Christina may be in Morocco for two weeks, but she’s never very far away. Lou Rosenfeld’s interview of her is up and running at the ACIA site.
+ + Customer service. Kmart signs a deal with IBM to increase checkout time by “up to 20 percent” in its offline stores. Take heed, they’ve got a metric that matters to them. But I’m curious about the other massive piece of the checkout equation: the humans who have to work with those machines and the training they’ll get.
Meanwhile, back online…
>From Tomalak’s Realm: “NY Times: Online Companies’ Customer Service Is Hardly a Priority.”
“But they are also motivated by the bottom line: providing phone support is expensive, so Internet companies under mounting pressure to achieve profitability are adopting more economical automated systems. Critics say customers may be the losers.”
+ + Prototyping. An early rule from communications 101: show, don’t just tell. People prefer flash before devouring their fishwrap. In other words, we’re often drawn to pictures more than we are to words. IBM’s developers found that out the hard way during some recent user testing: “Users were so drawn to the visuals that we had difficulty in getting feedback on critical questions about content and navigation,” says a white paper at the site. Fortunately they’ve served up a few suggestions on testing their essential stuff early on.
>From xblog: A divided approach to Web site design: Separating content and visuals for rapid results
“A well-designed Web site fuses great content and effective visuals, among other elements. Ironically, integrating these elements too early in the design process can mask problems that might otherwise be detected early, and lengthen the design cycle. This paper describes a way to shorten your design cycle by getting focused, early user feedback on the different layers of your design.”
+ + Email. Many of us self-taught (or is it “self-discovered?”) usability types have a hard time admitting that anyone in (shh) marketing has anything to teach us. Lo the fool who follows such a path. Case in point: email subject lines. A long time ago in a world far away lived something similar in the form of direct mail. Objective: get people to read your missive rather than toss it in the garbage. Means: write something of relevance on the outside of the envelope. We’ve got a thing or two to learn from a guy named Robert Bly. Nonetheless…
>From xblog: “The Usability of Email Subject Lines”
“Email is very important to a lot of people and companies. However, very little usability research has been done on email, specifically email subject lines. This article is a summary of a research report written by WebWord on the topic and contains several results. The basic finding from the research is that effective email subject lines are very short, very meaningful, and personal.”
+ + Ugly works. And this is why so often we cringe at “marketing:” because we hate to admit that fuchsia and lime green may in fact be the best colors for the “money button.” Time to get over it. Better yet, time to challenge ourselves to think in terms of usable and beautiful.
>From Good Experience — follow the “fuchsia” thread dated 2/19:
+ + Architecture. Zipped down to L.A. this past weekend, unfortunately just one single day before the Getty opened up a new exhibition. “Shaping the Great City: Modern Architecture in Central Europe” sounds promising. Going? I’d love a report.
APROPOS OF NOTHING
+ + Downloads: the Internet Moving Image Archive
“The films on this site focus on twentieth-century North American history and culture, and also include some coverage of the broader world. Centered around everyday life, culture, industry and institutions in the United States from 1905 to 1969, this collection presents a wide range of images that have not generally been available to the public until now.