The ideas of social business and online community, which show how the most scalable, cost-effective, and rich model for working is to enable the network to do the work. I’ve now come to understand that in digital transformation, we have to let the network do the work. Put simply, there is no practical way to achieve the pace and breadth of transformation required in exponential times without using exponential tools.
In the aftermath (afterglow?) of the recent US elections I’ve been giving some thought to discussions about rural America that have been bouncing around. I drove through quite a bit of this ruralness on my way to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch this past weekend for a climbing trip with friends. Don’t worry, I didn’t think too much about all this while we climbing. But we did have some good conversation around the campfire.
On my drive home from the Ranch yesterday I decided to stop at a couple of historical markers along Highway 7. I’ve driven this road several times, and have seen the signs for the markers, but had never stopped before. Here’s what I found.
The first marker at which I stopped was a commemoration for the Arkansas marble used in the Washington Monument.
This marker commemorates the Arkansas marble in Washington’s Monument, taken by Beller and Harp bros. from this hill in 1836. This marker erected in 1954 by Newton Co. History Society. W.F. Lackey Pres, Manda Hickman Sec.
A quick Google search (Arkansas marble Washington Monument) returned some great sites and information about the stone, the Washington Monument, and even the roadside marker itself.
Boone County Caravan Spring
The other marker at which I stopped on my journey was a commemoration of a much less successful journey from the mid 19th century.
Near this spring, in September 1857, gathered a caravan of 150 men, women and children, who here began the ill-fated journey to California. The entire party, with the exception of seventeen small children, was massacred at Mountain Meadows, Utah, by a body of Mormons disguised as Indians.
I came across these two markers, commemorating the actions of people just a couple of miles, and a couple of years, apart in what many people would call “the middle of nowhere”. No real point here except a reminder that there is a lot of history all around us in this big wide country of ours. Not all of it makes it into the history books, but it is all a part of how we got to where we are, and where we are going.
In addition to the many different features implemented in the various Web browsers, there are many different decisions and choices made in the design of the features common across browsers. Some make sense to me and some don’t. For example…
Right clicking a link provides several options for interacting with the link, the options being different based on browser features. The most common of these options, listed at the top of the right-click list, are options for opening the link, typically “Open in new tab” or “Open in new window”. In IE11, however, the top option on right-click is simply “Open”.
What decision process went it including the “Open” option on right-click in IE11? Did the designers think that a lot of people would want the first option on right-click to be exactly the same option as simply left clicking? Indeed, how many people right-click and select “Open” when they could simply left-click and open the link?
Smart card authentication
I use a smart card to authenticate to our organizational websites. Different browsers have a different visual design of the dialog for selecting certificates and entering PINs, which makes sense to match the overall visual design of the browser. But the on-screen location of these dialogs differs in interesting, and significant, ways.
In Chrome, for example, the certificate selection dialog is displayed at the center-top of the browser window while the PIN entry dialog is displayed at the center of the screen. If you have the browser in full screen this is the center of the browser, otherwise not. This can be especially irritating if you have a multi-screen setup and you are using Chrome on the non-default screen: the PIN entry dialog will show up on a completely different screen from the browser in which you are working.
In IE, on the other hand, both the certificate selection and PIN entry dialogs are displayed in the center of the browser window. Not only is this more intuitive (to me, anyway), it provides consistency of location for all actions related to logging in via smart card.
Update: It turns out that IE doesn’t do this universally. When sending a digitally signed email using the smart card in Outlook Web Access, the PIN entry window is displayed in the center of the screen (the default screen if you have more than one).
Were these conscious design decisions for placement of the smart card related dialogs? Did each of the design teams look at both options (center screen and center window) and simply make a difference decision? If so, what drove that decision? Or perhaps this is just default behavior for these types of actions based on the overall design and code of the browser. Perhaps something to do with the underlying OS (in this case Windows) since smart card authentication requires interaction with the OS?
Intentional or incidental
These are just the two design differences that I notice most frequently, I’m sure there are many many more. I can’t help wondering are these choices intentional or incidental? Is it possible to make an intentional decision about every design element? Is it desirable?
How intentional are you about the design of your products, and how much of the design simply “is”?
Now, though, I think we can see an evolution beyond ‘mobile first’. What happens if you just forget about the PC altogether? But also, what happens if you forget about featurephones? What happens if you presume all of the sophistication that a modern smartphone has and a PC does not, and if you also presume that, with 650m iPhones in use and 2.5bn smartphones in total, you can build a big company without thinking about the low end anymore?
“We’re not here to get to show off our work, we’re here to make awesome products,” says Hill. “I think that’s super important.” It’s a belief that’s reflected by Groene, too. “If the work is not good inside, the product cannot be good on the outside,” he says, noting that you’re squeezing a lot of technology into small volumes.