Archive for the ‘Best Practices’ Category

Designing Interfaces, second edition (by Jenifer Tidwell)

December 23, 2010

In Chapter 9 of the long-awaited new edition of Tidwell’s seminal Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design, she includes a kind shout-out to Designing Social Interfaces (on page 394, “What This Chapter Does Not Cover”).

Designing for Play (updated for Web Directions @media)

June 20, 2010

I gave the latest version of my Designing for Play talk at the @media conference (now run by the amazing John Allsopp / Maxine Sherrin team famed for their other fantastic Web Directions events) in London two weeks ago and was very pleased with the comments and feedback I got.

The sage Scott Berkun even gave me a pat on the back, as well as some useful constructive criticism (I was saying “um” a lot, as the audio will no doubt reveal – this is something I’ve worked on eliminating but I think in this case it was a “tell” that I am still feeling my way through this train of thought.)

Anyway, here is the latest version of the slides:

AOL?!? Really?

May 12, 2010

By now most of my friends and colleagues and readers know that I resigned from my job at Yahoo! nearly a month ago. The meantime has flown by like a dream. B and I went to New Orleans and I was able to enjoy Jazzfest with no “homework” on my mind for the first time in years. I spoke in Minneapolis on the Web App Masters Tour, returned home, and last week I spoke at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.

In the midst of all this, a week ago Friday I started my new job at AOL.

I’ve started joking with my friends that I must have joined a company called “AOL!? Really?!?” because that’s the first thing out of most people’s mouths. (The ones who can speak, that is – some just boggle their eyes at me.) To be honest, when my friend and mentor, Matte Scheinker, first told me he had come out of retirement to take a new role at AOL as VP for consumer experience I reacted in almost exactly the same way.

For anyone who’s fought the good fight at Yahoo! against a headwind of Bay Area techie-insider scorn, it might seem like moving to AOL would be a matter of taking on more of the same.

But I listened to what Matte had to tell me about his new gig, and the more I heard about it the more intrigued I got. First of all, I like the idea of a company embracing a turnaround effort head on. At Yahoo! we were winning in enough categories that I did not always feel a sense of urgency in the culture about fixing and improving the areas that needed it.

At AOL I feel a bracing awareness: “now or never, do or die!” The new management team has wasted no time remaking AOL, taking it public again, refreshing the brand, repositioning the strategy, and challenging its employees to excel and win.

At some point while we were talking I realized that Matte was recruiting me to join his team, to help him place design thinking and a laserlike focus on customer experience at the heart of the (digital/software) product development process. In some ways, this is a designer or UX guy’s “put your money where you mouth is” moment, where the leadership of a major corporation says, “OK, you’ve been arguing that the customer is key and that design is a tool that is relevant to a company’s strategy and business processes, so now prove it.”

While I enjoyed my role curating the Yahoo! pattern library immensely, and it provided me with plenty of ego-boosting attention in the user experience design community, I did not always feel like I was able to exert my influence within the company in a concrete, effective way. I was there to offer advice and set an example, but I did not always have the ability to put into action ideas about how to make better products and how to employ better processes.

Further, AOL is aggressively interested in reshaping the world of media, publishing, content, attention, and advertising. This has been my wheelhouse since before the web. I came from book publishing, where I was astonished at the 19th century business practices I saw. The upheaval ripping through the worlds of publishing and journalism are messy and frightening for those being tossed about by the rapid changes, but I’m convinced that new models will emerge to connect people with the information and ideas and art and entertainment they want, and people will be compensated for their talents, yes and empires will grow up around these new models of weaving it all together.

AOL is playing in exactly that space. For example, AOL’s Seed beta and the Patch startup AOL recently acquired both represent (to me) very interesting experiments:

  • Rethinking the “content” business and the infrastructure (is “supply chain” too industrial a term for creative work?) for cultivating high quality writing.
  • Exploring the capabilities the web offers and the types of flows the web favors.
  • Sourcing small pieces of content.
  • Targeting hyperlocal geographies.

I honestly believe AOL has a shot at turning around its fortunes and rejuvenating its illustrious brand and I’m excited to have the opportunity to help the product teams at AOL perform to their highest abilities and succeed at delivering content and experiences that are better than the best of what the Internet has to offer (we call this goal “beating the Internet”).

