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Next Up...NESHCo's Spring Symposium!

Posted by Katie Mack on May 16, 2013. Tagged: events

We're busy getting ready for the New England Society for Healthcare Communications (NESHCo) conference next week in lovely Newport, RI to demonstrate the latest work we've done in healthcare. It's our first time attending the event, so we decided to make a splash by developing some helpful resources for healthcare communication professionals that cover best practices in healthcare marketing on the web. These resources include:

  • A quick survey to evaluate your website's health
  • A downloadable website redesign RFP template
  • A checklist for writing a great website redesign RFP

You can check out these helpful tools at http://www.imarc.net/hospital.

We look forward to kicking off the conference on Sunday with fellow attendees from across New England by touring the historic mansions of Newport. You can then find Katie Desmond and I in the exhibit hall on Monday, May 20 and Tuesday, May 21. If you are attending, be sure to stop by our booth for a chance to win an iPad Mini that we will be giving away! Katie and I will also be available to start exploring your next website or mobile project.

If you're a healthcare communicator unable to travel to Newport next week, be sure to follow @imarcllc on Twitter for great insight from the conference.


iMarc Honored with 4 Communicator Awards of Distinction

Posted by Katie Mack on May 13, 2013. Tagged: awards, clients

Communicator Awards Silver Trophy

One of the best messages I get to deliver to our clients start with, "Your website is an award-winner!"

Our team now has the honor to share with three of our clients the 2013 Communicator Award of Distinction, as well as celebrate the recognition we received for the successful launch of iMarc's new website last Fall.

The Communicator Awards is the leading international awards program honoring the creative excellence for communication professionals. This year, over 6,000 entries were judged by the International Academy of the Visual Arts (IAVA).

We're thrilled to share these awards with our deserving clients. The accolades represent our commitment to excellence across all industries.

"We're excited to be recognized for the quality of work we delivered for our clients this past year. We also put a lot of work into developing a best in class website as we redesigned our own and appreciate the nod we've received from the IAVA. It's great to see our hard work pay off!" - Nick Grant, VP, Director of Operations


Mobile & Tablet Stats, by industry, March 2013

Posted by Robert Mohns on April 24, 2013. Tagged: mobile

I've been tracking mobile stats for years, both within the smartphone market, and as a proportion of overall use.

I've recently gone through the analytics for our active clients, and mobile use is very high — 9.6% of traffic. But there is huge variation by industry, with B2B on the low end and cultural organizations and consumer at the high end.

I'll save you 931 more words with this chart:

iMarc Client Mobile (Smartphone and Tablet) visit share, March 2013


(Still no answer to why there's no 7" tablet traffic to speak of; in March we saw a few Galaxy Tab 7's, a couple Kindle Fires, an Asus Transformer, and that's about it. Nothing compared to the sheer number of iPads. Ping @imarcllc if you have any intel.)

A Moment of Reflection and Thanks

Posted by Katie Mack on April 22, 2013. Tagged: culture

This afternoon, iMarc will be observing with the rest of Massachusetts a moment of silence to honor the Boston Marathon victims and their families. It's difficult to comprehend that our backyard metropolitan was rocked just a week ago by tragedy during one of the most prestigious and historic competitions in the world. I had personally just been to the race expo at the Hynes Convention Center that prior weekend and traveled down on race day to cheer along the course route outside of the city in Framingham at the 7-mile marker. I was safely back in Newburyport by the time reports came streaming in from the media, and turned my attention to checking in and accounting for those known to be in Boston for the race.

As shocking as last Monday was, the events that unfolded over the week were just as incomprehensible. I personally was in London for a very exciting business meeting by the time Friday rolled around and, with the five hour time difference, was aware of everything being reported back home before many in my circles had even woken up to hear news that the city had been shut down and a manhunt was underway.

London showed Boston so much spirit and support, it was moving to witness during my time there. Friday was a tense day overseas for me as I tried to keep abreast of what was unfolding back home while taking in Big Ben, the London Eye, and Westminster Abbey. Anytime I mentioned to someone that I hailed from the Boston area, I was given thoughtful condolences and words of encouragement that, just as London had in 2005, Bostonians would prevail.

