Archives For October 2012

When I started as an independent consultant in 2005, I had 2 clients. Seven years later I have a successful design group built entirely on referrals. My first 2 clients, both start-ups, referred me to other start-ups who in turn referred me to more companies, eventually allowing me to build a portfolio that includes Adobe, eBay, Fidelity, Salesforce and many others.

Unfortunately we can’t help every start-up that contacts us now, but we do accept 3-4 each year. Our Sponsored Start-Up plan is geared to help start-ups launch with a great user experience. We work closely with the team on their UX strategy, from contextual research through development and launch, at a reduced rate and generous payment terms.

Obaid Khawaja, a Carnegie Melon graduate and former program manager at Microsoft, presented his plan to us in early 2011. He had the magic formula to help eBay sellers increase sales, but the existing interface wasn’t intuitive. We created a simple UX that focused on showing sellers which listing had problems, and offered tips for improvement.

The Boost BI beta was well received and brought in a number of clients including BMW and Littlewoods. And just as importantly for a start-up, it generated valuable feedback.

It turns out customers were thrilled to get insights for improving their listings. But they wanted Boost BI to go one step further and allow them to take action within the application. In V1 (under development) we’ve taken the UX to the next level. V1 makes it easy for sellers to address their most critical (revenue and volume wise) listings problems, to significantly increase their impressions and conversions.

We wish Obaid and his team at Boost BI the best, and can’t wait to see what happens next!

It’s not every day a client entrusts us to redesign a $100 million dollar form. But the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society knew they had to do something to fix their donation forms. They were fielding phone calls from people angry because they couldn’t give LLS money.

One of the prospective donors was particularly upset, and I empathized with him. I lost my father 2 years ago this month the Leukemia. There wasn’t much I could do to help my father fight blood cancer, but one thing I can do is fix a broken user interface.

To guide this endeavor, I wrote a manifesto to address people’s frustration with the existing form:

Looking at page 3, On Your Terms, what were our options? Mobile Optimized Sites or Responsive. Learn more about these two strategies.

It was a hard decision. Ideally we should have probably created a mobile optimized form that had half as many fields, but the organization wasn’t ready to ruthlessly edit their form donation yet. And our first version was just a “fast-fix”, planned for 30 days from start to launch. No back end code changes, just UI changes. So we went with Responsive, meaning we designed the form to work well on any sized screen, from a desktop browser to a mobile phone.

The forms were developed with:

And chose these devices to test on:

  1. Desktops and Laptops
  2. Apple iPad
  3. Samsung Galaxy Tab
  4. Kindle Fire
  5. Apple iPhone
  6. Samsung Galaxy III
  7. Google Nexus
  8. HTC Window Phone
  9. BlackBerry Torch

(Thanks to Mudassir for pointing out that my earlier phrasing was incorrect- we didn’t target these devices, just tested on them. )

The final result is available at LLS.org, and it can also be accessed by donating to individuals participating in Team and Training and Light The Night.

We’re still working on these goals: Fast, Respectful, On Par…, and Helpful, but we’re getting there, and this is a big first step.