Archive | 2010

The Right Way to Wireframe, Part 1

Now getting ready for a workshop session on wireframing, from a couple of guys I follow on Twitter: @zakiwarfel and @russu.

Love this. Starting off with the point that in UX design, we never actually see the work.

What’s better, wireframing or prototyping? This is a funny session but so far hard to take notes. We’ll see how it goes.

So the premise is that 4 designers wireframed a new site for, microlending platform for children’s health needs.

Russ Unger chose Balsamiq for his tool. But first he’s showing us his index-card-and-post-it-note work that was the first step. Then found he couldn’t make the site map in Balsamiq.

But he did build out the wireframes there. And he shows those and the final design crafted from them by @simplybrad.

OK so this is cool. They took photos of their sketching, but they also screencasted their computer work. That is is pretty cool.

Now we’re on to Todd Zaki Warfel. He starts off with about a zillion post-it notes and sorts them on the wall into themes. He uses personas, the number based on what the data tells them is necessary. Then they start sketching, to explore concepts.

[Me: Personas are so rarely done well. Often they lead you down a dead-end path, because they aren’t informed by real-world data, but instead by someone in the C-suite’s opinions. I’m just going to assume that with all the data Zaki Warfel collects, that he’s doing them right.]

Zaki Warfel does some internal pitch/critiquing, and then goes straight to gray-scale prototyping, then brings in a designer.

He claims not to wireframe, but instead to prototype. His handdrawn sketches sure look like wireframes to me, however. Generally uses HTML/CSS but for this presentation he used Fireworks.

Really interesting session….Part 2 happens at 12:30.

The Era of Crowdsourcing: Guiding Principles

OK, I’m trying out a new theory this morning. I am sitting waaaay up front. I’m typically your cynical, back-of-the-class type.

I’m in a conversation between Scott Belsky, founder of the Behance creative network, and Jeffrey Kalmikoff of Digg. None of the below are direct quotes, but most of them are close.

Kalmikoff: My love for business is about how it’s a way to take an idea from concept to reality.

K: Crowdsourcing is an umbrella term that broadly describes several ways of sourcing information.

Belsky: Misconception — Crowdsourcing equals access to free labor. It’s given crowdsourcing a dirty name.

There’s crowdsourcing of wisdom [like Wikipedia] and of labor [like Mechanical Turk].

There’s a difference between crowds and communities, especially if you’re depending on it for business purposes. You need sustainability.

With a crowd, there’s a common purpose, some sort of event, but interpersonal isolation.

K: Interpersonal isolation provides a comfort to many people. Many of us are uncomfortable when someone strikes up a conversation in the elevator.

B: With crowds, sourcing exists in sprints. There’s a start and an end — not sustainable. [That’s where you get into the event aspect of being a crowd.]

K: You have to keep up some level of participation to remain involved. High probably of fatigue.

Community is based on identify and cohesiveness from shared conditions. Sustainability exists inherently in the organic, adaptive nature of communities.

K: Businesses can be part of communities, but they don’t define communities. If Harley Davidson went out of business tomorrow, it’s unreasonable to think that all the communities related to Harley Davidson would cease to exist.

B: As a business, you don’t have a community. You are part of a community.

[Me: This is a key point.]

Risks Inherent in Crowdsourcing
* Discount sushi — Something that seemed like a good idea at the time. It filled a need. But it’s not a repeatable source.

* Football team vs. strip club — Imagine the pre-game locker room of a football game. Everyone’s getting amped up, with a common purpose. There’s an incentive for collaboration. OK so now we’re supposed to be imagining backstage at a strip club before the first performance. There’s no incentive to assist others — if you help someone else improve, you make less money yourself.

[Me: Well that’s an interesting metaphor, but the point is well taken about communities vs. crowds.]

* Careless engagement — People aren’t engaged enough. They don’t care. They’ll put out crap to say they’re participating. If careless participation doesn’t harm your personal reputation, it’s a real risk for the community and the business.

