Author: Jennifer Hoppe

Jennifer is a communications professional with extensive experience. Prior to joining CDG Interactive, she managed a Web-based education program for the John F. Kennedy Center. She also enjoyed a three-year tenure at IDEV, an interactive agency where her clients included ecommerce groups, national associations, and educational organizations. Jennifer also brings a background in print, having served as managing editor for NTCA, a telecommunications association.

Cdg_page_foldIf I had a dollar for every time a client fretted over “the fold”—well, I wouldn’t be a millionaire, but I could certainly afford an iPhone 4S. The idea of a page fold (and the fear of it) is a widely accepted bit of conventional wisdom, but that’s changing. We want to do our part to explore the myth of the fold and explain: what it is, whether it still exists, and how much agita it should cause you and your marketing team.

What is the fold?

The fold is a term adopted from newspaper publishing, where the most important items were featured in at the top of the page, visible above the paper’s fold. In the interactive industry, the fold refers to the point at which the user needs to scroll to see content. Anything visible above that point is considered to be “above the fold”.

Where is the fold?

Some people argue pretty passionately that there is no fold. I’m going to simply concede that—unless all of your content can be consumed on any device (including mobile) without scrolling, that the fold does exist. But pinning down its precise location is harder than geo tagging the Loch Ness Monster. Sure, your web stats can help you approximate where the fold falls for a portion of your users. However, given the varieties of screen resolution, monitor size, browser usage, and devices available (computers vs. mobile devices) there is literally no way to know where the fold resides for all—or even most—of your viewers.

How important is the fold?

This is the big question. When clients express concern about the fold, what they’re really worrying about is the kernel at the center of the fold mythology, namely:

The Myth that Users Will Not Scroll

<sinister music>dum dum DUMMMM. . . </sinister music>

Now here’s a myth worth BUSTING.

Like most myths, this one has some basis in fact. Back in the day when dinosaurs roamed and we all had dial-up connections, scrolling wasn’t the easy breezy task it is today. In fact, AOL did not allow page-level vertical scrolling. Beyond that, we were all learning how to consume information on the web. So it’s true that users didn’t scroll – in 1994.

Times have changed. As early as 1997, usability guru Jakob Nielsen retracted his recommendation against scrolling pages. And many studies have proven that users do scroll, and even use the scrollbar itself to assess the page length. Yet in 2011 people still are afraid that any content below the fold is effectively invisible.

To be fair, above-the-fold content does get the most attention, and the most clicks. The problem is, when you try to cram everything above the fold, you short-circuit you’re the users’ attention with information overload. When every department in an organization is clamoring for their stake at the top of the homepage, you need to remind them:

When everything is important, nothing is important.

Should we just forget about the fold?

Yes and no. The fold does still exist, but its existence doesn’t lead to hard-and-fast rules. Instead of shoving everything into the top of the page, good designers will create an environment that keeps key items featured at the top, yet implies that there’s valuable content below. Jakob Nielsen calls this an “information scent”— the page layout, design and content should allow the user to pick up the expectation of more content and follow it down the page.

Instead of completely disregarding the fold, I propose that we call a fold truce. Stop fighting to place every little bit of content in the very limited space above the fold and trust the intelligence of your users. If you give them a reason to scroll and reward them with quality content that matches their expectation, you’re going to iron out that fold pretty darn fast.

Need help getting the wrinkles out of your site? Contact CDG.

Stevejobs It’s a sad day at CDG, as we remember the passing of the great Steve Jobs—someone who truly lived up to the overused descriptors of visionary, genius, game-changer, and legend. None of us ever met Mr. Jobs in person (although some CDG-ers had  a sighting of him at Apple headquarters while working on one of the first iAds), but we feel a palpable sense of loss for someone who moved our industry—and our culture—so far, so fast.

Thank you, Steve, for shepherding us into the future. We will miss you.

When Hurricane Irene hit over the weekend, one small vacation rental business in the Outer Banks of North Carolina used social media to keep its customers informed—and to keep its community connected to the outside world.  

I’ve been following Outer Beaches Realty (OBR) on Facebook for almost two years, ever since I rented a cottage from them in 2009. The company uploads frequent, sometimes daily, videos of the sights & sounds of the Outer Banks, and also uses Facebook and Twitter to publicize contests and giveaways.

