Friday, June 26, 2009

It is more then just being considerate - Design for Accessibility

Many visitors to your web site may have certain physical challenges. Accessibility refers to web designs that remain accessible despite any physical, sensory, and cognitive disabilities, work constraints, or technological barriers. Many web sites are image and media intensive that may not lend itself to adaptive devices such as screen readers, voice browsers, and Braille translators.
Building more accessible content does not mean you have to delete complex and/or rich media sites. Or by offering a text-only based site alternative.

The W3C supports and encourages a accessibility program ( This site provides guidelines and standards to build ore accessible web content. Some tips you will find at this site:
  • Images and animation – use the alt attribute to describe the function of each visual
  • Multimedia – Provide captioning and transcripts of audio ad descriptions of video
  • Hypertext links – Use text that makes sense when read out of context.
  • Page organization – Use headings, lists, and consistent structure. Use CSS layout and style where possible.
  • Scripts, applets, and plug-ins – provide alternative content in case active features are inaccessible
  • Tables – make line-by-line reading sensible and summarize
  • Validity – check design ad validate code using validators from W3C.
  • For physically challenged visitors validate site by using Bobby ( -recently sold to IBM or similar web-based tools offered by W3C for checking accessibility guidelines.

Monday, June 22, 2009

GENDER – Women consumers

So often we consider age when profiling and crafting the write visual communication message. That is why my last three blogs covered the three major age groups of Baby Boomer, Gen-X and Gen-Y. Did you know that Women represent 51.2 percent of the population and they influence or buy 80 percent of products sold?

Women want products, ads, and businesses that are without comparisons to a man’s world. Markets have proven time and time again that the primary thing that women want,, as people and as consumers, is relationships. Women prefer personal one-on-one networking as a way of finding solutions to business problems and this is often how they discover products as consumers.

Women are largely holistic in their approach to relationships; meaning that they are less likely than men to compartmentalize a brand or company solely according to what it has to offer them in a specific situation.

They want to feel a deeper, more layered connection.

Five key elements of women as consumers:
  • Respect: women are well-informed. They research products well before buying. They read ingredients much more closely than men to make sure there are no harmful elements, and they are very careful about their decisions. Acknowledge that they are intelligent and informed, and they will respect your brand.
  • Individuality: Women are playing multiple roles today and do not want to be talked to from only one, narrow perspective. They are feminine, powerful, nurturing moms and caregivers, independent, sexy, smart, and so on. Recognize their diversity as much as possible and resist any and all temptation to stereotype.
  • Stress relief; In numerous studies stress has been shown to be women’s number one enemy. Women today feel overwhelmed by taking an equal role as breadwinner and primary nurturer to the family. 43% of women feel frustrated in trying to balance their work with parenting. Offer solutions, or at least understanding, of the tensions that prey on them
  • Connection: Women base most of their decision making on emotions as opposed to rational elements. Studies have shown that they don’t like reading lists of numbers, specs,
  • Relationship: Women want dialogue, not just a transaction. Women are looking for brands to trust and will often remain extremely loyal to a brand that has built on their trust consistently – even beyond price. Part of the relationship a woman has with a brand has to do with that brand representing some-thing important to her in her life. Brands that take a sincere stand for something and demonstrate it in real, concrete terms will do well with women.

Women and the web:
Women’s primary online activities are:
  • Gathering information: (business/career/family/shopping/health/travel/computer)
  • Sending and receiving email
  • Chatting
Women tend to go online for a specific purpose and men are more likely to be surfers or browsers.

Contents or helpful tips are more valuable to women than games.

Respect: Women use the web to conduct research of products, services, and companies in order to make informed decisions.
Individuality: Women are using the web to reinforce their sense of themselves as multidimentional people.
Stress relief: The major reason women sop online is convenience. Also a good source for a little relaxation and self-gratification.
Connection: Easy to navigate information and content that is highly relevant to women in a way that fosters a sense of community.
Relationship: Women use the web to help themselves and their families.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Generation Y: Coming Right at You (at Warp Speed) This presently is the youngest of the consumer age cohorts.

