A TEXT POST

Minimum Villainous Plot

Ernst Stavro Blofeld: Ladies, Gentlemen, thank you for joining me here at SPECTRE’s AGM. As we all know, this has been a tumultuous twelve months for the organisation following the radical process changes we elected to implement in 2011.

Now I know these have been some extremely challenging adjustments and there has been some knock-on effect to some of our core revenue streams, especially in some areas of terrorism and extortion that have historically been high-ROI spheres for us. But I think we all understand that our old front-loaded, waterfall, build-big plans for world domination just aren’t viable in the modern world, and this is a period of transitional pain as we realign SPECTRE to the realities of business in the 21st century.

So, let’s recap what we’ve learned in this first year of Lean Villainy. Remember, these days we don’t say “this organisation does not tolerate failure,” we say “this organisation does not tolerate failing to learn from failure.” Auric?

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Minimum Viable Wow

When you plan your public releases, it’s natural to assume that delivering as many features as possible is the best solution to please your users. But allowing yourself to be driven by feature lists can be deadly, especially when it’s combined with the Minimum Viable Product mindset.

Sometimes it’s better to deliver an even more minimum feature set, expressed as a more pleasant experience. Doing two things in a powerfully engaging way builds better emotional bonds that persuade your users to buy into the promise of an MVP than doing three things in workaday fashion.

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A TEXT POST

Lion’s Excessive Skeuomorphism: A Sign of Underdesign?

A quick little bit of thinking out loud here…

Lion has been catching a lot of flack recently because of what some see as excessive skeuomorphism in Address Book and iCal. The leatherbound effect works better in Address Book because it just looks like the already leatherbound icon has opened up into the app. But in iCal it looks like design for design’s sake. Whether that is necessarily a bad thing is a topic for a long and involved post that will probably take me several more months to compose.

But then I think about my own design process and in particular how the search for the right metaphor often takes you down a few wrong turns before it becomes refined into the final visual language. Very often, because it’s an obvious route to take, that metaphor goes through a phase of being overly literal–”I’m showing a video, so I’ll put it in a frame that looks like a TV set” for (contrived) example–before it gets toned back or pulled altogether in favour of some other metaphor.

Apple is famously fastidious about its designs. Reportedly they prepare 10 pixel-perfect mockups for every interface they release (which means there are 9 versions of iTunes 10.5 out there that suck even more). And they’ve done skeuomorphism in the past in the form of brushed metal, which settled down in the calmer, more abstract Unified theme.

So my question is this - are these very literal metaphors actually an indication of Apple not applying the later stages of its usual lengthy design process?

A TEXT POST

It’s All In The Context

There’s a wonderful (and sadly abandoned [However, see the update at the bottom of this post]) piece of software for OS X called MarcoPolo. It sits unobtrusively in your menu bar, and every few seconds it looks at the world around it. The physical world around it, that is - it looks at the surrounding SSIDs, bluetooth devices, USB devices, screens, printers and servers on the network - and from that, it works out where you are and then runs whatever actions you’ve defined for that location.

If that doesn’t sound like the most exciting piece of software you’ve ever heard of, then I regret to inform you that you and I are technically at war. I’ll explain why.

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Apple to Release First Thing That Comes Into Analyst’s Head - Report

London - Apple will introduce a new version of the iPhone which “has little wheels and can be driven like a remote control car, also you can customise how it smells” according to a new report from analyst Ben Jefferson from city firm Agamemnon Bonaster. Jefferson, who was visibly sweating while he issued the report, is one of twelve analysts in a department which has recently learned its headcount will be cut by 33%.

Having little wheels and being driven like a remote control car is seen as a vital feature for Apple to add in the thriving six-year-old smartphone purchaser market, according to Jefferson. “And,” he continued, “it will be fully integrated with that other thing that we said they’d add. Imagine the possibilities of a fully LTE-integrated phone that has little wheels and can be driven like a remote control car. Also, um, Siri? Yeah? Give me a break here guys!”

Senior analysts from Bonaster concurred, “Apple will lose its leadership of the smell-conscious market if they do not immediately bring out a banana-scented model. Historically, mature markets like this have seen seismic upshifts when olfactory satisfaction becomes a differentiator” said a statement from senior analyst Jen Befferson, “also we should definitely keep Ben Jefferson on, he’s way more accurate than that douchebag Bob Anderson who should be fired.”

Anderson, of course, is the author of last week’s much-publicised report, “Apple to introduce feature allowing your phone to pretend to be somewhere else so Ben Jefferson can’t tell you’re fucking his wife.”

Industry Analyst Analysts warned that bullshit feature predictions of unannounced Apple products are likely to continue generating buzz around companies that pull guesswork out of their arses, and therefore unlikely to go away any time soon.

A TEXT POST

What I Learned In A Week Without Flash

I’ve spent the last week browsing the web using a bang-up-to-date NEWT browser. And yet, almost none of the videos I’ve been linked to have worked, and a couple of sites have fallen down horribly. Why? Because I don’t have Flash installed.

Since the rise of iOS, and latterly Apple’s decision to ship MacBook Airs (and indeed any clean install of Lion) without Flash installed for the sake of battery life, people have taken to arguing that you can largely live without Flash now. Standardistas (and I count myself as a Standardista) have crowed at the imminent ousting of this non-semantic, non-Standards technology. The Open Web can do multimedia at last!

What I’ve discovered this week is that Flash is far from dead, and, at least when it comes to video, the “Open Web” is far from open. Come down the rabbit hole with me and discover why…

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Wrong and misleading non-Flash error message from Slideshare

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Cutesy message conveying no information at all!

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An utterly optimised non-flash experience, from Texterity.

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Why To Do Agile UX

One of the things that most occupies me these days is how to do Agile UX. I’m speaking about it at UX People 2011 if you’d like to hear how far I’ve got with it. But I am aware there is a need for something higher-level than this. There is a need to explain why to do Agile UX.

I say so because I occasionally see tweets or hear comments at events along the lines of “who cares about Agile UX, just get the experience right!” Don’t worry about the process, I hear, just get it done. This isn’t the first context in which I’ve heard this sentiment. I hear it a lot from developers, too.

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