TAG: Flickr

Why Bad Design Still Exists & Other Thoughts (podcast)

A quick interview I gave recently.

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7 More Reasons Why Web Apps Fail

A second helping of reasons why web apps fail.

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7 Reasons Why Web Apps Fail

A few ideas about why some of the web apps out there fail.

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The Del.icio.us Lesson

Personal value precedes network value.

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Monetize This!

Martin Lamonica’s piece Making Web 2.0 Pay is indicative of the growing concern among Web watchers, venture capitalists, and other interested techies who are worried how to monetize the amazing innovative period we’re in. However, I think his piece, though illuminating, is exactly the type of thing that developers should run away from immediately because it focuses on the problem of making money at the industry level, and not the level that matters: the level of your individual users.

In his piece Martin discusses issues like making money via mashups, building to flip, and commodity office applications and points to several reasons for the new boom:

  1. High-speed internet connections
  2. Ajax
  3. APIs
  4. Cheap startup costs

So Lamonica’s point is that it is simply easier to create now. These seem like very reasonable factors for the new companies and products we’re seeing. However, simply having the means doesn’t really lead to innovation…but solving someone’s problem in a better way does. So in addition to technology-related reasons, I would add a couple more factors to Lamonica’s list, including two that can directly lead to solving people’s problems…

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Web 2.0 Talk – Leveraging the Network

Here’s the slide deck for a talk I gave on Web 2.0 for the Greater Boston Chapter of the ACM, a non-profit educational and scientific society of computer professionals in the Boston area.

Web 2.0 – Leveraging the Network (2.74 MB pdf)

In the talk I spoke about how Web 2.0 companies distinguish themselves by leveraging the network of which they are a part. Brittanica, for example, has had a web site for quite some time and were slow to leverage the network in any particular way. Wikipedia, on the other hand, exists only because they used the available network to improve their contents communally. And Wikipedia, of course, is a much, much more popular site.

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Why Zeldman’s Web 3.0 Misses the Mark

In Web 3.0, Jeffrey Zeldman writes a long missive on the subject of Web 2.0. He writes:

“To you who are toiling over an AJAX- and Ruby-powered social software product, good luck, God bless, and have fun. Remember that 20 other people are working on the same idea. So keep it simple, and ship it before they do, and maintain your sense of humor whether you get rich or go broke. Especially if you get rich. Nothing is more unsightly than a solemn multi-millionaire.

To you who feel like failures because you spent last year honing your web skills and serving clients, or running a business, or perhaps publishing content, you are special and lovely, so hold that pretty head high, and never let them see the tears.”

Presumably Zeldman wrote this piece for the sweet spot of readers who love to push back on any idea they feel is marketing-driven. And since O’Reilly Media coined the term it is, in part, marketing-driven. In all the talks that I’ve had about Web 2.0 there are definitely some people who resent this, and despite anything I might say, will continue to do so. I accept that. Just like the others who have done so before him, Zeldman will definitely get the crowd cheering.

But I would like to remind that same crowd that everyone has an agenda to push, be it O’Reilly or Zeldman or Porter. For the past few years following Zeldman’s release of his book Designing with Web Standards, he’s been writing about and promoting, well, designing with web standards. Could Zeldman be criticizing O’Reilly for doing what he does himself?

Every person has their own ideas, and each believes in them as they should.

As we all know, the problem with web standards, like all technology, is that they don’t make your product more usable, desirable, or compelling on their own. No, we need innovative designers for that. Sure, web standards make it easier for developers to create sites, but convincing developers to use them doesn’t make users love your site. Validation might very well be the biggest red herring in design today.

Innovating with Web 2.0 ideas like creating an architecture of participation, however, might just make users love your site.

There’s a big difference between ideas and the people who wrongly abuse them. To me, it looks like Jeffrey doesn’t like the people who evangelize Web 2.0 as being the greatest thing since sliced bread, the cure for headaches, and the best get rich scheme since Ponzi. Dash of Ajax, pinch of Ruby on Rails, and you’re about to flip. Of course, Zeldman is right about this: everyone is sick of these people. But there are also groups of people who are much more sane than that, and who follow Web 2.0 reasonably, pointing out that it’s not about the technology or the get-rich schemes, but about creating useful applications for real people.

But instead, Zeldman dismisses the idea of Web 2.o itself, and the subthemes which the designers at Flickr and 37Signals so obviously follow and, I might add, help teach us about. These things, as Zeldman himself points out, ain’t so bad after all:

“The best and most famous of these new web products (i.e. the two I just mentioned) foster community and collaboration, offering new or improved modes of personal and business interaction. By virtue of their virtues, they own their categories, which is good for the creators, because they get paid.

It is also good for our industry, because the prospect of wealth inspires smart developers who once passively took orders to start thinking about usability and design, and to try to solve problems in a niche they can own. In so doing, some of them may create jobs and wealth. And even where the payday is smaller, these developers can raise the design and usability bar. This is good for everyone. If consumers can choose better applications that cost less or are free, then the web works better, and clients are more likely to request good (usable, well-designed) work instead of the usual schlock.”

Folksonomy Has a Big Year

Thomas Vander Wal is one happy man. Wouldn’t you be if you had been written up by Daniel Pink in the New York Times? Vander Wal, as many of you know, coined the term “Folksonomy”. He used it to describe what was happening on two up-and-coming web sites: Flickr and Del.icio.us. Now those two sites […]

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Living in a Networked World: Is Less More?

New, easy-to-use applications make it seem like “Less is More”. But is Less really More? I don’t think so. The new wave of applications are great because they’re networked, not because many of them just happen to have less features. Human needs rarely change. We need to be watered, fed, exercised, sheltered, talked-to, challenged, appreciated, […]

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Passing Along Some Pointers

Ryan Carson is excited about his Web 2.0 workshop in the UK that he’s holding on February 8, 2006. Judging from the lineup, it looks like it will be a great show. He’s got the Tags guy, the Rails guy, the Flickr guy, the Feedburner guy, the Mint guy, the Dropsend guy, and the Yahoo guy. He definitely found the right group of folks to share their experiences.

Also, Doug Martin sends word that his new product is ready for tire kicking. It’s called LookLater, and is a bookmarking tool. He’s currently trying to get the word out, so I’m helping him along a bit. Looks interesting.

Pieter Overbeeke wants folks to check out OPMLManager.com, a tool to help you maintain your OPML file. I’m not quite there yet, but you early adopters might find something useful.

Finally, Alex Bard says that his company, Goowy, is growing fast. They provide traditional web services including web mail, contacts, calendar, games, widgets and more. Looks like another player in the Web-based Office space…

BTW: I don’t normally advertise for free. And since I’m getting more and more requests it’s getting hard to keep up. If you are interested in advertising for pennies in the burgeoning Bokardosphere, let me know. I’ve got some ideas about that…

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