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Photo of two old Mac Quadra towers to make a bench.

Ambient Computing and the Future

We haven’t seen much new tech in about 10 years. Sure, many items have improved over time but not much,”Wow! What’s that?” kind of innovation. You want to know why? New tech is working hard to integrate into our lives by injecting tech into products we already know. Many everyday products now include some sort of artificial intelligence, augmented and/or virtual reality; robotics and some can even be worn. “This is ambient computing, the transformation of the environment all around us with intelligence and capabilities that don’t seem to be there at all.” – Walt Mossberg Turning off my brain when I’m trying to sleep can be a challenge. Especially when I’m working on a project I’m excited about. When I was working in Social Media my thoughts would frequently be in the form of a short 48-character post. “I almost brushed my teeth with body lotion”, and “Women walk into rooms and forget what they are looking for 3 out of 5 times a day”. Facebook announced they are working on a way to use the brain to type which…

Graphic for Wordcamp Kansas City 2017 event.

Website DIY

I attended a conference last weekend called WordCamp KC. I learned about plugins used to help keep track of your site’s SEO, tips to increase your sites speed, and do’s and don’ts for easy to understand navigation. New tools were presented to help organize new sites, tips for giving presentations website related, how to debug for problems that arise, ways to optimize images, I even learned a little bit about plug in development. While looking over my notes I’m asking myself, “How is this info I learned going to help an AWG retail member?” So I want to step back from the details and look at a bigger picture. Maybe not as bad as a doctor, but when people I talk to find out I’m a Web Designer, I get lots of questions. Mostly, “How much does a website cost?” Where is the best place to buy a domain name? Most of these questions are backed by a personal story. Some people are thinking about starting a business, others already own a business and others work for someone who owns a business. Then there are those going to school who plan…

Graphic for Adobe Webinar

Selling an Experience vs. Products

I attended a webinar prepared for Adobe by James L. McQuivey, Ph.D. who is VP, Principal Analyst for Forrester. Forrester is an American market research company that provides advice on existing and potential impact of technology, to its clients and the public. Long story short the presentation was trying to point out why Web Designers should only use Adobe products. Since I didn’t sign up for that, I’d like to put our Digital Marketing department in the shoes of Adobe for the time being. The whole point of this blog post is to share what I took away from this webinar with retailers. Try not to focus so much on selling products, but instead focus on selling an experience. This webinar was more about how companies are changing. I realize James was talking about big companies like Tesla, and Amazon who own lots of smaller companies. I’d like to point out a similarity to a Grocery Retailer though. Both Amazon and Grocery Stores want you to opt into more than one product. Both want to provide a convenient experience. This webinar…

Package wrapped in brown paper with bundle on tag.

We need more “food bundles”.

I get overwhelmed when grocery shopping. There are so many options and choices I get overloaded with details like flavor choices, quantities, is it healthy? Will it go to waste? The list of decisions is endless. I recently had a stomach bug and stayed home a few days. We didn’t have any of the basics, Seven Up, Saltines, chicken broth to fight this illness. I sent a family member to the store then realized after the trip was made how much I had forgotten to put on the list. It wasn’t detailed enough, because I didn’t feel good when I made the list and they were in a hurry. I would have given my right arm for a grocery store who offered a “Care Package” delivered to my home. I’m talking about an order online “Care Package” that shows a list of popular items and remedies when you’re sick. It would have been nice if the package were a type of “Pick 5 for $19.99” deal where you can choose five items out of 20 for example. However, the customer should…

Millennials Celebrate Valentine’s Day a Little Different

For me (Generation X) Valentine’s Day could have a lot of pressure, especially at school. Some girls needed help getting all their flowers home while others snuck out the back door. While I was Googling my typical “go to” Valentine’s Day content (the meaning of different rose colors) I got distracted by this article, “Millennials and Valentine’s Day”. After reading the article I thought, “Those millennials have it going on… AGAIN!” According to a survey of 13-32 year olds, more than half think Valentine’s Day is over-rated and don’t care about the holiday, but more than half admitted to celebrating the holiday, so what gives? Most of this generation grew up where giving out valentines in school meant you had to give one to everybody in your class. So what better excuse do you need to throw a party for everyone? About half planned to get something for a significant other, but almost everyone in that group planned to get a gift for a family member or friend. Have you heard of Galentine’s Day? About a quarter of these millennial’s planned to…

Photo of several light bulbs in a pile.

