Project Management


Video – Basecamp

I had the opportunity to use Basecamp during my internship. Basecamp is a project management site that allows for the easy creation of new projects. It allows you to post tasks, assign members to those tasks, invite new members to the project, specify deadlines, share with clients and more. It is an extremely helpful package; so much so that I searched for similar free software when trying to plan game creation projects with friends. (because we’re broke) I found Basecamp to be extremely helpful with the whole process as it not only allowed us to be easily assigned new tasks and deadlines, but it also gave easy access to previous projects’ archived information.


Article – CIO How to Define the Scope of a Project

I believe that defining the scope of a project can easily make or break the entire project by itself. To define the scope you need to take into account:

  • Objectives
  • Goals
  • Sub-phases
  • Tasks
  • Resources
  • Budget
  • Schedule

In previous projects I’ve participated in, the usual sources of failure were either an overestimation of the objectives and goals we could reasonably reach, or not taking into account our resources and schedule. I’ve tried to develop several games or applications with friends in the past and most of them fall apart due to the continuous adding of goals, mostly because we had neither the budget nor the ability to follow any sort of schedule to complete these tasks. In order to be successful in your projects, you must carefully define your scope so that you’re not overreaching your boundaries.

Site Specification:

Article – Boagworld Throw Out Your Website Specification

This article talks about how rather than making a website specification with rigid requirements, it’s better to instead make a hypothesis and make changes to the alpha and beta of the website as you study the interactions with users. While I do think the author makes an excellent point in that you save time and money by building the site around studied interactions with users, rather than wasting money developing features that are eventually going to be tossed out; I feel that completely getting rid of the site spec is also a mistake. I feel that a blending of the ideas would be best. Rather than having rigid requirements that will need to be changed, wasting time and money on the lost work; and rather than only having a hypothesis and changing the site as you go I feel that instead a more flexible site spec that allows for defining what must be while allowing easy changes and updating with user observation would be ideal.


Apps n’ Stuff

Importance of Mobile Apps:

Article/Video – Convince & Convert [Why Apps May Become More Important Than Your Website]

In a study done in 2013, Americans were found to spend 5+ hours a day on digital media; about 2 and a half of which was on the phone. In fact, phone usage had gone up 575% from 2010 to 2013. Flurry, an app analytics firm, found that 80% of the time spent on mobile devices was on apps, rather than on the browser. As the author points out, all of this should be ringing alarm bells in your head that it’s time to change. Companies such as Facebook and Google have already created apps to replace the site on mobile which are far superior to the mobile site itself. Soon any company worth it’s salt will have a mobile app.

Mobile Scalability

Article – Scalable Startups [Mobile Scalability – What Is It and Why Is It Important?]

When designing the mobile version of a site you can either redirect the user to a separate mobile version, have an alternate CSS load to accommodate the smaller screen or design your CSS to fit well in all sizes naturally. These will all affect loading times in different ways. The article points out that it is important to limit the amount of data that the mobile device needs to download. For a site heavy in scripts, images and CSS this might mean having a completely separate site. For sites with less scripting, it may be better to switch CSS at a point to remove superfluous images to clear up room and reduce what the device needs to load.

Web Apps Vs. Mobile Apps.

Article – Microsoft [Modern Apps : Mobile Web Sites vs. Native Apps vs. Hybrid Apps]

Web Apps have many benefits. They are easy to update, as you only need to update the site on your server and anyone who accesses it will use the newest version. They’re also somewhat easier to create as it only requires some HTML, CSS, PHP and Javascript knowledge. Mobile apps also have a lot of accessibility, as most web features are supported by all modern browsers. Unfortunately, web apps do not currently have access to file systems and a lot of local resources, so they are somewhat limited. Mobile apps are more difficult to develop, requiring good knowledge of programming languages such as Java, Objective-C or C# depending on the platform. They also require a lot more work and coding knowledge to make multi-platform. However, mobile apps are much more powerful and can be advertised on the platform’s local app marketplace.

Clipart and Comic Sans

Comic Sans

Comic Sans Criminal

This site points out that, rather than being an evil font that should never be used, Comic Sans simply has a specific purpose of being either a fun font for young children or a font to use in comic speech bubbles. It goes on to mention that all font’s have a personality and purpose. Fonts like Times New Roman are for serious matters and have no more business being used in things like a child’s birthday invitation than Comic Sans has in a business presentation. So, rather than having only specific fonts that are “acceptable,” fonts should be judged on an individual basis according to the tone of the writing.

Directional Force

Article – Smashing Magazine [Visual Weight And Direction]

Visual weight is how attractive something is. It’s all about using shape, color and size to draw the reader’s attention to something. Visual direction is about leading the reader to what they should be looking at next using things like shape, location and movement. Using both of them effectively will allow you to ensure that your readers pay attention to the content that you want them to see.

