My best weekend read: Web Designs for Different Generations

My favourite blog post from this weekend’s reading list, by far, is Web design across different generations by Danny Bluestone, published on Econsultancy.

The article focuses on website design and how important it is to know who your user is and what they need from you.

Know your user, and don't make them think #greatwebsitedesign
Know your user, and don’t make them think #greatwebsitedesign

In my experience it can be tough enough to identify and then agree internally who your main user is, never mind keeping them front of mind during a long, arduous development process.

That’s why the five categories of website users proposed by Bluestone, based primarily on age, is useful.

The categories are:

  1. The Silent Generation (born in 1929-1945) lived just after World War II
  2. Baby Boomers (1946-1964) during the economic recovery
  3. The sceptical Generation X (1965-1979)
  4. The more technologically savvy Generation Y (1980-1999)
  5. The immersed Digital Natives (from 2000)

Like all simple customer categorisations there will be boundaries that blur and characteristics that don’t fit but having a place to start – and come back to – during those internal discussions is very useful.

Bluestone highlights the different  needs and expectations each type of user has of a website, and how they are likely to use it, for example:

“This generation [Silent Generation] is likely to blame themselves and give up when a website fails to perform, rather than searching for another option. They have a hesitant, careful approach to websites, double-checking forms before submission, so it takes substantially more time to complete tasks. “

As well as the usability elements raised in this article* I was struck by how different the branding – visuals, tone of voice, language used – might need to be for the different  categories.

*another great read about website design is Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think.


The Singing Undertaker – remembering Seamus Harkin

me and seamus Oct 11
Seamus Harkin, 1935 – 2014. My father-in-law.

Born the third of five children in 1935 to a farming family in Creeslough Seamus Harkin, my father-in-law, left school at 14.  He never really got on with the teacher, who thought nothing of raising the sally rod when he didn’t match up.

After school he worked as a farmer, a Donegal County Council worker, a forester in his native Ards Forest Park and an insurance sales man.  A natural story teller, Seamus could paint a picture with words.  He held many clear memories of the people he met and the houses he visited on those travels around the county, selling insurance.

It was when he became the undertaker for Creeslough in the mid 1980’s that he met his true vocation.  A man of great personal faith, he was also extremely kind and had the immeasurable skill of being able to find the right words of comfort at the saddest times.  His dependable, solid presence and strong professionalism supported many families through their loved ones’ wakes and funerals.

Yet, with a voice like Johnny Cash and an ear for a great tune, it is as a singer in the pubs and music venues in Donegal that Seamus will be remembered by most.  He loved to sing and play his guitar and he entertained many a crowd, big and small, over the years.  He was in his mid 70’s when he wrote one of his most popular songs, No Tow Bar on the Back of a Hearse.

A man with many strings to his bow, his passion for music extended to instruments and he was a much sought after fiddle repair man by people from all over Ireland.

Seamus’ ability to weave a good yarn and his pride in his birthplace were the drivers for him telling his life story in his book, It Took a Lifetime.  One of six books he published, it is the personal memoirs of a man who knew the true value of life and lived his to the full.

As a strong believer in charity, Seamus actively supported local causes and, in 2010, he was awarded Donegal Rehab Person of the Year.  In 2013 his (self taught) technology skills were recognised with an Age Action/Google Silver Surfer of the Year award.

Whilst recovering from hospital treatment earlier this year Seamus wrote what became his last poem, The Man with the Clock Inside his Chest.

Seamus passed away on 2 May 2014.  He is pre-deceased by his baby son Paschal and brother John, and survived by his wife Tessie, sons Leo, Mark, Paul and James and daughter Edel, together with five grandchildren, three daughters-in-law, his sisters Mary and Nora and his brother Hugh.

The Man with the Clock Inside his Chest

by Seamus Harkin, February 2014

He was doing fine but now and then his heart would skip a beat,
He didn’t think much about it, could be the summer heat.
Then it would start to flutter, and do queer things in his chest,
So he thought it might be better to go and have a test.

They took him to the hospital and they laid him on a slab,
They said do not be worried you will feel a little jab,
They put a pipe into his heart, and had a look around,
Then they took him to another place to have an ultra sound.

They said your heart is jumping and the rhythm out of line,
We will put a little clock in you to put it back in time.
He said where will you put it will I have to wind the spring,
They said it goes on batteries you won’t have to do a thing.

They laid him on a slab again, and they opened up his chest,
They cut a little pocket there just underneath his vest,
They put the little clock inside which was wired to his heart,
So if his heart would ever stop, the clock would make it start.

So now he’s back at home again like a real bionic man,
His wife does not know what to do, should she even hold his hand,
He is running up the hill side, he never seems to rest,
There is no one who can match the man, with the clock inside his chest.

After writing this poem Seamus then wrote his seventh book.  Provisionally titled The Candy Man, it features a collection of memories and tall stories passed down to him by his father, Hughie Harkin.

And, as if to prove that the Harkin literary gene lives on, my own son penned this poem, which he delivered faultlessly at Seamus’ burial.

My Grandad

by Finn Harkin, 5 May 2014

My grandad was my superhero
On my chart he was a 1 – 0
My grandad love the trees
He loved his honey and his bees
Grandad had a loving heart inside his loving chest
We’ll miss you Grandad, because you’re the best

The rock star partnership of sales and marketing revisited

This week I’m going to a seminar on marketing for SMEs and entrepreneurs run by Ulster Bank in conjunction with SmallBusinessCan which promises to be an interesting affair.  Some of the topics under discussion on the SmallBusinessCan website will be addressed, such as:

  1. Marketing or sales?
  2. Social Media
  3. E-commerce, designing your website, app or website?
  4. The classics
  5. Cloud, social media, software and systems

I’m looking forward to hearing what the panel will say about the first topic.  One of SmallBusinessCan’s founders says “My personal view is that a good sales person is worth 10 marketers.”

