imgWe’ve been re-inventing the way we think, work and design.

Our sites and apps are now made responsively for desktop, tablet and mobile. We design, prototype, test and repeat. Our process is optimized for today’s online environment. Still, the most important thing remains the same: successful products rely on:

CLEAVER IDEAS.

What did you REINVENT this year?

Tell us about it on Twitter @theflowerpress #reinvent.

Happy Holidays

We have made a donation in our Clients’ name to the Ballard Food Bank: www.ballardfoodbank.org.

I’ve been a user of IMO for a few years now, and am impressed with their recent UI upgrade. Version 3.0 released in April with a handful of new features. First, the UI is just cleaner. Simple shadowing around chat boxes, makes it easier to scan. The information architecture of the app makes more sense. IMO added a new chats tab which makes managing all the conversations easier. They also have some additional features like pull down to load chat history, a multi-line input box for long chat messages as well as location sharing and conference group chat creation.

What makes this UI work, is its simplicity. There feature access is subtle and navigation does not get in your way. Take a look for yourself, or download and try it from the app store.

 

It may seem like an odd question, but for automobile manufacturers it is yet another challenge they face when coming up with the perfect mark. Think about it…what would your logo look like in someone’s rear view mirror?

Pay attention when driving around for just a few minutes, and you’ll notice several brands who did it well and right. Honda, Acura, Audi, Hyundai, Chevrolet, Infiniti, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Volkswagen, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Lincoln, Subaru, Mercury and several others. They will never look backwards in a rear view mirror.

 

Others like Ford, for example…weren’t so fortunate to come up with a perfect, reversible mark.

So, next time you feel overwhelmed coming up with a creative strategy for the perfect identity consider this: at least you don’t have to worry about what it’ll look like backwards.

When it comes to user experience design and the realities of running an agency, process is important. Client involvement early and often can cute down on wasted hours. For the last few months we’ve adopted a process known as Lean UX. Our version is a bit modified, as documentation is required for accurate project estimation and planning.

We start by reviewing the client’s requirements. If the client does not have requirements, we work with them to draft a product requirements document (PRD). This becomes our touchstone for the rest of the project. We estimate the build, timeline and develop product phases based on the PRD.

Once a basic feature set is defined, we work on wireframing. We break out wireframes into user types, and walk through the desired experience page by page, feature by feature. We setup weekly meetings with our client, 30 minutes to 1 hour, to discuss features and flow. For example, one day we might discuss a consumer signup process, or the steps to edit one’s profile on a networking service.

This first step is known as validation. We validate our ideas with the client, make edits and validate again. If we run up against a sticking point, we involve more stakeholders, or team members to gain consensus. Often, its impossible to decide on the absolute best flow. We tend to come up with a few solutions and run them by the real people who matter: users.

Testing our solutions with users has taken many forms depending on timeline and budget. Sometimes we have the luxury of setting up formal user studies using tools like Loop11. Other times we only have enough hours to run a quick A/B test or Click Test on Zurb’s Verify App. We’ve even been known to put up links on a sub-directory of the site and ask our friends via chat to give opinions. This is a far cry from lab testing, but it can still offer valuable insights.

The key with Lean UX is to make wireframes lo-fidelity instead of pixel perfect. Spend time talking with the client and users early in the process to remove unforeseen pitfalls.

Once we have wireframes completed and approved, we move on to brand identity, visual design and the build. Testing early and often allows everyone involved to feel more confident in the final direction.

ringI bought a ring recently, from Melissa Joy Manning. It is a Herkimer Diamond (quartz crystal). The stone looks like it was pulled right out of the ground and polished. It’s jagged and asymmetrical. It was not cut to fit the setting. The setting instead was altered to fit the stone.

This has certain parallels with user experience design. All too often, I have clients approaching product design from their perspective, instead of from their user’s perspective. The tools we build should be adaptable and changeable, allowing users to quickly and easily perform desired functions, gather necessary information and move on about their day.

What’s the last website you remember visiting and thinking, “Wow, that was really easy to use.” Often, if things are done well, you don’t have to think about it….it just works.

The other day I wanted to make a direct deposit for a vendor. I called their bank to see if I needed to bring in cash or could pay with a card. Enter phone tree. “If you’d like to access your account press “1″, If you’d like to transfer funds, press “2″. Fail. Ten minutes later I finally get to a human who can answer my question.

My fundamental complaint with phone trees and poor UX design is the same. People have different needs. If you assume you know what they want and force them down a funnel, chances are you’re wrong. If instead, you ask them what they want, and then give it to them their interaction with your brand, product, website et. al. will be positive.

I say, treat your user like a beautiful one-of-a-kind stone. Adapt for your user. Don’t turn your website experience into a frustrating phone tree!

Today marks the launch of Real Simple’s Be Nice on the Internet Week. FPCS worked with their Lifestyle Group to develop the brand identity, artwork and graphic assets for their Facebook Application which challenges users to come up with replacements for NSS (negative social shorthand) like WTF, MYOB and SOL.

The campaign launched in tandem with an article in Real Simple’s January 2012 issue about etiquette to follow when interacting online. Its all about Being Nice on the Internet.

Alicia Mickes led Illustration and worked in tandem with Khaiersta English to develop the artwork. Another firm handled programming of the Facebook application. Some of the artwork for this campaign is posted below. First is the Facebook Fan Gate Page:

Next, a selection of quote cards, showing common negative social shorthand acronyms replaced with positive sentiments.

For more information on this and other Real Simple campaigns, check out our website, www.flowerpress.net.

Redesign. The word itself can send shudders down the spines of any Web designer and developer. For many designers and website owners, the imminent onslaught of endless review cycles, coupled with an infinite number of “stakeholders” and their inevitable “opinions,” would drive them to shave their heads with a cheese grater if given a choice between the two. Despite these realities, redesigns are a fact of any online property’s life cycle. Here are five key indications that it’s time to redesign your website and of how extensive that redesign needs to be.

Read the whole post at Smashing Mag: Go >

 

A collection of structures that are a little bit out there, but a girl can dream.