Email Overload Fix: 3 Sentence Emails

Jon Orlin | //

Email is taking up too much time in our lives.

Do yourself and your recipients a favor by making your emails 3 sentences or less.

If we all do it, imagine the time we’ll have to do other things.

If this was an actual email reply and not a blog post, it would have ended before this sentence started. I’ve been trying a new solution to email overload by limiting emails to 3 sentences or less. You can learn the details in just 5 sentences at The basic concept is to treat all email replies like SMS messages. I take this one step further and try to write initial emails in 3 sentences or less whenever possible.

I first learned about 3 sentence emails from a post by Kevin Rose, where he lists 5 good email time saving tips.

The inbox has become the “dreaded inbox” for so many people. A recent study by Xobni claimed 1 in 5 Americans check email either as the first thing they do in the morning or the last thing at night. 26% of Americans feel they can’t handle or feel overwhelmed by the number of emails they receive during vacation. Another report [PDF] by The Radicati Group says the typical corporate user sends 36 emails and receives 61 legitimate emails during the average day. An IDC study estimates email consumes an average of 13 hours per week per information worker.

Since starting at TechCrunch TV, I get about 100 to 200 emails a day which require action or a response. The newly launched Google Priority Inbox, which is getting postive reviews, helps. Although venture investor Jeff Clavier discovered it can make some mistakes. Google decided his wife’s emails weren’t important. Not good. Seguir leyendo “Email Overload Fix: 3 Sentence Emails”

In Shock Move, Google Starts Advertising On Facebook

by Niall Harbison | //

We all know about the impending social war that is brewing up between Facebook and Google but today it has taken an interesting turn with Google starting to pay Facebook for advertising space on their platform to advertise their browser Google Chrome.

It’s clear that Google are on a massive push to acquire users for it’s browser in it’s battle with Firefox, Safari and IE and although I have seen adverts for Chrome in all sorts of innovative places the last place in the world I expected to see them was on Facebook. I wonder how Microsoft (an investor in Facebook with a strategic partnership) feels about these ads given they would be one of the main competitors in the browser wars.

Seguir leyendo “In Shock Move, Google Starts Advertising On Facebook”

You Know You’re a Freelancer When . . . Part II

I am utterly in love with the fantabulous readers of FreelanceSwitch! Your dozens of comments and additions to the original post were classic, creative and straight comedy!

Here’s the sequel post, inspired by and attributed to the brilliant and magnificent readers of FreelanceSwitch:

You Know You’re a Freelancer When . . .

