Flags are not languages (Easyjet website is wrong)

Easyjet have recently changed their website. Now you get a language selection screen. So far so good I guess (for a website).

But unfortunately instead of just the names of languages, there are flags as well.

The flags on this page may look colourful, but having them there is WRONG.

I’m not being pedantic here. It is simply wrong.

If you don’t get the flag screen when you visit easyjet.com and you want to see it, it may be because of your browser’s language setting. (In Firefox for instance, go to Tools | Options | Content | Languages.)

Failing that, look for and delete a browser cookie that stores Easyjet’s language setting. (In Firefox for instance, go to Tools | Options | Privacy | Show Cookies then search for “easyjet”.)

Here’s a slightly dated but classic web page about flags and languages (summary: don’t).

I’m not going to point out every case of this, but when a big company does it then it’s closer to becoming a de facto standard. It has an influence on other people and companies. This isn’t a particular beef with Easyjet, it’s just a clear example of this problem. My patience here is flagging. Etc.

Localisation, language, Welsh in work and non-work

Yes, we spell it “localisation” round ‘ere. *

Quick addendum to the previous post about the difference between this blog and a fully bilingual website…

It’s amazing how many people get localisation and language wrong. Even Amazon and so on.

If I were creating a truly bilingual website then I would translate every single post, page, category and tag.

I would have two user-selectable language interfaces, which would be served based on browser language selection where possible.

The browser choice could be overriden by visible options for English and Cymraeg. There would be language-specific RSS feeds. If done correctly, the number of RSS feeds would double when the second language is added.

While I’m on it, there would not be any country flags on the interface. A massive bugbear of mine! A flag does not stand for a language. Never ever. **

If I were starting my own consumer-facing organisation or company in Wales, I would consider it important to offer both languages. (I would like to start doing this for work-related things where possible.)

For large companies in particular, usually this is possible but we sometimes get excuses (about demand but usually about cost) which add up to zero really. It’s about people feeling – and being – welcomed in their own country! There is help and expertise available for this, with design, “best practice” and so on.

If done well, it’s obviously a good PR move which can give an edge over competitors and boost your bottom line.

Besides, language itself is wealth.

* Or “lleoleiddiad”. But I couldn’t make a self-referential gag out of that.

** For example, I’ve seen the Union “Jack” flag stand for the English language. Can Jamaicans click this? Or is this some kind of joke on USA web visitors who might want English language, as if we’re now calling the Declaration of Independence into question? It’s hopeless to use the Welsh flag to stand for Cymraeg, it’s a country and not everyone living here uses it. Flags do have their uses though. Please join me in saluting the flag of the North Caucasian Emirate.

How Iggy Pop pushed mass advertising over the shark and broke the fourth wall

Look I’m not an expert on advertising or anything. But I am an expert in being ADVERTISED AT. It’s become a truism that there’s a constant stream of shouty advertising messages interrupting your every thought, etc. At this point I could repeat that and lament how advertising bombards us all in the face. But I’m sure you know about this.

Anyway, good news. Mass advertising is over now. I can hear it dying. Kind of.

The thing that made me think about this was the recent advert for car insurance featuring Iggy Pop. I guess I’ve seen it on countless billboards but the version that jolted me was on Spotify.

“Am I selling cheap car insurance or am I selling time?”, Iggy asks.

The curious thing was the phraseology the ad agency chose. (It’s for Swift car insurance if you must know.)

This ad references the fact it’s an ad. Iggy is selling here and he’s not afraid to admit it. Obviously, hardcore fans will answer that Iggy Pop is selling not only the insurance policy but his own legacy and self-respect here. Yeah probably. But I’m not here to assess that. I’m here to assess if advertising is now experiencing its own period of shark-jumping.

There’s something in Iggy’s admission here which breaks a kind of unspoken rule of advertising. Advertising pushes emotions and dreams unquestioningly. It doesn’t usually ask you to assess it or its reason for existing.

But of course we all do.

