Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

Implement BYOD – That’s The Way to Innovate

In my spare time, I am an adjunct faculty member for an online university and teach a class each semester.  This week the topic was IT innovation and one of my learners was using as their example, the phenomenon of mobile and ‘Bring Your Own Device’. The learner supported their argument that BYOD was a key IT innovation with a blog post on CIO Insight that stated that BYOD culture inspires employee innovation. My response was that while BYOD may be a key ingredient, but by itself, BYOD will not accelerate innovation. Mobile devices, whether they are personally owned devices used in the workplace or corporate-provided, are not inherently ‘innovative’.  They are business tools, similar to any other business device sitting on your desktop.

Innovation, in this case, is driven by how the mobile device is used.  I am not talking about being able to read and respond to your business email while watching your son at a swim meet (though, what else do you do when your son swims the 500 Free?).  Innovation is the hard work by both business and IT, sitting down and figuring out how to take advantage of the significant technological advances offered by mobile.  Quite often, firms don’t even need to sit down and come up with ideas.  Employees are coming to their managers and IT coworkers with impressive ways on how access to real-time enterprise data can make a significant impact in their lines of business.  Our industry loves statistics and one I thought significant was published by Webalo that stated that “98% of corporate users said productivity would improve if they had mobile enterprise access”. Obviously, there is no concrete ROI behind such a statement but if you think about it, you can come up with a number of positives in terms of sales, client satisfaction, and business decision-making that would come from efficiencies in extending enterprise data to mobile.

As I pointed out to the learner, the only thing our industry loves more than statistics is silver bullets and in this case, the idea that a BYOD initiative will inherently spur innovation within a firm.  Rather, the ability to have access to enterprise data whenever and wherever is the key to innovation.

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Posted in Mobile, Musings

The Fold

Let’s get something out of the way right at the start: There is no such thing as the fold on the Web!! Anyone who tells you differently is more wrong than Wrongly Wrongham of 14 Wrongingford Road, Wrongleton; winner of last year’s Mr Wrong Contest.

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Responsive Images – The New Hotness

Making images responsive on the Web is actually pretty easy. Don’t specify the width and height of the image, and include one simple CSS declaration, and bingo! Responsive images that scale beautifully as the page resizes and reflows. But what if you want a different crop of your image on a mobile device? Well, that’s where a new HTML5 element and a new HTML5 attribute come in.

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Progressive Enhancement vs Graceful Degradation

The Web marches inexorably forward, and we love to see the innovations that come from that progress. But usually, a proportion of your users won’t see the new hotness. They’re stuck on an old ‘n busted browser that they either can’t update (because IE8 is the highest version of IE available for Windows XP, and corporate IT isn’t upgrading yet, and IT policy dictates IE only on the desktop) or won’t update (through sheer bloody-mindedness? I dunno…). So what do we as designers do?

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Disney Parks Enhance the Customer Experience With Tech Bracelets

My sister and I looking fabulous in the 80's.

My sister and I looking fabulous in the 80’s.

I grew up in what you might call “a Disney family”. What this means is as a child growing up we always looked forward to our annual road trip from chilly Wisconsin to sunny Florida. We enjoyed the palm trees, cheesy shell shops, orange juice stands and “Meeting the Mouse”.  Watching Disney movies and relating the essence of their morals were a part of our lives from an early age. (I also spent most of my early life trying to figure out how I might in fact become a real princess. My husband might tell you I never really stopped trying to find a way…)

It was a magical place in my eyes where anything could happen. Once you entered the park entrance you were no longer just in Orlando… you were in some other worldly realm where things that don’t happen in our every day lives could in fact be possible behind these gold spray-painted gates…

The New York Times recently published an article talking about the advances in technology that Disney was looking to make, involving the collection of customer data. As you can imagine, I was intrigued. Read the rest of this post »

If you’re not doing crazy things, you’re doing the wrong things

Investing in innovation is a gamble that usually ends in flop or fortune. Frequently today it falls to startups to make those wagers as they may have less to lose. Seth Godin argues instead that “with great power comes great irresponsibility” and that existing companies don’t have to always play the safest route and ought to invest in innovation since a single failed attempt doesn’t mean that the company will fail.

Organizations tend to view “responsiblity” as doing the safe, proven and traditional tasks, because to do anything else is too risky. The more successful they become, the less inclined they are to explore the edges.

In fact, organizations with reach and leverage ought to be taking more risks, doing more generous work and creating bolder art. That’s the most responsible thing they can do.

In an interview with Wired, Google co-founder Larry Page echoed a similar sentiment. When asked about Google’s ambitious culture, Page replied, “It’s natural for people to want to work on things that they know aren’t going to fail. But incremental improvement is guaranteed to be obsolete over time. Especially in technology, where you know there’s going to be non-incremental change.”

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Custom maps with MapBox

mapbox-dcA couple of years ago I was working on a small project where the client wanted to visualize data from their field operations on a map. Nothing overly complex – just locations, custom icons, radius of operation for that location, etc. Easy, I thought. We’ll use a system like Google Maps. Except the client wanted the maps branded with their own color schemes, to blend in visually with the rest of their site. I tried for a week to find a solution that used modern, open web technologies. In the end I admitted defeat and the client went with a set of custom-designed maps in Flash.

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Front-end Developers are UX Designers too

A little while back I wrote this nugget of wisdom:

Creating a great user experience extends beyond the research, beyond the wireframes, and even beyond the visual design. All that hard work is ultimately for nothing if your website or web application isn’t fast. Why? Because if your site doesn’t load quickly, your users will go elsewhere very quickly indeed!

I was focusing on the performance of your website in that post, but there’s a more general point to be made: That a great user experience requires great front-end development.
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Rapid, responsive prototyping with HTML frameworks

“To design responsively, one must prototype responsively.”
– Martin Ridgway, 2013

Quoting myself. A good start. But honestly, the statement above is important. After all, how best to communicate principles of responsive design but to do it as early in the engagement as possible?

However, prototyping should be fast and iterative. As of January 2013, standard prototyping tools like Axure and Balsamiq don’t provide easy interfaces for creating responsive designs that work. Which means only one thing: We need to get our hands dirty with some responsive HTML frameworks.
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A Little More on Web Fonts

Arial, Verdana, Georgia, Times New Roman, Courier New, Impact, Trebuchet and <shudder>Comic Sans</shudder>. Those are the basic web-safe fonts we’ve all been using for the majority of our text-based content since the dawn of time. Or at least, since the Web came along. If you wanted something “fancier” for your text, you had to use an image, Flash, or something equally funky.

But we’re not shackled anymore. This is The Future™
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