Website design and Twitter both exist completely on the Internet- so how do they overlap?
The Fail Whale is an iconic piece of the Twitter website design. It represented with a simple picture the struggle of the Twitter team to build the capacity of their interface, and somehow people stuck with Twitter through many waves of the Fail Whale.
But where did it come from?
I found some answers at ReadWriteWeb.com:
The backstory is that Yiying Lu created the image and posted it on iStockPhoto and Twitter utilized the image to stand for their “over capacity” time. While the Fail Whale itself gained popularity as Twitter grew, even gaining its own following on failwhale.com, nobody knew who Yiying was.
Meanwhile… Tom Limongello had made himself a Fail Whale t-shirt and debuted it at a Mashable party.With the great response from the t-shirt, Tom began networking to find the artist. Soon, Sean O’Steen made it his mission to create a Fail Whale brand. Tom contacted Yiyang and, after talking about the demand for her Fail Whale, decided to start an online store at Zazzle.com for Fail Whale merchandise.
Tom and the crew raised money to buy shirts for the Twitter team, sent them, and asked Evan Williams of Twitter to tweet about the shirts and link to the store. He did, and the rest, as they say, is history.
In this age of copyright issues, it is interesting to note that an innovative move on the part of both the website design and personal branding, Twitter has reeled in the Fail Whale as part of its website design and overall brand and the artist has capitalized on its use. Williams’ tweet gave social media credibility and publicized Yiyang as an artist along with the Fail Whale, showing that artists can be successful with community action.
Yiyang’s personal site is at: http://www.yiyinglu.com.
The use of the fail whale is a fantastic example of easy, fun website design by Twitter, and the subsequent store that was created is a great example of an artist utilizing popularity from an open source forum to launch a business venture. This kind of website design and entrepreneurial action is sure to grow and diversify along with the web.