The Brooklyn Museum has jumped right into the "community pool" They're working with most of the tools available: collecting members for their "Posse", utilizing Flickr & Twitter, publishing member blog posts to the site, soliciting and posting member videos and what I'm looking at today, they have implemented a community tagging program on their site. Art is the perfect candidate for this type of cataloging. Imagine all the many descriptive words you could come up with for this this photograph.

Now think of the words your father or grandfather might use to describe it, today or 30 years ago. The potential value of a cataloging public perception of art over time is extremely exciting too me.

Here's how they are doing it and using it.

click to enlarge

Logged in "Posse" members can add tags to the full catalog of images. Tags can be added and removed. This removal function moves the tag into a state of limbo where the community can "play the game to decide the tag's fate"

"Here's how this works: you'll be presented with tags that have been flagged for removal by other posse members and your job is to provide a second opinion about the relevance of the tag. Consider these examples as guides: What I think is really successful about this is the tone, it's positive and productive. It empowers the users without creating a climate of competition or negativity.

Users also receive points for participating and are rewarded with special views of art not available to everyone else. I love these very appropriate awards, organization and companies should take a look at why their users are participating and find ways to strength this reason. In the case of the museum rewarding with more exposure to what the users love is brilliant. Although it may seem obvious many site might have given a t-shirt or points towards partner products instead of what the users really want.

In addition to viewing all of the tags associated with a piece you can also see who contributed to the tags. Great for helping you explore other pieces that are related by a particular users taste.

The museum also does a bit of curating, as you would expect. It pulls out a few specific tags and links to other works tagged the same. It appears that these tags aren't necessarily included in the community tags and are more similar to a standard controlled vocabulary system.

Users can also comment and indicate that a piece is a favorite.

There's a lot going on here, I think I'll explore some more and continue to come back to see the growth of the community and the health of this community tagging program over time. Over all you guys at the Brooklyn Museum are doing a really nice job:) and are an example for other organizations to watch.



There is much to say about it but I'm only making one observation today.

Commenting can be a great way to open up 2, 3 and 4 way communication between the content providers and the content receivers.  It can be a valuable tool for the creation of movements and the exchange of new ideas.   But we all know that that isn't always the case.  These days anyone can join the "conversation" and for many reasons this conversation can degraded.

The quality of the comments not the quantity creates the value, that's why I like what CNN is doing.  Instead of open commenting on the articles,  they are aggregating instances that the article has been blogged about.

What this does is create a barrier of entry to the conversation. You need to care enough to read the article, go to your blog, write about it and publish to your own community, in your own name. I imagine this raises the level of value in the "conversation" surrounding articles. Although it doesn't fill the same self-help function some other sites provide though*.  You think?

*no disrespect to the old HP. I'm a good Huffington Post loving liberal.


Last year I worked on a career site for a big electronics company and as part of the work, I did some looking at other large company's career sites. I remember being struck by the Goldman Sachs site. It had an energy to it that was really engaging and seemed to say, "If you are young, super smart and wanna control the world, Goldman Sachs is for you." I was wondering last night if the site had changed since the collapse of our financial market. Looks like it surely has.

Wish I had more screen shots from the previous version, but I think this one page comparison says a lot.

Goldman Sachs Careers


I was talking with a friend today and he made an interesting point. He thought that what we (ux professionals) are doing is innovation that hasn't really made it to the "brick and mortar" side of marketing. That in his world where they produce the experience you get in store or at special events hasn't even tapped the type of thinking and strategizing that we are doing in the digital realm. What do you think? I'm intrigued. I would love to be put on on one of his project and see what I could come up with. Just dive in and see what happens. UX peeps are making leaps and bounds everyday in the quest to create relevant, meaningful experiences on the web and I know most of us spend time making sure the strategy extends beyond the web is some form (email, mobile, web acquisition), but what if the practice of UX went beyond the digital too. I know their are agencies who cross these boundaries, but the methods and practices of UX isn't even fully realized in most digital agencies so I can't imagine it's really made headway in this area. Have you done anything like this? Do share. I am interested in the process you use and the deliverables you make.


disclaimer: I am not a Branding expert but it is infused into the considerations of my work, so I am working through some ideas out loud.

