New direction for blog

Posted in Online by solle on 24/12/2009

A selection of content from this blog will now be updated and published on You the User, my new updated hosted WordPress blog and home to all my online activities. This WordPress.com blog will remain but I will no longer be publishing here so if you are interested in anything I have to say please keep run along to You the User

Thanks for reading

Links, bookmarks, discoveries

Posted in content, ideas, links, Online by solle on 11/07/2009

Week ending 11 July

Profits before patients: Wendell Potter talks to Bill Moyers about 20 years inside the health care industry with perfect Dante quote “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of moral crisis, maintain a neutrality.”

Kosmix – semantic search engine – what’s happening on the web (well quite a lot really and it isn’t only conversations regarding the custody of MJ’s children.

Joshua Porter’s Designing with psychology in mind

Eventually discovered Tiltshift for the iPhone

Considering the somewhat different paths Great Designs Should Be Experienced and Not Seen and Disruption versus Usability: has UXD become TOO good? and Design With Intent: How designers can influence behavior

Started playing around with Mapumental

Fill up a page of your sketchbook a day – Pretty sketchy and its Flickr group

Post-it easel pads

Future Perfect

Walking Papers: Print maps, draw on them, scan them back in

Maglev toy train

User Experience Trading Cards – check the ones you didn’t manage to get at UXLondon

The 1kb CSS Grid and the Grid System Generator

From Adactio Revealing Design Treasures from The Amazon

Maps as service design: The Incidental

Google Dark – godark.us

Web Trend Map V 2_1 – about

@craigmod – nice grid

AxLib – A robust design library of usable interaction patterns for Axure RP

Smart.fm and An owl’s life

ruiz+company – design inspiration

cortex – Xavier Encinas Studio personal visual library

@font-face: The potential of web typography

Content-Preserving Warps for 3D Video Stabilization

Abandoned Britain – Photographing ruins

Matt Webb and his opening presentation at reboot 11. Scope – Design and contributing to culture; ourselves as individuals and the big picture; taking action.

10 informative web design presentations

keep an eye on this – Luca De Rosso’s OTTO Beatslicing is more fun when you hold the sample in your hands

Open Plaques

Stop motion paper prototyping

Best RSS feeds for information graphics

Design Ethnography & Mood Maps over at Semantic Foundry

and Hicks Design Icons for Interaction and a revisit to Old News about Icons

and finally The Best of French Cheeses

Proud of my Buck Rogers puzzles (here’s an example)

Buck Rogers puzzle

Buck Rogers puzzle


That I must complete my input for Russell Davies’ Speculative Modelling

Finish my cardboard camera

hole-on ex

& finish my cardboard menagerie

cardboard menagerie

The Lord’s Prayer

Posted in ideas, Online, Politics and links by solle on 17/06/2009

Oh Carter, who art in Government (briefly),
hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come,
thy licence will be done,
on rural earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day a rather poor connection.
And forgive us our piracies,
as we forgive those who pirate against us.
And lead us not into mobile temptation,
but deliver us from mobile evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. for ever and ever. Amen

Watching digital readers

Posted in content, Data, ideas, Online by solle on 02/06/2009

One of the things our grandchildren will find quaintest about us is that we distinguish the digital from the real‘ William Gibson

Somewhere between Nicholas Carr’s ‘Is Google Making us Stupid?‘ and Clive Thompson on the Future of Reading in a Digital World there is the issue of how we are viewed when we read. It has become increasingly evident that depending on how you are reading, what you are reading and upon what you are reading you are viewed very differently.


It is said that it is more acceptable to read a newspaper at the breakfast table than a paperback novel. Why? Is it because the viewer can see something of what the reader is reading and approximately where they are in their reading but with a paperback novel it is hard to establish exactly what is being read and where the reader is? Books can seem private and cut off.

Is reading a newspaper or magazine or book at the breakfast table more acceptable than reading from a Kindle (or like), laptop or iPhone (or like)? Why? Is it because the viewer can see something of what the reader is reading and approximately where they are in their reading – be it the title, the cover, the cover story or at very least that it is a book or a newspaper etc – but when the reader is using a digital device they can’t even be sure they are actually reading and if they are reading you have no way (apart from maybe facial expressions) what they are reading? Viewer feels no sense of engagement.

