Archive for the ‘Social media’ Category

13 Hilariously Funny and Amusing Bitstrips Cartoons You Must See

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

If your Facebook feed is anything like mine you’ve seen an influx of Bitstrips lately.

Based on my experience of using Bitstrip, here’s thirteen Bitstrips you must see (eat your heart out, Buzzfeed).


When personalisation devalues content: Quora Weekly Digest

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Of all the new sites I’ve used lately, Quora is one I’ve become quite hooked on.

Once a week all users receive the “Quora Weekly Digest” — a summary of the most interesting content on the site that week. It used to be my most anticipated email of the week. But lately I’ve noticed it’s become less interesting as it appeared to contain more content from people I follow on Quora — and most of this stuff I’d already read from browsing the site during the day.

This suspicion was confirmed after Jason Kottke recently wrote about his love for the Weekly Digest:

Topics covered in this week’s newsletter include “Could a professional fighter survive an encounter with a fully grown healthy gorilla determined to kill him, without feigning death?”

This is EXACTLY the awesome stuff I used to love about the Weekly Digest. (The answer is “yes”, by the way). It’s totally out of leftfield: and that’s what makes it so interesting.

There was no such question in the Quora Weekly Digest I got the same week. It seems the more you use Quora, the more it tries to personalise the Digest. If you don’t use it much, you get a more generic Digest.

Please Quora, don’t personalise the weekly digest. Pick the best/popular/interesting/crazy stuff and just send it to everyone. It’s much cooler that way.

A little problem with following on Twitter

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Twitter has an excellent onboarding process that ensures you’ll be seeing tweets of interest within minutes of signing up. This is all part of Twitter’s consistently great user experience; however lately I’ve stumbled upon one exception to this:

Twitter: You are unable to follow more people at this time

You are unable to follow more people at this time.

Lately I hit the 2,000 mark of users followed on Twitter. This is indicative of what I was talking about above: Twitter is fantastic at encouraging you to follow more and more. The “Who to follow” pane is like an intellectual donut shop… juicy avatars of all sorts of users it believes you’ll be interested in.

Mmm, Twitter donuts

And you just want to keep on eating. It’s a classic feedback loop: you click follow and you’ll get a new avatar appearing to tempt you again into following. It’s like a social network slot machine.

But therein lies the issue: depending on your level of followers, sooner or later you run out of coins.

Now Twitter has an interesting support article on following limits that explains how it works. It’s a tricky balance for them: trying to maintain their service, avoiding spam and abuse… there’s a lot of issues at play here.

For me the issue isn’t that they stop you following more than x followers, it’s more the lack of response the interface has to this limit.

It’s a pretty standard and simple convention in UI design that if a user can’t perform an action, either don’t show it or show that it is unavailable. Even though my Twitter follower list is now capped, Twitter still urges me to follow more. Yet if I click “follow” I’m thrown up the same old message: “You are unable to follow more people at this time. Learn more here.” Not great.

But here’s where this issue takes a turn for the worse. There are two ways to follow new people if you’ve hit your limit:

Unfollow users

Unfollowing users on a social network is a slippery slope. It’s hard to maintain a thick skin with this sometimes; anyone who’s used a service like Qwitter knows that it’s hard not to take these things personally when someone unfollows you. Was it something I said? Am I tweeting too much? Am I not as funny as I think I am? Am I tweeting many amusing cat videos? Or has that person hit their limit and is just “pruning” users?

And it’s often tit for tat: if someone unfollows you, it’s only human to want to unfollow them. And ironically, that means both users are followers down now, which sadly affects the number of users you’re allowed to follow: Twitter mentions ratios between following and followers, but doesn’t publish them.

Gain more followers

Telling users to get more followers is potentially negative as well.

“You’re not popular enough.”


Flash backs to highschool anyone?

A more elegent solution

This could work a whole lot better, with a few simple changes.

One option would be to remove the whole “who to follow” pane altogether. But surely there’s a better solution than that.


Let’s say you’re ten users away from your Twitter limit. Why not communicate that to the user?

You're only ten users away...

Positive actions

And if you’ve hit your limit? Why not encourage the user to try and gain more followers?

Join the conversation?

