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  • Michael Krakovskiy 5:40 pm on December 24, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Banksy, , , , famous graffitti artist, , graffitti artist, , , , Human development, IBM, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Maslow's pyramid, Microformat, Personal development, , , , , ,   

    Deadprogrammer’s Hierarchy of Web Needs 

    I recently received a phone call from a recruiter. He wanted to lure me away to some “big company” that still had “small company feel” to participate in a “redesign of a major website”. He felt like all of these things, as well as “a well stocked kitchen” were big selling points.

    I am a veteran of many website redesigns, major and minor. I’ve come to dread the word “redesign” because very frequently it meant taking a perfectly good website and making it significantly worse, and then through major struggles making it marginally beter. In the past I wrote a rather bloated article titled “The Russian Tea Room Syndrome” about this. Today I would like to write a bit more about this, as this topic rarely leaves my mind and my life.

    Earlier in my career, I had very little influence over the redesign process, but this is changing. This is the primary reason why my job title has the shameful word “Architect” in it: I write code and configure servers, but I want my say in strategery as well.

    So, Michael, you might ask, what is the problem with redesigns? Aren’t redesigns about making websites better? Well, many redesigns suffer from not following IBM’s famous motto.

    IBM has one of the best corporate mottos ever: CRUSH and DESTROY. Uh, I mean THINK. They even give out props with the word “THINK” on it and publish THINK magazine.

    Many redesigns happen simply as a knee jerk reaction: oh, look company X is doing Y and using Z. When you sit in a meeting and somebody is describing a redesign purely in terms of things other people do, you are likely in trouble. No thinking is involved at all.

    But sometimes it’s the type of thinking that is going on that is the problem. You have to think about the relative importance of things.

    I have a picture by famous graffitti artist Banksy hanging on my wall. It is a metaphor about true and false importance.

    In 1943 a Brooklyn College professor Abraham Maslow outlined what is now known as Maslow’s Hierarchy: a pyramid that ranks human needs. It looks like prior to him nobody really gave a lot of thought to relative importance of pooping and morality. Well, maybe a little – there’s a Russian idiom for a person of untrustworthy nature that originated during WWI when soldiers relieved themselves in rows, next to specially dug trenches: “I would not take a dump next to this person”. Also see “I hope they serve beer in hell

    Here’s Maslow’s pyramid in all of its glory:

    I decided I’d come up with the hierarchy of web needs:

    standard adherence: strict XHTML, CSS, etc

    choice of technology: language, CMS, OS, cloud/servers, etc

    other features: widgets, games, microformats

    multimedia: video, podcasts, interactive flash

    design: graphical elements, typography, pleasing layout

    semantic web: metadata, tagging

    usability: text size, image size, logical layout, uncluttered interface, site name/urls, browser support

    community features: comments, ratings, feeds

    googliness: search, speed, security

    content qualities: usefulness, interest, freshness, uniqueness

    content: text, images, links

    In my opinion unsuccesful redesigns happen when people start from the wrong end of the pyramid (always skipping the first step: I’m yet to meet anybody with power who thinks about these things are important).

    I will expand on this in my next post.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 3:22 am on October 17, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cassandra, , , dominant player, Dot matrix printer, , IBM, , , , , , Trojans, X   

    Being Dead Wrong 

    I like to think that I have a great intuition and am very good at predicting things. I also sometimes feel that I suffer from the Cassandra syndrome, as people don’t listen to my prediction as much as I would like them to.

    This made me think about the times when I made ridiculously bad predictions. Here’s a list of what comes to mind off the bat:

    1. When I was young I thought that programmers will soon write a computer program for writing computer programs, and that computer programming as a profession does not have much of a future.

    2. I thought that architectural drawings will always have to be done by hand, as you can’t print out plans on dot matrix printers (the only printers I’ve seen at the time). I thought, sure, you can program some straight lines and such, but you’ll never get beautiful detailed drawings with all kinds of details.

    3. I thought that Handspring would become the dominant player on the handheld market the same way that IBM did: by opening up the peripheral standards.

    4. I thought that Diamond Rio would be huuuge and that Diamond Multimedia would become the hottest company ever because they were first on the market with an mp3 player.

    5. I thought that Apple would just shrivel up and die, and if not, that I would certainly never completely switch to Macs.

    Whewww, man. Those are some doozies. How about you, my readers?

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 4:46 pm on July 26, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CBS, , , , , Computer icon, Gregory Thomas Associates, IBM, , Levi Strauss, Levi Strauss & Company, , MCA, , Santa Monica, , ,   

    How to Design Logos, Symbols and Icons: 24 Internationally Renowned Studios Reveal How They Develop Trademarks for Print and 

    This book steps into the studios of top designers as their ideas happen. Case studies trace the evolution of great logos, symbols and icons, illustrating the process with initial roughs and intermediary sketches that lead up to the final designs for companies including Nike and IBM. In addition, this book expands its boundaries to include symbols and icons, two rarely covered yet increasingly vital areas of design. Gregory Thomas is the owner and principal of Gregory Thomas Associates, a Santa Monica-based design consultancy. The award-winning company boosts an international client list that includes CBS, IBM, Levi Strauss & Company, Yale University, and MCA/Universal Pictures.

     
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