Category Archives: Dev Tools

Merry Christmas 2007

Where the heck did this year go?

I hope you all are having a great evening with your families.

But looking at Twitter and at my feed reader I can tell that some of you are still up. Maybe wrapping presents. But probably trying to escape last-minute chores like me.

There are a few things, though, that came through my feed reader that’s interesting.

1. LeWeb3′s videos are now online. Right now I’m watching some sessions I missed including one by a Google employee talking about the Web’s impact on corporate culture.

2. Paul Stamatiou is wondering if it’s time to start an HD startup. Paul: be careful here. HD video is too hard to deal with from a workflow standpoint. It’s a lot time away from going mainstream and sites like SmugMug have the best idea — they charge their users to upload HD. Even then they only let 10 minutes be uploaded. There’s WAY too much competition in the video space, too. Did you miss all the funding spent on things like Kyte, Ustream, Operator 11, Justin.tv, Qik, and others? Think they aren’t watching HD trends? Not to mention the already-existing HD sites like stage6.divx.com. But that all said, HD will arrive sometime and if you do it right you might be the next YouTube.

3. Gizmodo has the coolest Christmas decorated cube video I’ve seen.

4. Man, Google Reader’s new sharing features have people up in arms about their privacy. I told a friend “what part of “public” did they not understand when they started sharing feeds? He answered back that the feeds were obfuscated, so there was an expectation of privacy. Wow. This is going to be a debate in the industry over and over. I can see both sides and am itching to blog more about this issue.

5. LifeHacker shared a new tool that I’m trying out: Toodledo. It’s a list to organize your tasks. For those of you who want to get organized.

6. I’ve put a ton of stuff up on my shared reader feed. Chuqui, nice photos! I really am getting a lot out of the people who’ve added me as a friend on GoogleTalk and are sharing feeds with me.

7. “You don’t know jack about how your eyes actually work.” That’s how this video, aimed at website designers and SEOs, starts out. I usually don’t pimp commercially-produced videos like this but I made an exception here for a few reasons:

    a. Andy Edmonds is the guy behind this. He’s one of the smartest people I met at Microsoft and now is head of technology here.
    b. Lots of my friends tell me that these guys helped them get more conversions.
    c. They show off how people read web sites based on eyetrack research. I learned a lot and their new tool, called Scrutinizer, is an interesting one to use to look at your Website’s design to see if you’ve really thought things through. I’m not sure I like the corny videos, though. It’s my job to watch this stuff so you don’t have to. Dang, I thought my videos are long and boring. Well, the first one actually had some good info about how your Website is probably poorly designed. Their tool is only for people who do Website design, though. Ryan Stewart will be happy, though, cause Andy Edmonds used Adobe’s AIR technology to build it.

Anyway, that’s enough for the day today. I’m off to get some sleep before hanging out with family and then heading to Shel Israel’s house where, if he isn’t nice to me I’ll broadcast his little Christmas party on my Qik channel live. Damn, I live Qik — most of the videos I put up there are total wastes of time, but I’m having a ball. I’m not the only one, by the way. Steve Garfield was at a party with Dan Bricklin, inventor of the spreadsheet, today and put that live on his Qik channel.

Well, live or not, Merry Christmas!

Starck reviews Kindle at LeWeb3

The famous designer Philippe Starck was at Le Web yesterday and, so, I wondered what he’d say about Amazon’s Kindle. It was interesting to me that he hadn’t seen it yet and he panned it in a way that I could never do with a straight face. Ended up saying “it’s almost modern.” Ouch.

Bruno Giussani has the details on what Stark said about the Kindle. He also keeps his reputation of taking the best notes at tech industry conferences that I’ve seen.

ognibeni uploaded this video of the Starck Kindle review.

Thank you to Adam Tinworth, who took the picture above and also has tons of other notes about his talk.

