Android now wins over the hearts

Following the situation whereby Android OS has taken lead in market share, the latest Nielsen report on the mobile market shows that it is taking over the hearts of the market or should we say the “wants”. People are now more swayed towards an Android phone than any other as can be seen below (click to enlarge):
Android wins over the hearts for most desired OS

From the same report (see link below) this is reinforced in the recent acquirers trend in the chart below where Android takes 50% of the market share:
Recent Acquirers: Android takes 50% of the market

Via Nielsen blog

Drop in Flash used on top websites

Thanks to Steve Souders (who works for Google), significant data shows that among the top 17 000 websites there was a 2 percent drop in Flash usage, in just over 4 months. You may consider that to be a small drop. But 2 points over such a short period of time is actually significant especially in the website industry, that in many cases, takes about 3 or 4 months to think about changing something…

Not great news for traditional Ad agencies that love Flash and have strong Flash development skills. But good news for the companies that are focusing on HTML5 and a more multi-platform compliancy approach…

Working too hard is not that efficient

Working too hard is not that efficient… in the long term

At a time where people are worried about losing their jobs and working all hours god sends to stand out from the pack in a positive manner it seems that they may not be providing their company with the best of themselves. Obviously if your company is short staffed and still has as much work they may not be so interested in the article over at FastCompany. But may be worth reading so at least you are aware ;)

Examples from Flickr and Facebook are provided to illustrate the misconception that getting people to work their socks off may not be providing you with the best results in the end!

Make sure you check out this great video from TED, Stefan Sagmeister is a world renowned designer who explains how every 7 years he takes a year off to pursue personal areas. He also indicates that structuring his time off was probably one of the most important parts in a successful sabbatical year. Furthermore this time often allows him to be a better designer and provide his clients with a better quality service once the sabbatical is over! Better still take the time to view the video see for yourself.

How many narcissist Twitterers does your product need?

…so Fast Company says in their article:
Attention Marketers: 80% of Twitterers Are Narcissists” (check out the illustration ;) )

Two Twitter happenings caught my attention. 1) The seismic effect of dear young Miley Cyrus deleting her Twitter account in order to “have a life”. 2) It seems to be a revelation for film studios; Twitter may affect box office results depending on the film, hey, they seem to be understanding what Twitter actually is!
It’s a global word of mouth booster, which kind of means that, yes you are not under the spotlight, you are under multiple spotlights, to the extent that everything is amplified at will. When a film is good, guess what, people talk about it, and I will trust (or avoid in some cases) a friends comments on a film far more than any journalist. Twitter just allows people to spread the word to lots of people quickly, maybe even people will tweet while watching the film…
So people that have thousands of followers, just cry out ‘narcissist’ for me, and are invariably comprised of celebrities telling people they have just been to the shop! The exception is the 20% that actually have something interesting to say, and funnily enough, don’t always have thousands or millions of followers.
A few articles about the Miley Cyrus Twitter account being deleted event also pick up the fact that Twitter is not really extensively used by her current target population / fans.

But the main thing is that the companies like Twitter, be they Facebook or Myspace have taken the same approach as Google:
– We will provide you with the tools and you (can) create the content.
– A footnote says “oh and by the way we’ll make money from selling adverts on your pages so don’t worry the service is free!”

‘Giving’ these tools to the crowds has changed the channels advertising agencies and marketing departments are used to. Listening to people who discovered the internet (and the web etc.) 2 or 3 years ago and explaining it to either of the above is at the moment like the blind leading the blind.

I’m astonished when I hear people saying that the social media technologies allow companies to engage the consumers. I think companies will find that social media technologies have given consumers a real voice. A voice that can get very loud. So if you are trying to sell a product that is not bad and your marketing team is promising to make it a success this is where the global word of mouth effect (like Twitter) may be waiting to bite you and any ‘engaging effect’ may only last a few seconds…

Sure you could find (or pay) narcissist Twitter gurus with millions of followers to say your product is great. But wouldn’t it be better to make your product around what consumers want. Not everyone can take the Apple stance of saying we don’t do user testing we make great products…
If you take a look at the article on All Facebook about Honda’s attempt to sway people towards the new Accord Crosstour you’ll see that the idea of using tools in a concealed fashion makes people think you believe they are tools! The big no-no of course is to try and erase comments perceived as an attempt to silence people. Being open to feedback (criticism) is in my opinion the sign of a company that is really trying to provide customers with the best possible service / product. Hey there are millions of companies that still pay enormous amounts of money to get customer feedback rather than using the web.

