This is a big fucking deal. Automattic runs wordpress.com and is a for-profit company that provides blog hosting based on WordPress. The WordPress Foundation maintains the open source WordPress platform and runs wordpress.org. By doing this they’ve insured that no matter what happens at Automattic, the WordPress name will be defined and protected by its open source efforts. Seeing a for-profit donate its most valuable trademark to a non-profit organization is incredibly rare and I don’t think I can say it any better than founder Matt Mullenweg. I’m just going to quote the last paragraph of his announcement here.
Automattic might not always be under my influence, so from the beginning I envisioned a structure where for-profit, non-profit, and not-just-for-profit could coexist and balance each other out. It’s important for me to know that WordPress will be protected and that the brand will continue to be a beacon of open source freedom regardless of whether any company is as benevolent as Automattic has been thus far. It’s important to me to know that we’ve done the right thing. Hopefully, it’s important to you, too, and you’ll continue your support of WordPress, the WordPress Foundation, and Automattic’s products and services. We couldn’t do it without you!
-A New Home for the WordPress Trademark
Congratulations Matt. Truly inspiring.
I’m totally jealous of Campaign Monitor’s new offices. My professional career has consisted entirely of open layout offices. Everyone sitting at long tables with no privacy. Just to take a phone call you have to wander off and hijack a conference room, talk in the bathroom, or leave the office entirely. It’s ridiculous. The greatest benefit of an open office is that it facilitates face to face communication. But is that really the most efficient means of communicating? Programmers need quiet time uninterrupted to produce their best work. Momentum has a huge impact on productivity.
I recommend reading the entire post. There’s lots of good tidbits like this:
This isn’t just anecdotal either. There’s been plenty of interesting research into open plan vs closed offices too. A study by Microsoft showed just how destructive interruptions can be to productivity. Here’s some commentary by Bill D’Alessandro on the findings:
“The researchers taped 29 hours of people working in a typical office, and found that they were interrupted on average four times each hour. Here’s the kicker – 40% of the time, the person did not resume the task they were working on before the interruption. The more complex the task, the less likely the person was to resume working on it after an interruption.”
Microsoft Research, A Diary Study of Task Switching and Interruptions (PDF)
Last year a team of Australian scientists came to a similar conclusion. They found that working in an open plan office leads to lower productivity and higher staff stress.
“The evidence we found was absolutely shocking. In 90 per cent of research, the outcome of working in an open-plan office was seen as negative. It has been found that the high level of noise causes employees to lose concentration, leading to low productivity. The research found that the traditional design was better – small, private closed offices.”
Dr Vinesh Oommen, Asia Pacific Journal of Health Management
A lot of people talk about Experience Design. A lot of people don’t know what that really means and equate it with UI or usability. They’re missing the point.
Sensory Design from AudiWorld.com
The Audi “Nose Team” tracks down unpleasant odors
The Haptics Team determines quality by feel
For the acoustics specialists, it’s all in the sound
The light designers ensure a clear view of things
An entire team dedicated to the smells you’ll experience in your car. Another dedicated to the sounds the car makes. This is what dedication to creating an experience looks like.
A good survey of best practices and patterns for effective help content.
If content is the red-headed stepchild of web development, help content is even less popular. No one wants to create it or maintain it. When it does exist, it’s frequently hard to find, poorly written, and not terribly helpful. But done well, help content offers tremendous potential to earn customer loyalty.
Good Help is Hard to Find
This is for all you designers working on facebook apps and UI flows that involve going through facebook.
get it here: Free Full Layered Facebook GUI PSD Kit
In this post we release a free Facebook GUI PSD Kit, designed by SurgeWorks and released for Smashing Magazine and its readers. The main idea behind the kit is to speed up the prototyping of Facebook application UIs and Facebook fan pages, thus sparing you from drawing all the comps and letting you customize all the texts, buttons and data as you need. As usual, the kit is free to use in all projects, without any restrictions.
Nice short explanation of why tabs placed above controls like the address bar works better from a design perspective. The new layout used in chrome, IE, and now the new Firefox 4 beta improves the interface according to several basic design principles, proximity, error prevention, simplicity, context and grouping.
Firefox 4 Beta: Tabs on Top Are Better
Happy Cog talks about their work redesigning zappos.com
Initially, Happy Cog was brought in to assist in a comprehensive “re-skin” effort. As we began digging, several challenges were easy to diagnose. The old site lacked a core defining visual style that felt purposeful. Individual elements didn’t necessarily contribute to a collective, consistent visual language. Many content modules had an aesthetic all their own. Page spacing and layout structures often felt forced together and disjointed. The unique Zappos.com tone of the site copy was evident in some places and absent from others. Some copy made customers laugh, smile, or feel inspired while the text in other sections felt rigid and instructional. Typographic choices were often at odds with the design, and felt like styling afterthoughts. Copy and navigation were shoehorned into valuable pixels of whitespace. The parts didn’t add up to a coherent experience.
After our initial exploration, we determined that a re-skin was only part of the solution. The Zappos.com web team needed something different. They didn’t just want a bunch of newly designed pages, they needed a design system. We set out on a mission to create a system of typographic rules, versatile grids, and flexible modules that would enable their internal teams to better react to the ever-changing e-commerce landscape.
Happy Cog via ThinkVitamin
Debunking the Myths of Remote Usability Studies
Success in a diverse global marketplace increasingly demands that companies engage customers from diverse global backgrounds in both discussions and usability studies. However, funding for user research travel is becoming more limited, and the availability of local users who meet the need for diversity is often insufficient. Therefore, UX professionals have started using remote usability testing methods to gather adequate user feedback.
6 myths about remote usability studies. Pretty interesting reading for anyone interested in exploring that option.
It’s hard to imagine a part of an electronic device which is more removed from and esoteric to the end user than the processor chip. However, even Intel, a company that designs and manufactures chips, is interested in creating experiences. They’ve invested substantially in exploring the human aspects of what their technology can enable.
Because Intel isn’t an OEM customer, a fabless shop, or a foundry, it ends up having to be all three at once if it wants to play the SoC game. That’s one place where the ethnographers come in.
The ethnographers essentially stand in for OEM devicemakers, in that they provide Intel with market-oriented input into the kinds of products that the company should be designing SoCs for. In other words, the user experience researchers can function as substitute “customers,” so that Intel can iterate its products internally in conversation with a kind of “market.”
How Moore’s Law drove Intel into the arms of anthropologists
on Ars Technica