Virtual World Manipulation

Teenage Usability

Teens are (over)confident in their web abilities, but they perform worse than adults. Lower reading levels, impatience, and undeveloped research skills reduce teens’ task success and require simple, relatable sites.

from Jacob Nielsen’s alertbox

A new kind of natural selection

As change happens more rapidly, people are less able to get used to things “as they have always been”

Change used to be something that took centuries, then decades, then years to ripple thru the echelons of society’s temperament. But as change forces itself on all people at this ever increasing rate, I BELIEVE it has set in motion an evolution an increase in the relative percentage of people in our society who welcome and seek change, and a related decrease in the relative percentage of those who resist and prevent it.

Interesting way to launch a service

Mailchimp is offering a 2% discount to anyone who signs up for their new “two factor security for web apps” service called Alter Ego.

The whole two-factor security is – in itself – a worthy topic, but I’m saving this technique in a post because it’s interesting to see how a successful company – Mailchimp – is leveraging their existing user base to slowly build adoption of their new tool.

The Dollar Value of a Single Question

Every question you ask someone within a checkout form forces them to decide what you are asking, come up with an answer, and then enter their answer into the affordance (form input) you have provided. Removing a question removes all of these considerations. And surprise… it can have a real impact.

For questions that can’t be removed potential customers need to understand what’s required of them. A lack of clarity in form labels, input fields, or actions can cause people to misinterpret requirements, thereby leading to errors or failed submissions. Addressing these issues is a common way to boost form conversion.

For example, a major online travel site had an optional question labeled “Company” in the payment step of their checkout form. Many customers mis-interpreted this question as a request for their bank information, which they entered in subsequent fields causing credit card verification to fail. The site removed the “Company” field and saw an overnight increase of $12 million a year in profit.

Gmail – Delete Images & Attachments But Save The Message

Here’s a good post on how to do that.  He references a freeware utility called IMAP Size.  I haven’t given this a shot yet, will do so one of these days:)

Who have you given access to?

With all the sites you’re able to connect your Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc accounts, it’s easy to forget if you gave permissions to a service that you forgot still has permissions.

Enter “My Permissions” – just click on the icon and see who you’ve given access to.  And then delete/revoke access to any.  Super easy.

Advanced Custom Bitly Domain

I recently helped a client setup a custom domain for their bitly account.  Bitly of course makes this extremely easy except for one small thing:  We wanted the root domain to redirect to their main site.

To give an example, let’s say I had a custom short domain of “amit.st” that I wanted to use for redirecting people to “amitstreet.com”.  The standard approach is to point the A-Record of that domain to Bitly’s IP address.  And for any shared link, this will redirect fine, but if someone gets curious and wants to type in just “http://amit.st” they’ll get redirected over to “http://bit.ly” which is not what I want.

So after a quick Google search, I found the answer, and I’ll share it here:

First: Point your DNS at your own server (i.e. do NOT point your A-Record at Bitly’s IP Address)

Next: use this code base in your .htaccess file:

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on

RewriteRule ^$ xUniVT [L]
RewriteRule ^custom$ yX3Lbm [L]

RewriteRule ^/?$ http://amit.st/ [L]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://bit.ly/$1 [R=301,NC]

To use this code

1) replace “amit.st” with your own custom domain

2) In your bitly account, create a redirect to your home page

3) In Line 4 of the .htaccess code, replace the “xUniVT” with whatever bitly generates for the hompepage redirect you made in step 2

4) Line 5 is a little bonus: Instead of giving people “amit.st/4rReses” (which is bitly’s autogenerated URLification), you can make your own human-understandable shortness (i.e. amit.st/cool) and replace the “custom” with “cool” (remember, see line 5), and replace the “yX3Lbm” with whatever bitly autogenerates for you.

Blame The System, Not The People

Let’s face it: most of the world is poorly designed. Not just the world wide web. The entire world.

Yet when the limits of a design cause us to have a conflict with another person, it’s easiest to blame that other person instead of the system which made the conflict highly likely.

The problem is not that the world is so unoptimized but that there is rarely any protocol whatsoever for improving the design of anything.

The Artist-Scientist-Inventor

From Buckminster Fuller:

“Really great artists are scientists, and the really great scientists are artists and both are inventors. I call them artist-scientist-inventors. I think that all humans are born artist-scientist-inventors but that life progressively squelches the individual’s drives and capabilities. As a consequence, by the time most humans mature they have lost one, two or all three of those fundamental self-starters. When I speak of an artist or an inventor, I speak of circumstance-pruned specialization. Most of the universally born artist-scientist-inventors have one, two or all three of their innate capability values shut off in childhood. The original artist-scientist-inventor may retain his artist’s or his scientist’s critical faculties, or only his inventiveness.

World science has come to concede during the last decade that it is now feasible, within the scope of known technology, to support all of humanity at ever higher standards of living than any humans have ever known. In view of that scientific information, I intuit that artist-scientist-inventors who have reached maturity without critical impairment of their original faculties will now become responsible for initiating and industrializing the remainder of technology advancing inventions, for realizing the comprehensive physical and economic success of world man, and that with universal abundance, the warring, official and unofficial, will subside to innocuous magnitude. With that artist-scientist- inventor’s accomplishment, humanity may, for the first time in history, come to know the meaning of peace.”