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Historical views of websites

26 May

Here are a couple of ways to see what particular websites looked like in the past: The Wayback Machine and In both cases, the sites allow you to search by URL, and see what was captured. But they approach what they captured in slightly different ways.

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Flickr connects us globally with pictures

15 Aug
Two cats, Amsterdam shop window

Two cats, Amsterdam shop window

We were just two cats walking through Amsterdam in March — my 11th floor colleague Paul Rutter and I, in town for a web strategy workshop with our European team.  Paul, ever observant, pointed out a real cat, and a virtually identical paper mache cat, sitting in a shop window together on a Sunday afternoon. Too amazing, it was unposed: the shop was closed. I took a couple of quick snaps and posted to Flickr. Back from the trip, I used the photo in several presentations to explain a concept we were working out. (Interesting images can help keep people engaged, and frame things more intuitively than words alone.)

Yesterday, the artist from Amsterdam who made the cat contacted me on Flickr to ask if she could use the photo for a poster about the shop windows she designs and the art she creates!

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Talk like a human being

29 Jul
Design for a boarding pass that talks like a human

A boarding pass that talks like a human

I’d seen the cool exploration of redesigning boarding passes by Tyler Thomson a while back. Graphically really interesting.

Graphic boarding pass redesign explorations

One of the highly graphic boarding pass redesign explorations

Today I noticed Khoi Vinh’s post about other ideas inspired by the original explorations. I agree with him that the straightforward human voice in the idea from Graphicology is somehow comforting and more meaningful than all the nice typography and graphics in some of the other explorations. Though the sentences may not scan quite as quickly as the graphic designs, the variety of all the large numbers in combo are actually harder to parse visually than the simple sentence statements, and ultimately require more work. They appear to tell me I’m participating in a complex process when I board a plane. I’m sure that’s true, but I’d rather not have to think about it. Air travel is stressful enough!

Brings home too the importance of voice and how critical the words we use are to the success of communicating in an interface on the web too. We’re not machine readers. We like to be talked to considerately, in sentences that are as simple as possible but no simpler.

Friends in all the right places

28 Jul

Our work on the War Hall is getting noticed in all the right places! Martin Hardee wrote us up in the Cisco web experience blog yesterday… I guess showing off work on the wall is a growing practice across Cisco. Come on over and visit us in person! 10am for the daily standup.

CSG web serices design team War Hall

Design mojo nailed

23 Jul Final design standards posted on the wall

Progress on the war hall yesterday: we posted our website templates and styles which are the basis of all other work on the new site design. This gives us the opportunity to continue to review page and component designs as they come together and make sure we’re leveraging the existing styles for evolving work. We did a mid-day synch up at the wall to discuss this and how to build on this initial set going forward. For instance, we determined we have enough work done to add in form standards and styles next. One ‘aha’ we had was that reviewing and aligning with styles and standards is going to be very important going forward, especially when we’re looking at developed work in staging.

We decided to set aside an allocated day each week for the entire design team to review and assess together how it’s all coming together, and provide feedback on development as well as tweek any design work in progress.

All pigs and chickens welcome!

21 Jul Mojo in progress

Today in our weekly open house we discussed the agile, kinda “scrummy” process the team is using to design the new site. We’re extending an open invitation to others to attend our daily standup at the war hall (daily 15 minutes of fame 🙂 ).

War Hall

War Hall

Looks like some folks might take us up on it and join in! But one question was whether we were doing pigs and chickens.
Now, I’d never heard of pigs and chickens… but apparently, in scrum, there’s the concept of pigs and chickens!

Pigs are the active participants doing the work, and the chickens are the other people who attend. I guess in some models the pigs are the only people who can talk, and the chickens have to shut up.

But I hope we’ll be able to have people attend, and listen during the working standup, but then have time following when we can discuss and listen to others who are interested in the work as well.

More attention on stitching it all together, getting the details right, and making the site as good as we can for launch!

Why we have a 4.0 War Hall

17 Jul

We couldn’t get a war room here for our marathon project — redesigning and launching a new web presence on and other global sites on a tight timeframe. So we went ahead and used our magnetized wall on the 11th floor to post printouts of all our work in progress, charts of work to be done (and done!), the top goals for the site launch, and important style references as the work evolves. We hold our daily scrum meetings there to get together, see what we’ll be working on that day, decide next steps and how we might get any issues that might have come up solved.

This has been great! The aim of this way of working is not perfection (as in immediate perfection), but visibility into how we’re all designing, writing, developing, managing and working together. It gives us all a visual reference for the large body of work coming together. We have a place for the team (and others) to do quick standups to talk about our work over the course of the day. And it gives us all a real sense of accomplishment and presents the work as what it is…  co-creation by a core team with inputs from lots of others across our business.

Just noticed this tip on the 99percent blog (a favorite) that pretty much validates this approach for a team. Being able to see your progress is just as important to a design team as capturing your ideas and what you hope to accomplish.

Our war hall is also available virtually on foursquare. Visit us and check in! 🙂