Airbnb and the Internet Revolution
I increasingly believe that it is the sharing economy that is beginning to reveal the answer: a world of commodified trust has significantly less need for much of the infrastructure of modern society, including inefficient sectors like hotels whose primary differentiator is trust, along with the regulatory state dedicated to enforcing that trust. On the other hand, this brave new world has brand new holes through which people can fall: those who have lost trust, or do not have the means to build it. I’m no crazy libertarian; quite the opposite in fact: we need a significantly stronger safety net and a judicial system predicated on arbitration.
culture  technology  internet  airbnb 
1 hour ago
Cassette Revolution: Why 1980s Tape Tech Is Still Making Noise in Our Digital World | Collectors Weekly
Cassette lovers, old and new, assert that tapes have something that online music lacks—a tactile physical presence. The benefits of cassettes haven’t changed: They’re cheap to make, pocket-sized and lightweight, and easy to mail. Cassette tapes still offer do-it-yourself musicians, who otherwise couldn’t afford to press a vinyl record, an affordable way to make an analog album they can hold their hands. And music lovers willing to make the effort to find a tape deck can amass a physical collection of underground music without breaking the bank, as new tapes go for $6.50 max, whereas CDs sell for as much as $15 and vinyl LPs can go for $20 or more.
Instagram unfiltered
Large, square photos of a towering redwood forest, a yacht at sunset and a carefully crafted cup of coffee adorn the walls of Kevin Systrom’s office. At one time, these beautifully shot pictures might have hung in an art gallery. Now they are
2 days ago
Leadership vs. Management
Leadership serves to inspire people to greater accomplishments, and management exists to motivate them to the objective.

In general, we like to think of management activities as “pushing” activities and leadership as “pulling” activities. Leadership sets a destination and “way-points” toward that destination. Management gets you to that destination. Leadership would be stating “We will never have a scalability related downtime in our systems” and management would be ensuring that it never happens. You absolutely need both and you need to do both well.
management  leadership 
2 days ago
focus group of one
listening to the focus group of one inside our heads can lead us astray. Trying to extrapolate our personal experience to how an audience will respond is risky.
2 days ago
Uber backlash: taxi drivers' protests in Paris part of global revolt | Technology | The Guardian
The taxi-hire company faces resistance worldwide, signalling trouble for other ‘sharing economony’ companies, such as AirBnB
uber  sharingeconomy 
4 days ago
How Companies Can Avoid the Innovator’s Dilemma
You must constantly try to disrupt yourself. The most successful companies embrace cannibalization at the core.
You'll eventually have a portfolio of products. Your own family of brands.
disruption  business 
5 days ago
Rapid Front-End Prototyping With WordPress
When using WordPress, highly interactive prototypes with great visuals are not at all that difficult to make. A tutorial on getting it right.
prototyping  wordpress 
5 days ago
Questions to ask before starting user research
Whenever I start working with a new team, I have to — quickly! — diagnose what they need and how I can be most useful. The impact and usefulness of my UX research hinges on…
5 days ago
How to prioritize customer research when everything is a priority
What’s the risk of not doing research now? How easy will it be to correct the design later?

Give higher priority to research projects that directly affect important, hard-to-change decisions about your business or product.

You’re probably considering research on new feature or improvement to your product. Will it have a big impact on your customers? How problematic will it be if it’s not the right design? How will it affect your business if the design doesn’t perform as expected? How many people will hear about or see the launch?

If the change you’re considering is likely to get a lot of attention, impact a lot of customers, or affect your business’s bottom line, you should test it with real customers before launching. These are usually high-priority research projects.
research  prioritization 
5 days ago
The next design trend is one that eliminates all choices
Ideally, anticipatory design could prevent that paralyzing feeling you get when presented with too many options, like getting dressed in the morning—without requiring you to wear a bland uniform. It could automatically select an outfit for you based on your activities for the day, pulled from your calendar and the weather. It could even make sure your outfit is stylish.
7 days ago
Sinking Your Own Ship Through Idle Feedback
Not only is criticizing and placing responsibility onto someone else easier, it’s become confused as an indication of innovation or intelligence.
7 days ago
‘Plussing’ – How Pixar Transforms Critiquing into Creating
Rather than randomly critique a sketch or shoot down an idea, the general rule is that you may only criticize an idea if you also add a constructive suggestion. Hence the name plussing.
7 days ago
Music is the oil in the human machine
Once you accept that music is an input, a factor of production, you’ll naturally seek to minimize the cost and effort required to acquire the input. And since music is “context” rather than “core,” to borrow Geoff Moore’s famous categorization of business inputs, simple economics would dictate that you outsource the supply of music rather than invest personal resources — time, money, attention, passion — in supplying it yourself. You should, as Google suggests, look to a “team of music experts” to “craft” your musical inputs, “song by song,” so “you don’t have to.” To choose one’s own songs, or even to develop the personal taste in music required to choose one’s own songs, would be wasted labor, a distraction from the series of essential jobs that give structure and value to your days.

