Saturday, June 11, 2011


There is a 100/10/1 "rule of thumb" with social services. 1% will create content, 10% will engage with it, and 100% will consume it. If only 10% of your users need to log in because 90% just want to consume, then you'll end up with the vast majority of your users in the logged out camp. Don't ignore them, build services for them, and you can slowly but surely lead them to more engagement and potentially some day into the logged in camp.

(via SwissMiss)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

harder, better, faster, stronger

Well my last post made a liar out of me, but I'm back! Better late than never, right?

Not Martha might not agree with that last statement. She was a speaker at the Harder Better Faster Stronger Blogging panel at Alt Design Summit & is also one of my long-time favorite bloggers. This chick knows a thing or two about blogging & I certainly respect her work.

I did not have the privilege of attending Alt Design Summit or the Harder Better Faster Stronger Blogging panel, but lucky for us, Not Martha was kind enough to give us a recap of some of her favorite online tools: 
  • Skitch for screengrabs. Allows you to made edits and draw on top of the image. Jing is another screen capture tool.
  • Outbrain for related posts. Works with many blogging platforms, gives you stats on what posts are getting the most attention.
  • Evernote for organization. Can organize and sort your information from mobile devices as well. Allows you to save text, images, links and audio notes.
  • Pinterest for sourcing and inspiration. Community currated and full of pretty stuff.
  • Squarespace for blogging. Allows for non-coders and coders alike to have lots of control of the look. (Full disclosure, Squarespace sponsored the panels. Fact, the Alt Summit website was created and is hosted on Squarespace.)
  • Google Alerts to let you see what others might be saying about your site. Sends emails periodically or collects the alerts in a feed. You can monitor any search term.
  • Mention Notifier to keep up with Twitter mentions. Sends you an email or text message any time you are mentioned on Twitter, works with any search or hashtag you'd like.
  • Zinio app for reading magazines. Lets you read all your magazines on your iPad or iPhone.
  • Twitter, obviously. Tweetdeck and Hootsuite were the favorites for the many ways you can sort and organize multiple accounts and searches.
  • Photoshop actions for quick image preparation. Setting up your own actions means a photo can be ready for your blog in one click. You can also download actions created by others to get some very pretty looks going on.
  • Instapaper to read things later. Saves a long form article in a very readable format and lets you read it later on computer or iPhone, downloads it so you can read when offline (hello air travel).
  • Flickr for photos. You can store, share and sort your photos, as well as use search with Creative Commons licenses if you need to find something specific. I've been using it for years and people still regularly find my blog from a photo they saw shared on Flickr.
  • RSS Reader to keep you organizes. Google Reader is the favorite choice. Use Helvetireader for a minimalist skin and Feedly provides a magazine like layout.
I've used quite a few of these tools (most notably are: Pinterest, Evernote, Twitter & RSS Readers), but I'm dying to test out some new tools like Skitch & Instapaper.

Big thanks to Not Martha for sharing!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Commitment

Starting a blog is making a commitment. It's a commitment or time, creativity, regularity. I'm going to be honest and confess that I started this blog as a means to help with my job hunt right out of college. I think it certainly helped, to an extent. Once my job was secured I realized that I loved blogging, but I didn't enjoying blogging regularly on a topic that consumes at least 8 hours of my waking moments. As a result, I let this blog fall wayside and focused my efforts on a more personal, interest driven blog.

I love Easy Tiger. It's a release from the work life and allows me to keep up with the hobbies that interest me most. I think that is important. Far too many people can't separate their work from their real life. While blogging daily can seem like a second job to me at times, I still do it because I love it and I'm enriching my mind on a variety of topics. I also know when to take a break if need be.

That being said, I still see value in Broken Clutter and I feel ashamed that I have kicked it to the curb over the last year. Holiday season is always a little hectic, so don't get angry with me if I get off to a rocky start, but I would like to make a commitment to contribute to this blog at least once a week.

I love my industry and I get exposure to some wonderfully exciting news. It would be shame for me not to share. So mark my words, you can expect to see a lot more of me around here in the future. Get excited!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Extended Holliday

Talk about a double entendre! 

