May 9, 2008

Semantic web

Filed under: innovation, user experience, web — thedelman @ 10:59 am


The other day a friend asked for my opinion after forwarding a link to one of his posts about “the semantic future”.

After reading the link my initial reaction was shock, anxiety, unease (you get the picture) accompanied by the assumption that Uea’s (User Experience Architect) may be out of a job in the near future (10 years) because of the impending semantic conquest of the web.

Then my common sense kicks in: “what the hell is this Semantic web anyway”. And so begins my journey…. so far I’ve watched some videos    


Question: What is the impact of semantic web for the Uea?





April 25, 2008

Shopping cart goes high-tech

Filed under: user experience — Tags: — thedelman @ 2:28 pm

This is old news, which I was meant to blog about it last year but you know how life is. 


This project has got my attention because it affects majority of the British population. Who do you know who doesn’t shop at a supermarket?


It would be interesting to know whether they used personas. I can image at least 4/5 are needed, obviously this will be analysed through user research!


My made up personas are (This is tongue in cheek):

  1. The speedy frenetic, trolley bashing mum of 4.
  2. The hard partying mad student.
  3. The professional who works hard plays hard and has a taste for the finer things in life.
  4. Maybe an Oliver loving granny.
  5. Not forgetting the healthy eating earth loving dude.


Another point of interest is whether the designers will take into account the full life cycle of the users. For me this starts from the minute the user wakes up to the minute they go to sleep, in fact 24 hours.


What am I on about!?!


Well, because people love food/eating and their day is planned around food, this system could have touch points throughout people’s lives from being at home, on the move, at work, socialising etc. So, in the end it’s not just a helpful dashboard sitting on a random trolley throwing out suggestions and information but it becomes an experience.



User will have an online shopping account. Part of his account has a shopping organiser, which has his weekly preference setting. Let’s say £40, moderately healthy, no seafood, no responsibilities, 60 min cooking time (average for the week), randomness, moderate etc


This account can be accessed online anywhere. The great thing about this is that whilst shopping, all he has to do is sign into the dashboard and it will tell him what’s on the menu today and show him where to get the ingredients in the shop. At home he can go online to his account and it will show him how to cook the dinner.


He receives a call from his parents whilst travelling. They inform that they will be coming for dinner in 3-4 hours. Then and there he could interact with his account (via hand held devices) inputting his new needs*. Parents – 4 hours – like red meat etc. Then the food could be delivered to his home, when he gets home he manages to cook it just in time for his parents


So what I’m saying is that this should not be just a helpful dashboard on a trolley but more of a life enhancing experience between the people, eating and shopping.  



* Let’s hope he’s not driving at the time!

April 11, 2008

Multimap launches new features

Filed under: mapping, multimap, technology, user experience — Tags: , , , , , , , — Warren Hutchinson @ 2:26 pm

By Warren Hutchinson

Hot on the heels of my posting about Multimap being honored at the Webby Awards in the Service category comes some great news that a new feature-set has been implmented.

Those that have watched closely would have been expecting this due to the recent acquisition of Multimap by Microsoft.

But ah-ha, it’s not all MS integration stuff.

First up, Improved mapping functionality with Microsoft’s ‘Birds-Eye View’. While I wasn’t a great fan of Microsoft’s mapping solution, I did quite like the idea of the Birds-Eye view, a 3/4 isometric view from above.

It definitely taps into that ‘thing’ that makes looking at maps quite addictive and for me is a nice step ahead of Google Earth in terms of flying about. GE is slightly limited (unless you use the 3D buildings) at providing a decent non-distorted angled view.

Multimap Birds-Eye View

Also note the Wikipedia view, overlaying information from Wikipedia that has a geospatial reference.

I find this sort of view really useful when it comes to looking at directions to a place that I have never visited. Mostly as a way on envisioning the route before I drive it. Overhead view is useful for orientation and proximity purposes, but it doesn’t really look like the real thing. Only the other day I sat down with my father to ‘fly’ him through some directions on GE.

I’d like to see Bird-Eye View fly-thoughs added to Multimap Directions at some time. I think Map24 has some sort of solution for this. Yes you can switch on Birds-Eye when in View Map mode of the Directions service. But it’s not a prime feature.

Multimap Directions - with Birds-Eye

I should quickly add that Multimap’s Birds-Eye Vie isn’t available for all locations, just “major cities”. Although my town is covered and I live out in the proverbial ‘sticks’.

