Yahoo! Go Mobile Design Vision

Yahoo! Go Mobile Design Vision

Yahoo! Go Mobile Design Vision

Yahoo has made its content available on mobile phones since the first wireless enable cellphones came to market in the late 90‘s. In 2005 Yahoo! developed Go Mobile, a Java-based client application, the crown jewel of mobile offerings.

Challenge: Under the design direction of Pamela Mead, several levels of mobile service were developed allowing users with different types of phone to have an experience of Yahoo! on their phone, whatever the make or carrier.

Response: The most distinctive service, Yahoo! Go Mobile featured a “game changing” interaction design with carousel navigation for browsing Yahoo! content.

Result: The service allowed users to get all their Yahoo! information and content services in one place. Yahoo! Go Mobile seen above, was deployed as beta software and performed well until the Go platform underpinning the service was closed in December 2009.

Role: Senior Director, Product Design

Year: 2006

Yahoo! Connected TV Design Vision

Yahoo! Go TV Design Vision

Yahoo! Connected TV Initial Design Concepts

Yahoo! Go TV, or Connected TV as it is called today, explored the opportunity to transport the Yahoo! user experience from the desktop to the living room. It meant building a design team who could develop a 10 foot user experience.

Challenge: The challenge of Yahoo! Go TV was to create a team of designers who could develop a go to market solution and a design vision that could attract new partners to collaborate and invest in an emerging business.

Response: Dr. Mike Mills led the design team who prototyped a series of short and long-range concepts. A short term go to market solution made entertainment services available on any PC-connected TV through a small downloadable application on the PC. The services included local and video search, movie trailers, movie times, TV shows, user ratings and weather, sports scores, stock data and news from My Yahoo.

Long term design visions were created as working prototypes to show how Yahoo! personal content could be integrated with live broadcast. Single point solutions called ‘widgets’ were developed for delivering the latest sport or news highlights. A flexible interface for navigating and filtering personal media content for photos and music with10 levels of zooming was also built.

Results: The go to market solution was demonstrated at the CES electronics show in 2006 to good reviews. The long range design prototypes were shown to business partners and succeeded in creating opportunities for new joint ventures.

Since August 2010, Yahoo! Connected TV has deployed widgets for TV’s providing customers with the latest updates on information from across the Yahoo! network along with Movies and TV shows on demand.

Role: Senior Director, Product Design

Year: 2006

Yahoo! Sports Design Improvement

Yahoo! Sport Website Design Improvement

Yahoo! Sports redesign 2003 before and after

Evolving the popular sports website for Yahoo! was a huge challenge. With a very small team and resources compared to rival ESPN, becoming the leading online Sports editorial service and leader in fantasy sports and broadband programming for both users and advertisers was a tough task.

Challenge: Brian Grey, then head of Yahoo! Sports, requested a redesign that would compete head to head with rivals such as ESPN, Fox and Sportsline. The challenge was tough.

First, Making the site compete on content would be a challenge, because Yahoo! Sport creates less original sport content than media companies such as ESPN or proprietary right owners like the NFL and MLB.

Second, to attract fortune 100 advertisers to invest more heavily, the site needed to feel more sporty and less like a list of sport statistics and news feeds. This meant adding new content sources and new team members including user experience design.

Lastly, a new navigation experience was needed to accommodate more sports, enabling greater content and business to be developed in each vertical. Navigation had to be flexible to accommodate seasonal variations in sports, whilst remaining easy to use so repeat visitors could easily find sport results on a daily basis.

Results: The sports team had very clear goals and objectives, but no dedicated design resources to help achieve them. I argued the business case for investing in two dedicated heads (visual and interaction design disciplines) and negotiated borrowed headcount from user research and web development. With a world class design team hard at work, the site went through the full user centered design process. Within a year the news site was launched.

Results following the launch of the redesign were spectacular. The site moved from #4 to #2 on the internet behind market leader ESPN. Unique monthly visitors increased by 52%.