Clip Art

Video – Youtube [Clipart Makes Everything Sh*t] (NSFW language)

The mention of Wordart instantly brought this video to mind. While the video is mostly comedy with some adult language, The author does make an excellent point. Clipart/Wordart is awful and shouldn’t be used. Not only does it look unprofessional, but it’s also incredibly distracting. The author posts a picture of an attractive girl and then puts clipart in front. Your eye is completely unable to look at the attractive girl, instead being drawn to the disaster that is clipart, no matter where it is put on the screen.

Get Social

Connecting Through Social Media:

Article – American Express [Getting Social]

This article points out that when using social media as a tool to reach customers, it is important to use the correct site with the correct content. The author points out that you should keep self-promotion to a minimum, instead making an effort to connect with people. I can attest to this, as one of the assignments for the “Emerging Web Trends” class had us follow several different companies on Twitter, almost all of which I have unfollowed due to being spammed with ads. Some companies such as Nintendo learned to communicate more with customers as time went on, holding contests and such. However, the backlash from the Majora’s Mask art contest in which Nintendo seemingly failed to pick a winner and angered fans that were already irritated with the fact that supplies of the game were so limited is a testament to how social media can hurt as much as it can help.

Quick Response to Customer Complaints:

Article – Convince & Convert [42 Percent of Consumers Complaining in Social Media Expect 60 Minute Response Time]

According to this article, 42% of customers who complain on social media expect a response within 60 minutes. Furthermore, 32% expect a response in half that time. Upset customers are already low on patience, and with so many big companies having employees dedicated to monitoring social media, it’s no surprise that customers are getting accustomed to immediate responses. The majority of customers even expect the same wait times on nights and weekends. I once had an poor experience with a bakery that I frequented. I took to Facebook to complain, knowing that it was the most effective way as it would be public and easily viewable so they couldn’t brush it off. The company responded almost immediately on the page that they would contact me via private message, but never received one and the company lost my business. (I found out later that they had messaged me immediately with a profound apology and Facebook had just decided to shuffle the message into a spam folder since we weren’t “friends.” I have since resumed buying donuts from them, and would highly recommend them. National Bakery)

All About The Individual:

Article – Social Media Examiner [8 Ways to Improve Customer Relationships With Social Media]

This article does a fantastic job of pointing out that social media is really all about connecting with customers as individuals. Every example is either about bettering the community or connecting on a personal level with customers, whether it be responding to individual complaints or giving personalized thank-yous to your brand’s apostles. Brands that make you feel good and as if you were communicating with a person rather than a company are the brands that gain loyalty. Anytime someone has professed loyalty to a company to me, it’s always been because they “treated them right,” and almost never based solely on the product itself.

Kodak Moments

The Importance of Keeping Up With Technology:

Article – Wall Street Journal [The Demise of Kodak]

Kodak was the strongest in the photography game for a long while. They introduced the worlds first automatic snap-shot camera and made a nation of housewives the meticulous recorders of family life. However, the end came for Kodak with the invention of the digital camera. Kodak refused to believe that film could be replaced by digital photos and didn’t change with the times. The end result is that Kodak filed for bankruptcy and now new generations have no idea what a “Kodak Moment” is.

When Is Marketing to Culture Effective?

Article – Stanford Business [When Does Culture Matter in Marketing?]

In a study done with Welch’s Grape Juice two different cultures were given advertisements. One advertisement was centered around promotional messages like how good it tastes, and the other was based on preventative facts such as how it could help lessen the chances of certain types of cancer. When asked to immediately identify the ad that sounded better, each culture had a specific preference. However, when the subjects were given time to think about the ads, their cultural bias disappeared. This is due to the fact that people tend to rely on cultural influences when faced with an immediate decision, but will base a decision off of personal preferences when given time to think.

Thriving on Recession:

Article – I Retire Early [10 Recession Proof Businesses]

Having the right type of business can mean that a recession barely scratches you, or even turns a profit. The common link between the jobs in this article are that they are either some kind of vice, a required service or a service that helps people through a recession. A changing economy may be unavoidable, but marketing your brand as something to help in tough times or as an affordable luxury, you can still thrive. I think McDonalds does it well. In times of prosperity, McDonalds is a quick and relatively tasty meal. In times of recession, McDonalds becomes an affordable treat.

All Hail the McRib!

Successful Rebranding:

Article – Business Insider [10 Most Successful Rebranding Campaigns]

My favorite example of rebranding is Old Spice, since they are one of the first companies to successfully harness the power of viral marketing on the internet in such a major way. Old Spice was formerly known as a “old guy” deodorant. Now by using a strange and entertaining commercial combined with communication with customers via social media, Old Spice has become far more successful and has reached an entirely new demographic.

