Archive for the ‘Jesper W. of Copenhagen’ Category

Was it all for naught? – the iPad

January 27, 2010

It’s out: Apple’s iPad.

And if you know me you know that not having had my hands on it will never deter me from forming an opinion – this time, that happened right quick:

It would seem Apple have lost their collective mind. This is the first time since the Performa series that a new product from Apple didn’t get me thinking “I want that and I can’t believe I could ever live without it!!”.

In my eyes, no amount of slick video and uber-hype (from Jony Ive he-self no less) can gloss over the obvious fact that they made a screen which can’t stand or sit on any surface as it doesn’t have feet or a bottom or anything, and also doesn’t have a handle of any kind.
They defend this by comparing it with a book or a magazine but this is neither – it’s a computer without a keyboard, that you hold by the screen.

ipad

OK, try this: – turn your laptop sideways and grab it by the upper screen edge. Try to ignore the awkward weight distribution (the iPad is, of course, not unbalanced like that), and try to imagine yourself… actually, what exactly is it you’re supposed to be doing with this thing?
You’re not working, because working, as it involves computers and the internet, requires writing, and this thing doesn’t have a keyboard. Using the touch screen one for actual work would be like writing a small essay on a 9-key phone keypad.

You’re also not kicking back watching a movie, because even the smallest of TVs, as well as your laptop, has a screen at least twice as big as this one, and can be placed before you – the iPad has to be held.
Or leaned against the wall or a can of beans or something.

If you’re checking your email you’re using the iPad because you have to – because mostly that means having to write back, enter stuff in calendars and to-do-lists etc., and this thing doesn’t have a keyboard (I may have already mentioned that).

So it would seem Apple put their considerable powers to work in creating a device you only need when you can’t get to your actual computers, and for some reason also don’t have your iPhone with you.

Apple should know better – they know that most of the stuff we use computers for requires navigation around interfaces of many sorts. If they didn’t acknowledge this, then why give us the Magic Mouse?
They have also consistantly had the best, most consistant and most intuitive hotkey layouts in their OS since the days of yore, and they gave us Spaces, Exposé and Sneak Peak – all functions of the OS which make navigating easier by putting powerful tools at our fingertips.

Now, they seem hell-bent on taking tools away from us, leaving us, ironically, with just the fingertips.

I don’t want that, and what’s more, I’d like for Apple to stop playing one-up with their own iPhone by giving us hi-tech versions of “Babys First Pointing Book”, and get back to making the worlds greatest computers and OS better…

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“UX is not” manifesto, really…

October 27, 2009

This is going to be just a short post (by my standards anywyay) – just thought I’d take a moment to commend this wonderful run-down by UX designer Whitney Hess, of what User Experience and the design thereof is not.

While I’m usually not particularly fond of defining anything through what it isn’t, the field of UX (as it’s also mentioned in the article linked above) is so new and floaty that, to get more familiar with it, the is-not view is one of the steps that we probably have to go through.

Now, I am not going to go down the list and comment everything in the article – suffice to say, I mostly agree with the points that are being made, and you’ll just have to read it to see what they are (I also suggest clicking on some of Whitney’s many links, interesting stuff there too).

And while you’re at it, feel free to compare what’s being communicated in the article to my personal work manifesto (see how much I like that word? Terrible!), as well as the reason for my self-ascribed title of “Design & User Experience Creative Playmaker” (conveniently located in the lower right side of my contact page there).
Yep, we certainly seem to be on roughly the same page.


– and you find all of that over at my website, of course

Finally, a side note: – did you peep that “drag to share” widget about half way down the page? Awesome!

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Perspective on neo-tribalism

May 18, 2009

Have you heard about that, neo-tribalism?

Well, it’s a concept notably promoted by Seth Godin, modern marketing guru and widely credited for popularising the concept of “permission marketing”, and it revolves around using technology (that is, the internet) to form modern tribes around products, causes, activities etc.

actual tribe, the model for Godin’s concept

At present, this idea has considerable buzz going for it in marketing circles, spilling over into lots of other fields of professional communication – so I think this might be a good time to do a piece on it… here goes:

In Godin’s perspective, a neo-tribe is inherently positive – it’s a group of people who genuinely believe in something, and who are given the goodies about that something and the channels for spreading them.
Ideally, this means that a relatively small number of “true believers” will philantropically spread ideas far and wide, in a way no one person or company could, with a credibility you couldn’t match, and reaching deeper into the receiving masses than you could ever hope for.

A PR professional’s dream, and also, when it works, a great idea indeed – which is why Godin has reached the levels of fame and recognition he now enjoys – and a powerful implementation of permission marketing.

In fact, I use techniques similar to these when I communicate about the things I do, and I have done so before I knew anything about these concepts – however, my experience leads me to this advice: Don’t think this is magic.

