Using mobile apps to extend a documentary

Last month, I blogged about the Longform storytelling in a short attention span world panel discussion. One item which still has me pondering today came from PBS documentary maker, Raney Aronson-Rath, who mentioned the future of documentaries is in extending them in digital media. Since then, I’ve been wondering how. What would be the best way to extend a documentary without interrupting the narrative? Then I came across this beautiful idea, Under The City. It’s a documentary about Montreal’s lost rivers (long story short: rivers were dried up to make way for urban development). And of course, in this day and age, a film is complemented with a website. But my attention got perked when I saw that an accompanying iPhone app is currently in the making. There used to be a river where I am now walking The app will allow users to explore Montreal’s lost rivers via geo location and storytelling. I think this is a fascinating way to continue the documentary long after the closing credits. With their smartphones, viewers will be able to experience the content as they go about their business in the city. And it’s a fun, interesting way to learn about an invisible history of your...

Psychology of websites

One of my favourite sessions at this past weekend’s PodCamp Toronto 2011, was given by Brian Cugelman about the psychology of websites. Humans treat computers like humans. In a nutshell, computer systems or websites which appear friendly in looks, wording, and IA, are more attractive to us humans. Systems and websites which appear unfriendly tend to turn us away. This is why traditional marketing tactics and social psychology are vital to Ux and influencing the user to make that purchase. I can also see how adding elements like social proof, triggers, the concept of scarcity and authority has made social media networks so successful (well, most of them!. You get my drift). Below is Brian’s slides from his...

Simple user experience design inspired by radio

This week I launched the redesign for my podcast’s website over at stutteringiscool.com. It’s the 3rd makeover since I first started my show in November 2007. While the second makeover was designed for the experienced podcast listener, as I got to know my audience over time, I’ve decided that the third makeover would target the non-technical. Those who may not necessarily know what a podcast is. I was inspired by the simple user interface of traditional radio. After all, my show is an audio podcast! With traditional radio, the user turns the dial (or presses the button these days) to the desired frequency and starts listening. But with podcasting, it’s a little more complex. You need software to subscribe, you have to find the RSS feed, enter the RSS feed, hook up your mp3 player, etc. Try explaining that to a non-technical person who is used to the simple interface of YouTube and Facebook videos. Therefore, I placed the audio player right on the homepage along with the latest episode. And the makeover is designed around the latest episode. So the traditional radio metaphor is the user falls on my homepage and clicks the play button. Subscription information is displayed on the right side. This is to serve two purposes. The first is to give seasoned podcast listeners a few convenient one-click solutions to subscribing with popular RSS readers (and to help spread the word about CastRoller, built by friends of mine in the podcasting community). The second is to introduce the idea of subscribing to users who may not be familiar with the option prefer email notification. Of...

Teaching Comic Sans criminals

Now THIS is an excellent and entertaining way to teach typography and choosing fonts. Plus, it’s short! Using the dreaded yet widely misused Comic Sans font to illustrate when to use which fonts to portray certain kinds of design communication. Check it out at...