Archive for the ‘Thoughts & Rants’ Category
October 20th, 2011
The other night, I was up till quite late reading up on a popular portal solution. In the beginning, I thought everything made sense, and I was pretty happy that I “got it”. But after a while, probably about two hrs in, found myself googling or going to wikipedia to find the definitions of every other technical word, even the terms I thought I understood at the start. I found myself getting more and more confused about the thing I was reading. I was unsure of myself. This was because some generic terms you and I would use were taken to be part of the systems “default” term and concept and had given them their own definitions.
I don’t know about you, but I think terminology and jargon sessions need to be part of the process of any web project, particularly large ones. With new and different roles in the development lifecycle of software/online products, and different companies playing those different roles for one client, it becomes crucial to spend some time on being on the same page with everyone. If you don’t take time to flesh out the terminology to be used for that project it can create a sense of distrust and second-guessing amongst project members from different teams especially between the tech and the design team.
Since we all come from IT and read similar books and blogs, we tend to use the same words but interpret and use them slightly differently. This often leads to a debate on semantics. But in the end, we are all probably talking about the same thing.
Communicating design is one of the key skills a designer needs to have and part of the design process. I believe this must include a communication or explanation of the terms you use and the naming convention you will be using for your documentation for that project.
The benefits? If you have everyone understanding what you mean, people (like your clients and stakeholders) can give you better feedback and input without getting stuck on what something means. In fact, people want to understand more of these things, which means they are more curious, more involved and more aware of the process and are therefore less in the dark about what they are paying for. This can only lead to a successful project and more importantly the design.
November 26th, 2009
This was going to be a top 10 at 10 but hey, it’s 8am and all is well.
Plus I only have eight links to get through this morning.
So a quick skim through feedly has given me some juicy links for a morning read. Well worth sharing.
I was even going to try and organise these but it’s too early to try and fancy IA stuff. Onwards
August 26th, 2009
I’ve had a resurgence of late with my posterous account. This due to a few reasons. My new iPhone, near new daughter Lola Grace and the excellant Pic Posterous app. Im also taking big steps into the IA world (I believe the saying is chucked into the deep end) so will chuck in a few useful posts for newbies.
Posterous, Pic Posterous and Tumblr
Information Architecture for beginners, sink or swim
Im a sucker for bold bright lavish design and Smashing mags latest post on festival design fits the bill.
And finally… Beautiful pictures, 8 Cities That Might Not Make It.
Reminds me of the Opiki suspension bridge in the Manawatu.
I would love to hear from anyone else digging deep into IA, any nuggets of wisdom or links would be much appreciated.
August 18th, 2009
Ideally this will be a quick post of my top 10 links at 10am on a Tuesday. In this case it’s more of an afternoon slot. Time being what it is not many things happen according to the clock, this is no exception. Enjoy.
!Free! Radiohead’s new track “These are my twisted words”.
The new Facebook for iPhone 3.0 app.
Unique tv shows that inspire creativity
Redesigning your own site. Let me say with the re-design of Lushai taking many months and itterations, I know the pain.
and on the subject of re-designs have a look at another artcle from ALA on the Erskin website redesign.
On the subject of art direction and web design. Have a look at Gregory Woods site. Gorgeous.
I love this! Shows what good people really can do.
Scotland does what NZ should be doing. It’s ethical duty.
It’s great t see a HUGE company taking a real stance and making a change for the environment. Go Walmart go!
August 13th, 2009
This the first of many (fingers crossed) weekly wrap-up articles I will be posting with and insight into the wild world of web as seen by me over last week.
Highlights this week include the news that Microsoft word is banned from Texas?! and
This edition is playing catchup as it was started a few weeks ago but I wanted to hold it off until our new site was released. Some of the links a re a few weeks old now but it’s all worth a look I say.
All that social media guff
Twitter has a new front page. Mashable ponder over what and why?
Hootsuite. The professional Twitter client.
General web news
YouTube finally launches their new interface for the masses. Have a read of their blog post about the updates.
Everyone loves firefox(well I do), it may not be the fastest horse on the track but it’s the most versatile. Firefox 4.0 is on the horizon and Mashable have some early screenshots.
Apparently Apple don’t do market research. Pretty interesting article from Bokardo on why the hell not. And here is the og quote.
UX UX UX
Myself IM a fledgling UX designer, Lulu is the jedi master. Nick Finck writes a good post about Starting a career in User Experience Design and this post on ’10 Common misconceptions about User Experience Design’ offers a great understanding of what it’s all about.
Web designer depot talk about ‘The dos and dont’s of dark webdesign’.
In spite of the striking visual impact that these dark designs can have, many designers don’t know how to effectively pull them off without turning off the visitor
It’s a well written article with some great points.The one re-occuring theme seems to be white or dark space. They also reference the beautiful New Zealand based Black Estate website. Nice.
A nice read on the virtues of old tech from Jason Santa Maria. I always love the visual richness and variety in his posts.
