“Treat text as UI”
ARCHIVE: September, 2006
From a recent comment on The MySpace Problem:
“About 1-2 weeks ago depression hit me for a few days. As usual, it wasn’t just one thing; it was a combination of several things. MySpace and their seemingly undeserved popularity was one of those contributors. I kept asking myself, “Why!? Why is it that the worst things are the most popular?” Then, a few days ago while I was getting in the shower, I had a thought: MySpace is successful because it gives people freedom.”
This is exactly the sort of conundrum I was trying to explore in the piece. MySpace, in all its visual glory, is a paradox for designers, who, with their refined aesthetic sensibilities, cannot fathom how people value such decoration.
What we’ve learned, I think, is that in some cases giving people the ability to express themselves is more important than the designer’s ability to do so. Or, in other words, the designer’s ability to let people express themselves is often an important goal in social web design.
Ok, so this is something completely different. Instead of the usual joshness, I’ve invited my friend Bill (and my former professor at RPI) to guest post because he’s writing a really cool book and wants to get feedback on some early parts of it. Before I show you the content, however, let me set the stage a bit…
Last week, in part 4 of my discussion with Luke Wroblewski, the topic of writing and design came up. I compared writing to design, because I think there are striking similarities between the two: they each involve the selection and organization of content for effective communication of ideas. I was discussing this later with Bill, and he shared with me an even more extreme idea. Now, if there’s one thing that I know about Bill, it’s that there’s a lot more to his writing than can be gotten in an initial skimming. He’ll send me something, I’ll read it, and then weeks later I’ll realize how it got into my psyche…I’ve assimilated the thoughts almost without knowing it. So, with that, here’s a brief overview of the book he’s working on. And by the way, solid, enlightening feedback is mandatory…
Continue Reading: Writing as IT
This is part 4 of a conversation with Luke Wroblewski on design lifecycles.
Joshua Porter (me)
Luke, you’re right to ask: “Why not have something that functions well and has great usability?”. We should, of course. I’m talking priorities here, and if we had to put one ahead of the other, that’s where I would put them. There is a parallel in furniture making…the Shakers, who build amazing furniture, have their philosophy built around this same idea:
1) If it is not useful or necessary, free yourself from imagining that you need to make it. 2) If it is useful and necessary, free yourself from imagining that you need to enhance it by adding what is not an integral part of its usefulness or necessity. 3) If it is both useful and necessary and you can recognize and eliminate what is not essential, then go ahead and make it as beautifully as you can…
Continue Reading: The Lifecycle of Design: Part 4
“It is strange to me that in the web design/development world countless hours are spent discussing the wrappers and distribution mechanisms for content but very little time is spent on how to improve the content itself. I think it has become a traditional assumption that crafting good content is best left to the capable hands of our clients or nearly unemployed English majors who didn’t go on to attend law school. Yet, anyone who has ever crafted websites over the years should know better â€” hell, I should know better â€” most clients look to their designers and developers for help. From editing to writing the copy from scratch, rare is the project that does not require our involvement with words.”
Bruce Schneier, considered a foremost expert on security and privacy, and relatively famous for some of his outspoken criticisms of the Bush Administration’s handling of post 9/11 security issues, writes in Lessons from the Facebook Riots :
“Welcome to the complicated and confusing world of privacy in the information age. Facebook didn’t think there would be any problem; all it did was take available data and aggregate it in a novel way for what it perceived was its customers’ benefit. Facebook members instinctively understood that making this information easier to display was an enormous difference, and that privacy is more about control than about secrecy.”
Continue Reading: Learning the Intracacies of Privacy in the Facebook Blowup
This is part 3 of a conversation with Luke Wroblewski on design lifecycles.
First off, I think that Craigslist and MySpace exposing their full content is a design decision…maybe one made without much thought but a design decision nonetheless. If *all* sites simply exposed their content to the world like these two sites, we would probably be better off. So many successful things have come from happy accidents that it doesn’t bother me to think that MySpace might be a happy accident…until you read how relentless they are about updating the site with useful things. Kathy Sierra’s talks more to this…
Continue Reading: The Lifecycle of Design: Part 3
Earlier this summer I got the chance to interview Luke Wroblewski of Functioning Form. Luke’s a great writer and longtime web application designer currently working on Yahoo! Social Media. Following the interview we kept up an informal dialog around the idea of a design lifecycle.
Well, we ended up archiving it in Writely, and filling it out a bit. Luke’s got the first part up now. (I’ll be publishing some parts of it during the week).
Continue Reading: The Lifecycle of Design: Part 1
Grazr.com relaunched late yesterday with a host of new features. (Marshall Kirkpatrick has the Techcrunch writeup) I helped with the site redesign, focusing on demonstrating the capabilities of Grazr as well as making the activity of building a Grazr painless and easy.
One of the new features that I’m most excited about is the ability to watch video from any web page. Here’s a Grazr displaying YouTube videos:
So it’s as simple as that. You can browse YouTube from any web site with a Grazr!
Continue Reading: Grazr Goes 1.0, Relaunches with Video