So… What’s the Future of Web Design?

For the last three days, I’ve had the pleasure of being in NYC.   I came up for the Future of Web Design that was put on by the crew at Carsonified.

While I believe Ryan Carson and the crew at Carsonified did a fantastic job with the event and I thought the content was pretty outstanding, I left the event with one looming question, “What is the Future of Web Design?”

Isn’t the title the “Future of Web Design”?  So… I expected someone to get up and say that “The future of web design is [blank].”

Ryan Singer of 37signals had a good talk entitled “The future of web app interface design” but he seemed to just talk about how designers need to be more knowledgeable about the development process. As many will attest, I’m not a designer.  So… maybe I just don’t get it but that doesn’t sound at all like a revolutionary idea.

In their talks, I think both Mike Kus of Carsonified and Nick La of ndesign-studio somewhat pointed to the idea that there is a certain level of art that needs to be brought back into design.  Mike Kus showed some of his amazing and very intricate Web design that he first starts with pencil and paper, which was kind of cool.

But… is this the future of Web design?  What do you guys think?  What does the future hold?

Grab the NY Times Election Results Widget

One of our engineers at Clearspring took the NY Times Election Tracker and widgetized it.  You can now grab it and put it wherever you want.  Enjoy!!!

[clearspring_widget title=”NY Times Election Results Widget” wid=”491068851a740b4b” pid=”4910792af498cf08″ width=”270″ height=”653″ domain=””]

Join Us for Beers Tonight at The Ginger Man in NYC

I’m sitting on the train on my way to New York City.  I’m really excited because not only is tomorrow Election Day but tomorrow is the Future of Web Design Conference.

To celebrate, I thought it’d be fun to get folks together for some beers and good times.

So… if you’re going to be in NYC tonight at 8pm, stop by the The Ginger Man.  It’s at 11 East 36th St.

It’s got this rock list of beers on draft.  According to their Web site, they just loaded up Rouge Double Dead Guy Ale.  (What?  There is a Double Dead Guy Ale?!?! I’ve just had Dead Guy.)

I setup a FB event page.  If you RSVP, I’ll know to look for you but you don’t have to RSVP.  Just look for me.

Speaking at the Erickson Barnett event “Tips on Building Communities

Hey guys, thought I’d let you know that I’m going to be speaking at the Erickson Barnett event “Tips on Building Communities” on November 12th from 8:30am to 10am. It’s at the Tower Club in Vienna, VA and free.  I’d highly recommmend checking it out.

Before joining Clearspring as Developer Community Manager, it feels like I knew a lot about the tools that you could use to build community but I hadn’t done much to put them into practice.

Over the last 9-10 months, I feel like my eyes have opened a lot to what works and what doesn’t.   I’ve noticed a few folks that really get the importance of building relationships between them and their customers and how incredibly successful they’ve been.  On the flip side, I’ve seen folks that continue to mainly use that one-way blast communications and continually lose the hearts and minds of their customers.

Well, during my time at the event, I’m going to be looking to share my thoughts and experiences.  So, you coming??  It’s free.

Yammer Understands Not Everyone Wants To Use The Web Site

At Clearspring, we’ve been playing around pretty heavily with the internal work-place Twitter-like app Yammer.

One thing I’ve been really impressed with is the number of different ways you can send content through the system.  I’ve downloaded their AIR desktop app and installed their iPhone app.  I rarely use their Web site.

Check out the blog post they did on the different mediums they’ve enabled.

Since day one, Yammer has enabled you to send and receive updates through your choice of 7 different mediums. The reason for providing such a vast arsenal is for you to feel comfortable and confident that you can communicate with co-workers anytime, no matter your location or working preferences.

By encouraging me to use the app where I want to use it and not necessarily via it’s Web site, I think Yammer will become ultimately more successful.

I know it sounds so counter intuitive.  Someone’s thinking, “you mean you want me to encourage people to not use my Web site? What?!?!”  Yep.  That’s exactly what I’m saying.

If you put content or functionality or allow it to be put, where folks want it,  you’re going to get more heavily engaged users.

For example, when I was at the Library of Congress, I got to see the wealth of amazing content that they get to handle and work with on a daily basis.  I was continually in awe.  They continue to digitize and put content on their Web site and while there is absolutely a dedicated audience that uses the Web site, it doesn’t seem to capture the national and world-wide imagination to the extend that it could.

In mid-January of 2008, there was a team at the Library of Congress that took 3000 amazing photographs and loaded them into Flickr.    Where do you go if you love photos?  Flickr.

Well the project captured the national and world’s imagination in a way that I had never seen before.  I think the last publicly released statistic was that they had reached 8.5 million views for these photos.  That’s AMAZING.

So… if you’re pushin content online, creating a Web app, or some new online business, what’s your distribution strategy?  How are you going to get your users to share content all over the Web?  Are you going to give up control and let your users use your content and functionality where and how they want to?

How a Local Washington DC Specialty Wine & Beer Store Could Use Social Media To Build Community

I was up at Target in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC the other day looking for pants.  As I was leaving, I noticed a specialty wine & beer store across the street called D’Vines.  Being a pretend wine & beer connoisseur, I walked over there to check it out.

What I found was a plethora of craft beers.  Jack pot!!!  There was everthing from Brooklyn’s Black Chocolate Stout to Old Chub to Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale.  Who knew that Stone Brewery made an Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale ?!?!?!

I was talking with the guy behind the counter and it sounds like they have a guy who’s their beer scout.  He travels, tastes beers, and then orders them for the store. (What a sweet job)  I asked how often they got new stuff in.  He said it varies.  They don’t have anything on their Web site, accept an address.

I think this is the PERFECT opportunity where they could use social media as a way to build community around beer & wine and their store, which will ultimately increase sales.

People that love specialty beers and wines LOVE them.  So you need some way to keep connected with those customers.   You need to win their hearts and minds so that when they’re looking to drop $15-20 for a six pack of beer that they do it with you and not someone else.

Simply, the store could get something like a Twitter account or a blog just to tell people about when they have new kinds of beer that come in.  I’d love this.  I’d know when I needed to go back and check stuff out.

If they had wine or beer tastings and I knew about it, I’d definitely head up there and probably spend more money.

So… that better connects me with the store.  What about connecting me with the other store patrons?

They should go to the kids at Living Social.  They have their AWESOME beer review app, where you can log and review what beers you like or want to try.  It’d be awesome if there was some way for the store to say within the app what kinds they had in stock and let you see what other store patrons had said about those specific beers.

By doing this kind of stuff, I’d think you could take what would seem to be an occasional trickle of customers and turn it into a steady flow of regulars.  It’s building a community of passionate users.