Archive for August, 2010

Use Your Phone To Not Look At Your Phone

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

I've seen a lot of posts lately from people who want to remind others how impolite it is to keep pulling out your cell phone or messing with your phone when you're supposed to be spending quality time with someone else… like at meals, especially meals out.

We live in an instant gratification world. We knew this, but everything around us reminds me of this. When I don't answer email within a few hours, I've literally had people write back and ask if I'm still in business. Really? That's all the time you gave me? There is a Blackberry commercial where a woman talks about how if she sends you a BBM (Blackberry Message), she knows you got it, even if you don't respond… well, why didn't you respond! I guess she didn't realise not everybody wants to write her back that second.

This was my biggest problem when I had the Palm Pre from July 2009 – Nov 2009. Out of the box, it made one sound that a friend said sounded like the Law and Order thundersheety gavel thing. It took me months, but I finally noticed I was the WORST person to hang out with. Every time that phone went BONK BONK, I pulled it out because it could be anything… text mesage, email, tweet, low battery alert, voicemail. I was constantly looking at my phone. I put in some hacks that eventually gave me some more sound options, but I still had to look at the phone a LOT to know what it was trying to notify me of.

So what can we do to put the politeness and the personal connection back into the times when we should be connecting with someone sitting right there? I say that if you're not just going to turn off your phone or choose to ignore anything it could do, use your phone to not look at your phone. Huh?

I have an Android phone. Just about every app I have asks me if I want to pick a notification sound just for that app. Do that. Make each app a different sound, and make it a sound you'll remember. I edit all my sound samples so they're meaningful bits of songs rather than blips and squeaks. I've got an XTC song going off for when the twitter app sees a new mention of me. Not worth looking at while having dinner with someone. I have an app called Ringo Lite that lets me pick different text message sounds. If I'm out of town, and "Suzie Safety" by Sparks goes off, that's a text from my pet sitter… I need to look at that.

I use an app called K9 email rather than the default email. I am polling 5 accounts every minute. Each account makes a different sound. I can choose to look at the phone or not based on which account just got an email. My 5th email account is for my boyfriend. He gets his own sound. :) When K9 does rules, I'm going to make a sound just for Facebook notifications, which come into my personal email account, so that they are easier to ignore OR if I'm expecting an important reply I think will come via Facebook, maybe in that moment, that sound is important.

Most phones have features like this. Most will let you choose different tones for different apps, accounts, and people. Use that. And then create priorities. If we're out, and I'm hoping our focus is on each other, let's only look at our phones if we think the sound is something really important. Everything else can wait.

I'm old enough to remember when people didn't have cell phones. You probably remember that too… how you had to wait for someone to be at home or work to reach them. And somehow, you lived without instant contact. You probably rmember when not every had email or not everybody checked it all day. It'll be OK if someone gets back to you in hours or a day. Let's dial our craziness down a bit. :)


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Don’t Forget About Color

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Seth Godin wrote a great blog post recently called, "Don't Forget About Color." http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/08/dont-forget-about-color.html

It reminded me of a conversation I had with him over email a few years ago. I showed him the designs we were doing for eBay, and how effective they were. He was surprised. He figured that designed worked better when there were more white space.

I beileve that we are getting more and more visual, and mood, personality, image, and ease of use are the new white space. I've been saying that, and people smile. But now, Seth Godin is saying something similar, at least that's how I read it.

I don't think websites need more white space. They need more attention to UX/UI, bringing people's eyes to the most important elements, and providing a real feel and mood to the site. You want to stand out from every other website.

It's about colour, but it's also about usability. When you don't really have colour, design, or mood, you have a layout. I don't think you have a design, but you have a layout! We're at the point where if things are the wrong colour, nobody sees them, and your design isn't as easy to use. Take eBay's grey tabs on a white background… nobody sees those, and now they're changing them again.

More and more, our clients are asking us for websites that feel "warm," "inviting," "pull people in," "make them feel involved," etc… That's why all of our designs are custom and unique, from scratch, and based on the image you want to project to your audience or shopper.

That's where design is going. We've been doing that for years, but we know that some people are just getting the memo now. :) Some designers are still making layouts. :)


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Why As Was Left eBay’s Certified Provider Program

Friday, August 27th, 2010

Hi. I'm Debbie Levitt, CEO of As Was, and I'm here to tell you that after 6 years in eBay's Certified Provider program, I have decided to not renew our membership there.

Nothing else is changing. We still focus on eBay design and strategy for sellers. We do websites, print work, marketing, etc… As Was is the same! You just won't see the CP logo next to our name anymore. No, we didn't get thrown out or asked to leave. We were asked to renew and pay for another year, and I decided not to.

