Don't fall for this scam on linkedin

Have you been receiving many ( above the norm) add/invitation requests on linkedin? Is it a project manager or an HR Manager who works at a fancy company in UAE? ( Cisco, HP, Du etc...)

then look-out because they are just few scumbag scammers with an agenda.

See the screenshot of the invitation below, what do they all have in common?

Linkedin scammers
  • They don't have a profile picture ( duh )
  • They are all project managers or HR Managers who have worked at either, Cisco, Du, Siemens
  • They are all located @ the UAE
  • They are all former cricket players, some have passed away already too. ( look up their names)

Another example, see Edward Finsh profile below, an HR Manager @ Cisco?

Now I looked up his name on the internet & I have also looked up his profile picture and it matched another profile on twitter (Lee Strauss) & then looked him up again on Linkedin, Tada:

Lee Strauss


weird ha? why would multiple fake account originated by the same group add you on linked in?

What is it in for them?




how to approach twitter for business

The art of using twitter for business

Many social media resources suggests that you should invest more in your social media optimization programs, yet they don't tell you much about how to cater such platforms to your business needs, they would perhaps show you how to register a twitter account, put up a facebook fan page, a youtube channel & maybe show you some successful ( videos ) of campaigns ran by ?others.... but then what?

If you are a designer, lets say a web designer, you open up your sketch book to start brainstorming and putting ideas together to come-up with some sort of wireframes for the project you are working on.
but hang on you wont be able to do so without a sitemap - meh! In order to get a sitemap you'll have to dig out requirements from the stakeholders, having that in mind this will also help exploring your project's goals & objectives...

Before jumping in to the social media wildlife you should put yourself in the visitors shoe & think like a customer, what is it in for me to join, what is your value proposition? If you haven't thought of it yet then start gathering ideas on how to approach it...

get to know your customers & what do they really want.

I came across this lovely infographic what makes people want to follow a brand if you look close enough you'll notice that reasons are close & almost similar between facebook & twitter.

Using twitter for business is not limited to marketing and promotional activities, depending on the size of your business/organization?there are many ways that you could?utilize?twitter, different departments such as retention, HR, CSR can?benefit?from social media.

I have attended a social media forum in Abu Dhabi few years ago, and it seemed that everyone have agreed that there is not a single blue print on how to approach social media but now as I think of it there is actually a simple prototype which I have named "the 3 important pillars of social media marketing ":


? The outer circle represents the?categorized?type of tweets and the inner ones represents its activities?

  1. Sales & Marketing
    this could be anything from your marketing?activities?& programs, engaging social media campaigns such as hashtags or a simple boring push notification.
  2. Customer Centric
    Could span from customer support to news about your customers, a simple "how to's tips" or video screencasts would be nice to have as well.
  3. General Info
    PR related tweets, press releases, humanized interactions, personal info etc ...


The same can be applied to facebook however, you might need to consider a ?different interaction strategy since facebook & twitter are not the same & as a result you might find that your twitter audience are different from your facebook audience ... OK?I'll keep that for another post perhaps. :)

I'am all up for a discussion.


SproutSocial Review - A Social Media Monitoring tool

Sproutsocial - what is it?

it is an awesome social media monitoring tools that supports various social media platforms such as twitter, facebook & linkedin...

SproutSocial features:

  • Organize & access social networks in one place
  • Advanced search options, reach more customers, prospects & find what do they want
  • Get the tweet bubble history, get to know what was previously communicated
  • Analytics & advanced statistics
  • and much more.
Watch my review below ( I was editing the sound and I somehow managed to find a new voice ;) )
Funny that it was founded in 2009 but to me its?totally?new!

Principles of design and usability in "everyday things"

Have you ever wondered how our brain achieves a specific task and expects a specific feedback in return?

