It’s never really just black or white

Hamburger Hill. Image from 'Slaughter of the innocents: The Vietnamese war as never seen before.'

Hamburger Hill. Image from ‘Slaughter of the innocents: The Vietnamese war as never seen before.’

Nothing in life is ever set in stone. Or illuminated in black and white. Nothing. Nada. Which means you should never say never. Statements like there is no reason for homes to have a PC, or what would you want a mobile phone for, or there will always be cars or trains to take commuters to work should never be believed in.

Then there are opinions held by folk that advise us that the Russians will always be our enemies (harhar) or that Communism is evil. Perhaps you would believe that North Korea will always hate South Korea? Is that possible?

Before you say yes, best have a look at this statement. The USA will always hate Vietnam and North Vietnam will always hate the USA. Mmmh. No. But it certainly felt like it during the Vietnam/USA war didn’t it. And it’s this black and white fact that has now disappeared that I want to mention.

Commemorating the 50 year anniversary of the start of the conflict a book of photographs by press photographers is being published. Slaughter of the innocents: The Vietnamese war as never seen before. It is considered to be the last newspaper war. That is one where  journalists were the bringers of actual news. What the press photographers shot was what people saw.

What made me take note was one image that showed a US paratrooper wounded in battle at Hamburger Hill in central Vietnam. You see I actually drove past Hamburger Hill in a bus with staff from Hope Center on a work outing. They pointed it out to us. We were past the little bump (hardly a hill really) within seconds, hardly seeing the gun that commemorated the spot.

Yet that insignificant spot was a nasty battleground with many dead soldiers from both sides. And what were they fighting for, both sides? Besides the hill? During those years perhaps the issue was black and white. Communist against Capitalist. Or whatever. But it wasn’t really. It was a bunch of determined locals prepared to die to keep their country safe from a foreign invasion.

And now nobody could be bothered to even remember the hill. Except perhaps the relatives of the hundreds of dead soldiers. What happened to that black and white principle that had to be fought for with guns and human sacrifice?

So before you get stuck on defending a principle you think is cast in stone think really hard. Is it still going to be this black and white in a few year’s time? Think of gay marriages, or women priests in the Anglican church, or women car drivers in Saudi Arabia or time travel or never aging. What of that list is impossible? Thought so.

Lucky to come across young violionist David Garrett

Every now and then I thank my lucky stars that I have been able to experience the interwebs. Why? Because I can find stuff on it that I would never have been lucky to experience if I did not have this resource at my finger tips.

Here is how it went down! I like to read at least one German article a day just to keep my language skills from fading entirely. But to make it easier I read a more popular magazine. In fact my German family thinks I’m truly slumming it. I don’t think so. I really enjoy their articles and the scope of what they write about. I can read and understand their articles without fuss. And it drops into my email post box every day. easy enough as I have subscribed to two newsletters a day. And it gives me easy access to German. No need to look up words. I get it.

So today I read about an Austrian jeweler who has built up a hugely successful silver jewelery business. He started off as a mechanic, ended up on a tour of Asia after his qualification and ended up falling in love with Asian funky decorative accessories. And the rest if history.

Many stores later his own as well as supplying well known jewelery stores he has made it big. Checking his website after watching a video on him on my German magazine website I see his company has signed up some long haired musician to endorse a range called Rebel. So of course I got to check this musician. And where else but YouTube.

And young musician is fabulous. A true cross over artist. That is he crosses over to every genre, kind of. But then who says you have to only play classical music as a violin player. Well of course there are the Irish who throw in violin into everything that is music. And fabulously so.

But mostly the violin has been banished ever since the demise of the local village bands who were the main entertainment of the folk back in the days. Now only allowed to perform in the hallowed halls of the classical concert venue.

Until you get to see somebody called David Garret playing Guns and Roses. Long hair tied back or waving around dramatically this young man is redefining the violin. And it’s gorgeous. Of course Vanessa-Mae kind of debuted the sexy violinist bit, but she always kind of sold it to me on sex appeal. Perhaps unkindly so. I’m sure she is totally talented and she certainly made a ton of money.