Of course in some circumstances (ie dinner party) it is frowned upon to read anything but especially a newspaper or a paperback novel but you might just be able to squeeze in reading a short summary of a sporting event on your mobile phone without too much objection (or risk of never being invited again).

Likewise when attending a lecture, panel event or roundtable it is perfectly acceptable to multi task reading connected and non connected stuff from a mobile phone or laptop – the feeling is that the reader is still engaged with their surroundings, involved with the event, in the conversation – but reading a newspaper or book in this environment would give the impression of non interest, non engagement, being separate from their surroundings (even though they may be reading something directly relevant).

Like the William Gibson quote describes, in time these differentiations will become quaint references to a time when individuals discussed the digital and non-digital/’real’.

Please comment below with any other references on the subject.

Thanks newhousedesign for Ladybird picture

Multivariate testing

Posted in Audience Development, Business, content, Data, Online, SEO by solle on 31/03/2009

Time to revisit econsultancy’s list of multivariate testing tools written by Ashley Friedlein in 2007.

Checking over Ashley’s list to see who’s still in business with a relevant offering (and who’s been snapped up by a competitor):

Specific multivariate / multivariable / split testing tools and services:

Adlucent – a variety of testing tools including landing page optimisation

Google Website Optimizer – Google has kindly released a 26 page Techie Guide to Google Website Optimizer which everyone has no excuse not to take a look at to get you started

Memetrics – is now part of Accenture’s Digital Optimization Marketing Sciences

Offermatica – is now Omniture’s Test & Target

Optimost – is now Interwoven Optimost offering a wide range of testing services

SiteSpect – a variety of testing tools

SplitAnalyzer – $129, online demo available, immediate download

TaguchiNow – free webinar available

Vertster – free demo available

Site conversion optimisation solutions (typically continuous learning approach):

[x+1] – with its Predictive Optimization Engine

Kefta – recently purchased by Acxiom

Maxymiser – selection of products

Touch Clarity (Omniture)

ATG Campaign Optimizer

Wunderloop – international offering

And from the article’s comments:

Amadesa – range of tools including form and cart optimisation

Clickdensity – more of a usability toolkit including heatmaps (see my data visualisation round up)

Sokel Choicepoints (site itself looks like it needs ‘optimising’)

Mixpanel – a range of tools

Plenty there to choose from. Obviously anyone new to this who wants to get their hands dirty should start off with Google’s Optimiser tool.

Crime mapping

Posted in ideas, Online by solle on 24/03/2009


The London Metro today has splashed the story of ‘How your tweets could be an invite to burglars

Mentioned here three months ago 😉

A while back the London Metropolitan Police very kindly produced an interactive crime map that is kept up to date with the latest levels of crime, levels of seriousness and by type of crime.


Obviously at a top level the centre of London varies between High and Above Average and the rest of London as Average. But when you start searching by postcode/borough/street etc say for the crime of Residential Burglary it gets far more interesting. Areas with Below Average burglaries sit right next to areas with Above Average and you start to get a picture of a complex London with its varied populations and economic classes.

The result of this – obviously London residents in Below Average areas are going to be less worried (you would think so anyway).

My question though is – if I was a burglar or car thief (or potentially a prospective one after coming across this handy tool) and had a penchant for a Goggle Map Mashup would I not be saying “Mr Metropolitan Policeman, thank you very much for providing me with this handy tool so I can see streets of London where I might ply my trade (and where residents are going to be less worried about being burgled or having their cars nicked)”.

Stranger things have happened.

The other day it had also occurred to me when your opportunistic house breaker was going to get themselves on Twitter to monitor and see if they can take advantage of the frequency that twitterers tell the whole Twitter world that they will be away from their homes for X period.


naming and shaming

Posted in Business, content, Data, forms, Online by solle on 16/03/2009

here begins the naming and shaming of organisations that after you enter extensive personal details etc on their website they immediately email back to you the password you have just entered (and confirmed) unencrypted for anyone to see.


Passwords look pretty damn scary in plain text.

