So my birthday is just around the corner and I am having some friends and family over for a cookout this weekend! I'm excited! Not only because it's my bday, but I am exhausted from all the planning and work that has gone into it and am ready to reap the rewards. I have been doing little stuff around the house for about a month now, and every night for the past two weeks these efforts have been intensified.
So how the heck is planning a party like building a website?! Well you may see it as bit of a stretch, but here are the similarities I have found...
Lots of planning.
Knowing what kind of party? Is it a pool party, a club party, a board game party. The same goes for a website. What type of website is it going to be? A development site, a reconstruction site, a goofy holiday site. Know the type of party or site will determine the next steps.
Who are you going to invite? Who is the website's target audience?
What you are going to do at the party? Will there be a pool, a mechanical bull, Cards Against Humanity? What features will your website have? Will it have a featured slider, a photo gallery, a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section?
What kind of food will you be serving? You need to make sure the food your serving matches the party type and who is invited. Same goes for a website. What type of content are you going to be serving up? It needs to match the type of website and the audience you are trying to reach.
How do you layout all you activities and foods? You need to make it easy for you party goers to get the drinks and food while still having fun. On a website, you want to layout the easiest flow for your audience to get the information they want. Wire frames can help in this process.
The Doing Stage
Now that we know the type of party we have to get ready for it. You have to clean, organize, and maybe do a little construction to get prepared. Well now you know the type of website, your audience, its features, the content, and the layout, you need to actually start building and organizing all of this information. This is the development stage of website. As with the party, it is sometimes a long, exhausting part of the process. It's the stage I am currently at with my party. But the fun is to follow the work.
Prep your food/content so it will be ready at the big event.
If you are going to have any guests or visitors this is the part where you invite them and give them a heads up about the events to come. Same way a teaser works for a movie.
And finally it's time to cash in on all the hard work and planning. It's the day of your invite. Don't lose contact with your guests. Make sure they know how to get to your party/site when it's time. So enjoy the fun, but don't forget to put those dogs on the fire and post some new content to your site.
So today is my two year anniversary at Old Hat Creative. Much like my very first blog, this one will touch on a few things. A lot has changed for me in the last few years, though it seems to be settling down with much of the change coming in the first few months of that stretch two years ago.
The NBA Finals wrapped up last night with Golden State winning their first title in 40 years, finishing off one of the great seasons in NBA history. The Warriors are classy group with a likable cast including Steph Curry, Andre Iguodala and Steve Kerr. Kerr was one of my favorite Bulls back in the day (other than Michael and Scottie) and Kerr has enjoyed success at many of his career stops including playing, coaching or broadcasting. The Warriors also held off a spectacular series performance by one of the great players in history in LeBron James. I've been a LeBron fan for a long time but continue to be amazed / disappointed by all of the hate that's slung his way in spite of his on-court performance. Granted LeBron brings some of it on himself with actions like "The Decision" and "Not one, not two, not three, etc", but he is already one of the top 10 of all-time with several good years left. LeBron and MJ are often compared, many times unfairly because they are different types of players. Can't we be fans of both? I know I am. Jordan won four of his six titles in his 30s and LeBron, who just turned 30, already has two championships under his belt. Even though LeBron is just 2-4 in the Finals, that still holds up when compared to other legends such as Jerry West (1-8 Finals record), Wilt Chamberlain (2-5) or Karl Malone (0-3). Imagine what it would be like if Jordan, West or Chamberlain played in the social media era?
The New York Times reported yesterday that the St. Louis Cardinals were being investigated by the FBI for hacking the Houston Astros player evaluation computer database. We will see how this turns out, but the Internet has already had fun with this one and will call into question the accomplishments of the Cardinals over the last decade. I'm not condoning the hacking/cheating, but this has to be a lesson to create stronger passwords and don't re-use old ones. Especially if you're moving from one organization to a rival one!
