Aurora- Love to hate the video

Adaptive Path has launched a new web browser interface concept that they have been working on in conjunction with Mozilla labs.

A couple days ago,  I had received an email from Adaptive Path’s marketing manager inviting one and all to their offices for the launch party on 6 August. Yes, this did spark a level of interest as they promised to demo the future of the web.

Alas living on the other side of the world was going to prevent me from attending, but today I found I was able to find information online (video) about their project Aurora.

I was really excited to watch the video as I have a lot of time for Adaptive Path. I enjoy their blog and appreciate the work they’ve done. Then the video started… wow was it cheesy. I had a hard time watching it.

I am not sure who came up with the concept of the farmer or who they are targeting for the discussion, but I feel they really missed the boat for the viral PR that would have come from a really hot video.  Also, the video is the opportunity to tell their story and I felt like I was watching a mockumentary.

Okay enough about the video.

Other thoughts were. Aurora feels really early and unpolished. Yes absolutely, the UI of the browser is still in its infancy and changes to browser behaviour are inevitable.

Whether those changes are as Aurora predicts or more all encompassing like the Monitory Report where the line that separates the computer and reality are blurred– only time will tell.

You can check out the video on Vimeo.

Take your ego out of the job

I just read this article on Joel Cohen, a writer and producer from The Simpsons. The article talks about the creative culture and innovation required to keep The Simspons fresh considering they’ve made over 400 episodes now.

What stuck out for me was his comment– “Take your ego out of the job

In innovative and design lead organisations there are often so many smart creative people trying to solve problems that sometimes you’ll find your ideas and concepts being dismissed.

As everyone, we’ve all felt that sting of being shot down when we really thought we were onto something. Sitting in a brainstorming session, spiting out our brilliant idea to only find it being quickly passed over or even worse, slightly considered and then passed over with the next suggestion. Ouch!

Cohen suggests that this happens because “Not every great idea is the right great idea“.

To survive in a creative environment you have to leave your ego at home.  You can not let ego or hurt feelings come into play or you won’t make it. You probably love working with your colleagues because they are smart and talented and ironically it’s those characteristics which creates the reality where their ideas are chosen instead of yours.

However, if you are good at your job, for every idea that is dismissed I guarantee another one will be picked up. Just be prepared that your idea belongs to everyone so it’s going to be massaged and amended with team and management input. That’s just the way it goes and quite often with collaboration the outcome is far superior then had it only been worked on by you.

SearchMe

I came across a cool new search engine today- www.searchme.com

I have seen a lot of new search engines over the years, but this one has stuck out for me because the interface is like browsing through your iphone or touch looking for new albums.

To help you find what you’re looking for, categories are presented with each search, which allow you to refine your results. If you click on the little arrow at the bottom you’ll be presented with description of the pages, so you don’t have to click on each site to see what it’s all about. Also, the speed of results seems to be fast and pretty accurate as I was able to find what I was looking for for each time I searched.

So far, the only problem I had was that it didn’t support Safari yet.

It’s only in beta, but I wonder if it’s got a chance against Google as it’s going for a new type of search experience- something visual and fun.

If it does take off, web designers beware as people like pretty things and will probably be drawn to clicking  on sites that attract them.  It gives even more reason to try and get into the mind of your audience- not only do you have to think of keywords that will attract your users, but you will also have to consider how your visual design impacts your users desire to click through from search engines.  Very cool.

How do you start your development projects?

The starting point- it’s different for every project and often it’s not where you thought it would be.

A project can start because there is a business requirement or a user need. Either way,  I have found over the years, it doesn’t matter how big or small your project is, there always needs to apply a business analysis layer to it.

I say this, as people on a project team, especially the solution design team, need to understand the who, what, when, where and why if they are to deliver an excellent outcome.

Quite often it’s the why that ends up being the most important factor as you really need to get in there and understand what the problem is before you can solve it.

I don’t think you’ll ever regret taking the time at the start of a project to dig into the questions,  allowing yourself to develop a well structured problem before diving into developing a solution.

I read an interesting article today on the Six Secrets of Top-notch Business Analysts.
Having worked with many BAs and as one myself with multifaceted teams,  this article resonated well with me.

Check it out here

A reminder of how creative the world really is

Nokia recently ran a project where they went to Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro, and Accra and set up studio spaces and asked people to draw their ideal mobile phone.

Is this all part of Nokia’s user-generated innovation program where they seek input from users about what they should put in their product roadmaps.

My personal favourites are Sam, an artist from Accra and Roberto from Rio.

Check out some of the designs here

Recommend a friend

I may be last to the party, but I have just recently discovered Facebook’s “ You may know these people” widget at the bottom right of your personal homepage.

This list is obviously generated by comparing your friend list with those of your friends to see if you’re missing anyone who  is linked to 1 or more of your friends.

