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.
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.
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.
- To create a clean professional new look and feel that would appeal to a wider range of visitors.
- To create an exciting dynamic home page that would engage users to explore deeper into the site.
- 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.
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.
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
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
In this research investigation 3Desque, I explored design possibilities and constraints for 3D enhancements of graphical user interfaces for the Mac OS.
Challenge: The challenge was how could you convey more information to Mac users whilst using less screen space and avoiding visual clutter?
Response: I designed and prototyped a set of information rich behaviors for the onscreen representation of users documents, containers and working environment. Dr. Gavin Miller built a C++ prototype based on my designs and took the exploration of “window” behavior to a new level of sophistication, making them appear to “slap back” moving from a 2D to 3D projection.
Some of the features we developed included live scrolling of windows and support for the smart layout of icons (documents) and trays (folders). Information associated with documents could be explored without opening the application saving users time.
“Periphs” which were black lines at the edge of a 3D window indicating more content was available beyond the window boundary were created. Innovations in lighting and shading techniques and along with environments designed for different user needs were designed prototyped and tested.
The prototypes allowed us to demonstrate the viability of content rich interface behaviors for finding and working with user content on the Mac.
Result: By projecting the Macintosh finder into 3D, we were able to make greater use of screen space and provide a better context for displaying the relationship between user interface elements.
We demonstrated 3Desque at the 1996 Apple Developer conference to good reviews. We also published an article “3Desque: interface elements for a 3D graphical user interface” in the Journal of Visualization and Computer Animation in June 1999.
With less than six weeks before the Annual Report was scheduled to arrive in recipients’ mail boxes, I was engaged to design the 2006-2007 annual report for Peninsula Habitat for Humanity.
Challenge: The annual report had to accommodate different content types including homeowner stories, lists of volunteers, and columns of financial statistics.
Response: Constrained for time it meant working with what content was available rather than going out and shooting new images or writing new homeowner insights. To bring the content together, I created a flexible grid with a consistent layout of across each page and spread in the report.
A consistent visual design language for each page element, including headings, body text, paragraphs, numbering schemes, lines, borders, and captions brought unity to all the parts creating a flow and rhythm to the report as you flicked through its pages.
Results: Working with both time and resource constraints, I had to assimilate quickly all the components and design a container that would gracefully hold the report together in a manner befitting the brand. Constraints can be creative opportunities to produce value for a client. In this example, value came from a high quality design without high end production costs. In fact the report was printed simply on recycled paper a choice that sat well with the non profit organization and its supporters.
A winning poster design for the 1993 Admirals Cup Yacht Race at Cowes sponsored by Mumm Champagne.
Challenge: As a student at the Royal College of Art, it was common to find industry sponsors offering large prizes to students in return for giving them new ideas to help out their marketing departments. Such was the case with Mumm Champagne who offered champagne prizes to winning students in return for posters promoting their sponsorship of the boat race in Cowes.
Response: Using Photoshops’ latest styling tools, I digitally manipulated an image of a yacht to imply the view of the yacht race from the bottom of your champagne glass.
Results: The sponsors loved the poster and I received a magnum of champagne for my efforts.
BBC Children in Need is a registered charity that has been making annual broadcast appeals to raise money for children in need since 1927. As a student, I designed a poster to encourage people to “get up” and make a donation to cause.
Challenge: Inspired by the work of the great poster creators, Abraham Games and Ian McKnight Kauffer, I wanted to create a high impact, attention grabbing poster that would motivate people to contribute to the charity.
Response: Created on paper using line drawings and overlays of colored film, the image tried to capture the moment someone left the room to go and make a donation. The intention was to inspire others to do the same.
Results: Each year the BBC receive donations from supporters across the UK that allow them to fund projects for disadvantaged children. If my poster encouraged one person to get up and make a donation, then it performed its job well.