Old Hat goes to 11 …. NACMAs. Another successful convention is wrapping up. A time to meet old friends and make some new ones. If you liked what you saw at NACMA or maybe weren't able to attend, check out the ways we use our experience and expertise to make you look good. Like Old Hat Sports Branding. Or court projection videos. Or Fanswers and Fangage. Maybe a print piece, large or small, is what you need. We will make you look good.
Analytics are a big part of my job. To be more specific, Google Analytics are a big part of my job. We install this tool on almost all of our sites. We do analytic reports for our clients and I am constantly monitoring the analytics for our sites.
Users web habits interest me. Through analytics, you can trace a users path as they navigate your site and find out what pieces of content are the most valuable to the user. If they are a frequent visitor of your site, they typically have an exact path of getting to your site and then to the content they want to see. Studying these habits or trends is the best way to understand who your users are and what they want.
Google has an add on for Chrome that allows you to see the stats while still surfing the web. Any time I go to OldHatCreative.com, I can see what people are doing on the site right then and there.
If you are going to NACMA next week and end up on our website, I will probably be studying you. Seeing what content you like and what content you ignore. It will help when we redesign the site and it will help make navigating our site, easier for you.
I realized this morning that NACMA is less than three weeks away...and started to get a tiny bit stressed.
We still have lots to do! NACMA is a team effort around here, and nearly everyone in the office is contributing in some way. There's been hotel reservations, party invitations...trailer rentals and graphics environmental. A photo shoot and ordering loot. Booth construction and office obstruction. And I don't have enough brain power to think of more rhyming phrases. Instead, I'll turn my attention to checking more off our list.
Old Hat Clients - make sure to watch your mail and email for more information soon!
Every failure is a lesson. Honestly, the blog could stop here. I know better than to start a blog or a presentation with the final point, but it is how I am going to roll today. If you want to stop reading, just click here.
Thanks for staying with me to this point, I will do my best to make it worth your time. Failure. It sucks, but we all go through it. I am a firm believer that you should constantly be learning and I have said as much in quite a few blogs. Every interaction and every experience is an opportunity to learn. I wish I could say that I always keep that in my mind, but I am human and prone to forget. However, when it comes to failure, I make a point to think back of the situation to see what lessons could be learned.
Recently, we failed on a bid for a project. It happens. We get to do a lot of amazing work, but we also do not always have the winning bid. It is a part of the business and always will be, but what we learn from those failures goes a long way toward us not failing the next time we place a bid. Based on what you have read so far, it is fair to be wondering what the lesson from this failure was and that is the reason I asked you to keep reading. Unfortunately, there has not been a clear lesson from this failure. We obviously failed because we are not doing the project, but the reasoning behind that is something that was entirely out of our control and I HATE IT. I want to learn and improve so I can blog about the amazing project we are working on, not my failure. I want to be better the next time we put out a bid.
As an important person in my life told me, maybe that is the lesson. You cannot control every aspect and you cannot always fix what went wrong. This is not a new lesson, but it is a lesson nonetheless.
Meow, if we wanted to talk about lessons I have learned recently from failures, we could discuss my garden or in all honesty, my pile of dirt, but that is a blog for another day.
When I was in school we had classes that “taught” us how to brainstorm and come up with ideas. For some reason that firmly placed in my mind the idea that good ideas came to you like a bolt of lightning. All of sudden you had this amazing idea, like a lightning bolt in the night.
Turns out, my young mind could not be more inaccurate to what I experience now.
Most of the time a good idea takes time. It involves back and forth between people and getting through a lot of bad ideas. It is definitely a process and it is a process that is almost always going on at Old Hat in one way or another.
It is interesting to me that my mood can dictate the best way for me to come up with ideas at the time. There are three ways I typically brainstorm. Each produces results, but which prefer varies.
The normal method of getting a group together and discussing it. This is probably my favorite and one that I think produces some of the best results. I am very fortunate to be surrounded by so many creative and talented people. Surrounding myself with those same people while brainstorming can be incredibly beneficial. It allows me to borrow some of their genius and feed off of the creativity they bring to the table. It produces results and can be fun.