It’s fun that Starck doesn’t take himself too seriously. At one point he pointed out that Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs +is+ a design genius and added that he only looks like a genius because he wore leather pants onto the stage.

Getting underneath design

Some cool videos about design. First Gizmodo linked to TED Videos (those things rock, you should watch them all) recording of Philippe Starck, famous designer.

Me? I got some interesting stuff with a company named “EffectiveUI.” Don’t know who they are? They designed some of the coolest Web apps out there, including ones for eBay and a host of other famous names. I did three separate videos with EffectiveUI.

1. Demo of the eBay app they built and a discussion of rich Internet applications.
2. An interview with senior developer, RJ Owen, about the design process.
3. An interview with the president of EffectiveUI, where I learn more about what EffectiveUI does and its approach to design. We also talk about Microsoft Silverlight vs. Adobe Flash/Flex/AIR.

[podtech content=http://media1.podtech.net/media/2007/12/PID_013157/Podtech_EffectiveUI_demo.flv&postURL=http://www.podtech.net/home/4690/beneath-great-user-experiences&totalTime=724000&breadcrumb=c1b4a8a5ff8749729ec71a419d0c2cfe]

The role of anti-marketing design

At the Northern Voice conference I met Markus Frind, founder of Plentyoffish.com. He’s Google’s #1 Adsense user in Canada. His site is pulling in more than $10,000 per day from Google, he told me, and has millions of passionate users. Tens of millions of page views EVERY DAY. Whew!

What’s the secret to his success? Ugly design. I call it “anti-marketing design.”

Huh?

He says that sites that have ugly designs are well known to pull more revenue, be more sticky, build better brands, and generally be more fun to participate in, than sites with beautiful designs.

Ahh, yet another example of anti-marketing marketing.

He joins a good list. Google. Is it pretty? No. Craig’s List? Pretty? No. MySpace? Pretty? No.

He says he designed his site to be easy to use, fast to load, and uncluttered, but he didn’t pick pretty colors or fonts. He did, however, spend a lot of time learning how search engines indexed their contents.

Why does anti-marketing design work? Well, for one, big companies will never do a site that doesn’t look pretty. Why? Cause of the prevailing belief that great brands need to be beautiful. Look at what corporate branding experts study. Apple. Target. BMW. Everything those guys do is beautiful. Aesthetic. Crafted by committees of ad marketing department experts.

But, go deeper: we’re sick of committee-driven marketing. We don’t believe it. If we ever did. We’ve built a bulls**t filter that filters out well-designed things in a commercial context. We trust things more when they look like they were done for the love of it rather than the sheer commercial value of it. That’s why my Channel 9 videos work. What kind of company committee could come up with something like that? Let some goofy guy with a goofy laugh go around with a cheap camcorder, no lights, no makeup, no editing and record conversations? Fire the guy who came up with that! :-)
Look at Plentyoffish again. It was designed and coded by one guy: Markus. Seriously. One guy did that and is making all that cash. No committees. No experts. Just a guy who wanted to learn to program and did.

Oh, and I love that he picked .NET to code his site. It’s all running in .NET 2.0 and you should hear the praises he has for .NET. I wish I could film him and put him on Channel 9. It’d end all the talk that Windows isn’t scalable, isn’t secure, and can’t keep up a highly trafficed site.

But, back to the anti-marketing design. I think I accidentally fell into this as well. My design is ugly. Anti-marketing. Why? Because I wanted to make it fast. I didn’t choose a pretty font because doing so would have added a little bit of weight to my CSS file. Does this matter? I think it does. I read a LOT of blogs on my cell phone and mine loads WAY faster than many blogs out there.

It’s amazing how few corporate types get that the quality and engineering thought behind your HTML matters more than whether your site is pretty or not.

Maybe MySpace is kicking blogging’s behind because most blogs are simply too pretty!

By the way, his anti-marketing message continues right to his about page.

If it’s ugly is authentic. Not corporate. It is good. No?