It’s The Holiday Season But Nobody Needs To Know Your Opening Hours

It goes without saying that the holidays are one of, if not the most profitable times for retailers, but they are especially important those with physical stores.

It follows that those businesses such as malls, that make their money from renting space to retailers would do everything in their power to properly notify the public of their opening hours and not fall foul of stupid shit like this:

Holiday bours fail

Already daunted by the idea of the mindless zombie shopping horde large crowds of shoppers and long checkout lines, having your holiday opening hours posted as an image that is practically illegible on mobile devices (and on a dedicated mobile site that doesn’t support pinch to zoom) is a great way to convince shoppers to enjoy the convenience of home delivery and ordering online.

We are days away from 2016, this kind of faux pas is simply unacceptable.

They Didn’t Think It Through – Browsing WordPress Mobile Theme Stores

I was looking for inspiration for a mobile site design today, trawling WordPress theme stores, when I noticed a particularly stupid and unhelpful trend.

The image you see below is what I get when I visit the demo for a mobile theme on a mobile browser. Yes, that’s right – you’re looking at the full desktop site with the mobile version embedded in a frame…

I understand that these demos are setup to help people visiting from their desktop, but is it really such a stretch of the imagination to think that someone might want to demo your mobile them on, I don’t know… their mobile device?

Theme Demo Nexus Screengrab

Is Facebook Testing A New Like Button Design?

New Blue Facebook Like ButtonIt looks like Facebook may be testing a new design for their “Like” buttons and boxes found almost ubiquitously on websites.

I first noticed the new button design, which looks a lot more like the social buttons offered by Twitter, Google Plus an others, while visiting Nothing Serious using Firefox. I still get the same design in other browsers and in Firefox on my other machines.

The new design features the Facebook logo to one side, followed by the word like, all in a blue container with the likes above. As I said earlier this brings Facebook’s button design on par with those of other providers.

As you can see from the image below, the design is also being tested on other Facebook widgets such as the “like box”.

Facebook Like Button Comparison

Tactile Tablet Experience – Why Do We Ruin It?

Nexus 7 and protective cover

How many times have you taken your tablet (or phone) out of the protective case to show it someone who wanted to try it? I know I have.

You offer them them the opportunity to experience the device the way it was deigned to be experienced, with the original tactile experience, knowing full well that  if the person demoing your tablet actually buys one, then they’ll likely only experience that feeling for the first 30 minutes of owning it.

Once they but it, they’ll shove it into a protective case and have a completely different experience.

That feels dishonest to me.

The very design of tablets, the looks, the shiny goodness, the feel that makes me desire one tablet of comparable features over another – that is the most glaring  flaw shared by every device I own.

These things look so damn good that we feel the need to buy big ugly covers to protect them, to keep them scratch free and looking pristine but in the process of protecting them we give up a lot of what makes the devices desirable, such as the thinness and most importantly for me – the tactile feeling of the actual device.

To be fair it’s not really a  flaw, it is a deliberate design choice. I guess that makes it a feature.

My Nexus 7 does not feel half as nice or comfortable to use when I use it is in the protective case. While the case may double as a stand and allow me to turn off the device just by closing the cover (and of course protect the tablet from cat claws and random scratches), it makes the device feel clunky and overly large. The Nexus 7 is neither clunky nor large, and actually feels really good when not in the case.

The same goes for the iPad, even when using smart covers. It just doesn’t feel the same.

I know the solution is simply not to use a cover and retain the original feel, however that raises the question of why we need covers at all?

Can’t we design products that are aesthetically pleasing but don’t have to be handled with kid gloves? Can’t we build devices that allow you to experience them as they were intended without needing to wrap them in ugly monstrosities in the name of protecting them?

It’s true that designing devices that we want to protect, and look sexy, creates a lot of secondary accessory markets and revenue for tablet manufacturers, but it’s also telling that many people choose form over function and the manufactures cater to that. Sexy sells, right?

Building devices that are more scratch resistant means I’ll probably have to spend $20 – $50 more per device, but I’d rather spend that and have a better tactile experience than spend the money on a cover and not experience my device as it was meant to be.

Is that really such a difficult thing to ask?

Fresh Impressions – A 5-Year-Old’s View Of Corporate Logos/Brands

I’m twenty-seven different kinds of nervous today as we await the decision on whether or not we’ll get the house we want to live in for the next few years, so thinking about this piece of brain candy has served as a pleasant albeit brief distraction.

I’m often surprised by how little we think about those who are not in our target audience. As people and companies build brands we tend to focus on appealing to our target demographics and pay very little, if any, attention to those outside it.

That’s why this video by designer Adam Ladd is so very insightful, as his 5-year-old daughter reminds us that it’s not just our target audience that interacts with our brands.

These children who think that the Starbucks logo is the sign for coffee, or that the Xbox logo is the button on the remote that controls the TV at a friend’s house, are our future customers, partners and employees, and how we appeal to them now may be every bit as important and influential as the image we present to them in 15 years time when they’re all grown up.

Epic Upgrades? Women And Gaming

Taki Soul Calibur 4As both Sara and I enjoyed playing Soul Calibur 2, we picked up a copy Soul Calibur IV for the X-Box 360 at GameStop yesterday.

We didn’t do any research into it, just going on the strength of the fun we had playing Soul Calibur 2 together.

Both of us were aware of the rather revealing costumes the female characters wear in 2 and were prepared for more of the same in 4 but when the developers upgraded the games, they “upgraded” the female characters as well.

All of the females clothes have gotten skimpier, some are practically non-existent and they have all had massive boob jobs. Some digital plastic surgeon made a ton of cash on this lot. (FYI: This game is rated teen).

Neither of us mind this. We accept it.

It’s part and parcel of the gaming world and the characters are obviously designed to get teenage boys to part with their pocket money and games companies have been developing female characters in much the same way since drawing the cover art on Commodore 64 cassettes.

Yet, in light of the ever ongoing discussion about the lack of women in tech, I wonder how games like this affect girls wanting to enter the games design industry?

I can’t think of many strong female characters in video games that don’t come equipped with the kind of rack that wouldn’t result in instant, debilitating back pain for any woman who tried to perform strenuous activity without a specially constructed bra.

I also can’t think of many female characters (any?) who’s clothes are impractically tight, defy logic, aren’t ultra revealing or fall off at the drop of a hat.

Again, I understand why the game designers do this but in todays world, where young women and girls are bombarded by the media into comparing themselves to impossibly airbrushed and photoshopped models, why on earth would they want control a character with a body that defies the very laws of physics?

I know men are also “perfected” by video game designers. Bigger muscles, waxed chests, nobody ever has a hairy back or a weak jawline, but you never see a male character with an impossibly large penis either?

We never see Ryu beat the crap of Ken with a bulge in his pants so large that he should not be be able to walk, let alone to kick, but we are expected to believe that these women can stand up without falling over under the weight of their breasts?

In most cases their boobs are so big they couldn’t swing a sword without slicing their own nipples off, well, not unless their arms are long enough that their knuckles scrape the ground when they walk.

Why would young women ever want to enter a male dominated industry such as games design when the characters we create today make them compare themselves to an impossible fantasy?

Sara, rightly so, finds such characters a turn off to playing video games. I have seen Gabby, who is the target age group of the game, deliberately select characters in games that have more clothes on, because the skimpy costumes are off putting.

The argument may be made that in the tech industry, the lack of a strong female to male ratio can be laid, partially,  at the feet of women who simply don’t enter the industry or being willing enough to take risks compared to men, despite preferential treatment in some cases. (Yes there are multiple sides to this argument, men could do better, but then again, so could women and this post is not one that I intend to debate that in.)

In the games industry the same argument cannot be made. Women may make up the majority of social gamers, but they are seriously under represented on the developer and designer front.

Gabby is an  amazing drawer and potentially would make an awesome games designer (if she doesn’t end up as a graphic novel artist first – look out Frank Miller).

Despite the fact that the games industry may be a more lucrative career I can understand why she would not want to go down that route.

Why would she want to enter an industry that actively promotes an impossible physical standard, makes her compare herself to the fantasy of people who we can only assume have never talked to a real women, let alone dated one?

Why would she enter that world when the very games they produce push her away?

Hopefully we will see change in this area. It would be great to see big title games that target women that aren’t just Farmville or bejeweled clones.

How about a Tekken style game featuring women that actually look and dress like the women at real martial arts competitions?

Where’s The Damn Subscribe Button?

RSS Subscribe OFlaherty Really I don’t care if you’re not concerned about how many people read your blog. I couldn’t give a monkeys arse about your super minimalist design. I fart in the face of your need for the ultimate in minimalist aesthetics.

If you don’t have a clear and easily located RSS or subscribe button on your blog I won’t be subscribing anytime soon.

I’ve run into this “little issue” twice in the past 24 hours and as a result, two blogs which I feel I really could get to like are each a subscriber short.

Lets be honest here, we all blog because some part of us is an exhibitionist at heart, we want people to read what we write or we wouldn’t go to the trouble of posting it to the internet in the first place. So with that in mind, why make it difficult for people to subscribe?