Archive | October, 2012

Is Your Website Outdated?

18 Oct

Remember when this snazzy new thing called the ‘Internet’ came out?

I do. I was around 10 years old when I started crawling through the interwebs. I remember setting up personal websites, feeding my Neopets, and discussing nonsense on MSN Messenger.

Remember those bulky computers?

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Whenever I get nostalgic for the early 90’s, I remember this and get over it.

How about those websites we used to visit? We would be greeted by upbeat music, flash animation, and a big banner that read, “Thanks for visiting my website! Sign my guestbook.” We were all excited about the Internet. It was a big deal. Now, fast forward almost two decades later, we’ve gotten spoiled. We are used to crisp designs with succinct content. We are used to getting what we want, when we want it.

And why shouldn’t we be? We’re rapidly advancing our technology. We’ve already got smart technology, touchscreens, wireless devices, and computers in our pockets. So why then, do outdated websites still creep among us?

Just so we’re clear, here’s my definition of an outdated website:

  • Busy background (i.e. anything that’s not a solid colour)
  • Flashing animations (this should be a crime)
  • A million unrelated things sharing a single page. Please, spare us all and create separate pages for content. Don’t be lazy!
  • Hard to read font colours and styles. In fact, the biggest offenders are yellow and red on anything besides black
  • Comic Sans. I have a grudge against Comic Sans. In any context
  • Different font styles on a single page. This is inconsistent, unprofessional looking, and very distracting
  • Music that is startling enough to give your visitors a heart attack
  • Poor grammar
  • Colour disharmony (i.e. between font and background)

Here’s a very funny example of an outdated website, created specifically for the purpose of informing others.

I’m a Generation Y young adult who grew up on technology. For the last 10 years, I’ve been on the internet almost every day (how many pop-up ads is that?!). I also grew up consuming advertisements on T.V. I’m a critical consumer because I grew up bathed in ads, to the point where I’ve learned to block them out. Like other critical Generation Y and Z consumers who grew up surrounded by technology, I have standards.

Last week, I was interested in working for a particular multinational company. I went on their website to browse and apply for positions. Their website was outdated. It looked like it was created in 2002, and had not been touched since. I was ambushed by tons of unrelated content splashed across a busy webpage. Although I was deterred, I proceeded anyways. After navigating through an outdated career portal, I gave up and exited the window. The outdated website with the user unfriendly design was not only a waste of time, but it came across as extremely unprofessional.

Whenever I find myself on a company’s outdated website, I hit the backspace almost immediately. For one, as a Generation Y consumer, I am used to getting information quickly. In fact, I expect it. A busy webpage with a million unrelated things on it is a major turn off. Browsing through it is simply a waste of time. For two, I assume that the company is no longer active, and unaware that their website is still up. And for three, flash animation and (god forbid) startling music, are obnoxious.

The most important thing about outdated websites is that a single page has a million unrelated things on it. This is distracting, intimidating, and ruins the user experience. Your website should be very easy to navigate through. Related things should be clustered together and easy to find. Even more importantly, your website should be constantly updated. Or, at least appear to be constantly updated. Consumers (Generation Y in particular) are impatient. Don’t be cheap and don’t be lazy. Keep your content organized and easy to find. Your customers will thank you.

There you have it. Honest feedback from a critical (and possibly numb to advertising) Generation Y consumer.

Have you ever come across an outdated website? Did it affect your perception of the company?

Thoughts on Last Night’s Debate

17 Oct

I watched Part 1 of the U.S. Presidential Debate last night. I know, I’m about two weeks behind. It was really, really interesting. I’m going to watch the second part later in the week.

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I don’t like Obama’s blue tie.

I’m not American. Some American issues do not affect me. However, I was still really curious about how Obama and Romney would address several pressing issues.

So, I curled up in bed, plugged my earphones into my iPhone, and played the debate off YouTube. All 1h37 of it.

Here are a few things that I noticed:

  1. Romney reminds me of George Clooney’s character in Ides of March.
  2. They’re always smiling. More importantly, their smiles seem really genuine because their eyes crinkle at the creases. Politicians seem to know some sort of fake smiling secret. I totally want in.
  3. They’re both really great orators. They’re both so charismatic. I think that there should be a larger focus on public speaking and communication, in schools. I mean, there’s a huge emphasis on writing. We’re always writing tests. We’re always writing essays and assignments. We should learn how to carry ourselves well, too. This would really benefit us at work, in relationships, and in life. That’s it, I’m joining Toastmasters.
  4. Romney talks a lot. Now, he’s got some ideas I agree with (i.e. healthcare should be at the state level). But, he repeats himself a lot. And he keeps focusing on the “what” instead of on the “how.” Americans are in a vulnerable position and they need to know HOW you’re going to fix things.
  5. Obama numbers his ideas. Number one, we’re going to invest in green energy to create jobs in America. Number two, we’re going to invest in our small businesses…
    This is super organized. You keep your points relevant and [hopefully] avoid repeating yourself. I’m going to start doing this in arguments/debates with other people.
  6. Romney kept denying his “trillion dollar plan.” Obama kept referring to it and criticizing it, while Romney was all “Nope, nope. Nevermind. That’s not our plan.” This is pretty representative of most politicians.
  7. And lastly, Romney made a circular argument about federal regulations. This made me smile. That LSAT course didn’t go to waste after all! Here’s a paraphrasing of how it went: Regulation is necessary. You can’t have a free market without regulations. You have to have regulations to make the economy work. Every free economy has regulations. But HOW do they make the economy work? HOW?!
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We’re all smiles.

