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You are what you Tweet.

Everything you do on the web is recorded and leaving tiny digital footprints. We all know that tweeting while drunk is never a good idea and neither is being loose about your privacy settings. But if you have ever wanted to know what all your tweets would look like as an infographic then here is the answer according to Twitter and Visual.ly

If I were an infographic what would I look like?

Landing alberto martinez
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Hove & Brighton Artist Open Houses

 

This is the last weekend (this year) for this year for the Artist Open Houses in Hove and Brighton. I resisted the urge to buy anything this except for some very nice freshly backed cupcakes! Always a treat to visit the homes of artists and enjoy the side competition of who has the best cupcakes.  Generally this an affordable and fun way to buy art. The

 At the Claremont there were examples by artist Alison Swan.  The plate with a star fish was my favourite as well as her ceramic shoes. Alberto Martinez is one of my favourite artists and has been regularly showing at the Collectors Selection for the last 4 years. His Cuban style of surrealist paintings keeps getting more accomplished and expensive. I was there on the second day of the Open House and missed out on getting the “Peeping Frogs” painting. All 3 paintings sold out within hours. Such is the demand for this artist. Next year I must get there sooner!

 

Landing alberto martinez

Landing, 2010 by Alberto Martinez

 

 

 

 

 

 

sexpistols
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Celebrating British Design

 

I recently visited the the Victoria and Albert Museum which celebrates British design and creativity from 1948 to the present day with a series of major exhibitions and displays. British design has made wonderful contributions to the world from the practical and austere to the quirky and flamboyant. No matter what there is always something distinctly British. My favourite recent examples are the Dyson air multiplier (a future iconic design?) and the vacuums.

The FreedMan Chair,  Winner of Design Innovation Award

The FreedMan Chair, Winner of Design Innovation Award

There is something nice about being owning a well designed item that is both practical and aesthetically pleasing to look at. It is also some times about buying items built to last. Occasionally these more iconic designs become the collectibles and antiques of the future. The sex pistol designs for the album God Save the Queen capture the spirit of the age that captures attention beyond the punk movement and the music.

The concord was a fantastic design with the sleek streamlined exterior.

Tom Dixon is a British design and manufacturing company of lighting and furniture that came up with the Jack light. A fun design that adds a warm glow to modern interiors.  It was awarded Millenium Mark status in 1997 by the British government and is now part of permanent exhibitions in the V&A and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, USA.

 

Anglepoise Lamp - £150 in the V&A gift shopI think you would be hard pressed not to find a great example of British Design in any home. The impact of British Design is global in ever aspect  fashion. One of my favourites is how the  Bowler hat has been transformed into a lighting fixture. I would have these in my home if I had the space and decor to fit. My style is relaxed glamour mixed in with bohemian and eclectic items. I look to people like Abigail Ahern and Nicholas Haslam for inspiration.  I love how they both mix the old and the new.

My love of design extends from my small collection of Paragon/Star China/Shelly tea trios to an Anglepoise Lamp.  I am glad to see the route master bus back and the end of those dreadful “bendy buses” that clogged up the roads.

Of course you cannot talk about British design without referencing the symbolism in the Union Jack, the impact of “Royal events” and the Olympics coming to Britain again.

In 1948 London hosted the first Olympic Games after the Second World War. The ‘Austerity Games’ (as they became known) took place at a time of economic crisis in a city devastated by bombing, but they provided a platform for reconciliation and reconstruction. In 2012 Britain welcomes the Olympics once more, and while the spirit remains, the context in which they are taking place has entirely changed.

his summer the high street has responded with Union Jack fashions. My favourite is the dress by Traffic People in chiffon silk. I almost wish they had not been so enthusiastic. In home interiors a few companies started using the print for furniture and wallpaper. It was quite fun and desirable. But like Daniel Westbrooke, and her all out assault on Burberry, she almost single handedly gave the brand their darkest days turning it from desirable to “chav” destroying it over night. It took years for the brand to recover and the pattern she so enthusiastically embraced is still to be avoided all costs.  The overkill on the  print on home interior products is now having the opposite effect. This will happen with all the fashion as well.