The social network with systems like Facebook have unleashed the word of mouth. Creating an interesting and valid buzz around a good product will unleash the crowds. Try to trick them and you will be drowned by the wave of mistrust. The same people that are creating the above events like the Accord Crosstour are often the same that complain the Facebook, Twitter et al. aren’t raking in the money because they do not understand the systems and are unlikely to understand their potential if used properly…

Joel Cohen, Warner Bros.’ executive VP and general manager, tells the Sun: “We may be putting too much weight onto the Twitter Effect. But you can see Twitter’s benefits as a communications tool that spreads the word about a film, and the negatives have yet to be proven.”
Source: econsultancy.com

The history of wireframes etc.

Just came across a great post over on the Made by Many blog that provides an insightful history of wireframes and how designing webpages has evolved over the years to see the convergence of information/experience architect and designer ‘savoir-faire’ and far better wireframes in the process ;)
Yes the article is called the future of wireframes but it’s also the history of how we got where we are now…

Living the blogging life; ups and downs

I just came across a post on Jeff Atwoods ‘Coding horror’ site (can’t even remember how I ended up there), and a post about blogging, more specifically the reactions you can get from irate people. I’m not sure his recommendation to ignore people is ‘the’ solution but it’s an interesting point of view and account of his own experience with flame wars and irate people with comments like “I stopped reading your blog years ago“! Interesting read, especially for people that blog themselves…
PS: Sorry I remembered he has a good review of the Dell XPS M1330 and I had recommended this laptop to a client, Anne-Sophie, webmaster of the Adecco France website and reminded me she was also happy with her red laptop!

Google and design

There is no doubt that Google has changed the way people use the Internet; it’s search tool and to a certain extent other great services like GoogleMaps and GMail. I was surprised by learning however about the relationship that Google seems to have with design. Douglas Bowman has just left Google and explains his decision, albeit the reasons behind it in a really interesting article about his experience there. There is an underlying theme of how Google relies too much on data to decide how design decisions should be settled.

I found it fascinating, having worked in the same type of situation and also the opposite, where design is not tested and relies on the gut feeling of the creative people rather than user experience testing. The success of this approach is the luck of the draw though. And even with world class creatives, nobody is perfect and your gut feeling isn’t always going to be the right decision, even if you can convince your entourage it is. Bowman seems to be really good and you can feel the frustration of his creativity being put into question by other aspects or realities of the Google business:

Without a person at (or near) the helm who thoroughly understands the principles and elements of Design, a company eventually runs out of reasons for design decisions. […] Yes, it’s true that a team at Google couldn’t decide between two blues, so they’re testing 41 shades between each blue to see which one performs better. I had a recent debate over whether a border should be 3, 4 or 5 pixels wide, and was asked to prove my case. I can’t operate in an environment like that. I’ve grown tired of debating such minuscule design decisions. There are more exciting design problems in this world to tackle.

The article Bowman links to on NY Times actually describes the issue and the role that Marissa Mayer had in this story (on page 3):

A designer, Jamie Divine, had picked out a blue that everyone on his team liked. But a product manager tested a different color with users and found they were more likely to click on the toolbar if it was painted a greener shade.
As trivial as color choices might seem, clicks are a key part of Google’s revenue stream, and anything that enhances clicks means more money. Mr. Divine’s team resisted the greener hue, so Ms. Mayer split the difference by choosing a shade halfway between those of the two camps.

