Sunset for Delicious

December 16th, 2010

Today Yahoo announced that they will soon kill off one of my most favorite digital products: delicious. The internets are all atwitter about this, because it’s one the best tools out there for bookmarking. Fans of the service have been storing their bookmarks with delicious for many years.

As everyone is in a hurry to find a good replacement for their archive of bookmarks, lots of folks are recommending pinboard.in, so I’ve signed up and I’ll be importing six years worth of bookmarks tonight as a backup. I’m happy there’s a place to put years of organized bookmarks, but the one thing about pinboard is that they tout themselves as an anti-social bookmarking platform. For lots of delicious users, this isn’t a big deal, because they are probably only using delicious to store their own bookmarks. I’d say 75% of my delicious usage is for that purpose too, but the other 25% is the discovery of new content from people I don’t already know, who share similar interests, so I’m disappointed this isn’t a feature for pinboard. I can follow people I already know on pinboard, but I’m already getting good content from these same people on Twitter. What I want is to discover content from new people with shared interests (and maybe a similar tagging style).

When we planned our wedding in 2005, I used delicious to bookmark all the wedding ideas I found on the web, but I was able to find new content through the people who saved the same links as me as well. I could see that someone who tagged natural looking rugs, as “aisle runner” also had some great links to venue decor that I had yet to discover on my own. Last winter when we were planning for the arrival of our daughter, I found lots of nursery decor or registry ideas from people who saved similar content on delicious.

I’m sad to see my social bookmarking tool will be put to rest after years of little to no support since it was first purchased by Yahoo, but I’m confident that lots of new services will emerge in the coming year and hopefully fill the gap in the social bookmarking world.

How to mix + match with UX

September 30th, 2010

I just got an email from Anthropologie titled “Have you met your mix-and-match?” advertising their bedding line. I’m a fan of their bright and whimsical bedding, so I clicked through and found they’ve put together a super simple, but wonderfully effective interface that lets the user mix-and-match sheets with bedspread options. It’s a nice reminder that the best interface solutions aren’t always the most technically difficult and that simple is sometimes all you need when creating a convincing experience.

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Searching for chemical free and eco-friendly toys

August 26th, 2010

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For the last several days I’ve been searching for soft baby blocks that are made of either BPA free plastic or fabric made in the USA. Do you know what an impossible task this is? IMPOSSIBLE. I searched for “made in USA toys” on Amazon and I get a few pages of results, but half of the “toys” are really just bottles or teethers, and the few toys they’ve listed we either have or something like it. I just want some lead free, BPA free blocks that a small baby can play with easily (and not wood). Is that asking too much?

During my search it came to my attention that several of the toys that were gifted to Elise are likely not BPA free, like her favorite monkey with a mirrored tummy. Crap. When I realized this, I decided to do a little more research to see which toys might be BPA free and discovered that Sassy brand toys actually has a BPA free listing of their toys. This got me thinking that all toy companies should have such a section on their site—assuming they have some BPA free toys in their collection, which frankly at this point in the game, everyone should. This is a hot concern for parents right now, so why are toy companies not looking into making their toys a) safer for kids b) eco-friendly?

Fisher-Price, Lamaze Toys, Skip Hop, Carter’s: I’m looking at you. Take all your creative toy and game ideas and start wrapping them in a layer of responsibility. When you do, do yourself and your customers a favor and let them sort your toys by categories that are of likely interest to them (eco-friendly, BPA free, lead free!). When you do, I’ll come back as a customer.

p.s. Even the blocks distributed by Parents Magazine don’t appear to be BPA free. This is the same magazine that often writes articles about how to keep your family safe from toxic chemicals.

This post is part of a month long blogging exercise inspired by Seth Godin.

Doing your customers a favor

August 25th, 2010

A few weeks ago I was heading out of the house with our five month old daughter, Elise. I wanted to take her out in her carrier rather than the stroller as I was running errands around town and it’s easier to get in and out of Brooklyn stores without a giant stroller in tow. I decided to see if Elise weighed enough now to sit in her carrier facing forward (there’s often a weight minimum for facing forward in many carriers), so I did a quick google search for “Cybex Carrier” only to find that the carrier we’ve been carrying our baby around in for the last five months had been recalled! Something to do with faulty buckles. Awesome!