In an earlier post I showed "Brand Needs" and "Business Desires" as consideration of the UX practice. I would like to amend that. I think it is actually "Brand Desires" and "Business Needs"

The attributes of a Brand are wishes. They are what a company hopes people will feel about their company and products. The Brand will exist even if these particular views/feelings of the Brand are not realized. It may not be the Brand perception we were going for but it doesn't necessary mean the project was damaging to the business. We should do everything we can to further the desires of the Brand but keep a realistic perspective on our ability to effect it.

In the case of the Business, I was trying to get at the fact that what the company thinks they "need" from the digital realm may not always be accurate.

For example, they may want to increase traffic to their Help section because they feel it will decrease calls to customer service, but in reality an increase to the Help section may mean people are having trouble navigating or understanding the site. A business may also want to get people through the check-out process as quickly as possible to increase sales but if the customers expectations of the product or agreement are not properly set before check out this could result in fewer sales in the future.

The Business "Desires" the site to work in a particular way but the "Needs" of the business are what we must concern ourselves with. For example: the business must maintain profitability, it must not harm the customers, it must establish and meet expectations.

Of course we can often satisfy "Needs" and "Desires" but I am trying to see if there is a way to set priorities for our practice.

What do you think?


I attended the first Data Viz group last night it was less and educational experience and more a night of posing questions, which was kinda fun. I was super impressed by the turn out and the variety of folks who had a true interest in this sort of thing. So wonderful! Here are the little sparks I took away and am thinking about:

*Expressing ideas vs. Expressing data

*Making a connection with someone or something that generates ideas is a good interaction, and could be called art.

*What types of things can we as designers do to develop your trust in the data?

*Try to merge the gap between useful and beautiful.

*Reduce the time it takes to understand.

*Clients don't understand what they are paying for. Could data viz give them something to appreciate?

I also wanted to mention as I did last night, if you are into innovative ways to display a ton of information in a beautiful and useful way I would encourage you to spend sometime with State of the Salmon created by local agency Periscopic. I caught a presentation of it at PDX Show and Tell a while back. There did happen to be a woman from the agency there last night and she spoke up once I mentioned the site, she will hopefully be presenting at the next meeting.

This article was making it's way around twitter today too. Data Visualization Is Reinventing Online Storytelling

(image is from State of the Salmon)


I'm working on a diagram that illustrates how the major consideration of web strategy/design (also a working concept) should be addressed by the tools of a User Experience Architect. This is the first piece of a presentation I am developing on the topic of "Appropriate use of the User Experience Architect" or "How to plug UX into a project or agency and get value, make life easier for everyone and end up with better products." If you have a moment I would love your feedback.

Couple things before you start.

1. This is a draft 2. It isn't meant to consider every little detail but stay at a certain big picture distance 3. I'm not stupid, but it is possible this isn't totally right. That's ok, I'm practicing shameless collaboration and artistic expression by not editing myself too much and assuming you folks can fill in the blanks without me over explaining.

click to make bigger. The Five Considerations: Brand Needs: Content, features and design choices that support the goals of the brand, reinforcing the correct perceptions and enriching the user's experience.

Business Desires: What the business wants in order to grow, increase profit and realize company goals (not necessarily digital/web goals).

Technology Needs: That the new solution utilize available tools and/or implement "appropriate" new tools within a specific budget.

User Desires: What the users think they want. Stuff that gives them an emotional reaction and satisfies their expectations.

User Needs: The essential tasks the user is trying to accomplish, which must be completed with ease and clarity.

Industry Ecosystem: What's going on in the larger ecosystem of the business and the users. How and where this digital presence will fit in and contribute.

Tools & Methods Business Strategy Definition: Stakeholder Interviews, Goals and Tactics Definition, Multi-year road-map development, Competitive Research.

