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Could you design a good club?

by PHiLLi Email

clubbingHere's an interesting quote I came across today:

Usability is not everything.

If usability engineers designed a nightclub, it would be clean, quiet, brightly lit, with lots of places to sit down, plenty of bartenders, menus written in 18-point sans-serif, and easy-to-find bathrooms. But nobody would be there. They would all be down the street at Coyote Ugly pouring beer on each other.
Joel Spolsky

Actually I'd disagree ... Whether you design a website or a night club or a door handle, you have to consider your target users / audience.

There is a misconception about User Experience Design that if you religiously follow "best practices" you're going to design a great product. That is not true.

In some situations you'll get lucky and it might just work, but ultimately you need to understand what your users are trying to achieve in using, consuming or visiting your product.

If it is ordering a book onlinem then that's one thing. If they want to have a good time and their definition of a good time could be loud music, alcohol and dancing, then a lot of night clubs will cater for that.

But you can take this further. Think about the really popular clubs. Usually they provide something that their revelers want, whether it's a particular location, music, decor etc.

Ultimately someone sat down and thought hard about what people would like about their club, what others do not offer and then created it. Usually this spawns a lot of copy cats, but without a real understanding what they're copying they won't attract the same crowds.

So good club designers would exactly the same way as good user experience designers.

Now that would be a gig I'd be interested in doing!

Incidentally, here's an interesting article about the difference between copying and stealing design.

No. 38 Coffee Aerodynamics

by PHiLLi Email

latte It's early in the morning and I need to my caffeine fix. Until I've had my latte any brain functionality will be severly hampered.

Staggering into "insert name of evil capitalist, exploitative coffee chain corporation" I slurr my order at the barrista. Please note, slurring is early morning induced, but could occasionally come from the hangover due to a this-week-day-is-the-new-friday party out (it seemed like a good idea at the time).

It's fascinating that the barrista understands my order despite the lack of spoken coherence. This is similar to cab drivers who somehow manage to extract your home address from your drunken attempts at understandable speech.

Armed with said caffeine dosis, I venture back to the bus stop that will take me to my final workplace destination, where the pretence of efficiency shall continue.

In the bus is where the universe's law of physics somehow are thrown into a blender because when it comes to my coffee, gravity doesn't seem to apply anymore.

Every bump the bus takes, and it seems the bus driver is actually aiming for them, manages to somehow create a coffee burst even through the tiny lid opening that's supposed to keep the whole coffee experience civilised.

But I'm so desperate for my morning fix that I'll just suckle on the coffee, just hoping that any resulting burns will not lead to permanent lip damage. After all, I can't even sue "insert name of evil capitalist, exploitative coffee chain corporation" for damages as we are in Europe.

By the time I reach my destination at least half the coffee has found its way onto my clothes.

What the heck, brown is the new black anyway ...

Definitely a Sign

by PHiLLi Email

iranPeople taking to the streets and standing up for their right to vote, now that's a sign.

It's a sign of a country that has seen it's fair share of oppression, while claiming to have fair elections, that is ready for change. Now it's time to put words into action and let the people have their say.

Of course, even if the reformist Mousavi would get into office, no one has any illusions that there would be a new dawn with a country freed from the clutches of a supreme leader. But it might be a first step in the right direction. At least the recount of the disputed votes gives a glimmer of hope that something might change.

Another four years of Ahmadinejad certainly won't make the country or the world any better off.

Things that caught my attention ...

by PHiLLi Email

attentionIt's been a while since I've written anything in this blog ... oh dear this sounds like such a standard intro line, but since I don't share my daily life here (there's enough of that elsewhere) I only throw in snippets of ideas here and there.

That's not to say that nothing has been happening that could be of interest, oh there has, but the internet already contains too much information about my personal life. I do wonder if that will ever come back and haunt me.

Probably in the form of embarassing pictures when I apply for some really important job. Or maybe even this blog? I better not get into politics ...

So here's a random selection of things that caught my attention lately:

  • Emotional Intelligence Aids Sex - so basically as long as ladies can imagine that it's actually Brad Pitt and not Bob the builder they're sleeping with, they stand a greater chance of reaching orgasm? No news there ...
  • The Spotify Mystery - Spotify is a free music streaming service,which lets you listen to any music you choose ... for free.

