Posts Tagged ‘communication’

“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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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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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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360 Winnett

February 14, 2009

This may be a little late, but anyway…

Here’s an interesting project I’ve been following almost since it started – some people are building a house and sharing every step of the way with us, the internet people:

360 Winnett

It’s fun to be able to see a home being created somewhere across the world – also, interesting to see how things are done in Canada.

– and Jeremy takes some pretty good pictures, too.

Looking forward to see it all done…!

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Good Lord, how time flies…!

February 13, 2009

Have you ever been away from home for a loooong time, then returned and proceeded to remove the white sheets from the furniture, wipe away the dust and cobwebs and re-inserting yourself into your own space – feeling comfy and I’ve-come-home-ish all the while?

I never have – but I assume it must feel a bit like this.

The Channel has been somewhat dormant for a while, for several reasons – more about that in a moment – but it is now time that I want to reinsert myself into this, my quasi-professional blog space, and resume blogging about creativity.

Mostly my own, but I’m sure there will be due references to others as well.

Since last I’ve been working as chief of communications for Mekavi, where I’ve created a communicative identity virtually from scratch – it was, and is, a sound company with a good agenda: Bringing designer lighting to all, but without much history of, or ideas about, telling anybody that.

 


had a serious hand in making it look this good, too

 
This is where I came in.

Mekavi is now featured regularly in every design magazine in Denmark (as well as many a blog, including Modern Urban Living and Copenhagen Collage) and has a steady growing following in the creative communities, as well as beginning (these things take time) to blaze into the minds of the general public – a job well begun, still lots to do though…

I also had a lot to do with how the website looks and works at present, not to mention the upgrade we’re currently working on – just you wait and see…

(in other duties, I am a lighting consultant, design advisor – in-house and out – and also do general sales. Many caps)

Obviously, I’ve had a full day of writing stuff then (there’s also a company blog, and one at Decorate), and on top of that I’ve been doing a bit of communications-related blogging at Kforum – and for all this, The Channel has suffered.

But no more.

I’m back baby!

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Second whatnow…?

August 21, 2007

I’d be surprised if anyone remembers but waaaay back in the end of ’06 and the early part of this year, there was a buzz goin’ on about something called “Second Life”. Everybody who thought they were anybody had to be there and pretend to take it seriously.

JWcph was there too, actually I had opened an account a few months before the full hype wave hit (because JWcph is always in front, of course) – only, we never created a presence, nor did we when .noia. was born (it’s still a baby though, and as such the other partners and I hold it close – don’t worry, you’ll know more about it soon…). We paid attention, and certainly yours truly spent unhealthy amounts of time there but we never built anything for ourselves, because we didn’t care to rush for the buzz.
As with everything else, we want to deal in knowledge, not know-it-all’ledge.

Now everyone else is getting out again, after (excuse me) half-assed attempts that never really took the concept seriously – .noia. and JWcph, well, we’re still there, and now we even have our first wee location, courtesy of arcspace:
“under the clock” – meet .noia. (this is a so-called “slurl”, you need SL to use it)

Second Life is not great – not even close.
But it is a very serious attempt at pointing towards a possbile future for online interaction, and so far the only such thing in the world, as all the others simply are not created by or for the users to the same degree.
(this is subject to fierce discussion but this is my statement, and I’m sticking to it)

That’s why I still hang out there from time to time, and why I still wonder where it might go…

arcube-01a.jpg
– that’s me, resting my black wings under the clock, waiting for my date: The future…
of course, everything in the cube was built and scripted by us, from wind sensitive trees to the custom sitting pose

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Speak of the…. iPhone

July 9, 2007

Yep.
It’s out.
The iPhone.

– but not here in Denmark…

However, being unable to get one for myself and get first hand knowledge doesn’t keep me from having formed an opinion, if not about the iPhone himself, then at least of the idea of it and the hype surrounding it.

cp.gif

It’s interesting, first off, to note the “campaign” for this gadget (more on that term later) – the Mac circles have been murmuring about an Apple phone for years, yet Apple themselves never said anything about it before the stunning presentation of a fully functional iPhone by mr. Jobs himself at one of his famous turtleneck stage performances.
Having a sort-of cult following as Apple does pays off; such attetion as was built by the rumors (neither started nor supported by Apple in any, least of all economical, way) is hard to create with even the best commercial campaign…

When the product finally hit the streets it was, of course, impressive – wether you want to love or hate it, noone with any interest in tech stuff, devices, computers or design is unaffected.
What is funny, though, is that the most innovative features (in my opinion anyhow) are hardly the topic of any of the numerous reviews, so I’ll try and point at some of them:

– the multi-touch display. This is the first time ever that any device with a touch screen as its primary interface is available to the general public, let alone at a price that is reasonable (if indeed on the heavier side of reason), and the ability to interface with it using multiple touch points is nothing short of brilliant. All the same, most reviewers seem to take this interface for granted…
edit: – it has been brought to my attention that certain camcorders do have touch screens at consumer levels, and PDAs and smartphones have been pointed at. I admit I didn’t think of the camcorder angle (one might argue that it’s not a camcorder’s primary input device, though), but I intentionally left out PDAs and smartphones; the former is pretty much useless without a stylus and hence not a true touch screen from the consumer’s point of view (even though technically it is), and the latter have a numeric keypad as its primary input device…

– The iPhone is not really a gadget. I mean, let’s be honest, when we talk about a gadget we mean an implement which does all manner of technically advanced, yet mostly useless, stuff, but really none of the iPhone’s features can be called truly useless, leading me to the next point:

– It’s not a cell phone. This machine is a dedicated communication device; pretty much only the on-board iPod is not directly targeted at modern, web-based communication – sporting several applications needed for this, such as email, bluetooth, text messaging (with a graphic interface for keeping track of “sms conversations” – cannot believe nobody thought of this before), voicemail browsing (ditto), picture sharing, full blown web browser, and an API solution that will allow for additional functionality to be added user-side. Not to mention it’s really a computer, running an actual system (OS X), making it the first “cell phone” which will truly be updateable and upgradeable…

– And, of course, the user experience. Another first: breaking with the common numeric keypad as the primary input device – let’s face it, how often do we actually use the key pad for punching in a phone number the old school way? Most of the time, the limited number of keys are subject to advanced finger acrobatics to force them to fill tasks not even remotely connected with their nature.
The iPhone vision also shows a great understanding of how a hand-held communication device is used – for example, integrating maps with address & phone number search and info, and that with the telephone function, et cetera.

Even though it’s obvious I’ll put the disclaimer in words: I haven’t tried it myself, the above is based on Apple’s own info and user feedback online.
Even if this device eventually fails however, it has already pointed to one thing: We need to think about how we use technology to communicate in a whole new way.

Oh, and before anyone writes it off because it doesn’t have a video camera or MMS capabilities or because the feature list is shorter than your average Blackberry, let’s remember that many people laughed when Apple launched a desktop computer without a floppy drive, or when we first saw a portable mp3 player – the two products that turned Apple around and pointed the way for everyone else in the business today.

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