Playing around with design

So lately, I’ve been trying to learn a bit about design.

Turns out there is a lot to learn. But I have learned a few little tricks.

Last week I did a little series of creepy/scary/mystery-ish type images which I’ll post over the next few days.

Here’s the first one.

Feel free to share your thoughts, offer advise or to criticize them – feedback is super cool and I love it.

Am I on your website or have I made a wrong turn into Vegas? (Stuff that drives us nuts about websites)

As a freelance content writer and researcher, I spend a helluva lot of time on the Internet. And I visit hundreds of websites a week, for information, for amusement, to expand my knowledge and understanding of topics. In fact, most of us spend some time on the Internet and obviously visit websites.

As a free-market capitalist I’m not one to begrudge others of trying to make a living. I admire people who go out, brave the wild frontiers of online marketing, and hang up their cyber shingle. That’s awesome.

But if you make it difficult for me to visit, stay and absorb whatever your site has to offer, I’m clicking off. Me and everybody else.

It’s ironic that the first rule of advertising is not to annoy and most marketers and online businesses violate the hell out of that rule. So many sites are jammed with things that every website visitor loathes that it boggles the mind.

Following is a list of things that we all hate. Not dislike, not are slightly annoyed by or irritated with – but hate.

  1. Pop-up ads. There’s nothing worse than clicking on a link to read an article and have pop-up ads or worse pop-up registration and subscription windows jumping out at you. And to add insult to injury you have to sit and wait until it’s done popping up before you can click it away. And the only thing I’m looking for is the way to get rid of it. You’ll be lucky if I stick around and read the article I came to your site to read in the first place.
  2. Auto-play videos, ads, and audio. Again, I clicked on your site to read an article or blog post or find out about a product and now I’m being bombarded with music, a cat video, a video ad, or ten in the sidebar and my computer processor sounds like a muscle car stuck in neutral. I don’t have the time to search out all the auto plays going on to turn them off, so I can find that link I came to your site to read. Instead, I’m leaving. Buh-bye.
  3. Flashing, blinking, scrolling, twirling psycho animations. This is the nightmare scenario for me in particular. I click on your site and within two seconds animations, auto-play videos, blinking and flashing paid advertisements, and other interactive entertainment is jumping all over the page. I’ve now forgotten why I’ve come to your site because all the lights, noise and colors are making me feel like I’ve stepped into the Vegas version of cyberspace. And I’m not about to run all over your site trying to turn that crap off while my computer gets stuck in plug-in hell. Again, see ya!

All the flash and glitter may work for Vegas – they do serve free drinks and offer cash advances too, so bear that in mind – but they don’t work for a website. We get it – you need to make a living. Understandable. But does it have to be so loud, so flashy, so annoying?

My advice? Save the glitter, flash and songs for your Christmas decorating and give us silent, static, easy to understand ads. That give us freedom of choice to pay attention to or to ignore. If I can visit your site without being accosted by your ads I’ll probably come back.

But if you go for the Vegas theme and I don’t stand a chance of winning money? I’m clicking off.

What about you? Do these things drive you up the wall as much as they do me? Share your thoughts.

Writer Chick
Copyright 2014

Does everything have to be a “thing”? (Are you just a marketing widget?)

photograph courtesy of morguefile.com
photograph courtesy of morguefile.com

You can chalk it up to the rebel in me but I really hate labels.  And it seems like more and more that every activity, belief, principle, component, element has to have a label.  It has to be a ‘thing.’  Know what I mean?

For example…

Can’t we just be good about conservation, maximize our resources, re-purpose our old stuff, and care about nature in general without having to be an environmentalist? Or worried about global warming, climate change – or whatever the kids are calling it these days?

Or can’t people who read blogs or books just be readers instead of your tribe,  your audience, your peeps?

Can’t we just be Americans without the hyphens?

Do our sex lives have to define us? Straight? Gay? Transgender? Bi? And how on Earth did our ‘sexual orientation’ (another word that drives me bats) become political?

