Legistics site wins Gold Communicator Award

trophy_goldOnce again, our website for Legistics has been recognized by an international design competition. We’ve received a gold Award of Excellence from the 22nd Annual Communicator Awards. Our site was selected from among some 6,000 entries, as one of just four to be honored in the Law and Legal Services category.

“The work entered…serves as a benchmark in gauging the innovative ideas and capabilities of communications and marketing professionals around the world. Each year, our entrants continue to amaze by reinventing the ways we communicate and market in an ever-changing industry.” noted Linda Day, executive director of the AIVA, the organization that sanctions and judges the competition. The Academy of Interactive and Visual Art is an invitation-only body consisting of top-tier professionals from a “Who’s Who” of acclaimed media, advertising, and marketing firms.

Congrats to our talented team: creative director Josh Freeman, designer Anat Rodan, writer Emily Hutta, videographers Joel Lipton & Carlos Gutierrez and developer Stephen Slater. Huzzah!

Mailchimp, you people are brilliant.

MailChimp_Annual_Report_2013_and_Inbox__5_messages__1_unread_

I just got the new Mailchimp annual report.

It’s a website.
It’s cool.
It’s simple.
It’s beautiful.
It’s entertaining.
It’s fun.
It’s smart.
It’s worth a look, for sure.

New FreeAssociates site

Come on down! We’ve launched our new and improved website today. And we’d love to share it with you.

We invite your comments and suggestions. Thanks for your interest, your support and your friendship. We can’t do this without you.

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Google adds Disavow Links. How will this affect your SEO?

Giant anchor chain with two sailorsI was at a workshop yesterday and met some folks (not shown here) who have been developing websites for 12 years. “Old hands” like them know a lot about the Web, and they are very skeptical about the value of Search Engine Optimization. My developer associate Chris seems to feel pretty much the same way. Unless you are a truly Internet-driven business (a la Ebay or Zappos — and even then) it’s nowhere near as important to your site’s success as creating great content. And doing SEO well is an art form that not many people have the skill, the patience or the budget to practice.

What’s more, if you overdo your SEO, you can end up with text-heavy, unreadable copy —  a site that’s so dense with search-friendly keywords that nobody will want to read it. Visitors might show up, but they will leave just as quickly to find a site that’s more usable. That’s not what you want.

In addition, many so-called SEO “experts” use techniques that are manipulative and shady. But now it seems that Google is onto them. Again.

Google’s whole focus (in addition to making money hand over fist) is in generating real, useful results for your searches. They have legions of very smart people who do nothing but find ways to undermine and sabotage the SEO scam artists. They want to give users results that are actually useful. So if you have a bunch of stupid, auto-generated links to your site from blogs that have been mined by robots, your website traffic is about to crash and burn.

Eugene Ware, the CEO of Noble Samurai software. has written a pretty clear explanation of this latest development on his company’s blog. Check it out if you want to know more. (Note: I tried to link you directly to the article, but Ware seems to have moved it around. So I linked to the home page of his blog instead. Look for the article called “Google Changes SEO Forever with its Disavow Link Tool – What You Need to Do Right Now…”)

Meanwhile, my expert buddies suggest you focus on making your site useful and informative. If you do, Google will love you. And so will your customers.

Turn any website into an app on your Mac

Fluid App logoAt FreeAssociates, we manage our projects with Basecamp, a wonderful, simple online system from 37Signals. I’m constantly closing the window — accidentally or through force of habit — then having to re-open it in my browser. I really just want it to act like an app on my Mac and function independently from my other web browsing.

Guess what? It can!

With Fluid, which was named a Macworld “Gem” for good reason, you can turn any website into a real application, running independently in its own separate window, with its own custom icon in your Dock. That’s how Basecamp now runs on my system. I’ve made one for Google Calendar, too, which is just like having it on my hard drive.

Such a simple, smart solution to an annoying problem — one I didn’t entirely realize I had!

(For you Windows users, you can try Google Chrome’s Application Shortcuts feature or Prism, which uses Firefox and is also available for Mac and Linux)