Are the odds long? Yes, of course they are. That’s what makes the challenge so ambitious and so exciting.

So, yes, AOL. Really!

An essential guide to fostering online community

February 17, 2010

[Building Social Web Application book cover]Building Social Web Applications
by Gavin Bell
O’Reilly (October, 2009)

Gavin Bell draws on his extensive experience to offer a well structured guide to adding community elements to a website or application. His book will help any professional planning a social strategy, designing a set of social features, determining the types of relationships to foster among users, and even determining how best to manage change in an existing site or online structure.

Bell covers a wide gamut of issues that a site planner will need to consider, from developing the data schema for people, relationships, and objects; to how best to expose APIs to third-party developers; to the process of rolling out a new product or feature. Anyone developing a social website or app should keep this book handy throughout the process.

Bell and I share a publisher and our titles cover some similar issues. When I first picked up Bell’s finished book I gritted my teeth with envy. As I quickly devoured the book, though, I was relieved (or, at least I convinced myself) that our books are complementary and are each useful in their own way.

If you’re looking for one book to guide you through the entire process, from conception to launch and into the life of a social web application, then this is the book for you.

(via Amazon.com: Christian Crumlish “mediajunkie’s review of Building Social Web Applications”.)

Conceding the death of trackback

December 31, 2006

I held out long after all the cool kids had given up on trackback but I haven’t gotten a useful one since Prentiss Riddle pinged me about SXSW panel proposals and a trackback spam attack today finally convinced me to turn it off for all the blogs hosted at Mediajunkie.
Ironically, this post will try to send a trackback ping to Is trackback dead? Are comments on life support? @ Radio Free Blogistan but it will be refused.
Speaking of things that are dead, this blog is also pretty much dead.
Unless someone out there feels like blogging regularly about blogging, I am putting this weblog on deathwatch notice and will eventually transition it to an archive that points to my personal blog.

It's not nice to fool Mobhappy blogger

January 27, 2006

The How Not To Deal With Blogs: A Case Study entry by Carlo Longino at MobHappy provides a perfect object lesson in how to get on the bad side of bloggers when dealing with them straight would have been much smarter.

How do I blog?

December 20, 2005

Frank Paynter at Sandhill Trek has been asking people this month how they blog. Cool people. Not me. Which is just as well, because I’d be tempted to make a joke (“very carefully”), or be all literal about software and processes (boring).
I don’t think I have a good answer anyway. It keeps changing. Mostly I notice stuff. I want to talk about it. I don’t have a specific person in mind I want to limit the discussion to, so I choose an appropriate blog and post there. When I see an interesting web page and I have a bookmarklet for an appropriate blog, I dash off some surrounding text and post the link.
Other times I write novels. Dirty novels. Go figure.

Back up your blog!

December 19, 2005

I’ve been asleep at the wheel lately, but the recent Typepad outage should remind everyone to keep current backups of your site, both the data and the output if possible, whether you are self-hosting or relying on a service.
Related: *michael parekh on IT*: ON TYPEPAD OUTAGES AND WEB 2.0 MORTALITY, More than a common export format.

Generation theft

August 3, 2005

J.D. Lasica posts about a conversation with BlogHer co-organizer <a href="http://workerbeesblog.blogspot.com/"Elisa Camahort about blog plagiarism, and cites a few examples of people plagiarizing newspaper ledes in their blog entries about BlogHer (New Media Musings: Plagiarism in the blogosphere).
How lame!
Also, where’s the fun in that?

Is trackback dead? Are comments on life support?

May 2, 2005

Quoting from Trackback is dead. Are Comments dead too? (plasticbag.org)

I think it’s time we faced the fact that Trackback is dead. We should state up front – the aspirations behind Trackback were admirable. We should reassert that we understand that there is a very real need to find mechanisms to knit together the world of webloggers and to allow conversations across multiple weblogs to operate effectively. We must recognise that Trackback was one of the first and most important attempts to work in that area. But Nevertheless, we have to face the fact – Trackback is dead.

Shelley Powers says don’t throw out the comment babies with the trackbathwater.
Commenters at plasticbag suggest that tagging will supplant both, but tagging is just as susceptible to spam and namespace-squatting, is it not?