But this young man really gets it. Gets the play music to entertain bit. No matter what it is. As long as it is gorgeous. So as I was saying. Love the interwebs.

Responsive web design – heard of it?


Responsive web design. A view of a website on mobile devices.

Responsive web design. A view of a website on mobile devices.

Success story for a retailer using responsive web design
Of course we hear all the stories about responsive web design and how we should all be heading towards this. After all mobile devices are taking over the world. Aren’t they? So is your website responsive yet?

It’s nice to find a report where responsive web design is proven to be a successful move. With hard stats to support the move.

The story: went live with their new responsive website September 20120.

Comparing August 2012 (the last full month before going responsive) with August 2013:

  • Sales through mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) are up 88% from $1,918 to $3,600.
  • Total web sales are up 28% from $13,705 to $17,482.
  • Mobile sales as a percentage of total web sales is up from 14% to 21%.
  • Total page views are up 13% from 61,659 to 69,458.
  • The conversion rate for the site on desktop computers is up 29% from 1.03% to 1.33%.
  • The conversion rate for the site on tablet computers is up 38% from 1.14% to 1.57%.
  • The conversion rate for the site on smartphones is up 111% from 0.09% to 0.19%.
  • Mobile traffic has soared 68%, with the traffic pattern changing from 68% desktop, 21% smartphone, 11% tablet, to 53% desktop, 31% smartphone, 16% tablet.

(Stats credit: Internet Retailer)

To support the new responsive website design the company also switched their newsletter mail to a mobile friendly lay-out. An across the board approach. The customers rewarded the company.

Responsive web design allows a retailer to build a single website using a single set of web content and a single code base and have the site display in a way that it fits the size of screen the visitor is using to view the site, be it on a desktop, smartphone, tablet or smart TV. An all in one solution.

But responsive web design is not only for commercial uses. Your company or your small business website also needs to be responsive. This blog post was supposed to go onto Yeah Can. But that site is being revamped. So here we are. Can’t waste a good post. Chat to the peeps at Yeah Can for info if you need to get your website responsive.

Something surprising happened at the Yeah Can Office

Great blog for UK client DaDa Wear. Responsive of course.

Great blog for UK client DaDa Underwear. Responsive of course.

We’ve been chatting at the office (Yeah Can Web Design Studio) about where the web is moving to and what the technology is up to for web design and web browsing. After all those are the two topics for us. Web design for our work and the consumer part for what our client’s are trying to offer their website visitors.

One of the buzz words that started about two or three years ago was Responsive. And towards the end of last year we headed into this unchartered water. Well more like we jumped in boots and all. Which is probably not a bad way of going about it. If we had known what lay in wait we would probably have changed careers rather.

But when the buzz around gets to a certain pitch you really have to take note. And one sees responsive web design used more and more. There’s some heat there.

Almost a year down the line we are still no quicker at building a responsive website, we are still testing and tweaking and we are still learning at a huge rate. It’s just not so easy to design and build a responsive site.

Every day now, almost, there are statistics flying around as to how the numbers of mobile users are increasing. And what is more important for us, how many users are accessing the interwebs with their gadgets.

So today we did something at the office that was rather illuminating. And in fact we should have done this long ago. We actually tested our own websites as to mobile gadget use. Duh. How slow can you be.

Of course we have seen the little phone and tablet icons appear in our analytics results. But actually checking the overall stats had not even occurred to us. Bad I know.

So here are some surprising results.

Our own business website which is for Yeah Can has a surprising small number of mobile gadget visitors.  In fact only 12% of our visitors use a mobile device to visit our website. Perhaps it’s because people are at work and are using their desktop work PC? Whatever the reason we thought it would be higher.

A website we maintain and promote is for our keywords. Responsive web design experts has a worse showing. Who would have thought that a website dedicated to spreading the word about responsive would have only 9% of the total of its visitors use mobile gadgets.

But here are the really surprising ones. We have a new project where we are learning about SEO practices or Search Engine Optimisation to the uninitiated. We are learning by doing. How to get onto page one of Google search. Our project is called And what we are trying to do is get this website to rank on page 1 for our keywords.