First up (and many more to follow):

1. StepStone Solutions with responsibility for Channel 4’s recruitment are the first guilty party (appalling, they even sent a reminder with the naked password repeated a week later)

2. Lastminute

3. Be

4. EventBrite

5. Live Nation

6. Grazr

7. Sky News

8. AddThis

9. The Daily Express

10. Harringey Library (in regard to wi-fi)

11. British Library (in regard to wi-fi)

12. Daily Star

13. Serph

14. Newscred

15. Days Out Guide

16. Fused Network

17. Wired.com

Audience Development

Posted in Business, content, links, Online, Twitter by solle on 10/03/2009

Notes from a recent presentation (the link to the presentation is at the foot of the post):

Audience development – pivotal to success

Audience Development is split between retaining satisfied customers and growing the customer base.

customer acquisition


manage SEO of all pages taking into consideration current best practice

by order of importance

on page:

  • <title> tag
  • Keyword frequency and density
  • Keyword in headings
  • Keyword in document name
  • Meta name description
  • Meta name keywords

off page:

  • Link anchor text contains keyword
  • More backlinks (higher PageRank)
  • Link Popularity within the Site’s Internal Link Structure
  • Page assessed as a hub
  • Page assessed as an authority
  • Link velocity (rate at which changes)

and remember

  • Balance paid & organic listings
  • Blended/universal results
  • Search term research & targeting
  • Ensure site design is search friendly
  • Avoid duplicate content & multiple site issues
  • Get authoritative mentions online by going beyond Linkbait

(thanks Dave Chaffey)

and then work on the 77 tips found here


network with SEO and audience development professionals to keep abreast of current best practice and innovations within the sector

make sure you are on Linkedin and join the

audience development group
Digital Publishing Network
LinkedSEO Group

make sure you are on

Twitter and follow the right people


run inhouse guerilla SEO best practice workshops in collaboration with marketing departments for content teams and front-end development

for content teams look no further than presenting the
BASIC principles of online journalism

for development teams look no further than running through point one


develop content sharing partnerships with third parties

research your sector and communicate with competitors direct and indirect and any other sites with similar content

start non-commercial content sharing by linking to each other’s content

remember – the link is king



ensure that you link from your content

remember – it’s a conversation

the web conversation should have no walls

build up links

tools and people that can help

Yahoo Buzz

and Twitter Tools


manage Social Media reputation:

embrace trends such as microblogging tool Twitter as access to new audiences and method of communicating with existing audience

“Dell believe $1m worth of business from Twitter”

Twitter Tools

PleaseRT.me and Retweetist – retweeting tools
Filttr – filtering Twitter
beamagpie – advertising
Twist – trends
twilert – email alerts
Pingvine and Twitterfeed– RSS aggregator


For content/news sites: every morning email a list of keywords to be used in titles and intros for the day’s content Google Trends and Google Keyword Search

customer retention


strengthen culture where customer retention is as important and vital to the business as customer acquisition

customer feedback should be viewed as some of the most important data available

involve all employees in positive and negative feedback

from it all employees will learn

what is important
what is relevant
what can be done to make positive change


customer retention is an ongoing conversation and that conversation requires managing and developing day to day

get to know your customers

beta groups
customer feedback roundtables
user testing
outbound calling

involve all departments including marketing, product and contact centre to develop a better understanding of customer’s needs and requirements


action customer feedback and develop further customer loyalty


feedback to customer the positive changes you have made


increase online dialogue with customers with a willingness and courage to publish and share concerns, questions, grievances


continually test important areas of the site using no/low-cost tools and action feedback into site enhancements/tweaks/BAU improvements

Website Grader
Web accessibility tools
Userfly and Feedbackarmy – User testing
Yahoo Site Explorer
Silverback – Guerilla user testing
Chalkmark, Treejack, OptimalSort at Optimal Workshop


create ‘User Experience team’ with existing members of staff to place the user voice into decisions

even if the team is only of ‘one’ a lot can be done


Leah Buley’s How to be a UX Team of One


reputation management: monitor the web for discussion (positive/negative) and proactively re-act

set yourself up with the monitoring tools for Twitter


Google Alerts
Trackur (+ free guide)

(Audience Development presentation on Slideshare)

or download a PDF of it

Microblogging is here to stay

Posted in content, ideas, Online, Twitter by solle on 27/02/2009

Yesterday’s decent article By Richard Waters, Chris Nuttall and David Gelles ‘Sweet to tweet‘ and this morning’s post on e-consultancy’s blog ‘Why the real-time web isn’t really important‘ combined with Andrew Gerrard’s recent presentation at Digital Lounge just compound that ‘e-micros’ (email/microblogging) will continue to be the main communication means and that brevity will become the byword (pay attention to five.sentenc.es).

