January 2011 Archives
A screengrab from the Dixons GetSat server
One of the key pillars of the four-year Dixons Retail transformation program is to be thrifty when building and this is particularly relevant to software in the enterprise where feature-bloat and mystery licensing can mean you get some exceptionally poor value for your corporate dollar.
Dynamic social content on the new dixons.co.uk
As part of the effort to discover new ways to build cheaply online Dug is running a number of pilots including web-based customer-led support via GetSatisfaction and using open-source blogging tools to enhance our ecommerce websites.
Fingers crossed these will lead to some greater efficiencies, not least the ability to build quickly as well as cheaply.
Dug has a secret master-plan to build a developer community around Dixons. The fit with Intel is a good one as the UK electricals retailer ships an inordinate number of devices powered by the American chip-maker.
As part of the developer competition (entries have now been judged and entries closed. Sorry, check back next year) Dug briefed Intel on the type of application most likely to fuel both engagement and affiliate sales and then commissioned an api to programatically expose Dixon's trading underbelly. The entrants where able to build 3D roomsets and kitchen design tools filled with Samsung TVs and DeLonghi coffee makers.
The apps are able to display all product metadata, live price, live stock information and all associated rich media. Keep your eyes on the AppUp centre as apps will go live in next few weeks:-)
Dug did the ethnography, concept development, service design and prototyping in partnership with Vodafone R&D teams in London and in Spain. The beta of the Exchange server was built on top of Ocastalab's Statusnet service and is currently live.
From the Vodafone site: Agora is an open trading platform for individuals and groups to post items and services for sale or exchange. Have an extra laptop lying around? Need a bike instead? No problem! With Agora, you can specify what you'd like in exchange (including cash or services) and the system will alert you to others that have what you're looking for. You can make offers, negotiate with others until you secure an agreement, and then leave comments and ratings for your completed deals.
Agora is deployed as an Android app that is downloadable from the Android Market. It has been tested across a range of handsets and is compatible with Android 1.6 OS and above.
You can download the Android app from Vodafone.
As part of the Betavine Agora project, Dug produced this short video to explain how a distributed mobile marketplace not only supported the creation of listings and the promotion of transactions but also the serendipitous discovery of potential collaboration.
Orange Backup is one of several integrated web, PC and mobile applications Dug developed while working for Group Design & Usability. The app is part of the home software suite (HSS) delivered to broadband customers across Europe.
The product is based on a white label version of oodrive a leader in cloud storage. Dug conducted extensive user research into the target users and transformed the product into one focused on customer needs and respectful of their very specific context of use.
A project run at Group D&U to create a UI toolkit for a European comms product for Orange and Mobistar business customers.
This project was a joy to run, a real testament to what a small team running Agile methodologies can do even as part of a heavyweight organisation. I had spent the better part of a year managing France Telecom stakeholders on an integrated communications project when I was contacted by the leader of this three-man team.
We worked together (yes, in French), helping dev teams move from waterfall-based production methodology to a user-centred design process built on the Garrett elements of user experience.
Outcome: The end product was rolled out quickly to the two markets and has been a huge success. After the launch, learnings from this product development were fed back into the France portal which now offers its customers best-in-class converged communications tools.
Dug created the specification for the Orange communications services beta which ran in late 2006. This was an early entry into complex RIA merging voice mailbox, SMS, email, calendar, contacts, IM and personal space storage into an integrated web app.
The spec seems a little dated now that RIAs have matured into more familiar design patterns supported by reliable RESTful apis but it's an interesting document nonetheless (download PDF - 9Meg).
Fortis Life, pensions, investment products
Lead the conception and experience delivery of Fortis' latest transactional risk business tool (a secure, prime-partner portal). Establish UCD methodology in a SCRUM process environment and define and evangelise the role of user experience design in this traditional, software-engineering-led team.
We launched on time and our product has leapfrogged the industry leader in its first six months of operation.
