Pretty amazing footage of London in 1927, digitally coloured.
Pretty amazing footage of London in 1927, digitally coloured.
A pretty cool extension for Chrome, that allows you to view what media queries a website is using, quickly view the specific CSS code for a particular breakpoint, resize your browser and take screenshots of the whole page at a particular size. Great for testing and for documenting!
Check the video for the features or download the extension on the Chrome Store.
I found this quote from a war veteran on the Art of Manliness blog. Many businesspeople should print it in big letters and read it every day of their life. Maybe some will reject the greediness of the corporate world and start behaving like decent people.
“I still own my responsibility in the failure to bring him home. It may not have been my fault, but it was my responsibility. I was the leader and there was only one person to look to, when you, for everything that your men do or fail to do, and that’s the leader…That’s the right mentality to have, even though you may err on the side of carrying too much weight. Particularly as I’ve seen leadership as applied in, well, at least in my context in the business world, I think that the Marines get it right, and they got it right by teaching me from the get-go that hey, it is your job as a leader to accept responsibility, that’s what you do, particularly to accept responsibility for failure. And when you’re given these forty young men, we’re going to tell you your life is no longer about yourself, it’s about taking care of them and achieving your mission. That’s a, I realize now that that’s a rare philosophy, and that’s a rare leadership model. We say that life is not about you anymore. The minute you pin on the rank, and the minute you accept that paycheck, you accept responsibility and you accept a commitment to something greater than yourself. And I think that applies just as much now as it did then.”
Electronic Arts learned last week that when you ignore your user the consequences can be catastrophic. The anticipated SimCity launch was an utter disaster, with their DRM system preventing customers to play.
What happened is that the new EA title requires constant Internet connection to play. Is not enough to validate your copy when you install the game, Sim City is in constant communication with Origin’s DRM server to ensure your game is legal.
As a result customers that have paid £45 for the game were unable to play, sitting in interminable queues in front of their computers only to get error messages as Origin’s servers were overflowed with requests. Such was the outrage that even Amazon has stopped selling the game.
Some may say that this is a technical problem: basically the system wasn’t ready for the avalanche of excited gamers, and that soon the issue will be solved as new servers are put in place by EA.
I’m sure this storm will quickly go away. The game is apparently quite good so I expect people to show mercy once they can play. But for me this is not a technical issue, it’s conceptual. Is not about not having enough servers, is about ignoring your users.
And how’s this related with UX? For many the user experience field is confined to the creation of blueprints for digital products (websites, apps and similar). But in reality UX is about caring for every detail of a product, and here’s where EA has failed miserably with an insulting attitude. Let’s see why:
It’s not nice to spend £45 on a game only to find out that EA can decide at any time if I can play it or not. If sometime in the future EA decides that this version of Sim City is not profitable or wants to promote the next release of the saga, they only have to pull the plug and you won’t be able to play it again. A game you -in theory- own. Don’t be fooled, you’re not buying the game, you’re only paying for the right to play it -until EA decides you’ve had enough-.
Do you have a 12 hours flight to Japan next week? Sounds like the perfect time to improve that city on your shiny new game, but there’s a problem: EA decided you can only play if you’re online.
No Internet connection = no game, so forget about playing on a plane, on the train, when Sky is down or whilst you’re moving houses and your Internet connection is not yet working.
EA only cares about your money, and they definitely want to amass as much as possible even if that means ignoring you, the guy who is paying it.
By ignoring their users and putting every imaginable barriers between them and their games EA is achieving quite the opposite: fomenting piracy. It’s like a DVD, filled with unskippable anti-piracy warnings and trailers. You vilify your customers whilst those who downloaded the film illegally can enjoy it without barriers. Not a clever move.
If you want people to buy your products, your name is not enough. You have to minimise the pain points and treat your customers in a fair way. If anything you’re doing goes against those that are paying your salary, maybe you should consider a change of direction or you may find yourself looking for a new job soon.
Lucy Mason and Pablo Tato go acoustic for UnAirEd. Find more about their music at her Facebook page.
During the second LDNIA#1 talk Collyn Ahart said that on some project they took an ‘Agile Planning’ approach. It was a short mention but some time later a fellow UXer was ranting about it:
“UX shouldn’t use Agile. It’s a tool created to ship software, not design”
(not literal, I don’t remember the exact words)
The conversation moved on to excessive research (yeah that’s right, excessive), but that phrase stuck in my head on my way home. I’ve been reading recently a bit about agile and development, and I find concepts like test-driven development, just-in-time design or the Kanban board really clever tools.