Another method I use a lot is more isolated. I will meet with the involved parties and get an idea for what they are looking to accomplish. If there is copy that needs to be written or a template, I make sure to get that information. Then I typically lock myself to my desk, put the head phones in, and start typing. I type a lot of crap, but eventually I find my way to something that is worth sharing with others. This method works great if you work alone and then take your findings to a group like above.
This is probably the most natural brainstorming for me and it is pretty much in complete isolation. It is not something that I view as direct brainstorming, but it works. In fact, this is probably more inspiration than it is brainstorming. Sometimes ideas come that can be built upon and this results in brainstorming. For me, I need to be completely relaxed and not thinking about a problem. That is when good ideas tend to come. Interestingly enough this never happens for me at a convenient time. In the shower. Fishing. Hiking. Working in the garden. On vacation. It seems that I have better (or more useful) ideas the more relaxed I am.
All of these instances are places when good ideas come, but not a place where it is easy to record the notes. My girlfriend hates when she sees me walk off talking to my phone when we are on vacation, but I have to record my thoughts. Siri is a great help for this and while I may seem like a crazy person, I usually have her take my notes. I have also been given some waterproof writing pads. I can take these in the shower or out in the rain and write anything without worry about the water.
Brainstorming can be hard. Coming up with new ideas is hard. However, I have found that the more I learn about myself the easier it becomes. Finding that right balance of focus and relaxation is key for me.
Websites are every where and cover every topic under the sun. People jump on the internet constantly to find out the latest information, so I thought I would list out what the top 10 most influential websites that have changed the way people live their lives. These websites are strictly my opinion. Also I am keeping this list as work safe as possible, but a few sites may be border line work appropriate (or can be inappropriate based on your account) and I will mark those with an asterisk (*). Ok, so I'm starting at the top of the list for most influential websites because well, the top ones are so easy it leaves no suspense. Anyways here we go!
Google (google.com) - An obvious choice. You need an answer, then Google it. I don't know if I go a day without hearing some reference to Google. It's the number one search engine on the web and the default home page for millions of users. I didn't check this fact but I'm pretty sure it's true ;)
Facebook (facebook.com) - Another easy choice. Millions of users log on to this website everyday to check the latest gossip from friends. It's so influential on people's lives that some people have become addicted to it. It can even cause depression, because it always looks like others are having more fun than you, especially if you're at work and they are bathing in the Florida or California sun on Spring Break.
*Twitter (twitter.com) - Have you ever realized how often we refer to this site. When was the last time you heard someone say, "I'm going to tweet this!". Probably not too long ago, unless you have been living under a rock. People go to it for the news, to send messages to celebrities (though sometimes it would be better if they didn't), and post random thoughts, all while keeping it under 140 characters. Still don't understand why they chose that number but anyways… Twitter is kind of a big thing too.
Paypal (paypal.com) - One of the most relied on Payment Gateways on the web. It's not one of the websites that just jumps out at you as one of the most influential sites, but has definitely been a game changer on the backend. Though not without some controversy in its early days, Paypal is now looked upon by users as one of the most trustworthy ways to buy goods on online. Many major store fronts use their payment system.
YouTube (youtube.com) - Another giant of a website, that has brought people together to laugh at skateboarders wiping out, smile & awe at cute cat videos, watch music videos that MTV no longer plays, and so much more.
Amazon (amazon.com) - This site really needs no introduction. It is the place to go when you need to buy something on the web. If you have made any purchases online, odds are good that you have used this site.
Ebay (ebay.com) - Need to buy or sell something and think online is the best place, then you have probably visited this site. It is (or was) the Mecca of trying to get a bargain on used goods.
Yahoo (yahoo.com) - Yahoo used to be big in the email game, but has lost some ground due to frequent hackings, but that is not why it made this list. It's news feed is one of the most used news feeds on the web.