I helped create the CP program back in 2004, and As Was became the first Certified Services Provider. The program offered a heap of perks and benefits, and I loved the program. I was the poster child. :) However, in the last 18 months, something has changed, and I'm not too sure what it is, but the perks and benefits just really aren't there for us anymore. It costs $3,000 per year to be a member, and I just couldn't find a reason to pay for another year when I felt I hadn't been seeing an ROI from that in about 18 months.

I am under the impression that other well-known and well-loved companies have terminated their CP memberships as well. So I'm not the only one… and remember that a lack of a CP logo doesn't mean there is anything wrong with a company or their products or services! It's pay for play, and as I'm not paying, I don't get to use the logo anymore. We still make magic happen for eBay sellers; we still have a perfect rating in the Solutions Directory, and our average client sees a 30% increase in sales after working with us.

http://cgi6.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?SolutionsDirectory&subgroup=20&page=details&solutionId=210

We still love eBay, and we have great relationships with many individuals and departments. We want to continue improving and enhancing everything we do relating to eBay. If the CP program ever morphed into something that offered great value to As Was, I'd love to join again. But for now, it doesn't make sense.

I'll be at eBay On Location in San Jose, and I'm speaking at PayPal's conference in October. You'll still see me everywhere. I'm not going away!

And hey, if you want us to do something for you in time for your holiday selling, we need to start right away! Please head to http://www.aswas.com and contact us!


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eBay Dumps Third Party Checkout

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

http://announcements.ebay.com/2010/08/ebay-checkout-update-for-2011

eBay has announced that third party checkout will be discontinued next June 2011. What does that mean? Well, have you ever bought from an eBay seller, and during the checkout process got dumped on another website to finish your checkout? You'll often see that with sellers who use companies like ChannelAdvisor and Marketworks. I have tended to NOT buy from these sellers for partially that reason. I hate those checkouts.

I'm not the only one. eBay is saying that less than 10% of sales come through third party checkouts, so this doesn't affect most people. I agree. I do a fair amount of shopping and buying on eBay, and I don't see as many checkouts as I used to.

I think this is a good move towards consistency of experience on eBay. We should all go through one checkout, and we should all go through a unified checkout, even if we have bought multiple items from multiple sellers. We are all used to shopping carts and that style of eCommerce. It doesn't make sense for eBay to still make us check out mostly one thing at a time.

So I would say I like the direction in which this is going, but I think it puts pressure on certain outside software companies to offer more value. People used to want those companies partially to have that checkout feature, and that will go away. People might choose third party software based on different criteria, and hopefully those companies will have strong offerings that make what they charge a good value for sellers.

Who do I like right now in third party software? Well, it tends to change based on word on the street and what my clients tell me about their experiences. So right now, I'd pick Vendio, Seller Sourcebook, and Auctiva. For eCommerce, I like Volusion and Magento. And of course, we design for all of these. 😉


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The Last time I Was Really Impressed By Technology

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

I was thinking about the last time I was really amazed at technology. My Android phone comes close. But before that, when was I really wowed?

2002. I was Queen Geek and early adopter. People thought I just beamed down from Star Trek.

  • My phone was a little Sony Ericsson flip phone on the GSM network VoiceStream (later T-Mobile). 
  • I travelled to England in October 02, and my phone still worked. Paid wild roaming charges, but it was very cool to see the phone work perfectly everywhere I went. Texted my British pals to meet up with them. I'm not sure I was texting anybody else on the planet at that time.
  • I had a Palm i705 with an always-on connection to Cingular Wireless, now AT&T Mobile. The Palm picked up my email all day. I could send email. I had completely mobile email in late 2002, bitches! :)
  • I had a foldable keyboard that the Palm snapped into. That was rather cool. Faster typing than the Palm keyboard.
  • I had a Bluetooth headset because my Sony phone was Bluetooth compatible. Didn't need a dongle. People were amazed at the Bluetooth headset.

That was some cool tech… before a Treo, before a Blackberry. Before everybody needed a Bluetooth headset on their ear at dinner.

This was the last time I was really impressed by tech.


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I’m in San Diego!

Friday, August 20th, 2010

If you're reading this, I'm in San Diego. Or it's the future, and I WAS in San Diego on this date.

Just letting people know I'm taking a long weekend with my best friend in San Diego. He prefers to see me be off the grid. Ha! I'll probably still put some pics on Facebook, but may not answer emails as quickly as usual.

Why am I telling you? Because I've found that when I don't answer people's emails in like an hour, even on the weekend, they call to see if I'm still in business. I'm still in business. Been in biz since 1995. Not planning to stop any time soon. It's just a long weekend. You'll be OK!

I'll be back at my desk Tuesday the 24th.

Thanks!


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Which Makes Me Less of a Stalker?

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Which makes me less of a stalker?

Checking my boyfriend's Facebook all day to see if he's said anything interesting, funny, insightful, or posted a photo?

