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Adventures in design, game development, app marketing, SEO and other stuff.

When searching for images from the iconic #Yoda quote, I found this great illustration. Turns out this guy makes awesome illustrations of awesome inspirational quotes. Great stuff

"Do, or do not. There is no try."

Shades of Aqua - A look at the evolution of the Miami Dolphins’ aqua jersey over the years.

Many people were complaining about the Dolphins “soft” new uniform after its debut in the Hall of Fame game last Sunday. These people may be surprised at how similar this new “soft” aqua is to prior iterations. I created this infographic to show that.

Personally? I think the new uniform looks sleak, although I will concede they are a bit plain. I hope they add back the iconic sleeve stripes of the 70s & 80s back into the uniforms in the future.

The Launch of MMQB & the Dangers of Going Cheap on Domains

Sports Illustrated and the venerable NFL writer Peter King launched a much hyped, and much lauded new site today called The MMQB. The “The” is vital.

Unfortunately, many fans who may hear of this new site may end up lost, and potentially exploited, by a domain that shares the well-publicized acronym of the new football-focused venture. 

MMQB was the name of King’s long-tenured “Monday Morning Quarterback” column that has been a must-read for NFL fans for many, many seasons gone-by. It was an established brand with a high level of consumer trust, so it made sense to parlay that into a new website.

But there was one problem…

Someone already owned MMQB.com - and from the looks of it, wouldn’t part with it for less than the worth of Joe Flacco’s latest contract.

SI’s resistance, was MMQB.com’s boon, because assuredly the brand confusion is generating immense traffic reminiscent of Mark Sanchez’s turnover statistics - and to top it off, they are seemingly using thinly-disguised parody to utilize official theMMQB.com branding to further confuse wayward users.

This is a snapshot of theMMQB.com:

As you can see, this site uses modern design aesthetics. Its clean, visual appealing, user-friendly and responsive. Everything you would expect from a top-of-the-line media brand.

Meanwhile, this is what MMQB.com looks like today:

Its a relic of the 90’s. A text and link heavy mess. Yet, it is obviously trying to leverage the branding of SI’s new site to confuse mistaken visitors who land on their site. 

It would appear that this is an egregious case of copyright infringement, yet it seems like the owners of this site may be trying to disguise this as some sort of parody by writing the words “Really Dude?” in a childish font on the main image at the top of the site.

Yet, something interesting happens when one clicks on that image…

The user is taken to a signup screen to purchase a membership. It seems like this is a membership to their furniture magazine, but it appears to me that the link from that image to this signup page was not a mistake.

Some users seeking theMMQB.com’s premiere football content may assume that this membership is for NFL-related news, but instead they may mistakenly end up ponying up $300 for a subscription to a furniture magazine.

One would hope that one would be easily able to recognize the fraud, but I have seen people fall for far less sophisticated scams online before.

In the end, not only does the user get hurt by this process, but so too does SI’s reputation for this burgeoning site if some of these user’s end up out of hard cash due to the confusion between these two sites. 

I fully expect SI to flex their legal muscle in shutting down MMQB.com or ensuring that they not use theMMQB.com branding to confuse visitors to their site.

Who knows if this issue could have been resolved by making a fair offer for the domain. I wasn’t privy to any possible negotiations. However, this issue shows the potential dangers of settling on the name of a new website without purchasing conflicting domains. 

Iterating Fun - Simon Newstead: How iOS 7 appstore changes affect developers 

iteratingfun:

New iOS, new App Store…

If you’re like me, it’s time for optimism with a touch of dread. Are the changes better or worse for my apps? My players?

Recently we checked out the Appstore in iOS 7 vs iOS 6. Overall it’s a step forward and imho mostly positive for devs. Here are the side-by-side…

Get to know the new App Store #ios7

My iOS #GameDev Journey Begins…

I officially joined the Apple Developer Program today! Now for the hard (and fun) part!

