Sunday, December 30, 2007

Living In The Moment on BART

I hate new years resolutions but one of my new years resolutions is to live more "in the moment". Yesterday I was on BART, when I caught myself stressing about something, again. Then I reminded myself that I needed to DO IT, you know, live in the moment. NOW!!!

So I took a deep breath and started paying attention to the now. Then, I noticed the slight smell of
urine on BART. What were they thinking? Who upholsters public transit? A lot of other people on the train looked stressed somehow and there was a little empty bottle of bourbon on the floor of the train. Walking away from the BART station, I was more aware than usual of the guy dealing 'outfits' on the corner as I was, "in the moment". I noticed the homeless people begging, and the drunk guys that always hang out around 24th and Valencia, among other disgusting things.

Delightful! Its not even 2008 yet and I've already punched a hole in one of my resolutions.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Dad Rules

In honor of my dad's 70th I thought I'd post his "Rules" to my blog. They're pretty funny, and I think (sometimes) they can be applicable to interaction design . . .

Rule #1 People are stupid
OK, I know that sounds harsh but really, sometimes people are stupid.

Rule #2 Don't do anything stupid
This is just common sense here. If I have to explain it to you, read rule #1.

Rule #3 Time
As in, the solution to any problem is time. Got a problem? Not sure what t do about something? With a thoughtful application of time you will figure it out. Etc.

That's it! Rules to live by, thanks! Happy Birthday Dad!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

eCommerce - Not User Experience

I didn't do much shopping this holiday season but when I did, I did it online. I'm frustrated by how poorly most e-commerce sites are designed especially when I know how good they could be. While I was waiting for YouTube to reject me for being too old, I was working on a project for a shopping dotcom, a search engine aggregator*. I realized something even more annoying about shopping online while on this project. This "web 2.0" company doesn't really do any user centered design at all. They dont do user testing or listening labs or any of that good user research stuff that actually makes a product nice. But they are successful nonetheless, I guess search enginges can constantly be 'tuned' so they work better. Perhaps that's OK, but their site could still be better. It's a cheap ass way to run a web business.

Then later I spoke to an Oldnavy.com designer about what it's like to design for that site. Basically any Gap website is designed to get you to purchase something "within three clicks". Gap Inc. obviously does lots and lots of user testing and user research. Again I was disappointed to hear that website's user experience isn't about making most oldnavy.com customers happy with the products they buy, or building a relationship with the brand, OR about creating an entertaining and sticky place to hang about online, it's just about volume.

I wonder if online shoppers will revolt when they finally figure out that nobody is remodeling the stores. When they realize that e-tailers just are not trying that hard for their business. And that they are being asked to spend their time as well as money to do more work for less in return.

* An aggregator is a search engine which combines many different searches, from different sites into one set of results.




Friday, December 21, 2007

Dont Bother Interviewing at Google

I figure I spent several weeks worth of time this past year trying to interview for various jobs at Google. Recently, on a 3rd attempt I thought things were looking pretty good. Despite all the positive feedback from my interviews, I was shot down in the 11th hour because some VP (who I never actually met) decided that I am not "the right kind of designer". I really really want to know how having 13 years of experience, and a proven track record in silicon valley makes me "not the right kind of designer" but ... whatever. I get it now.

After all that work (over 120 hours of unbillable time total in 2007) I'm glad I tried. I really liked all the people who interviewed me and I am really disapointed that I wont be able to get to know them.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Origins of Web 2.0 Design, Debunked!

This piece is just cracking me up. I think every single client this year has fallen victim to the hype. I guess this means I cannot do reflections anymore. awe.

(It is very nice to see an old whetstone elementary school friend in this presentation)


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Reflections on a Blog

I started blogging in January as a bit of an experiment. I'm pretty happy with it so far. The more I post, the more I like it, and I guess this blog has accomplished what I wanted it to do.

I'm shocked that anybody actually reads my blog. What I like most about blogging is the unexpected social aspect. All the off-line conversations with friends and people about user experience.

What I don't like about my blog is I find it difficult to have anything truly interesting to say about "interaction design". Some projects are more interesting than others but overall ID is pretty esoteric and geeky.

I want to keep up writing in 2008, but I think I have to change my tagline. I wont be writing about web ux stuff so much anymore. I'm formulating a strategy now, I think it needs to be something completely different.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Solving Stress & Work in Silicon Valley

"Stress makes us depressed, fat, sick - and we do it to ourselves"

This is great news! Now that we KNOW what's hurting people we can DO something about it!

... oh wait, that is easier said than done.

In the UK people use this expression, "I can't be assed" which means, basically, "I cant be bothered". Imagine ever saying that in an office? I never hear this expression over here but I hear it all the time when I travel abroad. I think this says a lot about how we deal with stress vs. the English. You have to have a certain amount of personal pride to just state your limits out loud. I love to compare ourselves with the UK. They also have a national health system, four plus weeks of vacation, and an extensive network of pubs.

I've found that most of my stress is caused by money, or other people. Usually stress comes from a cascade of people influencing other people with money mixed in. Work seems to cultivate this like a petri dish especially since technology has such an incestuous relationship with money. It's really difficult not to get stressed out in SV. I really really want to tell some of the stress causers (like disease carriers) NOT to inflict this toxic practice on other human beings. It sucks.

I don't think the Chronicle article delves into actual solutions for this problem. Doesn't everybody else see the solutions around them? or am I just simplistic? There is a solution for every problem, the trick is to find the right solution.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Greenest Christmas is No Christmas

I'm one of those people who hates Christmas. It's not because I'm some heathen satanist or anything like that. Christmas just reminds of everything that's wrong with the world. All this useless commercialism invading my mind in the form of advertising. Stealing my time. Confusing and distracting people from what they really want or need.

As I skim the papers reading articles about "being green" this year I think that these green messages and products are too little and too late. Well, I guess it's a start, albeit a small one, hopefully it will catch on.

I'm not anti green, nor do I hate these holidays, I love the social aspects of all holidays. I'm just anti-bullshit. I think I'm going to boycott Christmas, dismiss the commercialism, say no to wasting money, relax and don't stress out. More importantly, I'm going to TALK about my attitude and ask my friends to tune out the holiday BS too.