  1. Your idea of a casual day out involves being dressed to the nines with an extra splash of *bling bling* because, hey… “after six weeks in PJs, I’m ready for my close up dahling!” ~ Inspired by Storm and Izabela Tenenboim
  2. Your internet playground PC (or Mac – yeah that’s right, I’m not a hater!) that used to be your gateway to World of Warcraft is now your productivity prison. “Ah and I used to have a life!” ~ Inspired by Nabeel Amin
  3. Your therapist starts asking you why you talk to yourself… and answer yourself… and then said therapist asks you to click “Send” to submit your response. ~ Inspired by Mark Hawkins
  4. I’ve got TWO WORDS for you: Bunny Slippers!! ~ Inspired by Ben Tzu
  5. You are overly and dangerously obsessed with checking your mail. {And your baffled mail man is wondering why you’re tugging at his pant cuff instead of the rabid dog he’s used to fending off.} ~ Inspired by Susan Johnston, Izabela Tenenboim, Amanda, and Michael Kwan
  6. You can’t relate to Office Space, but Freelance Freedom has you off your chair in stitches. “Yep, been there…” ~ Inspired by Janed
  7. You’ve got to schedule intimacy into your To Do list and your family begins communicating with you via email. (Just to make sure you heard me, even though I’m sitting right next to you… hello? Are you even paying att… oh forget it.) ~ Inspired by Kathy and Amanda
  8. You’re beginning to suspect that your iPod is developing an uncanny intuition or an unyielding sense of devilish humor. “Oh I love this song!” quickly evolves into “Wait, didn’t I just hear this song?” ~ Inspired by Andy and his 1200 song iPod playlist
  9. Virtual colleagues you’ve never met know more about you than your physical friends. Plus you start telling more stories about them than you do about your own life… (yep, that’s right. Get out of the house much?) ~ Inspired by Natalia
  10. 9 to 5 sometimes means PM to AM. Yeah that whole growing without sunlight thing… funny how that works. ~ Inspired by Barbara Camisa
  11. Blogging about every position your cat collapses into… or that hot new brush palette for Photoshop… actually feels like you’re engaging in a social life {Yes comments = “my life has meaning” and I’m okay with that!} ~ Inspired by ameetkarn
  12. Your car still has the full tank of gas you put in it a week ago and you’re curiously intrigued by everyone’s meltdown over gas prices. ~ Inspired by Misti Sandafar
  13. Showers get regulated to the afternoon, evening or… because hey, you can take that first 8am (or 11am in my case!) phone call in your PJs. And then the follow up emails, oh and that fascinating conversation happening on Facebook, oh and I better update my status so everyone knows my dog just farted, and… ~ Inspired by Vio
  14. Your friends have to ambush you 20 days in advance (and don’t forget how they strong arm you into pre-purchase tickets with your credit card) just to get you out to the cinema for an evening. ~ Inspired by Marta
  15. Love in your household means knowing how to say “Yep honey, just finishing up this email!” ~ Inspired by Marta and Ginette
  16. Rush hour traffic no longer affects you. You’re just glad to be driving anywhere because AMEN! it means you’re out of the house! ~ Inspired by Julie Parenteau
  17. Your idea of a heinous disaster is losing internet access or being relegated to dial up speed. “What do you mean the internet will be spotty here? I was told when I purchased these plane tickets that I’d have internet access! {Um yeah… it’s coming from SPACE and you’re 30,000 frickin feet in the AIR!} ~ Inspired by Rexaniel and a hilarious Conan O’ Brien skit with Louis C. K.
  18. You reorganize your family’s sleeping arrangements just to make sure your home office is a write off. ~ Inspired by Chris Cade Seguir leyendo “You Know You’re a Freelancer When . . . Part II”

Adsense: Why Bloggers Don’t Get It

Michael Gray

By Michael Gray | //

In doing the research for my series of Adsense articles, two common ideas kept getting repeated:

  • My Adsense ads are horrible, they only pay out (insert low dollar figure here)
  • My Adsense CTR is horrible, I only get a (insert extremely low CTR here)

To be fair these comments weren’t coming just from bloggers, but bloggers did make up an overwhelmingly large percentage. I think this stems from a misconception on the part of the bloggers that they are entitled to high payout and CTR. I’d like to spend a little time to share my feelings on this subject. In the early days a blog may just have been an online diary or journal, but like the days of the Nehru jackets, they are gone. What a blog is now is Chronologically Structured Content Management System, as opposed to the classic web hierarchical structured implementation. Let’s be clear, you can still use a blog as your online diary or journal, but nowdays it’s just as likely to be used as a commercial blog. Yes, I did just say commercial blog, and no the earth didn’t open under my feet and swallow me whole for saying it. Let’s take some time to look at a your typical blog. Seguir leyendo “Adsense: Why Bloggers Don’t Get It”

I Wish We Had Google Understand Not Google Instant Search

Post image for I Wish We Had Google Understand Not Google Instant Search

Michael Gray

By Michael Gray | //

Earlier this week Google launched the latest iteration of the SERP’s, Google Instant. While I, like everyone else, had fun playing and finding some of the holes in it, it’s really not a product that I think will succeed. To Google’s credit, I can’t ever say that I’ve heard people complain that Google takes too long to serve them results. What I do hear and personally experience is that I wish Google understood what I was looking for …

Google didn’t learn that all this complexity isn’t what people want from the failed Google wave and Sidewiki experiments …