I was so happy and relieved to see the London Marathon on Sunday turn out to be a huge success. The outpouring of support and remembrance turned this marathon into the perfect celebration of human perseverance. Running 26.2 miles is always a test of strength, but doing so after a tragedy the magnitude of Boston sends an amazing message to the world. There was one banner I saw in London that truly moved me: "Run if you can. Walk if you must. But finish for Boston." That meant a lot. London will forever solidify a place in my heart for being so kind and respectful in paying tribute to my home's strength.

Thank you London & Love you Boston.

Legal Marketing Tips

Posted by Katie Desmond on April 9, 2013. Tagged: best practices, creative, design, social media

We have arrived at the LMA Conference here in Las Vegas and as the New Kid in Town, we are really having a fabulous time and meeting a lot of great people.  As part of our experience, we are getting a lot of questions about specific topics that impact the Legal Market. We have collected some of our most relevant blog posts to help guide our colleagues through the legal marketing world. 

  1. A lot of people that we have talked to have recently updated their site within the past 2-3 years but are wondering with some of the changes on the market if its time to revisit it. This post will help answer that question: Signs it's Time to Update Your Site Pronto.
  2. We are really proud of the work we have accomplished for Wilson Elser, check out what made the project so successful: Three C's to Site Launch Celebration - Congrats Wilson Elser!
  3. Social Media is a big question as a lot of firms are just starting to dabble in it, these two posts will help set you on your way: Extending Your Brand on Social Media and LinkedIn Company Page Pointers.
  4. Blogging is another important component of B2B sites, but Should your B2B site have blog comments? 

For more smart marketing tips and to learn more about our experience, please stop by our Booth #326 for more advice! And who knows you may just even win an iPad mini!

Look out LMA...There's a New Kid in Town!

Posted by Katie Mack on April 2, 2013. Tagged: clients, events

We’re one week away from heading out to the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) National Conference at the Aria Resort in Las Vegas to demonstrate the latest work that we’ve done for Wilson Elser – an AM Law 100 firm. It’s our first time attending the conference, and in preparation we have developed some helpful resources to share that cover best practices for legal marketing on the web. These resources include:

  • A quick 8 question survey to evaluate your current website performance
  • A downloadable website redesign project RFP template
  • Checklist for writing a great website redesign RFP

We invite you to check out these valuable tools at http://www.imarc.net/legal.

If you are traveling to the LMA Conference, we look forward to seeing you there! Our President, Nils Menten, and Director of New Business, Katie Desmond, will be exhibiting at the conference on Tuesday, April 9 and Wednesday, April 10. Be sure to stop by Booth #326 for a chance to win one of two iPad Minis that we will be giving away to lucky conference attendees! Also, Nils and Katie will be available to start exploring your next website or mobile project.

If you are in the legal sector but cannot make it to the conference, be sure to follow @imarcllc on Twitter and the LMA Conference live feed at #LMA13 for great insight and updates from Las Vegas.

What's Old is New Again - in Healthcare!

Posted by Katie Mack on March 29, 2013. Tagged: clients, design, engineering, strategy, user experience

We are thrilled to share our latest launches for both the Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation (MassBioEd) and the Harvard Clinical Research Institute (HCRI)! These long time clients of iMarc are doing incredible work in the healthcare and biotechnology community, and we are happy to support them.

MassBioEd

http://www.massbioed.org

Since 2006, we have partnered with MassBioEd, a resource for educators, students, postdocs, and industry professionals to advance STEM and biotechnology education. MassBioEd is committed to cultivating the biotech industry through educational initiatives than span from elementary school to professional development. To help maintain its position at the forefront of biotechnology education, iMarc and MassBioEd embarked together on a redesign of its website to deliver a targeted, user centric experience with the results now live as of March 2013.

iMarc redeveloped the Foundation’s website with the objective to deliver critical information to students, educators, and professionals passionate about science education. Site visitors can access learning resources, register for corporate professional development courses, and donate to the Foundation from the website. One of my favorite features on this new site is the interactive search toolbar on the homepage allowing site visitors to self identify right away and be presented with the content relevant to their interests.

