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 ;)