Besides, all advertising is meta. Here’s something I said earlier in the year – about another ad campaign:

Advertising is by and large, in my opinion, a self-referential medium. You always know you’re reading adverts. They make you think about the way advertising pervades society and also about specific advertising campaigns – whether they’re effective and that sort of thing. With other media you “zone out” and listen to the message. That applies to a conversation, phone call, television programme, radio, a newspaper article or this blog post. You have a chance of thinking about someone’s thoughts and taking your mind off the medium itself. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in saying that – advertising makes you think of advertising. If you’re interested in communications as I am, then you also wonder how much money was spent and what’s being done to measure the effectiveness (if at all).

It’s definitely not fashionable to make blatant sales pitches like Iggy’s anymore. His doing so almost takes it back to an older, more direct time. I don’t remember the old-fashioned sales pitch. Being (merely) one day older than MTV, adverts aimed at me have only ever been clever-clever and knowingly sophisticated.

But we the audience have always been more sophisticated.

In recent years I’ve drastically reduced my television viewing. (Don’t get me wrong, I love television. But I also hate it. Anyway, that’s for another time.) In my mostly television-free life, when I do pass one the ad breaks stand out even more. I notice them and they are even more irritating. I mean, TV adverts, come off it! Who speaks like that? How can anyone be comfortable allowing that into their home?

A case in point was the Orange phone advertising which attempts to portray your phone in the first person, “I am who I am because of everyone.” and so on. Err, right.

Another factor in my heightened sensitivity to this stupidity could be my new experiences of a minority language which – because the economics aren’t thought to stack up – doesn’t have much advertising in any format. There isn’t much Welsh language advertising because interruption advertising is a partially-sighted approach which treats us all as a demographic blob who’ll probably fall into line. That’s why they get celebrities in, it’s the closest thing to a warm human connection they can muster. They should read Cluetrain.

Whether they admit it or not, even the advertising agencies have absorbed the fact that conversational buzz is more effective than interruption advertising. Obviously the most noteworthy thing about the Iggy Pop ads is his decision to appear. Even some tedious argument about the death of “real rock’n’roll” is more bearable than anything in the ads themselves. Ditto John Lydon advertising butter. Oddly they persist with the ads but it now becomes about the ensuing publicity around the ad. And then the word-of-mouth. (Some ad agencies even have their own blogs now. But they never use advertising to get business for their own services.)

Some kind of pinnacle of this was achieved last year when Honda staged a television ad on Channel 4 featuring live skydiving. This got them loads of coverage in a press hungry for wacky stories. Especially gimmicks related to how traditional media might raise cash.

In the interests of research, I just watched the skydiving ad itself, online, for the first time. Actually pretty boring. (I also found out about an unplanned and tragic twist.)

Nowadays, if your ad doesn’t generate press, publicity and blog buzz of its own then it’ll just blur into the rest. The choices have become

  1. think of something outlandish for your advert then try telling people
  2. try telling people

Soon enough maybe they’ll twig that the latter is cheaper. All this depends on the product being worth talking about and the general public getting tired of gimmicks. Stay vigilant!

Like I said, this isn’t just about TV. Other forms of media are going meta in their quest for the ultimate advertising route up their own back passage. We should resist magazines with screens, for one.

I’ll continue to listen to Spotify. The service has all kinds of data about my listening habits and location but none of the ads are targeted. So it’s not an advertising model (credit Andrew Dubber for this observation). It’s a paid subscription model where you pay to have the ads removed. The annoying, repetitive and untargeted ads become the mechanism for getting subscriptions. It could be a rare example where ads might just work. For Spotify if nobody else.

Smells Like “Free”

Like you, I’m a sucker for those books which identify an emerging area of economics or sociology and boil it down to some zeitgeisty theory.

Most of us would like to say we can pinpoint the exact trends affecting society, business and bookshelves alike for the next three to six years. Somewhere within my own bookmarks, real and virtual, I think I’ve nailed it. It’s definitely about groups of people (Here Comes Everybody, Tribes, We Think) but also influential individuals (Outliers), perhaps with remarkable offerings (Purple Cow). Given the right timing and people (The Tipping Point) and marketed differently (What Would Google Do?, Free Prize Inside), you can at least hope for a minor hit in your niche (The Long Tail). Your instincts will be correct (Blink) or if not, the whole thing will be downright counter-intuitive (Freakonomics).

Together these guys are revolutionising barbecue conversation among a certain aspirational demographic who like the inside track.

And now! Chris Anderson’s Free is the latest new topical thing to dazzle the blogosphere with its rightness/wrongness.

