Domainating: Brands, Art & Content

artist/illustrator/designer/webmaster/copywriter/videographer/optimizer/promoter/ad-man

Customize your FireFox browser experience with a Persona!

These days we all like to customize our stuff so that it reflects our own personality.  New industries have sprung out of the desire for custom vinyl car, phone and laptop wraps.  And of course we can do the same thing with our FireFox browser now, using Personas, which act like little FireFox browser themes.

We all have to think about how we want to promote our businesses online.  SEO doesn’t work unless there is some sort of promotion program in place.  The more creative ideas always seem to win out over just submitting your website to the directories.

People who make good videos tend to get lots of viewers.  I keep wanting to make my own tutorials but the screen recording and presentation software has always been out of my budget (let me know if you have something free/share-ware that works).

But I finally decided to take a look at how I can get my work out there.  Because I have so many domains, I have been making lots of logos for my minisites & blogs.  But I have always been trying to find a way to share my graphic design skills.

I had been so busy that I hadn’t noticed it.  But every time FireFox updated to a new version it was always inviting me to try out the new personas.  To tell you the truth, I don’t like a lot going on in my browser.  I don’t want it to clash with other websites or be too busy.  I’ve even stopped using the Google Toolbar because it refused to share the same line with any other toolbar and pushed the content down and closed my visible window on the cyberworld.

But as a graphic designer my curiosity has finally gotten the better of me and I was quite amazed what I found there.  Many were just plain awesome because they invoke loyalty to a brand such as the Vikings, the Twins or the Yankees… I even have a couple Superman themes for FireFox, now.

But later I made a few of my own.  The first few have finally been approved at:

http://www.getpersonas.com/en-US/gallery/Designer/SymbioticDesign

Some of these are actually quite busy for a texture pattern, but I’m learning and they still seem to work well for some people with less going on than I have.  Some could actually be modified further if someone wanted to.  And I usually added credit for my business or a website in somewhere (usually on the bottom footer image) with a blatant plug for my website.

I’m still experimenting with stuff and a whole bunch of others are pending, but it’s just a good idea I thought I might share.  It might go somewhere, it might not, but the idea of having a technically sophisticated user (I think most FireFox users are well up on things) that might see my creativity and check out my websites (I am promoting quite a few of them in different patterns), sounded like a good idea and a real win-win if my graphic eye is attracting them to my services.

Thought you might like the idea.

I know there are some “Personas” that I made that maybe I shouldn’t have uploaded, but everyone likes something different and as indicated, I have  just started toying around with this.  I think I have a few better ones that I expect to be approved soon and I am even going to be tapping other parts of my hard drive (some of my folders seem to be growing spiderwebs but have images I know would work well).

Here are some examples of FireFox Personas that I thought worked well:

Brushed Recessed Metal

Brushed Recessed Metal Persona Preview Image

Brushed Recessed Metal Persona by Symbiotic Design (Preview Image)

Space Craft Panels Persona

Space Craft Panels Persona

Space Craft Panels Persona by Symbiotic Design (Preview Image)

Knurled Persona

Knurled FireFox Persona

Knurled FireFox Persona by Symbiotic Design (Previe Image)

Alien Ribs

Alien Ribs Persona

Alien Ribs Persona by Symbiotic Design (Preview Image)

Blue Angels 1 through 6

Blue Angels 1 through 6 Persona

Blue Angels 1 through 6 Persona by Symbiotic Design (Preview Image)

Wavy Grill

Wavy Grill Persona for ForeFox

Wavy Grill Persona by Symbiotic Design

It’s easy enough to use another designer’s Persona or with very little work you can make your own.  Although it is free, it helps get the word out about your sites and stuff, if you decide to try to make your own to promote yourself or your business.

I’m sure there are other such avenues, if you do something similar, post it here (or in a new thread).

