Friday, February 26, 2010

Painting with fire

"Flame" is an experimental painting program that let's you experiment with colors and brush settings. 

Hat-tip to Corey Lucier@Facebook for the find.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Designer Workstations


Here's a fun blog post, looking the workstations of designers and bloggers. The picture above is my desk here at Clearspring, where we work on AddThis.

What does your workstation look like?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Is there more to social networking than Facebook and MySpace?

(Data as of Feb 24, 2010)

Looking at the list of top social networks on AddThis (overall sharing, last 30 days) it's quickly apparent that while Facebook and MySpace dominate, at least half of the other top 12 services are destinations that are popular outside the United States. Orkut, Viadeo, Sonico, meinVZ, studiVZ and Hyves are all social networks that are very popular in other countries, and the others have heavy international usage as well.

A Closer Look at Orkut

Orkut is a great example; Wikipedia notes that although it started with a heavy US user base in 2004, by 2010 Orkut's users heavily skewed towards Brazil (47%) and India (38%) because of, among other factors, the dominance of Portuguese as the primary language of its users.

These numbers are mirrored by the sharing stats for Orkut via AddThis, where it's usage is heavily dominated by users in Brazil, India and Portugal.

If you compare the United States to Brazil, in the latter country Facebook is only #5 and Orkut enjoys over three times as much sharing:

Top 10 Services offers another interesting insight: while 43% of US internet users manage a social network profile, almost 60% of users in Brazil do, and these numbers persist across several other measures of online social activity. That's a heavily engaged and active social audience.

United States

 (Screen grabs from

These kinds of data are what makes working in social media so much fun. There's a whole world of people sharing across hundreds of different destinations – much more varied and interesting than just a few popular social networks.

Find out more:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tasty tasty web!

Here's a nice collection of patterns, examples and inspiration from the folks over at Pattern Tap:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Oblong Gesture-Activated Interfaces

Remember Tom Cruise culling through information in Minority Report (2002) using that gesture-activated interface? Interfaces like that aren't just science fiction anymore. Check out this article about Oblong Industries, founded by John Underkoffler, who led the original team that developed the MR interface.
The second link is an Oblong video demo of their work on Vimeo:

Flickr: The User Experience Sketches Pool

Looking for some brainstorming inspiration? This is a great collection of sketches from all kinds of user experiences.  The one above is an old whiteboard brainstorm from years ago. Enjoy!

Flickr: The User Experience Sketches Pool

Horizontal Menu And Top Navigation Design And Examples

Some very nice implementations of top navigation menus:

Horizontal Menu And Top Navigation Design And Examples

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Castle On the Ocean

Check out this stunning installation piece called "A Castle on the Ocean", constructed completely out of paper. Astounding!

A Paper Craft Castle On the Ocean « Tokyobling’s Blog

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Taking the Pulse of Sharing: A Closer Look at the New AddThis Service Directory

One the most interesting aspects of my job at AddThis is having the opportunity to use data to drive design decisions. The AddThis sharing platform is immense, and as a designer I'm incredibly fortunate to have access to a huge amount of information to help us optimize user experience for both publishers and their visitors.

At the core of this experience are the hundreds of different services (currently 233) used to save and share pages, as well as lots of lots of other things like printing, translating, converting to PDFs, shopping, and more.

Now with today's launch of the next AddThis Service Directory, you can explore all different kinds of trends across services and countries to understand how the world is sharing. One of the things we discovered early on is that when you step back and look at the bigger picture, across over 50 languages and hundreds of locales, sharing is much more varied and interesting than just Facebook and Twitter. For instance, in Brazil, Facebook is only #5 – Orkut is #1 with 25% of sharing. In China, Google Bookmarks is #1.

I thought I'd take a look at one my personal favorites, Email App, a service you can use to share any link using your computer's native email application. It's currently our fastest trending service, up 56%:
This sharp increase in usage began when we added an easy way to discover this and other email services to our email form:


This change helped to boost usage of the other email services as well:

Using these kinds of tools, we can understand whether a particular design decision works, and compare different approaches to offer our users the most effective experience we can.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Shock, Awe & Virality

Admit it, you've done it. You could have kept it to yourself, but you just had to spread it around. Who could blame you? It's easy to do.

I'm not referring to a virus, of course, but instead that news article about the King Tut's cause of death or Tiger Woods' latest mishap.

The authors of this paper studied over 7000 New York Times articles to research which factors cause content to be viral. What makes us want to share something?

They identified several factors including content that is:
  • Awe-inspiring
  • Surprising
  • Emotional
  • Useful
  • Positive
Fascinating article, check it out:

Social Transmission and Viral Culture « ResourceShelf

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Share any page from Safari on your iPhone with AddThis

As you might have guessed, I love to share interesting things I come across using AddThis. If I'm using my laptop or desktop mac, I can use AddThis for Firefox (or IE or Chrome or even a bookmarklet.)

If I'm using my iPhone, it's not as easy. If that website uses AddThis, no problem, I can use the handy iphone-optimized sharing menu. But if that site doesn't use AddThis yet, I have to use Safari's email-link feature. Not optimal.