Unilever was selling Birds Eye and uncertainty about the future was impacting the workforce and risked negatively influencing a family favourite brand.
Use blogging to expose the "soul" of Birds Eye, to expose the inner working of the beloved comapny to the public. In the process, build social capital for Birds Eye during a difficult transition away from Unilever.
Collaborative media creation and consulting. For this one, I conceived and created the Pea Harvest blog which ended up making quite a stir. Not only did the advertising planning community pick up on it, but the eight-thousand employees who feared for their futures where given someone to focus their hopes on.
For a few magic months, Colin was exactly the kind of everyman-hero the teams needed to be hearing about.
I'll admit I clicked on the link with trepidation, corporate blogs are not always the best, but this is lovely. I think a lot of the charm is it's not trying to be more than it should, it's a blog about the pea harvest and pea tasting and it's just that, it's not pasted over with agency copywriting or big brand gags, it's just a look behind the scenes, using regular blogger tools, movable type, flickr, youtube, odeo. It'll never reach an audience of billions but it's not supposed to. Really nice work.
The primary objective for the project was to allow Birds Eye to show that even though it may be a large corporation, it is built on strong human qualities.
Colin's voice is now a trusted source of information and Birds Eye has taken the first step in a programme to build on dialogue, accessibility and transparency. Colin is currently taking a break, but will start posting about his sustainability programme soon.
Dug has worked with Cognima for a number of years. Over this period, he has developed sets of app and website templates designed to shield the CMS user from design mistakes. He has also produced:
- A complete corporate identity programme
- Brand mark
- Brand guideline
- Print requirements (letterhead, cards)
- Website template system
- Promotionals (T-shirts, mugs, mousemats)
- Office signage and place-holding
- Bilingual Japanese/English design
Project Unicorn was a joint venture between Australian bank AMP and Marks & Spencer. The bank provided portfolio management across pensions, risk and investments. The service was integrated via a white-label CMS template system.
Dug produced the UX work for the financial product pages. The information architecture was designed to extend M&S existing offering while transparently displaying appropriate NAB services.
Redesign rebrand and restructure the bioinformatics extranet application GPCR SARfari. From the application's current owner's website:
SARfari is an integrated chemogenomics workbench focussed on GPCRs. The system incorporates and links GPCR sequence, structure, compounds and screening data
Dug lead a team of scientists, programmers and marketers through a complete user experience architecture process resulting in an entirely new product experience.
The UI grew out of a rapid development requirement where user needs assessment, paper sketching and HTML prototyping and visual design happened very quickly as the client needed to be ready for an event.
The database is designed (among many things) to promote the serendipitous discovery of compounds from a seemingly infinite number of combinations. Dug was inspired by the mobiles of Alexander Calder.
The juxtaposition of random three-dimensional position with the seemingly unique shapes seemed a strong metaphor for the interaction of the genome scientist with the SARfari product.
Information architecture and current state assessment.
Perform audit of all Museum's internet advertising and publishing activity, intranets, extranets and websites. Develop future publishing strategy and present plan to Directors. Establish costs and schedules for future activity.
Discovery workshop stimulus based on Museum structures
Responding to the DCMS brief for Museums in the 21st Century
Site flow dot file
During a three-month product launch phase with the now defunct YRMedia, Dug produced unique CSS web front-ends for artists and labels Dive Dive; Minotaur; Lemonjelly; Stonebridge; Hedkandi; Franz Ferdinand; Alter Ego; MIA; Two Culture Clash.
As ever, Tim says it best:
The blog itself should become a projection of the bizarre mind of Isaac Mostovicz: karate expert, diamanteer, talmudic scholar, luxury marketer...
Isaac believes that embracing paradox can enable deep transformation. He's written about 100,000 words on the topic so far, which I'll be editing and extracting over the months to come--confusion will reign!
Any suggestions for links, topics and functionality tweaks on a postcard please. Big hat tip to Glasshouse associate Dug Falby.