HCRI

http://www.hcri.harvard.edu

Also this month, we launched HCRI’s new website. We’ve been working with HCRI since 2007 and this is the second iteration of the site that we’ve created for them in our 6 years together. In its latest iteration, the website features elevated visual design that personalizes the Institute’s research and aligns closer to the Harvard brand. We focused heavily on the presentation of their publications, and created tools for filtering through materials based on category, faculty member, and therapeutic area. As part of our project, we also conducted photography on-site at HCRI, and the new Leadership Bios reflect the outcome of this service. This website was built upon our full site content management system (CMS) that now gives HCRI staff the latest tools and technologies to power site content.

Here at iMarc we are committed to healthcare and will be attending the New England Society for Healthcare Communications (NESHCo) conference in May. We hope to see you there!

I Will Work for Free

Posted by Matthew Sahagian on March 18, 2013. Tagged: culture, open source, rants

If you promise to keep my ideas and work free (as in speech), I will work for free (as in beer).

After a statement like that, we probably need some clarification. Just like any other viable web and media production company on the planet, iMarc licenses client-code under terms which are conducive to its business goals. But what licenses do individual developers make use of? More importantly, why do they use those licenses?

Statistics on this issue vary widely. According to Black Duck Software1, the GNU General Public License versions 2 and 3 account for nearly 45% of open source projects. While the lesser versions, takes up another 9% or so. Comparing this number to another page2 referencing the same company's data in March of 2011, we see a drop of about 7% in overall usage.

I'm not going to speculate as to why this may be the case, but there are a number of competing open source licenses which serve a number of different uses and purposes in particular contexts. At iMarc, for example, we frequently make use of MIT and BSD licensed code. Unlike the GPL and its variants, this code can be passed onto our clients without having to concern ourselves with overt sub-licensing terms or the need to place them under any additional obligations.

Recently, iMarc has also started releasing some of its own internally developed code on our GitHub page under the MIT license. Due to the obligations which the GPL enforces, licenses like MIT avoid much of the stigma surrounding its use in business.  Why then do I use the GPL/AGPL for 99% of the software I write?

Freedom.

Freedom of Ideas

The Free Software Foundation makes a big distinction between open source and free software. While the GPL is often considered a "more restrictive" license, it is restrictive only insofar as it obligates distributors to ensure it remains open. What does this mean practically? It means that if you incorporate any portion of GPL code into your code, you must license the combined work under the same terms, if you intend to distribute it.

To make a case for why this is not only positive, but preferable, I will rely on two premises.

  • Software is an idea.
  • Ideas "want" and ultimately need to be free.

The first premise requires us to assert that software, unlike other commoditized wares, is materially non-existent. Yes, yes, we need hard drives to store it, computers to interpret it, and even electrons or photons to "ship it." But these are not conditions of the thing itself, merely the expression of the thing. If my hard drive has bad blocks, it is not the software that is damaged, merely the drive. The only thing that could possibly be lost with regards to the software, is a single expression of it (albeit a digitally perfect one).

It may be argued that software is more than an idea; that it is the particular implementation of an idea. This argument, however, seems to contradict how we speak about ideas in ordinary terms. We do not, for example, claim that the Golden Rule, as expressed by Confucius, is of a fundamentally different nature than that of, say, Pittacus.3  On the contrary, we recognize that despite having been expressed in different languages and with different phrasing, the core value proposition of each is essentially equal.

Software, likewise, is capable of being expressed in a multitude of languages with diverse organizational characteristics or "phrasing" if you will. To damage software, as with anything else, we must be able to show that it is possible to reduce its value proposition by some positive action. But if we wish to truly equate software to an idea, then to do this we need to decouple it from the expression or implementation of it.

How, then, can we damage software? Exactly the same way that we damage an idea!

In modern and free societies we have started to recognize that things like the First Amendment are conducive not only to the liberty of individuals, but to the rapid progression of our technological and economic condition. What use does a great idea, if expressed to no one, serve? And what use if only expressed to a select few?

An idea unexpressed is inevitably a dead idea; buried with its creator. Thus, an idea under-expressed is a damaged idea. It is an idea which cannot ever be developed to its fullest potential as its full potential necessitates it to be received, examined, and developed by the broadest amount of people possible.4

It means nothing then to say that we damage software by restricting the software itself because, like ideas, software is not self-expressive. Substantially, we can only damage software by restricting people.

