Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Sticky Widget

Six Minutes.

Now if I told you that someone would spend six minutes on a single page within your web site you might think you were eBay and they were simply watching for the auction to end.

Think about it, six minutes would be a coup for spending time on your entire site, but a single page? What "sticky widget" is holding the audience captive for so long? (and no, it's not Facebook or Twitter)

A map.

That simple, it's that which allowed Columbus to sail through the flatness (yes, that is Columbus' map to the right), that has allowed generals in warfare understand where to place the bait for their enemy to attack, that allows a simple traveler the most basic of insight and context of what they are getting into.

Keep it Simple SideStreet (K.I.S.S. Theory). Simplicity lies in the map. It provides context such as landmarks, distance, relationships, terrain, probably includes major attractions and possibly key services a traveler can use.

So where is the map on your web site? Do a quick audit and find out how many clicks to determine "where" you are. Are you Portland, Maine, Portland, Oregon or Portland, Oklahoma?

No map? Lots of easy to implement, relatively budget-friendly solutions out there. Get one on your site and get any brochure-based maps at least available for download (don't "protect" this resource from consumer use!).

Think about how ubiquitous Google Maps has become as a utility. People like maps, they are visual and "touchy-feely." Just the way we humans like things.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How Facebook Forgot About Web 2.0

If I gave you the acronym "WWF" what would you think it stood for?

If I gave you the acronym "WWW" and you figured it out and the same first two letters were exactly the same as in the first example, what would your guess be then?

Yes, that is right, the World Wide Facebook. All content can be seen by anybody else, but they have to be your friend first, which means they need to find you or you need to find them... And you can create FAN pages and GROUP pages that anyone can become a fan of or join, unless they don't have a Facebook account in which case they need to join Facebook in order to, well, I think you get it...

So step back, let's think about this. We went from a world where static information on the Internet became dynamic information. It became sortable, sharable and down right convenient. The RSS phenomenon meant any content could become ubiquitous - accessible anytime, anywhere, by anyone... No credentials, no creating a profile, no establishment of yet another channel that had to be managed. This was Web 2.0. As you note from this post's title, I think Facebook missed that page in the Internet's history.

Now I am completely sold on the value of Facebook as a tool to manage personal relationships, but where I find Facebook lacking is in its endeavour to become a B2C and B2B channel friendly resource. Again, try "fan"-ing a Fan page in Facebook and while you can read the front page, you are "blocked" from becoming an actual Fan or browsing through additional content.

Now go to YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Wikipedia and see if you have trouble accessing content... No? That is the entire point! Hello, McFly, Hello!!!!

Why is that such a sensitive issue for us here at SideStreet? Well, again, Web 2.0 was a movement all about information access. Facebook has developed barriers. So just create a free profile, log in and there is no barrier you say? Well, in one direction yes, but Web 2.0 was about creating a flow of information that was multi-directional - left, right, up, down, northest, southwest, z-axis, etc.

True social media should be portable. We believe this is a fundamental tenet from the era of Web 2.0, particularly when enabling businesses. So while, yes, I can get in to view Facebook content by joining Facebook, I can't view Facebook content outside of Facebook, and this is where our gripe truly lies.

The posting or "wall" of Facebook is a perfect kernel of information to shoehorn into a business's web site or blog to get an "inside" look at what social dynamic is occuring. We can pull a Twitter feed, a YouTube channel feed, every blog has an RSS feed, even Flickr figured it out by adapting their slideshow technology to any browser window, but Facebook????

So I will end this long-winded whine (yes, I have the "whine" flu) with a plea to Facebook to get with the game. All it will do is shove the Facebook brand and the unique content in front of more eyes which will bring in more users which will bring in more revenue which will, at the end of Web 4.0, most likely displace the WWW with the WWF.

For an example of the argument above, follow this link and click on Kansas or Virginia to see Facebook content (and compare that to the other sources of content):

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Side-Whatever: A Lexicon of Labor


Easy enough, nothing fancy, but, then, we developed a function called the SideNote. Y'know, a "Cliff Note" type of function to aggregate and pull summaries of basic info together.

And then there was the SideTrack, which would lead to the SideNote and to the SideLink (hyperlink) and to the SideStop (gateway to nothing). Not to mention the SideBar, our rollover function.

And all of a sudden we saw a trend going and so kept on going. We introduced the SideView, a navigable thumbnail of the map and, most recently, possibly our coup de gras, the SideTweet (see the screenshot), an aggregation of all Twitter feeds associated with a map presented through a ticker-type presentation.

And don't worry, we are sure there will be more to come as we develop new functionality or just find a better term for existing functionality. Feel free to offer any suggestions below, some we've already identified as potential additions to SideStreet's lexicon:
  • SideCar
  • SideSwipe
  • SideDoor
  • SideStep
A little bit of fun amongst the grind...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Year Resolutions

So we all hate them, but here in the life of the startup I figure every chance I have to set some goals and actually achieve them is a good thing. And everyone loves a Top 10 list and in blending the two I figure not only will I make this more fun for you to read, but also more fun for me to write!

Without further ado, here we go:

1) Invoice. It's amazing what cash in the bank can do for the corporate ego!
2) Invoice. Did I say that already?
3) Launch targeted PR & marketing within the vertical industries of some of our initial (and hopefully satisfied) clients.
4) Get Jason an iPhone. I'm pretty sure it kills Jason every time we get together and I wing out my mobile Mac platform and start buzzing away on it.
5) Get more clients (I'm pretty sure this will be a regular on this list every year).
6) Start an advisory board.
7) Develop an iPhone application (and if Jason doesn't have an iPhone by then I will really be in trouble).
8) Have a board meeting in some remote, exotic location at the expense of the taxpayers (oh, sorry, letting my cynicism get to me).
9) Leverage Brian's presence in the Bay area to strike a strategic relationship with a number of venture capitalists, Google and Yahoo.
10) Have fun and continue to never let go of the dream.

Poke fun, have at it, but that is what my brain told my fingers to write and I'm sticking by whatever I just wrote (I promise to read them later).

Happy New Year!