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Four Design Links: October 8, 2009

The leaves may be changing, but Four Design Links never changes. We're here every Thursday, rain or shine.

1. Now this is how to market something

This harrowing video shows a skier wearing a helmet-cam, buried by an avalanche for several minutes and dug out by his friends. He survived the encounter because he was experienced, lucky, and had the right equipment. It was one of the most oddly compelling (if unintentional) marketing episodes I’ve ever witnessed.

Survive an Avalanche with an Avalung
Left: the viral video in question; Right: A Black Diamond Avalung

Before watching the video, I had no idea what an avalung was, but I do now. It’s a device that helps skiers breathe easier if they get caught in an avalanche. According to the comments on the video, it probably saved the skier’s life.

One wouldn’t even dream of trying to stage something like this –a life or death situation– for marketing purposes, but I can’t get over how effective the whole experience was. To watch this event through this person’s eyes and survive(!) was so compelling, I just had to learn more. I could see the value of the product and I was convinced even though I have no intention whatsoever of attempting such an activity. That’s powerful stuff.

2. 10 Branding and Marketing Trends for 2010

Some of these trends for 2010 sound like what we’ve been saying for the past year and a half.

Jaded and savvy customers no longer trust emotional appeals or take the company’s word at face value. To survive, brands need authentic value, not hollow promises. Much of this is driven by the power of online conversations and communities, which represent a space where advertisers and marketers cannot exercise the same control over their message. Winning over these communities involves building genuine trust.

3. Mixergy

Mixergy website

I came to this site for all the wrong reasons (a snarky comment from @NathanBowers) but I stayed for the design.

I’m not much in need of the content — mostly tips for the entrepreneur-set — but I like how they present the information. Mixergy makes liberal use of video for interviews and features, but in a smart seminar-style way I wish more sites would duplicate.

Mixergy website: transcript of videocast
An example of the video transcript and summary.

While I appreciate the appeal of video blogging, for the most part it just doesn’t fit into my browsing habits. Why sit through a 5,15, or 40 minute presentation when I could read it so much faster?

Mixergy spoils its audience with not only a transcript of the video (which is editable Wiki-style), but two levels of executive summary. Something else I liked were the suggested comments. It might seem a little schoolroom, but I like the idea of starting the discussion by asking questions of the audience instead of expecting them to start an interesting conversation from scratch.

If more video talks are the trend, I’d like to see those sites take this approach with their content.

4. More on how web performance impacts revenue

From studies by Google, Amazon, AOL, and others, we know that that faster load times improve customer experience which can lead to greater retention and more sales. But what about websites that aren’t so big? Well a recent study by Watching Websites focused on smaller pages and came up with similar results.

Page optimization study
“There’s no longer any debate. There’s reliable, reproducible evidence that web page latency is directly tied to the bottom line.”

Designers of small sites might want to think about adding optimization to their list of services. It seems like a win/win. Another potential source of billable hours for the designer and good ROI for the client.


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NickOct 8, 2009

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