Story so far: Anderson’s The Long Tail sold pretty well, became a successful talked-about blockbuster and thereby failed to remain in the long tail. By contrast, Free is more aptly pioneering a real live marketing experiment (only somewhat brave now, in these post-Radiohead times) where already you can download the entire audiobook for free. While infinite stocks last!

Or read it online for free, USA-only. Or, only in the United Kingdom (land of the free Prince album), you can stream the audiobook for free or get a free but abridged softback version which is printed on bog roll or something.

The whole plan is flawless except “freeconomics” as a buzzword sounds very much like “freakonomics“. That aside, a guy can only launch this perfect combination of title, contents, packaging and distribution once. Although I would like to get my paws on the supposedly upcoming Free – Super Deluxe Version, which could be some kind of expensive “premium” edition for the real fans with – I don’t know – WATERMARKING, GOLD LEAF, HOLOGRAMS, SPOT VARNISH, STROKEABLE EMBOSSING and HEAVY PAGES WITH A SMELL.

Take that, Radiohead.

My prediction is some hapless fool will mistakenly heed the title on the lavish display stand and attempt to carry it out of Borders without paying.

Truly though, every mug who blogs about it (me included), regardless of their verdict, gives it a boost in the positive feedback loop. It’s seen as a significant book and if you didn’t agree, you wouldn’t be mentioning it. If you haven’t absorbed its contents, you can. Download now!

Meanwhile, Anderson will be appearing at a prestigious future-of-content symposium near you so make sure you understand expressions like “freemium” and “feels like free” AND have your own personal view worked out. For the other seers appearing on the panel with him, that had better include custom-prepared awesome anecdotes and a high degree of variance with his take on it. It’s a macho world and you can’t just agree. Besides, you guys were picked for the panel because you’d already branded your own thoughts into an identifiable corner anyway.

Anil Dash adds to the loop by acknowledging the loop:

I haven’t had a chance to finish reading Free yet, but I am sure that both of these authors’ books absolutely do lean more towards anecdotal evidence than statistical proof. And honestly, it’s okay that these books don’t necessarily follow the tenets of hard science. In many cases, they’re arguing that a cultural trend is becoming true, or is about to become true, and the reality is that asserting that these trends are ascendent actually helps them come true. In short, these are books designed to create culture, presented in the guise of reporting on culture. I like that!

I too admire the moxie of anyone who presumes to serve me up some exciting trend as a nutritious bundle wrapped up in easily-digested futuristic pill form.

The career path of Andersonomics (have observation, name it, bring insights about – say – migrating birds and Brazilian musical movements, add liberal sprinkling of futurology, blog it, refine book, do speaking engagements, repeat) may seem easy. But if you’re considering it, you first need to consolidate your reputation in an established field.

Where else can we turn if not to our qualified experts? In general, nobody gets to be a disruptive writer speculating on “disruptive” things without a whole heap of life experience and hard graft. Actually, stop press – that’s wrong, some 15-year old kid just stepped up and did. So all bets are off.

Reaching for a better email tomorrow (my white inbox resolution six months in)

Happy new half-year!

Back in January I made a resolution to leave my inbox empty every night. I have partially succeeded. It’s forcing me to make those little decisions. It’s a lot more manageable. Hooray!

At times I’ve let it slip. But there’s no use feeling any guilt over it. Guilt won’t motivate me, it won’t fix anything and it’s never the right response to ANYTHING. It’s probably better to feel total, utter freedom. FREEDOM. Try it.

The overall point is I CARE about my work and the promises I make. The act of giving out an email address carries responsibilities. If the inbox were to flood to a river of unanswered messages, bacn and spam, it would be time to rethink my involvement. Merlin Mann wrote a good piece about the high cost of pretending. It’s well worth a read. For instance, if you’re going on holiday why make a weak promise about your email backlog if you just can’t keep it?

I also like Donald Knuth’s stance on email (total abstention so he can have the time to write huge books about algorithms).

I am continuing with email but those guys have taught me it should be a deliberate decision, not a default. Most of it is up to me because on a positive note, I am totally at one with my Thunderbird email software. I have customised every square millimetre to my little foibles. (We all have little foibles.) It runs locally so there is a minimum lag between my commands and its obedience. It will always be quicker than Gmail’s web interface, for instance. Thunderbird engenders super slick sensations of being highly-effective which I then transmute into reality.