In this new release they have also improved the directions functionality with better, more coherent step representation for journeys. When I played with it yesterday, the map view wasn’t quite working as the site was obviously rolling out across the servers. But it looks promising indeed.

Multimap Directions

And lastly, exacerbating the blur between location based services and directory services, Multimap now has Business Listings. The Multimap communications said:

Now you can use our maps to find businesses in your area – or your destination. We’ve got details of everyone from accountants to woodworkers in the UK, US, Canada, France and Italy – with other countries coming soon.

For those ardent lovers and web 1.0 stalwarts, the old site has finally gone. but don’t fret. If interactive maps really aren’t your thing or you are on dial-up or have an old system then you’ll be happy with the introduction of ‘Basic Site’ functionality. Essentially a rasterised map offering with some new features, but optimised for more basic delivery.

Multimap - 'Basic Site' View

I like the way Multimap have retained this as important. When we at LBi first engaged with them, Sean (Founder), Eric (CTO) and Jeff (CEO) were all fairly adamant from the get-go that ALL users were important.

Anyway, there you go. Have a play and switch your favourite mapping service over to Multimap.

BTW – I do have integrity and this isn’t a shameless plug for LBi work. I firmly think that this is the better browser based mapping solution out there at the moment.

April 9, 2008 Honored at the Webby awards

Filed under: brand, mapping, Microsoft, multimap, technology, tools, usability, user experience — Tags: , , , , , — Warren Hutchinson @ 11:58 am

Nearly two years ago here at LBi, we started working with Multimap to redesign its public .com web property.

It was time for their loved, but ageing raster-map offering to be dragged inline with, then new and innovative, Google’s ‘slippy’ Maps.

With a raft of new features including drag, zoom, pan, hybrid view,all stuff we take for granted now, we set about defining a sharpened mapping proposition that worked for both Multimap users and advertisers.

It was a brilliant project, great fun, hard work and really quite challenging. The guys at Multimap (which sold to Microsoft in December last year) were all smart cookies and pleasure to work with. Personally I see it as one of the triumphs of the team I work in here at LBi. Not only was it great solution, it was a great learning experience and those two things make for great projects. Certainly satisfactory ones.

Multimap Homepage

Stephen Barber was, and still is, ace on this project. Will Bloor was his usual unremitting creative self, Peter Jupp smashed the design and Mike McIntyre and Gavin Edwards aced some complex interaction and James Norton provided some wonderful interface development. It was also a pleasure to see Lorenzo in action, which doesn’t happen nearly enough for some of us here at LBi.

Well, enough spouting from me. has just been named as an Honoree in the Service category at this years Webby awards.

This is no mean feat as only the best 15% of submissions attain the accolade and this from a pot of nearly 10,000 entries received from all 50 US states and over 60 countries.

Multimap is now owned by Microsoft, so expect to start using it a lot more as it integrates into all their properties. Exciting stuff indeed.

The guys I worked with on this project were:

December 19, 2007

Culture of fear

Filed under: poor experience, technology, usability, user experience — Lorenzo Wood @ 7:22 pm

I noticed that the Sky+ user manual uses the following diagram to explain how it should be connected:

Confusing Sky+ diagram

Can anyone find a more unnecessarily scary instructional diagram?

November 21, 2007

Amazon launches the Kindle – a portable eBook reader

Filed under: amazon, brand, product design, technology, user experience, Wi-Fi — Warren Hutchinson @ 10:18 am

Amazon’s new eBook device the ‘Kindle’ was released this week.

I find this an interesting one.

It was very well covered yesterday on lots and lots of blogs with pretty much everyone saying it’s rubbish. The 400 or so reviews on the Amazon page are largely negative too, this is an interesting point in itself for Amazon.

Here is a video of the out-of-box experience as captured by Robert Scobble:

The packaging looks okay, quite cute for it to come in a ‘book’.

Here is a video of using it and experiencing some issues

I was watching the Amazon demo thinking things like ‘Wouldn’t it be good if you could look-up words as you read. Oh, it does’, ‘Wouldn’t it be good if it wasn’t based on wi-fi hotspots. Oh, it isn’t.’ And so on…

Featurewise, it’s quite nice. It ticks a few boxes and for this reason Amazon will shift a few I’m sure.

Then I thought about the product design and decided that it’s a lame dog. It has some weird, flimsy, asymmetrical form that looks a little like James Bond’s underwater Lotus Esprit.. A little 80s.


