Posts Tagged ‘future’

Responsive Web Design and the Hype Cycle

We’ve all been there: A new technology emerges (*cough* Responsive Web Design *cough*), all shiny and spiffy. We get excited about it – tweet and blog our way around it for months – until our excitement and the sheer saturation from the community spills out into the wider business community. And at a certain point, it’s like everyone knows about it. The secret is out, and your grandmother is asking how she can make her cat’s Facebook page responsive. Bless. Then a little while later, all the business blogs are viciously biting at the ankles of the once-darling new technology. What happened?

Read the rest of this post »

The need for a broader perspective in user experience design

UPA 2011 Designing for Social ChangeLast week, I attended UPA 2011. The theme this year was Designing for Social Change. The opening keynote speaker Paul Adams, Global Brand Experience Manager at Facebook, shared his research (an earlier version of his presentation available on Slideshare) into social networks. Among the many insights of the presentation, his research showed that the change agents today are not the thought leaders or the “influentials,” but regular people connected in clusters of individuals who themselves are linked to other clusters (see slides 93 and 9). A single, regular person had the potential to reach millions people at the Friends of Friends of Friends level.

But the real challenge is not to connect individuals to the world, but connect individuals more richly to their own networks and in turn connect those networks in a way that influences social change. The potential of social isn’t that I can read 1000 reviews by strangers, but that I can read reviews by people I trust already in my network, strengthening my trust in the product or service and prompting me to spread that trust to other members of my networks. It comes down to relationships.

This points to a growing need to rethink the way that we design. The term “user experience design” (UXD) has gained currency, but is still being defined. Work is still needed for UXD to reach its full potential to deliver richer experiences to increasingly sophisticated and demanding users. Read the rest of this post »

iTunes + iCloud. From the Multi-Channel Mouths of Jobs

“Keeping these devices in sync is driving us crazy,” Mr. Jobs said.

As an iTunes user, there have been some instances where my itunes preferences have automatically reset based on various updates.

I have since learned to check my preferences every single time there is an update to make sure that I don’t lose any previously purchased songs. It has seemed at times that Apple will ‘take things back’ for some reason. So, before connecting my phone to the latest iTunes update, I checked my preferences.

And here is what’s new. iCloud prep.


Notice that I haven’t checked any of the new checkboxes at the top….. (sync anxiety)

In the following article:

“Everything happens automatically, and there is nothing new to learn”

..there is a specific caveat that I am sensitive to where it mentions that your previous and new purchases – presumably from iTunes, Amazon, etc. – with meta licensing encoded, will be available. But what about CDs that you’ve manually entered into your library? Will they be available in the iCloud iDataCenter heaven?

Closed and proprietary is what the New York Times article mentions about Apple. So true. It mentions that this style allows them to dictate to developers. I don’t care about that. I just want a good, fluid, and non-anxiety-oriented user experience. My world in their world is okay. But  ‘worlds collide’ – that doesn’t work for me.

But you know, if you’re in the Apple iCloud – it all happens “automagically”…. should all be stress-free…. soon…


MobileMe is Dead.


Alright. Here it is. Today’s good morning announcement. Let’s call it ‘setting expectations’.
A plain language conversation with users about how to potentially (because they are still figuring it out) smoothly transition your data….in the future (this fall)….

….iCloud subscription is actually free ONLY with OSX Lion and iOS 5 users (which requires purchase – out this fall)…

Since iCloud is free, this refers back to the question in my previous post  – what subscriptions will be available or will you need to subscribe to once inside iCloud world?

Honestly, manually exporting and uploading my own data to the new iCloud sounds more stable to me, based on previous experiences.

This link explains how your new life will work with inside of iCloud.


Sync Everything. Store Nothing. iCloud – the New Heaven?

So with all this talk about the Apple iCloud launch today, it all sounds pretty spiffy. Especially if you know that it’s powered by Apple’s iDataCenter – which sounds like pretty powerful stuff.

Pay for everything. Access everything. Store nothing!


  • No long upload times of your data to a cloud. (Currently up to 5mb is standard in North American homes that opt for the ‘highest’ available upload speed)
  • Everything will harmoniously sync in iDataCenter heaven, thus nailing the ‘one-stop shop’ saying, to the wall.
  • Tech Support – it looks like cloudburst backup has been planned for and heavily invested in.
  • Vast music selection confirmed.


  • Still seems piecemeal. If you can’t own it, you are buying a piece of something. You are buying a song or a movie or a book. And yet you are NOT buying a song a movie, or a book. You are in fact purchasing and accessing virtual licensing that you can access from anywhere, any computer, simply by logging into your iCloud account, hosted in heaven aka iDataCenter.
  • Subscription-based to an extent. Yes, you can subscribe to iCloud. But how many subscriptions can you or will you need to have inside of iCloud?
  • How many new things will you have to learn ‘all of a sudden’ in order to navigate through this new heaven?

