Google’s top designers on a panel at SXSW, were they motivated by Steve Jobs?


One of my favorite panels at SXSW 2012 was getting to hear from the lead designers of six of Google’s core products: Gmail, Google+, Google Search, Google Maps, Google Docs, and Youtube. It was cool to hear some of their unique challenges but my main takeaway was a reminder that we all face similar challenges regardless of how large or small our clients or brands may be.

The main part of their story started in the Spring of 2011 when one of the designers – unfortunately I forget which one - received an instant message from Larry Page that simply stated, “If you could redesign Google, what would you do.” He referred to this as the moment that “the dog caught the car”. As designers, it was the dream they had been waiting for but after a brief state of shock they needed a plan to seize the opportunity.

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Gmail Tip: You can easily create email aliases using gmail

Many people do not know about this cool little feature for Gmail accounts and hosted Google apps accounts. I have found three great uses for Gmail aliases:

  1. When registering for email subscription list and have concerns about my address being shared without permission
  2. Registering for accounts on the web and I don’t want to my primary address
  3. Testing the registration process on development projects

Here is how it works. Simply add a plus sign like this: and the email will be sent to If you have a hosted domain, it looks like

You can then apply filters inside your Gmail account to route the addresses to folders like subscriptions, junk, testing, etc.

Hope that is a cool tip for you. Do you have any other cool Gmail tips?

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Do you make things happen or wait for things to happen?

Have you ever really thought about it?  Being patient and being proactive are both great virtues, but they rarely exist in tandem. When you face a decision do you attack it or let it play itself out? Which route do you normally take?  Where has either approach worked or backfired on you? No right or wrong, just curious as to what works for you.

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Did you know you can track all of your marketing campaigns in Google Analytics with UTM link tags?

Most of you are familiar with using Google Analytics to track your direct, referring, and organic site visitors. But did you know you can track all of your campaigns including your traditional offline marketing all within the same reports?

Google Analytics is a very powerful (and free!) tool that provides a nifty function called link tagging. With link tagging you can add code to the end of any offsite link that will tell Google Analytics every time that specific link is clicked. And it gets better.  You can track five different variables that will quickly take your marketing tracking to the next level with comprehensive marketing dashboard reporting.

So where would you use this?

Here are a few examples assuming that you have three current promotions called Promo A, B and C that have print ads, direct mail, email and social media campaign components:

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Web Hosting…How Do I Choose? Here are a few Web hosting tips.

Web Hosting. Data Transfer. Disk Space. DNS. IP Address. PHP. ASP. Database. Open-Source. cPanel. Bandwidth. SSL. HTTP. Javascript. C+/++. Email…

Help! Most of us could care less about all the tech jargon. Just give me a Web site that works…right? Well, you have to understand that Web site design and Web hosting are two totally different services. But in order to have a Web site you must first choose a hosting plan. It seems like it should be a simple process. There should be a standard…an easy choice…a perfect fit. Right? Nope. Not really.

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Why Are Existing Customers Your Best Place to Get New Business in 2012?

Break out the Rolodex, as we kick off each year we often forget about our greatest and most affordable marketing opportunities – existing customers. As we start 2012, focus on your customers first for two reasons:

  1. Statistically, professional services firms may lose up to 20% of their clients each year. This attrition alone means that you need to retain more clients and replace what you lose before you ever consider a growth plan.
  2. Existing customers are the most affordable to reach. A common problem is that clients always view your offerings based on the services that you provided them when they hired you.  A regular marketing program to existing customers can expose clients to the leadership that you offer other clients and allow opportunities to cross-sell additional services that they may not currently lean to you for. A basic CRM program, email marketing and social media are three great ways to do this.

With some signs of economic recovery, it is important that your customers understand the full breadth of your services and that they see the wins that you provide your other clients on a regular basis.  This way, when they decide to come out of their shell and increase their marketing investments you are the first ones that they call.

What are the best strategies that you have found for retaining existing customers?


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Dieter Rams’ Ten Principles of Good Design.

Good design is:

  1. Is innovative – The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.
  2. Makes a product useful – A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.
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What is Marketing?

I had a good discussion with a friend yesterday who is making a career change from education to marketing.  Afterwards, I started thinking about how to start a discussion about marketing at a foundational level.  So I started thinking about a conversation with Brad Majors back about 10 or 15 years ago where he gave me the simplest definition of marketing, and I adopted it as my own.

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Deadlines, Deadlines, Deadlines. Don’t Let Them Kill Your Best Work.

In marketing, our worlds often revolve around the deadlines.  In the good ole’ days we called it “Chasing the FedEx truck” and at least we got to go home at 8pm.  But once bandwidth increased and we were sending work over email, we had 24 hours in the day to worry about deadlines, like it or not.

Although deadlines often drive our inspiration, on occasion arbitrary deadlines cause us to turn in less than stellar work.

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Why I don’t like Creative Briefs.


In concept, the creative brief serves a great purpose but in the throws of getting work done it is often overlooked and great opportunities to do great work are missed. There are many different formats for a creative brief and I am a believer of simpler is better – and actually, I am not a fan of the creative brief at all.

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