Mar
14
2007
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Helping Eco & Fair Trade Businesses

We’re about  4 months into our ambitious pledge to help 12 eco aware businesses for free and I thought it was time to give you an update and get this blog back up and focused. It’s been a huge success – the world is much better place for our help. Ed would be very proud of the karma oozing out of our new offices in Leeds.

Emma, Eco Child and GuyThe first business that signed up and seeded the whole idea is doing exceptionally well from our help. Makes a Change, the organic baby clothing boutique, has seen traffic rise and now has analytics to start honing the whole venture. There’s plenty in the pipeline for this business and I won’t steal Emma’s thunder by spilling the beans here. We essentially mentored Emma in the art of being even more remarkable and SEO. As you can see from the site – Emma totally ‘gets’ it! and this is just the tip of the ice berg.

The next business to sign up was/is more of a longer haul. Positive Planet is a business that provides solar water heating systems that are made for our UK weather. The seals on the system don’t break and you still get super hot water on a dull winter’s day. We haven’t scratched the surface with this one and to be honest, holidays and office moves have not done this project justice. watch this space – as they say.

Then we met Lucy at Tam & Rob – the stylish Fairtrade and organic womens clothing company. They have just launched their revamped website with a new collection of clothing. We held a workshop with Lucy in January, where we went through the whole user centred design process to structure the new website. The new website is a product of the mentoring process. Granted there’s a lot still a lot to do, but it’s all part of big journey and the new site is a foundation for great things.

Next month we have Walk It in the office. That’s a day at the white board to discuss where we can help most. They have huge plans – so lets see where we can take them.

One of the best bits about mentoring the eco companies is that the people behind the businesses are totally immersed in the ethics and detail that make up their offering. We love listening to the stories behind the businesses and the debates over what aspects are important to the business, to the consumer and to the planet. It’s a complex mix and that’s where we focus our support. 

Written by Guy in: Cosmic,eco,mentor,sustainability,usability |
Mar
14
2007
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Fabulous load carrying bike – anybody fancy a long wheel base bike?

Bikes are really coming on these days. The xtracycle concept is awesome. carry surf boards, kids, pets and various other cargo.

http://www.xtracycle.com/

Even more awesome when fitted to a monkey frame. http://www.bikerubbish.com/xtracycle2/xtracycle/

xtracycle
and then add a stoke monkey to it.

http://cleverchimp.com/

 

Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
Jul
29
2006
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measuring the buzz

Nice article from Xavier on the reality that website metrics should factor in the off-site aspects of all customer journeys.

http://www.coffeesuntechnology.com/web-analytics/232

I think this could be a good topic to start our impending video content experiment.

Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
Jul
29
2006
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Race to the bottom and avoid the crowds

Not instructions – just a note of two cosmic observations from Hugh and Seth.

Seth notes, with a story of course, that the process of compromising your product to the bottom of your market is an easy race to win and is worth nothing but a shot in your head.

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2006/07/better_than_the.html

And Hugh recommends that we don’t try to stand out in a crowd, but aim to avoid crowds by creating your own market.

http://www.gapingvoid.com/Moveable_Type/archives/003114.html

 

Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
Jul
18
2006
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twiki comfort zone

I think we’ll start off with twiki for our wiki.

nice matrix here of the alternatives. Add more products from the pull down at the bottom of the page.

Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
Apr
19
2006
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Attention Trust

This is my third brief attempt to understand this. I get that my attention is valuable – but what is this site/service about? It could be huge – but what exactly are they doing?
AttentionTrust.org

Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
Mar
17
2006
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sleeping in airports

whilst planning the last part of european eyetracking carpet tour… I came across this gem of ‘only on the internet’ culture.

A guide to sleeping in airports, with a list of favourites and reviews

http://www.sleepinginairports.net/

I was searching for antwerp airport info – but got sidelined. 

Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
Oct
31
2005
1

Better Ecommerce

A few weeks ago, Tom launched his new wiki for collecting best practice info surrounding ecommerce.

http://tomsmith.textdriven.com/Wikka/HomePage

It’s a good project with huge potential. Tom’s stuff is generally pretty good – so it’s no suprise that the resource is already worthy of a read by anybody that runs a transactional website.

What I found interesting about this new venture, was my reaction to it. (I do spend much time analysing my own behaviour). My scary thought process went someting like this:

  1. Cool, this will help alot of people.
  2. oh, no, Tom’s really bright, he’s going to tell everybody how to make ecommerce work and do us all out of a living.
  3. Get a grip, there’s always too much for people to take in and it’s how you implement knowledge from experience that matters, not just the fact that you know something, so maybe our jobs are safe for now.
  4. This is cool, I’ve got plenty to add, lets get started.
  5. Oh… where should I place my first nugget of knowledge for all to share? None of the categories really suit my first gem.

