Blog Blog

The difference between Apple and Samsung industrial design

This appeared in iMore, Monday April 27 2015
By Renee Ritchie

“Paint the back of the fence”, has been referenced time and again, “because you’ll know.”

It’s a quote from the late Steve Jobs’ father intended to help instill pride in craft. Jony Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of design, has spoken numerous times about the importance and inevitability of great design as well, about the care and consideration it takes, and how people notice it even when they don’t notice themselves noticing it.

Recently there was a brouhaha about a Qualcomm sticker junking up the Samsung Galaxy S6 on Verizon.

You don’t see a sticker like that on the iPhone 6 or any other iPhone, of course, because Apple cares more about the look of their product than the licensing fees or other considerations refusing it entails. Same with Intel Inside stickers on the Mac.

But when I looked at the picture of Samsung’s product, it wasn’t the sticker that bothered me so much. That, I assume, can be peeled off. It was something else I saw that bothered me, and something I can now never un-see…

 Read the entire article here

Surprise: Your Web Site May Be Useless

Regarding “Responsive Design” – And It’s Absolute Necessity Today.

Nov. 15, 2014

Is your web presence “responsive?” And no, I do not mean is it interactive, or that you’ll return a call in under 30 minutes. “Responsive” has a very specific meaning within the web design world, and it is relatively new – and ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL that you know – though many lay folks are still unaware. What’s worse is that many sub-par web designers and agencies still don’t know what “responsive” design is, or why the lack of a “responsive” approach has lead to near zero meaningful traffic at their web properties. 

ALERT: A global, de-facto change in end-user behavior is rendering many websites obsolete at launch.

An Explanation And Quick Primer:

First, realize that many, if not most visitors to your websites will do so via smart phone. I won’t get into the statistics here, but smart phones are now ubiquitous. Your end user will likely view your site via smart phone.

So HERE is the issue, in a nutshell: web pages display differently on smartphones. So your site, which was designed for and looks great on your laptop, may degrade terribly on your iPhone. Scroll bars going this way and that, mis-placed text, menus, weirdly cropped or overlarge  images – it can look like somebody threw your site in a bag, shook it, emptied it willy-nilly on the floor, and then gave you a window the size of your cell-phone to see it through. Terrible!

This is where “Responsive” design comes in. “Responsive”  is a relatively new term of the art in web and UI design. It means that your site is designed to display perfectly on most devices (the site can tell what device is looking at it, and the site will then respond appropriately). Images scaled, backgrounds preserved, text showing in correct size and placement. Headlines correctly placed, Menus that work – and everything fits the smartphone screen perfectly – like it was meant to. Ahh, what a pleasant user experience!

Sites that are “responsive” stand out from the crowd. But any site that gets mobile traffic NEEDS to be responsive as an imperative  – otherwise it looks dated and unprofessional to anyone who uses a smart phone.

If Your Target User Is 20-Something Yrs Old, Your Site Will Be Viewed On Smartphone

Two or three short years ago this wasn’t the case. But smart phones are ubiquitous now, and user adoption of smartphones, apps etc., is accelerating and showing no signs of abatement. All over the world, wireless towers are springing up as wireless tech is more agile, resilient and cheaper to maintain than wired comms. But that’s a different issue. The future is wireless and mobile – that much is clear. And that means your site and content will be consumed by a mobile user on a smart device.

Where it gets complicated is that there are so many variants of smartphone – each with different display characteristics. So “responsive” programming needs to take all of the screen ratios, browser compatibilities, etc into account. This can be quite daunting; consider just the iPhones currently in use: iPhone 4, 4s, 4sRetina, 5, 5s, 6 (several more versions of that). Then the iPads. And the WORLD of Android etc phones.
Responsive can be complicated and expensive – particularly if you are paying for the education of the designer. Unfortunately, most agencies and designers have the attorney complex: they will say “yes, I can do that” and then happily take your money to learn how. So you’ll need to vett any agency/designer. Look at their work: is it responsive? How does it degrade on various platforms? You may be surprised!

Yet another thing to deal with, ’tis true. But keep in mind, it is something that cannot be hidden. Or ignored. It is now a choice  that you are expected to make.

Have a responsive site – or appear dated, out-of-touch and unprofessional (only to smart phone users).

Content Is King. Unless…



A Trench-Fighter’s Perspective

Content is King… As long as it is relevant, interesting, adds value, and fully supports the client’s overall message. It’s not enough just to have a pretty picture to grab attention – unless… you are running an affiliate marketing program (“Lose 50 lbs With This Wierd Trick”) program. We’ve all seen those ads – or articles even – clicked through, and found that the content or copy that brought us there is irrelevant to the real intended message. And we’ve been mildly annoyed and clicked away, never to return. Copy and Content are BOTH about message, and must ALWAYS support the well thought out overall message.

Unfortunately many companies haven’t really thought their message through, and while it is often necessary to help them understand the vital necessity of doing so in order to generate track-able results (all the data in the world is unuseful if you don’t know what your are tracking) – it is also imperative that one keeps the message on track. Because you can generate unintended results.

Poorly Envisioned Content Can Have Negative Unintended Results.