You feel you’re getting a peak view and understanding of an event, like watching the intrigue of you favourite TV show unfold. In this case though the importance of the debate and the impact that each party could have, can affect the crucial services that Google offer. On the one hand you can say that Google have an impressive track record, on the other, you wonder whether innovative and creative solutions aren’t stifled in the process. Too much creative lead ‘can’ damage the best overall user experience without proper testing. But never taking a chance with a different creative approach can result in uniformity / dullness. I do feel that design, when applied to services and products that thousands or millions of people will use, should be tested by people from different backgrounds to see how well they interact with it. This may again be considered data, but real live people testing your work is going to happen sooner or later, hopefully…

How much is that blog worth in my window?

Just read MacIntyre’s great post about the value of blogs out there. We are of course talking about professional sites that are not really on par with the likes of the majority of blogs out there though. You’re talking about people who make a living out of writing on their blogs (or getting others to write for them). MacIntyre created a previous top 25 list of blogs and their valuation in 2008, he’s back again with another list for 2009 of the top 25 blogs.
As we are nearly all faced with the reduction in spending on advertising, one would expect sites like the ones listed in 2008 to have dropped in their ‘value’. I mean Wall Street are having hard times so it seems normal that this would have a ricochet effect on the rest of us. But it seems that it isn’t necessarily the case for all, and on the contrary some of the sites listed have gained value… It’s like christmas come early ;)

Time Zone change on Google Analytics

I’ve been conversing with Google on getting my Time Zone changed from the default ‘Pacific Time’ (GMT-08:00), which is not very handy when you live in Europe like some of us ;)

Please note that if your Analytics account is not linked to an AdWords account, you’ll be able to set your timezone preference from the Main Website Profile Information section of your Profile Settings page. By default, all accounts are set to use Pacific Time.

Further down the email from Google Support states that :

If your Analytics account is linked to a Google AdWords account, your time zone will be automatically set to your AdWords preference and you will not see the time zone feature in your Analytics account. This ensures accurate reporting on your AdWords campaigns. To learn how to set the timezone in your AdWords account, please read
http://adwords.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=35211 in the AdWords help center.

However I tried both suggestions and neither provided me with any way of changing it. I have an Adwords account but had never got round to activating it. I didn’t like the idea that the I would be advertising for anything/anybody. Especially not without any assurance that it wasn’t a scam, or shabby products I don’t believe in and definitely wouldn’t want to endorse in any way.

As you can see here the Google Analytics Account Settings page doesn’t allow me to change the time zone :
Google analytics time zone change

And finally here you can see that my AdWords account does not let me modify a thing either, with regards to the time zone :
Google Change Adwords time zone

So I got back to Google to explain this and well, it seems that you can’t change it, so all of my analytics data is pretty difficult to read at the moment. I’m getting the impression that people start looking at my pages from Europe at about 1 o’clock in the morning. I must appeal to the insomniacs among us !

Please note that though you have not activated your AdWords account, your AdWords and Analytics accounts are already linked. Once you have linked your AdWords and Analytics accounts, the time zone that is set in the AdWords account is automatically set for the Analytics account. This is done to ensure that data is reported accurately for your AdWords campaigns being tracked in Analytics. Therefore John, you may not be able to change the time-zone for your Analytics account.

We apologize for any confusion you may have experienced.

So I am basically stuck with this and never specifically asked for the time zone to be “Pacific Time” (GMT-08:00). There was no warning about the fact that you cannot change this nor that it would then stop me from changing my Analytics time zone settings ! Since I’m not even using AdWords I have now gained a greater distaste for it than before !

So if anybody knows what I can do about changing the time zone on my Google Analytics account I would really appreciate a heads up on what I need to do !

I just wrote to Google, asking them if cancelling the AdWords account, will get rid of the problem…

I must say that the Google Analytics system is really good although not being to change the time zone is a real pain and something that one of the lead programmers obviously forgot to integrate as an option between the two systems. Maybe the linking up with AdWords has caused this issue but regardless of the blame it is a problem that needs to dealt with.

So if you are thinking of using Google Analytics which is really useful, then do remember that your initial Time Zone setting is important !

