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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
We have seen a significant amount of fresh business from startups and new businesses over the last few months, with this past month being the most dramatic. Mark has already written briefly about Your marketing budget and a slow economy, which talks about maximizing your return on investment, and I want to reflect a bit on the entrepreneurial spirit. I see two major factors contributing to our spike in business from this group.
Innovation is Recession Resistant
At a public bi-weekly coffee get-together of smallish business owners and entrepreneurs here in Providence, a grad student asked if any of us had seen a significant hit in our businesses during the downed economy. One business owner turned to him and said that good ideas and innovation will always succeed. He was right on. As we see large sections of our economy crumbling, the pieces that are in high demand are good ideas, refreshing new products and tools that increase efficiencies and add value. History concurs. Wired.com’s Daniel Roth writes that out of the turmoil of the Great Depression rose numerous inventions, including the now ubiquitous nylon and television. The 1969-70 and 2001 recessions saw the advent of the pocket calculator and the ipod, respectively. Innovation never sleeps.
Layoffs and Dead-End Jobs are Breeding Grounds for Entrepreneurship
Sometimes it takes a little shove from the nest for some entrepreneurs to focus back on the things that they were once passionate about, or to implement an idea that has been percolating for some time. There’s also nothing like layoffs of your colleagues and friends in your company to knock creativity and optimism out of you. I went through this with the first .com bubble back in 2001. Try motivating a creative team when they come to work every day packed to be fired and thinking every conversation with your boss is going to end with a pink slip. It just doesn’t inspire confidence. Recessions and layoffs release many undervalued employees to do what they have always wanted to do. They go back to their basement or garage and think up the next best thing.
Slim Kiwi is not in the mortgage business or in investments, and we’re not unionized American car makers. We partner with our clients to bring their idea, their product and their small business to market. From what we have seen, it seems that now is a great time for small businesses to get ahead of their competition. If you know us, you know that we just love working with people starting up businesses. We love their enthusiasm, their pragmatism, their creative thinking, the speed at which they move, and their collaborative spirit. These are the tools for success in a challenging economy.
We paid a visit to the exhibition hall at Greenbuild 2008 in Boston not only to check out the products and thinking on display, but also to make some connections in the architecture community. While there, we captured a few of our thoughts on architect web sites, portfolio design and site management tools on video to share.