MAWR app vs web debate

hmm, I feel like an earlier study pointed this out, but what was more clear in the earlier coverage was that while apps are leading the “time spent” online… that time is usually spent looking at web content (i.e. “reading HuffPo articles on Facebook”)"real" apps

Taking a look at the top 25 apps they are almost exclusively Apps that load the “web” into a slightly better user interface. In a few cases the app takes advantage of the phone’s camera…

Facebook, YouTube, Google Play, Google Maps… in fact nearly every app on this list could be described as a “browser tailored to a very specific web site”… “Google Search” app is literally just the chrome browser…
I was really expecting to see some games at the top (which would do a better job of arguing for APP vs Web).
The apps on the list that are (true) “apps” are maybe Shazam, Skype, Instagram, etc. Literally every other app has an (almost) equal (in capabilities) mobile-web site. 
The User experience gap is closing quickly,  and browser access to phone hardware is becoming very real. This is actually quite promising for the open web. Perhaps sooner than expected.

edit >> found one of the earlier articles

freedom in constraints

This could be an epic post (in length! I am NOT so grandiose as to ascribe a qualitative measure to my writing, yet).

I discovered during my first, very real grownup artistic endeavor that I love rules, I adore constraints, I see the “blue-sky” as a desert, devoid of creative material. I realized very young that if I knew the “rules” I could bend them to my advantage. Later I heard the term “boundary testing” in relation to child-development I think.

What I discovered after having written and received an artist  grant for several thousand dollars, was that I suddenly was very much in need of some constraints. I could deliver anything that might qualify as art (which for some might seem like a real luxury). In my case I was frozen by the shear volume of potential.

A desert. Not a road in sight.

I had a partner on the project who, luckily, was similarly minded. She and I set out to devise a framework from which we could make the 1000s of tiny decision that were to come during the several months that we’d be working on this project (it was a film).

The rules were not complicated, although they could have been, not were they particularly onerous. One of them was that we could only shoot in the 11211 zip code. Some of the other “rules” were less (admittedly) random, but they all served the purpose of preventing us from veering off course in pursuit of some “good idea” which might pay off, but would certainly distract us from the primary, stated goals.

Having this experience and talking endlessly about how “art requires constraints” since then, I was primed to come across a chapter in a great book I am “listening to” right now.

 In the book “The Paradox of Choice: Why Less is More” by Barry Schwartz I was introduced to some terms or concepts that I find fascinating and terribly useful in the world of UX and Interaction Design.

Prospect Theory: The author describes experiments in which subjects are offered $100 or the chance to roll the dice for $200 and conversely they are informed that they’ve already lost the $100 but can roll the dice to “double or nothing” the loss. The former is seen as a pointless risk, and the latter an opportunity to lose nothing.

Endowment Effect: which is shown by example in showing test subjects a coffee mug and asking them how much they might try to sell it for. They were then given that same mug and provided an opportunity to sell it. The difference in price between the initial quote and the actual asking price differed by 30%. People wanted a lot more for “their” mug.

He covers several other mechanisms by which we manipulate ourselves (and are manipulated by industries), notably the different prices gas (“cash” vs “credit”) and whether we consider it a surcharge (credit) or a discount (cash).

I haven’t even touched on the basic premise of the book which is that too much choice (while being an earmark of freedom in our modern society) may in fact be stifling productivity, happiness and rational economic thought.

A+++ would recomend

speed up your audio books, but not your podcasts.

I love audio books for non-fiction. I start them at 1.5x speed and edge it up after a few minutes. Eventually I am listening to 12 hour books in around 4 hours and I swear the info pours in with much higher comprehension that at slower speeds. I think it might even be higher than reading (for me). I’ve actually used several tools over the years in attempts to convert my daily reading to audio, but thus far the disparate sources and short-form writing style have proved to be too big a hurtle for the technology. 

Very few people that I talk to about this can stomach the 3x pace (I have to start off at 2x each day). To be clear, they do not sound like chipmunks. The feature “shortens” the audio by extracting microseconds at a regular interval, not by actually speeding it up. The result can be a different “tone” which is why I cannot listen to podcast sped up at all! Not even 1.5x. To me listening to multi-person, conversational podcasts at anything faster than 1x is like sitting around my dinner table with my siblings growing up… it sound like arguing. 

This actually started as a post about “paradox of choice” or “decision paralysis” but I guess I had too many options. Stay tuned…


paid apps vs shady business

money apps

Marco said

Tapity responded

To borrow some brevity from Dalrymple: “Nope”

The future is about sensor data, machine readable privacy policies, bi-directional terms of service, attribution, reputation, gestures, and headless processes that run securely and anonymously on ubiquitous computing platforms that are micro-rented by the cycle (and stored pseudo-randomly across a smattering of remote data stores). The current era of lickable games and boutique, high-concept text-displayers is not the eventual state. (Li|U)nix had it right from the beginning; small apps, loosely coupled. Even if average consumers don’t ever utilize IFTTT their phones will! That’s how their devices will speak to each other, and to the parking meter and the water sprinklers. Its how you will monitor your credit, negotiate a car rental, and track your blood pressure.

All actions that can be performed will need to fit into a larger ecosystem that is NOT defined by a single service-provider, manufacturer, device or data-source.