AOL (aol.com) - We are going old school on this one. Childhood memories of the ear screeching noises from the old dial up internet modem still haunt my dreams. Haha Not really, but they were annoying, and you better be sure to unplug or shut off the speakers when sneaking on at night, because that sound was sure to wake you parents as they slept. There was nothing like getting all those discs in the mail with free hours. We found many alternative uses for them over the years. Sadly, I still have some I use as coasters for my night stand. Until NetZero came on the scene, AOL was the only means for many to get online.
*The Chive (thechive.com) - This one might surprise you, but read on to find out why it made the list. What once was just a goofy, random blog that liked to post pictures of stunningly beautiful ladies, has now become a force to be reckoned with in the charity giving scene. Regular blog readers have joined together time and time again to help people they don't even know, thus spawning their charity organization known as Chive Charities (chivecharities.com). But the giving hasn't stopped there. These members have started using social media to come together in local chapters to directly impact the people around them, thus forming the Chive Nation. They are comely referred to as Chivers & Chivettes and can regularly be seen wearing KCCO (Keep Calm and Chive On) and Bill Murray shirts. They a huge supporters of all branches of the United States Armed Forces. Though the sites influence may not be as wide spread as some of the others, its influence in people's lives is far more direct and a physical manifestation than the others.
MySpace (myspace.com) - The social media website that got the ball rolling. It's kind of went downhill ever since Tom did the smart thing and took the money and ran.
*Instagram (instagram.com) - If you like looking at photographs and not reading a lot of text, then Instagram is probably your choice in social media and although it has millions of users, I did not find it as influential as the ones listed above in that it did not affect the way people lived as much, other than people taking photos of their food.
*Craigslist (craigslist.com) - Another big site for buying and selling goods and services. Just be careful not to go into the dark depths of craigslist… There are just somethings you don't need to purchase.
Great staff photo, huh? Only, that's not us. And that will never be us. We don't wear power suits or ties. We wear jeans, t-shirts, ballcaps, athletic shorts... pretty much whatever we want.
I was looking at our "About Us" page the other day and I couldn't believe how corporate looking I had allowed it to become. All our staff photos looked like we belonged in a photo like the one above. But that's not us. So I decided to spend my morning getting US back into our about us page. There are no major changes here but it's a much better representation of who we are than it was before. This page doesn't include our entire staff, by the way. Just the people you're likely to come into contact with when you deal with us. Though after spending some time working on this page, I think we probably need to get our entire staff on here.
Earlier this week, Ashley and I adventured to Kansas City to attend the 2nd Annual Sports Fan Engagement Forum. Despite what it sounds like, this was not a forum where attendees return engaged to be married…sorry Mom. Instead, attendees learn about engaging with fans in the stadium during games and at home during the offseason through various technological channels.
Although we might not directly deal with these topics and issues being discussed, our clients do. It was very interesting to hear what these teams go through no matter if they are college, minor league, or major league teams. I think learning more about what our clients are dealing with will help us create better solutions for them.
While in town, we were provided the opportunity to tour Sporting Kansas City’s soccer stadium. What a place! It was so nice, and every last detail was taken into consideration. The carpet and interior in the suite level is black and white to represent the soccer ball. The lower level – field level – has brown and green wall accents to pay tribute to the field. Even parts of the ceiling/lights are hexagons to reflect the soccer ball.
We also got to see the team’s locker room, which is fully equipped with Ferarri racing chairs for every player. This chair is $4,000!!!
Overall, I’m glad that Ashley and I attended this forum. We learned some new things, made new friends, connected with old ones, and had a lovely time.
So yesterday was my day to blog, and I completely forgot because I got wrapped up in a new Old Hat Project that is really, really cool! I am not going to say too much about it, but will give you a clue. It involves neat logos like these:
So why to picture of my dog in the snow?! Because nothing is as cool as my dog in the snow!