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Nice little UX touch on the Fast Company website. If you click one of the buttons, it expands, else the bar stays neat and compact. Try it on this post.
Marissa Mayer took charge of Yahoo! earlier this week.
There are lots of people weighing in with what she should do; some suggestions, like Marc Andreessen’s to cut 10,000 jobs at the company and de-bloat it make a lot of sense. Users of course straightaway plumped for a revamp of Flickr. It is no doubt going to be an uphill climb to turn the company around but I’m not as pessimistic as some.
In my limited capacity as a long-time user of Yahoo! (I still use Yahoo! Mail every day, and have been a Flickr Pro account holder for a few years now), here’s my personal take on what she should do (in an ideal world!), in no particular order:
1. Buy Quora and integrate Yahoo Answers: Before Quora came along, Yahoo Answers actually provided the community aspect of searching for answers on the web, and continues to be shown in a lot of Google search results. It’s now very low on quality and largely irrelevant as answers are very dated. Quora has taken on a lot of what Yahoo Answers used to do well, but with the added benefit of using the community to filter up the most relevant answers.
2. Make Flickr a place people actually want to be: Get a UX designer in that knows her job. Most people I know who use Flickr use it a) because they’re locked in, having paid subscription fees that are years long and b) haven’t yet seen a solution that is good enough to force them to move – the day they do, Flickr’s time is up. Photostreams are still confusing to access (sets, collections, galleries – nothing is easy to understand or use), and share (guest passes for friends, family, private and public access – surely things don’t have to be so hard). Seriously, go back to making it a place people want to be. This damning Gizmodo piece shows how Yahoo messed it up so badly, but it’s not too late to change things. Facebook is now the largest photo-sharing site in the world, and I recently heard Sheryl Sandberg say at a talk that they’re really doing things with that.
3. Buy Compfight: It uses the Flickr API – this one should just be a done deal. I use it a lot because it’s much cleaner than Google Images, there’s no worry someone’s going to email you screaming blue murder for using a wrongly-licensed or unlicensed image because it’s so easy to filter by Creative Commons-licenses and it’s free, unlike Shutterstock.
4. De-spam Yahoo Messenger and integrate it better into Yahoo Mail: Too many spammers pop-up on Messenger, diluting the experience, and there’s no way to see who’s online the way Google Talk does.
5. Integrate Notepad into Yahoo Mail: I didn’t even know it existed till recently. Bank a Yahoo version of Google Docs but surely making it easier for people to use what you already have shouldn’t be that tough. Also, be consistent with labelling! Within Mail, Yahoo has ‘contacts’, but then it’s also ‘addresses’ - a UX job is much needed for Mail.
6. Socialise Oddly Enough: There’s the weirdest and coolest of stuff in this section – I mean YouTube pretty much became what it is thanks to Charlie and his ilk, and people keep creating Tumblrs of weird stuff everyday. Get those bedroom bloggers to be part of Oddly Enough to drive traffic.
7. Decide what you want to be: Marissa Mayer has vast experience in search courtesy her time at Google. Carol Bartz focussed on making Yahoo everyone’s personalised homepage. Does Yahoo want to take on Google in the search department? Or does it want to try and take on Facebook in the social department, which Google is still struggling to do with Google+? Can it do both even if it wants to?
8. Shed some parts. Andreessen talked about shedding employee numbers, I’d say close things like Dating and Cars as part of that. They’re not Yahoo’s core competency. They never will be. Yahoo does have a partnership with match.com but I’m not quite sure why, as far as the Dating section goes, and as for Cars – it’s a hodge-podge of a sales notice board and news, resulting in neither being good enough. If I had to buy or sell a car, I’d just go to Autotrader anyway.
9. Mobile: This is a real missed opportunity. Ms. Mayer’s last role at Google focussed on location services. I don’t want to say ‘Foursquare’ but there are things Yahoo could and should be doing on mobile. Make Local part of it, for example, because people are doing things with it. N0tice comes to mind, but there are plenty out there.
My 2p worth.