First of all it should never be an either/or.  Both disciplines have their place in any organisation and, at their best, complement each other well.  I wrote about this before (and not just so I could post a photo of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant in full flow).

Secondly, it is better to make selling everyone’s job rather than marketing.  Developing everyone’s ability to spot a sales opportunity and nurture it to a certain point before passing to the sales team will reap more dividends.  The same cannot necessarily be said for marketing though.  It’s a rare outfit that allows everyone in the organisation to contribute to the Facebook page or Twitter account although hats off to those who do.  This requires good training, trust and a blame free culture.

A recent survey by The Channel Partnership in conjunction with The Leadership Foundation found that over 80% of sales and marketing professionals believe their activities are not aligned, no doubt having a significant impact on the bottom line.  More than half said that the lack of a clear strategy was a key factor in the development of co-ordinated plans, as was lack of time, budgets, structured processes and senior direction.

Hubspot, the lead generation software people, has abandoned the traditional silo structure altogether in favour of wrapping their sales and marketing functions around buying personas, effectively banishing any ‘us and them’, ‘sales v marketing’ rifts.  It must work for them – they’ve recently raised $35m investment money to expand into Europe.

So marketing isn’t quite dead yet, then.

What Quora says about how to market an app

Over a million apps but how do you market yours?
Over a million apps but how do you market yours?

The global apps industry continues to grow massively – iTunes approved it’s millionth app back in November – yet it is still in its infancy.  It’s a very exciting place to be working right now.

For hard working appreneurs the only stats that matter are the number of downloads and the rate of returning users  – these are the magic numbers that investors want to see.

And getting there means marketing.  Unfortunately there is a derth of case studies, research, advice and online chat about how to do this.

Most of the marketing advice tends to be either:

1.  Buy online advertising to get your users (as eshewed by those platforms with ad space to sell) or

2.  Get an influential person with large social reach to promote your app (as advised by smug people who’ve achieved this).

Neither of which is a valid strategy for most cash and time strapped start ups.

So, here’s a summary of a thread I found on Quora with a bit more useful information about how to market an app.

Essential actions to market your app

1.  Identify your target customers and the pain point your app is solving for them

2.  Articulate this in a value proposition and snappy description

Must do actions to market your app

1.  Provide awesome screenshots (not to be under estimated)

2.  Write a press release and other good PR fodder (research stats etc) and make easily available.  Post them on news distribution sites like, and

3.  Use social media to create a buzz – blogs, Facebook and Twitter were the platforms mentioned

4.  Write on and create new threads on forums like MacRumors, Touch Arcade and Tuaw

5.  Capture email addresses as soon as possible and ask early adopters for reviews

6.  Engage with app influencers to secure reviews

7.  Launch in phases

8.  Identify your (SEO) keywords so your app is easy to find in the App Store

Jury’s out on these actions to market your app

1.  Buy advertising space

2.  Focus all your energy on marketing within the App Store

3.  Learn how to do it properly by building one app purposely to throw away (Angry Birds was Rovio’s 57th game)

4.  Have a lite and paid for version of your app

Have-fun-but-not-high-hopes actions to market your app

1.  Get it featured on The Big Bang Theory

2.  Ask Stephen Fry to play with it

One marketing tactic missed from the Quora thread is the importance of email marketing to drive downloads and engagement.  Another is the clever (ie neither stalkerish nor  so infrequent it’s irrelevant) use of push notifications within the app to drive repeat use.

It stands to reason that best practice for app marketing will evolve in 2013 though, like SEO marketing, it may well be a moving beast as the boundaries and rules set by the App Store change.  But what then of Android?  Time will tell.

4 steps to a social media strategy (infographic)

The fifth and final infographic I wanted to share this week is another on social media.

This deceptively simple visual gives a good overview of what marketers need to consider when putting together a social media strategy.  It’s a good attempt at removing some of the complexity that can creep in.

I also like the objectives, strategies and tactics approach that’s implicit here.


Source:  Thanks to Marketing Profs for the share.

My infographic blog post series kicked off on Monday with The Social Sickness (social media personas) and Tuesday’s was Opinion Burnout (customer surveys).  On Wednesday there was The Evolution of Time Management Tools (self explainatory) and Thursday saw Common Phobias of Creatives (ditto).  I hope you’ve enjoyed them.

The Common Phobias of Creatives (infographic)

The fourth of my series of infographics for this week is this summary of phobias suffered by creative types.

It raised a smile, especially the client relations comments at the end (I think I’ve heard all of those as a marketer too).  Grr.

I could add a few more, especially the phobia of DON’T TOUCH MY SCREEN!! (you know who you are) but that wouldn’t be nice.

infographic creatives phobias

Source:  Thanks to Design Taxi for the share.

And thanks to you for following this mini infographic series so far this week, if you have been.  If not you missed The Social Sickness (social media personas) on Monday, Opinion Burnout (customer surveys) on Tuesday, The Evolution of Time Management Tools on Wednesday.

If you don’t want to miss the last infographic tomorrow just pop your email address into the box on the top right to receive these blog updates straight to your inbox.

Some of my thoughts, written down. Ramble on.