Seasonal Marketing:

Article – Business Insider [The McRib is Back]

McDonalds is an expert at seasonal marketing. When I hear the term “seasonal merketing,” the first things I think of are Shamrock Shakes, the McRib and Monopoly at McDonalds. Any one of those three things is enough to get people frantically speeding over to McDonalds. The article points out that if the McRib were a permanent menu item, it would likely not be as popular. Instead McDonalds offeres it for a limited time only, even launching campaigns such as “Save the McRib” which was on online campaign where customers could sign a petition to keep the McRib on the menu. This makes the McRib more desirable as it drives home that it is a rare experience to be treasured.

Social Media Marketing:

Article – Forbes [The Top 10 Benefits of Social Media Marketing]

This article talks about how a social media presence can improve brand loyalty and increase conversion. By regularly communicating with customers; be it addressing complaints, sharing tips and trivia or just having fun, you massively increase brand loyalty. Additionally, social media also gives more platform for apostles to preach your brand. By having a page on Facebook, loyalists can easily link friends to your page and have even more examples to show off, provided you are maintaining a positive social media presence.

Brand and Butter

Brand Apostles:

Article – The Merchant Stand [Getting beyond customer loyalty. Customer apostles.]

The author of this article pointed out something I had not thought of. Just because a customer is loyal to your brand does not make them an apostle. An apostle will go out of their way to recommend a product or service to a friend, where as a loyalist may not mention you. It is important to build a brand that people will talk about and proudly recommend to others. Apple fans constantly remind others how good owning apple products is because that’s part of the brand. Apple is cool and trendy and you want your friends to be cool and trendy too.

Brand Placement in Video Games:

Article – AdverGaming [Product Placement In Video Games]

Many gamers feel that product placement is getting out of hand. When done right it can lead to customers recognizing your brand, associating your product with the good feelings they had playing that game and becoming loyal to your brand. When done wrong, you get things like Sneak King. This hasn’t stopped developers from clumsily shoving in ads and pissing off customers though; shoving in ads as new as the Mad Max game which had a special update just to enable ads for Rockstar Energy Drinks in the loading screens. Why would devs continue to do this, even when this tactic is probably one of the most hated advertising tactics? According to this video, it’s because marketers are having trouble figuring out how to advertise to you.

CRM and Scalability:

Article – Salesforce [What is CRM?]

A CRM is a Customer Relation Management System. This system is used to store customer information and coordinate sales efforts to maximize relations and efficiency. A CRM is absolutely essential for business scalability. Once your company begins to grow and take on more clients, notecards and documents saved on your phone aren’t going to cut it anymore. A CRM can help by automating processes such as sending welcome messages to new customers, as well as coordinate efforts to make sure there aren’t any duplicate materials sent out.

I for One Welcome Our New Google Overlord

SEO Keywords:

Article – Search Engine Watch [Are Keywords Relevant to SEO in 2015?]

As Google’s spiders become more advanced, the proper usage of keywords evolves as well. Rather than dumping a bunch of keywords in your body, Google places priority on certain sections first such as the meta, header and title. In addition to that, Google also tries it’s best to figure out what the content of your site is about now, rather than juts pairing user searches with exact keywords. A search for “auto repair” and a search for “car repair” would bring similar results as they are synonymous, even though the sites may use one keyword over the other. Having a fast and secure site, as well as using the specific schemas that Google recommends also give you a better result on searches.

Google Analytics:

Article – Social Media Today [Why Google Analytics is important to your website]

The article points out a few very important features of Google Analytics. You have insight into who is accessing your site, how they got there, what kind of browser they’re using, and most interestingly, the keywords that led them there. This feature can help immensely with figuring out how Google sees your site, as keywords are no longer a simple search term pasted multiple times in your site. Now that Google is starting to figure out the content of your site itself using semantics and synonyms, it’s important to figure out what exactly your site is about.

Becoming Discoverable:

Article – Kuno Creative [Top 3 Ways to Make Your Content More Discoverable]

This article makes a point that it’s not all about SEO. Uploading content to other sites, such as social media, is also an excellent way to make your content more discoverable. The author recommends not only adding relevant videos and pictures to your site, but to also upload to sites such as Youtube or even Tumblr. McTigue argues that you shoudn’t, “be a slave to SEO” and should forsake keywords in favor of having an interesting and relevant title. In the modern age of SEO, in which Google can figure out the meaning of your content itself, I feel this is an excellent tip, as Google is now more likely to figure out the meaning of your title now than a potential visitor is to visit a boring site.