Lotus Esprit

The interaction looks far too complicated and it smacks of ‘get it to market quick’. It could have been soooooo much better, so much more desirable, so much easier to use. Also it seems that the interaction itself is awkward, scrolling up and down aligning a little cursor with menu commands rather than selecting them.

However I am a fan of the electronic paper screen, it’s just a shame it couldn’t be tough screen, but then that would defeat the point right?

But this isn’t the problem I se with this device.

My main reasons this won’t be the ‘next big thing’

  • People love books. A bookshelf says a million things about its owner and people love the tactility of paper, the romance of curling up under a reading lamp in a comfy chair and losing themselves.

    The books we read represent us in some way, they have ‘self-expressive benefits’ to quote ‘Aaker’. To have read, own and display works by Shakespeare, Brontë and Dickens says something about the individual. The collection of books one has says something about the owner. Why else would we all have bookshelves? Okay, so they are practical, but they could easily be hidden.

    The same goes for newspapers. It brands an individual to be seen reading the FT, The Independent, The Guardian, The Sun, The Daily Mirror.

  • It has DRM and apparently spies on you . Has Amazon learned nothing? You can’t ‘lend’ books. PEOPLE LOVE LENDING BOOKS!
  • The product design sucks and the interaction is a little fussy. Before iPod, listening to music, changing track, albums and artists etc was a little less-than-slick. iPod made it slick. The Kindle flashes as you do things. HOW ANNOYING! This is not slick. It’s slow.

    You have to pay for blogs if you download them but can browse them in the web browser for free. Weird.

  • People don’t consume books like they do music. With music you flit between things. The Kindle can’t ‘do an iPod’ which changed the way we listened to music. It broke the CD model. The Kindle has nothing to break, no stranglehold to release.
  • People don’t want another device in their bag. “Keys check, wallet check, phone check, blackberry check, laptop check, kindle…? Sod it I have my phone/blackberry/laptop”
  • The name Kindle is rubbish.

It’s exciting because:

  • It’s a very cheap mobile bookshop
  • The screen is a great step forward
  • It has the potential to change the way [some] people read

Sure some will fly of the shelves, but at $400 it’s simply too much for £50 man. People will offset the amount of books they read and think it’s not worth it.

It appeal to the niche. The tech geeks, the academics but it won’t light the fire for my younger brother. As one reviewers says:

“If you travel a lot, or require rapid and accurate access to references (as I do), the Kindle is definitely soon to be a necessity. I am a medical student, and I loaded an entire medical library onto the one I’ve been beta testing”

Having said all this, I might get one… For research purposes of course.

November 7, 2007

Tricked into sending invites to my contacts

Filed under: poor experience, registration, usability, user experience — Warren Hutchinson @ 10:27 am




I recently set-up an account on Imeem for exploratory and research purposes and the process arrived at that ‘enter you Gmail address and we’ll see if there are any of your contact already n this site’ moments.

Except it wasn’t.

It was one of those ‘We’re being very sneaky and are going to send an invite to each and every one of your 400+ contacts, many of whom are clients that you haven’t spoken to for a while’ moments.


If you received an invite to Imeem on my behalf, I apologise.

I’ll review Imeem later, but they are not in my good books.

October 3, 2007

FOWA conference blog: Insight #1

Filed under: social web, Sustainability, tracking, user experience, user generated content — Tags: , — bersi @ 2:52 pm

You just don’t know what’s going to happen next when you launch a startup.

The main running thread of all talks so far is quite clear: Nobody knew what would happen next after launching their app. And in fact, few ended up where they expected to go. Someone this morning said that the real work on a web app really begins after you launch (see, I was listening, but didn’t take note so not sure who said this…) You need to listen intently, watch your users and see what they make of it. Odds are you’ll notice that they’ve hacked your app and use it in ways you would never have imagined. That’s your cue to harness their creativity and evolve accordingly.

September 17, 2007

Mobile UX workshop @ Ubicomp

Filed under: GPS, mobile, user experience — danielharris @ 9:59 pm

I attended Adaptive Path and Nokia’s mobile experience workshop yesturday. Which was enlightening, though a little stunted for some reason. I think it suffered a little from the broadness of the subject (the task was to generate a set of design principles for the mobile experience) and the lack of experience with actually using a number of mobile services. Unbelievably, the subject is still young and mass experience still limited which is why there were no strong opinions.

However, there were some great design themes and principles that emerged.

