Sunday, June 27, 2010

World Cup Websites: All to Play For

The World Cup usability report evaluates the World Cup-focused websites of FIFA and 4 major broadcasters - the BBC, Sky, ITV and Eurosport - against 10 best practice usability guidelines. The guidelines focused on homepage priorities, supporting key user tasks, user engagement, and navigation & orientation.

Download the report (opens in a new window)1
(PDF - 1.9Mb)

Good read and clever, topical bit of research!

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Why Being Wrong Makes Humans So Smart

Hugh Pickens sends in an excerpt in last week's Boston Globe from Kathryn Schulz's book Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error. "The more scientists understand about cognitive functioning, the more it becomes clear that our capacity to make mistakes is utterly inextricable from what makes the human brain so swift, adaptable, and intelligent. Rather than treating errors like the bedbugs of the intellect — an appalling and embarrassing nuisance we try to pretend out of existence — we need to recognize that human fallibility is part and parcel of human brilliance. Neuroscientists increasingly think that inductive reasoning undergirds virtually all of human cognition. Humans use inductive reasoning to learn language, organize the world into meaningful categories, and grasp the relationship between cause and effect. Thanks to inductive reasoning, we are able to form nearly instantaneous beliefs and take action accordingly. However, Schulz writes, 'The distinctive thing about inductive reasoning is that it generates conclusions that aren't necessarily true. They are, instead, probabilistically true — which means they are possibly false.' Schulz recommends that we respond to the mistakes (or putative mistakes) of those around us with empathy and generosity and demand that our business and political leaders acknowledge and redress their errors rather than ignoring or denying them. 'Once we recognize that we do not err out of laziness, stupidity, or evil intent, we can liberate ourselves from the impossible burden of trying to be permanently right. We can take seriously the proposition that we could be in error, without deeming ourselves idiotic or unworthy.'"

Once we recognize that we do not err out of laziness, stupidity, or evil intent, we can liberate ourselves from the impossible burden of trying to be permanently right. We can take seriously the proposition that we could be in error, without deeming ourselves idiotic or unworthy.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Androideroids from Grant Skinner

Flash Platform whiz Grant Skinner has released a video of his latest project. Dubbed "Androideroids", it is a multi-player version of the game Asteroids in which players control their individual ships using Android phones which connect to a desktop client that displays the full game. The game is powered by Adobe AIR, with an AIR client running on a laptop connected to the main screen and AIR clients running on each mobile device to control the individual ships.

This approach/pattern of pushing a client to mobile users that provides control-level functions of hosted applications that render on other clients makes the Flash/AIR combination more addressable.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

You asked

Experience is a Management Opportunity

One of the things I think a lot about in terms of building great experiences are the cultural barriers and individual employee challenges challenging the shift to being customer focused.

We tend to talk about 'Experience' in two ways from a product and service delivery standpoint. We talk in terms of Customer Acquisition and Customer Service. But these broad-reaching, multi-org definitions cannot directly translate to specific tasks and roles without some investigation and application of theory.


One could argue that on the web, customers acquire the enterprise or customers acquire products and services - not the other way around. This subtle shift changes the way we present, compete and enable self-service touch points and the corresponding activities. We do need to help people from time to time, and the more complex the product or service, or the less intuitive the interaction, the more we will need to help them.

For me it helps to flip the funnel upside down (or sideways) and then tackle it from the customer/end user POV. Map the steps and stages against what they are going through, not in terms of your view of the touch points, but in terms of the total customer universe. Then invert your relationship/engagement language into their terms and insert those tentacles into the new customer funnel.

You will see any gaps immediately.


From a service standpoint, lets keep mapping the points into the funnel. Now we will be starting to populate post-purchase activity as well as some pre-purchase investigation of service levels that customers will be looking into. We are defining the path to referral as the panacea but don't fool yourself into thinking a perfect activity map will automatically lead to referral. Some customers will never refer anyone which is simply a permanent symptom of too many years of people getting this whole centricity thing backwards.

This new activity map should now be populated with only what you actually have in place today that works as intended 100% of the time. Work back and forth across the lifetime of a customer's interactions on your sideways funnel and remove anything that does not always produce the stated outcome. You will now see further gaps.

Finally, ask yourself what are you doing in your life to specifically help the people working on the front-lines to trust that product and service design have the same degrees of customer-centricity that they are being asked to deliver? Think across the organization and see if you can find other examples of what is being done right. Map the ROI of those desired behaviors into your new funnel. By the way, the list of answers to that question, that's customer-centric teamwork. Go team.

Now you are ready to ask yourself the million dollar question. Where in those gaps you have uncovered and now want to fill do you see a lack of management focus on getting the gaps closed immediately?

You have discovered where Experience is a management opportunity.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Bite-Sized Chunks Of Info Are Best - Applying Psychology to Understand How People Think, Work, and Relate

We can only handle so much — Humans can only process small amounts of information at a time (consciously that is… the estimate is that we handle 40,000,000 pieces of information every second, but only 40 of those make it to our conscious brains). One mistake that web sites make is to give too much information all at once, like this web site from the Canadian government:

Canadian government website with no progressive disclosure

There is no chunking here, there is not progressive disclosure. It’s just all the information thrown on the page all at once. The result? You don’t r

I have for a long time thought that the Canadian Government CLF (Common Look and Feel) initiative basically put the perceived needs of a few in front of the needs of actual readers. Bureaucratic approaches to determining design standards mean that departmental interpretations focus on rules moreso than actual good design skills, and basically web teams are free to publish completely useless pages of information that can actually never be consumed by anyone. But it follows the clear and strict guidelines laid out to make sure that no one has to think for themselves, and that's what matters here in Ottawa.

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Engagement, Entertainment, or Get The Task Done: Cognitive, visual, and motor loads in UX design

Before the days of websites and user experience, the interaction designer's job was focused. The term wasn't user experience, it was usability, and there was one goal: make it simpler and easier for users to get their tasks done. The design wasn't of websites, but software applications. 99% of the software applications were being used by people to get something done: write a report, analyze financial data, or sell an apartment building. There were lots of constraints on what the technology could do, and most of the technology was largely unusable for the everyday user who was not a computer expert. It took a lot of negotiation to make any interface changes, since programming was cumbersome and every change meant someone had to rewrite programming code.

Interesting analytical piece on the increasing complexity of determining appropriate levels of engagement and entertainment in interface design.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

7 deadly sins of landing page design

Have you committed one of the "7 deadly sins of landing page design?"

Since it's the page visitors see after clicking your ad, your landing page is one of your most valuable tools. A bad landing page will drive visitors away, while a good one will turn AdWords clicks into customers. This is why we held a webinar on July 1st to expose the "7 deadly sins of landing page design", and explained how to fix them.

Tim Ash, one of our Website Optimizer Authorized Consultants, led this webinar and shared many insights and best practices to help advertisers improve their conversion rates. A recording of the webinar is now available for anyone who was not able to attend.

The recording is also available on the Website Optimizer Youtube Channel, where you can learn even more about improving your conversion rate with website testing.

If those are sins, the internet is going to hell.

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It's the People Stupid

Caught this on the clienteer community this morning...Deb has a great way of putting us on the spot here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Design can change the world


Emily Pilloton and Matt Miller of Project H Design, with road dog Junebug

Some called us crazy. Others called us traveling trailer trash, visionaries, or just designers with A.D.D. who don't know how to sit still. But when my Project H partner-in-crime Matt Miller and I hit the road in a pink-stripe-clad Airstream trailer on February 1, leaving my home town of San Francisco for the 75-day, 36-stop Design Revolution Road Show, we set out with one thing in mind: to bring design that makes a difference to the doorsteps of average citizens and students. We wanted to inspire change, prove what is possible, and hopefully not kill each other along the way. Yes, the idea came about as a sort of renegade book tour for my then-recently-published Design Revolution: 100 Products that Empower People, but amidst our shoestring planning, our ambitions got the best of us, transforming the tour into a roving exhibition of products, a lecture and workshop series, and general rabble-rousing escapade.

Crazy designers on an awesome road trip!

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

DNA could be backbone of next generation logic chips

May 11, 2010 --> DNA could be backbone of next generation logic chips


These are many waffles. Credit: Chris Dwyer

( -- In a single day, a solitary grad student at a lab bench can produce more simple logic circuits than the world's entire output of silicon chips in a month.

In his latest set of experiments, Chris Dwyer, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering, demonstrated that by simply mixing customized snippets of DNA and other molecules, he could create literally billions of identical, tiny, waffle-looking structures.

Dwyer has shown that these nanostructures will efficiently self-assemble, and when different light-sensitive molecules are added to the mixture, the waffles exhibit unique and "programmable" properties that can be readily tapped. Using light to excite these molecules, known as chromophores, he can create simple logic gates, or switches.

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Integration of Collaboration - The Future of Enterprise Applications - R3Now

1)  Raw Information:  The unstructured data, ideas, “crib notes,” and thoughts that we all have.  However in this instance, it is the raw information surrounding the job or responsibility that the individual performs within the enterprise.  Sometimes these are the “workarounds” to get something done when you run into obstacles or roadblocks, other times they are just shortcuts, techniques, to perform a job or function.

Knowledge Management Process

2)    Organized Information:  This is the process of capturing and classifying that raw information.  This is where the “knowledge bases” and other types of information systems come in.  Many enterprises make it this far. Sometimes these are the “workarounds” to get something done when you run into roadblocks or obstacles.  Other times they might be the shortcuts or techniques to more efficiently perform a job or function.

3)    Acquired Information Experience: This is the interaction with the organized information.  This can be through search functions, employed taxonomies, reports, or other methods of accessing the organized information.  This is after the capture of the information in steps 1) and 2) above, and involves its wider availability than in the individual who originally developed or “held” the knowledge or information.  Few organizations or enterprises make it much further than this.  However, this is the beginning of the true learning organization.

4)    Applied Experience (Knowledge!):  This is the practical application of the organized information after it has been acquired.  Whether this acquisition is through word of mouth, training, or some type of information management system (that is wrong named a knowledge management system) or through a “knowledge base”. This is where the cost savings, revenue opportunities, continuous process improvement opportunities, and real competitive advantage begins to come to fruition.

5)    Refined Experience:  This is more of the inherent “knowing” what to do in a broad variety of contexts that may not be directly related to the task or issue at hand.  It is when an individual can draw on that level of inner experiences mixed with intuition and make the right decision or provide the right answers when there is not enough information to make such a determination under normal circumstances.  This can also be a type of “making the complex appear to be simple.”

Bill Wood from R3Now wrote a piece called “SAP, ERP III, SOA — Learning Organizations through Social Media Collaboration.” That article laid out a way to integrate social media tools like Forum software into the SAP help system. What this means is that end users can capture real time information about the system, or shortcuts, or requests for simplification or other useful information and disseminate it to the organization. This also provides a method for workers in any department or area, in real time, to provide feedback that focuses on the company value proposition or competitive pressures. Above is the model he produced.

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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The reality of cross-platform mobile development despite the hype...

Interesting and objective report by several Ovum analysts on “Mobile App Development in the iPhone Age” (PDF):

Includes some interesting statistics:  

·        Over 70% of developers are leveraging, or plan to leverage, at least five cross-platform environments (including Java ME, mobile browsers, full web browsers, Qualcomm’s BREW, and Adobe’s Flash

·        With the potential scale advantages of adopting cross-platform technologies already apparent, not to mention the longer-term benefits for multi-screen application development and deployment (including TVs and other connected devices), we expect to see a considerable shift in developer efforts towards newer cross-platform environments next time we conduct the survey.  We expect these will include both Adobe Flash (which will have achieved technical parity across PCs and other devices by the end of this year) and Microsoft’s Silverlight, with interest in both already running high, at 75% and 54% respectively.)

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Financial Services Embrace Rich Internet Apps - Application Development from eWeek

As financial services organizations seek new ways to acquire and retain customers, the right investment in digital services will have a significant impact on long-term competitive advantage. Embracing digital solutions can also help banks manage their own finances, which is crucial in today's tight economy. Through the use of Adobe Systems technologies, financial institutions are reshaping how they interact with clients across digital channels, providing engaging customer experiences across devices and computing environments - one of the keys to customer satisfaction and retention. The massive explosion in device, service and data access options represents an opportunity for financial services institutions to engage with a new generation of banking customers and more effectively with current customers.

Great slideshow of examples and samples from the FSI space!

Disclosure: I work for Adobe

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Tuesday, June 08, 2010


Thermoelectric wellies that charge your mobile phone using heat from your feet

Orange today unveils the Orange Power Wellies, a groundbreaking and innovative eco mobile phone charging prototype created to keep Glastonbury Festival goers connected with their friends across the weekend.

The Orange Power Wellies, created in collaboration with renewable energy experts GotWind, use a unique ‘power generating sole’ that converts heat from your feet into an electrical current. This ‘welectricity’ can then be used to recharge your mobile phone. Orange, Official Communications Partner for the Glastonbury Festival, will be showcasing the Orange Power Wellies prototype onsite.

Twelve hours of stomping through the Glastonbury Festival in your Orange Power Wellies will give you enough power to charge a mobile phone for one hour. To increase the length of time you can charge your phone for, simply hot step it to the dance tent because the hotter your feet get, the more energy you produce.

How it works
After a full days festival frolics you can plug your phone into the power output at the top of the welly and use the energy that has been generated throughout the day to charge your phone. The power collected in the ‘power generating sole’ is collected via a process known as the ‘Seebeck’ effect. Inside the power generating sole there are thermoelectric modules constructed of pairs of p-type and n-type semiconductor materials forming a thermocouple. These thermocouples are connected electrically forming an array of multiple thermocouples (thermopile). They are then sandwiched between two thin ceramic wafers. When the heat from the foot is applied on the top side of the ceramic wafer and cold is applied on the opposite side, from the cold of the ground, electricity is generated.

Dave Pain, Managing Director at GotWind said: “GotWind are excited to be working with Orange for a fourth year to create an invaluable charging prototype for festival goers. Wellies are now the staple festival footwear, the Orange Power Wellies not only keep you dry but they also provide a crucial eco electricity source.”

Andrew Pearcey, Head of Sponsorship at Orange UK said: “Orange remain loyal to the green ethos of the Glastonbury Festival and are committed to researching exciting new energy sources that can be used on site to ensure people can stay in touch with their nearest and dearest. The Orange Power Wellies use clean and renewable energy to create valuable electricity ensuring festival goers can text and phone their mates for the duration of the weekend”.

The Orange Power Wellies are the latest innovation in Orange’s bid to find alternative sustainable and eco friendly mobile phone charging technologies that can be used at the Glastonbury Festival. Previous projects have included the Recharge Pod powered by wind and solar energy, Dance Charger which drew upon kinetic energy created by dancing and the Orange Power Pump which uses the energy created from a traditional foot pump and converted it into electricity.

The Orange Chill n Charge area will be onsite for the duration of the festival with more charging points than ever, exciting new interactive elements and will also feature a soundtrack of stripped back acoustic performances. for all the latest updates from the field go to Orange’s Glasto Blog at which will be launching in mid-June.

For more information about Glastonbury Festival go to


For more information on Orange or Glastonbury please contact:

Holly Ferguson / Minnie Copping at M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment
Tel: 0207 544 3855 / 0207 544 4581
Mob: 07837 252565 / 07896 857 800
Email: /


Orange is the key brand of the France Telecom Group, one of the world’s leading telecommunications operators. With 131.8 million customers, the Orange brand now covers Internet, television and mobile services in the majority of countries where the Group operates.

In the UK, Orange provides high quality GSM coverage to 99% of the UK population, and 3G coverage to more than 93%. At the end of March 2010, Orange had more than 17.305 million customers in the UK – 16.442 million active mobile customers and approximately 863,000 fixed line internet customers.

Orange and any other Orange product or service names included in this material are trade marks of Orange Brand Services Limited.
On July 1, the company will become part of Everything Everywhere, one company that runs two of Britain’s most famous brands  -  Orange and T-Mobile - with plans to  transform the industry bygiving customers instant access to everything, everywhere, offering them the best value, best choice and best network coverage in the country.

For more information please call the Orange Press Office 0870 3731500, or visit

About GotWind

GotWind was originally founded with the purpose of sharing experience in the design and making of small scale renewable energy projects, focusing in particularly on wind and solar power.

In 2006 Ben Jandrell launched this website initially as a hobby to share his passion with the world, as renewable energy has become more and more prevalent in the worlds conscious. GotWind and its unique approach has received massive interest worldwide. The website is a quickly growing hub for renewable energy enthusiast’s worldwide, offering advice and resources for all its users.
For further information please visit

But what if it's not raining?

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Friday, June 04, 2010

Get Free Digital Signatures for PDF Documents with Adobe eSignatures

Most people assume that digital signatures are meant for use* only in corporate communication but they for everyone.

For example, if you get a legal contract (like a rental agreement) or an NDA as an email attachment, you can either print the document on paper, sign it with a pen and then fax it back, or, to save time, you can use a digital signature to sign* that document.

[*] If you add your scanned handwritten signature to an electronic document, that won’t be a ‘digital signature’ since anyone can use that signature image into another document.

Obtain Digital Signatures for Documents Online

EchoSign and Right Signature are currently the most popular web-based services that let you obtain digital signatures on PDFs and Word documents without any hassles. The signed documents are unalterable, they are legally binding and you can also verify that the digital signatures are authentic.

Electronic Signatures

Now Adobe too has entered the space with the launch of Adobe eSignatures – an elegant web app that puts the digital signature process in the cloud.

You upload a PDF document to and then specify email addresses of all individuals who are required to sign that document. Once all the parties have signed the document, you can download it to your computer as a digitally certified Adobe PDF.

There’s only one copy of the document that is stored at a central location so you don’t have to send email attachments back and forth. When you open this document in say Adobe Reader, the digital certificate seal is displayed as a blue ribbon and this will help you verify /validate the integrity of that document.

The service will also work as a repository so you’ll always have instant access to all your signed contracts and agreements without having to hunt the Inbox.

PDF with Digital Signatures

You can either use the built-in style for signatures or you can upload a scanned image of your handwritten signature so that the digital signature looks just like your actual sign.

Adobe eSignatures is remarkably simple and the different pieces just work as you would expect them to. All you need is an Adobe ID and a Flash capable browser to sign documents (sorry iPad users).

Digital Signatures & Microsoft Office

Desktop software like Microsoft Office also let you digitally sign documents but there’s a difference. For digital signatures to work with Office, you first need to obtain a digital certificate from a company like Verisign or Thawte but that’s not required if you are using the Adobe service.

You can currently use Adobe eSignatures to obtain digital signatures on PDF documents for free but it’s unlikely to stay that way for long.

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Brilliant! Hard-working Lego dudes print Hello World

Geek-y goodness!

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