TAG: Ebay

Do Canonical Web Designs Exist?

Armin Vit at Speak Up asks: Where are the canonical web designs?

“Milton Glaser’s Dylan poster. Paul Rand’s IBM logo. Paula Scher’s Public Theater posters. Massimo Vignelli’s New York subway map. Kyle Cooper’s Seven opening titles. These are only a few landmark projects of our profession. Design solutions that, in their consistent use as exemplary cases of execution, concept and process, don’t even need to be shown anymore and that, for better or worse, (almost) everyone acknowledges as being seminal works that reflect the goals that graphic design strives for: A visual solution that not only enables, but also transcends, the message to become memorable in the eyes and minds of viewers. Whether these projects are indeed as amazing, relevant and enviable as we have built them up to be is cause for a separate discussion but it’s safe to say that, as far as designs recognized around the profession, there are a certain few that invariably make the list, usually without question. Myself, I could list projects in every category from logos, to annual reports, to magazine covers, to packaging, to typefaces, to opening titles that could be considered landmark projects… But when it comes to web sites, I can’t think of a single www that could be comparable — in gravitas, praise, or memorability — as any of the few projects I just mentioned. Could this be?”

Armin then goes and mentions the obvious answer: Google.

But this is not an acceptable answer for him, because…wait for it…the logo sucks.

To talk about Google in terms of its logo has long been a pastime for people who care about logos. For years I’ve heard the same argument from people who want nothing more than to get rid of the “Mickey Mouse” logo, as it is often described.

Armin’s point is that while Google seems to be better than Yahoo, it is still plagued with a bad logo. He’s not “moved or inspired” by the design. Therefore, he reasons, it is not canonical design. Canonical design, in his mind, is one that practitioners of the medium look to as exemplary.

But, frankly, I think Armin has missed his own point…

Continue Reading: Do Canonical Web Designs Exist?

Ebay design: Provide Conditions to Cooperate

I gave a talk yesterday at User Interface 12 called “Theory and Practice of Social Design”. It’s an ever-evolving collection of social psychology theory and actual design practice. Here’s one of my favorite slides from the talk…I think it’s a good illustration of how we can use theory to inform our practice, and perhaps vice-versa.

In 1984 Robert Axelrod, who was doing studies on face-to-face groups at the time (no Web!), published a book called The Evolution of Cooperation. In it, he describes three conditions necessary for human cooperation.

  1. A likelihood of meeting in the future
    If people don’t think they’ll meet again in the future, there are no repercussions for not cooperating. Threats of not cooperating are of no use. People will act selfish if there is no future to the relationship. Therefore, the knowledge of future meetings changes our behavior because we feel some level of impending accountability for our actions.
  2. An ability to identify each other
    Identity is really important for cooperation because it allows us to know who we’re dealing with. If people can’t identify who they’re dealing with, then they can’t hold that person accountable. This doesn’t mean that we have to know everything about the person, like their address and where they live, it means that they are identified as a person to the system they’re in and the people they’re dealing with.
  3. A record of past behavior
    We have learned to assume that the best way to judge future behavior is by looking at past behavior. Thus having a positive record of behavior leads to cooperation. eBay’s seller ratings are a great example of this in action. Sellers accumulate status over time as they do business on the site. Sellers who have a rich transaction history with a high percentage of positive transactions are much more likely to be successful than those with no history.

Here’s a screenshot from eBay showing the presence of the three conditions.

3 Conditions to Cooperate
Click for full-size version

Continue Reading: Ebay design: Provide Conditions to Cooperate