A most surprising spin off of this exercise is the mobile visitor numbers for our wedding venue site. It stands at a bumper 38% of visitors who use a mobile gadget. Wow. Presuming that wedding venues would attract a predominantly female audience, probably between the ages of 20 and 50 or thereabouts you get a real shock when you see that the uptake of mobile gadget is so high for women.

What that means is that anybody with a business website targeting that audience whether flower shops, beauty and hair products, even cars and the list goes on should be jumping up and down to get a responsive web site. You would think!

But here is the final stat we discovered. And I must admit this one wasn’t really such a surprise. Although still ended up higher than anticipated. We started a Spanish language online dating site last year with Spanish speaking friends. However, their life paths changed and we lost our linguists. We kept the website going. Well we kept it up as in alive but that was about it. Why take it down.

But we didn’t do too much extra work on it. In fact we didn’t even make it responsive. Big mistake. 42% of visitors to our Mi amor en Linea (love online) website use mobile devices to access the site. Are we missing a business opportunity or what…. Not only that, but over the course of the year, our keyword has managed to find itself quite close to page 1. With a bit of effort, such as a responsive website, we could have some success. Well maybe.

So there you have it. Dating and businesses focused on women need to hurry up and make their websites responsive. In a hurry.

Another war for America

Memorial Day in the USA. More and more grieving people.

Memorial Day in the USA. More and more grieving people.

Are the American people not tired of war? One wonders. And didn’t Obama loudly proclaim, in fact it was one of his winning promises during his first time around election spiels, that he would not have committed America to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Promises.

Yet here he is. Doing the big sales pitch to his government and the American and even the Russian folk hoping to persuade them into meddling in Syria.

There’s no disputing the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Or the effect it is having on the countries surrounding this warlocked state. 2 million refugees and more walking across borders every day. Civilian deaths, gas attacks and the shocking tally goes on.

Having said that. Bringing in a sophisticated strike force into this hot bed of guerrilla warfare is hardly going to work. Think Afghanistan, think Vietnam and the list goes on. Even Zimbabwe managed to outlast a supreme army and to wear them down in the end. Imagine Mugabe as head of that war and you can see how unlikely that seemed.

But besides the problem of trying to wage a war where one side kind of works along some sort of ethical rules if that is at all possible in war and the other side that fights dirty, throwing arms at a humanitarian crisis doesn’t seem to me a solution.

Of course the American arms industry is already gleefully rubbing its hands at the thought of all that spending about to happen. And I would imagine that Obama during the convenient G20 gathering happening right now will extract money from the developed world to pay for his little war mongering (not the first US president to play that card – thinking Desert Storm) so that a bunch of foreign exchange will help with the embattled US debt.

Kind of supplying a mercenary army to the world. In fact one wouldn’t be surprised to discover that the US army could consist predominantly of soldiers (PMCs) supplied by the Blackwaters of this world. Or whatever they are called now.

Besides the unlikelihood of actually winning this war, whatever a win might mean, throwing arms at a humanitarian crisis isn’t really a solution. More arms, more fighting, more civilian deaths.

But the biggest hurdle is really knowing what is going on and who is really behind the strife and how the conflict could be resolved. Nobody really knows who spread the chemical weapons. It does seem likely that a company in the UK supplied it though. Yup. Nasty, nasty developed world.

Whatever the US decides to do, armed intervention is not the right way of doing it. Just alone the fact that the Asians and Russians never mind China don’t want to know is an indication here. Keep out. Let them sort out their own problems. If you want to do something, send more aid to care for refugees. Give them the opportunity to settle in other countries if they wish.

Who is the enemy by the way? The rebels or the government. If the Syrian government is the rebel then isn’t the US aiding the overthrow of a legitimate government. Or at least the world accepted the government as legitimate until not so long ago. A whole new can of worms….

On weddings and wedding gifts

Are you Frankenstein's Bride?

Are you Frankenstein’s Bride?

