Clean Bathrooms

Today’s post from Seth Godin is so simple and yet so true. Seth describes the cleanliness of the bathrooms at Disney World. The people at Disney know that by keeping the bathrooms cleanand making the surroundings a better place they inherently earn trust.

My favorite line in the post:

If you take a lot of time to ask, “how will this pay off,” you’re probably asking the wrong question.

Amen

Crafstman Software Development

The other day I was listing to Build and Analyze episode #95 This Unicorn Doesn’t Support NFC. Toward the end of the episode Marco Arment demonstrates how his application, Instapaper, uses voice assist to help others may have some visual impairment. He also went on to showed how a few other applications in the category deployed or attempted to deploy a similar. I was very impressed by the demo but did not think about it to much initially.

Since then Marco has released two updates to the popular Instapaper. The first update was for iOS 6 compatitbilty but it included some other features as well.

I consider Marco to be a craftsman developer. His product is great, he is meticulous about the features he adds and why and he is always moving the product forward. In the last 2 releases (4.2.5 and 4.2.6) Marco has taken time to add features for what I can only imagine is a very small percentage of his user base. Marco has added fonts to aid the accessibility of customers with little or low vision.

The first version 4.2.5 added the Open-Dyslexic font to assist reading for people with Dyslecia. 4.2.6 added FS Me which has been used in the past to assist people with learning disabilities. I actually love this font and it seems to make things very sharp and easier to read for a long time.

So why did he add these new fonts? Did he have a plea from the community of visually impaired to add these? Does 70% of install user base need these? Is he getting pressure from his competitors to be feature competitive?

I speculate that none of these are true. I imagine he decided it was the right thing to do and it would assist some small portion of his user base. He took a craftsman approach to taking something really really good and making it even a little better. Instantly I think of the back of the cabinet approach Steve Jobs father spoke of –

“the back of the cabinet should look as good as the rest of it”.

Nice work

The subtlty of Search

If you are interested in little UI/UX details I recommend you head over to Little Big Details to check out some of their postings. One that I really liked was regarding the search utility found on Designspiration.

 Designspiration
Designspiration

When you go to the search page you are presented with a white screen. There really is only one visual que and that is a large blinking cursor. Once you start typing the search begins and gets more accurate the more you type. 

 Search
Search

Its very minimal and subtle. I was pleasantly surprised after I migrated my site to SquareSpace version 6 and there is something very similar.

 Search from ThoughtfulDesign
Search from ThoughtfulDesign

Nice touch !

iGoogle to be discontinued

Google has some nice tools.  They just don’t always work for me.  I think it boils down to a trust issue.  I am not crazy about being the product.  One of the few Google services I do like and enjoy is iGoogle.  It is my web browser home page and allows me a snapshot of news services, stock information (things I track not necessarily own) and some headlines from a few blogs.  I know there is the bug push for all things Google+ but I suspect that the reason it is being deprecated is that there is no ad revenue being generated.  One of the few services that has not gone this way.  Returning from vacation Monday I opened up my home page to see this notice on the top of the screen.

I know there are others out services that will provide a similar “dashboard” functionality so I will begin to investigate those now.  If you know of a service that you like I would love to hear about it.

 

Feature bloat vs. graphics bloat

Apple’s release of the new 15″ Retina MacBook Pro by many has been called a thing of beauty. I have yet to see one and I am sure it will make my eyes envious. I am sure Mac application developers will be working quite hard in the coming days and weeks to improve the images in their applications to take advantage of the absurd [1] amount pixels.

This got me thinking about size in general of overall applications.

When the Retina iPhone was released developers were quickly forced to update their applications to this new format to make them look decent. The apps did grow in size purely from the digital assets alone but it seemed insignificant overall. The same thing was true of the new iPad (3rd generation). This caused for much larger applications to the point that some who were comfortably running on a 16 gig models ran out of space. I think this was compounded with the release of the new textbooks that were created in iBooks Author. Another example was in newstand and other magazine applications. Previous magazine downloads were approximately 200–300 megabyte range. After receiving retina graphics treatments some grew to a gigabyte or more.

