Design for the user. The user isn’t you.

It is too easy to assume that whatever it is we’re about to post is earth-shattering fantastic, but that doesn’t mean our audience will think so, too. They are interacting with our websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, YouTube channels, or whathaveyou, to solve a problem. Be it finding a specific product for their home, information about a school course, making a donation, finding the time when a bus will arrive, whatever it is that drives a person to search or browse somewhere in your digital footprint in the first place. Thus – 1. Design for the user 2. The user isn’t you I first read these two golden rules on a blog about user experience design back in the early 2000s during my web design days (unfortunately, I can’t find the name of the blog nor link to give proper credit). These rules can be directly applied to content marketing. Actually, anything we create for online consumption. 1. Create content for the user. The user isn’t you. Like I said, it’s our job as members of the digital team (content creators, content marketers, communicators, etc.) to make it easy for our users to solve their problems. We need to simply ask ourselves, “Will our users find this fantastic earth-shattering thing useful?”. And answer it through the eyes of the members of your personas/target audience. For instance, when I worked at a hospital for kids with disabilities, I’d ask myself “how would this piece of content [a photo, a link to a page on our website, the wording of a tweet] help me if I were a parent with a child with...

I’m tired of all the frequent surprise UI changes on my social networks

Facebook has been famously notorious in making changes to its UI and Ux without the best practice of giving prior notice to users. Lately, I’ve been noticing this practice being used by my other social networks and cloud services. Please stop it. Stop it now. It’s beginning to feel like I’ve forgotten how to use my computer. The routine repeats itself every few days now. I fire up the browser to complete a quick task. Mouse in hand (or finger on mobile device), my automatic reflexes kick in and I unexpectedly stop in my tracks. Wait. What happened? Where’s—? Oh… there it is. Ok, they made a change. So how do I…? Do I click this? Hey, what did I just do? How do I undo that? That’s how I ended up accidentally accepting the switch over to Google Drive and Facebook’s much over-hyped timeline feature. Not only has my work been interrupted, I’m now distracted by figuring out if my other favourite, useful features have been changed. What happened to letting users know beforehand that changes will be forthcoming? Is it a drain on the network’s communicators if they spend some time drafting up communications? Would issuing a communiqué each and every time there’s an update create fatigue in users? Maybe they have made announcements but since there’s so much information overload these days that it’s easy to miss anything that isn’t overly major (1 billion dollars, really, Facebook? 1 billion?). Or maybe Facebook’s bad Ux habits formed a new habit in everyone accepting the fact that “even though I hate the new Facebook, I’ll be used to...

Google+ Hangouts for communities

Stutter Social is a new organization I recently co-founded with my friend, David Resnick. It connects our fellow stutterers all over the world through group video chats. Using Google Plus. Why would we want to do that? Because it’s often difficult to meet other people who stutter in your geographical area so you end up facing your unique social challenge alone. It is said that only 1% of the population stutters. We are faced with many prejudices including bullying at school, losing job interviews and worse of all, stuttering is misunderstood as a character flaw. Science continues to prove that it is neurologically based. So meeting other stutterers online is the next best thing! In fact, that is our goal with Stutter Social. To spread the message of the National Stuttering Association – if you stutter, you’re not alone. Why Google+? We decided to use Google+ Hangouts because it’s free to use, pretty easy to use and a lot more stable than Skype. When David, myself or our other Hangout hosts starts a chat, we post the link to the Stutter Social Google+ page. As well as the Stutter Social Facebook page, Twitter account and right on the Stutter Social website homepage via a great big green button. You can’t miss it. We host three to four Hangouts per week right now and momentum is growing to include more in timezones around the world (stuttering is taboo in some geographical locations while others do not even have speech therapists!). On average we get about five to nine people hanging out at one time and our Hangouts last about 2...

Extending the traditional reading experience online

I just heard about Pottermore, a new website coming soon by J.K. Rowling which I can pretty much see as becoming a great case study in bringing reading to the digital world. That is, aside from just offering an ebook riddled with DRM. I was a Harry Potter fanatic back in the day. Not so much a fan of the movies, but the amount of imagination in the books… how could I resist? So my interest was really perked up when I heard about Pottermore. Even the branding – note the use of the title’s font different from the movies and books. This is clearly showing that this site is after the books (and movie). It is not the same as the books (and movie). It is an entity on its own. The author herself explains what to expect from the new website, opening in October: I can’t wait to see what comes out of this experience and the lessons and ideas to be...

Yeah, I don’t like Skype’s new UI either

I recently relaunched my webcomic Superspud.com as a graphic blog (read: graphic journalism). My latest post reflects my frustration and utter bewilderment of the new UI for Skype 5.1 for Mac. In a nutshell, it’s unintuitive. I think the comic explains exactly how I feel using it. Click on the comic above to read more about the inspiration behind this...