- Sep 2, 2001
The one thing that I wanted most out of this site was for it to be fun, wacky, and colorful. I didn't want to get too designy, yet the site had to have a unique look and feel to it. Think about some of the most stupid sites on the Internet—they are not really too elaborate at all. A good example of this is the Hamsterdance Web site. In my opinion, this site is a brilliant example of bad design. It's not about what it looks like—it's the experience of seeing the silly hamster's dance that keeps people coming back. This is the kind of vibe that I wanted to create, a brilliantly cheesy Web site that had calculators that made either farting or sexy sounds.
When I figured out my plan of attack, I pushed ahead full steam to create my viral masterpiece. I began designing initially in HTML, but I felt limited. I then created the homepage in Flash with the linking pages in HTML. Using Flash gave me more freedom to create an interactive experience for the visitors to the site.
The FunCalculator.com homepage was direct, simple, and easy to use—and right there in front of your face were the calculators ready for action. In big, bold letters, it says, "Play with it, Download it, Send it to a Friend." Everything was ready, so I got to work creating the back end for the site.
My goal with this site was to create something that was so cool yet silly that you had to have it, and you wanted to tell your friends about it as well. We set up the site so that when you click to download the calculator, you go to a sign-up page. On this page, you have to sign up for some cool email from EMAZING.com. This is the company that asked Rocket 15 to create a viral site so that they could build on their more than 12 million subscribers in their database.
We didn't give the user an option button. If a user wanted one of the calculators, he'd have to give his email address to get the product. You may be saying, well, I'll just give a fake email address and get the calculator. Well, we thought that this might occur because everyone has done it—I'm even guilty of giving a false email address to get something.
To stop this possible problem, our highly intelligent technical operations manager, Dave Harpe, came up with a plan: The user was sent an email to the address submitted; in this email was a link that then took the user to the Internet. The calculator that the user requested then began to download. Now that, my friends, is what I call intelligent use of creativity and technology. We also incorporated the Send to a Friend feature that allows visitors to send the link and a short note to their friends.
Everything was in place. Now it was time to promote the site and get it hopping. My main focus for promoting this site was morning radio shows. These calculators were perfect. Farts, sex, and comedy have always been a staple on morning show radio. I searched the Web and built an email list of some of the biggest morning-show personalities in the U.S.A. The list included Howard Stern, Bob and Tom, John Boy and Billy, and ManCow, to name a few. We also used EMAZING.com as an outlet because the site has several email tips that fit perfectly with how we could promote the site. They made it the Download of the Day and the Web Site of the Day.