Art is an industrial lubricant that, by reducing the friction from activities, makes for more productive lives.
music  automation  friction 
7 days ago
How the language you speak changes your view of the world
Just as regular exercise gives your body some biological benefits, mentally controlling two or more languages gives your brain cognitive benefits. This mental flexibility pays big dividends especially later in life: the typical signs of cognitive ageing occur later in bilinguals – and the onset of age-related degenerative disorders such as dementia or Alzheimer’s are delayed in bilinguals by up to five years.
8 days ago
Moms, Let Dad Be Dad - WSJ
Yet many of the standard assessments scientists have used to analyze the parent-child bond underemphasize the importance of exploration and risk-taking and fail to capture dads’ role in encouraging it.
8 days ago
Google's Guide To Designing With Empathy
Designers can reach over 1 billion people just by keeping accessibility in mind, says Google's Astrid Weber and Jen Devins.
11 days ago
It’s Comments All the Way Down
And yet there is something narrow, and basically anachronistic, about this view of “the comments” as a phenomenon restricted to the unconsecrated ground below the line. Because it is possible to think of the Internet itself, in all its incomprehensible vastness, as an exponentially ramifying network of commentary and metacommentary. It’s comments all the way down. Social media, at any rate, and Twitter in particular, are a continually metastasizing accretion of marginalia. A tweet is a comment implicitly calibrated to provoke further comment, by way of replies or retweets or favorites: it is a form of text produced in order not just to be read but to generate the production of further text.
13 days ago
A New Theory of Distraction
Over the past few weeks, as I read Crawford’s solemn prescriptions for the elimination of distraction, it occurred to me that we might have everything backward. What if, in fact, we’re not very good at being distracted? What if we actually don’t value distraction enough? It may be that, with our mobile games and Twitter feeds and YouTube playlists, we’ve allowed distraction to become predictable and repetitive, manageable and organized, dull and boring—too much, in short, like work. If “Ulysses” were written today, Bloom would probably be checking his phone, but I doubt he could Google anything better than what’s already in his mind. We should grow more comfortable with our unfocussed selves, and, instead of repudiating them, reclaim them. Twitter can’t compete with uncensored memory. Facebook has nothing on that kiss.
distraction  friction 
13 days ago
The fascinating, feel-good psychology of Internet cat videos
No matter the personal variables, however, people reported feeling more energetic, more happy and less stressed after watching a video of a cat — even when they felt guilty about it because they were supposed to be doing something else.

“Practically,” Myrick writes, “these findings … promote the idea that viewing Internet cats may actually function as a form of digital pet therapy and/or stress relief for Internet users.”

Digital pet therapy? Don’t mind if I do!

As silly and frivolous as this may seem, however (particularly since cats have become the shorthand for Internet frivolity), Myrick’s research actually goes pretty far toward explaining why we have the Internet we do. In short, the social Web doesn’t favor clickbait and cat GIFs because it’s inherently shallow or stupid — but because that stuff feels good.
culture  internet  meme 
13 days ago
Apple News And The Open Web
I’m optimistic that Apple’s News app will be a strike against centralized services such as Medium, Twitter, and Facebook. A strike against signing over content to a 3rd party mediator for the sake of a greater chance at connecting to an audience. Apple may not be the world’s best technology company when it comes to either storing data or building a social network around it, but they are damned good at building a captive audience of delighted users who trust the company to provide access to a variety of 3rd party content.
openweb  apple 
13 days ago
Bad Managers Talk, Good Managers Write
When managers write, you create work product — white papers, product requirement documents, FAQs, presentations — that lasts and is accessible to everyone in the organization. From marketing to sales to QA to engineering, everyone has a document off which they can work and consult.

The upshot is that the manager also takes public responsibility for what happens when the rest of the team executes on the point of view taken by the documents. That ratchets up accountability through the organization.

