Archive for the ‘Usability’ Category

The Google+ experience

Posted: July 7, 2011 in Usability
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[tweetmeme source= “jsnrss” only_single=false]Whilst the inevitable “Google+ fade away like a Wave or troop on like an Android?” debate gets under way and countless blogs start attempting to predict Google+’s fate, my attention gravitates to a slightly different area of the Google+ experience.

Take a look at the Google+ tutorial here www.google.com/+/demo. Without getting too technical it’s a pure and simple showcase for how far non Flash based interfaces can be taken (in this case it’s a custom hack of the Google Maps API). Not that we needed a better showcase for what can be achieved without Flash following the fantastic http://chrome.angrybirds.com but the Google+ team have pulled off some even greater things (as far as web based UI is concerned) within the Google+ interface itself.

With everything from seamless drag and drop features, animations and other nifty tricks (see video below) it’s not too difficult to see how the Google Chrome OS might evolve by looking at what has been achieved with the Google+ UI.

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Wave on the iPhone

Wave on the iPhone

The interface enhancements extend to mobile too (curious that currently Google seems to have invested more in making the iPhone experience better than it’s own Android experience). Using the Google ‘suite’ on mobile is becoming ever more enjoyable. So on that front, it will be interesting to see uptake of Google+ on mobile.

As to whether Google+ will succeed or not!? Well a) that’s not for this blog post and b) who cares… one thing’s for sure, there will be benefits to be had by understanding it; and love it or loath it – we have to understand it if only for the sheer amount of Gmail users that will soon have immediate access to it’s features.

[tweetmeme source= “jsnrss” only_single=false]There is nothing more disheartening when a client relationship takes a turn for the worse. It happens. Being the person who ends up taking ultimate responsibility for things, I do take it personally when these instances arise. Whether due to poor communications, over commitments, under delivery – mishaps are a reality that comes with agency life.

But, when things go right the feeling is ever so much the opposite! When you can look back and “WOW” yourself at what’s been achieved in partnership with a client,  you’re reminded why you work ‘agency side’. And that’s what this overdue blog post is all about (I’ll save the disaster stories for another time!!).

Our relationship with Thames Water started over 3 years ago, when we helped them launch their new corporate website. We won the competitive tender  off the back of our solid corporate experience; and since that launch the website has stood alone as Thames Water’ main digital asset.

Fast forward to today however and both our understanding and that of Thames Water’ for  how  digital strategy can serve to dramatically improve  their customer engagement, has without doubt developed greatly.

Thames Water - the new customer website

Thames Water - the new customer website delivers a far greater user centred experience

But the new customer website is just the start of it. Whilst  the new site delivers a far more user centric IA and task focussed design, the site now sits at the heart of what is far more widespread digital strategy, aimed at increasing direct engagement with their customers and winning advocacy as well increasing transparency and creating brand affinity. Take a look at just some of the results which the broader digital strategy has achieved and I’m sure you’ll agree – utility companies don’t need to be boring!

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Interactive roadwork

Thames Water - Twitter page

Over 2,000 followers

Thames Water - mobile site and app

Soon to launch mob' site

Thames Water - Waterwisely

Waterwisely

Thames Water - water saving calculator

Water saving calculator

Thames Water - facebook virals

Facebook viral

Thames Water - one safety hub

One safety hub

Thames Water - interactive maps

Interactive maps

Thames Water - digital guidelines

Digital guidelines

BBC’s new site

Posted: June 21, 2010 in Usability
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[tweetmeme source= “jsnrss” only_single=false] The much BBC have recently launched their new website. A couple of things spring to mind about it…

Firstly, for a website which is much coveted for its usability, I find the new font not only difficult to read but as the screen-shot below shows, at times even impossible to read.

Secondly, the BBC have been using some interesting customisation and personalisation tools on their main site for a while now. It seems though that many of these features have not made into the news site redesign (dragging and repositioning of content, editing of number of articles, personalisation of content etc). Is this a sign that users aren’t ready for features like this – or as I think is more the case, they cannot really bothered for these features.

BBC font problem

BBC font problem