Slim Kiwi

SlimKiwi.com

SK Blog

July 19, 2011

Design and Usability: Netflix’s “Watch Instantly” Page is Broken

by Alastair Halliday

Netflix isn’t just suffering from slamming us with a higher tiered pricing structure, their recent redesign of their “Watch Instantly” page fails some pretty basic design and usability standards. in this episode I quickly walk through some specific issues and offer up some practical advice to make the site a better overall user experience. If you’d like to subscribe to this iPhone/Video iPod compatible podcast you can do so at iTunes.

Looking for work? Design & Development positions at slimkiwi.com/jobs

May 13, 2010

Design and Usability: Basic Photo Enhancement

by Alastair Halliday

In this episode I show you how to do very basic photo enhancements. While I’m using Photoshop in the screen-cast, the different methods I use are available in almost any photo editing software. If you’d like to subscribe to this iPhone/Video iPod compatible podcast you can do so at iTunes.

March 15, 2010

The best iPhone applications we use to run a design and technology firm

by Alastair Halliday

Being familiar with Apple’s history of version 1.0 rollouts across their product line, I resisted the first iPhone for as long as I could. Now I can say without hesitation, however, that the iPhone is a life-changing device. It’s primary significance is its ability to perform so many diverse tasks in such a clean package through both native and third party apps, and to do so in a device that can easily slide into your pocket. A number of these apps help us run a design and technology firm. Here are the most useful.

Read "The best iPhone applications we use to run a design and technology firm"

July 24, 2009

Design and Usability: Pantone.com, Chaotic Site Structure

by Alastair Halliday

In this episode I continue to talk about the many great failures of the site Pantone.com. I show the benefits of the wireframing process and the downfalls of not investing time in site structure and information architecture. If you’d like to subscribe to this iPhone/Video iPod compatible podcast you can do so at iTunes.

July 21, 2009

From the Inside Looking In: Put Away the Mirror and Give Us a Window

by Mark J. Reeves

If your company is struggling with a complex design challenge it's probably time to seek input from someone on the outside. Corporate culture too often becomes insular, a team focused on internal objectives becomes self-reinforcing and a multitude of stakeholders with their respective agendas who all need to feel comfortable with the outcome end up with a watered-down, homogenized solution. Rather than looking through the window to get inspiration from the outside world, the team finds themselves looking into a mirror for what's familiar and efficient.

You need outside perspective. That's where an agency like Slim Kiwi comes in.

A Fast Company blog post, Are You Building a Consumer-Facing Company?, addressed this subject last week:

Design agencies, on the other hand, are born to think outside-looking-in. Not only do design agencies bring together radical talent and methodology that's difficult to maintain in a closed corporate environment, they have another advantage that's seldom talked about: Their ability to reflect across industries and companies and to form their opinion based on such experience. They have a role in creating many products, join many different teams, and can reflect, in hindsight, about the success or failure of certain ideas. That agency worldview cannot be counted in sketches, models or dollars--it is an invaluable trove of experience that is underutilized by both the agencies and their clients.

Our job goes beyond just executing a design. We're hired to provide critical insight and to evaluate your business and marketing efforts, provide you feedback, help you incorporate that feedback into your strategy, and then execute based on that strategy.

That might be a lot to sign onto. In the coming weeks, we'll be announcing a new service that will allow you to get an idea of what steps you should take and where we can contribute: Usability & Marketing Analysis Reports. You point us to your web site, pick a level of review to engage us on, and we provide you a report on what's working, what isn't, and what it would take for us to get you where you should be. Our goal is to give you a taste of our value, shake things up a bit and empower you to make an informed decision on the direction of your efforts without the big upfront commitment.

Outside looking in. Whether you're the corporate team that needs reinvigoration or just looking for expertise that isn't practical to maintain in-house, we're at our best when we're charged with bringing our outside perspective and our unique blend of expertise across industries, from consumer to business-to-business channels, for companies large and small, to the table to provide you fresh ideas. With this new offering, our goal is to let you opt for a first date rather than jumping into a relationship, while identifying where your organization can grow and optimize your efforts.

July 16, 2009

MyZeo.com: A Client Relationship Success Story

by Alastair Halliday

We’ve always sought to be more than an agency that just gets the job done. That should be expected of every agency you hire. Instead, we’re succeeding at showing clients that we have a genuine heartfelt interest in helping them succeed spectacularly. For this reason we get really excited when we see a client like Zeo, and others, get national attention with featured articles in the Wall Street Journal and making the front page of the business section of the New York Times. Zeo approached Slim Kiwi for online brand consulting, messaging and design after investing a lot of time, money, research and talent into building a consumer product that tracks and transmits brain waves wirelessly to a bedside clock while the user is sleeping and then charts and coaches that user on how to accomplish better nightly sleep.


Zeo personal sleep coach

We had many animated discussions with Zeo about their online strategy and design at myZeo.com. It was clear to us that they were carefully contemplating our advice and we made it clear to them (we hope) that we had a great amount of respect for the work they had done up to this point. We love the type of client relationships that we have with Zeo, where even amongst different opinions about strategy they can see we are more interested in their long-term success than their immediate happiness. We think the end result accomplished our task and plays a part in Zeo’s ongoing success, delivering a site that serves as their single largest point of sale for a new product that has achieved national attention.

July 10, 2009

Design and Usability: Pantone.com, Inconsistent Navigation Language

by Alastair Halliday

In this episode I continue to talk about the many great failures of the site Pantone.com. I point out the confusion caused by and inconsistencies in the visual language of their navigation. If you’d like to subscribe to this iPhone/Video iPod compatible podcast you can do so at iTunes.

