Boston Magazine Changes Cover on the Run, Reflects Spirit of Recovery

For all Americans, there are many dates that resonate, sadly, all too well. For me, the first was the Challenger explosion. I remember exactly where I was at the moment the shuttle erupted in the sky. I can still picture all of my classmates crowded in the tiny gymnasium of my small elementary school, watching on TV.

Or learning about the Columbine tragedy from the couch of my first apartment. Who can forget where you were when the first plane struck the World Trade Center, or when an elementary school in Connecticut transformed into a killing field? Sadly, we can add one more event to the list. On Monday, April 15 we all stopped in horror as bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

We witnessed people from all over the country – but especially Bostonians themselves – come together in support of a city. On Facebook, people replaced profile pictures with images of shoelaces twisted into ribbons, a sign of support for the runners, spectators and everyday citizens affected by the terror. One of the most poignant acts of solidarity in my mind was the playing/singing of “Sweet Caroline,” the Boston Red Sox’ unofficial anthem, in stadiums and ballparks across the nation, including at the home of Boston’s nemesis, the New York Yankees. Elsewhere, the Milwaukee Brewers showed a video tribute to the city of Boston at a recent home game that included the theme-song from Boston-based “Cheers.” And nothing gave me chills more than at the entire crowd singing the "Star Spangled Banner" at the Boston Bruins first home game after the bombing.

So how does a magazine capture all that emotion? Can it even be done? The answer is a resounding yes, as Boston Magazine proved.  The magazine’s current cover features hundreds of shoes worn by runners in the April 15 marathon set up to form a heart, with the words “We Will Finish The Race” in the negative space. It is a simple but poignant image.  And it is all the more amazing given the deadline staff faced.

Staff members at the magazine were in the midst of wrapping up their May issue when they got news of the explosion. They immediately knew they had to do something that would re-write their magazine, literally. I can tell you from my experience to have to do what they did, change the direction of the magazine, is an incredible undertaking. Scrapping much of their content in honor of all those who were there was bold and tremendous. It required everyone on staff to step up and contribute in a way they may not have normally. Editor John Wolfson explains how the idea came about and what it took to put hundreds of runners’ shoes on the cover and in the magazine in the span of only days. But it was worth it. These efforts truly honor and tell what Boston and America is all about, coming together in the midst of such tragedy.

For me, when I think of the marathon bombings years from now, I’ll recall this cover.

Is Your Company’s Web Site Annoying Your Visitors?

Gone are the days of being greeted at web sites by dancing hamsters (unfortunately) and similarly gaudy pieces of clip art, but that doesn’t mean web sites still aren’t ticking people off. E-Releases has some useful info about what may be sticking in the e-craw of some of your visitors:

Here are 7 things that annoy website visitors.

1. Slow loading times – I’ve seen studies that say internet users give a website 8 seconds to grab their attention. If it doesn’t satisfy them during that short time period, they’ll back out and go elsewhere.  People are impatient. That’s why it’s so important to have a fast loading website. Here’s a good post with tips for increasing website loading speed.

2. Autoplay music or video – Seriously, this isn’t 1998. If your website starts playing music or video as soon as someone lands on it, you can bet more people than not will leave. It’s intrusive and annoying. Give visitors the option of playing the music or video. Don’t force it on them.

3. Cluttered layouts – Have you ever walked into a messy room and tried to find something? It’s overwhelming, right? The same thing goes for a cluttered website layout. If every single space on your website is filled, you’re going to overwhelm visitors and make it too difficult for them to use your site. Remember, less is usually more, and white space is your friend.

4. Poor navigation – Internet users have grown accustomed to using websites in a specific manner. They expect the navigation to be along the top or left-hand side of the page. They expect the navigation to be clear and the website to be organized in a logical manner. Don’t try to change this up. Keep it simple.

5. Forced registration – Look, I understand you want to collect data for marketing purposes from your visitors. But there’s nothing more frustrating than forcing visitors to register before they can take certain actions. Most people don’t like giving out a lot of their personal information, so you’re only going to drive them away by doing this.

6. No contact information – Your visitors shouldn’t have any problems getting in touch with you. You should have a dedicated contact page on your website, contact forms throughout, and you can even post your phone number or other contact info on each page of your website.

7. Too much Flash – There’s nothing wrong with having some minor Flash elements in your website, but when your entire site is based in Flash, you’re going to have some problems. First, you’re losing most mobile internet users. And then you run into problems with simple usability issues like bookmarking pages, clicking the back button, etc.

What are some other things that annoy you on websites?