To Horowitz, the distinction between written and verbal communication is stark and, in fact, it’s what separates the wheat from the chaff. Good managers want to be held accountable and aren’t looking for ways to weasel out of responsibility. And so, good managers write, while “[b]ad product managers voice their opinion verbally and lament … the ‘powers that be’.”
14 days ago
Modern Design Tools: Using Real Data
In contrast, when designers work with real data they design in reality. They allow data to inform and constrain their work. Their decisions are wholly informed; implementation details carefully considered; edge cases solved. They build empathy for how their users will actually experience things in a variety of contexts. They are not surprised when their designs get implemented because they’ve been using real data all along.
15 days ago
Email in the Product Loop
What we’ve found through observation and measurement is that the smartest businesses keep it simple. They, for example, don’t send too many newsletters and only send notifications when customers are inactive. They add value, even at the expense of losing engagement within their app or store.

Furthermore, the emails they send are incredibly consistent with the brand’s style, tone and agenda. Take the Airbnb emails we’ve talked about so much on this blog. The Airbnb team is hell-bent on creating a great experience. If the channel, platform or medium is even tangentially related to Airbnb, the experience will be enjoyable.
email  onboarding 
15 days ago
The peculiar despair of the hotel room
I have a few rules now: don’t go for too long, always come back, make sure to remain tethered by animals, children, houses and husbands, anything that can be clung on to and turned into an anchor.
16 days ago
Apple and Google Race to See Who Can Kill the App First
I don’t want Yelp; I want to know where to eat. I don’t care about Google Calendar; I care about not missing appointments. I don’t buy iPhones; I buy best-in-class pictures of my kids. I’m loyal only to results, and I suspect you are, too.
apple  google  jtbd 
18 days ago
#HamburgerWars UXPA Boston 15
This is a lighthearted look at the current user experience of hamburger menu navigation on mobile and desktop platforms. The content will be based upon my obse…
18 days ago
A Practice of Ethics
Some friction is borne of our simple incompetence. This friction leads to the potholes of user experience — hidden data entry requirements, inscrutable error messages, long page loading times. Some friction is borne of greed, such as the tedious impedance of user abandonment. “Are you sure?” Yes, I’m sure.

But some friction is borne of respect, when we present information about the choices available to users and help them make better decisions. An emailed invoice could remind a customer they were paying for a service they no longer use. A checkbox could assure a user of their current content privacy settings before posting a sensitive photo. Recognition of a past purchase can save a customer the hassle of having to return a book they already have, or confirm that they are re-buying exactly the same shampoo.

When we add or remove friction from an interaction, let us be clear and intentional about why we are doing so — to reduce true noise, to heighten or dull the senses, clarify or obscure the value exchange, to remove stress or to postpone it.
friction  ethics 
18 days ago
How to put empathy at the core of the design process
The notion of "enterprise software" – software that's defined and driven by a large customer – is dated. Users expect software to fit seamlessly into their lives, and see no real distinction between software they use at work and software they use in their personal life.

Given this shift, Blackboard has taken on a massive overhaul of our products. We're transitioning from a "requirement-led" process to an "empathy-led" process.
empathy  ucd  enterprise 
20 days ago
By Design
Why would any company invest so much cash and intellectual energy in developing digital books only to present them as being rather like printed ones? Why not illustrate them in a way that spelled out their benefits – such as greater choice and instant accessibility – without wasting paper? The analogue symbols that seemed reassuring to tech ingénues in the early days of digital interfaces had become patronizing. They also risked confusing younger users, who may never have owned any of the objects which were being rendered redundant by the very apps they symbolized.
20 days ago
Google Photos and the Ideal of Passive Pervasive Documentation
Now let’s come back to the problem Google Photos is intended to solve. Will automated sorting and categorization along with the ability to search succeed in making our documentation more meaningful? Moreover, will it overcome the problems associated with memory abundance? Doubtful. Instead, the tools will facilitate further abstraction and detachment. They are designed to encourage the production of even more documentary data and to further diminish our involvement in their production and storage. Consequently, we will continue to care less not more about particular images.

