The tabs on Facebook they are a-changin’

Facebook is reducing the width of custom profile tabs to 520 pixels (down from 760). If you’ve created a custom tab (think landing page of a Facebook app) it’s gonna get 32% slimmer next week.

Imagine if someone came along and lopped off “are a-changin’” from the headline of this post. Bob Dylan and I would be pissed about losing context and leaving you hanging like that. Now, picture that Facebook tab you so lovingly designed, and imagine watching helplessly as that awful Leatherface severed it by one-third with his chainsaw. How does it feel?

Words and images, if not cut off, may be scrambled instead. Clickable links might lose their interactivity. Scary stuff.

Obviously, from here forward we’re building within the 520 frame, and we’re ready to help you adjust existing Facebook tabs – whether we developed the original or not. So fear not, agency partners and clients. The Nerdery will protect you from Leatherface.

Agency Primer Notes: Designing for web workflow webinar recap

Whether you missed our last webinar or just want to relive it, here’s the video and presentation deck from our “Designing for Web Workflow” agency primer – as well as a few extra recommended links from designers/presenters Karsten and Matt.

Designing for web workflow from The Nerdery on Vimeo.

Additional resources:

960 Grid System



Google Font Directory


Friday Links: Communication Arts’ best interactive (and some other stuff)

Before we get to the links, we just have to mention that Communication Arts has released its list of the best interactive projects of the year. We’re pretty happy to see two projects we got to work on made the list. Fallon’s Skimmer and Colle + McVoy’s Take Me Fishing. Pretty rad way to end the week, isn’t it?

Sevnthsin wins RACIE award, makes us blush

First of all, congratulations to Sevnthsin & JC Penney on their Racie award for the JC Penney Weekly Deals iPhone App.

Second of all, thank you for mentioning us in your post announcing the win. We’re always happy to help!

“Congrats to all involved, especially our boys down at The Nerdery who moved mountains at the 11th hour many a time during the pre-holiday build up.”

Government 2.0


In the Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln said, “. . . that this nation, under God [sorry atheists, I didn’t say it. Abe did.], shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

It’s such a beautiful sentiment, that whole “of the people, by the people, for the people.” But for most us our civic duty, our involvement with government and the laws that govern us ends when we get that ‘I Voted’ sticker. They say you can’t fight City Hall, and who would want to? It always seems like a nightmare of red tape and bureaucracy (I read about half of Kafka’s The Trial and it frightened me away from local governing bodies).

But now you can make a difference right from your iPhone.

Today, ReadWriteWeb has an in-depth review of DIY Democracy billed as “the ultimate civic engagement app. It connects users to three branches of government for everything from reporting potholes to protesting federal laws.” Of course, we’re a little partial to the app because The Nerdery helped build it. You should download it now (it’s free) and give it a try.

Agency Primer Notes: CMS Smackdown, all over but the plug-ins

Agency Primer: CMS Shootout – WordPress and Expression Engine from The Nerdery on Vimeo.

Promotors of last week’s WordPress vs. Expression Engine webinar hinted that there could be blood. Two Nerdery programmers trained hard for this CMS bout. They drank raw eggs and ran stairs, and then a nationwide audience of agencies tuned in for what turned out to be a rather amicable exchange. Or was it? Watch Thursday’s rematch above.

Here is a list of recommended plug-ins for  both content management systems, with WordPress plug-ins submitted by (in this corner) Anthony Lukes, and Expression Engine plug-in faves from (challenger) Brian Litzinger.

WordPress  plug-ins:

Dagon Form Mailer – This is my (Anthony’s) personal favorite because it’s easy to customize and it supports file attachments. Another favorite of mine is Contact Form 7.

Flutter CMS – This plugin allows for easy assigning of different data types and for easy custom page templating.

NavT Navigation Management Plug-in – This plug-in allows you to manage and customize your site’s navigation system.

Inline PHP – This allows you to insert php code into the text editor.

All in One SEO Pack – Pump up your SEO. Customize page titles, meta keywords, and descriptions. This works out of the box and can be fine-tuned for super-users.

Google XML Sitemaps – Generates an XML sitemap of your site to better your search rankings with Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Ask.

Akismet (comes with WordPress) – This helps keep spammers from posting comments on your blog.

NextGEN Gallery – Great photo gallery plug-in. Not an essential for every site, but this is a really well built plug-in that’s too good not to mention.