  • Although still evolving, this generation’s emotional palette and passions are entirely unique.
  • They are going faster and doing more than any previous generation.
  • Activities that absorb them fully do it through demanding and concisely packed content.
  • When trying to reach this generation, advertising needs to be brief and sans fluff.
  • Never talk down to this generation as kids. They have developed responsibility and awareness early in life.
  • Most not underestimate the sophistication of this generation.
  • Demonstrates an unprecedented sensitivity to global issues, such as poverty, war, environmentalism, as well as race, gender, or sexual orientation discrimination issues.
  • They hold civic responsibility in high regard and whereas their Boomer parents fought to topple society, today’s youth would rather fix it up.
  • The internet may not, despite the hype, necessarily be the foremost venue of the Generation Y’s consumer demands. But because of the internet they can freely and independently of their parents develop their own tastes.
  • Generation Y enjoys using the Internet as a social space. However, until now they have shown a dislike for shopping on the Internet.
  • This generation craves a more direct interactivity and sensory experience in marketing.
  • For this generation, ten seconds is often too long. Their desire for immediate gratification is frustrated by the delays of slow-loading web pages and week long shipping waits.
  • Promotional events are gaining popularity in marketing this generation.
  • This generation will tell us what they want, goal is to listen.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Gen X to Gen excel: No Slacking Here

We continue our discussions on the various characteristics of age cohort groupings that should be included in any design element.
  • Take-control, independent-minded, pragmatic mentality which aided by a booming economy has effectively shed all resemblance of a decade old image of slackers.
  • In the process of building careers, buying houses, and preparing to people them with god-knows-what generation.
  • Conservative and sensible in all matters pecuniary.
  • Gen eXcel is exercising maturity and prudence.
  • As a generation, they are averse to divorce.
  • Homes are considered a symbol of their individuality, rather than their status symbols.
  • Predominately they are looking for a particular look and that look can be provided by a multitude of brands.
  • They have sharp and discriminating taste that freely adapts and subverts existing fashions and brands while meeting hip fashions and individualizing. In other words, your basic postmodern portrait.
  • They saw job security and corporate loyalty fly out the window, they are the workers most likely to leave the company they are with if they receive a better job offer.
  • They are unwilling to sacrifice their personal lives on the corporate altar.
  • They favor work that offers variety and enhances their own skill set while allowing them to learn.
  • They are entrepreneurial and want to direct themselves.
  • They yen for teamwork and are accustomed to collaboration and enjoy being part of a team.
  • Being told what to do damages their morale, but being allowed to find their own solution and make their own mistakes is very rewarding to them.
  • They are equally accustomed to working for male and female bosses and show diminished concern for gender issues in the workplace.
  • Businesses must provide accurate depictions in their media – appeal to the eXcels’ individuality and their aspirations.
  • Humor, particularly sarcasm, is a favorite of theirs.
  • Anything irreverent has good shot at stirring their sympathies and maybe their loyalties. An amusing story with a great punch line and a good laugh is one way to do it. Offbeat, slightly off-color humor is often advised.
  • Campaigns that target the eXcels should strongly consider nontraditional approaches.
  • They have abandoned the typical hierarchical mentality in favor of equality – in other words, they expect others, even their bosses, to treat them as equals.
  • They describe the Internet as a means of escape and mental stimulation, as well as a way of gathering specialized information.
  • They are the first generation that said “What’s in it for me?”
  • Their rules:
  • Is it Hip/Cool? Is it Original? Is it Flashy? Is it New?, Is it Creative? Is it my Community? Is it Me?, Is it Sexy? Can I see myself in the message?, Is it Honest?, Is it Fun?, Is it Interactive? Is it Cynical? Does It Show I have Style? Is it Humorous? Is it Real?
  • Does it show I am one smart, brave, bad-ass success?!
  • The Xers have managed to usher in the “alternative” to everything.
  • Unbelievably smart, they are savvy and pragmatic and exchange information as bargaining chips.
  • They refuse to adhere to any road map and can turn on a dime to acquire a new strategy or skill set to win with.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What's your cohort?

There are three major age cohorts or groups that must be taken into account when developing branding and corporate identity solution. They are:
  • Baby Boomers born 1946 – 64
  • Gen Xers born 1965 – 76
  • Generation Y born 1977 – 94

These three population segments simply don’t speak the same language. Baby Boomers respond to cues of achievement, status, and performance, while Gen Xers value imagination, creativity, and relationships, and Gen Y responds to fun, interactivity, and experience. It is important that we understand these differences and assist our clients with such understanding. This critical to maintaining our own brand promise of cost-effective, message-effective, and products they are proud of. In the next series of blogs, I will address the different groupings.The following consist of sound bites and statements about the Baby Boomers