As another designer pointed out, we do have to be careful about what images we use.  I made all my designs, or used photography that I had taken.  Be sure that you have the rights to use anything that you might come up with in your own Personas.  If it’s Copyright at all, make sure it’s your Copyright!  😉

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July 28, 2010 Posted by | Advertising and Marketing, Brands, Computing, Graphic Design, Internet, Media, Social Communities, social media | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Contradiction of Search and the PPC Advertising Business Model

This post is a response to the article “Bing Now a Serious Challenger to Google” by Jeff Bertolucci, PC World

One should probably read this article in order to understand the inspiration for this post, though it isn’t absolutely necessary.  The links in this post open in a new window so that you won’t lose your focus here and can get back to this post easily (aren’t I a nice guy?).

Bing can actually be a boon to website designers & developers & teams of whom work together because unlike Google that does not penalize for poorly coded websites, it was reported that Live dropped pages that were improperly coded.

I have already made the argument that good web coding should be rewarded by the search engines in my blog.  I am not asking for awards from the search engines, but it makes sense to me that since a website represents the actual soul of someone’s marketing message, bad code should indicate a very poor marketing effort while professionally done, tight, clean code should be rewarded as such.  And I also emphasize that reducing the ranking ability of tables based layouts should be the very first consideration in establishing that part (of the formula) in the ranking algorithm.

I twittered this previous post to @mattcutts, who is in charge of Google’s Web Spam Department, twice yesterday and yet never received a response from him.  I suppose he gets a bunch of such posts from many being in his position, but I have also seen him respond to such posts, as well.

Matt Cutts has previously indicated that he believed that since the browser may not have had any issues with the underlying code, even if the code was poorly done, no web page was ever penalized for having poor coding practices.  However, this seems to ignore the fact that the worldwide web has become a commercial entity, and that any individual website presence represents the full resources which have been brought to bear for online marketing as a public and professional presence on behalf of a company or person.  Even if a free personal homepage, a web page exists to promote something, even if it is just information.  The sharing of it also helps promote that page’s authority and therefore its presence (possibly indirectly, but usually not).

Let’s face it, the internet is no longer free or even publicly available to all.  It is a goldmine and a company that can leverage itself as an effective online resource can prosper if marketed smart and promoted effectively.

The key here then, is the fact that Google is ignoring the commercialization of the worldwide web (aka: the w3) despite its monopolistic dominance of the Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising industry.  This means that a company has no influence based on merit and drives the need for recognition through advertising in order to be noticed.

This same monopolistic attitude is seen in Matt Cutt’s attitude towards paid links.  Even though a paid link represents a measurable online marketing effort by a company or individual, he frowns on them as a purposeful and deliberate means of influencing the search engines.  But that is a protectionist attitude and monopolistic argument, because it is Google’s own algorithm itself that is tallying up direct links as votes for a website, not the marketer.

And since Matt Cutts has warned us that Google may penalize websites in the future, I will tell you that I have personal knowledge of and experienced the fact that Google is now, already started penalizing websites that display suspected paid links.  This is now a known fact based on the performance of a number of my websites which are utilizing free web hosting where paid links are employed in order to offset hosting cost, and also proven by the fact that you can report paid links to Google (as proof, simply check out Google’s “Webmaster Tools” which expedites such reporting by offering a very prominent link to do so).  My web traffic is now negligible and the PR (PR stands for Google’s “PageRank” system or ranking a site from 1-10) is non-existent at almost all these sites.  Although all of these sites are new, they had been previously gaining traffic and growing in unique visits.  A few had a PR of 2 or 3 and most of the rest were at a PR of at l.  There were a few PR 0 sites too, but now most are not even acknowledged by Google’s PR system.  They are all CSS design based WordPress sites.  They all include unique content.

In effect, as a monopoly, Google is trying to funnel any and all advertising sales through it’s own PPC (or Pay-Per-Click, as in paid advertisements) marketing program.  Most people I speak to that are marketing their business themselves and are aware of Google’s “Do not buy links” policy are actually afraid to advertise anywhere else.

The stunning idiotic result from an otherwise very smart and successful internet marketing entity known as Google is that no one there sees this contradicting business model as pure monopolistic. This is a business model which is excessively slanted in its own favor and the end result is highly unbalanced and completely unfair, especially to individuals, professionals, small to medium businesses and any business that is starting up.  Because Google sells links and tells everyone not to buy links.