Three new sponsors, Pepsi, Ford, and KFC, invested heavily in the newly designed sponsorship templates for major league sports. Companies such as Ace Hardware, Nike, Cingular, Planters, and Tums followed suit, bringing new advertising to the service.

Our users were impressed, too. The amount of time spent on each page was greater than on competitors ESPN, Sportsline, and AOL Sports. The look and feel of the service set a new standard for online sport media that has been very hard to beat but often imitated.

Role Design Director

Year 2003

Yahoo! News Website Design Improvement

Yahoo! News Website Design Improvement

Yahoo News Design Improvement before and after images

Yahoo! News requested a redesign of the their popular website. What started out as a dynamically generated set of text based news feeds was transformed into a customer centric, advertising friendly #1 news internet site on the web.

Challenge: Yahoo! News wanted to be the best and most relevant online news service on the Internet. Its goal was to create a compelling and customizable new view for users; build deeper feature and content packaging to enhance contextual advertising opportunities; and drive traffic from the site, deeper into other parts of the Yahoo! network.

Response: Making over the site involved introducing new skills to the News department who were reluctant to let go of the way things worked at first.

With the introduction of a six-month research phase consisting of focus groups, usability studies, segmentation analysis, field research, and advertising studies, I was able to bring the news team to a shared understanding of the scope and scale of what we needed to do from a design perspective to help them achieve their goals. Resources were approved and I built a world class team of interdisciplinary designers to transform the site.

Findings from the research phase informed the design of a customized digital news experience targeted at specific customer segments. Users were offered up-to-the minute, comprehensive, contextual news with features informed by consumer insights. Pages were easier to navigate and were laid out to be clearer to read.

For advertisers, the new site offered integrated and more valuable ad units. The design enabled sponsors to underwrite parts of the site by providing templates that they could “plug and play” their content and brand into.

Results: Yahoo! News moved to #1 news site category on the web according to Neilson Netratings enabling it to reach its goal of becoming the best and most relevant online news service on the Internet of its time.

Unique visitors to the News site increased five times within a year of launch. With new visitors and greater traffic to the site, advertising revenue increased and more people were drawn into the Yahoo! brand experience.

Testimonial from Kourosh Karimkhany, Senior Producer of Yahoo! News

“I met Sally when she was running one of Yahoo’s design groups and I was running the day-to-day operations of Yahoo News. My product had been performing well, but was not well respected and was not growing fast enough in comparison to our competitors. Sally was assigned to my redesign project – which turned out to be one of the most fortuitous turns in my career. She led a team that essentially invented the current form of Yahoo News – the largest news site in the world.

She came up with very clever solutions to devilish problems – like how to display a lot of information on one page without overwhelming the reader, and how to present the same story from several news organizations. These were radical ideas that Google News aped a couple years later. 

She was a consummate pro as well.

My team had several strong personalities (yours truly included), but she managed to keep egos and tempers in check. What’s more, even though different members gave wildly different suggestions, Sally managed to sprinkle just the right pinch of each of our demands into the final product. 

The result: Yahoo News’ traffic exploded. A year after the redesign traffic was five times higher.

I would LOVE to work with her again. While I like to brag about Yahoo News’ explosive growth as one of the highlights on my career, Sally truly deserves more of the credit.

Role: Design Director

Year: 2004

Yahoo! Movies Design Improvement

Yahoo! Movies Website Design Imrpovement

Yahoo! Movies Design Improvement

The web as a medium for promoting film had yet to prove its worth in Hollywood in 2002 at the time of the sites redesign. By making the presentation layer of Yahoo! Movies more familiar to often-conservative, middle-aged studio executives, Yahoo! was able to capture a major investment from the movie industry.

Challenge: Yahoo! movies was a popular site with users on a Thursday evening when people were looking for a film to see on the weekend. It did rather less well during the week. In the eyes of potential advertisers in Hollywood, it did little to entice them to spend advertising dollars. The challenge was two fold, create a site to attract advertisers and keep users coming back every day of the week to the website.

Response: For the site to be appealing to the movie crowd, it had to offer movie sponsorship opportunities and integrate broadband content, editorial reviews and, most important, the promise to sell movie tickets over the web.