    It's really that simple.

    In the age of rampant music piracy and cheap downloads, there's almost an inherent expectation that music should be free. Here it really is. But how the hell is that profitable? It isn't ...

And here's more funny random stuff:

A letter to my 16 year old self ...

by PHiLLi Email

teenageInspired by Stephen Fry's letter

You know what?

Life is better when you're older!

Hard to believe isn't it?

Less acne to start with! You have an income to spend (which is never enough) and you don't have to pretend to be older to impress girls. Actually quite the opposite.

But most importantly, a lot less insecurities about yourself!

That's not to say that you won't have any, of course you will. But you'll get better at dealing with them; most of the times anyway.

With hindsight, should you do anything differently?

Not really.

Everything you're about to experience, the good and the bad, will make you the person that I am right now. And I don't think I'm doing too badly.

Still, remember, the people that hurt you in the past generally end up being much bigger losers than they ever accused you of being. And I know because I've seen some of them.

You will get your heart broken. Badly.

But that's OK because it'll also show you how deeply you can love someone, which is the most wonderful emotion in the entire universe. And it's worth living just for that.

Believe in yourself! Ultimately you're in charge of your own destiny and no one will take responsibility for it but you.

Thank god tight trousers will only be a phase. You'll end up speaking fluent French and live in Paris for a bit.

You'll even learn and enjoy to dance properly!

Despite significant ups and downs, you'll be ok. I know how it turns out ...

When I grow up ...

by PHiLLi Email

grown upAt some point of time it hits you.

It could happen early, late and for some it never happens at all. And more often than not when it does, we deny it and pretend it never happened.

It's the realisation that you're actually an adult now.

Though what does it really mean to be an adult / grown up?

I remember as a kid I used to think being adult manifests itself most obviously in wearing boring clothes (suits, shirts, trousers and sensible shoes). After all that's what my parents look(ed) like and my parents are of course the epitomy of being grown up because ... well ... they are my parents.

But then at various times in the past I asked myself "So when am I going to be grown up? I mean reallygrown up."

Was it when I left my home to go study at university?

When I had my first job?

When I had my heart broken properly for the first time? (though you can experience that as a teenager too)

When I graduated?

There are so many rites of passage that we could consider being a sign of having grown up, but then you still find yourself doing certain things that you did as a teenager / or dress like one (and think it's cool). Yet there are many things that we've learned are maybe not such a good idea to be repeated, which is an essential part of growing up too.

Ultimately, it probably doesn't come down one particular moment when you realise that that's it, you're an adult now!. There are individual pieces of our personality that make us grown up in certain areas and infantile in others.

I still wear trainers and t-shirts, and love the following joke:

What kind of bees make milk?

Boobiiiiiieeeees!!!!

Creative Shepperding

by PHiLLi Email

Shepperding has moved into the 21st century:

Cure what?

by PHiLLi Email

gayYour sexual orientation is not a choice.

Nature made people the way they are and thankfully the society you and I live in has evolved enough to recognise that that's ok. There's nothing wrong with being homosexual.

Yet, a few religions would like us to believe that based on their anciently, outdated views, which in turn are based on books that have been rewritten and translated so many times that no one actually quite knows what was in them in the first place, homosexuality is not only wrong in the eyes of some divine higher being, but also that it is something that can be cured.

The implication is of course that it is a disease that can be managed like a cold or rash.

That's nonsense!

Yet, even in England some therapists admit that upon a patient's request they would attempt to change a patient's sexual orientation (4%). Another 17% admit that they have tried to help patients "curb their homosexual feelings".

That is shocking news!

It is understandable that therapists want to try to help patients that come seeking it. However, it is also their duty to stay clear of therapies that can actually be harmful.

Therapist should be helping gay people that are struggling to come terms with their sexual orientation and make them see that they are not wrong, strange or ill, just different from the norm. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Previoulsy people were locked up and given electro shock therapy because they were thought to be haunted by the devil, when in fact they were epileptic. Today this seems outrageous.

Trying to "cure" homosexuality is just as outrageous.

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