Things I learned from Office Depot

On a Scale of 1 to 10:

Video – A ‘Reverse Psychology’ Sales Technique

Talking about quantitative research reminded me of one of my favorite sales techniques that I have used and seen used fairly successfully. The first step is to ask the customer to rate their willingness to do whatever it is that you’re trying to get them to do on a scale of 1 – 10 (as if it were quantitative research), Once the customer rates their willingness, assuming it’s not a 1, instead of asking “what can I do to make this a 10?” you ask “Why not a lower number?” This forces the customer to think about what you’re doing right. This tends to push up a customers rating.

Receipt Surveys:

Article – Survey Methods [What Are Receipt Customer Satisfaction Surveys Good For?]

This article writes about the uses of customer satisfaction surveys written on receipts. Basically they’re mostly good for figuring out problem areas of your store. However, I know from experience how these results are often skewed. At my time at Office Depot, we were told to let customers know about the survey on the bottom of their receipt. We were then punished for bad reviews. It’s important to know when to apply negative reinforcement, and this was not the time. Rather than working hard to fix the problems as we were supposed to, it became store policy to only alert happy customers to the survey and to conveniently forget to circle it on the receipts of disgruntled shoppers. This lead to better survey scores, but an overall plummet in satisfaction.

Employee Satisfaction Surveys:

Article – Forbes [The 3 A’s of Employee Satisfaction Surveys]

This is a lesson more learned from Kwik Trip, but it still applies well to my time at the Depot. Employee satisfaction surveys are important to conduct and follow up on “at least once a year, preferably twice” as the article says. Over all of the jobs I’ve held, the ones with the highest turnover were the ones lacking any kind of Employee satisfaction survey. On the other hand, Kwik Trip is rated one of the companies with the highest employee satisfaction. I believe this is because they follow the 3 A’s. They hold the surveys annually. They hold the management accountable for the survey results and they take several actions to improve the lives of their employees including yearly profit sharing and charities to help the families of employees in need.

The Gaming Industry’s Massive Failures in Brand and Marketing

Importance of Maintaining a Good Brand:

Article – GameSpot [We Betrayed Fans And Want to Be a Brand Again, Says Sega CEO]

Companies such as Coca-Cola do an excellent job branding, but partially because I’m a gamer and partially because it’s more fun to pick on a company than praise it, I’d rather discus Sega’s recent PR BS. The title of that article is somewhat misleading, as it’s not as if Sega wasn’t a brand suddenly. They just weren’t a brand anyone wanted to be associated with. In this article (Forbes – [Why Brand Building is Important]) Scott Goodson writes about how companies are able to sell for large amount of money, such as when Kraft bought Cadbury for $19.5 billion, because they have a valuable brand. Sega opted to publish incomplete and poorly made games for the sake of a quick buck; a move that has backfired egregiously as their brand is now next to worthless.

Relationship Marketing:

Article – MTV [Capcom Tries to Shed Light on Why Mega Man Legends 3 Was Cancelled]

The Mega Man Legends series had a poor, cliff-hanger of an ending. For ten years fans petitioned Capcom to make a sequel. When Capcom finally decided to listen to it’s fans they did so in an unusual way. Capcom opened a forum called “The Dev Room” for fans who were interested in contributing content to the game. Long story short, this did not go well as they ended up losing the creator of the Mega Man series, cancelling several games including Mega Man Legends 3 and alienating a large portion of their fans. In the article, the company tries to sweet talk it’s way around this tweet: Nintendo Life, in which a Capcom employee blames the fans for not being involved enough. This tweet alone cost Capcom numerous customers (myself included) and has contributed to some serious financial trouble: Lead Example. The lesson here is that the internet makes you too visible to allow for stupid comments.

Marketing to Employees:

Article – Kotaku [Konami’s Official Word on Hideo Kojima]

Konami is a miracle of a company; mainly because they can treat their employees like garbage: Kotaku, and still produce several series that many fans love. Konami has treated it’s employees poorly for years. There are reports of problems as early as the first Silent Hill, in which an employee had to sleep at the office to render all the cutscenes in order for Konami to put him in the credits. However, this behavior is now starting to bite them in the ass. Hideo Kojima is the genius behind titles such as Metal Gear and Zone of the Enders. It’s been reported the Kojima has had difficulty with Konami for years, but the recent working conditions were the last straw. Fortunately for people like Kojima or the creator of Mega Man, Keiji Inafune, it’s easier than ever to start up companies from scratch with sites such as Kickstarter that allow user to donate to projects they want to “back” in return for exclusive rewards. Inafune has already used this service to fund one game and get his new company rolling. This will most likely continue as a trend in the future. With indie development on the rise, companies need to focus on marketing themselves to employees now more than ever.