’s information design. Graphics, detailed menus, right navigation, left navigation, heat maps, intuitive, topical, functional – STOP STOP STOP.

I propose Cow-Path navigation design.  Behnam Ataee, CTO of Dream Warrior Group, Inc. shows his expertise every day when designing and implementing the information design on web sites from The Arts to E-Commerce. He consults with clients about their goals, researches and then uses his knowledge of user behavior to design the best possible initial site navigation.

But is that enough? I say it’s the ideal and necessary start but we can’t stop there. This is where observation and analytics come in to the picture. Now that we have a logical and amazing looking navigation, we need to see what happens. Because (and I know this is a shock), people don’t always act logically. As marketers and developers, we need to see what is happening – figure out why and if we can and adopt the navigation schema to behavior.

Certainly, we still want to design a site that funnels folks to the desired end… But they may have a better way to get there. Or, it may not be better but it was they want… give them what they want.

As I was discussing this with our new friend and client, John Olchak from The The San Diego Repertory Theatre, he likened it to landscape designers who don’t put in the concrete sidewalks until they see where people are making their own paths. Smart. I recalled my college days at UWSP. Outside the Science and Natural Resources building there were signs saying ‘Don’t make cow-paths!” because the student body was forever cutting corners and tearing up the grass (I confess to nothing). For the record, good design is not making paths for students that involve any amount of extra steps from the library to the business building.

So, with Web site navigation I say “Let’s embrace the cow-paths”. Check out your analytics how are people getting to your desired goal/conversion? Can we make that navigation easier and more enticing for others? So, don’t ever pour concrete on your web site. Leave the navigation open to change to match the cow-path or add a second path. Keep it simple, clean and give the visitors what they want.
Now… are your visitors not converting or choosing to make a path to your goal page? That’s another blog and conversation about goals, page content and ease of conversion. We’ll talk soon.

Mooo