Like pushing a button would probably power on the stereo system, flipping the switch would turn on a specific device or a light, and how do we map things in our brain.
[ Mapping ]

Not just in web design, in general; we interact with ?everyday things? and sometimes you expect a certain feedback from that interaction, unfortunately it sometimes doesn?t meet our expectations?

A good example usability experts use, is the stove?s dial to burners mapping [ see image below ] which one do you think is easier to operate? Stove image & article source, see also mental model

Here Is how all of this started:

My cousin and I were out couple of days ago driving around in his car when we stopped by a fast food restaurant to order some food.

While waiting for our order, an old song was playing on the car?s audio system, I wanted to put the volume up a tad, so I took a quick look at the dashboard ( it was pretty dark), ? 1-2 seconds later I rotated the volume controller/wheel to the right? and I ?changed? the track ? emph, not really what I expected in return!

Note:* there is a reason why we tend to rotate the ?wheel? controller to the right or left, our brain have learned that if we rotate such controllers to the right it will amplify a specific function & if we rotate it to the left it will de-amplify ? ever asked yourself why?

Now why on earth did that happen? Let?s have a closer look at the interface:

There is a reason why my brain mapped the volume function with that controller, here is how I looked at it:

Bigger means an important function such as on/off, and trust that the on/off button is important to operate a car?s stereo, I have also learnt that with the same button I can control the volume ( in most cases ).

I didn?t read what?s on the bigger button; I just assumed that?d be it since the upper smaller controller didn?t have anything written on it?

Let?s have a look at my car?s stereo volume controller/button.

See how the power button acts as a volume controller on rotation!

Although I prefer that they had the power sign on top and volume arrows to the bottom, it would make more sense - linear operations ( push to turn on, then rotate to control volume).

And I like how they?ve laid out the stereo controls to achieve a symmetrical balance( green borders ), here is how my brain mapped the controls on the dashboard to its functions:

It?s a square, direct audio/music functions are laid out to the sides right & left, anything in the middle would probably be?in-directly related to it?like 2 or 3 deep links to achieve the desired tasks + navigation.

Here is what I hate about my car, the navigation system's keyboard touch screen:

It?s been laid out in an alphabetical order, this layout goes against all what we interact with in our life from laptop?s keyboards to mobile phones which uses the QWERTY layout ? and yes it takes ages for me to ?touch-in? locations, especially while driving, it could cause some serious accidents and Cadillac should fix this issue to make it more usable.

Question for you Mr. Reader, should the above ( fixing layout ) fall under User Experience or ?Usability?

It?s amazing how we interact with ?everyday things? without realizing how our brains maps and interpret buttons and switches to the device?s functions?eyh?

since we brought up mobile, let?s have a look at the HTC Android?s [iconic representation]:

From right to left:

  • The magnifying glass is used to produce a magnified image of an object, but we?ll always relate and map it to search/find functions, is it because we magnify objects to look for something?? Is it because of Sherlock Holmes or the cartoon shows we used to watch when we were little kids?
  • Home: it?s obviously the first screen or home screen ? but why home? What emotions are triggered when you see such icon? And is it influenced by the internet term (home page)?
  • Now this looks like a list, that?s how my brain interpreted it , look closely and you will see 4 cascaded bars, the one on top is longer than the rest, this could also mean multiple options for a specific application or task?? What do you think [ I don?t own an android yet ] im waiting for google to send me one as a birthday gift.
  • Left curved arrow: I associated it with back, clear or exit, why isn?t it a straight arrow? The curve probably means a longer jump, a total exit unlike a straight to the left arrow which indicates a backspace (for example delete the last character which was typed in) perhaps?

Ok? one last example:

While I was installing adobe flash player for Mozilla firefox I got the following alert window:

Now this could just be me, for some reason it took me some time to think of what to do next!

The Window is asking me to close down firefox manually to continue with the installation & it has only one button that says ?QUIT? ? quit what exactly? Abort the installation or Auto-quit Firefox?

