Technology Trends

Information Design State Of The Art

Information design continues to explore new and meaningful applications.  Here are examples how information design progressed in 2014.  They highlight some the diverse and maturing applications of rich information design.

World Commodities

This work, part of a series by Simran Khosla, highlights how strong design creates new and multiple insights by different audiences off the same data set. Information design then becomes iterative based on audience engagement and exploration.

Animated information design also continues to make rapid progress.  New initiatives to immerse animated information design into social media show great potential to reach new, broader audiences with your message.   There are many other outstanding examples along these lines beyond the scientific or technical, embracing wider messages.  What ideas come to mind?



We look forward to connecting with all of you in the coming year. Let’s resolve to speak visually, fluently.

Should You Worry About SEO Anymore?

It’s common now to be pitched aggressively by Search Engine Optimization (SEO) marketers. Usually, for a hefty fee, they promise to improve a site’s page ranking and traffic. A backlash was inevitable and now you might hear that ‘SEO is dead’.

Who to believe?

SEO hasn’t changed as evolved. Many former mechanistic SEO practices are now pre-built into various software platforms. Or simply have become expected standard operating procedure. CMS platforms like WordPress, for example, cover almost all SEO requirements. Further optimization with available plugins should meet remaining needs.

SEO burden has shifted to the client and the so-called user experience (UX). A high ranking web presence requires attractive design, fresh, compelling content, optimized keywords and above all, frequent updating. These are critical requirements.

Networking with other credible, authoritative sites remains vital, particularly for link building. Fewer, quality links are key to increasing your page rank. Google’s Panda initiative removes spam or other non-credible listings. Avoid any consultant or vendor who promises to deliver bulk or otherwise undifferentiated links. Links that will help you are specific to your niche and take time to cultivate.

Should you use social platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn and others? They are useful tools to increase your presence’s authority and credibility. Google+ is now including in Google search, making a page there an important first step. All of these platforms are time intensive and a media campaign for them should be careful to allocate resources for each.

SEO is still with us. Most of the formerly arcane coding practices are now automated or simply standard operating procedure. The hard part? To create frequent, dynamic content that will attract readers and partners.

How Facebook’s New Advertising Moves May Undercut Earned Media

Blog E:TB asks “Did Facebook Kill Earned Media?” Timely question.

Analyzing the Facebook Marketing Conference (fMC), E:TB summarizes many points of view. This one by Michael Lazerow, CEO of Buddy Media quoted in AdAge is concise:

While you’re paying for distribution, you’re getting significantly more engagement. This engagement is ‘Facebook gold’ as I like to say. Your EdgeRank score will be juiced . . . The lines between what marketers refer to as paid, owned and earned media are now officially gone. Goodbye. Gone. “

Brands that spent the time to build organic fans now have to pay to access them. Facebook assuring paid advertisers impressions means the new media, as E:TB notes, is looking much like the old one. The implications for you as messenger and consumer are big.

The social media landscape is changing even faster than before.

Why Is The U.S. Video Game Industry Flatlining?

It’s no secret that the U.S. video game industry is underperforming – the non-Zynga-related part at least. Through the recent holidays retail sales of software and associated hardware saw actual declines up to 34%. In 3 years, 44% of U.S. retail sales simply vanished.

video games, U.S. video game retail, xbox, PS3, Wii

Various explanations are offered, such as this is a pause to be expected before new hardware platforms debut (the new Wii U, Xbox and PS). Looking at retail performance since 2009, however, trends suggests these poor performing months are the “new normal”.

Consumers have embraced non-console, casual games on mobile devices. More publishers and hardware companies are also now selling direct to the consumer for console experiences through on-line stores and downloadable content by-passing retailers – often at $30-50 price points. Rumors that console makers are exploring ‘lockout’ technology to prevent players from purchasing and playing used games on next generation systems only confirms the sense that 2009-10 will be seen as a high water mark for the old videogaming format.

Do you have a campaign or idea that cries out for video game possibilities? That works in social media and on mobile devices? You’re in luck. The possibilities are growing as fast as traditional video games sink. Check out, for example, Unity 3D’s technology.

Want an incentive? It’s free.

SEO And Google+ — An Offer We Can’t Refuse?

Google’s decision to incorporate Google+ into its core search engine results will impact your online activities. Even if you don’t think so.

Last week Google announced Search, plus Your World. Relevant Google+ results will now be incorporated in search results. And because Google+ is part of Google, those results will get priority over say Twitter or Facebook. The implications for your site, blog or social media campaign potentially will be huge.

What Google has done is to blend social, personal and personalized searches on Google into one algorithm. This could be most most dramatic change of Google search results since its beginning.

In practical terms? If you don’t have a Google+ presence and your competitors do, they may get more traffic and you may lose it. You should plan on building out a Google + presence even if you don’t have one today.