By contrast, I dislike these pseudo-email systems that are creeping in. By that I mean direct messaging on any social site which is a bit like email but doesn’t let you DO STUFF to it. Facebook messages are pretty awful. The interface is clunky. I need to archive things out of sight and it’s not possible. I’m left with a river of everything. I think it probably reinforces bad habits for people. Don’t even mention auto-filtering, that’s nowhere. As for the volume of messages, if you don’t respond to an event you’ll get every single mass broadcast related to that event.

I can’t turn off Facebook direct messages but I do want people to be able to contact me. So next to my face I’ve written “If you are thinking of sending me a private message, I will respond far more quickly to proper email. Just saying.”. Let’s hope it doesn’t sound too arsey. I just want my every action to be gilded with quality feelings for all involved.

Twitter direct messages are OK I guess. You can’t DO STUFF with them. (Scoble listed the stuff.) But at least they’re 140 characters long or less – you can express anything with that! Well, nearly.

Anything more interactive deserves a wiki or a Google Doc. (Or a Wave but that isn’t available yet.)

Or a good old phone chat.

Maybe even a face-to-face meet-up.

Phorm’s deep blog inspection

If you’re interested in online privacy issues, you may have read about Phorm, the company that gets your web usage data from ISPs in order to show you contextual advertising.

Recently I’ve been contributing to a blog called Future Music Lab along with some colleagues from the music, media and online industries. One of my posts was an intro to Phorm as I understood it.

I then received an email from Benjamin Usher of the Phorm Communications Team, essentially correcting me on three points I’d made.

It’s interesting that they seem to be monitoring blog posts so closely. I’m not known as a privacy champion or anything, but clearly they felt the need to salvage some reputation by putting me straight. The email looks very “boilerplate” with what look like well-rehearsed rebuttals – so I don’t know if these are old arguments. I still have concerns about Phorm though and the email didn’t reassure me enough to welcome them.

You can comment directly here, on Future Music Lab, or on your own blog.

Make sure you republish anything that you get via email. Let’s have some open scrutiny.

A Look at Spotify – With My Music Industry Hat On

Spotify on a Snowy Day in Wales

Have you tried Spotify yet?

Tucked away in today’s post on Spotify’s own blog is a file listing newly included recordings by some of my favourite labels and artists.

Labels represented on the list today include: Rough Trade, Poker Flat, XL, Rhino/Elektra, ECM, Universal, Pressure Sounds and more…

Artists on the list from today include: Stereolab, Antony & The Johnsons, Evan Parker, Basement Jaxx, Ray Charles, Si Begg, Elvis Presley, Henry Mancini, Ozzy Osbourne and loads more…

While I write this, I’m listening to a very timely collaborative playlist of snow-related songs. Thanks to @radioedit for that tip-off. I just added “Winter Sadness” by Kool and the Gang for anyone else who’s listening to it.

OK, so what’s Spotify? Rather than rehash what stacks of articles and blog posts are saying, I can recommend Chris Salmon’s introduction to the music streaming service from the Guardian and Rhodri Marsden’s early peek last year from the Independent.

My angle on Spotify? I used to run a label fulltime. It was my business to find revenue streams for recordings and artists. Spotify should be tremendously exciting for anyone in that position now. I still have good ties with the music industry. (I help people with blogging, social media and how to promote on the web without being annoying or spammy.)

The music business is very often criticised – sometimes fairly and sometimes unfairly – for being slow to take advantage of new distribution methods. Of course, when people say “music business” here they really mean the “record business”, which is a subset of it. Now, let it not be said that any of these labels has been backward in signing up for Spotify. It feels like we’re reaching a zone of mutual agreement where everyone’s happy – not only the people running the service and the fans, but the artists and labels as well. Merlin (which represents digital rights for many, many independent labels, often slightly overlooked by online music services) were happy to sign their deal with Spotify in September 2008.

If you are a band, record label or otherwise involved in the record business or music business in any way, make sure you try it. It’s all legal, licensed and legitimate. If you’re in the USA or one of the territories not currently covered by Spotify, you have the right to feel left out.

