…is our Yiddish word of the day. Pronounced UUN-ge-poch, it means ‘a little too much,‘ as in ‘all the shmuz around my blog was ongepatsht, so I deleted a few things.‘
Back in the day we dreamed about exchanging deliverables so we could stop reinventing the wheel and start standing on each other’s shoulders. It’s odd something so basic as a repository hadn’t been established (I don’t think competitive advantage explains it in our open community). There is a collection of links on the IAwiki, and now AIfIA has launched a set of deliverable tools. It kicks off with a handful of top-notch documents from Erin Malone at AOL, sanitized and ready for reuse, which I think makes them a bit more useful than your average deliverable. I hope others will step up and put their stones in the soup.
One of my favorites.
IDEO’s Method Cards look quite cool. I’m planning a research-and-testing class for newbies at work, and these could be more effective and engaging than slides or a handout.
[checkbox checked by default] I choose to opt out.
Huh? They must not have had my 7th grade teacher who warned us against using multiple negatives. Yup, I’m sure that’s the reason.
Here’s my attempt to interpret: ‘non-public personal information’ is simply ‘private personal information.’ ‘Non-affiliated’ should be redundant when modifying ‘third parties’ if we’re referring to an institution with special privileges to collect my credit history. When it comes to the default check status it comes down to their philosophy of business and how they regard their customers, but I know which way I, as their customer, would have it. So re-written it’s simply:
[checkbox checked by default] Do not provide your private personal information to third parties, except as permitted by law.
But I probably don’t provide them as much income as the endless list of businesses who query my history, so I don’t expect them to modify that option anytime soon.
Developing Best Practices for Distributed Networks of Sites: Heuristics, Design, and Politics (PDF) by Jeffrey Veen of Adaptive Path and Carolyn Gibson Smith of PBS sets a great example of improving web design and encouraging certain practices across a large, decentralized organization. One particular aspect I like is that by distributing templates and building examples they offer the affiliates carrots rather than attempt a futile effort of waving sticks, which often fall under the auspices of governance or compliance in contemporary corporate environments. Even when there is top-down authority to enforce these standards, it’s rarely done happily.
The process used heuristic analysis, stakeholder interviews, and UCD to…
- Examine the issues affiliates faced
- Find internal best practices
- Build prototype using best practices
- Test prototype
- Printed best practices report
- Working prototype
- Templates and code
- Guide for conducting usability tests
- Case studies
- System-wide report card
‘We’ve heard from Web teams that they are using the recommendations not only to build their sites, but as justification for funding. The report is being used as ammunition for designers and developers as they seek to convince their internal stakeholders of the value of a strong Web presence.‘
Check out the CSS-powered lists.
Some terse notes from the free bits of Seth Godin’s Survival Is Not Enough. I find his prose a bit wordy, but I think he’s trying not only to communicate the ideas but also to inspire.
- Evolution in business is a theme…‘Extinction is part of the process of creation. Failure is the cornerstone of evolution’ and ‘[Kinko's] had a posture about change that treated innovations and chaos as good things, not threats’ and ‘Sooner or later, every winning strategy stops working. The competition catches up. Technology changes.’
- Small, quick, cheap feedback loops allow for low-risk experimentation. Ask: ‘How much will it cost to find out if it works, how long will it take and how much damage will be done if we’re wrong?‘
- Factories – any kind of large, long-term investment – make it hard for companies to change. Lease, don’t buy.
- Echoing the broken windows theory, he cites the stupid little things big companies do to piss off customers, reminding us that small customer interactions matter
- ‘Discovering your winning strategy and saying it aloud is critically important in getting ready to change it. The easiest way I can describe for finding your strategy is to do this: Figure out what changes in the outside world would be the worst possible things that could happen to your company. (No fair picking something that affects every business . . . it’s got to be something that is specific to your industry.)’
- ‘Competent people resist change. Why? Because [giving up what they do well] threatens to make them less competent.’
- ‘Knowing when to pile on (as AOL did once ICQ started to succeed) or when to abandon ship (as Amazon did with their Junglee shopping service) is an art.’
- And yet, sending signals that you are a robust company (an expensive lobby) affects – as in sexual signals – a client’s perception: ‘The companies that can waste the time and money to send these signals are the ones that we believe are more likely to have the resources to provide good customer support, more likely to be in business years from now…Signals aren’t right or wrong. Instead, they either work or they don’t.’
- On assholes that don’t work well in groups: ‘A bully gets what she wants at the expense of the group’s well-being. And because bullies operate from a zone of fear, they’re the most likely to effectively oppose change of any kind…Firing people is dramatically underrated as a management strategy.’
- And last but not least, and one big reason I left SBI/Razorfish: ‘Choose Your Customers, Choose Your Future…Every time you interact with clients, you swap memes with them. They affect the work you do, the prices you charge, the rate at which you change and the kind of person you hire.’
This Usability.gov page succinctly captures the qualities of different testing methods. I keep encountering people who want to run surveys (to keep the customer at arms length?) instead of one-to-one usability studies. The mnemonic I’ll keep in my head to remember this difference in meetings is behavior vs. opinion, qualitative vs. quantitative.
Mark comments, ‘This is one of the sad things about the computer world right now: everybody knows better, and hardly anybody seems willing to do the work.’
‘This is one of the great things about computer science right now: you can walk in off the street, roll up your sleeves, and with a little hard work and fortitude you can be right at the research frontier.’
I’m finding this to be true, having turned my attention to what academia has to say about navigation and forging through the literature. But for practitioners it’s not easy; one must find time, access journals, decode researcher-speak, and still have energy left to build on what’s been learned.
‘ About five years ago, Farmers moved from this ad-hoc approach to projects to the implementation of a release methodology that ensures monthly delivery of one of three concurrent releases on a 90-day software development lifecycle, for a total of 12 throughout the year. According to Fridenberg, the business and IT arrive at defined deliverables, which are then prioritized and scheduled through an in-house-built capacity model that tracks the disposition of development resources. ‘
The pyrotechnic birthday celebration by and for Central Park, Light Cycle, was awesome. What it lacked in size and shape it made up for in experience as thousands of New Yorkers huddled together in the rain around the reservoir to witness the show. It was wonderful to see fireworks in a new composition, different than the usual July 4th progression.
Walking through the park today, we saw four or five wedding parties taking photos in one area. I started snapping photos of them, and walking on each corner we turned produced more brides .
I’ll be in San Francisco Sept 8-10 for Seybold. Give me a shout if you’d like to hang out.
The main purpose of my visit is to speak on the topic of Content Models and Information Architectures along with the lovely Ann Rockley, co-author of Managing Enterprise Content. If you plan to register for the conference, stem the flow of cash by entering the top secret discount code: SPTKXX.