  1. Step 1:
    Install XCode and Corona SDK

  2. Step 2:
    Run through the Corona SDK tutorial book by Michelle Fernandez:  Corona SDK Mobile Game Development: Beginner’s Guide

  3. Step 3:
    Make games!

The 2 Minute Rule 

I have found this anti-procrastination advice to be somewhat helpful. Stop avoiding and just give yourself 2 minutes to START…

#Website Lessons Learned: NFL Wallpaper Zone

Taking a look back at some of my old (mostly abandoned) web projects and breaking down all the lessons learned to gain greater insights to apply toward future projects.

While most of these projects would undoubtedly be considered failures by most standards, there is much to be learned from failures. Often times, the greatest learning comes from failure.

I will begin with my most “successful” venture: NFL Wallpaper Zone

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The Concept

NFL Wallpaper Zone was conceived as a way for me to combine a few of my passions (Photoshop & the NFL) into something that could conceivably generate some pocket change using #SEO strategies of the day and basic monetization from Google Adwords.

The concept was simple: a website that provided free unique desktop wallpapers for each team in the NFL. 

A Peek Behind the Curtain

NFL Wallpaper Zone wasn’t a tremendous success, but it did eventually perform admirably in its niche while I was still supporting the site. I targeted a variety of keywords to rank for, usually a variation of “team + wallpaper(s)” and “team + schedule + wallpaper(s)”. In addition, I set after the goal of ranking for the more highly trafficked terms “nfl wallpaper” and “nfl wallpapers”. 

Starting with the 2010 NFL season (roughly a year after starting the blog, I achieved those goals, ranking #1 or #2 for “nfl wallpaper” and “nfl wallpapers”.

During that offseason, I put a lot of effort into creating unique desktop schedule wallpapers for each team with a template I created that with which I would swap out some elements such as the photo of a popular player, the city landscape background, the schedule and the team logo and colors.

Example of the 49ers wallpaper:

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This work paid off as the site went on to rank for “2010 wallpaper” terms for most teams.

Traffic

Organic Visits Since Launch in Nov, 2009

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Total Organic Visits: 139,535
Total Visits: 239,603 (received a lot of referral traffic from FB, random blogs and Google Images)

Peaks: Traffic peaks during Super Bowl week and the day immediately following the game because I create an optimized post in anticipation of the game that targets “Super Bowl wallpaper” related terms. When I utilized this strategy, I usually ranked on the first page for all related terms.

Lessons Learned

  • Anticipate!
    I had an inkling that the fans would go searching for wallpapers the right after the Super Bowl. Anticipating this, I always created a post that mentioned to “look out for our Super Bowl wallpaper” in the days preceding the game. This post would generally rank for the terms I wanted, and was able to place the completed winner’s wallpaper up just in time! Understanding how future events might change user behavior is crucial in staying ahead of the curve. Be prepared!

  • Quality Matters
    While the site itself was nothing more than a blogger blog, I put a lot of effort into each wallpaper. This paid off as I often received compliments and was able to gain more than 500 Facebook followers for the NFL Wallpaper Zone Facebook page without much marketing. People simply found the site via search, liked the quality of the content, and started joining the FB page thanks to the FB Like box I placed on the blog.

  • Practice Makes Perfect!
    Each time I went about starting a project, I was able to hone the design process and create better results. The quality of the wallpapers increased with each new project.

  • Start with a Passion
    This site was probably my most successful because it involved two things I was truly passionate about. It made it easy for me to just sit down and create content for the site because it was something I enjoyed to do and naturally wanted to share the results with others. I often shared links to this site across various NFL forums, and enjoyed seeing the positive feedback.

What’s Next?

The site has been neglected for the better part of two seasons now. Even so, it still receives some traffic once football season picks up. It has long lost its rankings for the money keywords (“nfl wallpaper” and “nfl wallpapers”), but still seems to generate traffic for some longtail terms.

I do get the urge to create some new wallpapers from time to time, but I have no plans to further support this site at the levels I did back in 2010. I am off to bigger (and hopefully) better things, but I can always look back on this project as a moderate personal success that gave me some great lessons to apply to future projects.

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