Sam Harrelson

February 3, 2014

Sitting on the side of the interstate in my brokedown truck for the last few hours has reinforced my depths of patience and love of my MyFi device and LTE service.

Regularly check your serpentine belt, folks.

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Sam Harrelson

January 31, 2014

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Never thought I’d buy a copy of an OS on hard media again. Amazing what you are forced to do as a small business owner.

Sam Harrelson

January 29, 2014

I’ve seen 3 happy snowball fights on the way to the office. Good to see SC kids enjoying snow.

ThinkingDaily: Being a Divorced Dad

Challenging but good podcast to do today. We’re raising some pretty amazing women and I can’t wait to see how they change the world…

Sam talks about being a dad after divorce and how tools like Google Hangouts, Dropbox and Google Drive make all the difference despite the geographic differences.

via ThinkingDaily: Being a Divorced Dad | Thinking.FM.

ThinkingDaily 25 mp3 is here or you can click above to play in your browser (and subscribe in iTunes etc).

Sam Harrelson

January 27, 2014

Fantastic ThinkingReligion show with @thomaswhitley tonight about the role of American Civil Spirituality: http://thinking.fm/2014/01/27/thinkingreligion-21-american-civil-spirituality/

Don’t Do Branding First

Here’s my daily podcast from today where I explain the differences between marketing, advertising, branding, and public relations (at least in my opinion):

Today, Sam evaluates those differences with a number of warnings and suggestions about how to do your marketing better and spend your money more wisely (and how to avoid the chutes and climb the right ladders).

via ThinkingDaily: Don’t Do Branding | Thinking.FM.

It’s a point I like to make with clients and always a fun discussion.

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Simple Websites and Expected Formulas

I’ve built hundreds of WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal sites over the years for clients (and a few for my own endeavors). One of the most frequent conversations I have towards the end of these builds when we get to the aesthetics and flow of a site is how design decisions impact not just “branding” but also user experience.

Websites are not only meant to be representations of a brand or a company. Sites are meant to be the front door of whatever experience a company is trying to express. Or more succinctly, sites are for marketing, not intranets.

Communicating this with clients is something I really enjoy doing, because it involves a bit of give and take. It’s not a one sided conversation by any means and every company or person has their own preconceived notion of what a website in a given category should look like.

Turns out there’s some science behind that and visitor experience to the site…

In a study by Google in August of 2012, researchers found that not only will users judge websites as beautiful or not within 1/50th — 1/20th of a second, but also that “visually complex” websites are consistently rated as less beautiful than their simpler counterparts

Moreover, “highly prototypical” sites — those with layouts commonly associated with sites of its category — with simple visual design were rated as the most beautiful across the board

via Why “Simple” Websites Are Scientifically Superior | SoshiTech – Social Media Technology – Soshitech.com.

The two part conclusion here is important for marketing agencies and companies looking to have a “better” website to consider.

First, overly complicated websites are junk. If Henry Ford had asked people what they had wanted to see in his car, they would have wanted a faster horse. If Steve Jobs had relied on “user expectations” for the iPhone or even iPad, we’d have a physical keyboards and lasers with giant stylus’ attached to our devices.

Building a website isn’t the same as building an iPhone, but you have to manage what you expect users to want with the simplicity of choice (I talk about this more deeply in a ThinkingDaily episode here). It’s easy to think that in 2014, a visitor to your brand spanking new spiffy site would want to be able to click dozens of “sharing” buttons or to see “what’s related” on the web because you see a competitor (or worse, Buzzfeed) doing those things on their site. It’s not true. Keep your site simple and keep your powder dry. Make the visitor convert to whatever you’re preaching with the power of your message and not with overly complicated designs and tons of drop down menus.

Second, users have an expectation of what a banking site, a garden site, a medical site, a social sharing site, a tech site, a lawyer site, a church site etc should look like. If you’ve hired a good developer or designer or agency to help you with your site, they should know this.

What that doesn’t mean is that you know what visitors actually want. There’s lots of research on this, and many of us spend considerable time staying on top of that research. Hiring a website developer, designer or agency should mean more than asking “which young person do I know can build me a website?” for this reason alone.

Sites are important. They are your front door and your exit. They are your first line of marketing and turning a potential visitor into a conversion or they are your worst enemy.

Tread lightly and do your homework.