I love the Pushing Daisies TV show, but please, this Flash site is so yesterday. The concept of their Touch of Wonder Tour is quite interesting. However, the Web implementation begs for a Web 2.0 / social media approach through better usage of Web standards. At the end of the day (or the tour), they would get a better bang for their bucks.
First, maybe if I already knew about this site, I would have found it through a Google search:
The people (probably paid generously) who made this Flash site at least knew how to add a URL to the Google index. As you see in the search result above, they are first before Kim’s blog (my wife). Strangely, they did not bother to enter a title to their site:
A quick look at the HTML source tells us there’s really nothing there for SEO:
As of this day, it’s not even XHTML 1.0 compliant but at this point, no wonder.
Anyway, let’s take a tour of their Web site.
It’s your standard Flash microsite for the entertainment business with some animations, a few annoying sounds and Icons/Buttons for different features/sections of the site:
Touch of Wonder Tour: brief description of the tour and calendar
Daisy Diary: small bios of the tour team, Pushing Daisy Blog, Photos and Videos of the tour
Tour Stops: map of the cities where the tour stops with pop-overs giving the dates and locations
Ned’s Pie Recipes: recipes for 3 different pies
Show Info: Brief description of the show
Send a Daisy: send to friend feature
That’s all nice and dandy. Let’s see what sucks and how leveraging Web 2.0, social media and HTML standards would bring more pie to the table. Here are my recommendations to people who create such sites:
- Evidently, textual content in HTML with actual meta tags would be more search engine friendly.
- There’s nothing prohibiting having a nice XHTML/CSS and edgy graphical look for the “Touch of Wonder Tour” section as well as the rest of the site.
- The calendar’s location could be linked to a Google map and replace the Tour Stops. It would easily allow visitors to get and print driving directions.
- The Daisy Diary section shows a pseudo blog, without RSS subscription and is a victim of the dreaded Flash scrollbar syndrome that hides most of the textual content and makes you scroll and scroll to read stuff. This section begs for a standard blog engine that supports Atom/RSS. Start conversations with your fans through comments. Tour participants could even comment about their experience.
- The Daisy Diary Videos are so tiny they are almost unwatchable. These begs for Youtube videos imbedded in blog posts. Gain the advantage that videos might go viral through bloggers reposting them. You could post these videos in your Facebook fan page, send updates to your fans so that videos can go viral through the social graph. You still gain comments from viewers and get ideas for improvements for the tour’s video sessions.
- As for videos, the tour pictures would benefit from being imbedded in blog posts. Why not even use Flickr? It encourages bloggers to repost their favorite photos. Show me you value my time by losing the slow loading photo gallery.
- Why can’t I print your recipes in Ned Pie Recipes section? You either need to spend more bucks to add the feature, but HTML gives you the feature for free. Do your pies taste so bad you don’t want people to try them out?
- Because of an artistic trip, the Show Info text is barely readable. HTML anyone?
- The funny thing about the Send a Daisy feature is that it opens a separate HTML page, probably because the artists didn’t know how to program this in Flash. As of this point, if you followed my advice, the rest of the site is already in HTML, so it’s a no brainer. At the same time, why not leverage Facebook, Twitter and other social networks? For example, a post to Facebook link/widget is free, quick and much more efficient for fans to spread to word to many friends.
- You could go a step further and create Facebook events for the different tour stops in the calendar so that friends can invite friends to participate on the tour.
- If you are a bit crazy, you could appear really edgy by supporting microformats for calendar dates and locations. Lots of my tech friends are Pushing Daisies fans and would be quite surprised! Google also loves microformats.
Instead of building yet another usability deficient Flash site in the entertainment business, wouldn’t be more efficient to leverage what makes the Web really work? Wouldn’t be more efficient to invest your budget in knowing more about your fans, in helping your fans spread the word? The cost savings will allow you to invest in the social media specialist you desperately need in the first place. You will even have a margin left in your budget to advertise through social networks and blog sites that cater to your target audience.
EDIT 2008-08-12: Looks like they are on Twitter and on Flickr at least since September 5. Just received this message on Twitter:
Since I wrote this article on September 6, I must have missed their presence. I am glad to see their recent involvement in social media. It proves to show that when you are active elsewhere, your main Web site should reflect your social media presence. In any case am looking forward to read ABCPieHole’s Twitter updates!
EDIT 2 2008-08-12: They are having great conversations through Twitter. If you love the show, follow them! I am glad to see they are listening and taking note of my recommendations: