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Simplify, but don’t over-simplify

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one-tooth-icon

The current trend of flat icons tends to simplify things which is good because it makes it easier to identify things, especially at smaller sizes. This icon, however, is an exception. The simplification of just having one box for a date and two holes at top makes it look like a man with a one tooth smile. Doesn’t it?

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Can you serve the mobile version, please!

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While surfing the internet you see so many responsive websites, so many freely available responsive templates – for both CMSes and plain HTML. Add to that the pressure on companies to provide a mobile internet experience due to increasing number of people accessing the web from their phones and not from today but for a few years now, you’d think that the transition from a desktop computer to a tablet to a mobile phone would be seamless, but no, that is not the case. Not even close

When it comes to mobile internet experience, most people are writing cheques they can’t cash, like Vodafone and Hindustan Times that take you to sites that don’t work on mobiles.

Hindustan Times

I scanned a QR Code to get here so shouldn’t I be taken to a mobile version of this site?

Even now most people don’t do even the minimum required to provide a decent internet experience on a mobile phone. Take this example of Hindustan Times site. I got there by scanning a QR code. It doesn’t need a UX expert to point out that if a user is scanning a QR code, he is going to be using a mobile device and most likely a phone so shouldn’t it be obvious to take the user to a mobile site? Apparently not for Hindustan Times that take you to a site that is made for a desktop.

Similarly, Vodafone sent me a link in an SMS to their payment gateway. I guess they are a little too hopeful if they are expecting me to type the url they have sent in the SMS in my desktop to access that site.

The SMS from Vodafone

I get a link in SMS…

The site that opens on my phone

…and this is where I get. The intelligent thing to do, if you don’t have a mobile optimised version of your payment gateway, would be avoid sending the url altogether.

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Infographic: Shutterstock’s Global Design Trends 2014

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Engaging you is easier than ever

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While there are so many things, so many sites and apps that fight the loosing battle for your attention, have you thought how easy it actually is to engage you?

Give us a social platform with a promise that it is the next big thing, the facebook killer and we will drop what we are doing and flock there. It’s that easy to engage us online.

We all want to be connected and we all want to get the maximum out of social media and that desperation is the new way to gain our attention. Just present us something that promises to be the next big thing in the social media. This is all we need to rush to create a profile there.

Think about the social media platforms where you have created profiles. I have created profiles on so many sites like Flickr, 500px, Tumblr, Posterous, Pinterest to name a few. Every now and then I try to “reach out” to more people by posting links of by blogs there. But if I am not following links posted by someone else, why will someone follow my links and following someone else links, reading someone else’s rants take time. The key is you need to give more than you take, you need to hear before you can expect to be heard. If I can’t do that, then I am wasting my time there and my half-assed efforts are nothing more than beaming messages in space hoping an aliens on another planets will get it and will respond. If you can’t be a part of a conversation, just leave it..

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CSS Reset

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I have been writing HTML since the late 90s and have recently launched a Responsive redesign of my photo blog Picturejockey . I don’t know how could I have been blind enough to ignore CSS Reset.

Briefly what CSS Reset does it brings your website to the same baseline in all browsers. A lot of elements including type are rendered differently in different browsers. Some add a padding at the top of type, some have a different size and to ensure that your website has same appearance in all browsers you need CSS Reset.

To use it, you can create a separate CSS file and link it to your main CSS using the @import url tag.

Here is a link to Eric Meyers CSS Reset. You can download/Copy it from there.

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For the want of an empty slot…

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a broadband connection was denied.

I asked Airtel to give me a broadband connections and they have been ultra quick in their response. One guy was at my home half an hour after I made the call to collect the initial payment, a cabling guy dropped in next day. The guy who was supposed to connect it all up called me up the next working day to tell me that he will come in 15 minutes.

But.

After 15 minutes he called me again to tell me that the empty slot in the Airtel box outside my house is faulty so I “may” not get a connection. And the best thing is if they can’t give me a connections, they will refund my money in “one month.”

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Twitter killed the blogging star

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The objective of having a blog was to express yourself. However there is little point in expressing yourself if you don’t have an audience. It is very difficult to have a readership and get people to come to your blog. However it is very easy to take your blog to where people are.

