Monday, December 27, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
By sequestering them, quarantining them, putting these jobs/projects/conditions under glass - you are being both honest and wise. Few situations are worse than taking a job you you don't want. Either you or the client - and probably both - will be disappointed.
So set your rules and stick to them. When an opportunity arises that is on your "no" list, be clear (with yourself, at least) that it's not the type of thing you normally do.
You can always give it a second look. Remember - you're not in the box.
Friday, December 10, 2010
But they expect us to deliver - and that's right, and that's fine.
The point today is different, but no less important. The point is to keep your promises to yourself. If you swore you'd never do X, then make sure you don't. If you said to yourself Y and Z would happen, move the world if you must to make them happen.
Treat yourself right.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
More often, you're coming up with lots of things - and they're all bad.
Pick the one you like the most (or - more likely - hate the least) and write that one down. Now you've got something, even if it's something bad.
Crap beats zip.
By going all-out for security and designing $100 bills thought to be nearly impossible to counterfeit, Uncle Sam succeeded in designing $100 bills that the Treasury found nearly impossible to print.
"...the quarantined bills add up to $110 billion -- more than 10 percent of the entire U.S. cash supply, which now stands at around $930 billion.
The flawed bills, which cost around $120 million to print, will have to be burned." -- From Zachary Ross's piece on Yahoo - http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20101206/us_yblog_thelookout/government-cant-print-money-properly.
Given that there is no plan to retire the existing $100 dollar bills, the level of protection this debacle was intended to provide for the US money supply is debatable. And it's doubtful anyone would argue that any currency is impossible to counterfeit. The counterfeiters may well have an easier time developing these superfranklins than the Mint.
The security consultants should have made room at the table for someone with a usability background - or someone with hands-on knowledge of printing currency.
As Franklin himself is so often quoted (paraphrased, really) - "He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither."
He who trades a usable product for a secure one will have neither.
Franklin's original quote, in the interest of completeness, is: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Friday, December 3, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
It may be that in our quest to work smarter,not harder we are in fact working harder and less well.
Racing to hit the milestones, it's easy to miss the point.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
It might help. It might even put the situation into perspective. It will definitely provide you an opportunity to look just a little bit better -- better than you will if you blurt out the pointless question.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Still, there will be a lot of choices. And frequently - through habit or reflex or the simple comfort of the known - you'll make similar choices to those you have made in the past. And that can be fine. Wise, even. Assuming you have usually made the right choices.
Too often, you find yourself in a "here we go again" situation, not because you're dumb or incompetent but because the options you're used to selecting often lead to similar pitfalls or pinch points. Doesn't mean your path won't work - just that the same pain appears.
When you become conscious of this, it means you should back up, breathe, and think about how to make better choices.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Most of us are not dependent on natural light. Farmers get up in the dark, regardless of what the clock says (and livestock do not respect government edicts to 'change time'). The kids might have another week of going to school in the light (after a week of going to school in the dark because we changed the clocks to Daylight Savings Time last spring), but now they come home in the dark. Meanwhile we have sleep disturbed, appointments missed, traffic accidents.
So, for all the disruption, what is really gained?
Thursday, October 28, 2010
P2PU Web Accessibility Lesson 1: Setting Motivation
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Most projects are described with performance specifications - describing what the product or service needs to do. That's the right way to request most work - "I need something that does X."
Relatively few projects are described with detail specifications - things that for compatibility or other requirements have to be built following a certain approach. That makes sense, too -- "I need something that does X, and it has to be built using Y." They define them pretty well here.
Sometimes a client comes out with a bizarre mix of the two types of spec. A performance spec is called for, but they fall into the trap of thinking that it is right and proper to impose an arbitrary -- yet non-specific -- condition on the approach taken in the project. A recent example of this is a client who wanted their online content to fit one of three levels of both interactivity and multimedia richness (yes, their spec was already getting blurred by linking the two areas). This is still manageable, though - their basic product would be vanilla HTML with minimal graphics -- middle school web design stuff; their high level stuff goes all out, branching navigation, games, videos with clickable hotspots that take the user to different outcomes; and their intermediate level falls in-between.
