_archive for the ‘Business’ category

Al Gore @ TED

04/12/08 :: by moquito

Al Gore @ Ted

I just watched one of the most inspiring talks I’ve ever seen Al Gore make. I find it interesting the way he connects design into the whole global warming problem at the very end. Great design (both mechanical and graphical) is the solution to our problems. Solutions need to work and be graceful at the same time. No one is going to install solar panels if they cover their entire backyard with ugly, black plastic. No one is going to drive a hydrogen car if it is ugly, or only goes 30 miles before refueling, or if you need to drive 50 miles just to refuel.

I believe Fluid can help in solving global warming, not just by recycling and energy conservation at the office (which we already do), but by inspiring others through great design to take action. Awareness is the tool that will make the real difference, and great design can make messaging effective and sticky.

See it here.

LA Business Journal Top 20 in their 20’s

04/11/08 :: by moquito

Check out Nesting.com’s first media hit. Despite the deluge of phone calls from bankers, financial planners, and attorneys, I’m honored to have been selected as one of L.A.’s “top 20 in their 20’s”

Check it out.

Also - congrats to friends from USC - Dee Murthy and Andres Izquieta of Five Four Clothing, and Jason Nazar of DocStoc!

What makes a good client?

04/03/08 :: by moquito

So what makes a good client?

I know what makes us a good agency:

1. We’re honest. If we don’t see a good fit from the very beginning, we’ll walk away, regardless of dollar amount. And we’ll tell our clients what we think, not just want they want to hear, throughout the process.

2. We’re talented. The design and development horsepower we have under the hood is some of the best in the industry, and we’re able to consistently deliver award-winning work.

3. We’re profitable. This is a benefit to our clients; we don’t look for any opportunity to upsell. We’re able to fully align our goals with our clients.

So what makes a good client? I don’t expect any client to ever use this as a checklist, but rather hope to start a dialogue here.

1. Know what you don’t know. If you aren’t sure what you need or want, that’s fine. Just don’t delude yourself into thinking you do. Don’t be arbitrary and make decisions because it “feels right.”

2. Avoid arbitrary deadlines and budgets. This is a big one. Great work takes time and costs money. Accept it.

3. Response time. Our clients are the most frequent cause of delay in projects. Assign one person on your team to be the decision maker and contact with us. We’ll give them deadlines and keep the project running smoothly.

4. Respect the agency. Why are you hiring an agency in the first place? Because you know how to design better than they do? Respect their work. Respect their opinions. You’re the client, and of course you have the say at the end of the day. But if you’re constantly vetoing the agency’s recommendations you’re not letting them do what you’re paying them to do, and what they do best.

At Fluidesign, we want to improve the interactive world as a whole; we want great clients and great team members. And we’re not afraid to stand up for what we believe in.

Steve Jobs on Paul Rand, circa 1993

03/31/08 :: by brocksteady

Something to take note of during this interview is that after SJ asks PR to present several options, PR replies: “If you want options go talk to other people. I will solve your problem for you, and you will pay me whether you use it or not.”

I know Mr. Rand is able to take such a stance partially due to his design-god status, but I do think he was able to achieve such status (and confidence) by taking such a pragmatic approach to design, rather than leaving it up to opinions based on arbitrary decisions.

It’s becoming increasingly important for UI designers to understand a clients end business goals as we’re guiding a user through content and actionable information. If we can defend our designs based on problem solving mechanisms and best practices, we can avoid having to unnecessarily go through round after round of revisions until all opinions involved have been satisfied.