You should be able to create a free account here. (It doesn’t appear that you need an invitation at the moment. As far as I can see, that was clever marketing – creating an impression of scarcity and bestowing users with a limited number to pass on to their friends.)

Barring any mishaps, this is a future of music distribution. Notice I said “a future” – it may not be the sole future, but if you’re a label you need to consider it and put as much time and energy into researching it as you would into being stocked on iTunes and other services. You’ll reach people who wouldn’t normally listen to your music. You’ll get money from Spotify as a direct result, as well as drawing attention to your other music activities, like your gigs and merchandise. Ask your digital distributor or aggregator about it.

People are comparing it with other music streaming services like Pandora and Last.FM. While Pandora was groundbreaking in popularising the track play rather than the track purchase, it had licensing problems leading it to withdraw from the UK. So that’s clearly no good. Last.FM has been well adopted by music aficionados and the tech savvy, but in my opinion needs to work to grow its user base beyond the “heads” and keep all the labels happy, not just the major labels. Its distinctives are music discovery and tagging. (In fact you can scrobble your Spotify listening to Last.FM.)

Even YouTube is a fairly good celestial jukebox for many. Whether YouTube are actually paying rights owners or not is another question. My strawpoll of independent labels says ‘no’. YouTube are busy enough trying to get revenue for themselves.

That’s three examples of music streaming. On a technical level, to casual observers I’ve spoken with, Spotify doesn’t appear to be doing anything dramatically new. But I disagree. The streaming is flawless and uninterrupted. It’s as good as iTunes for sound quality. Importantly for me, the bass is rich and heavy. Hardcore audiophiles may grumble about the bitrate, but they always do – and they still have their cherished music formats.

The main technical reason why Spotify will explode is its SIMPLICITY. People thought iTunes or eMusic was instant gratification, but now you don’t even need a credit card. You just start streaming. The barriers to enjoyment are just non-existent. It’s actually easier to play your favourite album than to grab the CD from your shelf and load it into a drive! It feels somewhat indulgent. That simplicity is why it will win. That’s why it can compete with unlicensed peer-to-peer filesharing services. Take music on tap and make it even easier.

Later, you can delve into collaborative playlists and the like when you feel the need. You can deep link to a chosen lyric or favourite guitar solo, which will change music criticism and other writing for the better. In a music education or academic research context, your citation can include a hyperlink to the moment in the recording to which you’re referring. In turn this availability will continue to open up influences on people creating music. (Although this process did begin with the first version of Napster.)

For now people will continue to acquire music files by other means, often unlicensed and illegal. The Spotify catalogue is huge with many surprising inclusions from the majors, like U2, Madonna, Prince and Coldplay all represented. But there are gaps because of various rights issues relating to other artists. After a recent cull, The Beatles are only represented in cover versions. The same goes for Metallica and others. The precise catalogue listings vary depending on which country you are in, again due to contractual rights.

For their iPods and other portable players, fans will acquire music files because you also need internet access to stream music on Spotify.

But if Spotify can succeed in expanding the catalogue and porting the application to smaller devices, in tandem with public expansion of free wifi access, it will render the arguments about filesharer penalties totally irrelevant. Why would fans expose themselves to the malware risks and badly named or encoded files? Even the time-rich, money poor kids will agree with that.

The advertising seems very infrequent which is good for the user experience. I would say it’s roughly every 20 to 30 minutes. It feels odd to hear the advert transition into a track, which is an association I have with commercial radio – yet I’m listening to genres I like that are almost never played on commercial radio e.g. proper ambient, Welsh language music and dub.

A recurring advert which amuses me is the Energy Saving Trust because it’s a campaign part-funded by the UK government. This is surely the best use of public money for fun and culture since the Soviet Union’s nationalised record label Melodiya.

That said, there is a very small pool of ads so they’re not very targetted at the moment. I’m getting UK ads (which is relevant to me) but they include an ad for Lady GaGa’s new album – when I haven’t been listening to anything resembling that kind of music. That can be improved when more advertisers are on board. Besides, I can imagine music fans in their hordes falling in love with Spotify and opting to escape the advertising completely by signing up to the paid service. It’s a very reasonable 99p for one day or £9.99 for a month.

