_author archive

UnDesign: LA Edition

08/28/08 :: by allismarkham

As a frequent pedestrian, I am a user of the Los Angeles subway. (Ok, it’s called the metro, but this former New York resident cannot make the switch.)  Like most every civic structure in LA, the train stations are a masterpiece of design. High ceilings, open spaces, art installations and a different theme at each stop. It’s quite remarkable really and I suggest taking a ride. No one uses it but me it seems, so the view is never obstructed by passengers.

However, one very badly designed element at my local stop, Vermont/Sunset, bothers me each day. Let’s go to the photo and maybe you can guess.

Yes, I am Captain Obvious and it is the placement of the trash cans.

With a spacious passenger area, why would you have people dispose of refuge next to where they are seated? In fact, it’s not next to it’s actually placed along with passengers. 

How does this make passengers feel? What is the city saying about them? Or, is this a terrible oversight by the designer?

What do you think?

Social networking for a great cause…

08/27/08 :: by allismarkham

It turns out that you can do more through social networking than find a date or stalk your ex- who’d have thought! In fact, you can help real people all over the world lift themselves out of property through micro-loans.
Kiva is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to entrepreneurs in the developing world. The site is composed of two groups: entrepreneurs and lenders. Lenders request an amount for their loan (generally around a couple thousand dollars) and then several lenders contribute to that amount. In fact, the minimum loan is as low as $25.00.

One such lender is lawyer and author, John Kirkland who introduced me to the website. John is using the sales of his new book Love Letters of Great Men to fund Jasminka Salkievi’s clothing store in Bosnia, Mirza Sayaad’s grocery store in Afghanistan and several other in-need entrepreneurs.
This it truly the incarnation of the “fish you teach a man to fish” adage and a move towards positive interaction on the internet.

Addictive Little Flash Games

08/21/08 :: by allismarkham

Flash games can be an immersive form of promotion or dialogue. And, I learned they can be highly addictive. Here are a couple that really sucked me in-

This one is from designer Alan Outten, lives on his personal website and was created for Vodafone Magazine. It’s a kind of movable “Where’s Waldo” in which you have to locate the designer- who is the only figure that won’t scurry from the “Hi-tech gadgetry”. I love the pixel people and the techy mouse.

This next one is by controversial Italian creators, Molleindustria. The game here, McVideoGame, allows players to emulate the farms, feedlots, restaurants and corporate areas of McDonalds. There is no question as to Molleindustria’s statement on the fast-food mogul. And the gameplay is as addictive as the McDonalds brand can be.

Google Lively: Just Avatar Chatting?

08/20/08 :: by allismarkham

Whilst researching some different video games and open-source communicating applications, I stumbled upon Google Lively. I remember checking it out once before and maybe reading a blog post or two about it.
Now, I like the concept. It’s kind of like a free, un-intimidating, easy to access Second Life. You don’t have to buy anything or spend a lot of time immersing yourself into the world to understand it. So, I thought I would try it out.

Building my avatar and learning how to move were easy. But, I found it unbelievable slow at times- as did many of the users I “spoke” with. It’s still in beta, so that’s to be expected.
To me, Lively appears to be a glorified chat system. I kept wondering, “Is this useful?” Interfacing beyond text can be much more immersive, true. But if I wanted some personal communication with family or friends, why wouldn’t I just use Skype? As for meeting and chatting with strangers, Lively was excellent. There are several active “rooms” and a seemingly huge community at all times.
So if you’re looking for a time-sponge that’s easy to use, try Lively.

Real-Life Viral

08/13/08 :: by allismarkham

Ever since the term “viral marketing” became common language, it doesn’t seem to have left the internet. Many people tend to forget that the original strategies came from real-world niche marketing and grassroots campaigns. 

The main difference in real-world viral marketing and online, is that it spreads much like a true virus: Real human viruses are limited to central “outbreak” locations and spread via human carriers. Computer viruses have no such local limitations and are transfered via computer-to-computer interaction. Viral marketing works the same way in either format. 