I want to start off by explaining my absence in the blogosphere. December was a wonderfully exciting month. I have never felt so popular in my life as I did when I looked at my personal calendar for the month of December. That month was saturated with out of town guests, holiday parties and birthday celebrations. It was so much fun, yet also very exhausting! 

The tail-end of the month was a different story though. December 22 marked the beginning of my two week paid vacation. What a treat! After the holiday passed, I had a whole to-do list I was planning to tackle -- organizing my apartment, trying new recipes, exploring the city and knocking out a bunch of new blog posts. Regrettably, almost none of those things happened. Time off is no good for me. I get lazy and I get distracted by things of little importance. In other words, I extended my holiday. Oh well, I don't anticipate having two full weeks off of work in quite some time, but I do apologize for my absence of posts. My New Year resolution includes more blogging!

So on to the other Holliday extension...

I have posted about the St. Louis Cardinals before and anyone that follows me on Twitter will learn in an instant that I am an avid fan.This week has been quite exciting for Cardinal Nation with the 7 year re-signing of Matt Holliday and some more crazy antics from Tony LaRussa. The chatter around the Cardinals this week almost made it feel like the season had begun. Unfortunately, I will have to stay patient for a few months, but in the meantime, here are my top 7 (in honor of Holliday) Cardinal advertisements of all time (Well, of my lifetime).

1. "The Macine"

Even Cubs fans like this one!

2. "Blanket"

Terrible quality, but I will embarrassingly admit that it almost drew tears.

3. "Cape"

There has to be an explanation as to why Pujols is an MVP3

4. "Blindfold"

I bet this wasn't staged at all... (Seriously. Molina is that good!)

5. "All the Love in the World"

The trifecta -- Great message, montage and song.

6. "Spelling Bee"

I know how to spell "awesome". A - W - E - S...

7. "Finger Lickin"

Oh Fred...


And for anyone interested on my personal opinion of the Holliday extension, here it goes...

I am happy we got him and I feel very optimistic about the next 7 years. The number one goal of this organization is to keep Albert Pujols in St. Louis and they wouldn't jeopardize losing him for a player like Matt Holliday. Holliday was arguably the best player up for trade this year. He did exceptionally well at the end of last season as a Cardinal. He is a good player, but he is not Albert Pujols good. I respect him and his talent and I am thrilled that we were able to re-sign him, but this article from Rob Neyer over at more or less summarizes my opinion of Matt Holliday.

So, getting back on target... 


People are up in arms about what the Holliday deal might mean for the Pujols re-signing discussion that is just around the corner. I have complete confidence that the Cardinals' organization has enough pocket change to keep Pujols and Holliday on the roster for the next several years. Furthermore, I think that recruiting the likes of Matt Holliday in the outfield and Mark McGwire on the coaching staff was simply an insurance plan for Pujols to stay in St. Louis. This season, Pujols will have batting practice with one of the MLB's greatest hitters of all time and he has a very powerful and capable teammate batting clean-up behind him. What more could a MVP3 superstar ask for?


Yeah, I guess that is possible. The Cardinals are not going to skimp on Albert's paycheck when it comes time for re-negotiations, but we are also not the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox. Does that scare me? Hell yeah, but I have faith (and maybe it's blind faith) that although the money may be a big factor, it will not be the overarching determining factor for Pujols. 

Pujols knows what a hero he is to the people of St. Louis and he is also well aware of the passion and support that the Cardinals Nation brings to the sport and players. Of course I'll never be able to find this article again, but I once read a wonderful interview with Pujols in which he claimed that as long as the Cardinals keep winning and staying competitive he is happy to be a part of this organization.

Well Al (and Holliday. And McGwire. And these guys. Oh, and this one!), we are happy to have you too. Here's to an an exceptional (and healthy) 2010 season! 