Last Friday I was invited to talk on a discussion panel in Cardiff hosted by Welsh Music Foundation. (Incidentally, thanks to them and to the other panel members, Dai Lloyd, Simon Rugg (Indie Mobile) and Mark Mitchell (King Harvest)). We had a very insightful discussion with a diverse audience of smaller and newer labels and bands. Not too many of them had heard of Spotify, which leads me to think it hasn’t quite tipped yet. But that will change.

I am also writing at Native blog

Quick intro to my working situation.

Native is a business that helps you with online media, based in Cardiff, Wales. It’s a two-headed partnership, of which the heads are me and Tom Beardshaw.

At the moment we are meeting loads of people for coffee: old friends, new friends, clients, potential clients, people who create stuff, suppliers, “competitors”…

Never did I drink so much coffee as these past few weeks.

During our chats it has emerged that we’d like to have somewhere to round up interesting articles – for our clients, people we’re training and people who’d like to find out what we’re thinking. These are often curious yet busy people who want inspiration but don’t have time to subscribe to an imperial tonne of blogs.

So as well as the personal blog you’re currently reading, I am also writing regular posts at the Native blog.

I’m covering online media and how it affects business, particularly creative business and business based in Wales.

It has a different tone to Quixotic Quisling. The Native blog has fewer ramblings and more news. It is more frequent and more linky. Actually often it will be a set of recommended links with assorted commentary, open-ended questioning and provocation. I’m following Jeff Jarvis’ guideline – cover what you do best and link to the rest.

We’ll also be posting info on Native web projects. Tom and I are retaining our autonomy as freelancers but have set up Native for bigger projects where we complement each other.

Recently we have been working out what we do and don’t do. “Cover what you do best and link to the rest” may apply to more than just URLs.

My New Year’s Resolution – White Inbox Every Night

I’m setting myself a few New Year’s Resolutions for 2009.

They’ll also be New Years’ Resolutions. Note the apostrophe placement because some of these things are just too good for only one year.

One of them relates to email.

Email is a blessing and a curse for me. Recently – OK, for the last few years actually – I’ve been trying to reform my approach to it in order to get more and better stuff done in a working day.

Some of this includes

  • Not “living” in email (because it takes me away from project domain into message domain)
  • Processing it all in one big batch, two or three times a day where possible
  • Then while I am looking at it, deleting junk and spam on sight
  • Ditching fiddly folders and just using one archive folder because search is all you need
  • Transferring stuff to a paper to-do list or some more appropriate medium
  • Phoning people instead


  • I use Thunderbird so to speed things up I’ve got Quicktext (for quick fire templates of readymade “cheat” replies) and Buttons so I can have a lovely massive “Archive this!” button (like the one in Gmail).

So aptly enough, I just spotted this tweet on Twitter from @billt and @suw linking to a new pledge on Pledgebank (built by mySociety who are doing several rather neat things with the web).

I had no problem with the spirit of the pledge. Email was designed for sending and receiving messages. It is not a to-do list – it wasn’t designed for that.

Now and again though there could be a day when I’d need the freedom NOT to check email, so I was initially reluctant to sign.

Then I realised, with some prompting, that this was about inbox rather than pop box. The distinction is important. In other words, if I don’t want to look at email for one day (which is possible and desirable once in a while!), then I can keep to the pledge by not downloading any email at all.

Here we go.

Between you and me I’ll be keeping the pledge whether or not they hit the target number of signatures. But if you fancy joining me – or rather, us, because in this wired world you might as well take full advantage of sincere encouragement on offer from absolute strangers – then you can sign up.

I’ll probably be spending less time on email now, somewhat freeing me to make curries and also visit new places. Incidentally, both of these plans form the essence of a couple of other resolutions.

The Pledgebank system just sent me an email – to confirm my signature on the pledge. Which is a rather apt but not entirely helpful start…

Sock And Awe Google Analytics (Just A Flash In The Pan?)

sock and awe

After the Bush/Shoe incident, anyone who’d spent even a few moments in eccentric corners of web knew there would be a creative response online. And it came. Wired has a summary of the shoe-inspired games and animations.

So Sock And Awe wasn’t the only Flash game based on the Bush/Shoe event. But it was the best.

Now Alex Tew, its creator, has sold the site as a property on eBay for £5,215. Whichever way you look at it, that’s a good rate for a few hours of work – not to mention the email subscribers he gathered, which were not part of the sale.

