Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Productivity Tip: Pocket App

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I read a ton of blog posts and online articles. So much so that any time I see an article or blog post referred by a friend or colleague on Twitter or Facebook I will at least pop it open to see what all the hubbub is about.

Reading these posts can be fantastic for learning and keeping up in the fast-moving world of marketing and business communication. But there's a downside:

These articles become as a huge interruption to my workflow.

Not only do I get stuck reading the article, I find myself digesting it, thinking critically about it, and deciding whether to comment or re-post it. So maybe 15 minutes are lost? Maybe more?

And that doesn't count all the ads flying around on so many of these news sites—so annoying and distracting.

(And let's not even talk about all those interesting links in the article. We've all been there—reading one article one minute and finding ourselves 20 minutes later at the end of a long digital rabbit trail of articles, blog posts, and wikipedia entries.)

I can't have this. I've got work to do!

Great creative design require focus and flow—getting in to a groove. And anything that interrupts that flow can sever the connections I'm building in my head, on paper, and on my computer as I design. And connections are the lifeblood of my creative ideas.

So what's this poor knowledge-seeker to do? Along comes Pocket to save the day.

Pocket is a simple online website that allows you to save webpages to your Pocket account for reading later.

And the reading experience is great:

When you read articles on Pocket, it reformats them for a more focused reading experience. It strips out all the extraneous design of the site and focuses just on the content and main images. So no more ads, distracting navigation bar, logos, annoying backgrounds, or lame comments. (You can always switch an article to the regular view too.)

Plus, when you're done reading an article you can mark it as "done." This removes it from your main list of new articles but keeps it forever in the "archive" so you can find it again. For example this has been helpful for when I want to source other branding articles for a new blog post for Resound Creative's Remarkablog.

There's a whole slew of other features that I've found helpful:

  • Pocket has a simple Google Chrome and Firefox extension. So with one click I can add any page that I'm on to my reading queue.
  • I can access articles in Pocket from pretty much anywhere: there's the website, an iPhone app, an iPad app, AND a desktop app for my Mac.
  • Pocket syncs with Buffer so I can add an article to Resound's Buffer queue and have it automatically post to our social networks later.
  • I use IFTTT.com to take the link to each new article that I add to Pocket and save it to my Pinboard.in account. (That's where I store all of my many, many, many online bookmarks.)
  • Feedly integrates with Pocket too. If I'm in Feedly, checking out all of the blog feeds, I follow, I can save any post to Pocket, right from the Feedly interface. Nifty!
So I pretty much love Pocket. Ever since it showed up my workflow has been, well, flow-y.

Thanks Pocket!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Branded: The Halcyon

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I'm such a sucker for a well-designed brand. And when the site, Brand New, featured the designs for The Halcyon—a London retail development—I fell in love.

Unfortunately, they posted all the design elements as separate images. I much prefer to save these kinds of things as one image, so I can see the brand design as a whole. I took it upon myself to solve this problem and threw them together into a single, long image. (Perfect for sharing on Pinterest, eh?)

(BTW, if you love brand design, you MUST follow Brand New. They cover a wide range of new and redesigned brand projects, both good and bad. It's a fantastic source of inspiration.)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Content Writing Principles

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This post about 9 Glorious Truths About Creating Great Content (from WordOfMouth.org) is a fantastic starting point for thinking through the content you generate in your marketing communications.

My personal favorite, deals with complexity and honesty:
8. Complex is bad. For some reason, brands think that for something to be serious, it needs to look and sound complex. I’m not sure why that is, but the best content is not complex, it’s honest. And, if you think about it, honesty comes through best when it’s kept simple.
I highly recommend checking out the whole article.

Monday, July 09, 2012

A Logo Whoops

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Not sure who designed first. And I don't really care either. In this case, I'd say these two are bit too close for comfort. Someone should have raised a red flag and suggested a redirection in the design of the mark (for whichever was second).

Any time you design a logo (or hire someone to do so) make sure you ask (and also answer): Who else out there has a similar logo?

The answer doesn't necessarily need to be, "No one." Similar logo marks are bound to occur. There aren't too many new ideas under the sun. Perhaps none at all.