Freedom of People

The earlier mention that the MIT license is considered "less restrictive" than the GPL is chiefly derived from a single additional allowance. Namely, you are allowed to "close" the software. That is to say, you have essentially all the same freedoms as you do with the GPL, except you are granted the additional allowance to restrict those freedoms for any third party to whom you distribute it.

Imagine now, if you would, a single idea or bit of knowledge that is radically important to our human understanding or condition. Got one? Now, imagine in the infancy of its development that those who received it had the absolute freedom to do with it as we can with open source software. If they could dissect it, build on it, modify it to be better in some way, and share it with others, we would surely recognize this as not only an asset to free society, but a pillar of it.

Now imagine the complete opposite.

More, the restriction of even a single afforementioned freedom with regards to ideas (software) could have potentially devastating consequences on our society or social progression.

What Do I Care?

I owe a lot to free software. Indeed, I would wager that I owe the entirety of my programming knowledge to it. It has not only directly contributed to my own ideas, but has provided me the means to express them. In a world where high-technology is becoming increasingly important to the human condition, often times superseding more traditional technology, I believe it to be not only a moral but a practical imperative to ensure that free software is not simply protected, but encouraged.

If your next great idea extends, builds on, or merely modifies mine in some way, even marginally, then I am going to do everything I can to ensure that our idea continues to be afforded to as many people as it can be in the same manner to which it was afforded to you.


  1. The page at http://osrc.blackducksoftware.com/data/licenses/ contains daily updated statistics on licenses. 

  2. John Haller consolidated these statistics in March of 2011 at the following site: http://johnhaller.com/jh/useful_stuff/open_source_license_popularity/ 

  3. This is not to say that the same idea cannot be developed independently by two separate individuals given similar preconditions. 

  4. I am not proposing "design by committee," merely making a simple point that more exposure amounts to those who could and would make positive contributions, doing so. 

  5. Light bulb image retrieved from: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net

Eight, Four, One

Posted by Robert Mohns on March 14, 2013. Tagged: creative, culture, design

I joined iMarc in 2005. I've just received my fourth round of business cards. It's interesting to look back over the corresponding website designs, and see how our brand's visual identity has evolved…

Photo: Four cards and four websites

In 2005, our key—and only!—color was green. Conceptually simple, highlighted by silhouetted figures (“The Dudes”) busy building things around the edges. That was us: simple, direct, busy, and a little undisciplined.

In 2007, we went dark and dramatic, with a hint of woodgrain. Both our design and our engineering were getting more complex, yet we retained our roots of craftsmanship and care. We folded our old news into our blog and gave it top billing; content is king.

In 2009, we added colors to represent our evolving process (strategy, design, and development) while keeping a dark, dramatic look. We re-emphasized our client work, and downplayed our blog. Ultimately, the complex design didn't mesh as well with our culture as expected, and over time we found it did not match the image we wanted to project.

In 2012, our new Creative Director, Jared, led us through a thoughtful brand exploration. A lighter palette, a few strong colors, and photography of our team at work now grace our site design and collateral. (And the 2009 color gradient lives on today, tweaked and simplified.) Our site is easier to explore, better serves the needs of content, and adapts itself to your device. It better reflects who we are: friendly, open, flexible, genuine, mindful, welcoming, and human.

Eight years, four designs, one company.


Want some historical flavor? Browse all of our old websites at http://old.imarc.net.

It's how it works

Posted by Robert Mohns on March 11, 2013. Tagged: events, user experience

Two weeks ago I was out at RSA Conference. Typically enough, in the expo hall it seemed that everyone had pens to give away. Here's a sampling…

Pens

Which one of these pens do you think writes the best? The sleek, silver one with a good heft? The light blue curved one with a big cushy grip? The elegantly simple black one?

All but one, no matter how nice it looked or felt outside, had a terrible, cheap pen cartridge inside. They required a lot of force to make a mark and were fatiguing to use for any length of time.

The only pleasant-to-use pen was from LogRhythm. It writes smoothly and effortlessly, has a modest but effective grip, has a pleasant blue ink, and even makes a nice clickey sound when I fiddle with it. Onto my desk it goes, where it will get used regularly.

Every time I reach for it, I'll see their brand, burning its way into familiarity.

Every one of these pens has some company's brand on it. But only one company took the time to select a pen that would give a lasting positive impression.

How something looks is not enough. What counts is how it works.