Coming to Amsterdam is a true visual feast. Pretty canals, unique architecture, very tall people, 'coffeeshops' and everything in between. One of the nicest surprises is that the Dutch seem to have held on to quite a number of classic cars which are parked randomly all over the city. They are in daily use too, no tax and low insurance makes them a viable option. I'm a big fan of car design and especially appreciate the classics. Concerns about aerodynamics and safety were not so front of mind giving more design freedom. I also have great memories of riding around in my uncle's canary yellow Mercedes from the 70s. I remember how bouncy the seats were and how the interior had that lovely old car smell.
This got me thinking about nostalgia in design and branding. Would I buy a bicycle just because its branded Delorean? Hell yea, who wouldn't want to cycle back to the future. Would I prefer a note pad app to remind me of the blue lined copybooks that I used in primary school? Absolutely. Nostalgia is definietly one of the easiest ways to achieve seduction or engagement in your designs. Enjoy the gallery!
Recently Google Chrome overtook Internet Explorer as the world’s most used internet browser. Among its killer features is the automatic translation it applies to sites in other languages. Translation works more or less seamlessly and has been a life-saver for this ex pat. However, when you hover over a translated word, Chrome insists on showing the original word in a large white popup nearby. To date I’ve not found a way to disable this. I’ve tried closing the popup but it appears again and again. Most annoyingly however, this popup often appears in front of the link you wish to click on. Thus completely preventing you from clicking on that link (unless you are lightening quick with your mouse). Looks like one of those no brainer changes they should make as quickly as possible.
I still have the core principles of usability burned into the back of my eye lids. Among them was the important concept of avoiding ‘premature commitment’. That is, show the visitor to your site the value of signing up before asking them to sign up. Despite a nicely branded site and a wonderful concept (renting directly from owners in the Netherlands and avoiding exorbitant estate agent fees) I think the guys over at Monster Rent missed the memo on this. Instead of clicking on a property and being given more tantalizing images and details, the user is asked to sign up for an account costing 4.95 euro per month. Only 4.95 I hear you cry, surely good value if you are to avoid those pesky fees? If they had more than 23 properties available then I would have agreed. Showing more detail will help secure more sign ups, more interest from landlords, more apartments advertised, more lettings and ultimately more revenue. Instead, I simply left Monster Rent's site and spent more time writing this blog entry.
On a recent trip to the Bulgarian capital Sofia, I used the city's metro system. One lev bought me passage into the city centre. The ticket was narrow and light, made from flimsy paper. Entry through the gate is achieved by scanning the small bar code at the top of the ticket. This is not easy as you need to insert half of the ticket into the waist-height reader while maintaining it in your hand. I hit the casing around the reader a couple of times trying to pinpoint the reader. I can understand the frustration of fellow passengers behind me as I struggled slightly. Finally I did it. The light turned from red to green and I was expected to proceed and push through the bar in front of me. A tribute to the colours of the Bulgarian flag maybe but passengers with red green colour blindness might be even further delayed by the use of this convention.
Although necessary for the vast numbers of people it has to move, London's underground is much more efficient in term of entering the system. A larger more robust ticket is sucked up by the machine and is presented back to the user slightly further along the now-opened gate, encouraging them to move forward. That said much preferred the spacious stations and carriages of Sofia's burgeoning metro system. The city itself is also filled with interesting history and beautiful buildings.
I'm Frank Gaine. Strategist, Designer, Manager, Founder, Educator.