The value of including social mentions in a search is hotly debated. Many feel it degrades the results and usefulness of a search engine by offering less than relevant results. Others wonder about the anti-trust implications of this new move. Other observers claim search engines had no choice given the rise in social network traffic.

Regardless, those focused on their web presence and social media campaigns should take this announcement seriously. You should build a Google+ presence with strong content if only as a defensive posture. This is one of those announcements that come along only every few years. It would be wise to take it seriously.

UPDATE MAY 2012: Google+ began with fanfare. Blended search was expected to give it mindshare. SEO practitioners thought so at least. Unfortunately for Google, users didn’t. Google+ like other Google forays never quite got off the ground. Not even using the search trump card.

Anyone Listening To Your Social Campaign? Surprising Results Of New Study

TNS’ Digital Life 2012 Report states half of all social media campaigns go unnoticed. Sampling 72,000 consumers in 60 countries, the Report notes that Americans and Brits are the least receptive to social marketing and media consumption. Campaigns linked with brands suffer most in America and Britain, while reports and impressions from friends and acquaintances still have impact. Recommend any interested to go to the TNS site and see the entire body of data available in the Report.

Social Media Campaigns And Brands 2012

Google Messes With SEO Practitioners And Users

An email from Ana Hoffman of

Google is doing it again and I am not happy about it.

It’s common that web browsers reports “referrer” data when someone
goes from one web site to another.

This data tells the destination site how it was found, whether it
be from a link off another site or search terms that were entered
into a search engine.

Google will now begin encrypting searches that people do by
default, if they are logged into already through a
secure connection.

In Google’s new system, referrer data will be blocked.

This means site owners will begin to lose valuable data that they
depend on, to understand how their sites are found through Google.

They’ll still be able to tell that someone came from a Google
search. They won’t, however, know what that search was.

Even Google’s own Google Analytics will face this block.

Like all analytics tools, it’ll know if someone came from “free” or
“organic” search results, but the search terms won’t be associated
with a particular visit, because they aren’t being passed along.

You wouldn’t be able to tell, for instance, where someone coming to
your site after finding it for a search for “blue widgets” actually
entered, nor the other pages they viewed.

Google Webmaster Central will still show the top 1,000 queries that
a site appeared for at Google — as well as was selected for — over
a 30-day period, and that you can even pick any particular day over
that period for downloading.

Anyway, this is not great news for any site owner…


So Google makes it clear that they aim to please USERS and they
employ HUMAN Raters to tell them what they find relevant, useful,
and spam (among other things).

I’ve got a 125-page document straight from Google that talks about
the standards human raters are to use.

Apparently, this document is a hot commodity; when Jennifer from posted it in one of her posts, Google contacted her
directly and asked her not to link to this document.

Of course, Google doesn’t want us to see it…

That made me want to give you access to it all the more. LOL

So I uploaded the PDF to my blog and I won’t keep it there for
long – I am sure you understand why.

Here’s the link:

Do what you wish with it, but I wouldn’t go bragging around that you have it.

This document though is the EXACT recipe for a successful site that
Google WANTS to rank highly.

Something to think about…

Have a great week!

Pay To Beta?

Start ups are now charging people for the privilege of being beta users. If you think “paid beta” is still what describes products released prematurely, here are why some companies are charging people to join the beta: (a) business validation; (b) prioritize early users; (c) provide support; and (d) monetize. The companies exploring this aren’t even offering trial period.

All of the above rationales make sense for a start up team. From the users’ perspective not so much. Hard to see this becoming a widely emulated practice.

Being Talked About On Facebook

Keeping up with Facebook’s evolution is a challenge for even the most ardent enthusiast. In Fall 2011, however, the new metric of choice is no longer the venerable “like” but comment-worthiness. As Andrew Taylor explains:

Facebook is adding a new set of metrics around comment-worthiness, the most obvious being “People Taking About” (here’s another article on the subject from ClickZ, thanks to Beth Kanter via Mari Smith). The idea is that your potential reach is important (how many people have ‘liked’ you enough to click a button, and how many friends those people have), but your ability to activate that pool is even more important. Comments, links, mentions, photo tags, all combine to suggest how many people are talking about your page or your brand.

The applicability and importance of this approach for non-profits, and other non-P/L entities. Worth a read.

La Plus Ca Change – New Facebook Features

Facebeook introduced new changes important for you and your brand. They introduced a new subscribe button. Here’s what they say about it:

“Until now, it hasn’t been easy to choose exactly what you see in your News Feed. Maybe you don’t want to see every time your brother plays a game on Facebook, for example. Or maybe you’d like to see more stories from your best friends, and fewer from your coworkers. You also couldn’t hear directly from people you’re interested in but don’t know personally — like journalists, artists and political figures. With the Subscribe button, we’re making it easier to do both.“

According to to the Global Grind, there are 3 reasons to try the button, and 3 to avoid. Take a moment and see which fits you and your Facebook strategy. Our initial recommendation is giving it a hard look.