The fact is, there are many, thousands, of us, trying to create this kind of following – you see this every day in your email inbox, on your twitter, Facebook, everywhere.
And you do it. Sort of.
You see, the modern tribe has two major weaknesses that an actual tribe either didn’t have or rarely fell under…

and neither did jedi…

Number one: – tech tribalism is easy. I can join a tribe about the most important topic in the world and be a contributing member in five minutes flat, by joining some manner of internet tribe, but I don’t even have to give my real name, and I can also forget about my tribe in five minutes, without any consequences whatsoever for me.
Tech tribes can build, grow huge and create momentum in short order, but they can also fizz out just as fast, and there’s usually little the tribe chiefs can do if that happens; it’s part of the speed of the media.
Just because your Facebook group has 50.000 members doesn’t mean that any of them actually do anything for your cause or product.

Number two: – there are other tribes. Many, in fact. An actual tribe doesn’t have to worry about this until it meets one of them, at which point they may have to fight over the ressources.
Which is exactly what tech tribes will have to do almost constantly.
See, like the food the actual tribes fight over, there’s only a limited availability of people, their time and their attention – so a tribe for veteran car owners can be in direct conflict with a tribe for fans of the tiger lily, simply because they occupy the same space in the receiver’s attention.

This can get much longer but for now, I’ll say this: – by all means, let’s go ahead and use those techniques Godin promotes, but as an advocate of really beating as few dead horses as possible, I say let’s already consider our next moves – and most of all, let’s be as real as we can about anything we do: Nothing is inherently perfect.

Now go forth, grasshopper.

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Cross-web beta

March 31, 2009

You saw that button called “cross-web navigation”, which activates a sort-of top bar at my main site there?

(hey, maybe the bar is above this very blog right now!)

Well, I was inspired by Unhub (thanks for the heads-up, Mindjumpers), who were in turn inspired by Skittles, to make my various identities across the web more readily available to my audience (in so far as I have one).
It can be a good idea, I think – at least if your various sites support each other and whatever purpose you made them for.

So I went ahead and whipped up this little thing – it’s in beta so far, and has only been tested for appearance in Safari; if you’re on another browser, consider this my style disclaimer.
Definitely works on the principle of KISS but I think it does the job.

So maybe I’ll keep it around…

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“Would you like to listen to some music…?”

March 14, 2009

I am no fan of websites with sound on by default – even though occasionally it can be done well, most sites run some sort of ambient loop which gets old very quickly.
On the other hand, music is, of course, great, and the internet is a multimedia, errr… medium, so let’s try to use that for the powers of good – here’s my take on that:




Jesper W. of Copenhagen’s website now offers you, dear visitor, a right cool radio station

(I’d put it right here, too, but WordPress doesn’t allow that type of embedding)

It’s my station over at last.fm – I’ve decided to put it in as an opt-in, popup solution: If you’d like music, you’ll get it, and you can even keep listening after you have left my corner of the web (no doubt vastly impressed and inspired).

The station features everything from cornball to dire techno and polish dancehall, because I am a man of broad taste (plus, I’m getting old, I think) – it’s all good.

You’re quite welcome.

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UX thoughts on a friday

March 6, 2009

Settle down, class… I know the weekend is only hours away but we still have stuff to get through…

I thought I’d just use the newly launched (or rather, beta-launched) “Den Store Danske”, the Great Danish Encyclopedia online as a case study – so let’s go ahead and take a look at this picture:

storedanske

You can see the first problem with the user experience quite well, can’t you? This does not look like an encyclopedia.
It looks like a site for something called “Villahjælpen”.

You see, the site is advertisement funded, and that top banner ad is a tricky bastard – if done right, it’ll be OK, if not it will steal the thunder from the site’s own headline. This doesn’t begin well, because the site’s own header simply is too inconspicuous, compared to that banner ad space.
(Also, one has to apply some form of do’s-and-dont’s to website ads, to avoid massive clashing, but that’s a different article)

What you can’t se in that pic up there, however, is that both the top banner and right sidebar ads are flash animated out the wazoo (go visit the site, I’ll wait), and this brings us to the next UX issue at work here:
“Den Store Danske”, being an encyclopedia, is a knowledge harvesting site – it’s a place you’re supposed to go when you’re studying and need specific information, data, facts.

An encyclopedia is a no-nonsense thing, and the design here doesn’t reflect that – all those animations are quite distracting, actually, escpecially if you’re hunkered down over something serious and just need to quickly establish some facts.

Sure, people will sometimes just sort-of browse for interesting stuff in such a place, but it should not be designed for it, any more than an actual encyclopedia (the book – you remember that, right?) should have a wee comic and some entertaining short-stories thrown in every 10 pages.

Finally, there’s the encyclopedia itself – the part where you search for, and hopefully get, information.
This is the primary function, and should take up the primary space, visually. In stead, we have here a case where the log-in entry fields at right are just as prominent at the search field, whereas the filters are just text strings, basically sitting there as if they were any kind of text.
– and those are weird, by the way, with stuff like “cars & motorcycles”, “food”, “travel” making it look like an eBay subsite menu…

Now, DSD is supposed to become a kind of official wikipedia of Danish scholarship (you can log in and submit things, which – unlike a wiki and with the intent of lending greater trustworthiness – will then be verified by a board of editors).
Therefore, it should come across as a wiki: – it should be open and inviting, and the searching should be at the very center of your first impression. Basically, a search control panel with some supporting stuff surrounding it, impression-wise.

