Skip to content

Month: August 2009

Movie Review: Coraline

I recently watched Coraline with the kids.  The movie was pretty clever and well done, but I found it highly derivative.  Here is what it made me think: BeetleJuice (1988) –  My goodness, the artwork was so reminiscent the genius BeetleJuice, but more importantly, I found a strong similarity to the main characters (Lydia/Coraline) and to her relationship with her parents, especially her mother. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964) – The noses especially, but generally, the stop-motion genre is almost defined by these 60’s classics.  Some might say “homage”, I say it was a little too close. Labrynth (1986) – The story…

The UX of Mission/Vision Resolutions

I was listening to Barney Frank today on NPR.  He said, regarding the healthcare debate, that republicans and democrats are basically on the same page on the big picture.  They both believed there is a real issue that needs serious attention.  However, he described that when you went into the details, that ideology created huge riffs between the different points of view. They were on the same page in the big picture, but on different pages in the details. My suggestion to them, from a UX standpoint is to focus on a resolution declaring the mission/vision of what they want…

The UX of facing UX alternatives

This happens all the time.  You have a design and it could go in several directions.  All directions have pros and cons.  What do you do? My technique is to mockup (quickly) as many of the alternatives as possible.  Give them all a chance to survive the bright light of day.  You will find (quickly) that some alternatives just wilt and die as soon as you mock them up.  They didn’t make enough sense.  Keep going. Soon, the choices will naturally winnow down to 2-5 possible directions.  Now, you need to categorize them.  Specifically, group them based on which use…

Celebrating Stealth – Ninja Parade

I love well done satire.

Half-Cash for Clunkers

The US Government started this program called “Cash for Clunkers“.  It gives $4000 to anyone who is trading in an old piece of crap for a new shiny car.  The goal is to increase the overall gas efficiency as well as spur the automotive industry.  They allocated $2 billion dollars.  The money ran out in a few weeks, so they allocated a few more billion.  Now it’s gone. Here is my question:  When they funded the second round, why didn’t they change it from $4000 to $2000.  If $4000 was enough of an incentive to get people to buy a…

User Research

What is the best way to gather user research? I believe Dian Fossey is a great role model for how to achieve great results and learn about your users lives. Dian didn’t ask the gorillas “So, tell me what kind of personality you have?”  Obviously, the gorillas would not have intelligent things to say to Dian.  Rather, she observed these majestic beasts in their natural habitat.  She didn’t put them behind 2-way glass.  She just sat and watched. Too often, user research about a feature, product or service is conducted with a highly flawed assumption.  Specifically, that people have a…

Pandora for Unsigned Bands

I saw this fun contest on Twitter called PerfectBusiness.  The rules were simple:  Boil down a great business idea into a single tweet.  Now here is a contest that I could do well with.  Here was my idea tweet: @PerfectBusiness #micropitch : Pandora for unsigned bands. Seed real artists, listen to unsigned similar artists. Focused on discovery. They re-tweeted and I replied: (Them) RT @glenlipka: @PerfectBusiness #micropitch: Pandora for unsigned bands. (We’d listen right now.) (Me) @PerfectBusiness #micropitch Pandora for unsigned bands – Build<1yr<1MM. Monetize band access,shirts,pay-what-you-can,etc. Open API. I have a very low chance of winning, but wouldn’t that…

GMail is freaking me out

I need your help.  It will just take a second. Problem:  I think people are sending me mail which is not arriving at GMail.  It’s not in the spam folder either. Could you help me? Send me a mail to glen {at} kokopop.com.  No content needed.  Subject: can be any word you choose. Post a comment on this page with the subject word you chose. I will match your email with the post and see how long it took to send.  I’ll post a comment when I receive the message. Thank you for helping me.  I appreciate your time.  Ok,…

Phrasing in Health Care

What you call things is incredibly important.  The words you choose carry baggage and implications that people will adopt.  The words help people remember and frame an idea.  Take for example the current Healthcare debate in the U.S.  There is so much complexity and so much riding on one single monolithic bill.  Everyone assumes that this is one-shot deal.  We either get this right or it’s another decade before we can fix the problem. In my mind, it didn’t have to be this way.  What if Obama insisted on calling the bill: Phase 1 of 5:  Healthcare Reform. The phase…

The UX of Proverbs

I have been reading this great book called Made to Stick. (Great so far)  In it, they talk about Proverbs.  Proverbs are short phrase-like ideas that encode a much deeper meaning into them.  They are much easier to remember because of the encoding.  Examples: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush The bigger they are the harder they fall This too shall pass (Katie’s favorite) When life gives you lemons, make lemonade These are extremely sticky ideas and have been translated into hundreds of languages.  Some proverbs are thousands of years old and still resonate today.…