Or…

Wishing someone had an app that notified me when he did so that I wouldn't be checking all the time like a goofy-ass girlfriend?

I'm going to pick the second. I would rather have an app that notified me. That may not be less stalking but it would save time! :)


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Would Tax Cuts Really Help?

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

I keep hearing Republicans making it sound like most of our country's economic problems can be solved by tax cuts. The idea seems to be if you're paying less in taxes, you're going to take that money and pump it back into the economy… which will stimulate things, and get us out of the recession.

What I want to know is how much of a tax cut would you have to get? How much would you have to get for you to really notice you have more money in your pocket? And how much of a tax cut would you have to get for you to then run out and spend it on something you weren't currently buying?

I don't mean spending it on the mortgage or car payment… you have to make those anyway! I don't mean putting that money in savings, the kids' college fund, or just letting it sit in your account.

The idea is that tax cuts give people money to spend, and the spending is what makes things flow. So I want to know… if you paid less taxes next year, would you be spending that "extra" money on random stuff? I'm just curious what other people would do.

Me? I have some small balances on credit cards I haven't paid off yet. I think if I had "extra" money, I'd pay those off. But does that stimulate the economy, especially if I plan to not spend money on those cards and leave them paid off?


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How Fast Will eBay Take Down A Fake Site?

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

I have to hand it to eBay on this one. They really impressed me last week.

When we do templates, sometimes clients say they don't want to approve the final version until they see it mocked up on eBay's View Item page. OK, fair enough. Typically, I take the eBay page, and I just dump the client's mockup where the listing would be. I upload it to our servers, and I send the client a link. He normally approves it, and I take it down.

I did that last week. Client approved it. I was distracted, so I didn't take it down right away. I soon got a call from eBay. Someone who didn't know who I was was telling me that I had a fake eBay page on my server, and I was therefore infringing their copyright. Whoa.

Bigger whoa was that I then went to my page in my browser (Firefox). The page was fire red, and told me I could NOT see this page because it was fraud. WHOA. eBay somehow got my page on a list of banned pages!!! I hit my FTP app, and took the page down.

I explained that we're designers, we were just mocking up, blah blah blah. She understood. She said next time to please password protect the page so that it's only for the client, and can't be accessed by the public. OK, fair enough. Sorry!

I told her that was amazingly fast because I only had the page up about an hour. She said yes, she got the email warning her about my page an hour ago, but was only just getting around to calling me.

Whoa.

Gotta hand it to eBay on that one. If I were a fake site, and they are catching them this fast, that's WONDERFUL. Good job to eBay not only for handling it so fast, but for taking the time to call me to clear things up. I would have hated to have my site marked fraud when it was a simple misunderstanding.


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Facebook Tells Me Your Secrets

Monday, August 16th, 2010

I'm weird. I tend to really listen to what people don't say… what they aren't telling me, what they are dancing around telling me. I read intentions. But sometimes, a lack of something says a lot to me.

The pics I put up on Facebook tell you story of my life. Of course, you have to be a good friend to see them since my Facebook is personal and not for biz. But for those in that circle, you know my world through pictures… where I live, who I spend time with, my pets, my car, places I like to eat…

If there is a lack of something, it's not by accident. No pictures of family? Yes, I have no family. No pictures of a special someone? Well, I'm in a new relationship, and I'm not sharing photos yet. Lots of pictures of guy friends? Yes, I'm friends with many of the guys I dated in the early 1990s. Anything that's missing from FB photos is not by accident.

So you get my story from what I include but also what I exclude. I think people are giving away more than they realise from things like Facebook posts and photos.

I have many friends who are unhappily married, and are either considering divorce or just starting to fantasise about it. Their Facebook pics tell a lot of the story when I see zero or nearly zero pictures of the wife. Pictures of pets, pictures of kids, pictures of places, pictures of other family. No (or really few) wife pics.

Compare that to some FB friends I have who seem to really love their wives. They're always posting about where they're going out. They post appreciation for her. They post mountains of pictures of them doing things together. These aren't newlyweds. Just happy couples. They haven't gone extinct. :)

Another friend of mine just split with his wife. He removed his relationship status. So it said married, and now it says nothing and is hidden. I thought it was too early to say single as the ink isn't dry, and a lot of people would ask a lot of questions. But a guy you think is married with a hidden relationship status? Could mean he's making a change.

It makes me feel like what you exclude is telling part of your story, and I'm listening. I wonder how many real life friends of my unhappily married Facebook friends know their friend is unhappily married. I can tell he's unhappy. I wonder if they get the clues or are missing the clues. How many of these people would be surprised if these unhappy people left their wives? I wouldn't be! I'm watching the clues!

I'm not saying that your FB needs to be papered with your wife everywhere, and devoted odes of passion. :) But disconnection looks like disconnection, and I think Facebook makes that easier to see.


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