SXSWi2009: Oooh. That’s Clever! Unnatural Experiments in Web Design

Speaker: Paul Annett, Clearleft

Started off talking abut the arrow within the “Ex” of the FedEx logo and other hidden things within logos, fences, etc.

Innocent Smoothies (a juice company in England) – there’s a different message on the bottoms of some of their cartons. One says “stop looking at my bottom.”

Can do this in web design too – type about:mozilla into your firefox browser, into each version, and you get an unfolding story from a fake book about Mozilla…

… giving a live example … with audience participation, props, and a guy dressed in a gorilla suit

Showing fun ways to use css and backgrounds – when you resize the screen (twequency as example) clouds go by. Nice

Ho ho ho hat in flickr – users loved it!

Google Moon – if you zoomed in all the way, you saw cartoon cheese

They have planted “easter eggs” in websites – you have to find them, they’re sorta pointless (other than making people smile)

Transparency in web design – making things that aren’t white, but are transparent. Can be cleverly used

David Emery – his website does interesting things..

Kano Model of customer satisfaction: lots of this type of “customer delight” stuff fits in his model

Basic needs – with a hotel room, you’ll be mad if there’s no toilet paper, but lots of rolls don’t delight you. On the web, having a page that just works is a basic need

Creatives and designers work on fulfilling excitement needs

SXSW2009: My Boss Doesn’t Get it: Championing Social Media to “the Man”

Michael Wilson moderated. MIles Sims, Christian Caldwell, Rebecca Caro, Peter Kim were panelists

hashtag #sml

Qs From audience were asked first: how do you get a trial going to help get their feet wet, convincing another agency’s “man” (if you’re a consultant). Selling to a board, monetization goals to show the man, and something else …

Why does it make sense/how will this make money/ROI foundation thing?

Caldwell – (works at the American Heart Assoc) – reach was important – allowing whole organization the ability to get message out – larger reach is good. Did lots of explaining, showed examples, etc.

Sims – Reach isn’t necessarily instant money – but it holds real value.

(aside – funny – a spontaneous yelling match between our session and another one)

Kim – have to show equivalency and analogy – (showing similar costs for different types of ad dollars, I think. Also sometimes showing cost

Basically, an ROI model for social media varies greatly – it depends on your organization, the customers you target, etc etc.

Top questions that need to be addressed:

Sims – these questions happen after the fact many times …

What can it do for us, our customers, how does it help my customers.

What can the company handle, who in the company can get on board early without having to do detailed ROI models?

Caroe – need to look at your company culture. IE – if your comapny would freak out if they saw negative publicity, they might not be ready yet

Wow – the panel’s talking about having to get legal into the projects… yikes!

Loss of control (Kim) – it’s a misconception. You still have control – just looks different. Control over message and control over brand.

What do you do when social media creates/requires a culture change?

Kim – a matter of perspective. Described a change of focus – the company already had bloggers, they figured out how to use those bloggers

Caroe – describes a company ceo who got fed up with bad publicity and untrue mentions, so started a blog to tell “the truth” about their company

Sims – showing how it impacts our business. Show small successes and start small, then you can slowly start to snowball into greater change

Caldwell – show successes and failures. Failure is cool – show no fear. Colleagues saw no one getting fired, bosses saw learning, so transparency worked.

Kim – it’s GOT to change, so our choice is whether or not to stay at your organization and work on change, or simply go somewhere else where social media is already accepted

Does the pitch change depending on the audience?

Caroe – play to the audience – finance wants to hear about money. Does someone want a promotion? Show them how your project will help them get that promotion. Find out their motivations and change your strategy to match those motivations.

Kim – myth – young adults ALWAYS do all social media things. He said he’s been on strategy calls where the company they’re working with will include their summer intern … “because she’s young!”

Caldwell – wanted to share women’s stories about cardiovascular diseases – they mentioned it on facebook, quickly had over 1000 videos they had to screen – Sounds like it was a good kind of failure…

Caldwell – started recuiting the resisters – cool idea. He found out what they wanted to push, what their goals were, then showed how social media could help meet those goals. The resister (in at least one case) became the champion.

How do we help make the project a success?

Caldwell – have to point out it’s not a short-term game. It’s a long-term thing, and they need to have ongoing conversations

Sims – set expectations early

Caldwell – have to trust people. Don’t worry about people playing and not doing their jobs. With PCs, it was Solitaire. Before that, paper could be a distraction!

If you have marketing types/corporate communications departments that haven’t gotten it yet … find their peers that DO get it, and introduce them.

Pull it out of people at the beginning – stop by the watercooler, ask people to guest-blog.

Aside from money, what else do you use to pitch the idea?

Caroe – recruiting new prospects and having that in a database…
Caldwell – the speed of research. Get instant feedback
Kim – bottom line is always how will you make money (I think he’s wrong for non-profits and libraries)

Go to SXSW for Free!

Rock Star SessionWell, not really. Or sort of, depending on your outlook! Here’s the deal – I am going, in a day and a half, to Austin, TX to South by Southwest Interactive, or SXSWi2009. Or just sxsw (ok, or #sxsw in Twitter).

For those not familiar with SXSW, it’s a cool webish, techie conference. Want to hear Heather Champ talk about flickr? She’ll be there. Charlene Li talk about Groundswell? She’ll be there too. Yes, to say I’m excited is a bit of an understatement :-)

But here’s the deal – wanna come along for the ride?

There are a couple of ways to follow along on the conversations, the conference sessions, and probably even the partying (well, that last one’s a bit of a stretch, but still):

Easiest way = Read my blog!
I will blog most sessions I attend (I say most because there’s always a couple of stinkers at a large conference, or I get conferenced out towards the end). Hate my writing? Do a search for sxsw, sxswi, or sxsw2009 in Technorati or Google blog search to find other bloggers blogging away about all things sxsw. Or go to one of the popular sites like Mashable or Boing Boing – they’ll most likely be covering the conference pretty well.

Photos and Videos
I’ll also probably take some photos and some video, so click those links in the next couple of days, and you just might see and view interesting little tidbits of the conference. Don’t like my photos or videos? Search flickr or YouTube for sxsw and (my guess here) see a TON of videos and photos of sxsw happenings. For even more video, make sure to check out other sites like Vimeo or

Well, how about real time?
I will make sure to Twitter some. Even better – follow along with the twitter hashtag #sxsw, or if you discover some of the hashtags for individual conference sessions, you can follow along (and even participate) using those. For example, Beth Kanter plans to use #roi for one of her sessions.

And don’t forget the streaming video sites! I’ve heard of more than one speaker who plans to live stream their sessions. So check out,, and for those.

So now you know where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing for the next 4-5 days. Feel free to follow along for free!