This design is not open, in my opinion, and it doesn’t communicate very clearly that this is a search site.
I would have gone about this very differently.

A final thought: – should knowledge sites like this ever have ads?
I mean, isn’t there a risk that, on a subconcious level, the proximity of ad material (animating its way into your attention wether you want it or not) to supposedly un-biased data will compromise our trust in the latter…?

Have a good one!

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I told ya!

March 3, 2009

Remember how, back in an earlier post, I sort-of casually mentioned how easy it would be to add a sign-up for a newsletter at my shiny new website?

emailbow

Here you go – still did it myself, promise, using only what I could find on the internet in terms of guidance.

Now, all I have to do is pepper my soon-to-be-enormous fan base with creative wisdom.

And trust me, I will – irregular, sure, but wise it will be, creative it will be. Or, at the very least, funny.

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Hoops and plastics

February 28, 2009

This… well this is a classic of mine – must be at least a lot of years old I guess.

Actually it is really simple, some metal hoop and then a sort-of hammock for your tushy – the original version had a leather seat, trimmed to look as if you were sitting in the palm of a glove.

And then I moved on to this, the indoor/outdoor version:

by JWcph

The cutaways, aside from looking cool and providing flexibility, also let water drain from the seat – if you’ve left it out or, say, happen to sit in it wearing wet swimwear (and I certainly prefer imagining it at the beach or pool in the sun, over standing out in the rain at night).

Another edition would have a soft rubber seat with air pockets – mainly because it looked rather wicked I thought:

by JWcph

This was before I went all ACD, you might say – but make no mistake, I still want things to look wicked!

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Huzzah, the new website!

February 18, 2009

This may not be very comme il faut but I feel like congratulating myself just a tiny bit – the new site at jesperwille.com is up as of today! Yay!

I’m particularly happy about this one because this time, not only did I design it (of course, the previous one was of my own design too) but I also programmed it all myself.

Actually, I mention this for a reason (as you may have guessed) – this was, and is, a project…

This internet thingy, well, let’s just say it’s keeping JW on his toes, being an experience nerd – I don’t think a single day goes by that I don’t, in some way, have thoughts about how this medium is used. Some do it this way, others that and the other, but in my opinion, far too many websites (considering how long we’ve had for practice) succumb to the scourge of technology:

Discordance between purpose and the underlying tech & mechanics

omgwtfwebsite

(you thought I was going to say “feature overload”, didn’t you?)

So what I did was set out to define for myself how I wanted my website to look and feel, and what I wanted it to do – and then get my own hands dirty and see if I could indeed do this, without having to become some kinda professor and without forcing the hand of my users, or annoying them (technically speaking – if you’re annoyed at my style, that’s entirely allowed).

I didn’t think it had to be that bad, since a site such as this has very few functions – no databases or sign-ups (although I could have added a newsletter real easy – maybe I’ll do that one of these days), just pure presentation, which is all a lot of sites do, so I decided part of it would be doing it myself (if a non-coder can, it’s a strong argument against technological difficulty as a reason for not-too-well-done websites, right?)

I also don’t like flash sites very much (no offense intended, my previous site was flash) – I think it breaks the conventions of navigating the net, but not in a good way in and of itself.
It’s all down to the flash programmer, and that can mean too much freedom, because the function of this type of site has to be rather simple – and doing simple things should never be complicated just for the hell of it (even if it looks good in flash).

So the mission was to find out how close I could get to my initial vision, using only basic code, no embedded flash or any such stuff, and getting all my info off the web (did the weirdest google searches I’ve ever done).

Well, I got pretty close – the new site looks like I want and does what I want it to, so: Mission accomplished.

Until I change my mind.

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3D, the super-tool – and fun, too

February 14, 2009

You may have noticed, if indeed you’ve been around at my site and this blog at all, that I render stuff in virtual 3D a lot.

I find this is, well, a great deal of fun to work with, but also a great tool, both in the design process and when it comes to presenting stuff to other people.

For example, I was charged with designing and building a wall of shelves for a private home – now, this is not the kind of project where you’ll normally see a lot of previz going on but I have a fast 3D pipeline, you see.
So in short order I took some measurements off the room and rendered out some proposals, of which this one was chosen:

wall render
notice the clever use of set dressing!

Of course, with my well-done 3D model, it was rather a simple matter of ordering the materials and building the actual wall of shelves in their actual living room – see:

wall IRL
– and notice the even cleverer set dressing now!

The doors, in case you’re wondering, are push-to-open.

Built to last, too – I’m told the children of the house use it as a climbing wall…

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