My lovely friends at Made by Many have made a new animation video explaining Skype in the Classroom. The service itself has changed considerably, and made a lot of progress in becoming even more useful for teachers across the globe to use. They’re also looking for experts in different fields who’d like to share their expertise with children. Log-in is now simplified: teachers can log in with their Facebook, Twitter or Skype IDs, and it’s very simple to search for collaborators using the new profile pages and homepage. They built the Collections section after I left, and I love how it groups projects together under themes too. Take a look, and don’t forget to pass it on to any friends or colleagues in the education field.
As much as I enjoyed Cath’s post about this being a great time to work in the internet, I couldn’t help but laugh when Aleks Krotoski pointed me to this IT Crowd sketch about the internet. It’s always good to take a step back and remind myself that there are still people to whom the internet is the 2012 equivalent of a box. And that’s why as much as the latest technology will continue to fascinate me and fold people (me!) into its grip, the best messages are usually those that are simple. It’s not the strategy that every brand can afford to adopt (if you have 1% of the market share then you have to work that much harder just to be heard, forget having to communicate your USP), but even Apple learnt this when they translated iCloud’s benefits into language that this author’s mother can understand without effort.
I think this song by Jonathan Mann – an ode to Siri, so to speak – (he’s been writing a song a day and recently hit the 1000 mark), is really amusing. It also made me think of some of the talks at Playful on Friday. I’m one of those who isn’t disillusioned by science fiction and the 80′s dream that we should have seen giant robot cars by now, and I think Siri is pretty damn cool.
Via The Atlantic.
When I saw this presentation about mobile entrepreneurship in Africa by the World Wide Web Foundation at the recent Over The Air mobile hack weekend, I was reminded of a recent Wired story on tech opportunities in Africa.
There’s some exciting stuff happening there.
As always, good to listen to Kevin Kelly talking about the future of the internet. He’s summarised it with six verbs: screening, interacting, sharing, flowing, accessing and generating.
Some thoughts of his that stood out:
* a large network is more valuable than multiple small networks because sharing is easier with a large network.
* anything that can be shared, will be shared
* the move to curated streams (e.g our personal Twitter/Facebook streams) from flows, pages, desktops.
* (this bit I don’t quite agree with, though it is a reflection of the real-time Twitter-dominated times we live in): if it isn’t real-time, it doesn’t count
* I was quite amused to hear him refer to Spotify as ‘Sean Parker’s Spotify’; clearly in the US Parker is the pull, though in Europe it’s founder Daniel Ek that’s more discussed.
* The internet is the world’s largest copy machine: anything that can be copied will be copied.
* The only value is that which cannot be copied, but it should be easy to pay to access it.
* Wherever attention is, money will follow.
I joined Google Plus in the first few days of its launch but I’m still figuring out my strategy. I find that most people are using it the same way as they use Twitter, which I dislike and am refraining from. Clearly it (and everyone on it) is still finding its feet, and it will take its time to reach critical mass. In the meantime, though, this XKCD comic made me chuckle.
One one hand, you’ll never be able to convince your parents to switch. On the other hand, you’ll never be able to convince your parents to switch!
Seth Godin recently pointed to Richard Thaler’s article in the New York Times about how governments and businesses should make the data they collect about us consumers available to us in a form we understand. It is our data after all. You know the way Google and Facebook target their ads to us – he’s right when he says we have a right to know how they make those decisions to show us what they want to – rather, what advertisers want to. I think open data is the way forward and sooner or later there will be a more concerted effort made around getting this to happen. As Godin says:
Data about data is more important than ever, and being on the side of the person creating that data is a smart place to be.
Jan Chipchase also recently wrote a really good post about making field data transparent to participants, and giving them control over what is finally tabled:
Today we live in a world of data servitude, where commercial organisations own and have the rights to exploit the personal data that lies on their servers. Whilst the effort taken to harvest, sift and draw value comes with the assumption of being able to then seek commercial returns fro this investment, the relationship is one-sided, the process for the most part opaque. To truly go full circle is to give participants the rights and access to their personal data both now and for ever more, something that will enabled by the prevalence of always-on connectivity and a shift the expectations of participants.