This is the Sun. But will it rain….

Not about physical things. This is a new era. About virtual access. Licensed access.

Will this lower-cost alternative to hardware storage music/photo/misc. media backups, and the larger, more diverse selection of music – keep the media pirates at bay?

Will hackers be excited at the grand new challenge of and be encouraged bombard this sexy new cloudcluster?

Will the transition of data from MobileMe subscribers be a smooth transition? or will it be messy, like when became (mmhmm. you know what I mean…) ….everyone’s data got a bit screwy… ‘Just oooone last messy transition and then everything will be just perrrrfect! iCloud – TRUST!’

Will it do anything to society’s psyche of owning or possessing things and collections of things? This is not comic books or stamps living in neat plastic acid-free sleeves. This is not barbie or comic hero collectibles box-fresh with air from 1950 enclosed on a shelf in your dusty basement.

This is meta. Apple is meta. This you and you are soon to be meta.


Your Browser is Your New Computer: Google Chrome – the New OS?

Google Chrome Notebook
Order. Yours. Now?

Due out on June 15th, 2011.

What it is:

  • It is a notebook that is essentially a mobile device – uses 3G, mobile data networks, wi-fi
  • It only has the google Chrome browser installed
  • 8 second bootup
  • Cloud-based data storage and syncing – log in from anywhere – your data is the same
  • Sandbox Security – one tab corrupts, the other tabs stay functioning
  • Auto installs updates from the cloud – user does nothing
  • Many apps allow the user to continue working without being online.
  • Restores from the cloud or a “known good backup”….or hardware backed recovery mode
  • Prints using Google Cloud Print
  • Can set up user permissions and guest mode
  • Everything works inside your browser
  • Use the Chrome web store to find new Chrome apps
  • Upon bootup – the system conducts a health check (Verified boot)

The Chrome Lifestyle
It sounds a bit like an extreme version of what Apple’s MobileMe product wanted to do. Once you are committed to the lifestyle – you are really committed! I am personally committed to the MobileMe lifestyle, but it has not been without consequence (see upcoming post).

Think about your current work day. Is there anything that you do that you would absolutely NOT be able to do on the cloud or in Chrome or with Google apps?

Google has cloud-based:

  • document creation
  • storage
  • contacts
  • mail
  • calendars
  • news
  • bookmarks
  • syncing
  • printing

This adds new and deep meaning to the term World Wide Web. Everything in your world is connected back to you INSIDE of GOOGLE. Imagine yourself in a Google bubble, connecting everything that Facebook does not. Facebook does not have an address book, a collaborative document workflow, data storage, contacts, but it can connect independent apps that have such capabilities. The potential of Google acquiring Facebook is potentially a way to marry your Google self (you used to be able to log in to many places using your google ID) to your Facebook social self with an actual single sign-on concept. Facebook however, maintains its independence which, in this scenario that I’ve explained, seems healthy.

So what about you? Are you currently viewing the world through the eyes of Google or Facebook?

More about Google Chromebook
More about Chrome OS Release
More about Google Cloud Printing
What’s Next Google + Facebook

Plain Language and User Experience

Recently I attended Ginny Redish’s Plain language, Web Sites, Documents, and UX: You can do all that!, event hosted by the Usability Professional Association (UPA), DC Chapter.

As usual, when I attend dc events like IXDA and other miscellaneous UX meetups, I am usually the anomaly visual designer in the room.

The thing that I enjoyed about this event was the appreciation and importance of communication and information design and all the people that were there supporting it!

I am probably not alone in thinking that everything that is designed for humans by humans, needs to have some form of thought around communication and information design, whether it’s a website, a book, a pet robot, etc.

Ginny Redish brought up a great point. She mentioned that if you have an FAQ on your website, then you haven’t designed the site correctly, you have not engaged conversationally with the user and have not given them what they came there for – in plain language. If they cannot find what they are looking for and have to resort to an FAQ, it is a failed design.What she said, reminded me of how I think of charts and graphics. If you have to explain a lot and have a lot of text and verbiage, it seems like a failed visual design.

What Happens in an Actual Web Redesign Process…
As a visual designer on a user experience team in enterprise IT consulting, this event made me think about when terminology and language issues surface and then – what happens next….

My experience goes something like this:

a) “Oh you want to focus on the terminology and wording? That’s for the business to figure out. Let’s just get the navigation done and they can populate it with whatever words they want.”

Problem – the words have to be clear on where the user is being taken when clicking on one of those words. Once they get to the target page, the path should make sense to the user.

b) “Oh, let’s create a style guide with visual design guidelines and code snippets.”