In other words, Google’s business model suggests that only corporations should consider playing because demonstrated effort and merit through efficient and clean professional code which it spiders on a regular basis has nothing to say or add to a company’s online marketing effort.  And this is completely opposite of how Google should monitor marketing and effective online presence building.

Furthermore, instead of simply influencing marketing channels, Google is using protectionism in order to dominate advertising via its monopolistic presence.  The end result is a message which tells every webmaster and online marketer, “Play it our way and play with us or die.”

Nothing is more contradictory than Google’s advertisement and PPC marketing model if it is actually a serious search engine.  And we all know it is the largest.  But it is now ignoring the webmaster’s efforts in clean and efficient CSS structured and styled, properly coded (X)HTML web pages.

Quite simply, the PPC advertising model is extremely flawed because it relies on a corporation’s ability to play by pouring in gobs of money to secure the top positions with the top bids.  Even though there is a little wiggle room allowed for effective advertising copy (monitored through click-throughs), the end result is that in order to secure the top ads, the price of the advertised product has to support the bid, which makes end-sold products and/or services inherently higher.

One can argue that Frugal is a great alternative to advertising, but Frugal, which promotes low prices and coupons, is not even close to effectively marketed anywhere on the web but at Google.  With Google AdWords, you have the ability to build a woldwide presence instantly for a product, service and/or brand through Google’s content network, and each ad placement is in direct competition with the crux of web content found on each individual page, so users/readers/viewers have already demonstrate an active interested in that type of service/product/brand.  Google offers no such alternative with Frugal, nor does it effectively promote Frugal because it is not in the interest of its business model.  Google only uses Frugal in order to offer an argument against clear protectionist intent and related issues.

Long way to go to make a point that hasn’t been made yet, isn’t it?  That’s right, I still haven’t gotten to the point, all these facts mere lead-up to the idea that… [deep breath]…  if any decent search engine (with a significant presence) actually allies with the web designer/developer/studio to provide truly relevant results based on the seriousness of a company’s marketing effort by rewarding the effort, consistency and merit of professionalism which is demonstrated in the effectiveness of the code which a bot has to crawl and cache any damn way, I am sure that would go an enormously long way in allowing web design/development professionals the recognition they deserve.

But Google’s contradictory business model turns it all upside down.  It wants to see your links and tallies them to help establish your PageRank and this same tally (not the PageRank, but that link tally) also influences your ranking in the search engine results in some significant way through its algorithym.  It monitors your presence and influence on the web, but it sees paid direct links as spam.  It presently and demonstratedly marks sites with reported paid links as spam and stops sending them traffic through its search resources, even though Google is in the actual business of selling links itself, and just because they are indirect pointers to pages that is so-called different (and yet it is still advertising, still paid links).  In order to play, one has to pay Google, driving up product/service costs because Google’s AdWords model is self-corrupting.  And Google continues to scare us into using their PPC ad services.  People and businesses have been broken or made on their understanding and use of this queer system, both through PPC ads and the actual search results.

Why anyone else wouldn’t take advantage of the inherent corruption and contradiction of Google’s business model is beyond me.  Remember in fact that this is how Google started, promising an alliance with webmasters to produce effective search with relevant results.  This is what drew us all in.  And if webmasters saw a true benefit from providing clean code, they would.  But the fact is that Google only cares about content, not marketing (unless it is its own), not professionalism in presentation in the one way it could absolutely and logically measure it.

So in the end analysis leads to only one conclusion for me, this is an opportunity crying to be taken advantage of.  Bing may not be the one with the balls to do it.  It, after all has been a consistent follower in the business of the internet.  It didn’t even get it, at first, and almost missed the boat completely.  But Bing does represent an expression of a search for new ideas.  And yet, Microsoft has historically not embraced innovation in the same way that IBM snubbed Microsoft’s innovation.  It is old and Microsoft has clearly never lead the industry in any sort of innovation with the internet because it suffers from the same old conservative snobby old boys network attitude that IBM scoffed at.  Microsoft just doesn’t understand the new generation and the digital age.

