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Quote: Antoine de Saint Exupéry on Motivation

September 13th, 2010

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

Quote: Jason Fried on Conflict

July 13th, 2010

“When people dig in and defend their positions, a deeper understanding of a problem is possible. As long as people are defending a genuine idea and not just their pride, much can be learned.”

(from his Inc Magazine article, “Managing Conflict“)

Quote: Ira Glass on Creative Tinkering and Cutting “Crap”

May 21st, 2010

“More than half of our week is simply engaged in looking for stories and then trying stuff out. [...] We’re really good at our jobs–we’re as good as anybody who does this kind of thing–and I’ve gotta say, we tinker around at a lot of stories, and between a half and a third of everything we try, we’ll go out, we’ll get the tape, and then we kill it. [...] By killing, you will make something else even better live. I think that not enough gets said about abandoning crap.

Quote: Jakob Nielsen on the Problem with Completely Re-Thinking User Interface

May 10th, 2010

“The penalty for [the iPad's] beauty is the re-emergence of a usability problem we haven’t seen since the mid-1990s: Users don’t know where they can click.

For the last 15 years of Web usability research, the main problems have been that users don’t know where to go or which option to choose — not that they don’t even know which options exist. With iPad UIs, we’re back to this square one.”

(from Jakob Nielsen’s post: iPad Usability: First Findings From User Testing)

Quote: David Simon on Storytelling

May 7th, 2010

“Fuck the exposition, just be. The exposition can come later. If I can make you curious enough, there’s this thing called Google. If you’re curious about the New Orleans Indians, or ‘second-line’ musicians–you can look it up.”

(from an interview on Dan Meyer’s blog)

Trying Blackbird Pie

May 4th, 2010

So today the Twitter Media blog suggested a new feature to streamline the process of showing tweets in html instead of screen grabs. Okay, it turns out it was just a script the blogger whipped up, but still a good idea…

Here is what a tweet looks like after being encoded via the Blackbird Pie script:


Going to give this Blackbird Pie (html single-tweet inline quoting) a try…less than a minute ago via Tweetie

And that’s that… I’ll see about maybe using this as a tool in future posts (when appropriate, of course). @twittermedia suggests using it instead of trying to quote tweets, and it does seem to do a good job of keeping tweets “live”, in the sense that the information that would be clickable on Twitter’s own service is kept clickable.

UPDATE: @twittermedia has acknowledged that Blackbird Pie is an experiment that the individual was toying with, not a full-fledged Twitter-sanctioned feature:


Wow, I’m really glad everybody’s eager to ditch screen grabs of tweets! But, let me caveat this little hack of mine: http://bit.ly/aUv8kGless than a minute ago via web

As such, I think I’ll hold off on crating BBP-specific styles for my own site… for a little while, at least. As you can see there are a few display inconsistencies (i.e. the CSS background property of the latter tweet overwriting the background of the earlier tweet), but it’s still better than just quoting in text.

Quote: Rick Webb on Telephone Communication

April 29th, 2010

“The telephone was an aberation in human development. It was a 70 year or so period where for some reason humans decided it was socially acceptable to ring a loud bell in someone else’s life and they were expected to come running, like dogs. This was the equivalent of thinking it was okay to walk into someone’s living room and start shouting. it was never okay. It’s less okay now. Telephone calls are rude. They are interruptive. Technology has solved this brief aberration in human behavior. We have a thing now called THE TEXT MESSAGE. It is magical, non-intrusive, optional, and, just like human speech originally was meant to be, is turn based and two way. You talk. I talk next. Then you talk. And we do it when it’s convenient for both of us. ”

(quoted from rickwebb’s tumblrmajig, found via Marco.org)

Quote: Dale Carnegie on the Human Side of Success in Tech

March 19th, 2010

“Even in such technical lines as engineering, about 15% of one’s financial success is due one’s technical knowledge and about 85% is due to skill in human engineering, to personality and the ability to lead people.”

Be Your Own Test Subject

February 26th, 2010

It can’t be done in every situation (it’d be useless for me to be the subject of my own website usability test, for example), but in situations where it IS possible to experience a process from “the outside”, do it.

Before I got into web design, I worked exclusively in print and created a lot of postcards to be sent to a lot of (hopefully interested) people.  One particular client happened to have a reasonably nice laser printer which they used to print their own marketing materials (instead of having a professional print shop run them).

The pieces always looked good fresh out of the printer, and they ran through the client’s addressing and postage-labeling machines just fine.  Going out the door, they looked great!

To be sure they were received that way (and because I’m kind of picky about my work), I picked out a card from the over print pile, addressed it to myself, added a stamp and dropped it in the outgoing mailbox.

When I received the postcard a day or two later it had been beaten up and smeared by what I can only assume were the postal service’s sorting machines.  Complete sections of the card had been rubbed clean of ink, and the main image was barely discernible… let alone the copy on the other side.  This is what the client had been printing and mailing out by the hundreds…

As a regular practice, I now set aside a few moments from every project to experience it from the “other” side.  Browser compatibility testing ensures I see each site in each of the top browsers before it launches (one way I ensure design stability), but even just seeing something isn’t always enough.

Does the user find the site via search engine, or are most users keying a URL?

If the former, is the engine using the description meta-tag in the search results, or is it pulling the first few lines of copy from the page itself?  Which is the highest-ranked page of the site?  If that’s where most traffic will be landing, can users easily navigate from there?

If the latter, are there any tripping points in the URL? (“i” vs “l” vs “1″, for example)  Are my domain settings such that the URL can be keyed both with and without the “www.”?

Communication isn’t about what you say (write, broadcast, show, etc.); it’s about how that message is received.  If we’re reaching out to clients, the onus is on us to make sure the message they receive is perceptible, understandable and actionable.  You’d be surprised how often that first hurdle becomes the point at which communication breaks down… the good news is that it’s the easiest problem to diagnose and correct.

But first, you have to know there’s a problem…

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What is tID?

The Image Distillery is a clarity-focused creative shop which specializes in website design and consulting for small businesses.

We've operated out of Green Bay, Wisconsin since 2006, crafting and maintaining websites for small businesses, typically those with 50 or fewer employees.

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