Open + Collaboration = Market Efficiency

03/12/08 :: by hdunce

The interactive industry is lucky that the “open source” movement happened and succeeded. What this movement has proved, is that if you have something accessible to all, and you let others build on top of it, they will fix it’s problems, improve its capabilities, and thus make it a better product. It is a true testament to the concept that sharing your knowledge and collaborating will grow an industry faster and better at large. Conferences like sxsw are amazing because they create a platform in which we share our experiences from mistakes to successes and help the industry grow wiser, faster.

soda1.JPG

So, I am really excited to see SoDA, the new organization sponsored by Adobe (thank you :)), emerge and create standards to streamline business processes within interactive agencies. This means creating standards and guidelines for documents like RFPs, proposals, awards, etc. While this wasn’t discussed at sxsw at the panel, I hope that this organization takes an active roll in making more of our experiences “open”. Specifically, I would like see certain data regarding interactive products (not just developed by agencies) become free, accessible, and lack for a better term, “interactive”. This means share the following online:

1) actual costs and timeline of the web product
2) ability to view the web traffic statistics
3) allow people to read the actual business goals and marketing strategy for the product
3) thoughts on what the challenges were, what techniques were successful vrs unsuccessful
4) allow people to comment and ask questions and your agency responds
5) aggregate and create a visualization for this data so we can easily understand it (this part is probably the hardest, phase 2 maybe?)

The bottom line is that we have way too many great ideas, few talented designers and developers, and still not enough collaboration. I think the above will lead to smart standards, faster innovation, and aid in creating more usable, intuitive products.

I can pretty candidly say that in the last 2 years or so Fluidesign has actively created internal procedures to help share our knowledge within our internal team by encouraging our team to do things like share resources, talk openly about what works and what doesn’t, make a concerted effort to have collaborative meetings between designers and developers to ensure good design and usability, to attend conferences, etc. And this, has greatly contributed to our profitability.

And obviously we are not the only company that is practicing this type of collaboration. So I am putting it out there, aware of the challenges of creating a more open transparent market, but simply saying that the benefits will outweigh the costs for each firm and the industry at large.

AOL: Up To 30 New Sites By The End Of 2008

03/04/08 :: by brocksteady

According to TechCrunch, AOL is to launch at least 12 new sites in the next six months, and between 20 and 30 new sites by the end of the year.

I don’t know if that’s a challenge, or if we should be placing bets on how many they actually launch. To AOL’s credit, they launched somewhere close to that number last year, (including a project or two that we were involved with) so in theory, they should be able to step it up a notch this time around. Any predictions?

Clean up the internet please!

02/29/08 :: by hdunce

logo1.gif

The above basically means, use a common way of writing code and open up your data so other sites can use it.

Here are my quick thoughts on what the dataportability and the open social philosophy is gonna do and has already begun doing.

1) similar companies will die, the best will survive. this is great and will push business people to come up with creative ideas rather than making copies (stop recreating digg please). It encourages businesses to think strategically and complementary. i.e. how can i leverage your product? (see some examples here, mashups and twitter apps) Thus, we will see an increase in complementary products and a decrease in substitutes (i.e. more peanut butter and jelly, less brands of peanut butter).

2) more companies will also partner up. if our code can work together, then we will buy each other out and make 1 product that works well instead of 4 products that suck (i.e. friendfeed.com, streem.us, tumblr.com, and soup.io).

3) there will be less businesses. the ease of entry is not always a good thing. What has happened here is that we have way too many websites and a lot of them suck. I waste hours surfing the net (i kinda get paid for it tho) and it’s totally inefficient. I mean, goddamn! there are a lot of websites out there.

BOTTOM LINE: It’s time that we all get real and clean up the fing internet.

Internet Ad Revenue Exceeds $21B in 2007

02/26/08 :: by brocksteady

The AP has reported that online advertising revenues exceeded a not-too-shabby $21 billion in 2007. Time to reconfigure your AdSense!

Efficient Office + Thoughts on Windows Vista

02/24/08 :: by moquito

I often get asked whether I prefer a Mac or PC, one or two monitors, IE or Firefox, Outlook or Zimbra, and the list goes on and on. As the CEO of an award winning design firm, you might assume that I am and have always been a Mac lover.