I’m annoyed with Cybex for designing a faulty product, especially when it’s one that people are trusting to carry their baby around in—and let’s not forget Cybex had their share of recalls this year. However, I’m more annoyed with Giggle, the store where the carrier was purchased.

See, we didn’t just walk in and purchase the carrier one day with cash and leave no trace of the purchase—we registered for the item, so there’s a digital history of us receiving this carrier. Knowing that this item was purchased for us and knowing my email from initially registering at the store, why would Giggle not do their customers a favor and email them news about the recall? I wouldn’t blame Giggle for carrying the broken carrier, but I do blame them for not taking the extra step to send an email to customers who may have received this carrier. It would make me believe they truly have the best interest of their customers’ families in mind—specifically the babies for whom all their merchandise is intended. Trusting a brand would certainly encourage me to return to their store in the future.

Small actions can really make an impact on a brand—either negatively (in this case by ignoring this recall and not alerting customers) or positively (by letting your customers know about the hazard). Next time you’re equipped with the information to do your customers a favor, I’d suggest making the extra effort; when you do, you’ll find your customers will be more likely to return to you in the future.

This post is part of a month long blogging exercise inspired by Seth Godin.

An Exercise: Finding inspiration instead of it finding you

August 23rd, 2010

Seth Godin recently posted on his blog a great exercise for people looking to find inspiration:

“…start a blog and post once a day on how your favorite company can improve its products or its service. Do it every day for a month, one new, actionable idea each and every day. Within a few weeks, you’ll notice the change in the way you find, process and ship ideas.

I’m not currently looking for inspiration, but I think this is a great exercise for a UX designer. It offers designers a chance to look into the details of an experience and think about how it could be improved.

In two weeks I head back to work after a six month maternity leave. I’m excited to head back to work, but it’s been a few months since I’ve been in the weeds thinking about some of these things. So, for the new few weeks, I am going to give this exercise a try as a way of getting back into UX shape. Stay tuned!

What I Do at Work Everyday

March 3rd, 2010

Over a year ago I made a transition from graphic design to interaction design. While friends I went to ITP with understand the difference between the two, explaining what interaction design is to my family and non-techy friends is never easy.

Ugleah posted a great video to her blog created by Michael Leis about what she does everyday and it’s really a perfect description of my day at work. I’ll definitely pass this along to my Mom, who still tells people I am a graphic artist (a phrase I haven’t heard since the 80s).

Anyway, if you care to see how I spend my days designing, check out this video which gives a good overview of what wire framing is when done well:

Staying Indoors Doesn’t Need to Mean Sitting Around Playing Board Games

February 18th, 2010

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When I was a kid, my Mom always talked about how my grandfather put up a slide along the side of their stairway and a swing in the hallway of their home for them to play on in the house. This sounded like the most fantastic thing to me and I always thought I would build indoor play gear for my future home.

Fast forward 20 years, and I live in a 2 bedroom apartment in Brooklyn and have considerably less room than I originally imagined for these projects, but I still swoon every time I see spy these traditional outdoor toys in someone’s home. The one above is so perfectly matched for the design of the loft space (via The Style Files). Here are a few others:

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A classic design meets an unexpected and fun at-home interaction

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An updated take on the spiral staircase slide. I love how this one looks like it’s been worn down a bit at the end-—that must mean someone actually uses this! (via Daddy Types)

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Modern and delightful (via Ohdeedoh)

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An at home swing from the creator of Apartment Therapy on the left, and a realistic, out-of-the-box solution for someone who really wants to set up a swing asap. (via Ohdeedoh)

The Chalk Walk

February 7th, 2010

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The Chalk Walk by Katie Sokoler.

I thought it would be fun to add some color to my block. So I went outside and traced my footsteps with chalk down the sidewalk. As I was doing this, a grumpy old man came up to me and yelled at me to stop. I actually thought about stopping until a boy came up to me with a giant smile and said “make more” and I liked his advice better. So I tested out the finished footprints, ran up to my window to wait, and took pictures when people walked by so that it looks like they are leaving trails of colorful footprints! It was really cute to watch kids (and many adults who thought no one was watching) hop along the footsteps like they were playing hopscotch. (via Dennis)

I love neighborhood surprise projects like these and how they can delight someone who may have otherwise been having a grump day. Sort of reminds me the shadow drawings Ellis G.’s work which used to me make me so happy when I would walk home around the Cobble Hill neighborhood.

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