**Full disclosure -- I am severely biased when it comes to the Cardinals**

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A New (Social) Dimension to the Dining Experience

I'm going to be honest, I have been eating like a champ recently. Between vendor outings and foodie friends, my opportunities to dine out are seemingly endless, and I never pass up an opportunity to try a new place to eat. In the last month alone, my spectrum of restaurants include: Avec, Webster Wine Bar, McCormick and Schmick's, L2o, Twin Anchors, Chilam Balam, Zed451, Coobah and Sushi Samba to name a few. This list includes very respectable establishments in which well prepared cuisine and proper service are to be expected.

I was more or less satisfied with each of these dining experiences, although some stood out more than others -- especially when it came to service. 

I used to be a waitress, and I'll be the first to admit that I was decent at best. I was barely over the legal drinking age and I worked at a wine bar. I didn't know a thing about wine at the time and my mobility skills were certainly questionable. As a server, you get really good at faking things. I went on and on about different wine selections I had never even tasted. Oh, and that plate you just saw me drop? I meant to do that.

...Well, that's more or less how it worked. 

You learn these tricks as a server, but you also notice immediately when another server pulls it on you. In the past month, I have certainly had servers that didn't know their menus, wanted to get out of work early or knew how to convince you to buy one more bottle of wine. The others did a fine job. One was exceptional.

Sushi Samba had the best customer service of all the places listed above. Oh, and did I mention I had carry out??

I had zero interactions with any Sushi Samba employee prior to eating my meal. I walked into a conference room at work, the food was laid out on the table and I stuffed my face. End of story.

Well, not quite. 

The lunch event from Sushi Samba is something that I have been looking forward to for the past week. I love sushi and I hadn't eaten any in quite some time. Sushi Samba is one of those places in Chicago that I have always wanted to try. I have heard that the food is great, but it is quite pricey for a recent college graduate. Luckily, I found the perfect resolution to this dilemma -- our reps from work covered the expense for me. Perfect!

It was 11:30 a.m., the day of our Sushi Samba lunch. The food was to be delivered at 12:00 p.m. sharp. I was was anxious, to say the least, so I did what any person in my situation would do. I tweeted about it.

12:00 p.m. came, along with the containers upon containers of Sushi Samba delights. It was love at first taste. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and I ate way more than my fair share.

The Sushi Samba story doesn't end there, however.

I came home this evening and checked my Twitter account. I was first confused and then suddenly excited to find the post below directed at me:

If you are confused about who @ChefCDT is, let me explain; @ChefCDT is Chef Dan Tucker, the Chef de Cuisine at Sushi Samba Rio in Chicago.

Am I getting this right? The Chef at Sushi Samba saw my tweet and took the time out of his (presumably) hectic schedule to respond to my tweet and even proceeded to make a very generous offer to prepare a special dish for me?


The conclusion of our conversation is posted below:

I thoroughly enjoyed this kind exchange, and to be honest, it kind of made me feel like a rockstar.

As I mentioned before, I am newly graduated and I thankfully found an entry-level job in this terrible job market. Still, eating out at a place like Sushi Samba is certainly something I can't make a habit out of. Honestly, I am not quite sure that I would make it to Sushi Samba anytime soon if I was going to be footing the bill -- even though I loved my meal.

The fact that Chef Tucker took the time to reach out and connect with his patrons made me reconsider this decision. I will certainly plan a trip to Sushi Samba in the near future.

Let this be a lesson: DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT, REGARDLESS OF YOUR INDUSTRY. I have absolutely no qualms anymore about throwing down a few $20's to enjoy a nice meal at Sushi Samba, simply because I feel appreciated as an avid sushi lover and potential long-term customer by someone that is actively engaged with the product he represents. 

I just hope Chef Tucker's offer still stands!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Guest Blogger... (well, sort of)

I recently noticed that the Twitter feed on Your Brand Broke My Clutter is not coming from my Twitter posts. I dug around, trying to find a way to address this problem to Google, but it looks like they are all over it (kind of).

The Twitter gadget featured in the gadget directory is currently displaying incorrect data. We're working to correct the problem, but in the meantime we recommend instead using the Feed gadget with your Twitter feed URL.

