ARCHIVE: August, 2007

Interface Compare: Inviting Friends on MySpace & Facebook

I’m introducing a new type of post here at Bokardo called “Interface Compare”. I’ll use it to compare interfaces from different services to highlight interesting things designers are doing (or not doing). The first installment is comparing the Invite screens on MySpace and Facebook.

MySpace Invite Screen

MySpace Invite Friends

The interface for this is pretty straightforward. You can type in the email addresses of all the friends who you would like to invite, separated by a comma. You can also add a message to the invite if you want.

Facebook Invite Screen

Facebook Invite Friends

You’ll notice one big difference between the Facebook and MySpace invite screens. Facebook allows you to import addresses from various third party email systems. You can grab your contacts from webmail services such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Hotmail. You can also import contacts from your desktop mail applications as well.

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Why the Microsoft Zune is Set up to Fail

The Microsoft Zune and the web site that promotes it are an excellent example of not following The Lesson as they put social value above personal value. We just don’t get an answer to the question “What’s in it for me?”, and as a result the Zune will most likely continue to fail.

Here is a snippet from the Zune site:

Mama always said to share. Now you have an opportunity to do it with music and photos. With wireless Zune to Zune sharing you can send your favorite tracks and photos to friends.

Picture this: You’re walking down the street. Or you’re in a room with a bunch of friends. Or at a concert. Or at the airport. Or on the bus (you get the picture) and then you whip out your Zune and see all these other Zune devices around that you can choose from. Zap! You’re connected to your best friend and send the new song your band recorded in the garage last weekend. Another friend gets the hilarious podcast your kid brother made at school, plus that song you just downloaded from the Zune Marketplace and can’t get out of your head. And hey, lookee here, your friend wants to send you something that you might like and buy, too.

Best of all, the song you sent isn’t just a 30-second preview­—it’s the whole song! Your friend can sample the song up to three times in three days, flag it on their device and then, if they like it, they can buy it later from Zune Marketplace. It’s all connected.

It’s all connected! Wahoo! Doesn’t it sound like my friends are having more fun than me? Their happiness sounds much more important than mine here.

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How does Strategy affect Design?

Luke Wroblewski shares a discussion on the ambiguous role of the designer:

Client: “Performance metrics, market landscape, product strategy? You don’t sound much like a designer. Shouldn’t we be discussing color options and page templates?”

Designer: “Design is the physical, or in this case digital, manifestation of your product strategy. Of course we could define your customers’ experience with ‘paint by number’. But I think you’d agree we should figure out what you want to say to your customers and why before we dive into how we’re going to say it.”

There are two ways to view Design here.

If you view it as creating interfaces to content, then you might stop short of talking about strategy. Instead, you would focus on how to display what you’ve got. Typography, grids, information hierarchy, big buttons, huge fonts, navigation bars, etc.

The other view that Luke alludes to is one that I believe we are moving toward, necessarily: having the designers in the strategy discussion alongside the “business strategy” people talking about the “what” as well as the “how”. (btw: this is the “strategy” part of the Bokardo Design: Interface design & strategy for social web applications). I would be doing both myself and my clients a disservice if I ignored how their business strategy can drive the design. A designer has done their job well when they have created an honest implementation of that business strategy.

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