Usually, when im prompted such actions there are always two buttons that says ?Abort? which quits the installation or ?Close X? to auto-close firefox and continue with the installation.

Try it yourself in your ?everyday things? a phone, remote controls, your microwave, the router, Zain & Batelco shops, your camera, your car etc? try and analyze/break down buttons to functions mapping and see how you could make it more User Friendly / usable.


I am a google analytics qualified individual

I always thought?I've?published this but it seems that i haven't so...

Yes :-) I'am now officially a google analytics qualified individual!
you can grab the original "copy" from my CV - Resume section

The future is mobile, but ...

The mobile web is evolving & its changing the way we interact online, this is a fact and we can?t change it.

We?ve recently witnessed an increase use of what we call smartphones (Blackberry, Iphones, android etc ?) ?which enables us to carry the internet with us everywhere we go? ( keeps us connected).

The slide below shows us how we are connected ?

Notice that Mobile devices are dominating the rest of the devices, day through night, so what do mobile users do online?

If you look back at the slide above, we can break down user?s activities into two categories:

  1. Search as a dominant function
  2. Social media as interaction

Hey sit down! Oh fine! I?ll add point #3. Games and I would directly point to the Iphone! Or should I rename pt #2 to Social Interactions and add games under it!

? fish where the fish are?

So what does that tells us? Is the ordinary web dying?
In my opinion (just me) websites will still play a big role as information portal ( product, services, who we are etc ?) and online brand presence while engaging with users/customers on social media and treat the web as a relationship management platform, yet enable mobile sites and mobile apps development [ prepare for the big shift ].

Unfortunately, we are still behind a bit when it comes to websites, I still bump into local sites that are not cross browser compatible ( works on IE but doesn?t work on FF or Safari ), looking at this, would they really consider building for mobile ? :-)

Coming up next, a local mobile site review! Watch this space .


Email marketing best practices

Whether you are using it or not, Email remains the digital marketers #1 choice, its the big block engine that consumes a big share of our digital marketing strategy, using it the wrong way could really harm your entire strategy...

Below is a list of email marketing Do's, if correctly followed you will notice a big change with your subscribers & your subscribers response rate... to the better off course ;)

Permission permission permission...

"Always use confirmed opt-in, stop spamming people with unsolicited emails which usually gets deleted or junked by smart spam filters "

Provide a one click unsubscribe link

"Remember, if the user want to opt out and cant find a way to do it peacfully, the user then will junk you, that means a junk point addition, once you reach your junk points limit, you'll be black listed ( gmail ), provide a one click opt-out link."

Provide a hosted version of the email

"Add a link at the top of the email that says "can't view this email? click here to read it online", you would never know how the user's email client behave ..."

So you think an inline image is enough?

"Think twice, what if it was stripped by the email client? provide a text version only or a good combination of text & images would do just fine!"

A visible call to action...

"you have sent the email for a reason, provide a clear CTA's whether an image or text for example [register NOW] [ do something ]..."

Test Test & Test ...

"Don't assume your readers uses the same email client as yours, there are lots of flavours out with different versions, what works with outlook 2007 might dont work with Thunderbird..."

Track it down ...

"Whats the email campaign's open rate? use clear gifs or web beacons to track the open rate & Always track down how they've reached the article/product/promotion and through which CTA? was it the image? or was it the text? use advanced google analytics to determine the last, for example " source=emailcampaign1&ref=image1 " ... or simply checkout"

Frequency & Recency

Establishing the Right Email Frequency

One more thing ...

"Remember, content is KING!"

Bonus material ...

Guide to CSS support in email clients

A quick note on local permission marketing

"Beep Beep" an SMS alert, i pick up the phone to see the message and i go oh shoot, there ya go again, another zain message and without even reading the message i delete it with passion...

Seriously, how often do you get?interrupted?with such ads? ?whether you are checking your email or watching one of MBC's channel or probably receiving an SMS while driving, and how often do you delete that sms/email or switch to a different channel ... ?The important question is WHY?