The Feed gadget can be added from the Layout | Page Elementstab, and your Twitter feed URL is available on your Twitter profile by clicking the RSS feed of [username's] tweets link. 

Thanks for your patience. 

On the one hand, they are aware of the problem, but has it really been an outstanding issue since September 23, 2009? That seems a little bizarre to me. Hopefully the problem will be resolved in the near future.

In the mean time, I apologize for the confusion and any strange tweets thats might pop up in the feed. Apparently the Twitter user that is squatting on my page is named @undefined, in case you find him particularly interesting and want to follow him. I am going to leave the gadget on my site for the time being, in hopes that it is just a temporary problem. If are interested in my Twitter ramblings, please follow me @coconnell1.

Thanks for your patience Tweeps!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

These are a Few of My Favorite Bings...

I am hands down a Google girl. I can't imagine life without Gmail, iGoogle, G-chat, Google Reader, Blogger, AdWords... You get the picture. I love Google.

I have, however, been impressed with some of the new features that Bing has rolled out in the past few months. Here is a run-down of my top 5 Bing tools.

5. Bird's Eye View

Like Google, Bing offers Aerial View in the mapping portion of the site. While this in and of itself is quite impressive and fun to play around with, Bing goes one step further to offer Bird's Eye View. Bird's Eye View is similar to Aerial View, but offers much greater detail to the images. See the difference with Chicago's Millennium Park below.

Aerial View:

Bird's Eye View:

The clarity with Bird's Eye view is astounding. It is also a fun tool to play around with. For example, I am currently on the hunt for sick rooftop patios. More to come on that!

4. Exploration

Bing also takes an interesting approach to inspire exploration through their homepage. Everyday, Bing features a new place of interest to highlight on their homepage. The images contain hidden fun facts which appear when the mouse runs over a point. The facts often cover the history, traditions, and imagery of the location. Bing offers users the option to learn more, which leads viewers to another page within the Bing website.

If you click on the "Want to see?" link, it will lead to to Bing image results for "aurora borealis".

I'm a huge fan of user engagement, and Bing certainly accomplishes that with it's homepage. It will be interesting to see how this develops as Bing rolls out new features. It could also be an unique tool for advertisers if Bing ever opens the platform up for advertising space.

3. Continuous Scroll

It's often the small things in life that can make a huge impact. One of my favorite features on Bing is their continuous scroll. There are no individual pages, and therefore no need to click the "next" button. The images literally keep going and going and going. Give your finger a break and test it out yourself.

2. Video Play

Everywhere I look, it seems that people are turning towards video. Call me old-fashioned, but I'm not a huge fan of this video craze. Unless it is something that must been seen to be believed, I'd prefer to just read an article and then seek out a video if necessary.

Then, there is also the issue of selecting a video, waiting for it to load, and then realizing it wasn't quite what you were looking for. Bing Video saves user's time and frustration by allowing visitor's to view the video clip with sound and within the search results by scrolling over the video clip with your mouse. That way, if you don't select the right video the first time, you don't have to waste your time going back and re-selecting another potentially wrong clip.

1. Price Prediction

The Bing Price Prediction is hands down my favorite tool. It works like many other trip planner tools, but the Bing Price Prediction provides users with the probability of the price either rising or falling in the next few days. Bing Price Prediction allows users to book their fights with confidence. My one complaint? Southwest is not included in the airlines listed.

Similarly, Bing's Rate Indicator works to show user's if they are getting a deal on their hotel reservation or not.

I will certainly be keeping an eye out for the new features that Bing is sure to roll out in the near future. So far, I am quite impressed with Bing's progression and it just goes to show how competitive the search landscape is. Google, you better start stepping it up...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Liquid Courage

I have been a bad, bad blogger.

Where in the world does the time go? I can't believe that it's been over two months since I have last posted. I am genuinely disappointed in myself, but I will strive to do a better job keeping up with new posts... even if it means staying in on a Friday to get back in the blogging groove.

All is not lost though. Broken Clutter has certainly been on my mind for the past few months and I have accumulated a pretty impressive list of topics that I hope to dive into in the near future. You better be excited!

