Stumbling Along The Cow Path - Inspirational ideas from Webstock 2010


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Inspirational ideas from Webstock 2010, 18-19 February 2010 - Wellington, New Zealand

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  • This slideshow is about some of the Webstock presenters and their ideas – it’s not a synopsis of each speaker. Here are some glimpses of what impressed and inspired me, what I thought were important key messages, and how they might be applied to our work in Web Services.
  • Amy Hoy is a designer, developer and programmer. Her message was to think ahead, learn from mistakes, and diversify. She debated - is consistency necessarily good? It can be a barrier to evolution. One of the things she looked at was the labyrinthine streets of London. Once these streets had been cow paths and people followed along the cow path. The bend in the path was where a cow had walked around a boulder. A road was built on the cow path and eventually the boulder disappeared. But the bend in the road remained. Her point was that things are often built because that’s how they have always been built. But we need to look further down the cow paths for a better way to do things. Don’t accept the status quo. And to do this, we need to have a solid understanding of the consumer. We need majesty – don’t let other people stifle us. We have a greater purpose – the purpose is not the things we do, but changing the world by affecting the quality of the day. We need to think about the effect our site has on others each and every day.
  • Scott Thomas worked on the Obama Campaign website and talked a lot about the power of design and what is fundamentally important. Information architecture is a key part of the design process, but it is often overlooked. When looking at the information architecture, we need to have goals - we need to localise, educate, connect, activate, raise, persuade, introduce, and represent – all on the homepage. Then we need to think about the grid structure before getting to the design and determining what our missions are. Make sure you have a clear and concise message. Design appropriately - when designing, think about colour control. Choose a type face that can use different weights and styles. It’s important that people get to the homepage and that the homepage displays a logical order of progression. A home page needs to be prominent with localised information. Think about the human experience and all the people who may wish to use your site. Have a conversation with your users. Think about every step of the process, every step of the way. Spend more time researching than designing. Take inspiration from the real world – example given was the White House building overlaid with a grid structure for the web. The screen fold is dead – tell the world, convince your clients. The web has evolved. Web design and layout has matured. Analytics are essential to understand how people interact with your website – track when they drop out of a process and how they are using the site.
  • Lisa Herrod is a User Experience consultant. She made an impassioned plea for undertaking usability testing as a standard requirement in our daily work. User Experience is mainstream. We shouldn’t think any differently. We should be designing our websites for everyone – not designing them just to look cool. Why are we still segregating our users? Why aren’t we taking a user approach to design? Why is it okay that certain users are not important to your project? When doing usability testing, we need representatives from all user groups. We need characteristics of these personas from the outset. But, we often create shallow personas which don’t include everyone. Create personas with “challenges”, e.g. poor eye sight, language barriers, poor hearing. Why is disability intimidating? Why do we use an exclusive approach? User Experience is missing the opportunities to be an Inclusive Experience. Most people don’t do usability testing as part of their project. You don’t have to understand all of the accessibility guidelines in WCAG 2.0. Use the checklist to help and use at least some of the items on the list. Take a more holistic approach to usability testing. Work ethically – don’t be lazy. Don’t disregard people just because it’s too hard, you can’t be bothered, or there’s no budget. Take the Trojan Horse approach if necessary – be sneaky – don’t tell anyone you’re doing usability testing, to get it done.
  • Lachlan Hardy is a design engineer and he talked about the open web. OpenID is a decentralised framework for user-centric, digital identity and can give you a recognised public identity. Everyone should microformat their content. Microformat is a set of simple, open data formats that can be embedded on a webpage. Microformats are adapted to current behaviors and usage patterns ( “Pave the cow paths.” ) Microformats enable and encourage decentralised development, content, and services. Have open architecture – URLs should be usable and hackable. Make URLs readable. URLs require planning, thought, and what convey to the user. Use good Search engine optimisation – make your content findable. Every site should have an API. Offer web services and ways people can access your data and do something with it. ‘Cos the web connects stuff. Use common reusable blocks – with open source, this information is already available (API = Application Programming Interface).