So far, so good. They define their types as basic, midrange, and complex and they describe the types of things they want to see in each flavor. Still good. But then the fail comes. They get excited. They decide to require that the complex multimedia / complex interactivity product be delivered with a "complex underlying technology."
Um - does delivering it over the internet count?
Now, advanced design is simple to the user - look at an iPod, does anybody really need the manual to use one? How will this client assess whether the product's underlying technology is sufficiently complex? What, if the users don't have trouble with it, it doesn't meet the spec? Or - looking at the "underlying" aspect of it - if the client can't make head or tail of how it works, is that complex enough? We can build you something that you'll never be able to update yourself - is that really what you want?
Specifications should make your needs clear. If you need it in blue to match your branding, fine. If you need it to be in Flash (or Silverlight, or HTML5, or Java -- remember Hotmedia, anybody?) because your users already have the plugin or don't have admin rights to install any new ones - that's fine and reasonable, too.
But a stipulation that "it has to be really complicated under the hood" is foolish.
File it under "pitfalls of organizational thinking."
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Thursday, June 3, 2010
My boss shut me down, of course, pointing to the conceptual stone tablets that spelled out how we... well, spelled things out. And now one of those stone tablets has been re-carved. Usage rules should and do evolve to meet the way things are actually used.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
In the marketplace of ideas, someone has to be interested in what you have to offer. You can't bully them into buying it.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Use and Usability - Design Philosophy for the Real World
Abstract: Across the realms of multimedia production, information design, web development, and usability, certain truisms are apparent. Like The Art of War or The Elements of Style, the basics of good design philosophy can be delivered simply and briefly. Topics examined include: taking the user's point of view in user-centered design; do you need a use case or a target audience?; collaboration - synergy or too many cooks; the importance of honesty in design; and, foreseeing the pitfalls created by organizational thinking.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Friday, April 30, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
And if the people running the show - management, client, whoever - are convinced that their function is to serve and promote the process above all else, well... that's what we call a bad job.
Do a good one.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Friday, April 2, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
Users are commitment-averse. Maybe because so much of the web has evolved to suit adolescent males.
They won't commit to give you an hour, or half an hour. Or even ten minutes. You can probably get another click or two out of your users, unless you've really put them off. So you have to leave a trail of breadcrumbs. Just one more cool thing ("OK," the user thinks. "I'll see this and then move on.") Then another cool thing, and another. They might only commit to that one click at a time, but if you do it right you just might be able to keep them for as long as you want.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Which is to say, meaning to do whatever it is you do. Otherwise, making it up as you go, it's just evolving, isn't it? It's going to evolve anyway - with each new piece of the puzzle, the whole thing changes somewhat and the other pieces will shift in order to fit. But there should be an intent in place before anything is written, shot, coded, has life breathed into it. Makes it easier to run the show, if you have a script.
Too many metaphors? Working on the web, it's all metaphors. Buttons, scrollbars, cursors, frames (accursed frames), layers -- it's all a representation of something else. Real-world items, paper documents, machine control interfaces.
Use them with a purpose. Any purpose will do, as long as you have one.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Don't sink through the floor.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
The Little Black Book of Design has been spending a reasonable amount of time at the top of the graphic design bestseller lists in Amazon's Kindle store. You don't need a Kindle, though -- they have free readers for PC, iPhone, iPod Touch and Blackberry.
It's a collection of a hundred-odd points to ponder, like those I've been posting here.
If you like the blog, you might like the e-book.
Oversight or poor judgment can be understood ("I had no idea my friend Mr. Smith was part of the approval process for this project." "We felt the accessibility shortcoming could be overcome soon after launch.")
Lying means you made a conscious decision to do the wrong thing, presumably for your own benefit. Giving a second chance to you after you've gone down that road is going to be very difficult - and most would consider it unwise.