In the spirit of releasing early and often, experimentalpragmatics.org went live last night well before the design is actually finished. Dug can't pretend to understand the concepts of relevance and utterance interpretation, but he's happy to be able to help another non-profit onto the internet.
Dug has completed another pure CSS ringtone shop interface for those wonderful guys at YR Media. We're now rapidly aproaching the point where the ringtone shops could be assembled into an unorthodox (because these are targeted at Firefox and IE6) CSS Zen Garden. More on that thought later...
Intranet development for self-care HR and career development portal
Programme manager. Redevelop the Coca-Cola Enterprises human resources self-care product. Dug lead this massive development project to design an intranet system to streamline the performance dialogue process at CCE.
Coca Cola's annual review process started on time using the new system with a very high level of employee adoption.
Redesign and restructure the main Flora website. Conceive information model based on customer insight. Develop information model into an information architecture designed to support the growth of the website and the inclusion of future advertising initiatives.
A project to unify the IFA-facing web services of UK financial services giant Friends Provident. This was a challenging project requiring as much diplomacy as design. The new designs should go live in Ocotber 2005
Dug has developed both communications and user-experience solutions for a number of large finacial services institutions including:
Dug has just finished up materials for client Cognima's "3GSM 2005": tradeshow presence. This year, Dug developed a new stand design incorporating plasma screens into the stand walls and a new edition of Music to Replicate Data By, a series of music compilations launched in 2003.
Design of all CSS ringtone shop interface. The microsite is linked to from the skint.net website.
With the Twocultureclash shop, Dug worked closely with YR Media's Mark Panay to really push the white-label application.
Mark's semantic markup allowed Dug to build a design around CSS selectors acting on most parts of the site without need for specific class definitions.
Dug used CSS attributes to create a rich design which surprised both the record label and the client. This design solution has set the standard and Dug is now developing further online ringtone shops with YRMedia.
See also miauk.com project
The Lecture List was launched in May 2004. Over the twelve-month design and development phase, Dug was responsible for the entire user experience, from functionality specification through to application design, human interaction and control of the final coding of the site's interface.
The brand convergence project involved 15 European divisions with 15 different product owners and as many sub-brands.
The client approached Dug and asked for help in developing a strategy to integrate the brands. The project involved creating a harmonised brand identity, a set of metaphors which allowed group owners to understand how their product offering would slot into the creative and final website templates for the group's internal teams.
Dug's response was the Big Shelf concept, an idea that turned a complex web of corporate information into a system which put the customer back in control while allowing the company and its divisions to work together more effectively.
The Shelf is an information matrix that is rotated by customer type, product type and geographic location. The design allows for this unlimited access and applies a consistent look and feel independent of product details of local area legislation.
He ran stakeholder workshops to sell the idea and guided internal teams through the development process.
The best way to visualise the way the shelf works (and to understand the thinking behind the unusual design) is to imagine a Rubik's cube of financial services which could be rotated to assemble the right package (like a set of the Rubik's coloured squares) and then unfolded and projected onto a flat surface.
Dug was asked by Strawberry Frog's Brian Elliot to help out on the OM Group virtual stock exchange project.
The Dutch advertising agency had worked as a team with the client's business analysts, the Boston Consulting Group, to establish the feasibility in business terms of running a web-based virtual stock exchange.
Missing from the equation was a team member with expertise of large, complex, web-based projects who was able to act as a bridge between the offline advertising team and the technical team at OM Group.
Dug's advertising experience, coupled with his managing of pan-European data-distribution projects for Offworld Industries made him an ideal candidate for the job. Dug ran a creative and technology audit which he presented to the board of OM Group in Stockholm.
Dug is unusual in that if the project demands it, he can act as a technology consultant as well as a creative director. He has consulted on xml-based publishing initiatives for The Discovery Channel, cataloging for GE and Acer Computers among others.
The client asked for interactive ideas that would allow millions of people around the world to experience the 007 lifestyle.