And there it was, in a nut shell, something I’ve never considered. Whilst I’m a huge advocate of wikis I was stumped at the thought of adding content into a wiki I didn’t own/rule/dictate.

I’ve always used my own wikis. I’ve always had to evangelise about wiki use, teach people to post, grow the structure, etc. This was the first time I’ve had to take something from my head and then think about where it would go in somebody else’s wiki. Wiki content is more than a comment against a blog, this is new content in somebody elses property. Will the owner agree with where I’ve placed it?

This is something very important for all wiki owners to consider.

At some point in the not too distant future I’ll contribute. It’s my duty as a citizen in Tomland. I just need to work out the bits I’m allowed to share, without upsetting the customers, and then roll my sleeves up and contribute.

Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
Oct
03
2005
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Stormhoek – long overdue

We received our bottle of Stormhoek Sauvignon Blanc 2005 a few weeks ago – and whilst it only lasted a few hours in the home office before being opened, I’ve been too busy setting up our nice new offices in the York Innovation Centre to report on this fascinating experience.

The quality of the wine was overshaddowed by it’s remarkable delivery. I received an email from DHL, which I initially thought was spam – why would dhl email me? Must be some virus thing.

But no, it was the local DHL depot stating that they had a parcel for me and needed some further details before they delivered it. I couldn’t believe it – here was an industry that last year wouldn’t even let their drivers have mobile phones for various crazy reasons – now using email as a way of contacting recipients for delivery info. Not sure how they got the email address – but I was totally impressed with the service. I emailed the requested info and the wine turned up the next day.

So what about the wine?

This Sauvignon Blanc 2005 has a tough personal benchmark to be compared against. It’s a variety of wine we drink lots of, ever since discovering the legendary SB from Montana many years ago. The Montana is dependable – it’s my wooly jumper of summer drinking – never disappointing.

The Stormhoek was not as bold, definitely more delicate – definitely a great wine – and I’ve got no idea of price. We didn’t really do the tasting justice – it didn’t last long – we were thristy and it went well with the food – what more can you ask of a wine? I’m keen to try another bottle and spend a little more time considering it – but a quick search on Sainsburys reveals it’s not available on online. Maybe it’s available in store?

I will hunt you out, Stormhoek, for another, more intimate sitting.

The personalised bottle sits on my desk at work – a story waiting to be told to all that enquire.

I do wonder if they do anything good with my other vice…. big bold Shiraz?

Just a shame I can’t find a product catalogue/listing on their website :-(

Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
Jul
20
2005
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Seth gets fishy

Seth’s Blog: Inside and Outside

I’m a big fan of FISH! – and will use to grow our team at Simple Usability. One of it’s foundations is quite simple – just choose your attitude – decide that you will enjoy your work.

It’s a no-brainer.

Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
Apr
25
2005
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Mind Mapping with a tablet

Creating Passionate Users: Why I want a Tablet PC

Really an article about mind mapping – something we should all spend more time doing.

I do a bit of work with a Dutch chap, Menno, that draws mind maps in meetings – he brings a sheet of A4 and a bumper pack of felt tip pens – the sort of huge long pack you used to get at Christmas, when you were young. He uses all sorts of shades to create his maps. I’m not sure what his final maps are like, or if they help him do anything beyond a meeting – but it’s a great device for being remembered – ‘the chap with the big pack of felt tip pens that draws those maps in meetings’. Slightly more approachable than the nice chap we met at a Swiss venture capital company that typed his mind map out furiously on his keyboard as we explained about one of our ventures. We thought he was doing emails or something – but then at the end of the meeting saw this map of our proposition.

Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
Mar
29
2005
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Twiki pain

In the bid to up the customer communication stakes, I spent my bank holiday customising my first installation of Twiki – http://www.twiki.org – the rather good wiki package. I’ve been using Wiki’s for a good number of years now – mainly of the Zope variety, hooked up to a bug tracker. Projects without a wiki – are well outside my comfort zone.

Having installed twiki – I can now understand why we’re still awaiting the mass uptake of this tool for collaboration.

My gripes:

  • It took much time to get all the pages on the wiki password restricted. The help pages are littered with speak about ‘wiki’s are about open communication’ – well yes – but this is an internal wiki in a hosted environment – I need to issue login details
  • I had to install a patch to the core twiki system to enable sessions. Everytime I clicked on a page, I needed to re-key my username and password. The patch fixed it – but why doesn’t the system come with sessions by default – maybe I’m spoilt by Zope?
  • Sessions had to be tweaked to stop them locking against a single IP address. I understand the security implications of locking a session to an IP – but AOL users bounce between proxies like a pinball machine – and just as we do with phpBB – we switched that off.
  • I also replaced the jump to page box with a global wiki search box. Newbie wiki users will want to search – the way that twiki divides the wikis into seperate ‘webs’ is a bit of a pain
  • apart from that – Twiki is really cool. I’ve installed the java based drawing tool – so I can sketch out basic ideas on a web browser and collaborate on drawings….. how cool is that. I’ve yet to play with the action organisor and the calendar. The spreadsheet and table functions look useful too. As a basic wiki – it really works – I think the toys will make it a run away success…. once I’ve got people logged on and passwords generated at the command line with htpasswd :-(

    Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
    Mar
    26
    2005
    2

    Coffee, Sun & Analytics

    Web analytics blog

    Aparently, Xavier Casanova is a guru – only time will tell – nice articles with a good measure of common sense.

    Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
    Mar
    26
    2005
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    MSN’s adCenter

    More Control and Better Results
    coming soon – another ppc platform – but lets you decide the age and sex of audience.

    Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
    Mar
    07
    2005
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    Yahoo! Netrospective

    Yahoo! Netrospective: 10 years, 100 moments of the Web
    Yahoo’s take on the last 10 years of their existance. Very American – but nice to start with a photo of the founders – which did make me wonder what I was doing at that point… cos I was working on commercial web sites in 1995…

    Looking back though, we did sell a directory website of uk sites that had about 30 sites listed, to Internet Magazine a few years later… How crazy were them days eh? We got 6 months of magazine advertising in exchange for the web site.

    Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
    Feb
    23
    2005
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    Web Page Egg Timer

    Building a Better Busy Box (Processing… Please Wait)

    or just click to the demos.

    Nice bit of code that displays an egg timer kind of widget. Would be useful for some of the credit card submission pages we have….. should make the user happier to wait for the thank you, you’ve been charged page.

    Broke my old version of Opera though. We just need to test how well this code degrades against our users.

    Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
    Feb
    23
    2005
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    IE7 weblog

    A Blog from the Internet Explorer team.
    Guess I’m late to this party – but I’ll blog it anyway.

    We’ve heard loud and clear that many people want a better connection with the IE Team. We’re happy to do something about it.

    When Microsoft do stuff like this – I can forgive the army of nerds that focus purely on the Microsoft platform. Unfortunately, these nerds do build their careers around Microsoft because it’s easier to do so, not because Microsoft is now maturing into a great company. This evolution though, has been forced by a kick in the nuts from Linux and to a lesser extent Apple.

    Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
    Feb
    17
    2005
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    Why clients want everything

    Independent Days

    a good hairpiece costs a lot of money, and for a lot of money, the customer wants to see a lot of hair.

    So now you know why most rugs look funny. And on the back of that, why most websites end up unusable. The client is paying good money and they want every bell, whistle and dangleberry on their site.

    They [the rug makers] wanted their customers to look good, not silly. But time after time, despite their best efforts to steer customers toward something subtle something along the lines of Bruce Williss Moonlighting-era topper their customers insisted on more.

    So next time you see a bad hairpiece – just spend a moment thinking about your wesbite.

    Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
    Feb
    07
    2005
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    Upgrade your users, not just your product

    creating_passionate_users

    Could be titled – ‘Smarter Conversations for Beginners’ – just go read the article!

    The more you learn, the better you are at something. The better you are, the more engaging it is. If you can help people have more of that feeling, they won’t talk about how good you are — they’ll talk about how much they kick ass.

    I bought a Nikon Coolpix 5700 because I wanted to get a little more serious about my photos–to do something a step beyond point-and-shoot. I wanted to learn more about photography. It’s certainly in Nikon’s best interest to help me get hooked on photography, because next thing you know… I’ll be buying the extra lenses, and then pretty soon I’ll have to get a better camera, and on it goes. IF they can get me to become passionate not about the camera, but about photography.

    I recently bought a new camera – upgraded my aging Nikon coolpix for a new Panasonic with Leica lense. I did this because I got hooked on photography again by reading DeviantArt – a stunning collection of digital art. I think this was the photo that started it all off again.

    Go figure.

    Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
    Feb
    03
    2005
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    Tell Your Story

    www.tellyourstory.co.uk
    Back in the dot com boom, one of the fellow directors of a company I was involved with, was searching for new-media-gold-rush things we could quickly build and sell. That’s why it went boom – people just wanted the money…. Anyway, one of his ideas was an online cemetry – they’re getting big in the usa, so we should do one for the uk. hmm, I thought not. But this did spark a thought about how web/multi-media should be used not as an epitaph, but as a personal record to hand down the family, share with the world.

    Our herritage is important.

    When people are taken away from us, I think it’s a crime to loose their perspective on history.

    Get your digital camcorder out, fire up imovie and start archiving your heritage.

    Written by Guy in: Cosmic |