Thursday, November 13, 2008

Got Old Biz Cards?

A small problem that all working people have to face at one point or another - what am I supposed to do with all these old biz cards?

When we moved to our new digs, we didn't order new biz cards right away because we still had a TON of the old. After a little bit of using the old ones and having to explain several times that the address on them wasn't correct anymore, we decided it was time for a newly designed biz card. That's when the question arose. My first reaction was to just throw all the old biz cards in the recycling bin, but then after a quick search, I found many other ways to recycle your old biz cards:
  • You could use them for making a grocery list, jotting down a note for a loved one or taking down messages when on the phone. Plus, since biz cards are made of thicker stock paper than your normal sheet of paper or post-it note, if you wish to take your notes or list with you, you can put it in your pocket and it won't get crumpled as easily.
  • You could use them for entering drawings for door prizes or free catering as long as you make sure you have updated contact info on the card before you enter.
  • You could use them as luggage tags because they hold up better than a thinner piece of paper, but again, make sure you update your information by hand on the card before you use it.
  • You could use them as labels for organizing & identifying CD cases, files or hanging folders.
  • You could use a folded corner of a biz card to make a nice toothpick or fingernail cleaner if you are in a pinch.
  • You could fold up a biz card and use it as a wedge for a wobbly table or chair.
  • You could use the back (if it's blank) as a gift label.
After reading a few articles on what you could do with old biz cards, I thought that most of the suggestions for uses were kind of boring and expected. I ended up searching for more creative and unexpected uses for old biz cards and found the following:
  • You could use old biz cards as noisemakers for the wheels of your child's bike (or even your own for that matter :-) All you have to do is tape or clothespin a card to the supporting bars of the fenders on your bike so that the spokes on the wheel create a motorized sound when they strike the card.
  • You could make your own deck of playing cards and make up a game with them. This is a great one to keep kids busy for awhile with some creative fun.
  • You could cover a wall with the backside of the cards (if they are a solid color or have a cool pattern) for an interesting wallpaper effect. This one would be good for creative agencies or some kind of place that likes to get creative with their work environment.
  • You could use them in being crafty or making art. They make great paint scrapers for scraping paint on a canvas, great for creating collages with to add depth, or blend shreds of them together with other paper to make handmade paper.
  • You could make biz card cubes and put them all together to construct a house of cubes, cube furniture, or even make ornaments for your Christmas tree! This biz card project may take a while and you might actually find that you don't have enough old biz cards! I found this idea to be the coolest, by far, so I ended up making a few cubes myself. I also found someone who had actually spent the time to make a house of cubes.... it took 66,000 biz cards to make the house of cubes-- also known as Menger's Sponge. Now that, is dedication!
Pretty neat stuff, huh? Well, I hope that this gives you inspiration to do something with your old cards that have been sitting in your desk collecting dust. If you decide you really aren't the type to do anything with your old cards, please recycle them or send them to this guy named Steve Patterson -- he collects biz cards. If you are the type of person to do something with your old cards, I say "happy biz-carding" to you!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The election is over - a lesson in usability?

It is the morning after the election - a historic moment in American history regardless of party or vote. Now come the pundits, the analysis and hindsight brilliance. But, one thing has been evident all along - the web and social media made a difference in this election. And, one candidate used them much more adeptly than the other, the one that won.

President-elect Barack Obama hired one of the co-founders of Facebook, Chris Hughes, to run his online strategy - not a bad move. I came across a great article comparing the two websites and on BNET (here). Marc Mendell points out some striking differences in the article, and it is a great read just for practical design and usabiity best-of-breed parameters and how-tos.

Senator McCain gave a moving and wonderful speech last night conceding the race to Barack Obama. I woke up this morning at 5:30CST to start checking the polls and coverage (I am an election geek with an MA in Government concentrating on political behavior and survey research, so I love this stuff). What did I find at each candidate's website?

McCain's was unchanged and running through autoplay for several of his end-of-campaign ads attacking Obama - wait I have just heard from others that they saw the updated image below, apparently my browser cache was viewing an older version - NOTE - then it would make sense for any site with time sensitive matter to put in measures to keep this from happening through redirects, replacing index pages and so forth. Now, back to what was there today. There were buttons to vote, make phone calls and all sorts of stuff out of date. See it here:
Then I went to Obama's webiste and saw this:
The difference? Besides the usability dynamics pointed out in the BNET article - Obama was up to date with a "Thank You" page, a donate to the DNC as a payback to them for their help and a simple message and the most recent blog posts. The McCain site did not reinforce the great message that Senator McCain had laid out the night before and had many a CTA (call to action) that were irrelevant.

The lesson? Besides that usability matters and most likely played a major role now in the history of America - have a plan B. Both campaigns should of have had "Thank You" and concession pages built weeks ago, beta tested and deployed with hidden vanity links ready to go. Sometimes simply being prepared is the best usability tool out there.

Usability, the internet and design matter. They matter for the highest office in the land and they matter for your customers that want to purchase a t-shirt or a server.

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