As Americans don’t we all just have rights?  Do we really need sub-categories of women’s rights, gay rights, animal rights, illegal immigrant rights?  Do our smart-phones, tablets, computers, televisions and cars have rights too? Maybe not today but don’t be surprised if somebody suggests it in the not too distant future.

Are we all just widgets and demographics?

I think it’s interesting that people are so concerned about political parties and who has minorities and majorities in this administration or that administration.  And yeah, it’s important.  But the thing we all seem to miss is that the people who have the real power are those who can convince us that we belong in groups.  That we are merely a number in their given category.  That we aren’t really individuals.  That we are defined by our interests and not by who we are. Who are these nefarious folks?  Marketers.  People who want to sell us stuff.  And no matter how much stuff they sell us, they want to sell us more. We’re not people, we’re just group members, numbers, part of the demo – widgets.

For example, I’m ‘white, middle-age, single female, christian, conservative baby boomer.’  These folks don’t care that I love animals, would help anyone who needed help, am a great cook, can make people laugh, grow the best tomatoes on the planet, love a good steak, have passion for the written word, hate to drive but love cars, voracious reader, prolific writer, love puns, cry at beautiful things, shoot straight from the hip kind of gal.  Because they don’t see me or you as a person, just as someone to manipulate to buy and use their stuff. (And there’s that whole creating the us against them scenario, which I probably shouldn’t even go into here…)

If you’re worried about the government spying on you and learning all about you, then you should be terrified of the marketers out there who are doing it in spades.  I mean, who do you think taught the government how to do it? Whose technology does the government use to learn all your secrets?

I’m not suggesting that there is anything wrong with people wanting to sell their wares.  There are a lot of really cool and useful products and services out there and people who want them and can use them, should know about them.  But I am suggesting that we have allowed marketers to get so inside our heads that we no longer define ourselves – instead we let them define us. Know what I mean?

Resistance is futile – or is it?

So I suggest that we resist.  Stop letting them make you a widget in a crowd of widgets.  Resist the urge of putting yourself into categories – especially ones provided by others.  Define yourself.  Use your own words.  Be the unique person that you are. Because we’re people, damn it! Right?

Are you tired of feeling like a widget in the big demographic machine?  Or do you like the labels?  Why?

Writer Chick

Copyright 2014

Please Pray for my Friend

This morning I woke up to find an email in my inbox that sent me reeling. A very close friend of mine, Kelly, was in a very bad car accident yesterday afternoon. She is currently in the ICU and has brain damage. Some of you may know her as KellyToo, as she visited some of your blogs in the past.

She has two young children who really need her and a great husband and family.

She’s a wonderful mom, friend and person. She has a great laugh and is someone so full of life it is hard to imagine her not running around filling the air with laughter and fun.

The details of what happened to her are still a bit sketchy, but it doesn’t sound good. I will likely being going up there, possibly today. I am waiting to hear back from her husband.

I may not be around for a bit. But I ask you to please pray for my friend and her family. They need every prayer they can get.

Annie

Fire

Hi guys,

As you may have heard on the news, there are approximately 12 forest fires going strong here in Southern California. Unfortunately, several of them are rather nearby. The Governor has proclaimed a state of emergency and hopefully, we will have the National Guard and any other help we need to get the fires under control.

A few pictures:

The first one is a map that gives you the general locations of the fires. The others show various views from the fires. So far, 250,000 have been evacuated just from the San Diego area alone. Thousands of acres have been burned and our firefighters fight not just fire but up to 105 mile an hour Santa Ana winds, 0% humidity and dry brush. Hundreds of homes have been lost.

Say a little prayer for us, if you would. I’ll check back soon. I’m hoping against hope that we won’t be evacuated too.

Annie

Addendum:

If anyone is interested in helping here are a few links that you can follow:

http://www.directrelief.org/SupportUs/WaysToGive/WaysToGive.aspx

http://wcbstv.com/topstories/california.wildfire.donations.2.411576.html

http://networkforgood.blogspot.com/2007/10/southern-california-fires.html

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21444274/