I love this. There’s a tendency to believe that a visual problem (or perceived problem) with a website requires a redesign to fix, and then going through a long, complicated, expensive process that usually doesn’t solve the problems. It’s like not liking the paint color on your walls so you demolish the whole house. It’s done entirely because people can’t think of anything except “Redesign!” It’s almost always a mistake.
I’ve seen a lot of rules and tips on effective meeting habits, but I think this list might be one of my favorites. A few thoughts:
Rule zero is crucial, but difficult to manage in the real world. And as much as I would love to abide by rule eight a lot more (calling people on the other rules), it’s much easier said than done to tell other people that the meetings they call aren’t worthwhile.
Rule one is wonderful, but nearly impossible to really do. People schedule meetings as a way to block off time from the other tasks that they have to do as a way to signal to others that they’re unavailable, not to mention as a way to remind them of the meeting. So having a bunch of one-minute meetings on your calendar really isn’t doable. What I’d suggest instead is that the person who calls the meeting needs to be the person who calls the meeting over, and they need to be good about keeping the meeting only as long as it needs to be.
I love number five as much as I hate those meetings that are just passing around some info. Information should be kept in centralized places where all people involved can access it, not just spouted out in (usually unnecessary) meetings where the information can be easily forgotten or later refuted.
Number seven is just as important: a meeting that doesn’t end with action items and/or next steps is a meeting that might as well have not even have happened.
One more to add: any necessary regularly-scheduled status meetings should be future tense (“I will be working on…”) instead of past (“Last week, I did…”).
The One Good Thing About Google+
There’s a lot to hate about Google Plus. Google has been ridiculously pushy about a product that offers very little that other products don’t. The design is poor—one post with a couple comments takes up the entire real estate—and the mobile app pushes an “immersive” experience, as though that’s what we really needed. Circles are high-maintenance and the wrong way to go about content management and Google is pushing us all do to more: more people in your circles, follow more people and brands, join more communities. MORE.
But there is one good thing about Google+, and that’s that it acts as the glue between all Google products, most notably your contacts, where your address book is updated with the people who are in your circles. Even if the social side of Google+ fails, that connection is still highly valuable, and it’s important that people both keep their information current and that they expose it to at least their Friends circle.
Of course, this is what a lot of the initial arguments in favor of Google+ put forward: that it’s not a social network, but a way to link everything together. That doesn’t account for why Google has been so forceful with the social aspects of Plus, though. If it’s not a social network—if it’s not a Facebook clone—then why are they launching communities, Pages, and pushing us to put more people into our circles?
Here’s to hoping that they’ll continue to make the contact aspect even more useful, even if they don’t do the same for the social parts.
The dumbest part of this article is this quote: “Less than half of visits to nytimes.com start on the homepage.” If any page of your site got slightly less than half of visits, you would consider that one of the most vital pages of your site. So if the homepage isn’t completely dominating, that means it’s “dead”? No. Obviously.
This article posits that the home page is now a “brand billboard”, which is approaching it from far too much of a marketing perspective. The home page is a starting page. This is where people who are interested in you generally go first. Yes, it’s vitally important to optimize deeper pages for those who land on it, but that’s for people looking for (or being directed to) somewhere specific. The landing page is for people who are asking you what all you have to offer. Does that really sound like something that should die off? No. It should be made as useful as possible.
Fascinating article on the change in habits (mostly US but also worldwide) of beverage consumption. In short, Americans are drinking more wine and more water (bottled, unfortunately), but there were a few things here that stuck out:
“Seventeen years ago, liquor consumption hit a 40-year low, so the industry tried something new. They advertised.”
I suppose that it shouldn’t be too surprising to see advertising in action, but…it’s still surprising. There’s a temptation, even among some marketers, to believe that people already know about the product and that something as simple as putting out ads wouldn’t make a difference. It does.
“The middle-class brands are getting crushed, and the high-end is running away with all the income.”
Alcohol as an indicator of the American economy?
“Some of the same trends Americans are running away from — an unhealthy obsession with soda and cheap beer, for example — the rest of the world is running toward.”
Are we really seeing trends in how countries progress through economic growth? As though these other countries are going through their teen years and America is starting to think about retirement?
“I’m not exactly a stranger to technology, but at a certain point, this stops being fun. Really what I want to do with this site is publish my writing and photography. As far as I’m concerned, the technology should stay out of the way. As much as I want to be a control freak and build my own platform to my heart’s content, I would rather write and photograph than be a system administrator.”
“The new features are built on the belief that sharing purchases matters more than sharing mere interest in music. A purchase signals a level of interest that’s much greater than the interest that goes into a stream or a like. Anybody can listen to music these days, but not just anybody will actually part with money for it.”
Quickly archive old email in your Gmail inbox
A couple of months ago, Gmail created some new search operators that allow you to find emails that are older than x number of days or weeks. I was thrilled to read this, assuming that it would mean I could get the feature of Gmail that I’d long been hoping for: a filter that automatically archives old messages from my inbox, meaning that I would no longer have to go through my old email and archive it manually.
Unfortunately, that still doesn’t work. You can create a filter with the new search operators, but since filters (apparently) only work on incoming email, your filter just sits there, doing nothing.
But I did find a way to combine these new search operators with the Quick Links lab feature to at least make it easier to archive older read messages in my inbox. Here’s the recipe:
- Turn on Quick Links if you haven’t already (go to Settings, then click Labs, then search for Quick Links and enable them and click Save).
- In the Gmail search box at the top, type in this search term:
in:inbox is:read older_than:14d
- In the Quick Links area, click “Add Quick Link”, which will create a new entry for you and will allow you to give it a title (I called mine “Old Inbox Messages”).
Once you’ve done that, archiving older inbox messages is as simple as opening up the Quick Links box, clicking on “Old Inbox Messages”, clicking the checkbox up at the top to select all messages that match that search and then archiving them. Yes it would be nice to have it be automatic, but this is still a lot better.
Also: I also created an Unread Messages Quick Link (“is:unread”), which can be really handy when getting back from a vacation and going through all the email that’s piled up in all your different folders.
I have really mixed feelings on this heavily-shared thought from Anil Dash.
On one hand, I find myself constantly wishing that more things—especially processes at work—were more like Twitter: feeds of small amounts of information that update throughout the day.
I also think that he hits on a way of thinking that I was converted to a few years ago and feel very strongly about now: that verbal explanation of statistics and trends is vital to the understanding of charts-and-graphs reports, and that reports should never stand alone without explanation.
But I think that visualizations of data are extremely important to understanding what’s going on, and shouldn’t be relegated to being “behind disclosure buttons”.
Also, he seems to have never seen the Intelligence Reports feature of Google Analytics. And if Google Analytics is “totally inscrutable”, then he isn’t asking the right questions of it.
Simple find-and-replace using regular expressions in Dreamweaver
It’s a simple problem, but one I came across often in Dreamweaver: how to change out a set of tags while leaving the text between the tags intact. Here it is for reference.
If you to change:
<div id=”messy_header”><div class=”messy_headline”>This Is A Headline</div></div>
<div class=”clean_headline”>This Is A Headline</div>
Then this is what you put in the search and replace dialog in Dreamweaver (regular expressions in bold), making sure to check off the “Use regular expression” option:
Find: <div id=”messy_header”><div class=”messy_headline”>(.*)</div></div>
Replace: <div class=”clean_headline”>$1</div>
I don’t doubt that there are tons of better solutions (not to mention better software). If you have a better solution…well, that’s why installed comments here. Fire away.