Category Archives: Web & Tech

The first web Revolution

They say when your in the middle of an event, you don’t realise what a key part it will play in the future. I’m guessing when my Grandad was in the Navy in world war II they bared no thought about how in years to come kids would be learning about it in history.

Although not on the same scale as world war II, but just as world changing, I believe we are in the middle of one of these times. The internet has had its first technological revolution, with facebook twitter and youtube playing an integral part in freeing Egypt from the corrupt reign of Mubarak. I remember speaking to a taxi driver in Egypt only a few months before everything kicked off, he was telling me all about the countries corruption and how he did not know what would be happening in the next election. Little did I think then that the very entity I work on, spend every day on, and pays my wages.. the internet, would be the very thing to help free them a few months later.

From my previous blogs such as ‘rise of the honest open internet‘ it’s clear I have high hopes for the way the net will change humanity, and its still young. Yet I feel we are slap bang in the middle of the of the first step to change .

Following the events in Egypt one couple even named their daughter ‘Facebook’. Now Libya have risen up with the same power of the people through the use of the internet, currently in the midst of a similar protest against their corrupt leader Gaddafi.

Gaddaffi has even made his own poor attempt at convincing the public by faking films of supporters cheering for him and claiming those against him have been forced drugs and alcohol. Through TV media this may have worked but with the power of social media and a public voice this is has just made him look even more stupid.

This is a great time to be in, and I have a feeling the Internet still has a few tricks up it’s sleeve for the future of the human race.

Project IRIS (Smart Home) – First stages

Im currently working on a bit of a sideline project I have dubbed as IRIS (inLIFE Reactional Inhabitant System).

IRIS is a Smart Home system built into my house that responds to voice commands, remote commands and other built in macros that can control everything from boiling the kettle at a certain time to dimming the lights to 50% and more. Similar to the smart home ‘SARAH‘ from the popular fiction TV show Eureka.

IRIS will be eventually hidden behind the scenes and pick up voice commands from anywhere in the house, as well as accessibale remotley via the iPAD, iPhone and iPod as remotes also. She can also be accessed via voice command using the iPhone as a wireless remote from the garden.

The video below is a quick guide to the development stages of IRIS so far and beta testing. IRIS is built with a compilation of a number of things including X10 Home Automation Kit, BVC Software, ActiveHomePro Software Dev Kit and Weather aloud. Future enhancements will include the use of Bluetooth detection and recognition.

I will post more video updates as IRIS development progresses. Here is the first sample..

Web-wizardry from the master.. apparently

An image of my shiny bald head graced the first inside page of the local newspaper this week in the ‘Burntwood Post’ regarding the launch of WS7.co.uk. The website is a sideline project I have been working on in an aim to help get local business within my town online.

“An Innovative new scheme to get the entire Burntwood business and community noticed online has been set up by local entrepeneur David Whitehouse’

On top of designing and developing websites for a number of companies big and small I do a few sideline websites for local businesses. Although when it comes to smaller or new businesses a lot have no target on the web and simply just want to ‘be online’

An online presence is important more now than ever with more and more taking to google over the yellow pages, and if local companies don’t catch up they are going to fall behind. Yet at the same time getting a website can be confusing and often too expensive when all some companies want is a place on google.

This is where the idea for ws7.co.uk was born. With an essence of ‘charity starts at home’ the scheme is only available for local business in and around the Burntwood area (ws7 postcode) allowing not only business but the community to start their own website for free, no charge, easy log in and edit area with submission to search engines and your own domain name eg. yourname.ws7.co.uk.

The website stores an online business directory as well as local news, events and more. Funded through advertising WS7.co.uk allows users to get a website up and running in seconds, as well as advanced options to ‘go pro’ and get more themes and web space.

The local paper loved the idea and did a quick telephone / email interview to run the story.. ‘Free Web-Wizardry from the master’ all i need now is a wizards beard!

The blind marketing to the blind!

