For an Apple design, the Newsstand icon looks decidedly juvenile. But what’s worse for publishers is that there is now no visual reminder within the Newsstand icon that there are publications inside, waiting to be read. On top of that, in iOS7 users can now hide the Newsstand icon inside a folder. The once-special treatment that Apple gave publishers in order to encourage the distribution of magazines to the iPhone and iPad had apparently vanished, at least in terms of visual prominence.
Now, Fleishman is worried that, without the visual cue, readers might be forgetting that his publication even exists. “I get email regularly from readers who say that they forget that issues come out,” he says.
This confirms a behavior that I’ve noticed in myself: I’m reading The Economist less frequently than I have in the past. It used to be a weekly read, and I thought it was one of my more durable habits.
Funny how much a design change can do.
Interesting stuff here. The basic idea behind a “Nudge”: build a set of automatic but reversible actions into a system to encourage good behavior. Here’s Cass Sunstein, author of Nudge, in an interview with New Scientist:
How do you design a nudge?
It’s a problem-centered approach, rather than a theory-centered approach. So if we had a problem of excess complexity making it hard for people to make informed choices, the solution would be to simplify. If people aren’t enrolled in a program because it’s a headache to sign up, automatic enrollment seems like a good idea.
Is nudging generally preferable to strategies like taxes and prohibition?
The advantage of a nudge is that it’s more respectful of freedom of choice. It always belongs on the table, but if you have a situation where, say, polluters are causing health problems, some regulatory response is justified—a criminal sentence or a civil fine.
It’s remarkable how applicable this list is to strategy, especially the kind that impacts a large number of people in an organization. My favorite is rule #2:
To design a spacecraft right takes an infinite amount of effort. This is why it’s a good idea to design them to operate when some things are wrong.
There’s more humor in this list than there is in Kelly Johnson’s list, and more about the specific workings of a design team. Read them all. I suspect you’ll enjoy #32, and I believe a majority of our work in the future will build upon the truth contained in #15.
NB: I love a list of rules. I hope that someday I can have a list of rules that people attribute to me. Even if that list of rules is about burger-eating.
This one’s near and dear to my heart.
And it hurts when companies get it wrong.
So it’s exciting to see it done so, so well.
Muji’s just released a set of iPad apps that parallel their products, that align with the values they hold dear, and that extend their brand into new places: a free calendar app that synchronizes with Google (and happens to be the hottest calendar app I’ve seen), a paid notebook app that is a digital addendum to their paper products (and happens to be the hottest note-taking/drawing/importing/whatever app I’ve seen), and a free app to help streamline travel.
Granted, they’ve also got an app that promotes their products in a catalog, but generally speaking their apps are made to help people live their lives better. Not to sell product. Not to deliver a message.
And guess what? They work. I downloaded ‘em all and they’re rad. The travel app won’t replace anything for me, but the calendar app is a definite keeper, and the notepad is unbelievably sick.
I sketched the above in about 20 seconds. And that interface is definitely, probably swissmiss approved (elegant and makes sense), and delightfully logo-less.
Anyway, this is how you make things for people. Now you know.
Click the image to enlarge!
Redesigning things is fun. I’m no designer, but I thought it might be nice to try my hand at redesigning the Foursquare user page, particularly with regard to how one friend views another friend on the site. Based on some things that I know are possible from a programming standpoint, I’ve also suggested some feature additions to the site.
For a look at how it normally looks, go here, to my page.
1. Get a map!
I think a map would be a real nifty addition to a product that is about location. Don’t you? Clicking on the angle quote (sorry type nerds!) would collapse the stats. I could see adding points to that bar, and comparisons to the rest of the users: “Top 20%!”. I’ve created four views for the map:
- Mayorships – obvious
- Frequented – places I go a lot, but am not the mayor
- Shared – places that the viewer and I have both been to at some point
- Tweets – my tweets that have geolocation added to them (hidden if a user doesn’t use Twitter or doesn’t geotag their tweets)
I feel like Foursquare should be able to tell me how similar I am to others on the site, based on our check-in habits. I love how Last.FM does this. To take this further, a cheeky message could be applied to different levels of similarity: 100% alignment could be “Long-lost twin.” (H/T Mr. Arauz.)
Why couldn’t Foursquare pull in my Flickr feeds like Dopplr does? And based on checkin time (and geotagged photos!), it should be able to at least guess where I took those photos. And why not just show my recent tweets, instead of a link to my twitter profile?