I don’t want to tell you who to vote for. Ignore popular opinions. Read/listen/watch both candidates and understand what they want to do. Once you understand what they want to do, ask yourself “Is this realistic? Will they actually do this? Do they know how they’re going to do it?”

The “how” is important because it gives you insight on how realistic the plan is. For example, let’s say I want to launch a start-up business. I’m going to pay off my student debt by launching a start-up business. My start-up is going to create jobs for my friends who too, need to pay off their debts. We’re gonna make money and be successful.

That’s the “what.” Isn’t it more realistic if I tell you how I’m going to launch the start-up? Or, how my business will be successful? Otherwise, I’m just throwing dreams around without any idea how to make it happen. Wouldn’t you have more faith in me, if I proved to you that I know how to do it, and I’m pressing to get it done?

If you’re struggling to decide, consider this: I’m trying to convince you to lend me money, so that I can launch the start-up business. You’d be more likely to lend me money if I know what I’m doing, put some thought/research into it, and figured out how to do it.

You guys are lending [whoever wins] money. You’re putting the faith of your economy (jobs, mortgages, college education, gas prices, etc.) into this man’s hands.

By the way, check out this cool resource from BBC, called “Spot the Fake Smile.” I got 13/20.

Did you watch the Presidential Debate? What are your thoughts? Share in the comments below!

Inconsistent Marketing

2 Oct

This is super funny. I popped into Forever 21 today. Now, I normally don’t shop there because I don’t like going to the mall. And Forever 21 is located in the mall. Unless you think I’m gonna drag myself to the Forever 21 downtown. (Hint: I’m not).

I made an interesting discovery at the bottom of my sunshine yellow shopping bag. It simply said, “John 3:16.” That’s right, a bible verse. In case you’re wondering, John 3:16 refers to, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That’s right, I saved you a Google trip.

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See, there it is!

I was confused. Why would they print that onto their bags? The owners, Mr. and Mrs. Chang are Evangelical Christians and big supporters of Christian missionaries. Are they unaware of the kind of merchandise they’re selling? Or who their customers even are? Needless to say, most people wouldn’t see it, anyways. It was the bottom of the bag.

I did some research, only to discover that this has been going on for a while. Oh, and I’m probably the last to find out. The article, hilariously titled “What would Jesus say about that backless minidress?” gets to the bottom of the situation (not just the bag).

I found a few things downright hilarious in this article.

Asked about the inscription, a manager at the sprawling Union Square store waved her hand. “Oh   that’s just advertising,” she explained…But the discreet placement — and the religious content — of the phrase could be a smart advertising move, according to Pamela Klein at Parsons The New School for Design.

Advertising, you say? Granted, it’s a hidden message. So, you’re less likely to be offended by it, because it’s not in your face. And, you’re more likely to pay attention (i.e. researching its meaning) to it. So yes, it could be perfectly acceptable to say that they effectively advertised faith on that bag.

This contradicts their brand. Hugely. Have you ever been to Forever 21? No? Let me give you a tour.

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I don’t know where this is, but they all look the same.

Here we are. Generic Forever 21 store at the mall. There are tons of clothes here. TONS. They all seem to be organized by room. I still can’t figure out what the categories are. But I know to actively avoid the room with “club” clothes. That’s just me.

Things you’ll notice:

  • Stretchy black minidress
  • Rebellious T-Shirt with cheeky slogan (i.e. “Y for Yummy”)
  • Flashy neon pieces
  • Ripped jeans
  • Gaudy sparkly monster heels

These are just from the top of my head. You probably already figured out who Forever 21 caters to. That’s right. Trendy (perhaps rebelliously so) teenagers and young adults. And people who enjoy the club scene.

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Is this a shirt or a dress?

Let’s take another look at what Klein said.

But the discreet placement — and the religious content — of the phrase could be a smart advertising move, according to Pamela Klein at Parsons The New School for Design.

How is that smart advertising? If anything, it exposes Forever 21 and its management as hypocritical. Especially since some of their merchandise can be described as ‘skanky weekend clothing.’ I find it bizarre to sell merchandise that is often too tight, short, or low-cut, and then slap on a bible verse on the bag I take it home in. Because a sheer fishnet dress seems like the perfect ensemble for bible study. FYI that’s not what I bought 🙂

What do you think of the inscription?