With Hurricane Irene, they’re really stepped up their social media presence. OBR began posting updates about Irene as early as last Wednesday, to let customers know whether their summer vacation would be a go. Once it became apparent that Irene had her eye set on the Outer Banks, the company kicked into high gear, providing continual updates, videos, and even a live streaming video chat--during the hurricane and after.

Intrepid staff member Kurt is serving as the face of the company, providing photos, videos, and updates on how the communities in the Outer Banks are faring. Meanwhile, OBR President Alex Risser is providing twice daily updates on the company’s website, with details on how repairs are coming along, and how customers can file travel insurance claims. And they’re doing this while simultaneously dealing with massive power outages and heavy damage to the properties they manage.

To gauge how much goodwill OBR is generating from its above-and-beyond social media efforts, you only need to look at the comments on Facebook (And remember, many of these comments are coming from people who’ve just had to cancel their summer vacations):

Continue reading "Coming through for Customers in a Hurricane" »

There was a whole lot of shaking going on yesterday at CDG's offices, thanks to the once-in-a-century 5.8 earthquake. No injuries or significant damage to report, here or elsewhere. So, from the creative team that brought you Snowpocalypse '10 apparel (also the creative team that ran panicked down eight flights of stairs in seconds flat), comes a snazzy T-shirt to commemorate DC Earthquake 2011. Hopefully, we will not have to add to the line of natural disaster swag for a long while. Get your Earthquake T-shirt today!

  Gastro_logo Scan a parenting magazine and it won’t be long before you see headlines about celiac disease, reflux, GERD, and childhood obesity. Fortunately, there’s a new resource for parents and patients dealing digestive and nutritional disorders:

CDG created the site for our long-time client, The North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN). The association asked us to create a site geared to an audience parents and patients, rather than the doctors who typically visited their site.

In 2009, CDG had designed a site for NASPGHAN’s foundation, which contained a large amount of the parent and patient focused content as well as information for health care professionals. The design still held up well, as did the basic information architecture. So rather than start from scratch, we leveraged the design elements of the existing foundation and performed a “content redesign.”

We created a new logo and tagline to rebrand the site, but its essential look and feel remained the same. Meanwhile, we re-wrote and re-optimized content to focus it exclusively on the parent and patient audience. We extracted the information for medical professionals and housed it within NASPGHAN’s main site. The result: two specific destinations for two very different audiences.

We implemented the site in Zeus, CDG’s content management system, making it easy for site administrators to add, manage, and remove content (including meta content). This was a key concern for NASPGHAN, as it has plans to grow the site into an ever-more robust resource for parents and kids.

Is your website ready for a tweak, a touch-up, or a full-on redesign? Contact CDG.

Secret_Savings_Logo It’s here! CDG's new iAd for GEICO has just launched. The “Secret Savings Society” iAd takes the user on a compelling journey of tests and trials to unlock the secret of savings.

The iAd was created to drive home GEICO’s signature brand message of saving on insurance—and to generate new quotes—through a highly engaging environment.  As the driving creative concept, our team developed the idea of the Secret Savings Society—a mysterious group that had discovered the ultimate way to save. The action, and interaction, of the iAd introduces users to the world of the Secret Savings Society and challenges them to join it.

Once inside the iAd interface, the user challenged to pass four tests, in order to gain entry into the Secret Savings Society. Each of the tests is a different game-like interface. After completing each test, the user receives a crucial piece of a code that ultimately unlocks the door to the Secret Savings Society. Once admitted, the user learns the true secret of savings. (Hint: GEICO figures prominently here!) Capitalizing on social media, the iAd allows the user to share their experience with the Secret Savings Society via an iAd Twitter interface.


Designed to encourage user engagement with the GEICO brand, as well as to generate new online quotes, the iAd offers a variety of content and user interactions beyond the four challenges. Users can access free GEICO ringtones and wallpapers, videos, and apps. They can also get a free online quote and/or contact GEICO with the tap of a button.

The “Secret Savings Society” is currently running in a variety of apps, and is featured on Apple’s iAd gallery app. Since its launch, it has been achieving impressive results, in terms of both the number of people who are viewing the iAd, and the amount of time they spend in the interface.