Recently read this great article on brides and their tantrums. Find it here. Learned a new expression. The CTFD Method of coping with weddings. It stands for Calm the Fuck Down. And the writer gave a bunch of examples that so hit the spot that I laughed out loud.

Writing about weddings and wedding venues now as I am doing for a work project I’ve come across a bunch of hilarious stuff. And the one thought that crosses my mind is that they should have used the CTFD Method.

In particular the one amusing bit that comes up quite regularly is about wedding gifts. And the expectations around those. Although I must admit when I got married too many years ago to remember entirely we also had a few words to say about the three toasters we got. Never mind the cheap cake fork set and as for the oven gloves with strawberries on them. Yip, I remember those. They lasted for ever.

And that was the particularly funny part of the article. The bit where you can’t forget what so-and-so gave you for your wedding. And you remember it until your dying days. Carrying a grudge for years over something totally insignificant. At least I can’t remember who gave us the strawberry gloves. So I can’t carry the grudge anymore. (:

In particular brides tend to be the most vicious when supposedly rich people neglect to hand over some gorgeously expensive gift that they have always wanted. And as for those brides who themselves gave their friend/acquaintance a gift from a store in expensive Fifth Avenue and doesn’t get an equally expensive gift in return, she is an enemy for life.

Apparently it gets weirder than this. Men get away with it. They don’t bring wedding gifts? No problem. Poor dear probably didn’t know what to get. But the women? No such luck. They should have known better. Taken out a second mortgage on the house to buy a glorious gift. That’s what they should have done.

Regrettably the entire wedding industry is geared towards making a wedding the me-focused, exhibitionistic, overspent event where supposed traditions dictate how the bride and her party should behave and how guests should toe the line. Including expensive gifts.

What it should be is a celebration of an event where you as bride should be thankful that people actually arrive traveling from afar and where what you offer is a gift not based on any gratuitous reciprocal expectations! So apply the CTFD Method whenever you overreach yourself….

Hoping you fail

Diets - designed to fail

Diets – designed to fail


Have you ever considered that there are a bunch of companies and industries where the main focus of their business is on their customers actually failing. That is, they post growth and profits when their customer base doesn’t benefit from their product or service.

Scary thought that.

It had never occurred to me before. But consider the weight loss industry and businesses operating in this field. They benefit if you do not lose weight. Or at least when you put it straight back on again once you have lost it. Because if you don’t succeed you will come back for more diet pills, diet books,  plastic surgery, fad diets, motivational seminars, personal coaches, health gym contracts and the list of businesses feeding off this industry is endless.

They all make money on the fact that you can’t do it on your own. You can’t do exercise, you can’t control your appetite, you can’t get rid of the pounds and so the list goes on.

And they depend very much on this fact that you are dependent.

For instance Weight Watchers sells contracts to it’s members. They throw in a few nutritional well balanced diet books as the membership benefit plus a team leader who runs the weekly meetings and is there to encourage the folk in the group to get rid of the weight. Team leader gets a few Dollars as commission, the area leader gets some Dollars in commission and so it goes up the food chain. Pyramid scheme, almost.

What it does depend on is that people don’t take control over what they put into their mouths or what other pursuits they undertake to keep their bodies balanced and healthy. They depend on failure. They depend on you as the human being to hand over responsibility of your body to somebody else. After all, by joining Weight Watcher (and of course there are a bunch of others too) you are admitting defeat. You can’t do it yourself.

Then there is an entire industry that is supporting this world. Clothes that only look good on skeletal models. An advertising industry that promotes thin is beautiful. Have you ever seen a slightly plumper looking person -in other words normal one – advertising a cellphone, washing powder, sanitary pads, orange juice or motor vehicles to mention a few of the TV ads that are pushed down our throats.

So we buy into thin is beautiful. But to be as thin as the role models in advertising we have to give up food all together. This brings me back to the opening idea. We are going to fail. Because there is no way we can be as thin as the models we see every day on TV, online news portals, in between YouTube videos, in print, on billboards. In fact they are everywhere. Reminding us that only thin is worthy.