Because you?haven't?opted-in for it at the first place, that means?interruption?marketing is not working for them nor on us anymore, it became another noise in the background...

Back to zain, i haven't asked for it, please keep it for yourself.

Batelco on the other hand got an opt-in driven sms "contest", but once you are in you can never get out ( you should probably dial 196 and click through the tree until you get a human to sort you out ) so even while you are roaming out of the country, they will spam you with their questions to death... there aren't any instructions on how to opt-out using sms!

Moral of the story #1

" Make sure to have a visible opt-in instructions and a visible opt-out instructions "

Moral of the story #2

" Even though you got an opt-in strategy it doesn't mean that you are not spamming "

Moral of the story #3

" DVRs were created to skip TV ads, not just record to record TV shows * MBC * "

Moral of the story #4

" We are witnessing the death of ?interruption?marketing, we live in a small island, be different switch to permission marketing, start by building your opt-in email lists or try viral perhaps?"

My next topic is going to be on email marketing best practices, hope the local big guys and their agencies are watching this space, it will really sort them out...

5 things clients say and what they really mean

I came across this well written ( and true VERY true ) article published by Brian Yerkes, he basically quotes:

"Working with all types of clients on a daily basis can be as challenging as the actual design or development work that they are hiring you for. As a freelancer or a project manager, you are on the front-line and even though there shouldn?t be war between you and your client, it can sometimes feel like a battle!

Over the years, I have heard clients say a lot of things, and some of them are more clear in their message than others. For those starting out in the design industry, whether it is at a firm, or as a freelancer, this list of ?5 things clients say and what they really mean? will surely help you to be educated when interacting with various types of clients"

type #1: i designed it myself and just need you to ....

99.9% of the time, if a client says this to you when they first inquire about your services, and ask you for a quote, they are really saying, ?I know enough to have an opinion on YOUR profession, and I understand what it takes to do what you do. I don?t really think your skills are anything that hard to do, I just don?t have the time to do it, or I don?t have the little amount of time it probably takes to learn it. Knowing all this, I won?t be paying you that much to do this work as it shouldn?t take you that long at all?plus I?ve already done most of the work for you.?

read the rest of the article on Brian Yerkes personal blog/site

Online advertising in Bahrain

We've all noticed the appearance of online advertising in our country/region which leads to the conclusion that business owners are now realizing the power of the digital medium and the channels behind it.
This also means that they are budgeting for online ad spending, that is on its own an increase in online ad spending in this region.

Unfortunately companies like Zain and Batelco are applying it the wrong way, im hereby discarding the IAB guidelines and standards and just talking common-sense.

we all know What Zain & Batelco are at least locally we do, and most of us will find a way to reach their website when we require more information about a certain product or service (7elow?) Depending on what we are looking for most of us again apply the scan method in combination with the?baby duck syndrome, that is on its own frustrating if the Information architecture wasn't done properly,? now lets concentrate on ads bits, shall we?

If you are a facebook user you might have came across couple of ads from both companies which looks like this.

A part from its being a "misleading ad" oh well the usual Zain, when you click the ad it takes you to the index of their website "BOOM" there you are infront of 7 or more navigation links to choose from and you have been there before.

So basically they have generated a generic traffic ( a part from awareness ) to their website, but what are they doing with that traffic?

i bet a bounce rate of 80% or more occurs on daily basis because they smack users with the same website, which is not directly related to the ad itself.

Here we notice the absence of microsites or and expendable banners were they can collect user information from the ad itself without the need to navigate away from ad location, or simply link the ad to the related product on the site itself ( worst case scenario ).
you can find out more on ad-format variations on eye-blaster website.

There are more issues related to their online presence if you look further into new trends such as RSS, opt-in email newsletters/marketing and proper social media optimization/engagement, did i mention that they are also using tables instead of divs ?oh well its all about time me thinks, what do you think?