Is Tom Skerritt the new Clippy 2.0?

Regular readers will know that I like to chew apart Social website UI's and any other website UI that I think is doing things better or differently.

I am looking at this site See Windows Vista and I am amazed by the use of technology, the UI design and the usability. It's remarkable. I doubt Vista will be THAT good… will it? But the site itself is remarkable I think. Stuff slides around, it's so… so… usable.

clippy20.jpg

Having said that, I don't think this new Clippy 2.0 (Tom Skerritt) can avoid the same fate of the old clippy. hehehe. I mean, that's what he is right? He guides you around, he hassles you, he tries to be chirpy and interactive. If you do nothing for a while he even walks up to your "screen" and knocks on it to get your attention. (I took the screenshot as he knocks on my screen.)

So what do I think of this UI? I think this UI is not at all suited to the emerging social interface (I mean, how do you shoe-horn "social" into this UI?) So while it's fantastically attractive, it's basically a much more attractive web-based brochure. A better mousetrap… hmmm… that's not necessarily a bad thing!

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PersonalBee & Squidoo (fight! fight! fight!)

I first wrote about thepersonalbee (blog) in this post: Tracking memes… and our world views

I went back for a visit today. Hmmm… it's relaxing.

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I really like the simple interface. Not to ajaxified, not to techy. The left hand column "popular public bees" is so simple and inviting. (I didn't immediately see that this was a scrollable region though).

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Look at the simplicity of their message:

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DISCOVER the news you care about.

SHARE the news with friends, family or colleagues.

BUILD your own news website or add news to your own blog or site.

So simple. I looked at some of the Bees and chose to view the Iraq one. Check out the 4 views. The search panel is well placed to the right hand side.

I ventured over to Squidoo to find their lens for "Iraq war" and searched for it. Their search engine suggested the tag "iraqwar" so I took that, and it told me "Congratulations you're the first to search for this term" and then offered to build a lens for it. Wow. No lens for the tag iraqwar that YOU suggested? Anyway, I persisted and searched for the "best lense" about Iraq.

Do yourself a favor and compare these two pages that are covering the same topic: Squidoo Iraq and Personal Bee Iraq

Alexaholic doesn't agree with me though. I wondered why Personalbee isn't doing better. I went to their blog. I found the following:

  • The UI that I like is brand new. I am convinced it will work well for them!
  • It seems that the Bee creation process was far complicated – they eventually needed a help file online and are now making a Bee creation wizard

How does Personalbee make money (from Siliconbeat)?

How does it make money? The Personal Bee writes a cookie to your browser, which sees the news that you are reading. The cookie is operated by a third-party company, called Revenue Science, which collects information about you from other sites you travel too. All this information helps Revenue Science serve up ads to other publishers — ads that are specific to what the system perceives your interests are. (ABC News, ESPN, Financial Times, Newsweek all serve the same Revenue Science cookie, so Personal Bee is not exceptional here).

Revenue Science serves up ads on other Web sites that you surf, but not on Personal Bee, which has decided not to run ads.

Interesting!

Another good review on it.

Let me give you my three favorite reasons to like Personal Bee:

  1. I choose who’s important. I can calibrate Personal Bee to let me choose what RSS feeds are important to me on any particular topic.
  2. Time relevance. Personal Bee  places a three-day time frame around an event.
  3. Phrase Clouds replace Tag Clouds.

What I like about Netvibes.com UI

I'm still thinking about the perfect Social Website 2.0 UI.

Here's some of the things I really like about Netvibes (blog). Netvibes seems to have begun life as a site that collects news feeds and APIs from literally everywhere.

It's RSS features look basic but good:

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In order of priority here are some comments:

  1. It hides it's complexity – most options only display when you mouse over the item. Until you show an interest in something, it hides itself. It's an "intentional" design. Excellent.
  2. Edit the page right there. Want to change the name of the page? Edit it right there, no going into an admin system somewhere else. Woohoo! I hope I can save the layout permanently? Can I share my layout with other people?

Some more things I like:

  1. Useful ajax features (not just ajax for the sake of ajax)
  2. I can reorder things as I want them.
    todo-reorder.gif
  3. Ease of use – for example the ability to make new tabs simply by clicking "new tab" and then include a personalized icon (sweeeet!)
    en-tabs-new.gif
  4. Multiple language support

The only thing I don't get about Netvibes is that I don't have a use for it. It's like this amazing UI with awesome flexibility and ease of use.. but other than integrating with GMail, what would I use it for?

Some old products from Microsoft (like Commerce Server) felt and behaved like an SDK (software development kit) and nothing more. In the same way, this website feels like a demo UI of a forthcoming product… I feel like I'm waiting for the product (they sure have the UI right!)

Ok, in one of their blog posts (Netvibes launch a 1 GB personal web storage module!) they refer to "another move toward the web desktop" and that more clearly outlines what they are offering – and why I'm not responding to their offering – I don't need a web desktop. They are being all things to all people I guess. Very ambitious and very courageous.

How do they make money? 

I may not need a web desktop, but I'm loving the idea of all my email and word documents being online. With Google buying Writely (blog) and other offerings like ajaxWrite, ajaxSketch, ajaxXLS and so on we are certainly on the cusp of an online office.

Check out an old post of mine: Office 2.0 (as in Web 2.0).

Feeds 2.0

In a recent post (Different kinds of social/meme/news sites) I described the different kinds of news sites. One of those types is an online feed reader.

Enter stage from left: Feeds 2.0 (blog). This is their look and feel. Nice. Simple. Clear. It screams out "read your feeds on this page!" They innovate by personalizing your feed for you.

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Crazy Egg: I’ve been waiting a long time for this tool

Crazy Egg: with crazy egg you can easily see where visitors are clicking on a page and where they are not.

Here is their overlay example, it shows percentages as a floodbar.

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Here is the heatmap example, Shows the hot areas of user activity.

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Here is the heatmap activity for WordPress – interesting eh? Thanks Matt!

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Crazy Egg is a genuinely useful tool for evaluating what users are attracted to. Just glancing over the WP heatmap I can see what people are responding to. There are so many social websites with cool use interfaces – Crazy Egg will remove the guesswork from it all and tell us what really works.

Update:  I'm using the demo. It's just one (1!) line of JS put into the end of the page. Awesome! Now if I could track the usage patterns in some kind of data format – then I could generate reports of how the usage patterns change as we redesign reBlogger.

Next generation of Talk Digger

Another heads up: Some screenshots of the next generation of Talk Digger. Read the full post or just check out the screenshots below of the upcoming improvements to Talk Digger (blog)

TalkDigger2.png  TalkDigger1.png

Great looking UI trick

Take a look at the borders around the twistedpolygon page. Hold your mouse over it. Move your mouse. Click your mouse. Cool huh? Go Macromedia!