If you cannot say it in a paragraph then someone has probably said it better somewhere else and you might as well just link to it.

Online Form Innovation Awards

Posted in Business, content, Data, ideas, information architecture, Online by solle on 23/01/2009

Last year I was moved to create the Online Form Innovation Awards after the experience of too many bad experiences and grave disappointments with online forms (the tip over the edge was an appallingly laid out Microsoft Word document masquerading as a form for another online innovation awards).

The fact is that this isn’t a rare occurrence – we come up against bad online (and offline) forms pretty much every day – a day doesn’t seem to go by without me noticing someone in my network Twittering a moan/frustration about a form. It’s shocking that so many of them are quite as bad as they are (irrespective of the efforts of form gurus like Luke Wroblewski and Caroline Jarrett).

Most websites, whether they be transactional, service or community contain some type of form that requires filling in either to receive a service, join up to the site or buy something. And time and time again users are confronted with difficult and complex forms that often give them no idea about their progress, feedback if something has gone wrong or even a little ‘form furniture’ to offer helpful links. These forms test resolve, infuriate and often have a significant and long-lasting detrimental effect on the associated brand or website.

So. Rather than be negative and create some celebration of the bad I thought it would be much better to invite a list of respected practitioners to judge and celebrate the best examples of the online form with the intention of creating a valuable resource centre for the many aspects, requirements, examples, best practices, and professional guidance for the online form.

The Online Form Innovation Awards have two purposes:

A to yearly hold an ‘Online Form Innovation Awards’ to highlight current innovation, style, usability, accessibility and strong conversion in online forms such as signup, application, or purchase.

B to build a reference library and forum of best practice for anyone online looking to understand, learn, discover, and share knowledge regarding the many variations of the online form.

The idea is to invite anyone to put forward or nominate any online form on their or any other website that they think deserves reference (ie signup, application, purchase) before a selection of judges with the intention of highlighting present innovation, style, usability, accessibility and strong conversion.

The judges in 2009 are a varied selection of web professionals, media consultants, online entrepreneurs and writers working in design, technology, theory, interaction, usability and accessibility:

Nico Macdonald writer, researcher and consultant working in media, technology and society. Spy

Lisa Halabi head of usability at Webcredible, one of the leading usability and accessibility consultancies in London. She’s a founding member of the UK Usability Professionals Association and an advocate for all things user-centered. She’s appeared on BBC Radio and ZD Net and contributes regularly to magazines like Marketing Week, Internet World, Computer Weekly, NMA and Travolution.

Richard Sedley Director of the cScape Customer Engagement Unit (CEU), a collective of online specialists drawn from multiple companies and offering clients a single source for the best in online marketing. Richard is also a columnist for Customer Magazine and Course Director in Social Media for the Chartered Institute of Marketing. In February 2008 he co-authored the book Winners and Losers in a Troubled Economy which looks at how companies can engage customers online to gain competitive advantage during a recession.

Luke Wroblewski Principal/Founder, LukeW Ideation & Design

Sid Yadav is a web entrepreneur based out of Queenstown, New Zealand. He is currently the co-founder and CEO of Nincha, a stealth startup, and creator of Memiary, an easy-to-use online pocket diary. Previously, Sid founded and edited Rev2.org, a blog covering web apps and services.

Oliver Reichenstein is a Swiss interaction designer living in Tokyo. iA

Caroline Jarratt is a usability consultant who specialises in forms, surveys, and tuning content of government and non-profit web sites. She is co-author of Forms that work: designing web forms for usability (foreword by Steve Krug). Effortmark

Joshua Kaufman is an interaction designer and user experience consultant living in San Francisco. He can be found at unraveled.

The first awards are open for entry now and will close on the 31 March 2009. The winners will be selected and notified on 24 April 2009. Rosenfeld Media have kindly supplied three copies of Luke Wroblewski’s book Filling in the Blanks to be given to three selected winners.

Please visit the site and make a suggestion. Feel free to make suggestions of further resources, links and relevant websites. If you would like to write something or offer up any research paper it would be gratefully received.

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