March 13, 2002

Yahoo! Mail: Simplicity holds up over time Jesse James Garrett has done an excellent review/analysis of Yahoo! Mail for Boxes & Arrows. What’s so excellent about it? Well, it’s short, to the point, and provides a great example of using his visual vocabulary to document the flow of an application. He also doesn’t belabor explaning the whole visual vocab thing. He gives it to you and provides just enough “for additional info” links for newcomers to dig deeper. It’s a good example of Boxes & Arrows’ editorial aim of delivering content beyond the IA basics you get on other sites.

March 12, 2002

Boxes and Arrows Hit the Bull’s Eye
Boxes and Arrows is a new online magazine aimed at the “community of practice” that includes information architecture, information design, interaction design, and interface design. I can’t overstate how excited I am about this new site. Boxes and Arrows (B&A) is the most exciting thing to happen in the IA community for a long time. The content is top-notch, covering topics that you won’t see in other places, or covering them with a different approach.

All of the articles I’ve read in the first issue are excellent, but here are some that I think really stand out:
  • Jess McMullin’s article “Getting into government consulting” – If I’m going to pay all these taxes at least the money should go to making better experiences for us taxpayers. Jess offers good advice, and I’m sure from talking with him in the past that it’s based on his experience as a consultant for government bodies in Canada.

  • Nathan Shedroff offers an insightful essay on the titles we like to throw around and our motivations to do so. It's called The making of a discipline: the making of a title. His points hit home, and made me think about my title du jour: User Experience Architect. I'm sure this will rekindle some old topics on the SIGIA list...

  • Got usability? Talking with Jakob NielsenChad Thornton delivers the first truly innovative interview with Jakob that I’ve seen in about three years. He asks a lot of new questions, and from the perspective of those of us who already buy into usability as a goal. I think it shows a more moderate Jakob than what you get elsewhere. He’s talking to the choir here, so no need to preach.

Six months after September 11th
Watching the History Channel's program on the World Trade Center (pre-attack) it struck me how buildings and architecture reflect our various cultures. We build things that represent the thinking, technology and society of the day. You have to wonder when, as a society, we'll ever again feel up to building a huge skyscraper.

From the archive: You matter more than you'll ever know: about Paul Battaglia and what the story of his death represents.

March 11, 2002

Please take a number(ed beeper)
It often seems some of the best ideas are simple ones. Six Flags amusement parks recently announced they'd be offering visitors the option of paying $10 a day for a fancy pager that allows them to reserve a place in line for rides. When it's their time to ride it pages them.

"Instead of having to wait in long lines, park visitors can pay extra for the luxury of registering at a special kiosk for each ride. The devices will then notify them when they can return and get on the ride without having to wait"

"In Atlanta, guests "loved it" despite the fees, because the devices allowed them to eat meals, visit shops, watch entertainment shows and more without having to wait for hours at many rides...And the company likes them because if customers aren't in ride lines, they are often spending money in other parts of the park.

Popular restaurants that don't take reservations have been using pagers for quite some time to notify people waiting that their table is ready. Six Flags is just applying the same concept in a different business. Of course if customers aren't waiting in line like cattle, they can be shopping in a gift shop, getting a drink at the bar, or doing something else more enjoyable -- hopefully generating some revenue. It's the old concept of service order numbers used at so many grocery store deli counters over the years, but with more mobility.

I expect that businesses that regularly have long wait lines will eventually move to something similar. And in cases like Six Flags' where freeing customers from waiting in lines opens the opportunity for more revenue, I would expect that the paging service will ultimately be free.