Digsby Revenue Models

I currently flip flop between TrillianAstra and Digsby as my Instant Messenger of choice.  Trillian is a beautiful looking application, but some of the interaction design is lacking that I find really smooth in Digsby.  The little widget on the right of my blog is ingenious and one of the reasons I usually go with Digsby. I just read a blog post by Digsby explaining their revenue models and their thinking.  It’s open and honest and authentic.  I love it.  It makes me want to switch to Digsby full time.  The values expressed there are genuine and lovable.  They want…

The UX of Balsamiq Mockups

Yesterday, I was introduced to this product called Balsamiq Mockups.  After seeing Flash Catalyst and Microsoft Expression Blend 3 in action, I was hoping for something easier, simpler and more fun.  I got all three. Using Balsamiq required no training or anxiety.  Part of the reason is the limitations (constraints) the product imposed.  You couldn’t do “anything” you wanted.  It didn’t have transitions and animations or other extraneous functionality.  It is designed to make mockups and storyboards and that’s it.  This is exactly what I need to work, so it made sense intuitively. The artwork lent itself to the task at…

The UX of Microsoft Expression Blend 3

I received an email about attending a Microsoft demo of their product Expression Blend.  Specifically this part called SketchFlow.  I spent a little under an hour trying to use it to see if it would help me communicate designs better.  A little under an hour was all I could take without losing my grip. Warning:  This isn’t going to be pretty. Who is the target audience for this product?  I design RIA products as my job every day.  Is it not for me?  I am pretty good with jQuery/HTML/CSS, but looking at this product made me completely dizzy. I suppose…

The UX of Reactions

Clearly, the band on the Titanic under-reacted.  Many government officials are under-reacting in response to the threats of global warming.  Under-reaction is to either do nothing at all and ignore the issue or to do something toothless and symbolic.  Under-reacting usually results in the problem festering until it gets so bad it is a crisis. On the other hand, there is over-reacting.  After 9-11, the government over-reacted by taking out an unrelated dictator and making us take our shoes off in the airport.  Over-reacting sometimes makes a bad situation worse or turns a non-issue into a different real issue.  It transforms the…

The Spam that Lived

Google detects an enormous amount of spam coming into my inbox.  They segment it and put it in the Junk folder.  Literally hundreds a day and thousands a month.  I am sure some “good” non-spam email gets caught in there, but I really can’t spend the time to check.  I am left with no choice but to trust Google. Some spam, however, slips through the cracks.  There is one in particular that is especially good at it.  It looks like this: I have no idea why this piece of spam comes through non-stop, whereas most of the other spam is…

Phases

Jared is going through a phase where he is extra nice.  It’s great that phases like this exist.  He is giving me extra hugs and cleaning up after himself and even cleaning up for Matthew.  We often say about children, “Oh, they are just going through a phase.” I wonder if that keeps happening in adulthood.  I tend to think it does, but we gloss over it.  People grow and evolve, just like children.  It’s good to be aware of these phases and how they affect your life. Maybe this is too deep?  Maybe I am just going through a…

Netflix Values

I saw this on Bill Scott’s blog.  It’s a presentation about the culture and values of Netflix.  To me, this is a huge issue for most companies.  They don’t understand their own values and don’t articulate them even if they exist.  Most mission/vision statements are just happy talk. Netflix just went up a full star, in my opinion, just based on this document.  Please take a few minutes to read it and think about your own company.  What are the things that help you make your decisions? I don’t work for Netflix, but I am a customer.

The UX of Story Telling

I asked Ethan to tell me about his day and he got frustrated and annoyed.  It is not natural to be able to tell a story and it takes practice.  So I started Ethan’s education on The Art Story Telling. Disclaimer:  This is highly simplified.  Ethan is 9. A good story has a beginning, middle and end.  In essence, it goes like this: Beginning.  A story has a set up.  Where are you?  What is the context?  Ethan said, “I was in class listening to the teacher.  She asked a tough math question.” Middle.  Something happens.  This is the drama…

The UX of my Lake Tahoe Trip

The last 5 days I have been on a family trip to Lake Tahoe.  We stayed in a cabin with about 15 other people.  Some of them were family, some of them were friends of family. When going on a trip, what you are really buying are interesting memories.  You want to remember specific things and have great stories to tell.  Without great stories, trips are useless. (To me anyway) The River Rafting Story We rented a few rafts to go down the Truckee river.  It’s the only river that flows out of Lake Tahoe.  Ethan, Jared, Matthew and I…