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Interesting article about how Apple now is the most profitable handset maker but only has 2.5 percent of the total cell phone market surpassing Nokia now in profitability. Read the full article here.

What I love about Apple is they stay out of the race to the bottom rather than putting out large quantity mass produced cheap crap to try to dominate the market (you hear me Dell, and RIP Gateway), they decided to make a product that is amazing. With the iPod they had perfect timing to actually take over that market but I don’t believe that was their end goal it was just lucky timing. Worrying less about taking over the entire cell phone market much like their computer share they have an amazing product that earns them high profit margin because people will pay more for VALUE and a trusted BRAND. I stress that word VALUE!!! You get more for your buck with the entire Apple experience (hardware/software/online/retail/support/quality). Do it great, stop worrying about destroying your competition, worry more about doing something amazing that your customers will love. That’s how to be successful and yes I know I’m a total Apple fanboy, but I’m a fan of what is great not mediocre or mass market so I’ll take that as a compliment.

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Who are these people? I’ve never seen them in any office I’ve been in yet. This article talks about how stock photos aren’t true representation of the companies they’re trying to portray. I mostly agree but the flip side is the difficulty in convincing a client they need to invest in hiring a photographer to take some quality photos of them in the office or their clients which could run them hundreds or even thousands of dollars when they see a stock photo for $5 as a better alternative. I would lean towards the nice stock photo over someone using their new digital camera and trying to shot photos themselves. The selection of reasonably priced stock photos which might seem large is actually quite small when it comes to very specific types of photos you’re looking for at a quality level you need. That’s why you’ll see a lot of the same photos creeping up in multiple sites. There’s a much smaller selection of reasonably prices and the highest quality a customer needs. Places like Istock and Shutterstock offer a large selection at low prices while places like photodisc have a smaller selection at amazing quality but the prices are ridiculous high. I think if someone found a middle ground they could make a killing in the market, or better yet photographers that offer special package pricing for web usage.

 

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Man what is up with people in Sweden and Denmark? They’re just a bunch of free wheelin snow lovin’ designers over there putting out some amazing useable products. And what do we have to show lately? The ShamWow? Check out this trash bin instead. The Vip Waste Bin is handmade in Denmark and is gorgeous as far trash bins go. What I especially love  is that the lid is specially designed to not making a loud banging noise when you shut it after releasing the pedal. Just goes to so even something as pedestrian as a trash bin can have aesthetic care and attention to usability enhancements that make it a far superior product. at $250 to $470 they better be awesome though.

IKEA has changed the headline and body fonts it uses in catalog and advertising from it’s custom futura type to less aesthetically pleasing Verdana. This has caused what I’d coin as a “complete insane uproar” in the design community. Designers are practically at their blue and yellow doors with pitchforks and torches making petitions, burning photos of the Swedish chef from the muppets,etc.

beforeandafter_futura-vs-verdana

Really I admire IKEA’s useable design…I do find their product aesthetics a bit too sterile but it is insanely useable. People need to relax over this font change a bit. It’s not like PEPSI who totally redid their logo and branding for the worse and for no good reason that costed them millions of dollars across the board. IKEA did this as a business choice as Verdana works easier for international publication and web use. I think if Futura was a standard web font this might not have occurred and thus shows the importance of the web presence. They actually unified their font useage across web and print now and while Verdana is a sad choice consider it’s one of only a few choices they have in order to take that route. In the end this is not going to cause people to no longer shop at their stores nor does it really damage their brand perception to the degree designers are saying. In fact I’d venture to say that most people won’t even notice. Sure we designers consider this a slap in the face to typography useage but this isn’t the worse thing they could have done. The Pepsi rebranding was a waste of a money this was a money saving technique.

While I consider this a dent in the IKEA armor I don’t think it’s the devastating bad decision the rest of the design community is making it out to be. There aren’t vikings running in the streets, people are not tossing their meatballs out kitchen windows. I think sometimes designers can be oh just a bit too high and mighty for their own good. Now relax and go down to IKEA and buy your $50 plastic table you and get your alan wrench ready. I’ll be hanging out at the Pottery Barn instead.

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I love Threadless. I hope to someday submit a few of my own designs to their site, but in the meantime I’ll just pretend I designed these ones instead.

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One of the struggles in web design and more importantly Information architecture is to get the client out of the mind set that the website is all about them and how they see their business. In reality outside the office walls, It’s actually for their customers and potential customers. A web presence is not stroke corporate egos or to be used as a weapon of internal departmental struggles for attention. That’s not helping your customers.

It’s vital now to have a website to be viewed as a tool or resource rather than simply a online business brochure. We’ve moved past the days of having 3 main tabs of “about us, our services, contact us”. Users are expecting more…they’re expecting for you to engage and interact with them on equal footing. You want to be heard above the competition? This means understanding who is coming to your site and how they would potentially use it. The website needs to provide these pathways wether through promoting online web services or tying into social media outlets for value added service or simply organizing your content in a way condusive to your users finding information rather than just for yourself. Creating real dialog between customers and business and taking the board of directors out of their ivory towers. It Lets your customers become your advocates and you’ll sales increase because of it.