List of January content ideas to attract customers to your website by using keywords

[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][vc_column_text] Do you watch the AWG Freshen Up Videos? Great seasonal content ideas for your website is just waiting to be discovered using the information mentioned on this January Merchandising Video. Review the custom pages on your website to see if you can add/change content to a page already created. For each page ask yourself if your inventory matches items in these 4 categories: Soup Ingredients, Fighting the Flu Season, Eating Healthy, and Snacks for Game Day. Here are some keywords to use and links for ideas: MEAT DEPARTMENT – Eat Healthy: Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, 96% vs. 80% lean ground beef http://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/nutrition.aspx http://www.porkbeinspired.com/nutrition/ Game day: Make your own Chicken Wing Personality Test DELI DEPARTMENT – Eat Healthy: Rotisserie Chicken Game Day: Summer Sausage, Cheese, Deli Salads, And Party Trays GROCERY: Game Day: Chips, Pretzels, Popcorn, Nuts, Rotel, Velveeta, and Crackers Healthy: Croutons, Salad Dressing Flu Season: Hot Beverages FROZEN: Taquitos, Pizza, Meatballs, Little Smokies SEAFOOD DEPARTMENT: What are the healthiest seafoods you can buy? Game Day: Shredded and Chunk Cheeses Healthy: Veggie Dips PRODUCE: Items that go in a soup: Brussels…

Sharlyn’s 2016 Web Content Awards

The holidays are over and it’s January. Not much to look forward to until the awards shows… but hey! I’m currently working on converting two websites from nine years ago to our new website platforms. Nine years ago we didn’t have fancy shopping lists that truly integrated with weekly ads, recipes, locations, social media and email marketing that tracks which links go where. We had to create CUSTOM CONTENT that related to each store. Just because you can throw up a website with little to no custom pages doesn’t mean you should. Creative content is what gets Google’s attention. If Google thinks your content is unique enough then more traffic will be sent to your website. Having the same recipe on 150 different websites doesn’t impress Google’s algorithms much. I have found looking at examples of custom content on other sites gets my brain fired up to write something new. So I looked at page view stats and measured how many times each page got viewed. I only measured pages on websites that I currently work on for AWG retailers. I only selected custom pages, so no ad pages,…

Go where you don’t usually go

[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][vc_column_text]I once had a supervisor tell me, “Your creativity is enough to support our team”. I considered this to be a compliment because my life goal is to grow creatively. Usually being a designer involves lots of thought about how to inspire your own creative juices. I have found inspiration can be found in uncommon places. So that is why we need to, “Go where we don’t usually go”. Making the time to get out is hard. If you count up the time you spend working ahead, then the time spent catching up, I wonder if the two really match up? Not always. But getting out helps you think about indirect connections. For instance, my Aunt was telling me about “Gourd Art”. So while on Facebook I noticed a monthly art display was featuring gourd art. We went and looked and it really is amazing, it looks like pottery actually. While looking at this display I got to thinking, “I bet grocery stores have a type of…

The future of a designer

Sometimes a birthday can serve more purposes than just celebrating. This one-day of the year can also make you question, “Where am I going?” I realize people often make predictions of the future that are way off. While some thought everyone would be flying to work by now instead, we have made leaps and bounds in other areas like communication. I’m not surprised really, what if someone invented a car but couldn’t tell someone else how to make it? Last week an article caught my eye, 5 Design Jobs That Won’t Exist In The Future, which seems like a real downer but the last half of the article was about “Design Jobs that will grow”. So with my slight breeze of optimism, I also read: The Most Important Design Jobs Of The Future and How Visual Designers Can Stay Relevant In A Post-Screen World. The days of being a one trick pony are over. Everyone must be a hybrid. “What are needed instead are designers who can not only come up with the look of an idea, but make it real, with actual programming and prototyping…

Photo example of wall mural in Big John grocery store with Superman because store is in town named Metropolis.

Does your store have a mural?

This timelap video I saw on my Facebook news feed of a mural being made really brightened up my day! Credit:Drumans Filmes/Gael Comunicação via  Storyful. News   After watching this video way too many times, I started thinking about the mural in the produce department at the store I worked at in High School. Would you believe customers would call the store and ask, “Is your store the one with the farm painting on the wall?” That’s STORE BRANDING! Murals can tell a story, and combine several concepts all at once. References to historic events can evoke community and local pride. A landscape can also show location. I have seen murals in stores with musical instruments which shows a popular musical genre connected to the area, like Jazz. Really the sky is the limit on what to put in a mural. Another bonus about murals, if you can’t decide on one theme, you can collage several together. If you have no idea where to start, the AWG Design & Decor Source Group can show you a portfolio to get your creative juices…