The decision to change the direction of your logo design requires answering a few other questions first, such as:
  • How close is the other logo design(s) to yours?
  • In what industry is the other brand? Is their industry the same or close to yours?
  • How long has their brand identity been in existence?
  • Do you expect your audience to have regular or even sporadic exposure to this other brand?
This is one time you can't blame your dog when you don't do your homework.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Saul Colt on Word of Mouth

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This presentation by Saul Colt (the self-proclaimed smartest man in the world) is both entertaining and full of great advice and examples.

Checkity check it.

How to Create Offline Word of Mouth -- presented by Saul Colt from SocialMedia.org on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Future of User Interfaces: Touchless

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I ran across this post about the future of interfaces and just couldn't pass up re-posting the videos.

Forget your jetpack. This is the future.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Few Business, Marketing, and Design Blogs to Keep Your Mind Fat and Happy

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One of my co-workers at Cardinal Path recently asked me what blogs I follow...probably because I'm such a 'know-it-all.'

Anyways, so I rounded up a few, emailed them over, and they actually found them useful. And I thought 'Why not turn that list into a blog post?' 

Yeah, I couldn't think of a reason either.

So here's some of the top blogs that I follow:

General Business News:

  • Inc.com - an online version of the business-oriented magazine. I get their daily emails which gives you 5-6 quick news stories in business. They tend to focus on tech and startups.
  • American Express's OPEN Forum - one of my favorite business and marketing news sites. Lots of great stuff here though they do be more focused on small businesses (which is a primary focus of American Express, as a business).
  • A VC - the personal blog of Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist in NYC, with Union Square Ventures. Fred and USV have their hands in a ton of tech startups (including Twitter, SoundCloud, Tumblr, Zynga, Turntable.fm, KickStarter, Etsy, and others).

Advertising and Marketing:

  • The BeanCast - Not a blog, per se, but one of my favorite podcasts ever. It's a weekly roundtable discussion of recent marketing and advertising news. They usually come from the perspective of small-to-med-sized agencies and companies (rather than the stuck-in-the-mud giant, corporate guys that populate much of the AdWeek news cycle).
  • Seth. Godin. Is. Brilliant. Every post he writes is pure gold...or at least pretty shiny.
  • Convince and Convert is Jay Baer's blog and personal consulting platform. This guy is one of the foremost thinkers in the burgeoning social media marketing world.
  • Dan Zarrella. If Jay Baer is the Socrates of social media, Dan is the Sir Isaac Newton—a full-blooded scientist. He measures anything and everything about social media and also pulls some pretty amazing insights.

UX and Design

  • Viget (UX agency out of D.C.) has a great series of blogs for anyone in UX, UI, and/or web development.
  • UX Magazine is great for general user experience news and articles.
  • Co.Design is Fast Company's design-centric online magazine. They've usually got some insightful and inspiring posts.
There's a whole slew of other blogs I follow for design inspiration but these here are more informational and high-level.

Definitely let me know what blogs you find helpful in your business. You can share below in the comments.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Slides from Today's Pinterest Presentation

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For any that missed the Pinterest presenation Niki Blaker and I gave today at Gangplank, I've got the slides ready as a downloadable PDF.

Feel free to download them and share.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Pinning & Winning: Creative Uses of Pinterest Discussion at Gangplank

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Tomorrow, Niki Blaker and I will be holding court over at Gangplank HQ for the weekly Brown Bag event.

We'll be discussing the new social networking site, Pinterest, looking at how we use the site, as well as how others are using it to be inspired, build connections, and market their brand.

If you can make it, hopefully you'll find it helpful in your own creative process (as well as networking and your social media marketing).

You can find all the event details and RSVP on Facebook.

Hope to see you then!

P.S. You can check out our own Pinterest inspiration boards here:

Niki Blaker on Pinterest

Mike Jones on Pinterest

P.S.S. Get even more design inspiration from these two Pinterest board round-ups that we were recently featured in!

On DesignShack.net: 200+ Pinterest Boards for Designers to Follow

On Tripwire Magazine's site: 40+ Interesting Pinterest Boards for Designers

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Art as Language

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Luke - Prodigal God
We, today, have a language to celebrate waywardness, but we do not have a language, a cultural language, to bring people back home.  
—Makoto Fujimura (from Makoto Fujimura - The Art of "The Four Holy Gospels" video
(Makoto is one of my favorite painters right now. He strives to express his faith in Jesus through his art while holding firm to his commitment for artistic beauty. I think he is one of the few in our world today that truly understands how art and faith can be unified.)