User Research: Quantitative and Qualitative methods. Interviews, surveys, usability testing, focus groups, card sorts. Audience segmentation, Tasks analysis, Flows.

Information Architecture: Site structure, content organization, taxonomy, utilize analytic data, collaboration with back-end developers.

Interaction Design: User centered design, industry standards, best practices, collaboration with graphic designers and front end developers


Just had a nice little web experience. I was connecting my Netflix account with my Jinni account and while that little process was happening, Jinni played me a movie clip. It wasn't advertising just a little fun entertainment while I waited. It even said something like, "Enjoy this movie clip while you wait." Really nice idea, much better then an hour glass or even a cool visualization. I could see using this time to educate about new features, reveal interesting information about the company, express the the company values by providing some air time for your favorite good cause.


Another place UX plugs-in and can really be of value to our clients is helping them understand the full landscape of their marketing initiatives and the best way for digital to lead or respond.

This passage is a great example of this.

"Cycles can also alert you to the presence of negative forces, acting against growth. For example, advertising campaigns drive sales, which can increase the load on a poorly designed logistics and customer service system, resulting in unhappy customers who spread the word about their poor experience, thereby reducing demand on the logistics and customer service teams. The net result is that the volume of sales rises, then drops."

Thanks UX Matters!

Photos from here via Notcot


I once had a meeting, the purpose of the meeting was to explain to a potential client the process and tools of UX and how we might apply it to the redesign of there site. In the meeting my super smart, totally brilliant coworker was showing an example of how a wireframe had been translated into a completed site design and he said something that gave me serious pause, it hit nerve.

It's not the first time I've heard this, both from other UX peeps (including this smart one) and non-UX peeps and every time I hear it I go crazy. See the final site design had a top navigation scheme and the wireframe architecture was based on a left hand navigation design and my coworker said, something along the lines of "see in this example the final design moved the navigation and that's fine, we don't do design, the wires can be interpreted any number of ways." (not a direct quote but close)

I just about had a heart attack, this perspective is right at the center of 4 big issues big issues for me.

1. The myth that the content of the UX deliverables, especially wireframes are just suggestions for the final product.

The short version of this explanation is that we work for months defining goals, interviewing users, analyzing tasks and flows. We create huge strategy docs and road maps, and the final realization of all this work is the wireframe.

If we are doing our job everything that appears in the wires is on purpose, backed by research and data and is a product of multidisciplinary creative thinking. If a wire has a top nav, it's there for a reason and the art director and I made the decision together. It better freaking be a top nav in the final designs. Got it. 2. To drill in a bit further on #1, decisions like basic page structure including how navigation is displayed a joint exercise between UX and Graphic Design not a solo expedition.

It's just wrong to make wireframe without input and buy in from the Designer. Two heads are better......

3. All to often UX doesn't take responsibility for the ultimate design of the site.

The site design is the realization of the digital strategy, if we throw up our hands and say, "hey, it was in the wires...." we might as well have not done any research or strategy work. UX Mag said it best in this article:

"There are a lot of designers and UX architects who are happy to go with the flow and let marketing dictate the terms of the design. If a poorly dictated design ends up crippling the user experience, well, that’s not their fault. But blame has a way of trickling down to the people closest to a project. Who’s going to take the bullet? The senior marketing executive who oversaw the project, or you, the worker in charge of actually executing it?"

Hot damn! So well put and so important.

4. and finally.....We are Creative.

Too many agencies and companies don't consider UX part of the "Creative" team. This is crap-o-la.

The work we do is an exercise in some serious creative expression. The best teams are a trio of Graphic designer, Writer and UX geek, all owning the creative process and contributing equally. If you can find a balance and each member of the team is taking responsibility for those items specific to their expertise but open to free participation and idea generation you are going to have one sweet product a the end.

photo: Seattle Graffiti


Came across this site today. The idea is that people are more likely to sign on (give money) to a project if they know that full support is in place before they actually hand over the money or make a move themselves. Pretty interesting.