Associate with Milwaukee interactive marketers at SWIG

Join me and other members of the Milwaukee Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA) at our May Mixer. It will be held at SWIG, in the Third Ward of Milwaukee. It happens this Thursday, May 22.

This event is a terrific chance to catch up with colleagues, learn a thing or two about our fast-changing field of interest, and celebrate the late arrival of summery weather — all at SWIG, a newly re-opened hot spot. Here is a map.

Registration is just $15 for members, $20 for non-members. Register online from the MIMA site. And while you have your Paypal account or credit card in hand, why not join this wonderful grassroots organization.

The festivities start at 5 PM tonight. I hope to see you there!

Add your own Twitter tactics and resources to this valuable list

Marketing Sherpa ran an interesting piece on Friday on all things Twitter (thanks for the head’s up, Kevin). Its headline, Get Famous Using Twitter to Market Your Company & Yourself, is a tad grandiose, but the content is some of the densest I’ve read in terms of valuable ideas per word. Especially for marketers new to the medium, it’s an excellent overview and how-to.

What the post left unsaid is the bad news: It’s still difficult-to-impossible to measure real ROI for a Twitter effort. That said, from an SEO and customer service perspective, Twitter is a great tool.

Primarily, Twitter is a terrific way to measure the pulse of consumer sentiment — both cheaply and in real time.

One tool mentioned that was news to me was this one: Twitter Volume, a way to “compare how often different brands/companies/words/phrases are mentioned on Twitter.”

Conversely, a tool I love that wasn’t mentioned is this high-quality search of Tweets: The volume of Tweets returned is among the highest I’ve seen and the recency of the Tweets is also excellent.

Any favorite Twitter-related tactics or tools that weren’t mentioned here, or in the Sherpa piece? Let me know.

Your web site should be like the world itself: Inviting and “flat”

When Thomas L. Friedman asserted that The World Is Flat, he was referring to the interconnectedness of this newly networked world. He could have also been referring to the structure of an ideal web site. Why should it be flat? The site needs to offer a way for nearly everyone to efficiently find everything with the fewest possible barriers.

Ryan Singer of 37Signals reminded me of this when he wrote that web architects should think about paths instead of hierarchies. He writes:

My friend did some work for a shoe company who wished to hide six different kinds of shoes behind a gate called “Performance”. When my friend asked 40 uninvolved people in his office what the category “performance” meant to them, only 10 had even a vague idea. So hierarchies have their problems.

My team’s web architects have often run into the same thing when beginning a redesign of a client’s web site. The language used in the architecture often hides what users are striving to find. Ryan’s solution is to, “Collect all the paths you can think of in a pile, pull out the 8 paths that 80% of your visitors come looking for, and that’s your home page. When paths overlap or the same customer needs them, weave them together.”

I’d council to do the following, as a supplement to this excellent advice:

  1. Build your path list, to use Ryan’s term, by scrutinizing many a visitors’ navigation of last resort. Namely, look at behavior in your site’s search function. As I’ve mentioned earlier, mining your internal search data can reveal much about what your web site is hiding from user!
  2. Consider approaching the challenge in terms of audience, and not exclusively in terms of most popular pages (such as the eight paths accounting for “80% of visitors”). The reason? Your visitors may be leaving before they find some of your most popular content.

Finally, I’d add this word of caution — three times, in fact: Test, test test! Your key audience may be of a generation where an indiosynchatic navigation system my more useful, but too initially initimidating. Baby boomers and their elders came from a time when hierarchy was not a dirty word. They may instead have a much shorter word for an elegant but unexpected site navigation: chaos!

Have I missed any other tips in making a site as flat as the digital world where it resides?

Hey, Milwaukee, it’s pecha kucha! Let’s all go watch a slideshow!

The media have called pecha kucha — that unpronounceable presentation format created by two Tokyo architects — a poetry slam for designers. Except it’s not just for design folks.

Writers, photographers, and just about every other member of the creative class have devised and shown these six-minute wonders. Shown where, you ask? Over 100 cities around the world have conducted public pecha kucha nights. And this summer Milwaukee will be added to the list.

I created my first pecha kucha in October and became immediately hooked. I dare you to attend its official Milwaukee debut and not be bowled over by its power.

An audience at a recent pecha kucha event

You’ll find more details at the official site, but here are the basics:


Tuesday, June 17th, 2008
8pm; $10 register online or buy at door 


Hi Hat Garage
1701 N. Arlington Place
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 


  • Corey Canfield | Milwaukee Recycles (Kind Of)
  • Erica Conway | How a Woman Runs a Business
  • Tom Crawford | Kaszube Ornithological Concern International
  • Peter Exley | Growing Up in a Black and White World
  • Daniel Goldin | Dead Department Stores
  • Nicolas Lampert | Meatscapes: A Travel Log
  • Faythe Levine | Craftivism & Community
  • Aaron Schleicher | The Making of a True American Record
  • Jolynn Woehrer | Unwrapping Chocolate for its (Dis) Contents:
    A Feminist Analysis of its Fetishisms and its Fair Trade

Hosted by 800ceoread at The Hi Hat Garage
Promoted by 91.7 WMSE and Schwartz Bookshops
Founded by Klein Dytham architecture

Thank you Jon Mueller of 800CEOread for helping to bring this form to Milwaukee!

How little do web users read? Even less than you think

Before you struggle too hard and long over that golden prose you’ve drafted for your web site, consider this statistic, as cited on Jakob Nielsen’s site last week:

On average, users [in the study discussed] will have time to read 28% of the words if they devote all of their time to reading. More realistically, users will read about 20% of the text on the average page.

The takeaway: Write as though your reader has one foot out the door and the other on a banana peel. Get to the point and then move on!