I love colour so this little stumble is well worth a read. Incidently I can’t recommend highly enough Colourlovers.com, such a great resource for anything colour related and it’s fun to just troll on through.
You press the button. The story of Kodak
And thats a wrap.
July 13th, 2009
Like most designers I end up becoming almost subconsciously critical of the things I love. At Lushai its usually my latest ‘user experience’ and most of the time it’s not even digital, it’s anything from door knobs & potato peelers to cell phones and this weekend a new car. All of these experiences adds to the perception of a brand.
Every action builds on the experience of the brand as if it were a person. Recently we have been frequenting a certain drive thru and every time the same branch forgets the same thing. Every time! So much so that I’m beginning to think they just don’t care about me or my family – their customers. Do I really want to mix with this person anymore? Nope, not me.
I’m sure the user experience of a brand is old in branding circles but in the online world it seems so many companies and their branding partners just don’t get it. Their ‘brand’ goes as far as guidelines for logo placement, colour and typography but very rarely do they follow through to the actual experience of their end-users. So the perception of the company is someone who cares a lot about how they look but could care less how they interact with customers. They just don’t get how their persona(lity) is experienced, and ultimately perceived, online.
Try finding anything on a certain online yellow phone directory. The key words ‘Turkish’ and ‘Petone’ should surely bring up the most popular Turkish restaurant in my area. Hmmmm brezelmania anyone? Google does it with a snap but not the big yellow. Guess which one I never use?
That’s a big user experience fail, therefore brand fail. On a side note maybe Yellow need to do something about their SEO, they should be first on the list for New Zealand businesses in any Google search.
That’s only one of many examples where the experience and interaction just lets the brand down big time. How about online banking? My own bank makes everyday business a chore. As if the teller didn’t speak English and had to travel great distances to do anything. The whole experience is slow and unforgiving. If it wasn’t so hard to switch I would have moved out a long time ago that’s for sure.
This is just a tip of the iceberg post. I will be doing plenty of ux brand reviews over the next few months so let me know of your own experiences.
What online experience has hammered your brand perception recently?
June 19th, 2009
I have to be honest I’m an online shop-a-holic but I don’t just buy any old thing. I’m an animal of habit and I buy the things I love; mainly sneakers, books, vinyl (the spinning record type) and t-shirts. Like most people, once I cotton onto a good thing, I can’t get enough so I tend to frequent Pick your shoes, Fishpond, Juno and the mighty Threadless.
Now out of all of these, Threadless is the rare needle in a hay stack that I LOVE. Their whole site reeks of visual design beauty and interaction mastery and for me that means MAGIC. For visual design, look at their minimal colour palatte that lets the content speak out. Tones of blue with a touch of green provide a canvas that doesn’t fight with the content but frame it solidly.
The generous use of white space and typographic variation make the site sing from a graphic design point of view. Amazingly with the fairly large range of type faces on each page (sometimes up to 7 including main navigation items) the site still holds it together. The tight grid structure does it’s job, containing the
large variety of imagery and type into a cohesive pattern. Overall, visually, the site just works!
So what makes Threadless stand out? There are plenty of nice looking shopping sites. Think the Aloha shirt shop or Karmaloop both nicely all round.
…next week – Part 2
The difference is Threadless really get social media, their whole model is based around community collaboration.
More about the interaction design and social media lessons from Threadless next week…
June 7th, 2009
This morning I suddenly realised that I and most of us don’t voice kudos enough to those who have helped us in our lives. I read somewhere that saying out loud “Thank you or I am grateful for [insert name here]” is a great way to make yourself feel better especially when you’re feeling down.
There are lots of things that you experience that shape your life but sometimes there are people you meet that just seems like it was meant to be. In my experience, I feel that people have:
- Given me books to read or suggest what to read
- Shown me what blogs to read and subscribe to so I don’t have to spend loads of time looking for myself
- Told me that I can do it even when I feel totally unqualified to do it
- Advised me about what options I have or clarified my thinking by taking their own time out to talk with me
- Encouraged me to take the next step
At the end of the day it is up to you to decide which information to recieve and act on and what pathway to take and so on. I want to take this time to name some people who I feel have greatly influenced me my career path.
So, I am grateful to:
- John Clegg, my husband and partner for 7 years – John has always believed in me in my capabilities. He was my boss in my earlier work experience. He is my most reliable and probably most patient, as I tend to garble my words, resource for anything tech and web. He is my walking, talking wikipedia for technology and business terms and concepts.
- Caroline Dewe, CEO of Fronde Anywhere, one of my closest friends – for letting me tag along to all her sales and business dev meetings with clients and mentoring me as well as through osmosis teaching me to not bullshit. That’s what it comes down to – relationship and trust. I also created loads of diagrams and conceptual models for her business presentations and pitches. That’s how I started learning about communication through pictures. She is a kick-ass cook too.
