Month: November 2009

Original Pirate Material…you’re listening to the Streets.


I was surprised but really happy to see The Streets’ Original Pirate Material named the best album of the decade in the Observer Music Monthly magazine. I love it so much I’m not sure I can describe it, and I think it’s just a perfect, perfect album. It reminds me of home and being 19 and this really specific time in my life.

It evokes all the music I loved at the time, the clubs I was going to, the people I hung out with, all the happiness, all the misery too and every time I hear the line ‘the hazy fog over the Bull Ring, the lazy ways the birds sing’ it feels like I’m back there.

Sent using BlackBerry?? from Orange


Agile, content management and content strategy

I attended some interesting presentations and a round table on agile web content management this morning, run by Vyre and featuring speakers from Gartner, the National Trust and Indigo Blue.

  I’d never heard of agile before I started at uSwitch, so it was good to hear other people singing its praises, just as all the developers I work with do.

  During the round table, we were asked to identify whether we saw ourselves as ‘business’ or ‘IT’, which I thought was interesting bearing in mind that at work we’ve been trying to break down that distinction, under the tongue-in-cheek banner of ‘one team one dream’. I think it’s a good idea to try to get away from that division and incorporate everyone who’s working on the same project into one workflow, because after all, we’re all trying to get to the same end goal.

  It was also interesting to hear someone ask for opinions about where the content team should sit within their business. It’s a tough one, because I feel like content exists somewhere inbetween marketing, commercial, search and development. I do think it can be helpful to have content in the middle of it all, actually, rather than sitting in one specific area, although maybe there is a danger of losing sight of an overall content strategy by falling into the role of a support act for for other areas around the business. 

Is Bing’s content preview a bad thing?

I???ve just seen a demo of some of the new features of Bing, and the one thing that the people in the room seemed most interested by was the content previewer, which essentially scrapes some of the content from a page that comes up in search results and allows you to read it before you click through, as you can see here:





From a user???s point of view, I think it???s great ??? there???s no need to go back to the results time and time again because you???ve enede up on a page that wasn???t actually relevant, because you can see more or less straight away whether something???s what you were after or not.  However, a few people questioned what sort of effect this could have on traffic.  For quite a few searches, all the information you need would be contained within that preview, so you???d have no need to click through, for example if you searched ???What is an IVA????…





The question is answered straightaway ??? which is user-friendly, but not great for anyone hoping to target that search term. 


I think if this feature were to catch on, some sites may well see a drop in traffic, but it might be compensated for by an increase in the quality of the traffic that does make it to the page. People will have a much better idea of what content they are going to see, and as suchmetrics like time on page, bounce rate (and potentially even conversion) could improve.  Take an exmple from the site I work for: 




If someone???s looking for a new ISA, the content the previewer gives away isn???t what the customer was looking for, but instead it acts like bonus meta data, without the strict character limit you get with title tags and meta descriptions, so a user can get a proper flavour for your content and incentive to click-through. 


Commuter reading

I’m on the train home and the people sitting around me are reading:
Woman to my left – Ben Elton, Blind Faith.
Woman to my right – Twilight, Stephanie Meyer.
Man opposite me – Daily Mail
Man a row in front of me – a copy of Psychologies allegedly ‘the thinking woman’s magazine’. Me – Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49.
What a bizarre cross-section. Sent using BlackBerry?? from Orange