But, in the same way, Google is doing the exact same thing.  It has forgotten its alliance with webmasters and web professionals.  Google now inhibits business through the same lack of understanding in the unfairness of its business model.

Which actually leaves the door wide open for a new player.  Yahoo is, after all, primarily a portal, is branded as such, and is ever abandoning any of its efforts in search because it refuses to innovate.

Anyone want to start a search engine?  The sky is literally the limit.  It should embrace net socialization, all forms of web media, localization and news.  Without utilizing a business unfriendly contradictory business model. No one does that, and it would be easy to do effectively.  But that’s another post for another time.  😀

By the way, can anyone reach the present that Google left me?  It’s dead-center in the middle of my back. Actually, it’s not that bad.  The percentage of websites I have on free web hosting is not very significant, so the blade is tiny.  But I was one of those webmasters that jumped on the Google bandwagon, so the betrayal does sting.

My code has evolved, but Google refuses to evolve their search and refuses to acknowledge superior design code.  That said, so does every other search engine.  Because they all are on the PPC marketing kick, too.  But Google and I had a thing going.  Actually, we still do, breaking-up is hard to do no matter how much a loved one may abuse you.

You know?

…………………………………
Associated Reference Links:
http://www.pcworld.com/article/181980/bing_now_a_serious_challenger_to_google.html
https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/

November 12, 2009 Posted by | Advertising and Marketing, Brands, Google, Government/Politics, Internet, Media, Sales, Search, Web Design & Development, Website Optimization | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A few Notes for a Potential Employer

A few notes for companies that might be interested in hiring me:

  1. I answer my phone with “Symbiotic Design, this is Doug, how may I help you?” …because I work out of my home office as Symbiotic Design.  Please don’t hang-up on me, you have the right number.
  2. If I’m not at home, my son or wife might grab the phone, and they still answer it as “Symbiotic Design”.  And even though my son is only 9, he does a great job taking messages.  Don’t hang-up because he’s a little kid, please.  He’s an advanced gifted child, holds a black belt and is a member of the local divisional pee-wee football champion team, the Warriors.  I will get the message, just be sure to leave your number.
  3. If the answering machine picks-up, it will allow you to hit a button in order to contact Symbiotic Design, Domain Hostmaster or HD Web Hosting.  They are all me, you can hit any button or just wait for the beep.
  4. I can quit doing work as Symbiotic Design for the right position.
  5. I am more than happy to relocate right way (immediately) for the right position.  I can send for the family later.
  6. Although you will find this blog (as well as my personal portfolio) a bit gruff, I market myself to potential clients and they do need the personal touch.  I am often gruff, or brutally honest.  But I am a company man in a corporate environment.  My clientele has to know I am a human, they prefer dealing with me in a personal manner.  But I will check my personal attitude at home and perform my job as a professional. Unless you require some attitude, of course.  😉

Just don’t take anything I say/do in my personal blog/portfolio too seriously.  I’m working on a professional portfolio, but it is all done in HTML5 and CSS3.  That’s because that’s what I will need to know next, for you, to do my job.

I have a great work ethic and I am tired of not having a steady paycheck.  I need you, you need me if you want a graphic & web designer that is capable of managing a team, understands SEO and both online and social marketing techniques, works well with others and loves to be creative.

I am an expert in Photoshop, Illustrator & Dreamweaver.  I have some Flash & QuarkXPress/InDesign smarts.  I know (X)HTML, CSS, domains, branding & advertising.  I write great online web copy.  I also know video & how to leverage it on the web to the company’s advantage.

I’m not saying you would be making a mistake if you pass me up.  If you do, you are probably looking for a programmer.  But I am the best creative director you could imagine and if you need a creative guy, you would not do wrong grabbing me before anyone else does.  😉

Your call…

Thanks!
-Doug

October 5, 2009 Posted by | Brands, Employment, Graphic Design, Internet, Logo Design, Media, Social Communities, Web Design & Development, Website Optimization | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment