Beyond the buzz

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Moo.com | a great experience

moo_cards

I just ordered my personal calling cards from moo.com, 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:

Hello

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.
<snip>
Remember, I’m just a bit of software. So, if you have any questions
regarding your order please first read our Frequently Asked Questions
at:

http://www.moo.com/help/

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

https://secure.moo.com/service/

Thanks,
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. 🙂

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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 Google.com. 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

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

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…

http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2008/07/the-five-stupid.html

Filed under: Random

Are methodologies scalable?

Requirements gathering is one of those steps in any project that can’t be missed. Whether it’s conducted vigorously and methodically, haphazardly and unconscious, it’s done. It doesn’t matter whether you’re ordering a hamburger at Harveys or a web site build: the person taking your order needs to gather your requirements.

When you go to Harveys, you don’t just say you want a hamburger; the person taking your order will want to know if you want a classic or whatever, the person making your burger will want to know what kind of toppings you want. You could be remiss and say “just give me the toppings most people get”; not a problem, unless you really detest ketchup, which is what most people get on their burger.

Recently, I was discussing with a colleague the issue of requirements gathering methologies. In our experience, SMB’s and micro-businesses, in particular, tend to work within very short temporal cycles. They can also have pretty short fuses and regard methodical questioning and any information probing to be, at best, extemporizing tactics and, at worst, unresponsiveness. How often have you been challenged with, “Why do you need to know so much? Why are you asking all these questions? I just want a ballpark, an estimate. I’m just a small business and don’t have the time to be talking about this. I just need to get it done.”

So we came to the tentative conclusion that enterprise-level business methologies don’t necessarily scale down to the micro-business and even SMB (small to medium businesses) level. Is this really true? Do we need to develop a completely different style of requirements gathering for different classes of clients?

Filed under: Random, Web Development

Where angels fear to tread

My agency recently lost out on a bid for a web development project. Nothing unusual in that – happens to everyone. What really burns is the fact that we lost because the key message of our pitch was for the client to slow down…slow down long enough for both sides to have a proper discovery meeting. We lost because we refused to do spec work: it’s bad enough when static creative is done on spec, but it’s so much worse when asked to produce entire web site designs on spec.

Before I pontificate any further, I shall go and lick my wounds in private….

Filed under: Random