October 2009 Archives
October 28, 2009
I had cause to check my site referral stats recently, and noticed that the most common search term leading people here is no longer ‘ugly wedding dress’, as it was for many years (don’t ask). It’s now ‘Mathematica iPhone.’ No, really, The Daily Grind is the top hit for a Google search for those words. The post I wrote, more than a year ago, is here. It’s a rather lame joke.
Now, Wolfram Alpha quite likely offers us a glimpse into the future of Google Wave: huge anticipation; lots of geek excitement; soon revealed as being a pointless distraction that doesn’t really work right; check back in a year or so and see what it’s up to then, just in case.
Extrapolating from that parallel, let’s try again:
I hear on the grapevine that Google are working on a dedicated iPhone Wave client. Expect it in the App Store in about three months’ time, for an outrageous asking price north of £30.
[source: entirely made up.]
October 21, 2009
I’ve somehow been sucked back into web design and development of late, most of which isn’t making me happy (IE6, just die already!), but a few neat bits of tech have delighted my inner geek, and it’s also given me cause to read a few interesting articles. This, at Beta Blog, is worth a skim: Kill Your Signup Form with Rails.
Ignore the Rails part if you’re not that way inclined, the lesson here is about gradual engagement. This is something we do in education or informal engagement — wearing one of my other hats as a science communicator it’s entirely familiar — but making the connection to web development surprised me more than it should.
The idea is simple: don’t make people commit, or sign up to your site, until you absolutely have to. Amazon is a familiar example of this sort of design pattern, in that you can browse away merrily, the site identifies you via a cookie and personalises to some extent, but you don’t actually sign in until you request an action that changes state — adding an item to your wishlist, or checking out your basket, for example.
By that time you’ve already expressed an intent to provide information to Amazon, so the cost/benefit of typing your password is clear.
It’s a sound principle.