Exhibition details http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/exhibitions/exhibition-british-design/

 

DSCN7297

UXLX: The Experience of UX Lisbon

Bill Buxton chatting to Bruno Figueiredo

Bill Buxton chatting to Bruno Figueiredo

 

UX Lisbon is a UX Conference that has excelled to become one of the best digital conferences. A huge congratulation goes out to Bruno who takes UX so seriously he plans everything in great detail to ensure his attendees leave as friends and have a fabulous time.  He and his team put together a fantastic conference of great food, wine tasting, dinners, great venue, great speakers and even a closing sunset cruise.

Lisbon is a wonderful city so getting out of  cold, wet, London did make the extra cost of flights, food and hotel nights more bearable. While a lot of attendees get sent by their company getting budget & permission in companies where UX is not widely understood can be itself a challenge. I went on my own steam because as a UX practitioner I cannot afford not to stay current. Our practice depends on it. This conference provides a unique opportunity to collaborate on an international level with three days of workshops and talks.

However, it is the subjects and the shared common understanding of what UX  at an international level that makes this a truly great conference. The majority of UX conferences seem to be either at an academic level or at the practical level of the “junior tool kit” of code and how to do wire frames. At the tool kit level there is always the bickering of which tool is the best or whether prototypes should be Axure or HTML which gets in the way of what UX is about.

Conference lounge area

Refreshing to be able to leave that down to personal taste and talk about the principles of UX at a thought leadership level. The attendees as well as the speakers are from all around the world giving the conference a true international representation. I enjoyed seeing speakers represented globally rather than all the same names.

The level of the attendees and representation of the UX community ranged from students to some of the biggest names in the industry. This makes it a fertile ground for getting to know what is happening in the wider industry. Some of the workshops and talks can be a bit basic and more of a subject matter introduction. My only suggestion would be to have more sessions aimed at the senior level to collaborate and cross-pollinate ideas as well as techniques. The more you talk to people and swap stories the more you get out of it. Fortunately this can easily be done over a glass of sangria!

The conference in Lisbon focuses on the creative and strategic aspects of UX. The tools are an open mind with a pen & paper.

Bill Buxton asked some one, in the audience, who confessed to using a stylus, “what is wrong with your finger?”.

Bill Buxton
Bill Buxton

Clearly a stylus in the mind of Bill  is unnecessary. He may have a point as we move into gestural input devices and others that borrow ergonomics from musical instruments. He presented a pre-palm pilot device based on the trumpet keys. I enjoyed this talk the most. Amazing how the Parc guys from the 70s are still the more interesting and relevant today!

I cannot say it enough…if as UX expert you are obsessed with coding standards then you are probably missing the big picture!

Having a common understanding of UX is critical. User experience practitioners need to develop understanding at an international level. Products aimed at international customers is more critical than ever as emerging market economies continue their rapid expansion. With Internet and mobile usage in particular, the recent adoption rates have been astronomical. We are all working now as part of a larger eco-system.

I found UX Lisbon very reassuring. At last we seem to be heading towards a Common Manifesto of What User Experience is.

Some key points I noted from the talks I attended were:

  • UX industry hampered by a lack of industry standard, formally trained UX Practitioners
  • More coming in from cross disciplines with poor UX understanding and focus on deliverable and tactical UX
  • More getting degrees in computer science instead of UX (focus on technical instead of human & design aspects)
  • Cultivate the large range of skills required [Arnie Lunds skills map]
  • Provide thought leadership, inspiration and strategy as well as build bridges between teams, clients and users
  • UX requires cross training to be multi-channel, multi-platform, trans-media and physico-digital
  • Expand creative thinking and take inspiration from music, dance, art, design. Feed the creative brain.
  • Champions are necessary as UX tends to get shut out of the executive level – some one needs to sponsor UX
  • Sketching…sketching…sketching
  • Mastering the art of being great story tellers and paying attention to the spaces, pauses and transitions.
  • Ubiquitous computing is pushing the boundaries and increasing the importance of UX
  • Multiple inputs, touchpoints, interfaces, devices and connections
  • Critical thinking and creative are the most important skills to cultivate
  • Expertise in social media, gamification, writing, planning content, persuasive design, user research, accessibility, mobile, usability is a given. No one should not be expert as this is business as usual now.