It’s like like your own personal long-tail. You’re being presented with those people who are completely on the periphery, periphery of your life- they are out of site and out of mind. The people you haven’t thought of in years are being surfaced to you in an Amazon-esque fashion. Instead of “we recommend this product because people who shop like you have also bought it”  you’re getting, “ we recommend this person to you because your friends- x,y,z- like them”

I am personally loving it as having lived on three continents in the past 10 years my memory gets fuzzy when I try to remember the names of all the people I have met and the friends who have come in and out of my life. So when I see their little faces popping up in the widget, I get pretty excited to send them a note to see how they are doing.

It also demonstrates how small the world really is when you can see how interconnected we really are. This becomes obvious when “a recommend friend”  comes up and this person is connected to a person you went to elementary school with, another who you worked with right out of university and a third who you met backpacking in Europe- how do they know all the same people?!? You really begin to wonder if someone is living a parallel life to yourself.

Develop a holistic customer experience if you want your business to succeed

Yes, a recent business week article is reminding us how important it is to give your customer an experience that will give you their ongoing loyalty.

Key takeaways:

  • Consumers are looking for companies to give their allegiance to
  • Consumers are looking for experiences that cater to their deep-seated desires
  • This type of engagement requires much more than the latest technological breakthrough: It requires emotional engagement
  • The product or service itself does not have value, but the way in which it is experienced makes it fresh. That means you can even charge a premium for it.
  • Creating a meaningful experience requires thoughtful attention to your customers at every point of contact
  • Know where you are in the innovation cycle. There are three areas of innovation: technology, product, and experience.
  • Know your DNA. The only way to attract your true tribe is to authentically be yourself
  • Make emotional connections. Understand your customer well enough to know the difference between what they need and what they desire
  • Design for the complete experience- this covers all channels, off and online engagement

My Starbucks Idea

In the similar fashion of  Dell’s Ideastorm,  yet with a softer and what I think it is a more accessible design for non techy people is— My Starbucks idea. 

The concept was paned at their annual meeting, but it appears that the new site has received thousands of comments/ votes since launching.

The number of comments and the success of this is probably due to Starbucks huge market share and the fact that the site is one big suggestion box where anything seems to go. But, it seems to be acheiveing its goals of getting traffic, giving customers an open platform and getting “ideas”.

However, the true success of this concept will come if Starbucks is able show that they are listening. To do this they need to implement the suggestions and then feedback back what they’ve done to the MyStarbucksIdea.com audience.

Infinite vs Scarce Components

I have been doing some research on the psychology of free and came across an interesting Tech Dirt article from last year.

What really stood out was the step after defining your market- ultimately you want to grow your market share, so you should define what you can give away for free at no real cost to your business. To do this you need to define your infinite and your scarce components.

Your infinite components are things that you have in infinite quantities and you could give away for free and your scarce components are things, which are tied to your “free” infinite components, but you would charge for.

So for an online application- you may give away usage of the application because you are only developing one version and you can support an infinite number of users at no extra cost, but you may charge for additional storage, customer care, value-add features— anything that will enhance the experience of using the product.

Definitely worth a read

Evolution of Marketing

I just read an interesting email newsletter from Forrester Research about the evolution of marketing. Historically, marketing was a one way street where companies pushed everything to consumers; this was done on and offline.  Now as the online experience evolves consumers and marketers begin to develope “relationships”.  These relationships grow as consumers actively engage with a companies brand .

As I can’t provide a link to the newsletter—here is a cut and paste of the content:

Direct marketers and market researchers unearth deep client needs. Leading direct marketers already combine Web clicks with purchase and loyalty data to unearth a consumer’s interaction with the brand. But BrandIntel went a step further and recorded the content that users generated and other consumers read. It could then analyze what its customers really wanted and why one production flopped — Snakes on a Plane — and another succeeded — Heroes. Direct marketers will also use this data to find brand ambassadors and pamper them.

eCommerce professionals drive online sales with personalization. More than a third of Web visitors will make a purchase after seeing a personalized recommendation. eCommerce professionals can boost online sales with one-to-one personalization, such as individual homepages at Amazon.com, or one-to-many personalization, such as Virgin’s mobile offers based on someone’s home address. These firms base personalization on engagement — how the consumer behaves on their site.

Customer experience professionals innovate the brand. Whirlpool observed people at home and used the results to develop a new sub-brand — Gladiator — with fridges for men in their garages. To meet these uncovered needs, customer experience professionals will develop a disruptive strategy, simplifying the interaction, amplifying the service elements, and repositioning the brand overall.

Interactive marketers drive a better online experience. With 80% of consumers visiting manufacturers’ sites to learn about products and services, a firm’s online presence is the ideal starting point for repositioning. Firms can improve their online engagement with their customers, inviting them to offer input for brand values and product strategies in an online community, as Lego and Dell have done.

Marketing leaders steer based on hard data. Measuring engagement will take the guesswork out of budget allocation.  Engagement can drive awareness, transactions, brand preference, and loyalty. But each of these objectives requires a different approach and investment in people, processes, and technology. Marketing leaders from firms like CompUSA and BMW prioritized one goal, chose a very specific set of tools and vendors, and successfully moved the needle on transactions and loyalty, respectively.