And in this corner, recommended Expression Engine plug-ins:

Structure – It forgoes the current template_group/template setup and creates “static” and “listing” pages that can be edited through a tree sitemap view. Traditional page style content and multiple entry pages can live within the same area.

Image Sizer – Resizes images as specified in EE tag and caches the resized image in the cache folder. If you update the original image, a new resized version is created. If the image is not on the server the tag will not return anything. The architecture is setup to only process images when needed.

FieldFrame – A framework for rapid development of fieldtype extension, FieldFrame will be included as part of EE 2 core when 2.1 is released.

nGen File Field – nGen File Field is a field type for the FieldFrame framework that adds a custom field type allowing you to upload files from the Publish/Edit interface, and also functions as part of the FF Matrix. This extension is useful for creating galleries and downloading libraries.

“No mas … no mas.” – Roberto Duran

Agency Primer Notes: Facebook Connect makes Facebook the lowest common denominator of social networking

The Nerdery opened its virtual doors to our agency friends this week to talk a bit about Facebook and what the new technology that the 800# gorilla of the social marketing world has been rolling out in 2009 and what it means for advertisers and marketers looking to make a connection with its 325M+ users.

Being a longtime Facebook user, but by no means a savant (my 150 friends are only just slightly above the site-wide average of 130) I was lucky enough to convince our own Annette Johnson to help me navigate the frenzied waters of Facebook Connect.  Below is the deck that we shared with our guests covering some of the key things that creatives and account staff need to know when it comes to building a facebook strategy for your clients or your own brand.

The examples we discussed during the live webinar (not featured in the slide deck) were:

If you weren’t able to make it to the Tuesday primer live there’s still time to register for this afternoon’s session or contact us to arrange a live “private screening” for your agency or company.

And here we are on video…

Facebook Connect Agency Primer from The Nerdery on Vimeo.

King me, augmented reality

I’ve always been a bit frightened by the plastered, menacing grin of the Burger King (zoiks – there’s like nothing behind his eyes) – and now, Crispin Porter + Bogusky has helped His Highness bestow power unto all to turn a buck into a double cheeseburger through the spooky magic of augmented reality. Long live the King.

Feel “free” – try before you buy

Quick, scroll through your iTunes – how many of those songs did you pay for? I’ve burned every Hold Steady CD from friends who beat me to the record store, but I’d like to think I make up for my thrift by buying tickets for their homecoming gigs – and even bought my favorite t-shirt at one of the band’s First Ave shows. Eventually, we vote with our dollars for stuff we like.

Chris Anderson, author of “The Long Tail,” has again landed on the New York Times Bestseller list – this time by putting the premise of his latest book, “Free,” to practice by inviting thousands of freeloaders to download it. “The point was to let people sample the book in full,” said Anderson. “If they liked it, we hoped that some would buy the hardcover to keep or at least spread the word.” 

And yeah, “Free” found its way into my summer reading via the ol’ five-finger discount, but here I am spreading the word.

Reading the New York Times online is free, but to me the better bargain is having the (now six-dollar) dead-tree Sunday edition strewn about my couch for the rest of the week. Well-worth reading is the Ping column of last Sunday’s Times (Business section, page 4) about Evernote, a free web application that lets users make and keep notes from web clips, voice memos, business cards, pictures, videos and more – with the ability to retrieve data from multiple devices.

(Disclosure: The Nerdery helped develop parts of Evernote’s forthcoming revamped website, along with design agency partners Factor Design.)

Even though three-fourths of Evernote users quit it cold turkey, the company is betting that as more people use it to organize their constantly accumulating data, the more members will pay for account enhancements like more storage and being able to scan PDF notes to find a certain word. It stands to reason that the more notes a user puts in for free, the likelier they’ll be to pay to more easily extract the data that drives their personal and professional life.

“Free is not a loss leader,” said Evernote chief executive Phil Libin to NY Times columnist Damon Darlin. “If we can get a small percentage of users to pay we start to make money…We are committed to being free.”

Me too – if it’s free, I’m free to do it. 


FanChatter and True (B)romance

For the love of the game, there’s an up-and-coming social media/mobile tool for sports fans called FanChatter. If you want to send your picture to the stadium’s Jumbotron or keep up with fans of your favorite team, FanChatter is your ticket.

The founders of FanChatter were recently invited to spend some quality time at Silicon Valley’s YCombinator, a twice-a-year brain camp for startups who get some seed money and, more importantly, access to priceless free advice from entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

I recommend two recent stories about FanChatter – a story by Graeme Thickins in Minnov8 and one from Finance & Commerce by Arundhati Parmar. Coupled together, these articles free The Nerdery to tell an entirely different side of the FanChatter story – and one told to me by Tom O’Neill, our VP of software development. Tom’s story has something for everyone, whether you’re into stories with true romance, sports, technology, brotherly love, suspense, the thrill of victory, and the agony of … whatever.

