drag and drop

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There’s a famous David Belasco quote that goes something like this ‘If you can’t fit your idea on the back of a business card, you don’t have a clear idea.’ David was an impresario of Broadway plays.

A number of years ago I worked at a web start-up run but a mad code scientist. He was a drag-and-drop genius. Like many entrepreneurs he fancied himself the head of marketing (my job). He wrote a draft of the home page copy which my pops would have called a “doggy’s dinner” of claims, goals and marko-babble. Suffice it to say it wouldn’t fit on the back of a business card. That didn’t keep us from winning Robert Scoble’s Demo of the Year.  It did, however, keep us from becoming bah-millionaires (billionaire slash millionaire). due to feature creep and poor consumer usability.

A good brand strategy – defined as an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging – will fit on the back of a business card. It might not make you a millionaire, but it will make you an articulate marketer. And hopefully it will make your customers similarly articulate about the product. Of course that’s in the execution…which will be a topic for another day.

Peace.

 

 

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I check out my blog analytics regularly and one of the search terms that gets me a lot of traffic is “naming.” So playing to the algorithm, I post today on naming. But what to say? Names, like brands, are empty vessels into which we pour meaning. The best names are organically tied to product, feature, function or target. A good name gets you credit for what you do without you doing it. My friend’s company Gotham Seafood has a great name.  He sells seafood in NYC and his company has scale.  He sells lots of fish.

I wanted to name a web start-up for which I was marketing director Mashpan.  It was a website creation tool based on drag and drop technology that let anyone design and build a site. It put a wrapper around objects on the web and let anything, yes anything, be dragged and dropped or copied onto a page.  Quite a mash-up. Of everything. A mash pan is also a place to start home brew, but that’s a story for another day.  The boss decides Zude sounded better. No context, not a great name.  Though it did ultimately work (as a name).  Our vessel-pouring was pretty good.   

For those of you with kids, you know how difficult naming can be. It’s even more difficult for companies. Don’t make it easy. Embrace it. Find the perfect name. It’s important. Peace! 

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I worked for two years at an amazing Web start-up.  The technology had a hink or two but was truly transformational. Imagine being able to go to a website and move the pictures, text and video around, simply by dragging them.  Not your website, someone else’s. Imagine right clicking on just about any object on the web copying and pasting it to your site.  Then, having the ability to move, resize and add text to it.

It’s what the Gods imagined before an earthling invented HTML; a drag and drop, copy and paste web publishing world.  That world was called Zude.com.

I was reading about the new HP webOS (via Rachel King at ZDNet) today and one tester of the cool interface on the Touchpad tablet found closing apps by dragging them to the top of the screen not intuitive.  (Close the window perhaps?) The person said he would not have figured it out on his own.

This brings up something very important in market these days, especially in the area of innovative web technology.  First User Experience.  For Zude, there were 3 unintuitive user behaviors that needed to be taught for first-timers to get the awesomeness:  Drag and Drop From Anywhere, Everything Moves, and When in Doubt Right Click.  Simple tutorials would have launched this product into the stratosphere.  The product was complicated and revolutionary. The promise was “the fastest easiest way to build a website.” The promise laid their like a lox without the proof.

When webOS launches, if it is as revolutionary as HP says, they need to not publish a 60-page manual. And they don’t need to offer 6 tabs of intuitive help.  HP should find the 3 most exciting, transfixing features and celebrate them. If they are big enough, we will find the rest. 3 and out. Peace.

PS.  By the way, Micorosoft Windows 7 or Mango, or whatever it is going to be called, should be named Tiles.

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