Beyond the buzz

Icon | a great experience


I just ordered my personal calling cards from, and I loved every minute of the user experience.

The site has a clean interface that’s easy to navigate, the designing process was fun, the ordering process was easy, and (here’s the geek in me) best of all, the confirmation email was cute beyond words. Here’s an excerpt of the email I received from Little Moo, the Print Robot:


I’m Little MOO – the bit of software that will be managing your order
with us. It will shortly be sent to Big MOO, our print machine who will
print it for you in the next few days. I’ll let you know when it’s done
and on its way to you.

Flickr users, listen up: Please do not remove the photos from your
account, or change their privacy settings, until your order has been
printed, or some pictures may come out blank.
Remember, I’m just a bit of software. So, if you have any questions
regarding your order please first read our Frequently Asked Questions

and if you’re still not sure, contact customer services (who are real
people) at:

Little MOO, Print Robot

Such a great human touch to an automated message.  I just love that! It’s what I tell clients to do all the time, but somehow, very few are willing to add that human touch.

PS A word about my personal cards. I created a series of four cards, each card representing one of my four core values. I hope their recipients like them. 🙂


Filed under: Random, Usability, UX

Google’s Fast Flip – a statement on the future of print?

Google has recently introduced a new experimental product in Google Labs called Fast Flip. It’s a news reading service that allows users to scan pages from the sites of Google’s print partners.  The idea is to replicate the experience of physically flipping through magazine or newspaper.

Fast Flip’s mission is  interesting to me in our so-called Web 2.0 world where the hyperlink reigns primary and the static experience of print is re-imagined as a secondary form of information consumption. Could it be, perhaps, that we  human beings are still attached to the tactile pleasure of holding a printed artifact? My personal opinion has always been that the printed artifact will never go away. It will simply become a secondary way to read.

We’ll see where Fast Flip ends up; after all, not everything in Google Labs gains traction to make it onto the primary features list on If I were a betting (wo)man, I’d wager that Fast Flip won’t make it. It’s just another version of all the rest of the quickie publishing tools out there that convert print pdf’s into flippable digital pages. That it’s Google providing the additional service of aggregating the information is a mere nicety that doesn’t fundamentally alter the fact that it’s an existing technology that creates a silly digital version of a printed piece. Magazines and newspapers that are no more than digital copies of their printed pieces deliver poor online experiences that take advantage of little that the digital medium has to offer. I’m not sure what value Fast Flip has as a news aggregator that RSS feeds do not provide and in a more relevant way.

Google’s ostensible motive for Fast Flip is to find a middle ground with print publishers who complain that Google makes money off their content without compensating them. I wonder if somewhere in Googleland, someone is taking a stance on the future of print.

Filed under: Random

Your versus You’re

This belongs to the same class of errors as it’s versus its: a simple mistaking of a contraction for a possessive pronoun.

“Your” is a possessive pronoun used to indicate ownership; e.g. “When your membership expires, renew it online.”

“You’re” is a contraction of “You are”, used in casual writing; e.g. “When you’re finished with your meal, please pay at the counter.”

To summarize, you’re = you are whereas your = your.

Filed under: Business Writing Tips

It’s versus Its

This one is so common, it makes me wonder if anyone actually gets taught the difference between them by any educator they’ve encountered since Grade 1.

It’s is a contraction of “It is”. Use it in casual writing; e.g. It’s a great day.

Its is a possessive pronoun. Example: The dog is chasing its own tail.

To summarize, it’s = it is whereas its = its.

Filed under: Business Writing Tips

Still talking about putting the cart before the horse

It amazes me that in 2009, marketing professionals are still seeing and decrying the unevolved approach to marketing we’ve been seeing since the dawn of marketing. Yep, that’s right: talking tactics before strategy.

Seth Godin recently summarized this sickness in a recent post. His example of the attraction to tactics over strategy is noteworthy: “Tactics are easy to outline, because we say, “I’m going to post this.” If we post it, we succeed. Strategy is scary to outline, because we describe results, not actions, and that means opportunity for failure.”

The current obsession with measurability plays a large part in the seemingly inexplicable allure of tactics. Nothing wrong with measurability: if you’re going to invest good money in something, you want to know whether it actually worked. William Lever famously said, “Half my advertising money is wasted. The problem is that I don’t know which half!”

We’re all still trying to find him that answer.

What many fail to realize is that the answer can’t be answered unless there’s a strategy in place. In statistics, we define the universe before we can gather data, let alone conduct analysis. Kinda like asking “How many people are there?” when the only question that can be answered is “How many people are there in that room/city/country/etc.?”

Will we ever outgrow this juvenile approach? Is there an antidote?

Filed under: Strategy

Choosing who to respect and who to rip off

One of my favourite expositions on risks versus successes: this little skit mocks the conversations we sometimes/often find ourselves having with clients and prospects.

So, the question is: if we wouldn’t have these conversations with those who provide one type of service or product, what is it that makes us think that we can do that with other providers of goods and services?

Filed under: Key Success Factors

How to guarantee the success of a project

I’ve just finished reading a thought-provoking article on about scope definition and the heavy price of ignoring this critical phase of a project.

It brought to mind the old chestnut about stopping to smell the roses. It seems to me that stopping to smell the roses is more than a trite piece of advice on how to live a good life: stopping to smell the roses is a key factor in the success of a project.

Many of us, when confronted with a project that needs to get done, are anxious to complete the project and eager to get started. By the time many clients approach me, they’ve been debating and wringing their hands for some time. Thus, there’s no time to lose, and we must start the project right away. However, when asked to define the problem and to describe the constraints under which the problem must be solved, many are unwilling to take the time to do so. After all, so much time has already passed between the time the client acknowledged the problem and conceded the budget to resolve it.

And yet this unwillingness to fully describe the problem is precisely the cause of project failure: the failure of a vendor partner to deliver the right solution, the failure of the project being completed on time and within budget. Whose FAULT is it? Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Key Success Factors, Web Development

Garbage In, Garbage Out

This is painful to watch if you’ve been on the receiving end of a project briefing that changes with each meeting.

Filed under: Random

What’s “worthy” of being social networked?

“No one should submit themselves to the indignity of creating a user profile and friend connections based on cola or cat litter.”


At the risk of being lynched or perhaps simply whacked, I am finally coming out of the closet on this issue. I’ve often had trouble getting some of the online communities I see sprouting up. Never mind something as grandiose as a social network, I even have a hard time understanding the value of building e-mail lists or perhaps even web sites for products with such fleeting consumer connections as salad kits or gum.

Having said that, what is worthy of being social-networked? On a related note, has everyone gone stark raving mad trying to social network just about everything within reach?

Read the full story at

Filed under: Social Networking

Friday Funny #1

OK…I never intended for this blog to be about anything other than a collection of my answers to client FAQ, but this Wired article about the 5 stupidest iPhone 3G accessories is a must-share…

Filed under: Random