This way the drive to continually interact and engage with Twitter remains while removing frustrating and potentially negative experience.

A single serving site story: Epilogue

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

In July 2011 I wrote about the story (so far) of — a ‘single serving site’ I created spoofing Chelsea FC’s ‘revolving door’ history of managerial changes — and whether new coach André Villas-Boas had indeed been sacked yet.


Apple, iOS and how screenshots help build experiences

Monday, November 28th, 2011

I’m an Android user. My HTC Hero is looking a bit worse for wear these days and I’ll probably upgrade it soon. The iPhone is a great phone and all, but rarely do I feel Apple envy: except for when I was try to take screenshots on my Android for a previous blog post. In fact, I resurrected my old iPod touch from the depths of my ‘gadget box’ — and it performed the task splendidly.

Apart from this being inconvenient, it struck me that being able to take screenshots — and more importantly sharing them — really adds a lot to the experience of a device.

Damn You Autocorrect! is a perfect example of this: people collecting examples of the iPhone’s quirky autocorrect and sharing them.

On Facebook many of my friends share screenshots. I often do as well when I see something worth sharing. For instance, last week I saw this bizarre image on the Malaysian Airways website and put it up on Facebook:

Oh, men! Yes we’re so trying, but you women still love us!

Had I not been on my desktop, I would not have been able to share this given the capabilities of my Android phone.

Eurostar: a bit of irony and some great customer service

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Looking into booking Eurostar tickets for next year and I encountered this:

The old chestnut of Flash banners overlaying any object on the page. But the irony here is that the Flash banner is advertising Eurostar’s flash sale. Oops.

Actually, I choose to blame UKBA — if it wasn’t for the strike next week, the info box here wouldn’t be pushing the banner down.

But kudos to Eurostar…

Stellar social media service!

Spotify and Facebook: No more guilty pleasures

Monday, September 26th, 2011

The full implications of Spotify and Facebook’s love-in became quite apparent today. The first point of controversy: you now need a Facebook account to create a new Spotify account. I’ve already got a Spotify account and a Facebook account so this didn’t really bother me, even though I think it’s a strange and exclusive move (as in, excluding non-Facebook users).

But when I got home this evening and logged into Spotify, it dawned on me that Spotify and Facebook really, really want me to combine my accounts:

Spotify Loves Social


Facebook design changes: user experience and the user environment

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

So, Facebook rolled out some new design changes today. From the moment I heard about it, I think everyone knew that it’d be big yet ultimately dull news.

As one friend put in a succinct Facebook update:

That time of the year has come again – Facebook layout changes

Side effects will include a barrage of posts from people who claim it has caused them distress, anxiety, agitation, blurred vision, hair loss, insomnia, diarrhoea and erectile dysfunction.

Users hate change. Redesigns at best are met with softly spoken praise; at worst with fury and backlash.

As a designer I always try to stifle my inner-user when dealing with a new design. I try to understand and appreciate the thought behind it, knowing only too well how much time, thought and discussion has been put into every minute detail.

But what also really fascinates me is after using a new design of a site, seeing what others think of it, and trying to reconcile their thoughts with not only my own opinion of the design, but what I think was the strategy behind the design itself.

Google +/- ?

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

Three days in to using Google+ and it’s clear the platform is really well executed and highly polished.

However, the few threads going on in my stream are all related to Google+ itself — almost like a meta social network. As one friend remarked:

‘Right, since it seems Google+ is the place to talk only about Google+, i’ll continue the trend: Create a Circle, and then delete it…. enjoy the animation :-)’

Since it’s currently invite only, it’s understandable that activity on the network is fairly light. But what’s a social network without the social side? I wonder if Google are restricting sign ups just to ensure the service doesn’t collapse under the influx of users?


User experience and the touchy subject of personal taste

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

I signed up to Songkick yesterday: a great idea for a site that lets you track when your favourite artists are performing nearby. I chose to login using Facebook Connect and got this list of suggested artists:


Coldplay as the first recommendation? I can’t stand Coldplay!

I found myself quite indignant at being recommended I like Coldplay. But it’s not really about Coldplay, it’s about being suggested I engage with something I really don’t like. (So if you like Coldplay, please just think of your least favourite band in this scenario!)