- Hayden Vink, ex-colleague – for showing me and taking me to the deep end of understanding the meaning of value, for sharing all his RSS feeds to blogs and articles that has opened my eyes to the world of innovation and creative thinking. The time with Hayden was probably the most eye-opening for me in terms of what I believed in and having the courage to do it. Now I just follow him everywhere on the net.
- Zef Fugaz, ex-colleague and manager at Provoke – Even before I met Zef, I used the interaction design templates and documents he created at Synergy/Fronde and wondered if I would ever be like him. I finally worked with him, at Provoke, where he carved a niche for me, to lead the strategy side of experience design. Sometimes you need someone to give you the space and show you the door to learn if you are really good at something. I am really enjoying it and am getting the hang of it.
There are more people that I can name. But these four stand out when I think of huge impacts in the direction that I’ve taken. I hope other people take the time to be grateful as this is a great way to look back and see where you’ve come from and where you can still go.
My own philosophy in life is that everyone you meet and wherever you are, are meant to be. It is how or what you make of it that makes a difference in your life and will leave either a positive or a negative impact.
I hope to add to this list as I have so much more to learn still…
Also instead of trying hard to gain recognition, I thought it would be a nice change to GIVE recognition.
Have a great day! Thanks again.
May 7th, 2009
i am not the best at coming up with names – but my question here is about what i am seeing in the last 6 months to be more and more in demand, in NZ anyway.
I think the time has come for those practitioners who have come through the ranks, walked the walk, by doing and really caring about the outcome of their effort, to start consulting at a business level.
Businesses are also getting smarter at picking up these people as well. They are getting more value for their money. this year, i have seen at least 4 our of 5 clients preferred to work with the same person again because “they know everything”, “they care” and “they get the work done” and talking to colleagues in the field say the same thing.
Trends amongst the newbie consultants. In no particular order, newbies:
- care about the experiences of their clients and their clients’ customers and users
- Collaborate closely with clients
- Encourage participation
- Draw sketches and pictures
- have stories of their own experiences
- refer other people if it means they get the job done
- are happy to and are capable of getting their hands dirty if required
- do not bullshit
- are not scared to not know the answer
- build work based on their brand “Me” attitude
- focus on problems and opportunities, not features
- facilitate conversations and work with clients to identiy and solve problems
- can dig deep with the big picture in mind
- absorb knowledge and learn from people around them
- thrive on feedback
there are lots of people out there that need help with their businesses online. with so much technology available and articles and how-tos accessble through Google, you also get lots of people who bullshit their way through, selling features and tools to solve problems. there is a gap for those who dont know any better and i think its these new consultants who can help them.
I also think there are lots of things that newbies lack such as strong track record in business consultancy, experience in managing businesses, etc. but with the can-do attitude, perseverance and hunger to learn, i think its not hard to gain this experience. After all, you have to be in the game to win.
A lot of these “newbies” are still under the radar. Here are a few who have their profile on the web:
March 24th, 2009
I just read about the online shoe store Zappos on FastCompany, #20 on their this year’s top 50 most innovative companies. I was quite taken by their services and their employee policy. I think there are still lots to learn and still lots of opportunities out there if we get the mix right – customers and staff.
They offer “Free shipping BOTH ways, 365-day return policy, 24/7 customer service” – because of this people are less scared to buy or order more than one pair at a time. These guys took away the pain of ordering shoes online. Imagine buying a pair of shoes and turns out to be really weird colour, or the leg is too tight for those boots that looked great on the website. You would think twice about buying them as you don’t know if you can return it, let alone for free. They also give you 365 days to do it. I think a lot of people would decide not to return it or give it to someone else. But the idea that you can do this removes the barrier of buying it, while Zappos is building its brand and getting repeat customers.
With new employees, they offer a $2000 US bonus if they want to leave after a one month paid training program. The CEO says on FastCompany, “It’s best to know early if an employee doesn’t buy into the vision or the culture. It just makes economic sense”. Remember those people you knew in your heart just didn’t fit and you didn’t have the heart to tell them? and they also feel obligated to stay? well, this might be your solution. Prevention is better than cure sometimes.
It’s not easy to make a call like this, but if you really believe in what you do and want to run a profitable business, you need a strong focus on what you want to deliver for your customers and a solid staff hiring policy to support you.
Don Norman said in his keynote at UXWeek last year, 2009, that services are recursive, that there is a service behind a service. Its an operation. It’s like having a frontstage and a backstage and every backstage has another frontstage and another backstage. The experience and quality of the people at the backstage has a lot to do with your performance at the frontstage. Thus the need to have all stages, employees and customer experience, and everything else in between, aligned with each other to meet your overall goal of running your business.
Do your front and back stages align with your business goals?
p.s. Other things I like about this company: they embrace social media such as Twitter and Facebook and encourage staff to do the same. They used Twitter last year to explain some of their buisiness decisions. Seems they embrace transparency and honesty with staff which I believe are ingredients for success in these economic times.