Code, Design, Designing Lean

Material Design for MVP

I’ve recently been building two prototype user interfaces, one for a mobile app the other a web-based dashboard. The mobile app prototype was built using a combination of Sketch and Apple’s Keynote presentation software. The dashboard had higher fidelity—a functional HTML/CSS/Javascript prototype interfacing with a light-weight JSON API.

I used this as an opportunity firstly to wrap my head around some of the design patterns for iOS 11, but also for trialling Google’s Material Design guidelines for this purpose.

There’s a lot to like about Material Design, especially for startups looking to develop a Minimum Viable Product. Continue reading

Business 2.0, Design, Software & web applications

API opportunity

The other day I rocked up to Greater Union on George street with some friends to catch a movie. Forgetting it was “tight-ass Tuesday” there was a long line, so I thought “I’ll jump into OneTap Movies and see if I can buy tickets” – then I could jump the queue using their pre-purchased tickets line.

OneTap Movies is an iPhone application that uses GPS to find the nearest cinema, and then allows you to browse the movies and times for that cinema. You can even preview some movies and see ratings.

It’s a great little app, but it’s missing the killer feature: you can’t buy tickets – as I found out that night. (Certainly this is the case for my local cinemas.)

So I thought “I have a fully working browser on my phone, I’ll have a crack at the Greater Union site”. I quietly hoped they had taken the initiative to develop an iPhone specific interface, but I wasn’t banking on it.

I got to the Greater Union site and waited for the ~500k worth of media to slooooowwwly stream down (the home page rates an F using YSlow). The site also uses tables, which meant that the key interface component didn’t display until the entire page had downloaded.

I then started to use their JavaScript enabled interface, only to find that it failed at the first step – choosing a cinema.

So we waited in line, and by the time we got to the desk the session we were after had sold out.

A couple of things struck me in considering this short, but sad, tale:

  1. If the Greater Union site used web standards more efficiently I probably would have been able to complete my purchase in a fraction of the time.
  2. Buying movie tickets is the ideal application for an iPhone or mobile specific site. Greater Union, and other cinema chains, should be seriously considering a more tightly focused mobile-oriented site for this purpose, ideally targeting devices like the iPhone (but not restricting it to only work on the iPhone).
  3. If Greater Union had a web-services API for purchasing tickets (with a revenue sharing model for extra incentive for third-party integrators), then I suspect OneTap would have full purchasing capabilities built-in. This would mean referral revenue for Greater Union from applications they don’t have to build, as well as a better user experience.

Such an approach fulfils a couple of the key principles I outlined in my recent CPA presentation:

  • Leveraging the network: OneTap Movies includes user-generated ratings – but the personal utility (finding what’s on) is the primary focus of the app.
  • APIs: providing an API would potentially expand Greater Union’s market significantly through third-party applications. (This also relates to the “because” effect.)
  • Clip of sale: by revenue sharing Greater Union make more money, through increased referrals, while encouraging third-party developers to leverage the API.
  • Embraces mobile and geo-targeting: two concepts I mentioned as playing a significant role in future online apps.
  • User-centered, contextual design: mobile access to decide on movie attendance and purchasing tickets fits strongly with user motivations and wants.

So how about it Greater Union?

Business 2.0, Work

CPA NSW Congress

Today I presented at the CPA Australia NSW Congress – the title of my talk was “Maximising the opportunities of the online marketplace”.

I swear I’ve been doing more than just presentations recently… Honest! ;)

This could have easily been a “monetising social networks” presentation, but Laurel’s already done a great job of that already ;), so I focused on web applications.

The presentation slides plus notes are available as a PDF (11 MB). The notes contain further credits, pointers to more information and some explanation as to the content of the talk.

And just a reminder that we have a group over at the CPA Congress Community site [site no longer available] if you’d like to continue the discussion.

Code, Software & web applications, Standards

Inline CSS emails at Campaign Monitor

The folks at Freshview have introduced yet another great feature to Campaign Monitor, their web-based email management system: Automatic inline CSS styles.

While there are tools out there that do this (most of which I found out about through the Campaign Monitor blog), having this functionality embedded within the tool itself makes it even easier.

While this probably only means something to developers, it actually will save clients a lot of money too – developers have to spend a lot of time maintaining and updating newsletter templates to get them working right in various email clients. This “one click” solution will make that whole process a lot easier.

Links links (19-Jan-2008 to 23-Jan-2008)

  • 9 Benefits of Twitter for Bloggers – Darren Rowse writes up his thoughts on the benefits of Twitter. His focus is specifically on bloggers, but still useful for anyone wanting some ideas as to why Twitter may be useful to them.
  • what’s new on reddit: new features – reddit will soon support focused, private and semi-private reddits. I think this is important for orgs wanting to use except for the “public-ness” of it. We might see retooling of tools to support reddit if it takes off.
  • Zookoda – An interesting looking (free) service – from what I can tell it takes an RSS feed and sends HTML email updates on that basis. Great for promoting your blog or creating quick email newsletters for your organisation. Will need to look into it some more…

(These links were posted to my feed between 19-Jan-2008 and 23-Jan-2008.)