Even from an information architecture stand point if you continue to use internal terminology that only your employees would understand then how are you reaching your target audience. Think about how your website is currently organized. Is it setup according to your own internal business practices, processes, and corporate hierarchy? Would this site even be understood to someone outside your office and is it really helping anyone?

Your content needs to be organized and most importantly thoughtfully written in such a way that a person coming to your site immediately knows who you are, and what you can do for them and where to go to find out how get their problems solved. The web has evolved past the point of pure selling and wants to reach out to your customers who are anxiously waiting to find answers. They’re much smarter than you give them credit for and will see through gimmicky marketing jargon, flashy sales pitches and will abandon an unorganized bureaucratic website (take a look at some of your state government sites for example.) Honesty, openness and trust are the new ways of doing business. Time to get on board. your customers are already leaving the station.

Is this the potential of pure design function over aesthetics

Is this the potential future of pure design function over aesthetics sensibilities

Apple is leading the pack when it comes to the industrial design but I’m wondering where they can really take the design direction next? The ipod has become a super thin piece of aluminium…very sleek, powerful and caters to absolute usability but how can you change the design now? They’ve continuously stripped away elements down to the core aesthetics and I don’t see how they can improve on it aesthetics-wise. Johnathan Ives must be sitting around twittering his thumbs. I’ve seen this is design approach across multiple markets. Furniture design like that from IKEA emphasises minimal aesthetics and pure functional form but doesn’t it just seem a little sterile? Minimal font usage on simple stark backgrounds, commercials with just a white background? So is good design merely a result of great useability or do we run the risk of creating boring sterile environments and products akin to living in the land of THX 1138 as seen above? When I visit antique stores and look at the old advertising and wood crafted furniture there’s a totally different type of care and craftsmanship that went into these products. hand drawn, painted intricate designs that obviously took tremendous amount of time and care. This level of detail and intricacy in design we just don’t see anymore today when you can just use a computer and crank out something. While I definitely appreciate the pure design forms and simple usability focus at the same time miss a time when craftsmanship and artistic expression was more in focus. It could just be the artist in me.

I saw this article and swear I’ve hear almost all of them from some potential clients at one time or another.

http://www.webmonkey.com/blog/10_Reasons_to_Politely_Decline_a_Web_Design_Gig

my favorites are “He wants to make sure you can build his site so it will show up first on Google.” and “He explains that you will be responsible to his organization’s “website committee.” design by committee..or as I like to call it the 3rd level of Hell.

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Today, the Sci-Fi channel has formerly changed it’s name to ScyFy so that it can be “more reflective of a diverse amount of programming outside of science fiction”…which apparently includes Wrestling matches and Joan of Arcadia re-runs from CBS? Pizza Hut has also changed it’s name on some of their restaurants and boxes to “The Hut” never mind the potentially hilarious Star Wars references (see photo above.) Pizza Hut had a similar reasoning to showcase it’s wider selections of foods outside of pizza and try to capture a hipper larger audience. By hip they plan to include showing “Wheel of Fortune” of big screen TV’s in some of their new locations. I kid you not. You get the sense some marketing geniuses all sat in a room and were like “We got to change something we got to be cool like those Twitter people. Sports bars are big…hey how can we big like them? and how can we beat Subway?”

Here’s a better idea. Concentrate on what you do well and do it even better than before and worry less about grabbing at new trends or trying to kill your competition. Most of all don’t become medicore at a bunch of things thus diluting your brand with your customers.

When Apple was in the gutter in the mid 90’s and was literally trying everything including the clone market to grow their market share they lost sight of what they did really well. They lost sight of their culture and what made them stand apart from the other countless biege boxes. Steve Jobs came in and cut their product line to just a few key products and decided they were going to do these really well and get better and concentrate on amazing useable interfaces and making technology easier to use. On that strong foundation they grew into other markets (music, video) and applied those philosophies thoughtfully growing it from their core competencies. Companies that feel like they have to diverge radically from there core products or continue switching their focus run the risk of diluting their brand efforts, alienating their customers, confusing potential new customers. In the end it can result in mediocre products and continual business lost. What makes your business great? What separates it from the crowd? Stand on those building blocks and work from there and stop trying to straddle the middle of the road thinking you’re playing it safe.

“Man walk on road. Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk down middle, sooner or later, get squished.” – MrMiyagi, Karate Kid

UPDATED!!! Just found out Radio Shack is actually changing it’s name to “THE SHACK!” Well Shaq O’Neal it’s time for a new round of useless commercials.

lebowski
I think we can all get a little frustrated with clients but after reading this article you’ll see how they most likely fall into one of the several main characters from the movie The Big Lebowski. Read on to decide who your favorite or not-so favorite client is like.