How NOT to Run an Online Store

I’ve been on the look-out for a nice wireless presenter for the last few weeks since I’m having several talks and classes in the coming month. I shopped online for my brand of choice (a Logitech Cordless Presenter), and I looked at several options online.

My search for the wireless presenter brought me to known sites like eBay, Amazon, and even Alibaba.com. I would have finished my quest for the wireless presenter earlier had a) the shipping costs were not more than the item cost, and b) the online retailers were shipping to the Philippines. (Argh!)

After weighing the relevant costs and my urgency to get the item, I decided to buy from a local retailer. So I looked at a few online stores and found that PC Express, one of the big PC retailers in the Philippines, carried the Logitech Cordless Presenter. I was quite happy when I saw that they had a stock of the presenter in their online store, so I proceeded to put it in my online shopping cart.

However, my fortunes took a bad turn after I clicked the “Add to Cart” button:

usability-fail

WTH?!? This is the reason my eCommerce hasn’t hit mainstream in the Philippines– the retailers themselves can’t get it right. 😡

Mozilla Labs Design Challenge Summer 09 Best in Class

A couple of months ago, I blogged about the Mozilla Labs Design Challenge Summer 09. This was Mozilla Labs’ sponsored competition that aimed to reinvent and reimagine the tabs in browsers.

The competition raised the question : Reinventing Tabs in the Browser – How can we create, navigate and manage multiple web sites within the same browser instance?” And several groups heeded the call and proposed solutions. Here are the very interesting design submissions that got the Best in Class:

There was also a People’s Choice award and it was given to CubeZilla.

Among the Best in Class awardees, I personally like the Wave Concept. Here’s the video of the presentation of the Wave Concept:

Wave Concept from Darby Thomas on Vimeo.

Looks very interesting and I like the preview aspect of it. It’s like a remix version of tabs and the “Speed Dial” feature in Chrome and Opera. 😀

Web Fonts & Typography: The Good & The Bad

A few weeks ago, there was some minor buzz about fonts and typography on the web. The story centered on the new updates on Firefox to support the @font-face rule in CSS. This rule can enable fonts from a remote location to be downloaded and rendered by the webpage calling it. (The status quo is that the fonts must reside in the user’s local machine in order to be used.)

To be honest, I’m over the fence over this development.

On one hand, I’m really looking forward to the use of new fonts as a native capability of web designers. The potential is just immense– designers will no longer be captive to the likes of Verdana, Georgia, Arial, and Tahoma, work-arounds such as image replacement techniques will be a thing of the past, and this may even open up new opportunities for font foundries. Accessibility-wise, tons of images as text will give way to properly styled text.

On the other, there are two main issues that keeps me from doing cartwheels all over the place: a) The potential misuse of the fonts, opening a Pandora’s box of new usability problems and even security issues; and b) the DRM of the web fonts. (How will people pay for the fonts & bandwidth?)

These two issues have the potential to be deal breakers but there are possible solutions to them.

For the usability issues, this puts the onus on browser makers to put better font override features to turn-off #font-face rendering. Designers must also anticipate the use of standard fonts as a replacement to the non-standard fonts.

The DRM issue is a little trickier. I seriously doubt that foundries will just give up their fonts– unless there’s a sponsor involved. Perhaps a company like Adobe or Google can sponsor fonts for designers. Another possible model is licensing where the company’s font servers can allow/disallow access to the typefaces based on a registry of licensed websites.

I’m pretty sure that the direction of web fonts & typography will go towards the @font-face direction, and I do hope that the stumbling blocks will be overcome.

Mozilla Labs Design Challenge Summer 09

“How do you improved tabbed browsing?”

This is the fundamental question the Mozilla Labs Design Challenge Summer 09 is trying to answer.More specifically, the design challenge is how to find new, innovative ways tocreate, navigate and manage multiple web sites within the same browser instance.

The context of this challenge is the inherent weakness of tabs: it can work for a few items (around 9-10 tabs), but it falters when the number of tabs goes beyond that. (Imagine tabbed browsing for 50 windows). I think the challenge is really to now go beyond tabbed browsing because I believe tabbed browsing has its place, its just that the environment & experience of web browsing is changing.

To join the design challenge, any person can submit an idea (that could even be scribbled on napkin) and a video uploaded in the major video sharing sites explaining the proposed solution to the tabbed browsing problem. The deadline for submissions is on June 12, 2009.

Book Review: Subject to Change: Creating Great Products & Services for an Uncertain World

Subject to Change

I just finished reading Subject to Change(yeah, I just put the book down)and I think it’s a great and easy read on experience design and innovation.

I’m convinced the folks atAdaptive Pathsure know what they’re talking about because they were able to write a book that’s less than 170 pages and be able to provide very good and conscise insights on customer/user research, agile methods, strategy and experience design.

Continue reading “Book Review: Subject to Change: Creating Great Products & Services for an Uncertain World”

Raquedan.com Redesign

Even though I was running a slight fever, I took the day off to whip up a quick redesign of my home page at Raquedan.com.I’ve alwas intended the site to be my sandbox for new web development techniques and experimentation in design but this new version of thesite marks a maturation of sorts in my design sensibilities.

I finally implemented most of the usability and web standards stuff that I’ve been advocating these past few years. If you look at the old versions of my home page (version 1 and version 2), you will notice that I put a premium on “The Concept,” the thing that spurred me for that particular design. But the new one I just did is a lot more subdued and understated. Simplicity was my concept here.

I also did that page in less than a day (design & development included) and pure hand-coding on my text editor (I think I would have finished this a lot faster in Dreamweaver), thanks to CSS and XHTML. The site is so simple that it passes all the validators you can think of (well, that’s an exaggeration :P) but more than that, I’m glad it passes my personal standards.

2nd Mini Web Design Conference

Thanks to the success of the first Mini Web Design Conference, we’re coming up with a follow up! 😀

The second Form, Function & Class will be held tomorrow at the G2VC Tech Bar in Ortigas Center, Pasig City. The roster of speakers are:

It’s a longer list of speakers so I’m sure it will be a very enriching evening. 🙂
Check out Ia’s post for more info.
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend because I’ll be having my thesis defense on the 27th and the 28th. 🙁
But I’m sure the 2nd Mini Web Design Conference will also be a smashing success.