CDG’s second iAd for GEICO comes on the heels of its successful “Wheel of Wisdom” iAd, which launched in October 2010. This first ad not only received high traffic and a large number of repeat visits; it also won several industry awards, including Best Insurance Online ad (IAC Awards) and Platinum Award, Mobile Device Advertising 41st (Creativity International Awards).


CQ taste of america

It all started with the peanuts. Last year, to introduce some levity into its serious daily diet of journalism, CQ Roll Call launched a poll on its website to determine which state produces the best peanuts.

After the peanut debate was settled (for the record, Georgia won), CQ Roll Call decided to launch a more elaborate contest and capitalize on the potential to spike both traffic and brand awareness. To turn the vision into reality, CQ Roll Call turned to us at CDG Interactive.

The result, “Roll Call: A Taste of America” was a delicious success. The mini-site created by CDG Interactive generated more than 400,000 votes over the course of just 5 weeks.

The Set-Up

Roll Call: Taste of America was an All-American virtual food fight that functioned like a typical March Madness bracket, with 64 regional foods from U.S. states and territories were chosen to “compete.” Each week users voted for the winners in each bracket. Voting took place over 5 weeks until the final victor emerged. Users who voted were entered for a chance to win a pair tickets to a Taste of America party at We the Pizza, a Capitol Hill restaurant run by celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn.

The Interface

To support the contest, we created a fun, energetic design that housed not only the bracket itself, but also displayed supporting materials like contest rules, sponsor advertising, and a video by Mendelsohn. The site also allowed (but did not require) voters to enter their email addresses and share the link with friends.

We also created the database of foods, monitored the voting, and modified the bracket week to week to show the winners and initiate the next round of voting.

The Results

Over the next five weeks, Roll Call: Taste of America brought in more than 400,000 votes and nearly 1,400 unique email addresses. Feedback was incredibly positive from users, sponsors, and the team at CQ Roll Call.

“Everyone was blown away by the design,” said Andrea  Birdsong, Director of Interactive Marketing at CQ Roll Call, “The site surpassed all of our expectations. It was a fun diversion for our usual audience, not to mention an excellent showcase for our brand and our sponsors.”

(Another big winner? The coconut, which pulled out a victory over all the other regional foods. Too bad, chicken wings, maybe next year. )

We’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with the launch of the redesigned US-Ireland Alliance website. The US-Ireland Alliance is a vibrant organization dedicated to strengthening connections between the United States and Ireland.

The site, like the Alliance itself, shatters the quaint, stereotypical view of Ireland (think shamrocks and leprechauns) and reveals the country’s dynamic arts, business, and political spheres. The new site highlights the Alliance’s work to build strong relationships between American and Irish luminaries, and to further the relationship between the two countries through programs like the esteemed George J. Mitchell Scholarship.

In addition to a new look, the site also got a technical overhaul thanks to Zeus, CDG’s content management system CMS. The new CMS allows the team at the US-Ireland Alliance more ease and flexibility in updating and maintaining their site’s rapidly changing and time-sensitive content. 

To ensure that the new site attracts the wide audience it deserves, CDG also executed a comprehensive search engine optimization (SEO) process and implemented a social media strategy to better engage users across Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and other channels.

In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, check out the US-Ireland Alliance website and find out how much the organization has to offer. Better yet, become a member! Even if you’re not Irish by blood, you can be Irish by association, right?

 And if you need a little magic worked on your site, contact CDG.

CDG Interactive's Zeus Content Management system's simple, user-friendly interface makes it easy to add or remove content, modify navigation, upload files, format copy, and more Raise your hand if you have a love-hate relationship with content management systems! For mid-sized companies especially, choosing a CMS can make you feel like Goldilocks; too complex, too simple, not flexible enough, too flexible, etc.

CDG decided there had to be a better way. Recently, we introduced Zeus CMS, a content management system that gives you the control, flexibility, and functionality you need.

To date, Zeus has been successfully deployed for multi-national companies like Mondial Assistance as well as mid-sized organizations. What makes Zeus so appealing? Here are a few highlights:

Continue reading "Seize the Power! Meet Zeus Content Management System" »

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