Off the Top: Branding Entries
From an e-mail chat last week I found out that .net magazine (from the UK) is now on the shelves in the US as "Web Builder". Now that I have this knowledge I found the magazine on my local bookstore shelves with ease. Oddly, when I open the cover it is all ".net".
Rebranding and Crossbranding
In the chat last week I was told the ".net" name had a conflict with a Microsoft product and the magazine is not about the Microsoft product in the slightest, but had a good following before the MS product caught on. Not so surprisingly the ".net" magazine does not have the same confusion in the UK or Europe.
So, the magazine had a choice to not get noticed or rebrand the US version to "Web Builder" and put up with the crossbranding. This is not optimal, as it adds another layer of confusion for those of us that travel and are used to the normal name of the product and look only for that name. Optimally one magazine name would be used for the English language web design and development magazine. If this every happens it will mean breaking a well loved magazine name for the many loving fans of it in the UK and Europe
What is Special About ".net" or "Web Builder"?
Why do I care about this magazine? It is one of the few print magazines about web design and web development. Not only is it one of the few, but it flat out rocks! It takes current Web Standards best practices and makes them easy to grasp. It is explaining all of the solid web development practices and how to not only do them right, but understand if you should be doing them.
I know, you are saying, "but all of this stuff is already on the web!" Yes, this stuff is on the web, but not every web developer lives their life on the web, but most importantly, many of the bosses and managers that will approve this stuff do not read stuff on the web, they still believe in print. Saying the managers need to grow-up and change is short-sighted. One of the best progressive thinkers on technology, Doc Searls is on the web, but he also has a widely read regular column in Linux Journal. But, for me the collection of content in ".net" is some of the best stuff out there. I read it on planes and while I am waiting for a meeting or appointment.
I know the other thing many of you are saying, "but it is only content from UK writers!" Yes, so? The world is really flat and where somebody lives really makes little difference as we are all only a mouse click away from each other. We all have the same design and development problems as we are living with the same browsers and similar people using what we design and build. But, it is also amazing that a country that is a percentage the size of the US has many more killer web designers and developers than the US. There is some killer stuff going on in the UK on the web design and development front. There is great thought, consideration, and research that goes into design and development in the UK and Europe, in the US it is lets try it and see if it works or breaks (this is good too and has its place). It is out of the great thought and consideration that the teaching and guiding can flow. It also leads to killer products. Looking at the Yahoo Europe implementations of microformats rather far and wide in their products is telling, when it has happened far slower in the Yahoo US main products.
Now I am just hoping that ".net" will expand their writing to include a broader English speaking base. There is some killer talent in the US, but as my recent trip to Australia showed there is also killer talent there too. Strong writing skills in English and great talent would make for a great global magazine. It could also make it easier to find on my local bookstore shelves (hopefully for a bit cheaper too).
What I really enjoyed was the apology and lighthearted story. Yes, I am quite looking forward to the next iteration or two from kGTD. But, Ethan connected with his community to keep them close and let them know he still cares about them and even apologized for his absence and lack of communication. This was rare and well done. He just won the hearts of his fans (how have not had to pay for his great contribution to our digital lives).
One things to note (if you are not familiar with kGTD as you are not interested in Getting Things Done (I am not being snarky, just you are not part of the kult) or are on a platform other than Mac) is kGTD caused the software it extends to get redesigned/reengineered to better support the tool. The kGTD fans caused a spike in purchases of OmniOutliner that they embraced many of the fan requests for product improvement. In turn the OmniOutliner had performance increases and functionality improvements that made their over all product much better than it already was. It shows what a great extension or external product layered on top of another product that is open for modifying can do for the whole ecosystem. OmniOutliner had a avid fan base, but it grew even larger and more avid with this kGTD extension. All of the Omni products are great and have deep followings.
The human, "we are just like you", approach to connect with those that use and have interest in the product helps keep it real and friendly. We connect more closely with the developer and the person. It builds a better bond. I have been deeply impressed and interest rekindled.
With the arrival of my new Powerbook I was in the middle of preparing for four upcoming talks with illustrations and presentations for them in process I needed to get my works in progress off my TiBook as well as my applications moved over. I went with the ProCare at my local Apple Store, which turned out to be awesome. For just under 100 bucks they moved everything over and kept all the new goodness in place all in 12 hours. It was the longest I have been off my computer (actually more like 20 hours off the machine) in quite some time (things have been a little busy of late). I panicked when I dropped my computer off as the Apple floor person told me they no longer moved applications over, but he was just a little off.
I could not recommend ProCare more for just that service by itself. Somebody in recent weeks called ProCare the frequent flier club for Apple. You can also reserve an Apple Genius up to seven days in advance at any Apple Store. Not only that, but you can reserve a specific Genius. Unfortunately your favorite Genius will not follow you around the globe, but it is still sweet.
It has been a big few days for Will. He started crawling today. He learned to mimic tapping on the floor. He will jump up and down like a mad man (boy). He learned to clap his hands. He can grab a filled spoon and put it in his own mouth (cleanly I might add). He can pick up put Cheerios in his own mouth (not with the first finger and thumb just yet). He can crawl backwards and sit himself up and stay balanced for long stretches. He knows the TV, Satellite, and On button row and the proper time to press them (hit that row first) on his own dummy remote.
But yesterday's trip to Whole Foods market it all sunk in. It was our first family outing to the market. He was very attentive to all the people and all the items. He was fascinated with the light fixtures, as he is everywhere. But, in the dairy aisle I stopped the cart and tried to help Joy find the item she wanted. When I looked down Will was had his arms stretched out of the cart toward a large display of Cheerios. He knows brands. He knows HIS brand. This really amazed me. He has really been paying attention, it sinks in, and he remembers.
In my Web travels this weekend I came across GoodLogo, a design review of product logos. The site states about itself:
In the era of multimedia like television and internet and the ever smaller getting competitive gap between companies, image is everything. On the internet for instance a company is almost completely presented by graphics and texts. No longer not only the performance of a product or service is the most important thing. The look&feel and the image of using and being seen with this product or service is just as important. For this and for some people a lot more reasons, the logo of a company and its overall branding is very much important.
By buying for example a car you're not just buying the car and its performance and luxurious interior, you also buy yourself an image created by good branding of marketeers and of course designers. These days a company without clear and clean branding won't last as long as it did posess these elements.
Visitors to the site can vote on their favorites. The site is based in the Netherlands so there is a good mix of European and American centric brands. The American brands seem to have higher rankings than the Euro-brands, which could mean more Americans are voting and are familiar with their home brands, or Europeans prefer American brands. The site offers "design cases" on some brands, but the reviews are rather sparse and left me wanting more. I'll be back.
Matt has posted a PDF of the detailed BBC redesign process, which is well worth the download time (7.3 MB plus). This is how the process should be done and is done often in places that care to do it right. This process takes time, which equates to money, but the reward is happy satisfied users.
At first I found it a slight bit odd that the Beeb would target their voice map (page 16) to the fun and highbrow side of the map. I understand highbrow, but fun over functional seemed odd at first (possibly since I work with clients that should be focussing on the functional and not so fun side of the map (some think of the fun at the detriment of functional). But, having the Beeb America channel help understand the fun side of the site. There is a lot of information that the Beeb produces and much of it is instructional/educational, which benefits from having the fun element. I have tended to think of the BBC as a resource for my news, and growingly so my information (gardening, etc) and entertainment.