* Wasted neurons — At the end of an open call, people have spent a lot of time working on a project, and the vast majority of it isn’t used. You have to weigh your time against the potential rewards.

* No contextual reputation — If you’ve already got a great reputation in your field, the level playing field created by communities isn’t your friend. If you’re the new kid with great ideas, it is helpful.

Questions we should ask of any sourcing model
1. Can it foster community? Is there incentive for conversation, learning, engagement? Or is it transactional? Is there a culture of collaboration?

2. Does it tap collective wisdom?

3. Does it nurture participation? Does work benefit reputation? Are participants building relationships? Are resources valued or wasted? Are terms/facts clear to all?

Brian Solis

OK, first session….I’m here at the Hilton listening to Brian Solis. He’s talking about brand.

For the record, brand is one of those words I hate. Its overuse has killed what used to be a useful word IMHO.

His premise is that social media is changing the way we communicate and connect. I’m thinking I take issue with that. We still need human connections and relationships. Social media is another channel for creating and maintaining relationships. But does it CHANGE them?

[Side note: there’s actually another panel on that topic over in the convention center right now. But I’m not there.]

Here’s a point I definitely agree with: We don’t control our message once we release it into the public. And social media allows you [your company, whatever] to connect with your community in order to assess things.

Solis is making a similar point to one I just read in Rework [by 37Signals’ Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hanssen]: Who owns social media? Not marketing, not PR….everyone in your organization does. [Rework says, everything you do is marketing. It’s not a department. It’s how you run your business.]

Solis shows a slide that makes my head hurt. It’s called the Conversation Workflow, and it’s showing how conversations are initiated and travel through an organization. You know, a customer says something. And PR or customer support notices, and then it goes to someone for a response and then tech or legal is involved and then someone says, hey we gotta run that by the COO — you get the picture.

OMG. Here’s a true statement fr a Solis slide: Attention is the currency in content commerce. That is a great statement.

Solis asks, Why are we having our interns represent our brand on Twitter? Do you have your interns call up Walt Mossberg [tech guru for the WSJ] to pitch a story? NO!

We have to provide value with social media, or it’s worthless. Make something happen.

Majority of social media users are women….except on Digg.

So now Solis has introduced Jeremiah Owyang [], Frank Eliason [], and Dennis Crowley from Foursquare.

Eliason telling a great story about how social media is a personal connection, even when you represent a brand.

Owyang: Social media doesn’t scale. You can’t respond fast enough to meet the demand from customers. New report on how you should use social media to connect your customers with existing customer service, how people are doing it right.

Foursquare is 1 year old yesterday, with approximately 540,000 users to date.

Dennis Crowley talks entirely too fast.

And he just used another expression I hate: The social graph.

Solis makes great point: Many companies are not fixing legacy customer service or the root problem, they’re just applying social media on top of a broken system.

Eliason agrees. Says Comcast CEO has a Twitter app on his desktop so he can hear the conversation, and says his own team has the power to work throughout the organization to promote change when they see a need for it.

Owyang says social media still important for B2B because relationships are still between people.

Solis tells about a customer who asked him to do social media research and he found very little about the company on Twitter, but thousands of things in Google Groups — people talking about their product, needing information. You’ve got to meet the people where they are.

Great question: Is it right to completely restructure your org to respond to social media, or do you simply add a little walled-off community management group?

Why I still go to SXSW

I’ve been to South by Southwest Interactive more than any other work-related conference. In fact, in the past few years, I’ve only missed it because of the arrival of my two youngest children just before and just after the dates of the conference.

Someone asked me the other day why I go. The reason is simple: It’s one of only two conferences I’ve ever been to where I’ve always learned something. And I’ve been in marketing a long time — so I’ve been to a lot of conferences.

The other great conference? GEL. If you depend on customers [who doesn’t?], you should be at GEL. I am sad to miss that this year, but our family schedule won’t allow it. Next year!

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