Dug's response was Bondworld, where budding spies begin a mission by picking up a brief from a Hertz car office, receiving text messages from fellow agents on their Nokia phones and in FT.com emails, while taking on Goldfinger's empire by infiltrating his secret network. All in their lunchtime.
See if you're up to it at http://www.jamesbondnews.com
Ambient communication to introduce new SC FX product at a trade show. Here's what the press release said about the product:
Standard Chartered has launched escape, which offers institutions the power to provide online foreign exchange to their customers. The bank is well known for providing first class emerging markets liquidity, and they are now able to "white label" this service for other institutions and their customers.
With Standard Chartered they have access to a wealth of emerging markets knowledge and expertise that can be passed on to their clients. Standard Chartered's foreign exchange network spans over 100 different currencies and, through escape, puts it right at the customers' fingertips.
Dug spent two years developing assets and strategies for Glidrose Publications Limited, the owners of the James Bond intellectual property. One of Dug's favourite projects is the Ian Fleming Encyclopedia.
The site contains every word written by Ian Fleming, organised in a flexible, resilient and easy-to-use database. Designed for academics as well as amateurs, the search-and-comparison facilities will be cross-referenced with relevant course data provided by rss feed from university publishing resources.
While Dug produced mock-ups of search-and-compare web pages to add the film resources of Danjaq, LLC. and MGM to the site, the IP owners are still in legal consultation and this element of the project is temporarily on hold.
Dug designed the front end as part of the overhaul of the whole Glidrose / Fleming / Bond identity review and successfully manages to walk the tightrope strung between Ian Fleming's credibility as a serious writer and James Bond's global action-hero persona.
The site is still being populated by the Glidrose editorial team. A holding site is online at ianflemingcentre.com (not designed by Dug)
Designed standards-compliant version of the Guardian Unlimited website to satisfy accessibility/usability requirements of UK educational charity (The Lecture List).
Dug ran an audit of the client's publishing methodologies and creative position for online. This enabled the new Discovery Health website to gain credibility among viewers and establish the channel it supported as a free-standing editorial offering.
Dug also proposed an XML-based language system, DCML to allow US and UK Discovery Channel teams to publish together and share assets across different CMS tools.
Web designer: Daniel Harman
Accessibility consulting for interesource.com on a brief from US legal giant Lawtel.
Dug designed skins for a number of the applications pages. As part of the brief, Dug also developed a methodology for the internal team to follow to protecting usability / accessibility during both the initial design and final implementation phases of the project.
Dug consulted on accessibility / usability for Gibraltar-based gambling site.
The website introduction explains it best:
Oxford Strategic Marketing, in partnership with Hunter Miller, has commissioned independent research to explore the critical issues facing senior marketers in their first 100 Days. The report will be available in January 2004 to download, and the critical issues will continue to be debated below. To keep abreast of the debate, subscribe to our rss-feed.
Dug directed the design of the UK version of street.com
He paid particular attention to UK journalistic idiom so that the site was truly native as opposed to a ‘port' of the US offering.
Dug designed the xhtml templates for the magazine which allowed multicolumn layout to function correctly at all seven browser font-size settings.
Dug designed a site for Irish streetwear designer Electronic Sheep.
For Blueberry interactive, Dug designed an interface for Gemstar's VideoPlus online user guide.
Dug designed white-label templates for the Vauxhall SkiNet microsite (system was implemented by IBM UK). The system used a design infrastructure established by Dug as part of the Ski Club of Great Britain's European information-distribution system.
Dug designed site for luxury country-house hotel
Dug designed online shop for multimedia publisher Primal
Designed search and retrieve interfaces for three large trade associations.
Dug created the PIM components to be reused by all three companies. Each component was built from a neutral palette that allowed juxtaposition with each company's web interface. Dug also designed the three web interfaces (but the PIM is the really cool part).
Dug designed the award-winning Ski Club site for four years.
Shopping service. First magazine that allowed visitor to purchase directly items featured in the editorial. Dug designed the launch issue and the shopping interface.