Aging Baby Boomers: Not Your Typical Grandma and Grandpa
  • This generation finds itself presented with a new obstacle, unlike anything it has ever encountered before: LAF – Life after Forty. Boomers will confront this change with vigor and finesse, co-opting the meaning of maturity and retirement and fitting it to their generation’s idiosyncrasies.
  • Comprise eighty-one million people, 30% of the population and 55% of the US discretionary income.
  • Will not bend to the strains of age. Instead they will revitalize and reshape what it means to be mature.
  • Boomers are not getting older; they are reaching a youthful maturity. They can look forward to indulging in the three big benefits of maturity: wisdom, health, and status and can buy their way out of most of the drawbacks of maturity.
  • Anxiously indulging in treats with connotations of youth and adventure that reaffirm their youthfulness and energy.
  • Competitive careers, demanding families, and a slew of medical advances have kept this group remarkably fit.
  • By denying their age they are more apt to undertake ambitious projects such as starting a new company or vacationing in rugged terrain. Their Peter Pan “never grow up” mentality constitutes an empowering attitude.
  • Boomers are ready to indulge in pricey pleasure purchases.
  • Products that present themselves as panic purchases, catering to Boomers fleeing the fates, will flop.
  • Products that take into account universal design principles will meet with success. Universal design principles take into account the needs of all consumers, whether they’re seventeen or seventy.
  • Branding is about comfort, reassurance, and solutions for this group. Attempts to scare consumers into buying their products no longer works. Today’s brands romance the consumer and demonstrate understanding.
  • Comfort has also become a priority for many Boomers.
  • Marketing campaigns that emphasize physical and psychological benefits are more successful than those that focus on the problem being solved.
  • Brands must develop much more sensitivity to the symbolic values surrounding their product and image that are open to constant repositioning or embellishment.
  • Even as they begin to downshift, Boomers will maintain remarkably active lifestyles.
  • Understanding both these sides of Boomers – the desire to escape and downshift while remaining active – is vital for 21st century business. Products and promotions must sensibly cater to both halves of this mentality

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword

In the studio’s May e-zine, we discussed the importance of print material. There is one aspect of print (hard copy) media that we did not address - one that is extremely important. It is the hand-written note. We have become so email oriented that we have forgotten this powerful tool. The hand written thank you note or invitation says one thing – You are important enough for me to take time out, compose a message and personally write it. I am not talking about a typewritten note – a human hand written message or note.

The sales courses talk about constantly keeping in touch with your prospects and clients. This is so true. Large amounts of communications coupled with the cost of paper, envelope and postage makes emails so cost-effective and they are so convenient.

Take a birthday card. There is the convenient electronic card you can send. It is convenient and low-cost. It is often entertaining with rich media. At least it says I did not forget. But too much email cards can make us “sloppy”. It is even easier to post something on your FaceBook wallpaper. Again, at least I did not forget.

But a personal card says you are really special:
• I remembered
• Took the time to pick out a card
• Wrote a message on the card
• You are important enough for that extra cost and time of mailing

With the card, I can also keep it and refer to it many times. My wife had this tradition that she would keep the Christmas and holiday cards we would receive. She would then during the year, take one card out of the collection to remind her of the sender and pray for them during the day. Keeping in your save box e-cards or emails is not quit the same thing.

We ask our new awards how they found out about the studio and why they selected us. Several times we were told it was because they received a hand written thank you card after we had met them.

By the way, poor penmanship is not an acceptable excuse. So buy that pack of thank you notes or cards and take the time to think of a message, personally write it out, and send it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

More Important Than Ever

Yesterday a long-standing client of the studio called. The first thing he said was “Kudos to you”. I know we had not just provided a deliverable, so I asked why the kudos. The client said because we answered the phone. “Kudos for answering the phone?” I asked. Well it seems that the client has been calling his other vendors and they have not been answering the phone.
I guess in today’s economic environment, every other call you make or receive is trying to collect money. You can easily see why the phone can become a source of pain. But these situations will get better as the economy gets better. Being available to your clients is not a short-term practice. It should be along-term habit. Make sure you answer the phone especially if it is one of your clients or prospects. You can always use caller-id to identify telemarketers. Answering the phone also includes returning phone calls.

Today’s consumers have the following characteristics. They are:
• Angry
• Cynical
• Time Starved
• Don’t care about the how only the results for them
• Measure their level of being impoverished not by amount of money but by connectivity.

If they cannot get in touch with you, they will feel impoverished. At times this can be troublesome for it creates a high level of psychological noise but not being able to reach you will make them uncomfortable. Our clients on the whole are more demanding. This is true not just for the graphics design industry but for all industries.

Even product oriented businesses find themselves in the service industry. Taking orders, processing orders, delivery instructions, etc are all service-oriented processes.
It is not just a matter of performing at your present level, but constantly raising the bar. So start today by answering the phone, or returning that call and do it with a smile.