I understand why Google launched a product like Google instant search: they feel that, because they are smart enough at predicting what you are looking for, they can interpret your query after a word or two–or sometimes after just a few letters. They think they know you so well that they can guess what you want without being told. Without getting too involved in what’s going on behind the scenes, Google is using previous search volume to predict the most likely term(s) you are looking for. It’s a sophisticated leap forward in technology to be sure, but it’s not something that solves a problem I hear people complain about. (As a side, this does give a lot more context to the bizarre statement Eric Schmidt made a few weeks ago: “They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.”) Seguir leyendo “I Wish We Had Google Understand Not Google Instant Search”

Your Facebook Fan Page – 5 Ways to Make the Most of It

Curtis Stevens

By Curtis Stevens | //

If your business targets consumers, do you already have a Facebook fan page?  If not, why?  With more than 350 million active Facebook users, it is time to embrace social media and let it help grow your business.  Not only is Facebook a great place to expose yourself to thousands of new customers, but Google is now using content from social media sites in their search results.  Once you have created a fan page, there are a few things you can do to ensure you get the most out of it.  Here are some tips and guidelines to use. Seguir leyendo “Your Facebook Fan Page – 5 Ways to Make the Most of It”

How Social Engagement is Changing

There certainly is a lot of commentary regarding the usefulness of social media marketing, as well as the numbers of people that are engaging in the conversation. According to recent studies conducted by PostRank, we have been able to illustrate what is happening in the Internet’s social community — how people are communicating, what is changing, and where people are doing the talking.

Read more:

The History of Marketing

Have you ever wondered how modern marketing practices came to be? Well, so did we. After doing some research, we thought it best to tell the story through the use of this visual aid.

Read more:

How to Become an Eco Web Designer

By: Alexander Dawson | //

Whether you believe in global warming or otherwise, the earth does still have limited resources. With an ever increasing population this means that we should try and reduce our consumption of fuel and wastage whenever possible. While I’m not going to start a hippy campaign and say that we should all go live in a world without computers (that would drive me to the point of insanity) I think that as web professionals, there are small things we can do to pass on the savings to our customers.

This article aims to highlight some of those potential energy and resource saving tweaks that we can make to ensure that if our visitors wish to reduce the amount of resources they expend, the process will be as painless and unobtrusive as possible. While this list is certainly not extensive, hopefully it may give you the opportunity to think about the process you use to build a website and how to best meet the ecological needs of your visitors as they are of an ever increasing level of importance.

Save Energy
Image credit: emitea

Figure 1: Recognising ways to save energy will make you an eco designer.

Note: Everything listed has some scientific credibility behind the theory, but the amount of savings that can be made depend on various factors. My advice is that if doing small things can help visitors reduce their electricity bills or resource costs without incurring extra ourselves, it’s worth the effort!

Blackle is The New White

While this item has a lot of controversy surrounding it, there is some clear merit associated with the practice therefore it’s worth breaking apart the facts from the fiction. A few years ago a site called Blackle appeared and made a name for itself due to its simple idea that by using a black background, you could reduce the amount of energy expended by your display. The theory behind this was that it requires more energy to illuminate a white pixel than a black (non active) one, sounds easy right?

While this item has a lot of controversy surrounding it, there is some clear merit associated with the practice therefore it’s worth breaking apart the facts from the fiction. A few years ago a site called Blackle appeared and made a name for itself due to its simple idea that by using a black background, you could reduce the amount of energy expended by your display. The theory behind this was that it requires more energy to illuminate a white pixel than a black (non active) one, sounds easy right?


Figure 2: Blackle conceptualises a method to help CRT displays reduce their energy consumption.

Well the truth is that the claims by promoters of the theory itself based on a scientific study were rather exaggerated. You see, with the advancement of technologies and the progression from CRT displays (which a real difference can be measured) to LCD’s (which require near enough the same amount of energy to produce black as white), much of the idea behind such a noble campaign has been debunked. So why is this item included in the list? For one reason, backwards compatibility!

