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November 24, 2006

Designing my loft -- First floor

God, oh god, when will it end? Why is it that every single time we go to the city for permits, they tell us something different?

Anyway, I wasn't quite happy with the angled countertop my architect had designed for the space. It was cool, for sure, but it didn't make great use of the space. I couldn't figure out how I was going to fit even basic furniture in there. It would have made invisible lines that claimed too much active area for the kitchen and afforded traffic patterns that would wipe out a lot of usable floor area. Plus, when the contractor finally figured out the stair specs, we realized that the stairs were going to require chopping the counter short by a bit, which in turn meant that the cabinets I had made to go under that bit of counter weren't going to fit. Great.

So I've been trying to figure out what to do with that space. Again playing in Sketchup Pro:

I'm not sure what finish of wood I'd want for the stairs / cabinet / shelves. And I think that instead of making the countertop / eating bar a contiguous outgrowth of the rest of the countertop, I'd make it as a freestanding table that abuts the rest of the counter -- and, ideally, can somehow fold open to double its size and become an 8-person dining table.

November 15, 2006

Tag clouds don't work: The Tshirt

As part of the Decidr and Widget Bitch tshirt series, I just published tag clouds don't work to the WidgetBitch CafePress store. Because tag clouds don't work. They're the UGG boots of interaction design: no one really believes in them but you see everyone else with them and you're like "ummm maybe I should" and then you just look like a mess and in 3 years you look back an you're like "oh god what was I thinking?" Be ahead of the curve.

November 13, 2006

Designing my mezzanine with SketchUp, P2

Next revision. Got rid of some of the office-busyness.


November 8, 2006

New dashboard -- Google Base bulk uploads

Woohoo -- new design for the Google Base bulk upload dashboard! The old bulk upload dashboard was a 3-second one-off using our generic tabular data widget. Since most of our bulk uploaders have only a couple of files, the tabular format was overly busy and misused the screen real estate. The page was also getting messier as we added promos (for AdWords, Checkout, and some of the other inernal tools, like using FTP to submit your files).

These changes were some of the few we've made that didn't stem directly from usability research mandates. Rather, they're based on design principles and heuristics. We left most of the info architecture untouched. I suggested moving to the blurb style instead of the tabular format, and moved all the promos to the righthand side to hierarchize the information. The tabular format is almost totally useless for this page's main tasks: "What's the status of my file?" and "I need to update my file". Most users only have one bulk upload file: tabular data display is good for comparing across rows, and most people only have one (maybe two) rows. We have better error messages and links to help for specific item types.

And instead of the previous "upload" widget -- which has users select the file they are updating and then browse for the file -- we now make "upload" a function of each file. Throughout our system we present bulk upload files as granular objects, so it seems more appropriate to have "upload a new version" be an action on a particular file. (There aren't enough actions-per-object, I think, that it's necessary to have both object-verb and verb-object models embedded into the system.)

This is another example of where thorough programming and PMing really made the page. The engineer who implemented this did all of the logical conditions correctly: so when you update a file, we have extra text that warns you "This will erase all the items that you currently have and replace them with whatever's in your file." And it only shows up if you're updating a file, not when you're uploading for the first time.