One real-world viral that has been making it’s way around Los Angeles is The Room. It’s a 2003 film that’s getting a lot of traction in the same way that Rocky Horror Picture Show did. It plays once a month at the Laemmle 5 Theater to a packed house who throw spoons, yell catch phrases and otherwise interact with the film. It’s truly viral and very funny. Only…well, the movie wasn’t supposed to be funny at all and it’s widely considered the worst film ever made.

One look this trailer will tell you why it has become the well-deserved victim of public mockery. 


The writer/director/producer/star, Tommy Wiseau has either taken the entire mishap in stride, or he simply doesn’t speak enough English to understand what’s going on. No one knows where Mr. Wiseau is from, much about his background or how he was able to afford the film’s estimated six million dollar budget. My theory? Romanian Arms Dealer.

If you want to see just how far this viral has reached since 2003, check out the LAist, NPR, the Wiki, The Hollywood Reporter, Mahalo, etc, etc- All this about a movie that plays in only one place!

Have there been any real-life virals in your area?


08/12/08 :: by allismarkham

How important is logo design? I mean, if Apple or Nike didn’t have sleek, evocative logos they’d probably still be industry leaders. Right? Would we feel any different about their products without the iconic apple or swoosh?

Well, why don’t we take a look. I decided to do some un-designing for both brands with the use of Logo Generator. This evil little website spits out free, instant logos… and you get what you pay for.

Yep. That’s very bad.

But, I couldn’t stop there. Why don’t we see what wonders it will give us for Fluidesign?

No comment…

Nesting.com Reviewed by TechCrunch

08/11/08 :: by allismarkham

Our friends and clients over at Nesting.com received this excellent review from TechCrunch today. Congrats!

TechCrunch reviewer, Jason Kincaid wrote, “The site sports a very soothing look that is well suited to its target demographic, with lots of pastels and rounded corners. The widgets themselves are also well designed, presenting an adequate amount of information without becoming overwhelming or cluttered.”

We’re glad to hear that TechCrunch has picked up on Nesting and can’t wait for more wonderful reviews as the site gains traffic and awareness.


08/07/08 :: by allismarkham

I’m not naming names, but a couple of the ladies here at Fluidesign were joyfully discussing the effects of working late into the night. The caffeine highs/lows, buggy eyes and weird sense of humor- we’ve all been there. Even though the time is in the upper right-hand corner of the screen, it just slips away somehow.

It makes sense though. If you’re staring at a lit screen all day, your brain isn’t getting any natural clues to switch on it’s sleep cycle. Nocturne is an application for Mac created to combat this problem. As seen on MakeUseOf.com, it slowly dims your screen and turns it monochrome.

You can pre-set the time to correspond with the sun or, for nite owls like myself, set it as late as you like. I don’t know if I’ll be downloading this myself, but there are a couple computers I might just sneak it on.

The Spiders are Coming.

08/05/08 :: by allismarkham

In the ever looming process of building traffic and awareness for this blog & the Fluidesign website, I have been looking at some really diverse SEO and social media techniques. The great thing about this post is that I’m both talking about and utilizing a few of them at the same time. 

Most people know how important it is to have your site catalogued in the DMOZ, Yahoo! and ZoomInfo directories. If their spiders haven’t crawled your pages you’re probably missing out on some extra clickage. (I’m helping our chances just by linking to them in fact.) But, it seems that Technorati’s SEO powers are starting to reach beyond diligent blog-rolling and tagging.

To “claim” a blog as yours on Technorati, you can choose to embed  link (as below) and their spiders will catalogue it immediately. This not only confirms to Technorati that you are the owner of the blog you signed up with, but also adds you to their catalogue. Apparently, their library is becoming quite vast and helping to boost user SEO. No word yet on rather or not they plan on making the caches a public service. 

Technorati Profile
If you’re on Technorati already, get in touch! BlogRoll us!

We’re featured on QBN!

07/31/08 :: by allismarkham

The amazingly talented folks at QBN.com (not to mention their great taste, ha ha) have listed Fluidesign’s new website as their Editor’s Choice today!

The comment thread there is flowing with congratulations and compliments from our fellow industry professionals. We really appreciate the write-up and the wonderful comments, guys!

Thank you!