July 9, 2009

Design and Usability: Pantone.com, Failure to Acknowledge a Potential Customer

by Alastair Halliday

In this episode I start a series where I talk about the many great failures of the site Pantone.com. I start by pointing out Pantone.com’s failure to acknowledge a potential customer and losing out on the opportunity to create a broader base for sales. If you’d like to subscribe to this iPhone/Video iPod compatible podcast you can do so at iTunes.

June 8, 2009

Design and Usability: Good Image Navigation

by Alastair Halliday

In this episode I show and talk about GOOD examples of image navigation online. If you’d like to subscribe to this iPhone/Video iPod compatible podcast you can do so at iTunes.

April 21, 2009

Design and Usability: Poor Image Navigation 3: Moving Navigation

by Alastair Halliday

In this episode I show and talk about a bad example of image navigation online - the moving navigation example. If you’d like to subscribe to this iPhone/Video iPod compatible podcast you can do so at iTunes.

April 11, 2009

Design and Usability: Poor Image Navigation 2: Hidden Nav

by Alastair Halliday

In this episode I show and talk about a bad example of image navigation online - the hidden navigation example. If you’d like to subscribe to this iPhone/Video iPod compatible podcast you can do so at iTunes.

April 7, 2009

Design and Usability: Poor Image Navigation 1

by Alastair Halliday

In this episode I show and talk about a bad example of image navigation online - the slideshow example. If you’d like to subscribe to this iPhone/Video iPod compatible podcast you can do so at iTunes.

April 3, 2009

Slim Kiwi’s Podcast on Design and Usability

by Alastair Halliday

Some things are better shown than written about. We've started a video podcast for that reason. I'll be walking through different basic concepts in design and usability in my ultimate goal to rid the world of bad design and make basic tasks simpler for the end user.

Slim Kiwi design and usability podcast

You can find the podcast via Apple iTunes with this link, or you can link directly to the feed by copying and pasting this url into your preferred feed reader. We will also integrate the videos into our blog once we find a movie wrapper that is acceptable to us for showing the details necessary of an online screencast. The podcast looks great on your computer, but is also optimized for your iPhone or video-enabled iPod. If there are concepts, questions, or even sites that you'd like reviewed in a future episode you are welcome to shoot them over to me (Alastair) at "podcast at SlimKiwi.com".


March 10, 2009

Real world usability: What NYC could learn from the web

by Alastair Halliday

Context is key for good usability. It's important for users to know where they have come from, where they are, and where they can go intuitively. Unfortunately too many sites neglect this with poor design, user flow, and ultimately a lack of understanding of a user's behavior. It's easy for designers who have been working extremely closely with their client's content and understand exactly how the pages relate to one another to forget to take a few steps back. It often helps to look at the larger picture from the perspective of a user who has just arrived at your site through a direct link or who has landed INSIDE your site through a google search.

NYC street sign within context
What NYC could add to their street signs to make contextual type navigation make the city more user friendly

But the importance of context isn't limited to site design. The more time you start thinking about the end user the more likely you will see examples of directions or navigation in the real world that hasn't taken context and the end user into consideration well enough. One such instance struck me when Mark and I were in NYC for a meeting with one of our clients. It's a pretty quick day trip for us to take the Acela Express from Boston/Providence to NYC and then to hop onto the subway where the goal is to emerge somewhere close to our final destination. I take a certain pride in my ability to be able to intuitively navigate through unfamiliar places, but there is something about emerging from a subway or mall where my internal compass goes polar on me. In this instance, we emerged from the subway to find ourselves staring at a piece of real world navigation that was placed there without considering context. It was a numbered street sign. What's so bad about a numbered street sign? You have NO idea which direction to walk in order for the numbers to increase or decrease. That's a pain when you emerge from the subway onto 57th wanting to head in the direction of Columbus Circle, walk a block south to the 56th which is JUST far enough to be annoyed that you now need to walk BACK another block in the opposite direction. "That's not so bad," some people might say. Well, what if you are on 9th and have to walk the long side of a NYC block to 8th, only to find that you have actually been walking in the direction of 7th? Still no big deal? Well, I disagree. I'm sure some designers argue it's no big deal for an end user to find themselves three levels down in a navigation on a site and not clear on how to get back a level or two, but if there is a simple solution, it should be used. In the case of a web site the solution may be a bit more complex because the overall structure of a site needs to be planned out to accommodate ease of use.

For NYC, a simply smaller hierarchically designed number could be placed to the right and to the left of the current street number you are on. That would make the sign behave a bit more like a "you are here" dot on a mall directory...but don't get me started on the poor usability in contextual navigation and design that takes place in a mall.

January 27, 2009

An updated Slim Kiwi project: The Campaign Monitor Pepper for Mint

by Mark J. Reeves

I haven’t yet gotten to the enhancements I’d like to make to the Campaign Monitor Subscribers Pepper for Mint, but I have updated it to work with Campaign Monitor’s API.

If you view the original post for this add-on to the popular stats package, you’ll see what it’s all about. You’ll also see that as of December 2008, the CM Subscribers pepper has been broken, requiring an update to the code to match Campaign Monitor’s new API.

If you’ve generated your API key and accessed your List ID since December, this version will work for you. If you installed the pepper with an API Key and List ID from before December, just visit your Campaign Monitor account, regenerate or access your new keys, plug them in via Mint Preferences, and you’ll be back in business.

I’ve updated this on its official Mint page (pending approval), but you can also access the source code at GitHub: http://github.com/slimkiwi/sk.campaignmonitor_subscribers.pepper/tree/master. Feel free to fork the project at GitHub if you’d like to make any contributions.


Contact Alastair and Mark to initiate a conversation about your project:

Slim Kiwi 877.744.KIWI (5494)

Sign up to receive updates from Slim Kiwi: