Archive for the 'Web 2.0' Category


Whose space?

Over the last two years has gone from 43 billion page views to 12 billion, and from 125 million unique visitors to 95 million. These numbers are a reflection of many different factors; but this coming October we will see a new and improved myspace. Or so one would hope, but things aren’t looking good. This week we hear the news that Vice President of Communications Tracy Akselrud has jumped ship less than a month before the anticipated re-launch. She isn’t the first high ranking myspace executive to have left during recent months – and I dare say she won’t be the last.

It seems that as the users drop away and abandon the site, so do the people who run it. This re-launch will either bring new life to the site and revive it or kill it off completely. The reason that I left myspace was that there was too much choice, too much variation from page to page, some profiles were difficult for my computer to load and it became an all round chore. It seemed even more arduous when you had Facebook’s simple and clear uniform style to compare it to. That’s where it seems to fall down: their product simply isn’t as good as that of their competitors’, it became too complicated and too much like hard work. That’s why myspace went from being the dominating force in the social media landscape to falling down a steep decline in popularity.

With the re-launch I hope that myspace will lean towards what it’s good at and not try to be all things to all men. Where I think myspace does a good job and always has, is providing a good platform for bands and unsigned musicians to promote themselves. If myspace has a future, I think it’s there.

The relaunch is set for October, so we don’t have long to wait and see what they plan to do; but it can’t be a good sign that another top myspace exec has left the company less than a month beforehand.


BBC site redesign prioritises ‘social sharing’

What’s a web user to do?

There you are, logging on to your favourite news website for your daily intake of current affairs, when suddenly, you find yourself in an unfamiliar land, desperately searching for the security of your familiar tabs.

Am I being overly dramatic? Maybe – but you wouldn’t think it reading the reactions to the BBC’s long publicised homepage redesign.

At the time of writing, almost eight hundred comments had been left in response to the move, with a further hundred awaiting moderation. The vast majority of these comments are predictably negative, highlighting an abiding truth of the online world – users hate change. At least initially.

For proof of this we need look no further than the proverbial hell that was raised when Facebook launched their new layout in February 2010. Hundreds of groups, pages and status updates rebuked the social network’s attempt to improve usability, leaving a lasting stain on the digital landscape. But, really – can you really remember the way Facebook used to look?

The BBC’s changes have provoked a similar reaction. Amidst the criticisms and the ensuing debate about the necessity of the changes, it’s important to remember why the BBC decided to implement them. It’s simple – because they believe the changes are an improvement

Of course, improvement is a matter of personal opinion.

It’s easy enough to find things to like about the redesign. The BBC is pushing the increased emphasis on video and picture quality the redesign allows, and the increased prominence the site allows sharing on social network buttons. The new layout arguably allows for more videos – and not just within article. The site has opted for a watch/listen subsection to the site, as well as adding ‘Most watched’ to its ‘Most read/shared’ feature.

The BBC is quick to highlight that videos now appear in bigger players, with improved streaming and quality (lessons no doubt learnt from the roll-out of iPlayer).

The site’s bread-and-butter, text-based news, has also seen a navigation update. “New”appears next to recently added stories, and news subsections are now part of the header, mimicking successful online newspaper sites, like the Guardian the Daily Mail.

What’s our verdict on these changes? Although some alterations appear to have been needless or purely aesthetic decisions, the majority of the changes demonstrate the growing importance online actors are attributing to social media. Sharing stories and pictures with your friends has become so ubiquitous that even ‘serious’ sites like BBC News are adapting to facilitate the practice. Credit to the Corporation is due; for recognising modern requirements and taking the risk of updating what was a strong and well-liked website.

To those still mourning the passing of the old site, Vivid London would like to pass on our condolences. Change is inevitable – and on an evolving platform like the internet, change is essential to development; a necessary element of online success.

Michael Haywood is a Junior PR Staffer with Vivid London


Mobile Apps: Beware of Standing Still

“There’s an App for that”

There can be no doubt that Apple has changed the way we use the web on the go. Since opening in 2008 over ‘200,000 ways to make your iPhone even better’ have been added to the App Store. If you visit the Android Mobile Market you’ll find more than 25,000 apps to enjoy, whilst Blackberry’s App World offers 5,000. It’s hard to keep an accurate track on the total number of apps available across the platforms, but one thing is for sure: We are surrounded by mobile apps.

Retailers, game designers, social networks and publishers have all pushed to get their own mobile application into the App Store. Now they are constantly pushing to get their apps into the top spot and receive positive user feedback. This multitude of apps fascinates users and keeps blogs full of “Ten of the best mobile apps” list. A company recently made news when they launched an auxiliary app that taught users how to use their main ‘killer app’.

In the face of this app frenzy, it’s good to keep in mind that some apps have longer lifespans than others – and this lifespan usually correlates to how useful they are in the long-term. While trying to break the score of ‘Robot Unicorn Attack’ reaches its saturation point very quickly, an application that lets you read content from your favourite newspaper, or that makes navigating social media much easier, offers a longer and more valuable user experience.

Many of us will have downloaded and accumulated too many apps – attracted by what’s new and what’s trending. After a certain point we realise that they take up too much space on our phones, and the less engaging apps end up in our trash folders. It might be time to consider the use of our beloved mobile apps.

Mobile search company Taptu have released a report arguing that the future will belong to mobile browser optimised sites, not apps. They make a very good argument. The proliferation of new smartphone models, different operating systems (Symbian, iPhone OS, Windows Mobile, Android, Blackberry OS…), and tablet devices means that optimised sites that work across platforms will have a larger audience than a platform specific application. Current estimates put web optimised sites at about 326,000 – and this number is likely to increase with more companies moving to a mobile-web app strategy.

Mobile sites can be optimised to work well on most devices – they are also less expensive to develop, and have the structural advantage of being constantly updateable, without having to rely on a user to download an update. A mobile website makes economic sense.

That’s not to say that mobile apps will die out – we think their best days still lie ahead. But for a lot of companies and brands, a mobile website will be cheaper to develop and provide a better return on investment in the long run. We’re happy to offer our thoughts on your mobile app or web dilemma – give us a call (it’s the green app with the phone symbol).

Camille le Goff is a Junior Brand Staffer with Vivid London.


Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Censorship of the Internet in China

With a rapidly growing economy and a population of over 1.3 billion people, you could be forgiven for assuming that China would have embraced the world wide web and all the possibilities that it has to offer. However it is not quite as simple as that. As the world’s only remaining communist superpower, China by its very nature has to maintain some level of isolation, particularly from outside influence. China has a long and notorious history (at least under communist rule) of repressing its population and limiting their access to information.

For the Chinese then, the internet remains an almost constant problem. On the one hand they have a platform that can be easily manipulated, is reasonably accessible and could be used very effectively in spreading the party line. On the other hand, other people’s views, opinions and doctrines can also be easily accessed. So, what to do? The situation is obviously a delicate one, and not only for the Chinese authorities, large multinational sites, particularly social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are finding the situation difficult too. From their viewpoint, China offers an enormous market, but they have to jump through many political hoops in order to reach it.

The difficulty of this situation is that everyone involved is stuck between a rock and a hard place. For their part the Chinese authorities have done the best they can to restrict access to political, sexual and opinion orientated sites by blocking them by means of the so called “Great Firewall of China”. To add further ‘security’, China operates the most comprehensive internet monitoring in the world. They employ an estimated 30,000 people in their online ‘police force’.

However they have had to adapt to certain pressures, just as they had to adapt their form of Communism to incorporate certain capitalist elements to ensure financial gain and counteract trade isolation. They have equally had to accept that, at least in certain instances, their security measures have been breached: the internet is simply too vast for China to be completely impregnable to its influence.

It doesn’t stop them trying though.

To gain access to China as a marketplace many Western websites and suppliers have had to make major compromises. The restrictions on personal web freedom that China enforces would be unacceptable to many of these companies elsewhere. But the size of the market is undeniable. The simple fact of the matter is that China as a nation is unwilling to alter its harsh stance towards the internet, for fear of its citizens accessing ‘morally corrupt’ political and pornographic sites. This in turn forces websites and suppliers alike to compromise.

What the Chinese people want is another matter entirely, although it appears that at least a small proportion are opposed to such rigid legislation of their freedoms. In any case, until the Chinese government is prepared to change its stance, the situation will is unlikely to change.


Our new website

We’ve been quietly working away over the past few days on a project that we’re really excited about. So excited that we’re now ready to shout it out.

Our new website launched in the early hours of this morning, and reflects both the historical evolution of the firm, as well as the vivid portfolio of clients we service.

Check it out at now!


Congruence, disintermediation and value to the client

When – in another life – I was working on a large marketing project for a client some years back, I was horrified to see the sheer range of subcontractors the project involved.

Apart from my own marketing team (seventeen people across five countries (and three time zones)). A branding agency. A graphic deign firm. A web firm. Two different media companies (film and audio). A marketing strategy agency. Localisation in each country. Internal management and digital teams. And me.

The process was, of course, screamingly inefficient, in so many ways.

Creatively, just trying to keep some forward movement involved conference calls, videoconferences, emails, faxes, flights, offsites and meetings, meetings, meetings. With so many parties in the process who were on the “creative” side, getting what the client wanted front and centre often got lost in competing design and creative directions. Something as simple as a colourway would take up days of work; something as complex as a tagline would take weeks.

Management reporting was, as you can imagine, inaccurate and always out of date. Every person on the project reported to their line managers; as far as the project was concerned, they worked for us, but sometimes their working for us was compromised by their direct line reports in their own firms.

Every time one organisation ground up against another, in addition to the business and creative tensions, you could almost see money leaking out of the system. Too many invoices, too many unspecified jobs getting themselves somehow worked into a task order. Too much management of budgets, too many debates about what the client could now afford. And of all things, the additional staff the project recruited were financial accountants.

Yet – project was delivered to time, and to budget. And it worked. All of these people managed to make it work despite, not because of, the structure they found themselves in. Hours of unpaid overtime. Giving up holidays, working nights, the whole lot.

Because the basic system that many of us still work in is inefficient. It’s inefficient in time, inefficient in money, inefficient in management. Projects succeed despite themselves.

What’s the answer? As it so often is in management, reducing the number of working parts is key. This has been one of the principles underlying what we do at Vivid London – bringing all of these diverse skill sets under one roof so that the client gets one bill; the team works together from the outset; the use of seminars means that ideas can be worked through with all of the various project teams represented; communication is simplified. And clients get their work faster, pay less, and come back more often.

I made lots of friends on that project – more through the companionship of shared adversity than anything else. Mind you, the client was so put off by the experience that they haven’t done the same thing again. Not, I have to say, something that’s happened to Vivid London.

Jonathan Blanchard Smith
A strategic marketer with a range and depth of international experience, Jonathan is Managing Partner at Vivid London. He coaches at executive level and lectures on cultural integration with specific reference to cross-border mergers and acquisitions. Past chairman of a national patient advocacy charity, he also chairs the board of a technology company and a number of committees.


Vivid London interviews Dan Hannan for

Daniel Hannan, MEP

We coordinate and produce a weekly podcast for our clients,, called ‘The Buzz’, in which we interview a prominent person about their five favourite books. We’re very grateful to Mr Hannan who provided an excellent account of the most important books that had influenced his life – check it out on Keebra‘s Facebook fan page!

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