Of course, this hardly means the tools are useless or that images are meaningless. I’m certain that face recognition software, for instance, can and will be put to all sorts of uses, benign and otherwise and that the reams of data users will feed Google Photos will only help to improve and refine the software. And it is also true that images can be made use of in ways that photographs never could. But perhaps that is the point. A photograph we might cherish; we tend to make use of images. Unlike the useless stuff around which my memories accumulate and that I struggle to throw away, images are all use-value and we don’t think twice about deleting them when they have no use.
google  photography  memory 
20 days ago
Content Modelling: A Master Skill
The content model is one of the most important content strategy tools at your disposal. It allows you to represent content in a way that translates the intention, stakeholder needs, and functional requirements from the user experience design into something that can be built by developers implementing a CMS. A good content model helps ensure that your content vision will become a reality. Lovinger explains how to craft a strong content model and use it to foster communication and align efforts between the UX design, editorial, and technical team members on your project.
20 days ago
Content Modeling Phases
A content model alone won't solve your content problems, but understanding these phases can help your projects run more smoothly.
20 days ago
"Cross-functional Collaboration" cartoon | Tom Fishburne: Marketoonist
As companies optimize resource costs, it’s important to factor in the cost of not collaborating.
21 days ago
Designing For Animation
Sarah Drasner shows how to use animation to create dazzling, exciting, and engaging work that pushes boundaries and elevates user experience on the web.
21 days ago
Audible Gentrification: Apple Music’s Play for Global Dominance
We know that this video is about dominance, rather than inclusivity because about halfway through this video we see several young people of color dancing in the middle of what looks like a New York City subway car. It is an energizing and fun scene that only lasts for a moment but is enough to conjure up any pre-existing memories of big city busking. Using public transit as a stage is both the lowest barrier to entry into grabbing a sizeable audience, and the best way to get arrested for practicing an artful craft. The fact that Apple would take that image and wrap it up in their product is the semiotic equivalent of gentrification: packaging up something unique, colorful, and exciting so that it is easily consumable in standardized units for a purchasing public.

Lots of well-known authors including David Harvey and Jane Jacobs have made a similar point about traditional gentrification: that well-financed firms can reverse-engineer the intangible things that make a place desirable –the weirdness of Austin, the painstakingly refined cuisine of New York boroughs– and change it ever-so-slightly so that it is inviting to anyone willing to pay for it. You standardize the form and sand down the rough edges so that Brooklyn becomes a recognizable flavor and Austin a desirable interior design aesthetic. Each vignette in the product video is available to well-heeled consumers the same way the edge of a gentrified neighborhood is: something pretty to look at but not worthy of spending any real time interacting with.
music  gentrification 
22 days ago
Jeeves Must Go
These examples are very valuable but, honestly, they just don’t demo as well as a magical digital servant. While a system that magically anticipates my every need is a lovely idea that will always aspire, it’s a bit TOO exciting actually, distracting us from the pragmatic things right in front of us. We’ll only discover more creative solutions if we drop our obsession with servant style automation. There are lots of simple but powerful concepts we can explore, build, and use today.
23 days ago
Landing Page Tests Aren’t Useful for Validation
You can invalidate an idea with customer development, but you cannot validate it. But you still do customer development to gain deep insights.

You then put people through some sort of experience and watch what they do. Then you interview them to dig into the motivations behind those actions. Concierge is a good placeholder name for this because it reminds you to think about a delightful customer experience, but not one that needs to scale to many people.
prodmgmt  lean 
24 days ago
How Google Is Taking Search Outside the Box
The I/O conference had virtual reality, photos and electronic clothes. But as always, there was search.
24 days ago
Twitter’s Value
This tension has made capturing the value of Twitter from the top down elusive, however, there’s something perhaps just as valuable: the individual corpus of every user’s interests and passions. Twitter has one of the biggest data stores in the world, maybe the value is in all of the little data. Mining the big data of all of Twitter is interesting for knowing what’s happening all over the world, but giving everyone who uses Twitter insight into everything they care about is equally valuable and, potentially, much more lucrative. To make this work would require unwinding years of strategy, starting with reversing the infamous v1.1 of the API. It would mean not merely competing for users to show ads to, a la Facebook, and not insisting on a top-down, completely controlled approach to product development like Apple. It would mean more third-party apps and letting Meerkat exist alongside Periscope.

Everyone who wanted a microblog or novel communication app signed up for Twitter long ago. The question Twitter can answer for everyone else is how do they connect to everything they care about.
24 days ago
What Goes into a Well-Done Critique
In the best critiques we've seen, the critics never made a single recommendation. Instead, they asked questions and guided discussion. They talked about the significance of design rationale, as it pertained to a bigger philosophy and vision for the design.

For example, instead of saying, "While I think those flyout menus are slick, I recommend you nuke them and put the links in the center of the page," the critic might ask, "What alternatives did you consider for the flyout menus?" By moving the conversation to talk about the bigger picture, everyone can discuss how this element (the flyout menus) is contributing to the total experience.
25 days ago
Tweaking Tweetbot
Am I surprised that young designers who haven’t suffered the ravages of presbyopia tend to have lots of closely spaced options at the small end of the scale and only big jumps at the large end? Of course not. But their time is coming, and when they can no longer read 12-point text comfortably, I’ll be laughing so loud my nurse will have to come in and sedate me.
25 days ago
Product Fail
I have written many articles about the various aspects of how the best teams work. Product Discovery is how we come up with winning solutions to the problems we are attacking. Discovery is an active and ongoing collaboration between product, user experience design, and engineering. Continuous Discovery and Continuous Delivery happen in parallel. Features on roadmaps (output) are replaced by business problems to be solved (outcome). The goal is product/market fit.

