Saturday, April 23, 2005

Caught in the headlights

Over the past week, most commentators found reasons why Adobe acquired Macromedia. I haven't seen a lot of comment about why Macromedia let itself be acquired. This was no hostile takeover.

Macromedia did a great job building products for Creative Professionals, but failed dismally to make themselves relevant to customers beyond that core.

Were they really thinking that they could make Flash a serious application development platform? And get "street-cred" with the Python, Ruby and .Net crowds?

Why didn't they shake up the Content Management Systems market with a modestly priced system when they had a unique distribution channel (Web developers) to do so? No, they clung desperately to trying to sell Dreamweaver or its cousin (Contribute) to folks who simply want to update the text on their website.

After hyping the benefits of rich media for years, it must have been galling for Rob Burgess to see the runaway success of Google with simple text ads. Along the way, Macromedia didn't find a way to plug into the runaway success of Blogging. No, they were caught in the headlights of their own failures. A juicy offer from Adobe was easy to accept.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Adobe buys Macromedia

I thought it was surprising to to see Steve Elop take over the reins at Macromedia earlier this year. Rob Burgess had seemed well established in the CEO role. At the time, the press release said that "Burgess will be focused on mergers and acquisitions" and today we found out which merger he was talking about. [via Techdirt]

Sunday, April 10, 2005

It's good to be reminded...

Away from the Web, my passion is sailing. I like sailing because it puts you back in contact with two of Nature's basic elements, wind and water. At various times it's peaceful, exciting, relaxing, potentially dangerous and even embarrassing (for example, allowing a boat to come into unplanned contact with the other element, earth).


Te Moana, our catamaran at Pacific Creek Of course I have tried to combine the two passions with various degrees of success. I've enjoyed keeping a weblog of my "adventures" with Te Moana, our sailboat. I've also tried to start a mailing list about my kind of sailing, coastal cruising. It's been a bit of a failure. Why? Because I simply haven't managed to get it to critical mass. In my experience, a list typically needs around 100 members before there are enough regular writers (3 or 4?), as most people are by nature lurkers. And when there is no regular flow of messages, the list doesn't become part of your "life".


So why couldn't I get a enough people to join? Well, I'm part of a minority - those in their late fifties with a intense on-line habit. Most of the people in my age group don't get it, they didn't grow up with computers. And guess what, at the cruising club, I am amongst the younger group of participants. Coastal Cruising is what people do when they get some more time (and money) for themselves. So, for information and interaction, they are firmly wedded to face-to-face meetings (hard to beat a drink at sunset with some friends on the back of a boat somewhere) and Ink-On-Paper publications.


It's good to be reminded before we start a project to make sure the target audience is aligned not only with its aims but also has the capacity or inclination to take advantage of it. Social Software, like weblogs, wikis and yes, mailing lists generally need a two way conversation and many people still see themselves as consumers rather than participants.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Customer Service

We have this coming to us. The Head Lemur mocks all forms of, but particularly web based, customer service. If only he wasn't right. From badly designed forms, to websites which are not "connected" to the business. Of course, informative web sites and responsive customer service departments do exist, but all too often the experience is horrible.

Our industry (that of designing websites) is still challenged to design sites which properly relate to customers and their perspective. And we don't spend enough time helping make sure that there is a free flow between a site and the company behind it.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Tracking results

While Google has been diversifying beyond pure search to broaden its appeal, they don't have to be reminded where the payback is coming from: Driving traffic to sites in return for payment.

Smart customers of Google's Adwords track their results very closely and implement a variety of strategies to monitor their Return On Investment. One of the companies which has a suite of products to assist with that, is Urchin Web Analytics. Google just acquired them. Expect very close integration between Urchin's software and Google's.

Monday, April 04, 2005

A long way to go

It's been an eye opener talking to some small business people recently about their perspective on the Web. One business has a (pretty ugly) website which doesn't even list its street address, another doesn't have a website and its emails bounce because the mailbox is full. Both are relatively successful businesses in the services and manufacturing sectors.

auDA, the Australian Domain name authority, recently announced that there were now in excess of 500,000 .com and .net domains registered. Many representing the calling cards of businesses who are still grappling with this new medium.

It would be easy to dismiss these businesses as laggards, but away from the bleeding edge, where I've spend most of my working life, it's all about where the next dollar is coming from. And when it comes to a website or other areas of IT, they need a trusted party who gives them the right advice. Who is that? Where do they find it?