Posts tagged: information

Sparking creativity

Posted 14 July 2011 in business, design, user experience | No comments yet

Confession time: I can lose hours pottering around in fabric and yarn shops, feeling materials and balls of wool, day-dreaming about what I can make. A few months ago, staring at a roll of fabric, I found myself wondering “Could I really make a coat out of this fabric?” – the label I was starting at was providing me hints to possible uses for the fabric and it was encouraging my imagination.

When selling components, ingredients or elements that people use to create new things, sparking a sense of creativity can influence the purchase.

For instance, food products do this by showing “serving suggestion” photos and recipes for cakes and gravies on cornflour boxes so you can feel some benefit to buying a 250g packet when all you need is a tablespoon full. The function of Ikea products may be obvious, but their stores also encourage creativity by providing a pathway through their warehouses to see the same products used in different settings and combinations that might not be immediately apparent.

So I’ve been taking pictures on my recent shopping trips to demonstrate some of the good and not-so-good examples for informing customers and sparking creativity when it comes to encouraging the purchase of fabric and yarn.

(and no, I’ve yet to make a coat but I’m definitely thinking about trying it out one day soon!)

Google sheds light on what we want to know

Posted 10 June 2010 in research | No comments yet

On a mission to find out how to do something, I got so distracted by Google Suggest that I’ve completely forgotten what I was trying to learn to do in the first place.

“Google Suggest offers searches by other users that are similar to the one you’re typing”1 based on some super algorithm that takes in to account, among other things, popularity of the search term and your region (eg. will differ from

So Australians appear to be a complex bunch – when they’re not busy figuring out how to woo, fondle and bonk, they’re trying to look their best to get a job training a dragon2.

Google Australia - "how to" search

Google Australia - "how to" search


So what about The US is similar to Australia but, rather than just have sex, they want to get pregnant while playing games and downloading videos. - "how to" search - "how to" search


And They seem to be a cartoon-drawing spotty mix of the Australians and the Americans. - "how to" search - "how to" search


Finland on the other hand are so dragon-fixated that they’ll break the law by rolling a joint while waiting for their torrents to download. - "how to" search - "how to" search


And if we try an equivalent of “how to” in Finnish, among similar ideas of losing weight, kissing, getting pregnant, and training dragons (lohikäärme = dragon if you were interested), they also want to know how to hit a woman, how to make a fever go higher and how to make a bomb. - "kuinka" search - "kuinka" search


I wonder if Google is encouraging people to search for odd terms by displaying Google Suggest for basic terms like “how to”. I was about to search for something but the list that appeared distracted me (“Would kids see this? Why is there an apostrophe after sex? If unemployment isn’t so bad why is everyone doing job applications?”). If you allow the distraction, click on one of the suggestions, are you increasing the popularity of that search term thereby keeping it in the suggested terms for a longer period of time? Will the quirky searches rise through the ranks to take up the top spots?


1. Google Suggest
2. Okay, I know it’s actually a movie but I prefer my take on it.

Learning a bit about the EPUB format

Posted 25 February 2010 in applications, content | No comments yet
Shopping cart suggestion to buy an EPUB book

Screenshot of the shopping cart letting me know I could buy an EPUB version

I was buying some books on Rosenfeld Media, when the shopping cart suggested I buy Donna Spencer’s Card Sorting and that it was available in the EPUB format for iPhone and Sony Reader.

Although I was intending to buy the physical book, for curiosity I decided to also give the EPUB version a go. A few weeks ago I briefly glanced over an article What Web Designers need to know about EPUB (via Russ Weakley’s Some links for light reading) but hadn’t delved further so I thought it would be a good chance to learn more.

I completed my order, downloaded the EPUB file, and then realised I didn’t know how to view it! (Note: I didn’t mind figuring it out for myself and although Rosenfeld Media don’t currently have instructions for using EPUB files they have let me know that they will be improving the experience of buying EPUB books as they ramp up their EPUB publishing.) A little research and I found a number of applications including Stanza which is available as an iPhone app and a desktop program. Their instructions helped me to transfer the EPUB file from my PC to my iPhone via wifi – in the end a simple process.

Poking around Stanza on my iPhone I found that I could download other books, many offered free by publishers or through lapsed copyright, and some paid books. I realised I had previously used a similar app to download a few books but perhaps I’d stumbled on a poorly built app as I wasn’t too awestruck by the idea of reading on my phone at the time. Stanza’s interface and interactions, while a little clunky, are alright and “Card Sorting” is formatted well for reading on screen while I wait for the physical book to arrive.

I realise that the EPUB format has been around for a number of years but it feels like it’s been one of those ideas floating around waiting for technology to catch up. Sure, the iPhone might not be the ideal reading interface but the Kindle, iPad, and whatever else comes next means that people who might be unable to access good (or any) book shops/are environmentally conscious/want to save some money/want to try before they buy/etc have a much easier method to do so. Australian books are pricey which I presume is due to the distance books have to travel from overseas, or because the shipping orders are small due to our small population, so providing access to quality information in affordable and environmentally friendly ways is a step in a good direction.

I know that I won’t be giving up on my much-loved bookshelves any time soon, but in the same way that digital music downloads of single tracks encourages me to try more artists without spending a lot of money on CDs, I expect I’ll now “try” more books before I buy physical copies.

Now if only the various publishers, hardware developers, software developers, etc could agree on a single format for e-books and sort out the whole DRM mess!

A few links I’ve stumbled on while looking for more EPUB information:

On reflection as I hit “Publish” this begins to feel like an ignorant post, but I actually don’t know anyone who owns a Kindle or an e-reader, and I’ve been very much in love with the physical flipping of book pages since I was a child. From my choice to download an EPUB book and having a good experience with it, I’m now much more willing to give e-books a go.