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PDFs with video playback?

PDF documents aren’t just for reading anymore. With Acrobat 8, Adobe’s latest, you can enhance PDF documents with audio and video clips, animated graphics, 3D images that can be manipulated by the user, and forms that can be filled out digitally—all without a live internet connection.

This makes for some pretty cool e-brochures. But the technology isn’t quite ready for mass adoption yet: media-rich PDF files are way too big to be attached to an email, and reading them requires Adobe Reader 5 or later, which many Web users are yet to install.

There are plenty of uses for interactive PDFs in the meantime, such as downloadable catalogues, books, and presentations. Users may not be able to forward these documents, but they’ll retain the same display and print quality as you would expect from a PDF.

To learn more, check out Bob Connolly’s book, Dynamic Media. —Selena Welz, associate managing editor

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October 29, 2007 Posted by | Custom Content, Multimedia, Selena Welz | 1 Comment

Email newsletters: alive and well

Apparently the rumors of its death were greatly exaggerated. Four years ago in Jakob Nielsen’s first report about newsletter usability, he said the future of email newsletters was grim. More specifically, he said, “There may be none. Legitimate use of email is at war with spam, and spam may be winning.”

Now an in-depth 2007 usability study from Nielsen and company sings a different tune. They say that email newsletters are a powerful communication tool and an effective way to get the word out about a variety of topics, including your company, your industry, prices and sales, and upcoming events. Despite email and spam overload, email newsletters are alive and well.

You have to pay for Nielsen’s study, but you can peruse the executive summary free of charge. His findings, based on testing with 93 users, are an interesting read. —Julie Jares, managing editor

October 23, 2007 Posted by | Email Marketing, Julie Jares, Usability | Leave a comment

Too old for MySpace and Facebook?

Let’s just say that I’m north of 30 and south of 50…but does that make me too old to use two of the Web’s largest social networking sites, MySpace and Facebook?

Clearly, it’s the under-20 demographic that fueled the explosion of these sites. Use of Facebook is now ubiquitous on most college campuses. (I read a recent interview where a college student estimated that most of her friends were on Facebook for five hours a day or more!)

In a recent Newsweek article, the Facebook folks (who started allowing non-students to join in September 2006) say these places aren’t just for kids anymore.

“Absolutely yes,” says Facebook’s COO, Owen Van Natta, to the question of whether it will change the world of 30-, 40- and 50-year-olds the way it has on campus. He then amends the question to conform to the company’s new unofficial, and weirdly defensive, motto: it’s not just students. “Facebook did not change college life, but it changed the lives of the early adopters … many of whom were in college. We’re entering a phase where every single day we have more people over 25 entering Facebook than any other demographic. So, absolutely, yes.”

I’ve been on MySpace for a couple of years and just joined Facebook a few months ago. (Unlike MySpace, where front pages can be viewed by all, Facebook is a “walled garden” so you won’t be able to link to my page unless you are also a member.)

So what are the implications of MySpace and Facebook for your business?

As more people join and as students who have used these technologies from a young age join the workforce, this kind of functionality is going to become a baseline expectation, not some fancy “Web 2.0” initiative for your company. Your customers are going to expect to interact with you in the same way that they interact with their friends and contacts on these other social networks.

Is your company ready? ―John Kovacevich, VP, marketing services

October 12, 2007 Posted by | John Kovacevich, Target Audience, Web Content | 2 Comments