Greg Smith – User Research Director, eBay

 

What I enjoyed most of all was to exchange ideas and talk to like minded people and share stories.

The shared experiences is that UX can be highly frustrating as we are often pushing UX along in an uphill battle. When we are not arguing to get the value of it understood we are arguing to cut out the crap and stop shipping poor products with terrible experiences.

“Everything should be as good or better than Apple” – Bill Buxton. I have been saying this and it seems to still fall on deaf ears as there is almost always an excuse  of the user experience gets a low priority. Everything is a compromise and a mind field of constraints. One of the most common refrains is that there will be a next time or a phase 2. Steve Jobs may have been described as tyrannical but he made sure the UX was in phase 1.

The good news is that technology is no longer a constraint. The functionality and data has arrived. Everything is possible now.

New books for more food for thought

We need to work on the other barriers and fight for quality!

Then there is the constant fighting with product managers, resource managers and delivery people to stop the obsessive focus deliverables and make it about outcome. Good UX is hard but so rewarding and cannot be measured in hours and deliverables. UX people need to step out from behind computer monitors to develop their creative skills.

This is not the kind of conference where you walk around collecting gumpf from stalls. There were only a few high quality stalls selling UX books at 40% off, UX Pin (great tool for corporate workshops when I struggle to get people using crayons),

And after all that – Good UX is invisible. It is only the bad UX that is noticeable.

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Friday ended with the best custard tarts in Lisbon from Café Pastéis de Belém brought in for our mid-afternoon tea and followed by sunset cruise on a schooner.  This is not your usual conference!

 

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How idiots track success

From Gerry McGovern Presentation

HITS – How idiots track success

Gerry won hands down for the most entertaining talk. His definition of hits had everyone laughing. GUI is dead and the future is NUI (natural user interfaces). The majority of his talk was focusing on tasks rather than content and the need for simplicity.

  • Yahoo 2004. 255 links on the home page.

The Long Neck Versus the Long Tail  by Gerry McGovern

Web task management is about managing your website around top tasks. Success is measured on the ability of customers to quickly and easily complete these top tasks.

What is different about web task management? Traditional website management focuses on managing the technology and/or the content. Such website management approaches are generally project-based.

Under traditional web management models, for example, launching a search engine for the website is a project. Once that search engine is launched, nobody is made responsible for it and there are no quality measures for success. The search engine is simply left there.

These management approaches fail because they manage and measure the wrong things. If you manage purely from a technology point of view, then the technology itself becomes the focus.

Organizations often buy overly-complicated content management software because of the belief that if you buy the “right” software, you solve the problem. Only passing attention is given to what customers actually want to do on the website. The tool itself becomes the focus.

If you manage from a technology [content] perspective, then the metrics are nearly always volume-based.

Many senior managers are still quoting the utterly useless measure, HITS. (HITS stands for “How Idiots Track Success.”)

Suppose someone has to visit 20 pages on a website to complete a task, when with better management, they would only have to visit five? Thus, the more page impressions, the more frustrated customers become.

If a website has lots of repeat visitors, does that mean they couldn’t complete their tasks on their first visit? If a website has increasing search behavior, is that because the navigation is so confusing that people are forced to search?

What is success on the Web? Your customers being able to do the things they need to do quickly and simply. It is time to break away from the old measures of quantity, and focus on quality. Task management focuses on the quality of the customer’s experience.

 

For more on Gerry McGovern: http://www.gerrymcgovern.com/nt/2007/nt-2007-05-21-task.htm