  • Shelley Bernstein, Chief of Technology at the Brooklyn Museum talked about how they made the Museum more accessible and understandable. This was done by: Posting interesting content on the Museum blog, with multiple bloggers providing the content; Interacting with people via Twitter and other social media; Providing a kiosk enabling recording and uploading of comments to YouTube. They learnt from and adapted to feedback provided by visitors. The used social media to celebrate their successes and to talk about the bad bits as well. No comments were censored. They amplified community voices and contributed to the community, they weren’t just being there. Users were engaged with the art at Brooklyn Museum like never before. A posse was created on the site. This meant that people could contribute directly, for example, setting up a Flickr channel and then encouraged visitors to add their own photos of museum exhibits, to tag and comment on photos. This was enhanced by use of a game called “Tag you’re it” – tagging your photos with metadata tags. Another game was “Freeze tag” where other members of the posse could re-tag items. Take the audience with you on your journey. Involvement via social media makes people feel included. User comments were pushed up to the top of the page to foster discussion. A conversation was being had between the public and the Museum, and a deeper connection made.
  • Daniel Burka is a Designer and talked about Iterative design strategies. Web design should be intuitive – people act in a certain way and web design should acknowledge that and help make their interactions easier by aiding them along the path they’d likely take naturally. Don’t dramatically change how people use a site. (Used the example of a building that had a path no-one used. The student preferred to use a muddy track. So the university abandoned the real path and paved the muddy track – that’s were the users were). Build with the expectation of change. Take chances – build and release the site. Don’t waste time trying to predict everything. Listen to your users to build a better product. Realign, don’t redesign. Adapt to survive and thrive. If iterative design isn’t instinctual, be convincing. Subtraction is iteration too – try to remove as much as you add. Don’t be afraid to prune. Really, really listen to your users. Both explicit and implicit feedback are crucial. Do impact analysis. What are people doing to your system? Find out! Digg Case Study: Step 1 – get it out there Step 2 – add sophistication Step 3 – make improvements Step 4 – establish goals (e.g. make things simpler and improve interaction) Step 5 – measure success – are more people participating? Step 6 – make changes quick (don’t wait a year) Then: Have a roadmap Gather feedback (explicit and implicit) Set new goals e.g. improve performance; add more requested functionality User test #1 – focus groups, novices and experts Ask for more feedback Create more refined comps (design composition) Implement User test #2 - Task analysis Launch it Were the goals achieved? YES. Are we done? NO – start on the next iterations. Ongoing cycle.
  • There were many other interesting and inspirational talks by other speakers – these are some of the key points: In less than 5 years, the mobile generation (X and Y) will have more buying power than other demographics combined. Don’t forget the mobile web - we are already designing for the web of tomorrow. Use agile product development – this will minimise the total time through the web project loop. Design for participation – when designing layouts, consider how the page will be displayed with little or a lot of content, such as a user’s profile page. Go build your website and release it. Stop thinking you understand your users – learn from what they’re actually doing on your site, not what you think they do. Information persists – consider the social and ethical consequences of ubiquitous computing. What do people want from technology to improve their daily lives? Design for the future – it will be here sooner than you think. The web is spilling out into the world, it lies on top of everything – it doesn’t remain in our pockets. We have to fight against the walled gardens. Fight back against having to ask permission to contribute. We need to keep the web open. Augmented reality is about to make a transition. We will soon wonder how we lived without it. The devices will become the focal point. The web is the perfect love machine! The web is all things to all people. The web has totally overwhelmed us. All human culture is instantly accessible to all who are connected. Every day the world is clamoring to get into cyberspace – open the door!
  • Rives spoke at the end of day one. What he spoke about and did was Web 2.0 stories and poetry. Amusing, cleaver and witty - for me, the meaning was about getting the message across the nation, by any means. It was about being modern, using the tools, using the language, knowing the audience.
  • So, how do we apply this at our organisation? Are we going to pimp my site? Maybe not.
  • So, what are we going to do in Web Services? Firstly, we’re going to listen to our users. We’re going to engage and connect with them. We’re going to embrace explicit and implicit feedback from real users. We’re going to find the muddy paths the users use – we’re going to make web design intuitive. We’re going to build with the expectation of change – nothing is in concrete. We’re going to learn from our mistakes and make things better. Be iterative – subtract from as well as add to our sites. We’re going to ensure our websites have goals and missions – we’re going to educate and connect both our users and our clients. Our message is going to be clear and concise. We’re going to look at the big picture and think about every step of the process, every step of the way. We’ll spend better time on researching. We’re going to use analytics successfully and proactively. We’ll track when users are leaving our sites and analyse why, so we can improve our success rates. We’ll look at new, innovative ways of being – we won’t do something just because it has been done before. We’ll think about how to make it better.