Problem – where is the guide for implementing friendly and relevant language the converses with the users, rather than, tells users what the business thinks they need to know. Where is the guideline for developers when new functionality is added. Where are the guidelines for their new verbiage?

c) “We have a content strategy document – this is where we capture words and what goes in a dropdown.”

Problem – this is per piece of functionality , so ultimately who owns the overall language strategy across several apps within a main app? The tone and voice need to remain consistent throughout.

Parallel Redesigning as Part of the Process
Content and plain language are like fraternal twins. When a website is being redesigned after like 15 years of being the same, the conversation between the business and its customers also wants to change, but that is not always realized right away. As the site navigation and processes become redesigned and more efficient – the business may realize that the words and verbiage like instructions and information, can or also need to become more efficient and clear.

So how can we address plain language to improve the user experience in a website redesign project and in consulting? Where does it fit in the process? If it is such a valuable and proven contributing factor to long-term customer relationship success and ROI, why don’t we pay more attention to it?

Obama passed the plain language act in October, 2010 in order to create documents that are digestible. That is the essence of good design. Usability and relevance are key. Just like the accessibility push in government over the last few years at the national level, it seems like the plain language push will also soon come into focus and filter out into the mainstream.






“Where were you when…?”: Innovation, community, and history converge

“Where were you when…” is a familiar start to discussing major recent historic events. In the wake of the news about Osama bin Laden’s death, “Where were you when you heard the news of his death?” is now being asked and discussed in many forum. I realized that for me the most apt answer is “on Twitter.”

Screen shot of Twitter tweets on bin Laden DNA

Tweets regarding DNA testing for bin Laden's identification

That’s where the news first broke. That’s where many of us first heard about the pending announcement from President Obama. Where a chief of staff of former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld seemed to confirm the rumors. Where a mixture of surprise, relief, concern, dark humor, celebration, and gratitude to the soldiers and the president started lasting discussions about the ramifications of such an event over an hour before the news was officially confirmed. Where the world learned about “the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it.” Where many of us marveled at how Twitter connected us while withstanding the barrage of 5,106 tweets per second at its peak.

How different from a decade ago. Read the rest of this post »

Are You a Digital Hoarder?

…exclaimed my coworker, as I had just finished explaining the sudden death of my 1.5TB external drive as well as the mind (and gut) wrenching experience I was having in deciding whether it would be worth it to recover all of my data.
$1,850 to get that baby resurrected. I mulled over paying that amount for awhile. Would it be worth it to re-purchase all of the media that existed on it? Would it be worth it to retrieve all of the documents and photos I had painstakingly scanned page by page, photo by photo?
Once media switched to digital, I felt so free to redesign spaces/rooms, get rid of media cases and shelves and just thrive in the new open space provided by moving everything to somewhere ‘invisible’. My external drive became my virtual multi-media library.
The ‘Old’ Days
It’s not like when we all transitioned from VHS to DVDs. You could wait and eventually buy a used dvd of all of your favorite VHS movies.
It’s not like when we all graduated from cassette to CD and had the option to eventually buy used CDs.
There is no concept of ‘used’ digital licenses to purchase movies and other media at reduced costs – so after purchasing your favorite classic movie in VHS, then purchasing it again as a DVD, then purchasing it AGAIN as digital media (and most likely you’ve paid again via your Netflix subscription to watch it again in the ‘Watch it Again’ category of your personalized faves!).
When the data of your LIFE becomes suddenly obsolete, it makes you stop to consider what the hell it is all for and is it worth it. The amount spent on one movie title, or your favorite music group over the period of your LIFE comes into question. Your life is not even over yet. Who knows how many other formats Breakfast at Tiffany’s will come out in before you die?
Forget about money for a minute. Let’s think about TIME.
I had scanned a ton of photographs to digital for the preservation of memories with the intention of getting rid of all of those big clunky photo albums and either ridding myself of the physical media or at least slimming it down into small ‘archival’ photo boxes….the amount of TIME that took was excruciating and I would consider myself nowhere NEAR done with that project. To have to do it all OVER again, would kill me.
Then there is Time Machine. I am a mac user and had my Time Machine backup set up on that 1.5 tb drive. Is it NECESSARY for me to go back in time? Had I ever actually DONE IT? Actually – no. It’s just nice to know that I CAN, right?
I had gathered a few opinions from people about what they thought about my predicament. Here are some of their responses:

  1. Do you need all of that stuff?
  2. 1.5 TB? WHAT THE Heck do you HAVE on there?
  3. Go to the cloud – duh!
  4. Next steps? Set up a backup server or SEVERAL!

In this era of letting go and freeing oneself of physical and mental clutter – is moving from the physical to digital realm really doing anything different?