A camera app will snap a picture (creating a file), a filter app will apply the filter, an upload app will back it up to the cloud and a social app will inform your graph who’s notification app will notify them in their preferred method.

see: Unix Pipes 

What does this have to do with paid apps.

90% of all apps will never (should never) qualify as “platforms” and thus don’t merit a complex, creative business model that involves “customer retention experts.”  A simple subscription (monthly, yearly or micro-transaction based) is perfect for the sort of apps that our ever-changing technology landscape promotes.

Let me hedge my bets a little. While I think it is great to buy a $2 or $3 dollar app and trust that I will get at least that much utility out of it.

Apps (or as we used to call them “Programs”) are NOT fashion items. The user desires only to pay enough to ensure that the product is supported while that still need it. They are not interested in buying in to a brand promise that requires a RedBull-style infusion of satellite efforts requiring massive cash flow.

What people want most often is to pay a fair price for a predictable product. 99% of all purchases fall into this category: bathroom fixtures, couches, wash-cloths, refrigerators… the only exceptions are cars, phones, and basically things that qualify as fashion in some manner.

The bottom line is that “not making all the money” is not the same as “not making money.” Make a focused product that has an audience and sell it to them (or rent it to them). I am actually surprised at the tone of Marco’s piece since he champions paid apps and presumably is about to release a paid podcast client.

Gads, just reread Marco’s post to make sure I had it right. So many unqualified statements. I agree with some but let is remember that the plural of anecdote is not evidence.

Anyway… I win this argument. Small, cheap apps are the future. Like RSS they are not dead

p.s. there will still be simple games, and people will still pump tons money into them (in very small increments)… it isn’t new, and its never been a business model to be proud of. In one instantiation it is called “the slots.”

brand promise is more than just sugar water


please go here and do this

>> my edit.

Hey Coca-Cola,

The money that allows Coca-Cola to do things like sponsor Olympics events was extracted from the public based on 2 promises. First that we will enjoy a delicious, cold (if not healthy) beverage. The second promise is what you talk about in your glass encrusted towers using the term brand-promise… and that is one of happiness, positivity, fun. I’d go so far as to suggest fulfillment.

On Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, an ice-cold Coke can bump you up several layers. Towards the bottom of that hierarchy is physical safety.

Coca-Cola is a global brand but rooted very firmly in the American Dream. America is speaking out loudly that it is  unwaveringly in favor of letting people share a Coke with whomever they choose.

We (coke drinkers) trust that you will support all of your constituents equally, and use your significant market leverage for justice and not just to sell sugar water (delicious, cold sugar water)

a self proclaimed Diet Cokehead

“Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?” -Jobs

Do Both!

Very impressive fixed layout tool for html5

Very impressive fixed layout tool for html5

in looking for a way to handle fixed layout within a CMS environment I cam across An open source library for making HTML5 presentations. 

Mobile First is Too Late… get P.A.I.D


Having spent the last 18 years building web-apps, interactives and systems I’ve seen a fair number of design strategies come and go. Mobile first is a good one. Even in situations where we aren’t starting from scratch I find it an excellent way to bring everyone along on the “let’s simplify” bus. 

However, I was speaking to a CMS user forum the other day and in mid-sentence I realized that something might be truly interesting. As interesting as Mobile First, perhaps as interesting as Progressive Enhancement. 

I’m still working on the name…

What is it we are doing? We are designing a UX without considering ANY channel! 

“Blue Sky” design, nah.

We are scoped to deliver a cross-channel ticketing UX that includes: web, mobile-web, kiosk and apps (integrated into our iOS and Android apps). Very practical stuff, right?! We’ve also been working very seriously on some 30,000ft digital strategy that involves really questioning assumptions and demanding clarification of our intent and methodology, so my head is swimming with ideal, aspirational scenarios.

“Nothing First” design, nope!

So the day arrives when we are to start defining the scope and requirements for the project that will end with the delivery of these ticketing channels.

And the project manager has already started the documentation in which we will list the requirements for each channel, when I say “No way! I’m not going to define 4 separate UXes, we want the user to be able to seamlessly move from channel to channel during the planning, purchasing and fulfilling portions of this user journey so what we need to do is define the ultimate UX and then tweak and tailor it to the limitations and affordances of the individual channels.”

I’d said this more succinctly (if a bit enigmatic ) a few days earlier when I said “we aren’t going to tailor the UX to the channel… except where we are.” At the time it seemed to ring very profoundly in the room because its sentiment was to change the relationship of UX to channel. Channel no longer had first consideration (not even Mobile). 

If the ideal experience “wanted” context to be understood via location, then the location/context dependent features would only be available in those channels where it was feasible (and meaningful). More simply we wouldn’t duplicate sharing features on mobile devices where they are built into the operating system model, and we wouldn’t automatically skip the idea of scanning coupons/vouchers on the desktop (since they lack a laser scanner) we might simply ask the user to type the number in (or use the webcam). 

We’ve borrowed heavily from the retail world’s new term of art; Omnichannel, in envisioning our ideal user journeys. We imagine our constituents moving in and through potentially vast, interconnected, integrated experiences that unfold over time and locations. Individual moments or components of a journey could happen before, during or after a visit to the museum and just as importantly these moments are in no way limited to any specific delivery medium or channel. 

The channel should only matter when it matters. 

I’ve got it

Platform Agnostic Initial Design (P.A.I.D)

Step 1: get P.A.I.D

Step 2: profit

*image borrowed from