Getting the right balance between content aggregation, movie promotion, ads, and editorial content was a new design challenge. By offering fewer larger ad positions at the top of the page, producers were excited to invest. By rotating the content on the home page according to the ebb and flow of the movie industries production and promotion cycle we were able to attract users back on a daily basis.

For example, traffic to the site peaked on Friday, when users wanted to find a movie and show times. Promotions of weekend releases drove users to the theaters for opening day. Monday’s home page featured the box office highs and lows over the weekend. Understanding the movie studios’ timing, established Yahoo! Movies as a part of the entertainment industry.

Results: Yahoo! Movies became the #1 entertainment site on the web following the launch of the redesign. Within a year of the launch, unique monthly visitors increased by 34%.

The Movies team relocated to Santa Monica and quickly became enmeshed in the glamor of Hollywood. The movie industry took this commitment seriously, and their influence on the team’s thinking benefited both industries.

Role: Design Manager.

Year: 2002

Excite Mobile Application Design

Excite Mobile Application Design

Excite Mobile Application design

By 2000, mobile phones with Internet capabilities were coming to market rapidly. As part of its business strategy to extend customer reach and gain market share in the emerging mobile Internet market.

Challenge: As the mobile application designer, my task was to transform existing internet applications like email, news, entertainment and weather onto a limited-screen-space mobile phone experience.

Response: At the time, images on mobile internet phones were black and white and with screen sizes that could be as small as three lines of text. The work was highly creative despite the design constraints imposed by the hardware and software limitations.

Results: Of the many applications I designed, developing the first customizable internet enabled mobile phone home page in the U.S. allowed users to choose the mobile applications they wanted to use. The innovation gave Excite leverage to compete head-to-head with Yahoo! for placement of WAP services on the highly valued mobile home pages of carriers such as Sprint.

For Excite customers, the service provided increased freedom from their PC, now that applications were available anytime, anywhere and on any computer or mobile Internet device. The Excite, the service extended the brand to more customers, some of whom were accessing the Internet for the first time from their cell phones.

Role: Designer

Year: 2000

Feng Shui School Website Design Improvement

Goldengate Feng Shui School Website Design Improvement

Website Redesign for FengShui School 2007

A new vision for the Golden Gate School of Feng Shui’s website. A great opportunity to enhance the brand appeal to attract new students to learn about the school.

Challenge: The goals of the redesign were three fold.

  1. To create a clean professional new look and feel that would appeal to a wider range of visitors.
  2. To create an exciting dynamic home page that would engage users to explore deeper into the site.
  3. To increase the amount of time visitors spent on the site by offering new content like video reviews, articles from past students, questionnaires, surveys, product merchandising etc.

Response: Establishing the right ‘mood’ for the site was key to its success. A competitive brand audit of other Feng Shui schools revealed a gap in the market for a high impact, professional design with strong visual appeal. Several  mood boards were created and tested. The one chosen used a rich color palette or reds and golds cut with green (image above right).

The mood and color palette brought a vibrant mixture of ancient oriental imagery combined with a modern sensibility which was how the school wished to position its brand in the market.

The imagery, colors and fonts from the mood board were applied to a new layout and a fresh set of page templates were designed to show case new and existing material in an easy to read, simple to use site.

Result: The new vision for the schools website was well received by its leader.

Date 2007

Role Designer

Apple India Mobile Healthcare

Apple Mobile Health Vision Work in India

Apple India Mobile Healthcare

The Indian government asked Apple to develop software to run on the Newton PDA that would permit rural healthcare workers to keep more accurate census and family planning records. I was part of the initial team who made many trips to rural Rajasthan to study the people, environment and healthcare system to inform the design of the product.

Challenge: Inaccurate capture of census and family planning data in rural India costs the government significant time and money. It makes planning for healthcare needs. Records are traditionally paper based and written in many different languages. Accuracy is lost when data is translated into English and transferred up the healthcare hierarchy.