So, should designers use those developers’ tools?
I’ve been thinking about how to incorporate test-driven development into my design process. The only way I can create a test that fails before I mockup a concept is to use an empty canvas, and that’s not very helpful is it? But I can write all the cases I need to cover before I start sketching a page, and treat them as my tests. Having that list in front of me whilst I visualise the concepts helps me stay focussed on the task and, once I’ve finish, I can go through the test list to make sure nothing is missing.
This can’t probably be called test-driven design, maybe task-driven design. And it may be that every designer except me is doing this, but I’ve taken this approach recently and it helps. I’m more organised, I work faster and it’s much easier for the client and their tech team to validate my work.
A lot has been written about just-in-time design lately, as the Lean UX concept has been buzzing the internets. It all started as a way to reduce waste inspired by the lean manufacturing process created by Toyota years ago, and again I think it just makes a lot of sense.
The User Centric Design process is quite often long and expensive, so I’m not surprised that many firms just skip the whole UX part and jump directly to graphic design and build. They probably see the benefits of UX Design but find it excessive. A nimble, just-in-time thinking would suit those firms and dramatically improve their products.
Same with Kanban, last year Caplin showed us how they embraced Agile and it was really inspiring. I wonder why we don’t take a similar approach on projects that require design and build.
Are these tools damaging my ability to solve design problems? Are they specific to the development world, or could they be applied to any other creative process?
If a tool works we should add it to our toolbox, regardless its origin. I don’t care if it’s a developers’ tool, what I need is to have the best tools in my pocket as no two projects are the same. I’ll decide then what to use, and that may be something inspired by the software development industry.
Responsive web design is the hottest trend of the moment, the silver bullet that is going to solve all our problems. But does it work in every situation?
At KIT digital we design online video platforms, and I’ve found that this industry’s particular rules and constraints make responsive design a lot less exciting.
The main benefit of responsive design is to serve one site to multiple, unknown devices. It’s future-proof, and allow us to customise the experience for devices with different capabilities, both in terms of screen size and features.
Now think about the online video industry, where Digital Rights Management (DRM) is an absolute requirement. Studios and content rights holders don’t allow sites to serve certain content unless their video player is DRM-protected. And one of the preferred solutions for DRM-protected video players is Silverlight. A great, solid and dead technology. Only available on desktop operating systems, that will never get to your mobile, tablet, connected TV or Internet-enabled fridge.
Does it make sense to create a responsive site using Silverlight? No.
If a user access a Silverlight-based website using a mobile phone or a tablet, she will never be able to watch a video as Silverlight isn’t available on that platform. She’ll need to use the native app, that has a DRM-protected player. Take for instance the new Demand5 iOS app that now has more shows available:
We’ve implemented a new Digital Rights Management system that meets the security requirements set by the larger studios and production companies, which means we can bring you even more shows.
From the Demand5 iTunes page.
In that scenario the benefits that a responsive approach brings are minimised. Yes, the user will still be able to use more easily other features like account management or playlists, but the main purpose–to consume video–will be blocked by technology constraints. If you don’t have an unlimited budget it makes sense to limit the scope of your site and design it using a fixed layout.
Once new technologies become available this scenario will change. Hopefully we’ll have HTML5 video players that fully support DRM making Silverlight unnecessary. That day one site could serve every platform, making native apps somehow superfluous. That day responsive design could save online video companies millions of pounds. No need to design, build and maintain one app for each device.
Google has been trying to force everybody to use their real names for some time now. They screwed it up quite hard with Google+, where you can only have a profile if you use your real, full name. Initially you couldn’t even add a nickname, even if you’ve been called like that since you were 10 years old. No, Google doesn’t like it. They want you to use your passport name, otherwise they won’t allow you to play with them (the cool kids). That changed some time ago but still you can’t use G+ unless you display your real name.
One can understand why they want to do it, but forcing users is not the cleverest way to enforce this rule, specially with 99% of your users are already using their real name.
Today I’ve been asked to link my YouTube account with Google+, so it displays my real name. It makes sense from their perspective of global control but honestly, I don’t care. I don’t want/need to display my real name on YouTube. I use Nordic, my nickname for ages, and don’t want to change it.
So I selected No thanks, and they asked me WHY.
Check the options below, there’s one clearly missing: Because I don’t want to. Period.
It looks like they still don’t get it.