Useful blogs for staying on top of Digital and Marketing Strategy

I was in Dublin yesterday for the first time, visiting a client of ours and talking about some of my favorite marketing trends. Being a “digital guy”, which to me means that I am a lover of technology, data, gadgets and general “geekery”, I was asked towards the end of the meeting to share some thoughts on things like “data” and “gamification” and other digital marketing buzzwords. I spent a few minutes espousing some of my views and was then asked how I stay on top of things when it all seems to change so fast.

My response was that I try to read as many blogs and newsfeeds as possible. She then asked if I would share some of my favorite blogs with her. I thought that this might be useful for more than just this one client. So, after a quick scan of my “Marketing, Digital, Social” category in my feedly account here are a few the sites/blogs that I find most useful for staying on top of trends and for finding inspiring new ideas in the world of digital marketing and marketing strategy.


I follow over 60 blogs. Some are big (and obvious), some are small. Some more “techy” and others less so. I’m sure I’ve missed some really obvious ones, and also struggled with others that inspire me, but may not be what my client was looking for (like TechCrunch and FastCompany). I also felt that I wanted to mention my Twitter Feed and also LinkedIn (whose acquisition of Pulse has made LinkedIn an even more valuable source of daily news/content for me.)

If you’re reading this, drop me a comment about ones that you agree with, or disagree with. Or ones that you read?

The importance of usability

Kathryn McDonell, a User Experience Consultant at and a guest blogger on Econsultancy wrote a very detailed account of her observations on Waitrose’s relaunched online shopping service. The title of the post, “Waitrose’s redesign: where did it go wrong?” is a hint on her views on the new site, which has apparently prompted a host of complaints.

She breaks down the results of a comparative usability exercise that they (I assume Karen is “they”) ran:

As a comparison, we asked users to perform the same tasks on Tesco’s online shopping site and to give their preference.

Users were asked users to select five items to put in their shopping trolley: bread, eggs, sunflower oil, a red pepper and two tuna steaks, thinking aloud as they did so.

If you’re a believer in the importance of usability, their test basically shows that people think that Waitrose’s design is cleaner and more beautiful, but that it falls down when people actually have to use the site.

The most interesting part of this post is the videos of users trying to perform some very basic online shopping tasks and thinking out loud as you watch a video of their screen showing what they are trying to do.

I’ve worked with a number of people who have never experienced this sort of research first-hand. It’s an incredibly important part of the process. I’d recommend checking out these videos (if not reading the whole post), especially if you’ve never seen it.

Any new website that’s launched will have problems. If you’re Waitrose, and you’ve been doing eCommerce for years, you expect it and you prepare a budget to optimise the experience for people as the feedback rolls in. If your budget isn’t as generous, not paying attention to usability in your process can be a very costly error.