UPDATE January 25, 2009: Until further notice, all of the links to 4sli.de will be dead, as the code competition we built it for provided sponsored web space that expired.
It used to be, design work was presented in person. A pitch would be made in a board room, explaining the process behind a design, and it would be unveiled before the client. Nowadays, more and more design work is presented remotely, which is great for your flexible schedule, but takes all of the theater out of “selling” your work. E-mail isn’t very professional, PowerPoint and PDFs present version-control issues, and conference calls made over WebEx aren’t asynchronous for the hectic schedules of yourself and your clients. You just need a simple way to present work to your clients, on nice, professional-looking, clickable, web pages. That’s why we built 4sli.de. keep on reading »
Many web applications suffer from feature bloat. Their Product Development teams fall victim to thinking that just because one, or even two, or even three users suggest a feature, that it should be implemented. The result is a more complex application that requires more development time, more stuff that can go wrong, more maintenance. How do you prevent this problem? keep on reading »
I’ve encountered many back-end web developers who feel that there’s alot of mystery – even snobbery – behind visual design. There are plenty of rules of do’s and don’ts for web design out there, but I wanted to condense some of the theories behind design into a few simple concepts. I presented this at BarCampChicago so you know what to look for to understand the next great design you see. Check out the great video of the presentation that my shadow made:
I not-so-recently sat down with Nate Voss and Donovan Beery of 36point.com‘s Reflex Blue Show to talk about networking for designers – hopefully, without being a webcock – and to take my first sip of Mountain Dew in over a decade. Check it out here!
The one app I use more than any other on my iPhone is the timer. It’s great to be able to fully concentrate on the task at hand while waiting for a future task to be ready for action. Here’s just a few things you can use your iPhone timer for:
You’ve decided that working in an office isn’t for you. You don’t like doing the same tasks over and over again, you can’t stand the politics, and the commute is killer. More than anything, the idea that you have to sit in a certain spot between certain hours of every day is just asinine to you. So you go it alone – maybe you’re a business consultant, a writer, or a freelance designer.
The main problem the beginning Twitter user encounters is that they can’t manage all of the activity on their cell phone. Once you are following a few people, the number of updates coming to your phone will be overwhelming. Many people end up turning off their updates to their phone entirely – and then probably abandoning Twitter altogether – but it doesn’t have to be this way! You can still participate in Twitter and have the relevant stuff go to your mobile device while the less critical stuff is waiting for you on your Twitter home page. keep on reading »
I have a foot injury right now. The bottom of my foot sort of hurts. I could go to the doctor, but I don’t because of a couple of reasons. 1) I already know what he’ll say: “stay off it, keep it elevated, ice it regularly, and take ibuprofen” and 2) because while I’m one of the lucky Americans who has health insurance, my insurance totally blows. A simple checkup would probably cost me about $150.
Interaction between, or amongst, two or more parties that is facilitated by purposeful reduction of sources of social anxiety.
I was once at a party where everyone had the name of a celebrity taped to their back. We all then went around the party, asking people yes or no questions to gather information to guess which celebrity we “were.”
“Am I a male?” “Yes.” “Do I wear a suit?” “Yes.” “Do I live with talking inanimate objects?” “Yes.” “Pee Wee Herman?” “Correct!”
This is usually called an “icebreaker,” but it dawned on me that it’s not so much that this activity broke ice, it was that it made the ice much thinner than it might normally be when talking to strangers.
There’s alot of Ego Capital at stake when first interacting with someone. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Never. How will they interpret your actions and words? What will you talk about? Will your interaction with them be welcome? When there’s an “icebreaker” involved, the answers are: as part of the icebreaker, the conversation pieces provided by the icebreaker, and yes – unless they are a very closed individual. Icebreakers reduce some of the biggest sources of social anxiety in interacting with a new person – the “ice,” if you will.
Successful social media sites employ Thin-Ice Interaction to reduce the psychological barriers to interacting with a new person. Here are a couple of good examples:
Yelp’s “Compliment” Feature
So you’re browsing around to figure out where to go to dinner tonight, and you see a Yelp review that you really like – thus you really want to contact the person who wrote it. Or, maybe there’s – ahem – an ulterior motive. With this feature, not only does Yelp give you a plethora of options for just what to compliment them about (Thank You, You’re Cool, Hot Stuff, etc.), they even present you with a canned message so you can go about doing so without having to come up with something clever.
This make it easy for you to interact with the other user, but it also reduces your upfront investment of Ego Capital – your “out-on-a-limb-ness.” They know they’re receiving a canned message – they’ve probably received a similar one before – so your ego isn’t at as much risk if they would rather not interact with you. Imagine if these canned messages didn’t exist, and you received word-for-word the same thing in the form of a private message – the interpretation of that message would be entirely different, and sending it would involve breaking through much thicker “ice.” Instead, you can break the thinner ice by giving a canned compliment to the other user. If they respond to you, then you can move forward to another interaction layer (messages you write yourself, meeting for coffee, helping them move, etc.).
JDate.com’s “Click” Feature
This is about as thin-ice as dating gets. Remember how people got together in grade school? “Do you like her?” “I like her if she likes me…” Oh, if only you could find out if she likes you before you show your cards and risk rejection. This is just like that.
When you see someone who interests you, you click “yes,” “no,” or “maybe.” If you click “yes,” JDate will discreetly make sure that person sees your profile at some point. If they click “yes,” you both get a “click alert” e-mail. So, this feature finds out if both parties are interested, without either of them having to deal with that oh-so-dreaded rejection. If only they had this in grade school.
Here’s a couple other examples of thin-ice interaction on successful social media sites:
Facebook’s “poke” feature: Don’t want to send a message? Just poke. The ego of the user can hide behind the ambiguity in the intended purpose of this feature.
Match.com’s “wink” feature: Why spend an hour trying to craft a witty first message when you don’t know if that cutie will respond at all? Just wink to test the waters.
Analyzing this phenomenom makes these features sound like crutches for social degenerates, but really, getting your users to interact with one-another is key to creating a vibrant online community where real relationships are eventually formed.
Every Movable Type user’s favorite little script for publishing their tweets to their blog has been updated. For the longest time, my tweets showed the wrong time. I figured Twitter would fix it sooner or later, but it turns out my Atom feed now displays the correct time. My RSS feed still does not, and TwitBlog was written to pull from RSS feeds. Well, I changed the code a bit so it now works with your Atom feed instead. Sorry for the lack of versioning, but the changes aren’t that complex anyway, so if you must know the specifics, just shoot me an email: david at kadavy.