Rory Cellan-Jones at BBC News has the details of this high speed micro-start-up.

As Cellan-Jones notes, the site is based on a current affairs event and will now rapidly decline in value. It’s up to the new owners to extract value from it.

But this doesn’t detract from the cheek and verve of Tew and his colleagues. Everything from the choice of name to the design to the speed of launch and then the one-day auction was executed with skill. See also: his Million Dollar Homepage. If you’re curious about his next move in the world of the web, check out Tew’s forthcoming start-up PopJam.

While the Sock And Awe site was being auctioned, I contacted Tew and asked to see the full visitor stats, via Google Analytics. The visitor counts and top countries were already generally known, but I wanted to see precisely what was happening.

Now that the sale has closed and people are chatting about it, the full analytics make interesting reading so I thought I’d post them up here – with first some graphical highlights then the unexpurgated PDF dumps. (“After the jump”, if you will.)

It’s a good case study in site design and branding.

Sock And Awe – Visitors Overview
The bounce rate is high, which for the average site would normally be very bad. (In other words, most people are just looking at the homepage then leaving.) But Shock And Awe is mainly about the homepage, so it’s an exception to most sites.

Sock And Awe – Top 20 Referring Sites (Detail)
Most visits are getting there by typing into the address bar. Far fewer are clicking to come from other sites. This shows the value of having a good web address that’s memorable and easy to spell. Notice I said “visits” rather than “visitors” (uniques). As you can see from the New vs. Returning PDF, 13% of them are repeat visitors, presumably returning to play again.

Sock And Awe – Map of Visitors
An unusual sign of accord between USA and France, who occupy the top two spots. Google Analytics also records “not set” for country unknown but this is much further down the chart at position 42. Middle Eastern countries can’t get enough of the Bush bashing, as you can see from the full countries PDF

All of the analytics in my blog post here were taken at around 6:15AM GMT on Thursday 18th December. As you can see, the graphs and figures plummet on the 18th because they’re not showing a full day’s stats. It may be better to disregard that day’s totals and regard all analytics as a snapshot showing qualitative insights.

Grab the ZIP file of all sockandawe.com analytics. Or view individual pages below.

This is the overview data.

Check out Time on Site for All Visitors – the earlier visitors have much longer attention spans!
Visitors Overview
Map Overlay
New vs. Returning
Page Views
Absolute Unique Visitors
Bounce Rate
Time on Site for All Visitors

Traffic Sources
As I mentioned before, the direct traffic is by far the largest. With no time to mount an SEO campaign, Sock And Awe still captures some keyword search traffic, again thanks to the memorable name. (Google and other engines recognise matches with the domain name.) It also captures a few who mistakenly type the URL into their search bar instead of their address bar. (Incidentally, you may be wondering why my own personal blog is called, of all things, Quixotic Quisling. Well, I like to play the long game.)
Traffic Sources Overview
All Traffic Sources
Direct Traffic
Referring Sites
Search Engines
Search Keywords

Content analytics are perhaps the least interesting because this site has very few pages. Although Top Content does give a hint how many people attempted to sign up for the newsletter – at least 30,000 it would appear. (After signing up, they arrived at sockandawe.com/email for a confirmation message. This folder has now been removed.) I say “attempted to sign up” because my own experience is that many people try search queries in these boxes, even despite clear labelling. Tens of thousands is still a good order of magnitude, even if half are bad. Many of the web addresses listed in Content account for framed visits (one recognisable example is somebody using Babelfish, in vain, to attempt to get a translation).
Content Report
Top Content
Top Landing Pages
Top Exit Pages
Average Pageviews

Quick word on Development Costs
According to reports, the game took a night to build. The game engine is very simple – if you think about it, it just compares the X-position of the mouse cursor (which is invisible) with the random X-position of Bush’s head graphic. If the distance is within a pre-set striking tolerance, then the whack graphic is shown. I would say the most time consuming part of the Flash game development was designing the graphics and animation.

Similarly, the bandwidth costs would be low. If you run the site through an analyser, it’s currently around 200kb of data. The site has been slightly modified to remove the subscription option and add advertising, but these are not big changes.

Can you glean any more significant insights from these stats? You can comment or send me a message on Twitter.