  • How will we implement this? Make improvements, establish goals, measure success, test, make more improvements. All paved cow paths need maintenance. We’ll make our sites accessible and connect with our users. We’ll interact with users via social media tools to foster discussions and conversations. We’ll take our audience on a journey with us. And we’ll achieve this by microformating our content. And by making our content findable through use of good SEO and readable URLs. We’ll establish a best practice where usability is the norm where we no longer segregate some users. We’ll bring a more holistic approach to usability testing. We’ll use different project management techniques such as Agile to achieve our goals and engage our users. And we’ll have a centre of excellence where our team can grow and foster our learning experiences.
  • Stumbling Along The Cow Path - Inspirational ideas from Webstock 2010

    1. 1. Stumbling along the cow path – looking for a better way to do things Inspirational ideas from Webstock 2010 Presentation by Jo Orange
    2. 2. Amy Hoy – Double Click to Edit <ul><li>think ahead </li></ul><ul><li>learn from mistakes </li></ul><ul><li>diversify </li></ul><ul><li>look for a better way to do things </li></ul><ul><li>have majesty </li></ul><ul><li>affect the quality of the day </li></ul>
    3. 3. Scott Thomas – Web design that grabs people <ul><li>IA - a key part of the design process </li></ul><ul><li>have goals and mission for the home page </li></ul><ul><li>design appropriately </li></ul><ul><li>homepage to display a logical order of progression </li></ul><ul><li>human experience </li></ul><ul><li>big picture </li></ul><ul><li>take inspiration from the real world </li></ul><ul><li>screen fold is dead </li></ul><ul><li>analytics are king </li></ul>
    4. 4. Lisa Herrod – Designing for diversity <ul><li>UX is mainstream </li></ul><ul><li>why are we segregating users? </li></ul><ul><li>avoid shallow personas </li></ul><ul><li>create personas with “challenges” </li></ul><ul><li>why is disability intimidating? </li></ul><ul><li>use the WCAG 2.0 checklist </li></ul><ul><li>use an holistic approach </li></ul>
    5. 5. Lachlan Hardy – Building the open web <ul><li>OpenID </li></ul><ul><li>microformat your content </li></ul><ul><li>readable URLs – </li></ul><ul><li>good SEO </li></ul><ul><li>open API </li></ul>
    6. 6. Shelley Bernstein – Fostering personal connection to place <ul><li>make the site accessible and understandable </li></ul><ul><li>learn and adapt to feedback </li></ul><ul><li>amplify community voices </li></ul><ul><li>create a posse </li></ul><ul><li>involve and engage your users – be inclusive </li></ul><ul><li>push comments up the page to foster discussion </li></ul>
    7. 7. Daniel Burka – Iterative design strategies <ul><li>web design should be intuitive </li></ul><ul><li>build with the expectation of change </li></ul><ul><li>realign, don’t redesign </li></ul><ul><li>really, really listen to your users </li></ul><ul><li>Digg Case Study – a success story </li></ul>
    8. 8. Start-ups, urbanism and the mobile web <ul><li>build websites for the mobile generation </li></ul><ul><li>use agile product development </li></ul><ul><li>design for participation </li></ul><ul><li>build and release </li></ul><ul><li>consider social and ethical consequences </li></ul><ul><li>design for the future </li></ul><ul><li>augmented reality </li></ul><ul><li>Te Awesome – the web: the perfect love machine </li></ul>
    9. 9. Rives – The Word wide web <ul><li>“… if you can talk it, </li></ul><ul><li>a mockingbird can squawk it. </li></ul><ul><li>Everybody gets heard, everybody gets this </li></ul><ul><li>one honest mockingbird as a witness. </li></ul><ul><li>I'll listen for what's missing-- </li></ul><ul><li>and I'll put it there.” </li></ul>
    10. 10. Pimp my site: Applying this to our organisation
    11. 11. Following the muddy path <ul><li>listen to our users </li></ul><ul><li>build with the expectation of change </li></ul><ul><li>have goals and missions </li></ul><ul><li>big picture </li></ul><ul><li>use analytics </li></ul><ul><li>new, innovative ways of being </li></ul>
    12. 12. Paving the cow path <ul><li>make improvements </li></ul><ul><li>make our sites accessible and connect with users </li></ul><ul><li>microformat our content </li></ul><ul><li>findable content </li></ul><ul><li>usability is the norm </li></ul><ul><li>use different project management techniques </li></ul><ul><li>team work </li></ul>