Tonight, however, I've got creativity on the mind.

It is different for everyone, but I have to admit -- nothing gets creativity flowing like a little cloudiness in the brain. Oh, relax. I'm just talking about a little bit of good, wholesome wine... or vino if you prefer.

Dionysus, the god of wine, was known for inspiring madness and ecstasy in his followers and his great cause was to bring an end to care and worry. I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty dead-on for the world of public communications.

So, if you're like me and you could use a little extra "inspiration" in you life, let me suggest a list of affordable wines for this holiday season. (Sorry about the size! Click to enlarge.)

**A little bit of background on Alpana Singh**

I had the privilege of meeting Alpana Singh this past Wednesday at the Google holiday wine tasting party at L2o in Chicago. Alpana was the guest of honor. In her speech, she introduced her husband who is a writer, and explained that one does not have to spend a lot in order to enjoy good wine.

Alpana passed the Court of Master Sommeliers' advanced certification test at age 21 and in 2003, she passed the final exam to become the youngest person ever to achieve the rank of Master Sommelier. The master sommelier exam has about a 3% pass rate. Pretty impressive.

Alpana is also pretty well known around the Chicago area. She is the Director of Wine and Spirits for Lettuce Entertain You restaurants and is also the host of the Chicago-based restaurant review show, Check Please!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Noir (nwär) –adjective French. 1. Of or relating to the film noir genre.

If you remember from my Typography Pt. II: Text Shape Assignment post, I'm not too confident in my graphic design/photoshop skills. Today, I uncovered a long lost flash drive containing my prized design from my Principles of Design class at DePaul University. This is one design that I'm willing to brag about and I am happy I was able to recover it. First, let's find out about the expectations of the assignment.
The Assignment: Noir Poster

1. Choose a game title, film, graphic novel or book that you feel embodies the noir aesthetic. Find or make up a quote that helps sell your subject.
2. Create a poster/ad for your subject.
3. Create a 800x600 image in Photoshop. It can be horizontal or vertical.
4. Use these tools in Photoshop: magic wand (to create the silhouette(s), the gradient tool (including transparency), blur filters, blending modes, layer select (ctrl click the layer), layer effects, distort, and warp.

The Rules:

1. The only visual elements you can (and MUST) use are the title, the quote text, the “author”, and at least one silhouette. You can use multiple silhouettes, but no photos or detailed drawings.
2. The finished image must be black & white, no color.
3. No additional drawing or other created visual elements.
4. You can't create faces, creatures, objects or a landscape, no recognizable images (other than your silhouettes)--concentrate on the visual dynamics.
5. Your Photoshop document should end up with at least 20 layers.

Visual goals:

1. The design should convey mood—suspense, threat, paranoia—but through suggestion, not clichéd images.
2. Create the illusion of depth and light. Use gradients of value, scale, distortion, etc. Does it feel deep? Can you see strong light sources? Are there multiple levels of depth?
3. Keep the text legible, but it should feel integrated into the design. It shouldn’t appear pasted on top of the other elements.
4. Use transparency and shadows to create a sense of disorientation in the shapes and space within the image. Use solidity sparingly. Overlapping, transparency, shadows, perspective, distortion.
5. The poster should be interesting to look at, have visual movement, should be balanced and should seem structured (not random or a mess). Incorporate what we’ve discussed the rest of the quarter.

After receiving these instructions, one movie came to mind immediately -- The Graduate. Not only is The Graduate one of my all time favorite movies, but it certainly captures the noir aesthetic. Here's what I came up with:
Anyone with a good eye can catch my one mistake -- The shadow of the figure in the background should be dark near the feet and lighter near the head. I'm the first to admit that I'm no deign expert, but regardless of the shadow mistake, I think the poster looks quite nice.
Specifically, I love the way that the shadows are able to convey the illusion of depth. Also, the highlighting on Ben's face creates the illusion that a light source is shining from his left side. It pairs nice with the solid black of Mrs. Robinson's leg in the foreground.
...and who doesn't love that quote?