So if you want a business idea that will be a success, sell a product or service that depends on somebody to fail. The diet industry has certainly worked this one out. So has the motivational and self-development industry. The health gyms that sell you a one year contract at the beginning of the year knowing full well you won’t last past February know all about it. How do you think they can sell you a life time contract for next to nothing. They are not going to see you your entire life time. And the list goes on.

As a business model, selling failure is for the win.

Weddings, get your marketing message right

Money dance during a wedding. Poland.

Money dance during a wedding. Originated in Poland.

What on earth does marketing have to do with weddings? Anybody following me will know that my current obsession is around weddings. Tons of content being written about it. In fact if you want to read more about it go here  Yorkshire Wedding Venues or Wedding Venues.

So today I was mulling over this topic of why people love their weddings. Weddings have previously been a bit of a waste of money and time quite frankly. For me that is. No disputing that many folk love the occasion and really enjoy the festivities. And so they should. Of course. No question.

Just hasn’t been something that was right for me. And I got to wondering why that could be. And perhaps the one thing that puts me off about this whole thing is the fact that so many bridal couples tend to have a wedding for show rather than for a celebration.

You might wonder if there is a difference. After all, as soon as there are more than two people celebrating, it’s for show surely. One could say this of course. However, for me there is a different yard stick. Several in fact.

If you spend money for show rather than for pleasure then you are showing off. If you are having 20 bridesmaids because your best friend had 10 then you are perhaps showing off. If you want satin as table cloths rather than normal linen you could be showing off. If you build an entire fairyland in a forest in California. You are showing off.

If the purpose of your spending money is to make a statement it’s a show. If the purpose of spending money so that people have a great time and enjoy themselves then you have a celebration. Perhaps the single one thing that explains it is that a show is about you and a celebration is about them. Your guests.

There is nothing wrong with either. However, be honest with yourself and make sure you get it right according to your intentions. It’s similar to marketing isn’t it. Starbucks isn’t really about serving good coffee. If that were all, they would be knocked over by the competition. Starbucks is about social times together. Hence the comfy seats, the wifi, the music and the never get rushed to leave vibe.

McDonalds isn’t about food. It’s all about turnover. Which makes it at the end of the day all about real estate. The best position for maximum exposure to customers. The fact that they sell unhealthy food doesn’t come into it. Really speaking.

The soda industry is selling you a sugar and caffeine rush i.e. addiction. Nothing to do with refreshing drinks for hot summer days. And they ban cigarette smoking…

So get your focus right when planning your wedding. Are you doing a show, or are you celebrating with friends. Once you have that identified in your mind, go out and spend the money. Get it right. If you do it’s a success. If you get your messages confused it’s probably not going to work.

Your friends still won’t have a good time and your show won’t be showy enough. Pick one. It will be the best decision you make. Just like cheap air travel. If they still try and sell you on comfort and luxury travel, they are confused and you will see and feel it straight away and your trip will be lousy. So get the wedding marketing strategy right. You’ll thank me for it….

A society focused on the young populated by the aged

Thanks for the fun image Dorothy, 87 years old.  (AP PHOTO/DALE SPARKS)

Thanks for the fun image Dorothy, 87 years old. (AP PHOTO/DALE SPARKS)

This stat came up in 2008 already. At the time the UK Office for National Statistics revealed that there were more people of pensionable age living in the UK than children under the age of 16. This was five years ago.

Look at our society. What do you see? A celebration of youth. The entertainment industries focus on young topics using young actors and actresses. Older protagonists are only thrown in as a token. The fashion industry uses teenage models to show case it’s fashions for the young. (and thin)

The marketing and advertising industries focus on selling products and services to the youth. In fact even the players within this industry disappear after the age of 35. Unless of course they own the business as is the case with Martin Sorrell who is still around at age 68. But then he owns a big chunk of WPP Group. Not sure where the others disappear to though.

Big brands such as Apple, Nike, Volkswagen, P&G direct their products at the 18 to 35 year old demographic. If they are really daring they might extend that age bracket to 45. Yet the bulk of their customers are older than 45. Your 60 year old is just as readily buying an iPhone as she is getting herself some running shoes from the Nike store or buying a new VW.