In fact, I have been an avid PC user for over 20 years. My first computer was an IBM PS/2 Model 30. It lacked a hard drive but was a huge advance due to its 3 1/2″ disk drives (it had two). I went from MS-DOS to Windows 3.0 to Windows 3.1. I experimented with OS/2 and liked it - but its lack of support with developers and thus, its lack of basic software, was too big of a barrier. I did play with Macs in the 80’s - mostly for playing solitaire or as a fluke. I was one of the tech-nerds waiting in line in 1995 for Windows 95 at midnight, and I loved it. Windows 98 was great and with Windows XP Microsoft seemed like it had come into its own. At this time, I still put software first, and didn’t pay nearly enough attention to the hardware.

Then came Windows Vista. Last summer, I made a large IT investment and purchased new Macs for everyone in the office except management. All the designers and developers got shiny new Mac Pros with dual 23″ monitors. I was still on a Dell using Windows XP with a single 20″ monitor and 2GB of RAM. I decided to upgrade. After a frustrating 3 hours installing Vista and an even more frustrating few weeks after using Vista, where I spent more time fixing the computer than working, I downgraded back to Windows XP. I remember complaining to people in my office - amazed that Microsoft could’ve released such a terrible “evolution” in their OS.

That’s when I discovered Mac. It started with me sitting down at my creative directors’ computer, playing. I was amazed at how it just worked! Apps opened (with no delay - thanks in part to his quad core machine with 8GB of RAM), it never crashed, and was amazingly easy to use. As someone who prided themselves on knowledge of DOS command lines and Unix, the Mac for a second felt too “dumb” for me.

But I was hooked. I bit the bullet and got myself a new Mac Pro, quad core, 4GB of RAM, and dual 24″ Samsung monitors. I installed Parallels, and Outlook 2007, with Windows XP SP2. And I was blown away. All of a sudden 8 hours of work became 5. The majority of my time is spent on the phone or on email - and with email I never waited for the computer to open an attachment, or refresh, or recover from a crash. Mac actually runs Windows better than a PC! With Mac on the left and Windows on the right, I was flying through my day.

Seeing the productivity gains I was experiencing, I moved quickly to get everyone on the same setup. And we’ve never looked back. Unfortunately Entourage is a pitiful replacement for Outlook, as is Mail. So we’re still on an Exchange server and Windows fileserver. But those xserves are getting tempting, and it’s only a matter of time before Apple gets its Mail and iCal act together.

On the portable side, when I’m on the road, Outlook is key. I purchased a Sony VAIO TZ-195 with a 48GB solid state drive. It came with Vista. I suffered for two months, and finally couldn’t take it anymore. I have a huge (over 7GB) mailbox, and don’t believe in deleting email. After downgrading to Vista and removing bloatware, with the help of a 32GB SSD card, I have 80GB of storage. Using Outlook in non cached mode and Outlook 2007 Anywhere, with built in Sprint Mobile Broadband, I truly have a perfect setup, with email access and high speed connectivity anywhere.

I believe all companies should look closely at their IT infrastructure and strongly consider switching to Mac Pros across the board. Don’t skimp on RAM or HD speed, and get all of your employees at least two monitors. You’ll be amazed at the productivity gains. Thinking Macs are just for designers or “creative people” is definitely living in the past. People underestimate the morale killer a bad IT setup can have on hard working employees. Blue screens of death, endless restarts, waiting for the computer to unfreeze - all can kill an otherwise productive day.

On Windows Vista, Microsoft gave Apple a tremendous catch up opportunity. Microsoft really screwed this one up, and it’s going to take them a couple of years to fix. In the meantime, Apple will continue to gain market share, and CEOs like myself will continue seeing the light. (Disclosure - I do own Apple stock, and would encourage anyone to purchase it at any price. It’s a bargain today).

Stop thinking about it. Change your office productivity and your company’s technology morale. Just do it.

Jack Daly

02/18/08 :: by moquito

I recently had the privilege to see Jack Daly, one of the world’s best speakers on team management. I wanted to share the following:

A “customer” is someone that buys from you once in a while.
A “client” is someone that habitually buys from you.

No matter what we do, our business should be based on acquiring, maintaining, and growing client relationships. Customers are for the other guys…