Here's a bit of a hack that makes AddThis sharing easy from any page in Safari for iPhone.  These instructions will create a sharing "bookmarklet" for iPhone Safari – basically Javascript that looks and acts like a bookmark:
  1. Navigate to this page on your iPhone, and copy the Javascript below.
  2. Bookmark this page (or any page you like); save the bookmark wherever you'd like your bookmarklet to be.
  3. Open the bookmark menu on your iPhone (it's on the bottom menu in Safari, the icon that looks like an open book), navigate to the bookmark you just created, and edit it.
  4. Change the name of the bookmark to "Share", or whatever you'd like to call it. 
  5. Remove the saved URL completely, and paste the copied Javascript where the URL was and save the changes.
Here's the Javascript code:


Now, when you want to share a page, just open the bookmarks menu in Safari on your iPhone, select your new Share bookmarklet, and instead of navigating to another page Safari will execute the Javascript and share the page using AddThis.

Big hat tip to my partner in crime Jeff Wong for this tip.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Great products don't have to be good?

"What are the three (or fewer) key features that will make your product so great that you can cut or half-ass everything else?"

I've blogged a few times about focus and prioritization in experience design; this blogger uses the context of ongoing discussions about the upcoming iPad to posit that if your product is great, it doesn't have to be good.

One of the reasons I'm excited about the iPad is that I've noticed how much more time I spend doing non-phone things on my iPhone: browsing, music, messaging, Facebook, RunKeeper (for swimming, no less!), Tweetie, etc. For those of us who use our smartphones more like portable computers than phones, the iPad offers a potentially better and more efficient experience... or so we hope. We shall see.

In the meantime, give Paul's blog post a read. What are your three key features?
Paul Buchheit: If your product is Great, it doesn't need to be Good.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Quick Tip: Multiple Home Pages in Firefox

This isn't a new feature of Firefox, but it is a great trick for web browsing: instead of assigning just one home page, have Firefox open multiple tabs. Here's how:
  1. In a new browser window, create the tabs you'd like to see when you start Firefox, and navigate to your favorite pages in each. Personally, I'm starting with Google, Google News, Facebook, Google Analytics, AddThis, and Blogger.
  2. Open Firefox preferences and for Home Page, click Use Current Pages.
That's it. Note that each URL is separated by a pipe: |  so you can add to or edit the list without juggling tabs.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Blog redesign

My blog has been sporting a minimal look for a while; I'd say it was on purpose, but the truth is I just haven't taken the time to sit down and tackle learning the CSS. Here are a couple possible directions:

Open approach

While both concepts remove the left rail and utilize the footer for links and information, this approach keeps an open white background for content.

For sharing, this concept uses the standard AddThis Toolbox and a labs project, the AddThis Sharebar.

Framed approach

This concept by my very talented coworker Jeff Wong takes a different tactic, framing each post within a darker background. It uses a similar approach for a footer.

For sharing, he has used custom icons and styling to create a custom AddThis Toolbox.

What do you think? Open or dark? Big sharing buttons or small? Would you use the Sharebar at the bottom of the page to search blog content and share? Would you take a completely different approach?

With the snow coming this weekend, I might even have some time to crack this open, so let me know what you think. As always, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Guidelines, Tools and Resources For Web Wireframing | W3Avenue

When I worked for Netscape, AOL and Revolution we generally used Illustrator for wireframes. At Clearspring/AddThis, our creative director Jeff Wong and I use Omnigraffle, as we can frequently move directly from flows, to wireframes, to mocks all in the same tool. Much faster. Also, Omnigraffle handles multi-page PDFs rather nicely. I'm also a fan of their Omnifocus Todo app, but that's a different blog post!

This link from W3Avenue includes a huge collection of resources about Web wireframing:

Guidelines, Tools and Resources For Web Wireframing | W3Avenue

What's your favorite wireframing tool? What's been your experience with web wireframing?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The 10 Stages of Social Media Business Integration

From Brian Solis at FutureWorks, "the ten most common stages that businesses experience as they travel the road to full social media integration."

The 10 Stages of Social Media Business Integration

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Color Theory for Designers

The folks over at Smashing Magazine are running a series on color theory for designers. Check out these installments:

Color Theory for Designers, Part 1: The Meaning of Color - Smashing Magazine

Color Theory for Designers, Part 2: Understanding Concepts and Terminology

Grammy Awards Music

Yeah, ok, so a lot of the top awards finalists were kinda, eh. But, if you use iTunes, check out this link to all of the finalists in all categories and music genres. There is a ton of great music to be discovered, even if you're not so Gaga over the Lady:

Grammy Finalists and Winners

Death to the mobile Web?

Now that the iPad has been announced and all the mystery is gone as to hardware specs, pundits are relegated to opining as to the effect of the iPad on technology in general.

While some writers try to make a business case for an iPad, this writer suggests that iPads will spell the end of the mobile Web in general. Who needs websites reduced to tiny, ultra-efficient form factors when you can experience them on an iPad?

What do you think? For $30 a month, will iPhone users ditch the data and turn their iPhones into iTouches?

Apple's iPad Will Be the Death of the Mobile Web - PCWorld

Monday, February 1, 2010

Fact and Fiction: The Truth About Browser Cookies

For those looking for a very well articulated summary of cookies, how they work and what they mean, check out this article from

Fact and Fiction: The Truth About Browser Cookies - Cookies - Lifehacker

Information is beautiful

Nice collection of information design and visualization.

Information is beautiful: 30 examples of creative infography

Hat tip to Inspired Magazine.

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