Every single person over the age of 60 will buy a cleaning product of some sort. Yet how many ads for cleaning products are directed at the ‘grey’ market? Perhaps a Gran appears in an ad but only to ‘advise’ daughter on what to buy. Never the shopper herself. Perfume? Sure Julia Roberts advertises one at the age of 45. But she has been digitally enhanced in such a way that she appears 30.

And did anybody notice that Glastonbury’s main stage in 2013 was packed out and they had to extend the area when the Rolling Stones did their gig this year. Guess what their average age is. And what does that say about the ages of Glastonbury goers?

I did an interesting exercise a day ago. I googled for weddings for young people and had 70 million results. I googled weddings for older people and my results were 6 million. So nobody is getting married over the age of 50? Certainly nobody is writing about it.

As the stores shut down all along the High Streets of the UK one thing retailers might want to consider is opening stores for older people. Comfortable sized aisles, seating areas to rest on and great displays, labels with bigger font sizes and products of all things ‘old’. Whether more comfortable clothing, health and wellness products, mobility aids or easier to cook and consume foods it’s what older consumers might be interested in. Add on excellent delivery services and you could be onto a winner.

Rather than pretending that nobody gets older and hiding the aged in old age villages waiting to die, let’s change the way we view society. Old is not redundant. Old could mean another twenty years of active life. Why pretend it’s not happening. Embrace it and enjoy it. And marketers, start making money off those oldies. They got some!

As an aside: interested in reading about weddings in general visit Yorkshire Wedding Venues or Wedding Venues.


Surprising divorce and marriage statistics for Baby Boomers

Celeb baby boomers Prince Charles and Camilla spot on on trend

Celeb baby boomers Prince Charles and Camilla spot on and on trend. Image credit. BBC

Many years ago my then mother-in-law spoke at their 35 year wedding anniversary. It was surprising that she wanted to speak being from a generation where the women were seen, mostly in the kitchen, and not heard. But then she was never a standard housewife working well past her retirement age.

She said, and I could see it was immensely heart felt, ‘we have had our ups and downs’. And I could hear and see from her expression that it was more the downs that she was referring to. And it has made me reflect many a time since then whether she would have divorced my father-in-law if she had been able to.

It’s therefore not a bit surprising to see that the, known as grey, divorce rate is going up. And even less surprising that it’s the women who are throwing in the towel. Kids out of the house, husband now home due to retirement, and the women have had enough.

Possibly one of the reasons is that men generally tend not to change their life long habit of sitting at home, reading the paper and watching sport. The wife who traded housework for the salary check and in many cases did the housework and earned money, is not having any more of it.

It probably works along the same principle as that experienced by divorce lawyers who have a busy time with new briefs after the main holiday season. In many cases the couples reconcile once everybody is back at work and the routine has been reestablished. I know this from first hand experience, having worked in a lawyer’s office for close on 18 years of my working life.

What may be adding to this trend is that women are earning good salaries and are able to afford to live on their own. Whatever the reasons, it’s happening. Over 25% of divorces are initiated by wives whereas only 14% by the husband. Not even spending decades together is a safeguard against the split. Al Gore and his wife recently divorced, both in their early 60s and after 40 years of marriage.

Of course being in ones 60s is not the end of the line. In fact, probably one further reason for the increase in the grey divorce rate which has doubled in the past decade is that people can look forward to many years of active life. Retirement is no longer the end of the road but in fact the start of up to 20 years of a healthy and interesting life.

Which brings me to the next surprising point. And that is that baby boomers are also quite happy to remarry.  Over three quarters of divorced and widowed baby boomers will marry again according to available statistic from the US Census Bureau.

Has the wedding industry even considered this market segment. Probably not. As with most marketing strategies it’s the youth market that is the target. Yet, baby boomers have more money than the 25 year old recent college graduate struggling to pay off loans. Why is the wedding industry not focused on selling to the older generation? White ribboned Zimmer walkers anybody?

Interested in reading about weddings in general visit Yorkshire Wedding Venues or Wedding Venues.