4. Likes, Tips, Suggestions!
If I’m looking at a friend’s profile page, I should be able to see what they’re most into at a glance. I probably already know—based on pings, etc.—but a quick digest of their venue preferences might be pretty cool. And it would be completely rad if Foursquare could let my friends in on a place that I’ve never been before, and suggest that they take me to that spot. Not only is this great for dates, but it’d be awesome for helping me make decisions on where to go. And hey, couldn’t somebody sponsor that spot? I think they could.
Do you like this? Should I change it? What would you change?
Let me know in the comments.
I recently bought two German-built products that made me intensely happy.
One is this pen, the Kaweco AL Sport. $70.
The other is this safety razor, from Merkur Solingen. $35.
Both exhibit qualities that I appreciate in items.
- You can take them apart. In fact, in the case of the razor, it must be taken apart in order to be used. This makes me feel like a sniper in a very specific way: the careful assemblage of parts in order to build a tool that helps me complete a task feels particularly Bourne-esque.
- They both feel very German, in the same way that German car doors close in a particular way, and even how their cars’ Oh Jesus handles fold up without a snap, but rather with with a slow glide. The snap of the pen’s push-button-bit is particularly pleasant.
- They are both composed almost entirely of metal. The pen is made from aluminum, and the razor from chromed steel.
- Their design is considered, but simple. I did not choose the alternative, better-promoted safety razor—from Baxter of California—because it wasn’t designed with the user in mind. The handle was longer (bad in a safety razor, where maneuverability is key), and the head was designed in a way that made it very easy to cut oneself while changing a blade.
- They both have odd names that are fun to say. Mer • kur So • lin • gen. Ka • we • co.
- They’re both from old companies that are hard to find on the internet. Merkur (Dovo) has been making razors since 1906, and Kaweco’s been in the pen business since 1883.
- They are effective, if non-standard items. There’s nothing I like more than doing things differently from the rest of the world, especially if that way is clearly better. Having a pen—a pen that you use, that goes with you from place to place, that isn’t some standard Bic or Uni-Ball—means you never have to buy another pen. Refills are all you need, and they’re cheap. And they’d seem to be better for the environment. Razor refills are astonishingly cheaper than Gillette refills, and the packaging is at least 100 times less intense. Again, better for the environment, and better for the pocketbook. Also, I can attest to this: the shave is WAY better with this razor than I ever achieved with a Gillette Mach 3.
- Both have somewhat nutty, ugly packaging. Especially in the case of the razor, which comes in a cardboard box. It did feel a bit like I was getting a tiny Harry Potter wand, however, when I opened the box upon returning home. But both of them are proof positive that you shouldn’t always pay attention to the pack.
See why I feel like a sniper with this thing?
Seriously, though, I appreciate that they don’t spend time or money on the box. And while we’re talking about the environment, this is way more friendly than your normal razor packaging, right?
We have a lot of panhandlers here in Chicago. And street musicians. I like to give them money when I have it, but I hardly ever have cash.
Seems like Visa, Amex or Mastercard could create some little handheld devices that would tie to a special savings account, allowing passers-by to give money, even if they have no change. Click for a photo of my design, if you can’t see it above.
What it is:
- Hand-held debit/credit-card processing device for homeless people, street musicians, etc.
- Deposits directly into a special savings account with a decent interest rate
- Features a USB port for recharging at ATMs, shelters, grocery stores, etc.
- Easy denomination selector on the top of the device, elastic strap on the back
Why it’s cool:
- Makes it super easy to give money (and receive money)
- Cash can be used to buy things that aren’t necessary (booze, cigs, drugs, comic books), and the special savings account makes it more secure
- Donators can track your charitable contributions online
- Comes with a special debit card that would reject purchases of booze/cigs/comics
- That card would get the users some cool discounts to encourage good spending habits (marketing opportunity)
- Banks or other organizations could match (partial or whole) the contributions made in an entire city, or by donations made from a given bank’s customer base
All of y’all out there, what do you think?
I just re-did my plain HTML homepage to show some of the work I’ve been doing of late.
Over the last week I was a little bored at night and this is the result. I tried to keep it clean and simple. Hope y’all like it.
It’s at http://exitcreative.net/.
Oh… and I turned 26 on Saturday.