Response: This type of research was ground breaking for Apple and the Government of India. There are no rules for developing products like this. My response was to assimilate what I saw and act as communicator to the team and beyond and explain the value of what we were doing and why it was important.

I set about collecting and analyzing all the official healthcare documents the nurses had to fill in, then had them translated into English. This activity revealed much about the wide spread number of Governmental programs in effect and would inform the information architecture of the software.

Writing and producing the video “Padma’s Story: A Day in the Life or a Rural Indian Healthcare Worker” helped our sponsors see the unmet needs of the 360.000 auxiliary nurse midwifes of rural India and our work to try and solve some of them.

Noticing the absence of electrical outlets in rural villages and field hospitals I designed a portable solar power panel to charge the Newton. The panel was sewn into a shoulder bag the nurse carried on her rounds.

Results: The project was ahead of its time and the problems we uncovered are multi layered, dynamic and just as relevant today as they were in 1994. The video and papers I published continue to be sited by students of mobile healthcare research to this day.

The software was completed and prototyped on the Newton 2000. Tests revealed it performed well in early field trials. The technology was transferred to India where its development continued, not in the healthcare market but for use by commodity dealers in the trading of tea.

Role: Design, research, information architect, documentary maker.

Year: 1994

Kodak Picture CD Design

Kodak Photo CD Vision Work

Kodak Photo CD Design

Eastman Kodak was, at one time, the global market leader in camera film. During the 1990s, the rise of digital photography negatively impacted Kodak’s sales, and the company needed to find a way to recoup its losses.

Challenge: Before the Internet enabled the storage and processing of digital images, CD-ROMs bridged the digital gap by offering both traditional film processing and digital pictures. The challenge was to show Kodak how they could transform the marketplace for consumer photography by providing customers with a new way of working with their photos on a  CD-ROM.

Response: I developed the interaction and user experience specifications for the first working prototype of the Kodak Photo CD. Kodak provided the functionality, based on consumer insights, and Intel provided the technology. Product features supported storage, sharing, printing, and retrieval of photographs, as well as limited editing, slideshow display, wallpaper, and screensaver functionality.

Consumers would bring their CDs into national retail chains that offered Kodak Picture CD services and pay approximately $8.95 – $10.95 for two-day turnaround of their photographs.

Result: Designing the Photo CD helped Kodak to transform itself and the marketplace for consumer photography. The Kodak Photo CD proved to be an international retail success.

Role: Interaction designer with design agency Studio Archetype

Year: 1998

Apple Big Table Vision Work

Apple Big Table Vision Work

Apple Big Table : Vision work for a collaborative work space

Big Table is large multi-user interactive table. It was an investigation into the implications of new technologies, based on real-world user activity, developments in display technology, and customer needs.

Challenge: Working with a small multi disciplinary team including interaction design, engineering and mechanical engineering, I lead a research investigation aimed at helping Apple’s publishing and multimedia markets by providing a larger working context for single and multiple users.

Technically, we looked at the possibilities and issues that arise when pixels become cheap and monitor geometries are no longer constrained by conventional CRT technology.

Commercially, we leveraged the Macintosh advantage inherent in the OS which permits multiple monitors to be linked easily.

Response: By building a working prototype (top image) for a large multi sided table, we were able to test ideas for how the table could support people in real-world activities. Some of the scenarios we prototyped and tested included:

  • Table as Public Work Space: People bring information to a meeting, often on paper, laptops, or mobile devices. A prototype for document sharing between devices and across the tables’ surface was developed. The center picture shows the team passing a document from a hand held device, onto the table surface across to another person at the table.
  • Table as Game Space: A table has a natural advantage because of its large display area as well as being an opportunity for an omni-directional display. To test this out, we devised a game that could be played from any side of the table. A four sided game of Pong was voted our most popular prototype with members of ATG.

Results: Through our explorations into hardware displays, multi user interactive work spaces, and integrated products, we touched the surface of opportunities for Apple’s markets in Multimedia and publishing. Apples’ Advanced Technology Lab was closed whilst the team were building the second generation of Big Table and the work was stopped.

Role: Design Manager

Year: 1997