The same will be true of the applications for the MacBook Pro. I suspect size will not be quiet the issue but it is telling the direction we are going. Applications are growing much larger to provide a better reading experience and take advantage of these amazing displays without functionality changing that much.

I was thinking about this because I remember watching versions of popular applications like Microsoft Word, grow and grow in size. In this case it was not because they were making them beautiful, easier to read on screen or better for the user but because they were attempting to throw everything including the kitchen sink into these applications. In my opinion this resulted in a lot of bloated applications. But, in this instance it was all code based – functionality. After using Word for years (before switching to Byword exclusively), there are still a zillion things I do not know how to do with the application. You learn what you need to know and all the rest becomes noise. Somewhere down the line you may need to look up another function and learn how to use it for a particular document but that “new” thing usually does not become part of your application vocabulary.

The choice is clear for me. If my applications are getting larger make them better looking. Make them more useable. Take advantage of the technology. Do one thing well. Don’t grow your application by adding feature after feature into it. If it has to grow make it be as beautiful on screen as it can be so that I enjoy working in it even longer.


  1. I mean absurdly amazing !  ↩

The turd is dead

Dave Caolo at 52Tiger linked to this piece form the NY Times today.  A few things crossed my mind:

1. What took so long? (6 years)

2. Who is the marketing genius that thought brown was a good color? and does he still have a job?

3. Does anyone know someone who has one?

4. What took so long to kill it?

Microsoft kills the Zune:

The New York Times:

“Microsoft spokeswoman, Melissa Stewart, confirmed [at E3] that the Zune brand is going away so Microsoft can use the better-known Xbox brand for its entertainment services, including its online video service.”

It was a bad idea to make the Zune brown (it resembled a turd), but even worse to “chase Apple,” as former Microsoft executive Robbie Bach explained at a Northwest Entrepreneur Network in May:

“We just weren’t brave enough, honestly, and we ended up chasing Apple with a product that actually wasn’t a bad product, but it was still a chasing product, and there wasn’t a reason for somebody to say, oh, I have to go out and get that thing.”

Users who’ve created playlists will find them intact in the new Xbox Music Service.

(Via 52 Tiger)

Inconsistent Experience

Advertising is a part of our everyday life. TV, newspapers, magazines and websites all have some type of advertising. For the most part I am ok with it as long is it is not over the top and intrusive. Fortunately there are several apps that help you read articles without ads like Instapaper.

I use a Reeder on my Mac to subscribe to a number of blogs. Some RSS feeds have ads within them. Its not my favortie thing but it is certainly something that does not bother me.

Recently I was going through some feeds and came across an article from Cult of Mac that really interested me. Cult of Mac does not have ads within their feeds which makes it even better.

Reeder Image

I clicked on the preview in Reeder and the full page came up.The few normal static ads are there and I was expecting them.  So far so good.

Redder Preview

Wanting more information I clicked on the link that allows you top open the full page in Safari.

Open in Safari from Reeder

This is where I got shocked. When I opened the page I was greeted with a video ad that is in the middle of the page. During the 30 seconds that ad is playing you can not scroll on the page, read the page at all or bounce out of the ad altogether (there is no option to skip this ad). I found this to be a horrible and jarring expereince. If you go directly to the website you do not see the video at all so why it was forced for users coming from RSS Readers makes no sense at all and puts a bad taste in my mouth.  If you are going to advertise, you shoudl try and do it in the most thoughtful and consistent manner possible.  This fails. 

Turning a negative into a positive

I received an email from This Week on TED (Techology Entertainment and Design) that contained links to a few new videos. One of the ones that caught my attention right away was Renny Gleasons 4 minute talk about 404 pages. Renny is a Global Digital Strategies Director for Wieden+Kennedy

Click below to see Renny Gleason talk about the story of the 404 page. The take away is that you can take a negative experience into a positive brand building one.