Ever go to a ballgame at which some hopeful romantic type gets the nerve to go on the Jumbotron on bended knee to propose to his surprised sweetheart? It’s among the most anxious moments in all of sports (sometimes I can’t watch). Did you know that Major League Baseball has a rule that only one such public proposal can be aired per game on the Jumbotron? Ed O’Neill didn’t. When his brother Tom learned this, he had to make a series of life-changing game-time decisions.

Ed had the ring and everything when he showed up at the Twins game with his girlfriend Holly, brother Tom, and Tom’s wife Anni. Here’s the play-by-play:

Top of the 1st inning: Tom sneaks off  to Metrodome Fan Services to plunk down $100 for his brother’s Jumbotron appearance. Returning to the seats, Tom tells Ed, “Done deal.”

Bottom 1st inning: Dude from Fan Services frantically waves Tom down, tells him somebody else had dibs on the one-a-day Jumbotron proposal. Tom curses rules as made to be broken, but no dice.

Top of the 2nd: Tom tells brother about FanChatter as possible Plan B for his proposal. Select fan photos submitted to FanChatter are shown on the Jumbotron in the 5th inning. Anyone who’s been to a ballgame with Tom knows he’s a fan and early adopter of FanChatter. If Tom were Minneapolis Star Tribune sports columnist Sid Hartman, he’d name-drop FanChatter creator Marty Wetherall as a “close personal friend.” When he’s not at YCombinator, Marty works for Fallon, a frequent agency partner of The Nerdery. Meanwhile, Tom takes a picture of brother Ed with his iPhone …

Bottom of the 2nd: … and emails Ed’s photo to his Nerdery colleague Mike Johnson, who steps away from normal Friday night activities long enough to Photoshop this short and sweet caption: “Marry me, Holly?” Matt Tolbert tags up and scores on Joe Mauer’s sacrifice fly and it’s 4-zip. Just as Tom gets the doctored photo back from Mike, Tom’s iPhone battery goes dead.

Top of the third: Tom pleads with lady at gate nearest his car to let him out, and more importantly, re-enter after he charges his phone and completes his sacred bro-deal – he tells the gatekeeper what he’s up to, deftly playing the brotherly love card and probably pitching a romance novel fit for nerds – and she buys it, even signing his ticket to green-light his re-entry.

Bottom of the third: Tom plugs his phone in at his car and reaches FanChatter’s Marty and asks that Ed’s picture please, please, pretty please be chosen for the 5th inning montage. Marty, who’s out to dinner with his wife, says we must reach FanChatter co-founder Luke Francl who’s better positioned as game-time go-to-guy to try to make it happen. A flurry of phone tag follows as Tom’s iPhone recharges and Brendan Harris puts the Twins up 5-0 on a single to center, scoring Cuddyer.

Bottom of the fourth: More runs driven in by Mauer, Morneau and Cuddyer. Tom reaches Luke, who says he’ll do his best to get Ed’s FanChatter photo on the big screen. Having done all he can, Tom heads back to the Dome. The score is Twins 9, Brewers 0. Upon his return, Tom gives Ed an unknowing but hopeful shrug.

Top of the Fifth: Holly, a Brewers fan, cheers as her team finally scores, and it’s the first run Tom has actually seen cross the plate.

Middle of the fifth: The FanChatter photo montage begins on the Jumbotron. Tom inexplicably isn’t paying attention. Anni, not in on the plan but well aware of Tom’s high regard for FanChatter, points and asks, “Tom, did you submit a photo as usual?” Tom’s watching Holly, who follows Anni’s pointing finger to the Jumbotron, watching just in time to see Ed’s pretty decent proposal. People start cheering. Ed is beaming. Holly says, “Yes.”

The rest of the game is really just icing on the cake. Cuddyer hit for the cycle and the Twins won 11-3.

All that was back in May, and we’ve sat on this story during FanChatter’s quietly productive exile in Silicon Valley. Today is Demo Day for FanChatter – a public unveiling of sorts after which the fledgling company looks to attract additional contracts with sports franchises, and perhaps, additional VC funding. The Nerdery wishes them well, and the growing O’Neill family thanks FanChatter for being there for them during the 5th inning stretch.