As web professionals we are used to the fact that people may be browsing our sites using clunky old pieces of technology, from elderly browsers to a machine that would have been in existence longer than your children. It’s still a fact today that many people still regularly make use of CRT displays as they visit websites. Therefore it may be worth the consideration of giving your users an alternative stylesheet which they can pick based on black to pass on potential energy savings to those devices.

Contrast is King Seguir leyendo “How to Become an Eco Web Designer”

Fully Understanding Contrast in Design

This post was authored exclusively for WDD by John O’Nolan //

Usually the subject of contrast is reserved for beginners. Books will say “black and white have contrast, red and orange do not” – but there’s so much more to it.

Beginners books usually only touch on color contrast, but what about size and shape contrast? Often the easiest way to tell an amateur designer from a professional one is to look at their use of contrast.

Creating a structure of importance using size, shape and color is what gives a page impact and legibility to the reader.

In this post, we’re going to look at contrast in detail, examining big typography, funky shapes, clear divides, imagery, and how they properly fit together using contrast for a good user experience.

An Introduction to Contrast

Contrast can be defined as “the difference in visual properties that makes an object (or its representation in an image) distinguishable from other objects and the background.” In plain English that could be described at its most basic level as “things which look different from one another.”

For designers in all walks of the practice, but particularly web designers, contrast is at the root of pretty much everything. We are constantly trying to establish hierarchies of importance, draw people to certain areas of a page and communicate a clear and concise message at the very heart of our work. Creating relationships between different elements of a design is just about the most important thing that you can do. You’ve probably been doing it a great deal already, consciously or not.

Obvious examples of contrast are black and white, big and small, fast and slow, thick and thin. Opposites are the easiest way to grasp what contrast is, but when applying contrast to design work it’s never quite as black and white. If you were wondering, that’s where the saying about a situation being “black and white” comes from, which also leads to the saying of something being a “gray area”. In design we are often comparing things which are different but not opposite, for example an H1 and an h1, or an “add to cart” button and a “check out” button. This is where greater levels of contrast come into play.

Let’s take a look at the different types of contrast and some examples of how they’re used in web design.

Color Contrast

The most common example of all, this is pretty much where it all starts. If two colors are different to each other (say, black and white) they have high contrast, whereas if they are very similar (red and orange) then they have low contrast.


TekRoc use very obvious color contrast here by overlaying bright and vibrant image on top of a very dark background. The bright orange and blue clearly stand out and the eye is immediately drawn to them above all other things on the page.

Seguir leyendo “Fully Understanding Contrast in Design”

Social media and the multiplier effect

by ian |

Marketing nerdiness alert! This post has some heavy-duty marketing geekination in it. You have been warned.


The multiplier effect: Each additional quality friend or follower in your network increases the value of all other people on your network.

I came up with this concept whilst grinding my teeth to nubs over demands like this: “I only have 500 followers. My competitor has 50,000. Get me more followers!”

See, most social media campaigns devolve into spamfests. It’s like the early- and middle-age of e-mail marketing. More = better, therefore let’s send crap out to every sucker we can find. It’s accumulation marketing [blast from the past alert]. And it never works for long.

Where social media spam comes from

Spam – particularly social media spam – comes from a long-time belief that a bigger network of potential customers is always better.

That belief comes from a traditional marketing formula: Add another person to your network of potential customers, and best case is that each member of that network keeps the same value.

Say I have a network of 1,000 potential customers, with each customer worth $1. Then I add another person to the network. Conventional wisdom says that the best I can hope for is that each network member remains worth $1. It’s likely that, as I add more people, the background noise and accidental addition of people who have no interest in my product at all will reduce the value of every individual network member:

individuals decrease in value

So, goes conventional wisdom, if your plan is to grow sales and customer base, you need to expand your network exponentially to make up for the lost value. A massive network is always better than a small one, and individuals are worth less and less.

That’s why otherwise intelligent people still click on messages like this:


And it’s why I crack molars.

But it doesn’t add up. If a massive network is always better, why is it that someone tweeting to 50,000 people gets me 3 clicks, and someone tweeting to 5,000 gets me 10,000 clicks?