Mobile social rules of engagement

• Design for unavailability
(whether the user is in a tunnel, or just does not want to answer/reply, the system should support accidental or purposeful unavailibilty)

• Allow people to engage to a level that’s within their own comfort zone
(some people are comfortable with sharing their particulars – others less so. Whatever the case, the quality of the experience should not be affected.)

• Support the user in defining a set of expectations for communicating with a recipient or group.
(the system should support a user’s diverse range of terms of engagement – which can define relationships. you know that one friend will reply to an SMS immediately. Another may reply with an email. The system should learn these relationship characteristics that we take for granted)

• Design for amiguity
(Maintain the user’s privicy and the privicy of their contacts by presenting smaller chunks or intentionally obscure information to them to allow them to infer the rest of the message)

location-based service design

• The entire situation should be captured- time, place, social context, and mood
(Mood, as difficult as it is to capture, should heavily inform location based services)

• Status setting (as per facebook, twitter, IM) could be the key to getting relevant results with LBS

• The experience of place should be only enhanced with LBS
(the services should be like a close friend. someone you can trust, and full of helpful nuggets of advice, rather than a pushy person)

• Encourage participation through motivation
(the more you give, the more you get)

The changing nature of social interactions

• Allow the user to see who the audience is / will be

• Where should the responsibity for the manner of notification reside?
(see the ‘defining expectations’ point above)

• Concider the emerging trend of requesting media production
(on flickr, you can ask someone to take a certain vista for example)

• Concider life-casting as an emerging social trend

• Think muti-channel (blogging/microblogging-twittering)

& my own note – support rejection, abandonment, or unsubscription to these services

Getting the user’s attention

• Why – for personal benefit, for the greater good (persuasion technologies)

• How & when – concider the social and environmental contexts of the user

There you have it. These are certainly some starting points for some more specific themes within mobile UX. Thanks to Mirjana Spasojevic (Nokia) & Rachel Hinman (Adaptive Path) for putting all together.

September 11, 2007

Tom Coates @ d-construct

Filed under: dconstruct, user experience — gavinedwardsuk @ 9:10 am

Product manager of Yahoo:Brickhouse

Other start-ups;

Google earth

Everyone of these sites or services we think of as a site but they have all broken the frame of the browser – into desktop apps, physical devices, other sites etc.

They have also become platforms that other people can build on, and something that’s making money.

Your site is not your product – its bigger than that
Plying well with others – part of a web of data
Paths through a web of data
Turning paths into navigation
Collaborative design practice

What is the web of data?

A web of pages > a web of data

Web is connected by services and apis and data is not limited to pages or browser but it can manifest itself through it

The human face of the web abd the data behind it is becoming increasingly merged.

A web of data sources, services for exploring and manipulating that data and ways that people can connect them together.


The site, IM, on phone and twitterific.

The product is a way for people to keep in touch, the website is one facet. 90% of twitter activity comes from APIs!!!

Pownce is very similar.
Flickr is similar – into photoframes in your home, into moo cards, widgets, badges, phone updaters, desktop clients its all over the place!

Last FM. The experience is the desktop client, the personalised radio, people barely use the site

The world of tomorrow

The Web of Data bleeds into the real world

A physical object responds or visualises data from network
Interacting with physical object allows people to directly change the data on the network Wattson
citizen weather reporting

Playing well with others
Or why its good to design for recombination


Drive people to your service
Because people will pay fot them
As advertising or to put yourself into the middle of an ecosystem
Makes your service more attractive with less central development

This is all important because playing is massively important for communication and sharing.

Network effects

Every new service can build on top of every other existing service – the web is a proper platform

fireeagle – check it out
twittermaps – fun fun fun

capturing metadata around your activity. Geotagging UGC. Ace
use it to enhance search results.

ICBM silos – check this out. On wikipedia. If you wanted you could find your nearest ICBM silos – if the desire so took you!

Family and friends widgets, keep track of your friends by location.

Paths through the web of data

So.. a site is not your product, your product extend, merge, involve itself with other products

There are lots of benefits to being the definitive source (gracenote for music, amazon for product) services are easier to compete with.

Building a dataset:
Open a dataset you own
Build one with users
Enhance one dataset with another

Datasets by their nature, more useful the bigger they are, but it means problems are scaled.

Flicker has 1,350,000,000 photos – how do you navigate? Get more data!!

Capturing metadata

Data created during production of object (exif data)
Data you derive from direct analysis of the thing concerned (facial, speech recognition, working with user to collaboratively work)

Battery is dy……

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