If your company is still running this old and long-obsolete process, then hopefully you can shine a light on this and start the transition to the future. And hopefully you’ll do this before you find yourself disrupted by a startup or competitor that is able to move much faster and more effectively than you can.
prdmgmt  discovery  prioritization 
25 days ago
Why and why not Google
It’s not that sharing personal details is new—we do it all the time with friends and family. What we get in return, we hope, is a strengthened bond with those we share with. But Google is not our friend. In fact, when viewed in the context of traditional relationships, Google behaves mostly like a false friend, a traitor, taking our secrets and passing them along to others.

A closer analogy puts Google in the role of Hannibal Lecter, forcing Clarice to tell him the story about the spring lambs before giving her the information on Buffalo Bill. Like Clarice, we understand the quid pro quo, but it’s unsettling.
google  privacy 
25 days ago
Enabling Design Influence at Scale
Just showing the rest of the organization what your team is doing isn’t enough to scale design — it’s just giving you the credibility and visibility you’ll need when other leaders ask who to turn to when their own businesses or teams want to begin an engagement.

To truly scale design, you have to put the methods of designers into the toolkits of the people who don’t report to you — product managers, to development teams, business analysts, marketers, account executives, and management, and maybe even the customers themselves.
design  leadership 
26 days ago
No Good Can Come of Bad Code
Your company’s survival is tied to the ability of the products it makes to work in situations you haven’t imagined, and on devices that don’t yet exist. This has always been the challenge of web design. It’s one A List Apart has taken seriously since we began publishing, and our archives are filled with advice and ideas you can boil down and present to your bosses.
futurefriendly  progressive_enhancement 
26 days ago
A reasonable part of the house
Having done the picking up of the phone, they have been turned into someone at the mercy of the treatment that the caller will give them: What kind of jobs are they going to impose? Are they even going to talk to them? A lot of family world is implicated in the way those little things come out, an enormous amount of conflict turning on being always the answerer and never the called, and battles over who is to pick up the phone.
26 days ago
The Next Feature Fallacy: The fallacy that the next new feature will suddenly make people use your product
First and foremost is maximizing the reach of your feature, so it impacts the most people. It’s a good rule of thumb that the best features often focus mostly on non-users and casual users, with the reason that there’s simply many more of them. A small increase in the front of the tragic curve can ripple down benefits to the rest of it. This means the landing page, onboarding sequence, and the initial out-of-box product experience are critical, and usually don’t get enough attention.

Similarly, it’s important to have deep insights on what users need to do to become activated, so that their first visit is set up properly. For social networks, getting them to follow/add friends is key, because that kicks off a number of loops that will bring them back later on. For a SaaS metrics app, it might be getting a JS tag onto the right pages. For a blog, it might be for them to pick a name, theme, and write the first post so they get invested. Isolating the minimum onboarding process lets you keep the initial steps high-conversion, yet set up their experience for success.
26 days ago
Why lots of 'Uber for X' startups may be in trouble
The problem with price dumping is that you generally need one of four things for it to work long-term:

(1) High-margin offerings that can subsidize the no-margin products. (This is part of the reason why Uber can offer such low promotional rates for UberX and UberPOOL — the margins on Uber Black and Uber XL subsidize the money-losing services.)

(2) A commanding enough share of the market that you can raise prices without losing a significant portion of your customer base.

(3) Investors who are willing to lose money in the short term, on the theory that the company will eventually be able to pull off (1) or (2).

(4) Lots and lots of money from some other source, such that the price dumping doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.
pricing  uber 
26 days ago
How Google Finally Got Design
As Kim points out, designers like her started getting better about describing what design even was. “To convince people about design, we had to say, ‘This is going to solve user problems.’ It’ll take less steps, or people will find that perfect place for a romantic dinner,” says Kim. “You always have to frame it as these are the people we’re trying to help. You try to say, ‘This is important as a company to help not ourselves but something bigger than that.’” As Wiley, longtime head of design for Google’s search products, says, “Beauty itself has utility. That was a big part of our internal recognition. What beauty brings to function is hierarchy, what’s related to each other, and how things are related.”
design  google 
26 days ago
6 mistakes that prevent UX teams from having boardroom influence
Never lose sight of the fact that your UX team has been set up to bring something new to the company, not to just roll over and help propagate the same old methods that weren’t working in the first place. So avoid this trap. Make a stand. Just say No (like I said no to Dishwasherology). Say Yes and you’ll get sucked into a black hole you may never get out of again.
27 days ago
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