Go figure. Seguir leyendo “Social media and the multiplier effect”

7 Secrets Graphic Designers Won’t Tell You about Effective Website Design

By James Chartrand | //

Ever had a run-in with a graphic designer who promised you a brilliant design but all you got was a big mess?

No, you’re not an expert, but you know what’s good and what’s not. You also know when you’re being taken advantage of. All you wanted was a website that would help you succeed online, and what you got instead wasn’t worth the pixels it was painted on.

And what’s worse is you have to start over. You’ve lost months of time, burned through thousands of dollars, hurt your business reputation, and gone through the emotional turmoil of it all, and now you have to do the whole thing over again.

It’s scary, because let’s be honest. What if Take Two is just as much of a nightmare?

Well, we’re not going to let it happen again. Here are some secrets many graphic designers won’t tell you, and knowing them can save you a bundle of both time and money… Seguir leyendo “7 Secrets Graphic Designers Won’t Tell You about Effective Website Design”

14 Ways to Get Breakthrough Ideas

There’s a lot of talk these days about the importance of innovation. All CEOs worth their low salt lunch want it. And they want it, of course, now.

Innovation, they reason, is the competitive edge.

What sparks innovation? People. What sparks people? Inspired ideas that meet a need — whether expressed or unexpressed — ideas with enough mojo to rally sustained support.

Is there anything a person can do — beyond caffeine, corporate pep talks, or astrology readings — to quicken the appearance of breakthrough ideas?

Yes, there is.

And it begins with the awareness of where ideas come from in the first place.

There are two schools of thought on this subject.

The first school ascribes the origin of ideas to inspired individuals who, through a series of purposeful mental processes, conjure up the new and the different — cerebral wizards, if you will.

The second school of thought ascribes the appearance of ideas to a transcendent force, a.k.a. the “Collective Unconscious,” the “Platonic Realm,” the “Muse” or the “Mind of God.”


According to this perspective, ideas are not created, but already exist, becoming accessible only to those human beings who have sufficiently tuned themselves to receive them.

The first approach is considered Western, with a strong bias towards thinking and is best summarized by Rene Descartes‘ “I think therefore I am” maxim. Most business people subscribe to this approach.

The second approach is usually considered Eastern, with a strong bias towards feeling, and is best summarized by the opposite of the Cartesian view: “I am therefore, I think.” Most artists and “creative types” are associated with this approach, with its focus on intuitive knowing.

Both approaches are valid. Both are effective. Both are used at different times by all of us, depending on our mood, circumstances, and conditioning.

What does all of this have to do with you — oh aspiring innovator?

Plenty, since you are a hybrid of the above-mentioned schools of thought.

That’s what this Manifesto is all about — a quick-hitting tutorial of what you can do to more dependably conjure up brilliant ideas. Seguir leyendo “14 Ways to Get Breakthrough Ideas”

The Science of Laughter

Far from mere reactions to jokes, hoots and hollers are serious business:
They’re innate — and important — social tools.

By Robert Provine | //

Whether overheard in a crowded restaurant, punctuating the enthusiastic chatter of friends, or as the noisy guffaws on a TV laugh track, laughter is a fundamental part of everyday life. It is so common that we forget how strange — and important — it is. Indeed, laughter is a “speaking in tongues” in which we’re moved not by religious fervor but by an unconscious response to social and linguistic cues. Stripped of its variation and nuance, laughter is a regular series of short vowel-like syllables usually transcribed as “ha-ha,” “ho-ho” or “hee-hee.” These syllables are part of the universal human vocabulary, produced and recognized by people of all cultures.

Given the universality of the sound, our ignorance about the purpose and meaning of laughter is remarkable. We somehow laugh at just the right times, without consciously knowing why we do it. Most people think of laughter as a simple response to comedy, or a cathartic mood-lifter. Instead, after 10 years of research on this little-studied topic, I concluded that laughter is primarily a social vocalization that binds people together. It is a hidden language that we all speak. It is not a learned group reaction but an instinctive behavior programmed by our genes. Laughter bonds us through humor and play.

Seguir leyendo “The Science of Laughter”