P.T. Barnum is thought to have said “say anything you want about me, just spell my name right!” And to have coined the idea that any press was good. I’ll agree that in a time of limited availability, relative scarcity of resources, he may have been right. You want a cold beverage and there is only ONE kind, you’ll try it, even if some say it’s terrible or an “acquired taste”. Not so anymore. Now we live in a long tail world of competition. And the internet apparently has no half-life on storage of information. Bad information persists – as does good information. So here is a tale which should give everyone pause.

A company, via a young social media guru, used a highly effective “Trending Story Piggy-back” (or “News-jack” or “Culture-jack”, as you may know the exploit)  to instantly popularize their product. It was a clever exploit, but wrong, dead wrong as it turns out – and had overall negative consequences – though initial results seemed promising to the guru and her client.

She penned a release which was designed to be controversial (and generate a lively discussion), right on the heals of a controversial Google product announcement. The release was carefully timed so as to generate a maximum of curiosity and controversy – driving massive traffic to her client’s site. And it worked like gangbusters – with millions of visits over the next days. Clients were pleased, at least initially… Until they realized the significance of the traffic!

What the young soc-media guru didn’t understand was that all of this attention was NEGATIVE, and subjected the client to a beat down everywhere on the net, and for weeks to come! The damage to brand reputation was profound. Mitigation and recovery is an ongoing never ending process. The problem was, in simple terms, that the message conveyed in the attention getting content was not only irrelevant to the company’s message – it was negative and created ill will toward the brand – in a global, competitive environment. If controversy is what you want, great – go get it. You can produce radical change with controversy. But you need to think it trough – will that controversy provoke the action you want (ie adoption of your product)? If you’ve read this far, I’m sure you’ll agree that while the Steve McQeen photo was captivating, it was irrelevant to this articles’ purpose. Probably harmless, if you’ve read this far. But was the risk worth it?

Study: 76% eCommerce execs feel website experience impacts brand perception

Shared From TECHNORATI. By Andre F. Bourque. Link to full article here.


“How can we deliver an optimized online experience for end users that establishes trust in our brand and strengthens customer loyalty?”, Peer1 Hosting’s new blog post asks. In today’s social-enabled world, brand identity and sentiment are hot topics with marketers. And with more retail transactions  moving online as consumers embrace mobile and online shopping, website presence has never been more important.

With rapid eCommerce growth around the world, many e-retailers have realized the power of a high-performing website that delivers fast response times, quick page loads and ease of use for shoppers. Peer1 released a new survey of eCommerce decision makers in the U.S., UK and Canada that aims to provide further insight into what matters most to marketers.

Nearly half (49 percent) attribute higher year-on-year conversion rates to investments in web design. Peer1 found that 76 percent of eCommerce decision makers in the regions surveyed believe website experience directly impacts their brand’s public perception. With that in mind, 33 percent say they will invest in web design and 29 percent in the overall user experience to achieve higher conversion rates in 2014.




Here’s the full survey findings.



Narrative Networks Can Alter Historical Record

A Trench Fighter’s Perspective

I received a surprising number of comments on a recent post where I claimed that Social Media could produce “profound” results.  Some wrote me to dismiss all results as silly and ephemeral. I argue that you missed my point entirely, and will explain just how in this quick and rough tactical description of what goes on – and why you ought pay attention

And before I get started, I’ll mention that the hottest area of defense technology research is currently in “social media,” specifically “Narrative Networks” and for good reason.

I won’t get into the ethics or the how-to’s here. I’m simply going to point something out – like the child pointing to the man hiding in the bush –  and you, dear reader, make of it what you wish.

It may or may not have occurred to you that the tools of Social Media can be used not only to influence the hearts and minds of the present and future with regards to events and brands, but one may also,  if ever so carefully and deliberately,  create narrative networks that alter or change the historical record. At least on the Interwebs. And while changing the historical record (on the Internet) may not sound insidious on it’s face, it is the foundation of what builds political consent today.

Because changing the historical record influences opinion today.  Trending issues will be searched on the Internet. Results can influence current opinion about the past, and sway opinion about the past. Which can support or undermine current values, opinions, beliefs, etc.

In your granddaughters hand the tools may prove gentle enough – but what about in the hands of a skilled practitioner?

Social Media is currently the hottest area of Defense Technology research.

Imagine this fictional sci-fi novel plot come to life:

2014: A tiny third-world region becomes a sudden interest to the superpowers due to a super valuable and rare resource they possess in abundance. Imagine further that the little region refuses to mine or market or sell their resource, despite all best offers. And now a conflict brews as the superpowers consider “intervention”. Imagine now a team of narrative network creators seeds the InterWebs carefully with references to documentation about the rebels in this area. References to documentation about rumored atrocities that the UN has simply never followed up on because this part of the world was just – not important. The UN spokesperson comments that they had no knowledge of those events, but the comments only further the perception that the UN dropped the ball.  But now the references and summaries of the reports surface, get posted on Reddit, Gawker, etc – and suddenly a trend forms; as real people become agast at the plight of individuals in the region. Pundits openly play partisan politics, bashing the other side for inaction…  It’s not long before we hear humanitarian cries for action and intervention – by drone.

But remember – the reports were new, not years old. And the reportage was fake or highly mischaracterized…  Do you believe, in this click-driven world, that editors would investigate thoroughly enough to spot the ruse?