Facebook and Twitter are two such powerful tools. It is far easier to read a status update or a tweet than to visit a blog and read it. It’s perfect, you can know what others are doing in one site only and it is brief so it quick as well. The growing popularity of both sites is all the proof one needs.

Taking a step further, Happycog has removed the conventional “comments” from their blog. You can only comment using Twitter or by posting an entry on your own blog. Here is the link to Cognition, the blog of Happy Cog and why they have removed the comments feature.

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After the IDMA Gold, it’s an ABBY Bronze

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A few weeks ago I posted the news about my team winning the gold at the IDMA 2010 Awards. This time we have won a Abby Bronze.

Last time I was there to celebrate the moment with them but this time around I wasn’t as they won the award after I left R K SWAMY. People who have been to Goafest tell me I have missed nothing but as someone who has never been there, I wish I was there.

Here are a few pictures of team with the trophy which for some reason came to them later. The network here won’t allow me to upload any images. Will share them with you later.

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Out to win a popularity contest

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A friend on Facebook is not really a friend. A friend is someone who has spent considerable time with you in School/College/Work. A friend is someone who will pick you up from the airport even if it is at 2 am. A friend in someone who will let you sleep in his living room if you happen to visit the city. Very few of your online friend will do any of this for you because they hardly know you.

In such a scenario why do we feel proud to have a growing friend list on Facebook or Orkut. Why do we set out to beat our friends in a race to have more friends.

If I have 10000 friends on Facebook and it doesn’t realize to anything tangible except for Farmville and Mafia wars updates, I am not interested in it. I am okay with having half a dozen friend who are really my friends.

There are a couple of entries on the blog of Jeffrey Zeldman that I’d like to link. First is Stop chasing followers and the second is Like Buttons Falling From the Sky

Talking about Zeldman, he is the guy who taught me the virtues of standard compliant Markup. All I know about XHTML and CSS was learned by reading article in a site run by him – A List Apart and by looking the source code on his sites.

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Should you really be chasing that client?

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Like everything else in life, the interactive work is available in varying quality. While it is easier to spot rotten apples before you make the purchase, it is not so easy to spot a poorly executed interactive project before even starting it.

Quite a few times we have lost clients because the price quoted by us was not the lowest. Last Saturday I called up a client who wanted a site to be done. We had met a few days ago and they wanted to get a site done in a very short deadline. To speed up the process, I provide them an approximate cost. When I asked about the price, he said it was too high “We have spoken to someone else and they are offering to do the same site for a much lower cost, they are charging less than 30% of what you are asking.”

What is important is how a website affects your bottom line. If your Profit and Loss account depends directly on the performance of your website, you will spend time in finding the right people to do it and pay them the price they ask for doing it. It is money well invested.

Do we charge too much? No, not at all. The price we quoted was based on the time required and the cost of that time for various profiles required for that project. The cost for the sale site done by anyone else should be same, give or take a small percentage. So how can anyone quote a price so much lower than ours? The answer is in selling rotten apples. We have seen in past, the work done by other agencies at a significantly lower price than ours never matches up with what we provide to our clients. The important question now is “does it really matter?”

Thinking about it, may the other agency was not selling rotten apples, maybe they were not selling apples at all. Let’s see how. I have seen ads for companies designing websites on a “per page basis” where the rates are as low as Rs.350/page and I often wondered how can those people managed to make a site for such a low price.

One day I got an SMS for designing a website for Rs.7500 and I decided to call. I asked how much a site for a photographer would cost and they gave me a reference of a website they did for a photographer. The cost of the site was Rs.20,000. Sure the site was not something even a half decent designer would be proud of creating but there it was. The website may have its problems but it served the purpose of the photographer who probably only wanted a site to showcase some of her work, have a bit of info about her and have a contact form. The other aspect of the site didn’t matter, neither to her, nor to her clients.

You see, what is important is how a website affects your bottom line. If your Profit and Loss account depends directly on the performance of your website, you will spend time in finding the right people to do it and pay them the price they ask for doing it. It is money well invested.

On the other hand if your business is not affected by the website, you won’t want to invest serious money in a website. You are making a website so you can have a URL in your business card; you know, to keep up with the time.

So the next time you get a call from a client who wants to have a website and wants to pay you 30% of your regular fee, ask yourself if it is worth chasing that client and trying to convince him why he should pay your fee, or is it better to look for clients who are already aware of the value you bring to the table and are willing to pay for it.

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