So I get home from work yesterday, kick off my cowboy boots and find a letter on my doormat. I pick it up and walk to the bin! ‘more junk mail’

Most cool cats would have dropped it in the bin, made themselves cup of dandelion and burdock and sat down to tuck into some monster munch! But being in web marketing… on the way to the bin I take a second to ask myself why is this letters fate already sealed before I’ve even opened it? And what did its creators do wrong?

It’s a simple thing and daft thing I know.. to the everyday person just getting some junk mail and throwing it is hardly worthy of a blog post! But from the point of view of the publisher that letter being opened was of the utmost importance!

Think about it.

They have had hired a marketing team to design and work on it, planned its copy articulately, lined and measures the text so what they think is ‘key information’ is showing through the expensive printed high quality gloss double windowed envelope! Not only this but also paid for the distribution and data capture of addresses to send it out in the first place! In summary they have spent a lot of effort making sure this letter gets read.

Clearly a LOT of planning, time and money has gone into getting this message across, yet as I drop it into the bin.. they have failed. Obvious to us, but to them.. why would it fail? after all that effort?

So lets look at the letter from my point of view looking up at me from the doormat.

Within a fraction of a second my eyes have taken in the content and processed it to my brain with result ‘ok.. red and blue bright colours, two large money figures, it doesn’t have MY name on it anywhere nor even in fact what company its from, bold red line across the bottom with ‘see inside for good news’ – yes well that’s descriptive? im thinking spam, readers digest, useless tat’ Result = in the bin it goes.

The simple reason and most important of all.. it looks like spam! It looks like every other failed marketeers attempt of making a flyer or letter that ‘stands out’ and what we have come to expect of it over the years of getting this crap! Just like when browsing the web it has been proven most peoples eyes now automatically avoid advertising banners (unless of course they’ve got boobs on them.. and this isn’t a joke, its fact)

That all took a fraction of a second. = Bin. I asked the Mrs the same question when she got home with what she would of done with it.. same answer. I showed the photo to other people too.. same answer ‘junk mail’

So lets look at it from the designer and publishers point of view. Same letter?

Firstly the boss comes up with a great idea and hires the marketing team who assures him they have done this many times before and got good results. The marketing team sit round and after numerous brain storms and meetings they decide the best thing to do would be to show their ‘great’ prices openly and honestly in bold on the front of the letter! Great! They then plan out its content (of which i didn’t even read) in the same way planning out the best information to get across and the most direct way of doing it. Which I guarantee has been aimed around ensuring it all leads the consumer in the direction of making that final contact, phone call or viewing their website.

Now the exterior.. bright bold colours stand out.. will make people pick it up and get attention, so red and blue is good, how about with high quality envelope glossy with bold red printed line across the bottom.. and we will even pay extra to get the windows where we want on the envelope so you can see the big bold prices through those windows. A now a nice strap line to finish it off.. something that would make you want to open it.. hmmmm what would make me want to open it.. how about ‘See inside for good news’ (lol!) brilliant all done! hey drop it on the bosses desk and he loves it.. great it stands out, bold & colourful and gets the prices across straight away through those expensive, but worth it double windows! They pay for data capture, postage and off it goes.. to millions of peoples bins! Well done!

Resulting in probably about a 10% conversion rate, that WILL cover the cost of the letter and make profit.. but badly done, and not doing a very good job for the company nor the remainder 90% of the population getting sh*t they don’t want.

SO where did they go wrong.. somewhere in between their entire weeks of planning, and my fraction of a second junk mail decision.. there is something important missing.

A single quote from Einstein has the answer “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.”

Sitting there in that room they planned what they ‘thought’ people wanted, they planned around what stands out to their eyes, from their position within the company, and what looks bright and bold to them. Without for a second taking a step outside of their body and mind into a 3rd person perspective and imagining that letter on a doormat. They tried to hard..

So you get the point.. they needed to target people better, change the old ‘spam design’, include the company name, and MY name.. plus a hell of a lot of other ‘current’ marketing ploys that are simple, work and effective. But to find out the rest of them you’ll have to hire me (cheap plug lol)

The be all and end all.. don’t come to the same final production of a message that looks like every other piece of spam out there, just because that’s the way its always been done.