Update: Paul Hiles has just posted a solution in the comments that I can’t check since I’m writing this from my Blackberry. I’ve copied his comment here so that you don’t have to scroll further down to read it. However if you can test this and confirm it works please let everyone know and conform it works:

The timezone setting is in Adwords, and can only be set once, but if you do make a mistake there is the option to change it (but only once!).
If you are logged into your account, then clicking the link below should automatically open a request form to update your timezone.

http://adwords.google.com/support/aw/bin/request.py?contact_type=timezone_change

Changes are carried out by authorised Adwords personnel and are usually complete within one working day (exluding weekends).

What is next in blogging, please…

Taking a look at the online photo industry may well give you the answer…

If you look at the new battle between Flickr (Yahoo) and Picasa (Google) then you could be faced with what will be happening soon in blogging.
Google is putting the heat on Flickr with its Picasa 2 beta that I have recently been testing. This is a trend setter in online photo sites…

Picasa 2 is not on their web site ! It is Windows based application/software we are talking about (also available for Mac OS X 10.4 or later). You download it and install it on your PC. The current stable version allows you to organise, edit, share your pictures (using extra software called hello) via email, instant messaging etc. It is extremely easy to use. If someone told me it was Apple software ported to PC I would understand better why it was so user friendly. It has been available since mid-summer so Picasa 2 beta is not the news here.

The version 2 beta of Picasa lets you upload pictures from your PC to your Picasa web album.

So you’re thinking that sounds cool and all, but what does this have to do with blogging ? Well everything. As I’ll explain now the ease of use and simplicity readily available on your computer is a real winner…

I realised when I opened an account at Flickr for my Dad that it was far too much for him. He looked on, wide-eyed, trying to follow the steps I indicated to him about uploading pictures and then organising them in sets. I knew he used the current stable version of Picasa and loves it. I understood I was faced with a dilemma.

Do I create a Picasa web account and show him how to use it and drop the advantages of Flickr ?

  1. I can use the static images in my blog, directly from Flickr, I can’t with Picasa
  2. I can use them in a photo gallery, directly from Flickr, I can’t with Picasa

Or do I continue with Flickr, knowing that my Dad will probably not feel courageous enough to use it ! Hint to Picasa here about changing this maybe so that I will have no reason not to use Picasa ?

As you can see below I have the set of photos I selected in Picasa on my PC, and in less than a minute my pictures are up on the Picasa web site !

This is the initial Picasa page with my set of travel images, I click on “Web Album” :
Picasa Image Sets

Then I log into my account (you can ask Picasa to remember this) :
Picasa Web Log In

Next, Picasa starts uploading all the selected photos (you can choose what size to upload) :
Picasa uploading my photos

And here are the uploaded photos on Picasa.

This is where the comparison hit me !

Blogging is the same. Until there is an application to create blogs which is as easy to use as Picasa, people will shy away from great systems like WordPress, Movable Type, Blogger etc. Note I said “as easy to use”. You need to have used Picasa and see how easy other people find it to use.

I’m not talking about changing the look of your blog, nor about the Tiger Admin from orderedlist.com which does wonders for the WordPress admin panel. I’m talking about a piece of software that you can download and runs on your PC, allowing you to create your post, preview it and then upload everything to your blog.
What is needed is a piece of software like Picasa 2, very stylish and trendy, but most of all, simple to use and understand. My Dad took to it and likes using it, he was really enthusiastic about it, so it is something worth writing home about !

Making blogging easy will be a winner. People like me, who design sites, code new stuff into their blogs and use beta versions of skins/presentations for blogs like K2 are a small percentage of the population.
A successful system will need to think about the majority of the population that will find the WP admin panel or any other web based panel system currently available so daunting they’ll rarely use it so they’ll rarely blog.

So I’d like to call on Google, Yahoo or Apple to create a piece of software for blogging (for PC, Unix & Mac) as described above, with maybe a spell checker, saving draft versions and uploading everything automatically to the blog of your choice. You’ll find people will not only blog but they’ll blog about your cool software and tell all their friends about it. We’ll have a blogging star system. For the VC lot among you, yes this means either a star or maybe even a cash cow !