User Experience Theorist. Writer. Epicure.

Webinar: 6 Ways to Reach Tablet Shoppers to Drive ROI

January 11th, 2012

I presented at this webinar on January 11, 2012, along with Sucharita Mulpuru of Forrester Research and Nathan Richter of Monetate. My portion discussed the process that my company uses to identify, prioritize and implement tablet optimization initiatives.

The webinar is available onDemand for 90 days.

Guest Speaker at Rutgers

June 13th, 2011

I recently appeared as a guest speaker at Rutgers University in their MLIS 512 Interface Design class. I spoke about heuristic evaluations and how they are used in the “real” world (versus the academic world).

2010 IA Summit Presentation

April 18th, 2010

I gave a presentation at the 2010 IA Summit entitled “Better Faceted Navigation: Advanced Design Techniques”. Description and slides after the jump.

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ESPN.com’s New TV Campaign

March 16th, 2009

ESPN recently redesigned their website (not sure exactly when) and has launched a new TV campaign to promote the site. If you haven’t seen the ads, watch below, then read:

In general, I find it interesting that they have chosen to promote the subdirectory URL (i.e. espn.com/somethingyouareinterestedin) aspect of the site, since, in my experience, novice users don’t always fully understand how to use those URLs (and clearly ESPN has to appeal to the entire population). Though I’ve found that people tend to find “domain.com/subdomain” clearer than the other method — “subdomain.domain.com”, in general they are far less likely to use a subdomain than to just go to the main site and look for the content they seek.

In spite of that larger issue, I noticed some other minor issues that could create big problems for the worldwide leader:

The voiceover states (verbatim), “espn dot com, slash… Bill Simmons, The Celtics, The Fighting Irish, Mike Golic, Serbian Table Tennis Sensation Biba Golic…” However, typing in espn.com/THEceltics does not work (caps for emphasis only). Nor does espn.com/THEfightingirish or espn.com/serbiantabletennissensationbibagolic! Ok, so maybe that last one is a bit of a stretch, and when they quickly run through the URLs at the end of the commercial, the “the” is gone (as is the “serbian…”), but still, shouldn’t the voiceover state the URL correctly?

I suspected another flaw was that they showed spaces in the names of multi-word items (i.e. Bill (space) Simmons), but typing the space into the URL actually works! Clearly somebody was thinking of these types of issues, so how did they miss the announcer stating “The Celtics”???

Another issue I noted is that when you go to espn.com, it automatically redirects you to espn.go.com, a relic of Disney’s failed “Go” network of the late 90s. From the homepage, however, if I type “slash” billsimmons on the end of the espn.go.com URL, it does not work. Only when I type the full URL from scratch (i.e. espn.com/billsimmons) does it point me to the right place. It took me a minute to figure this out — and I’m quite good at this stuff. Would a normal user try more than once, or figure it out if they did? Doubtful.

Even if users are ready for the whole “slash” concept, these minor inconsistencies will surely create problems for some people and force them to have a negative impact on the overall campaign. It would certainly be enlightening to see how these commercials do in terms of audience response and traffic to the website, though I guess the only way to find out would be if some ESPN employee (you know who you are) would tell me.

2008 STC Annual Conference Paper

January 5th, 2009

I co-authored a paper on the effectiveness of distance communication that was presented at the 2008 STC Annual Conference.

It can be viewed here (pdf).

eTail 2008 Panel

August 8th, 2008

For the 2nd year in a row, I was asked to participate in a panel at eTail’s East Coast conference; I spoke on “Increasing the Quality of the User Experience”.

My comments about video are noted in this email marketing blog.

A year later, my comments are noted again in this article about video in email.

Online Market World Radio Interview

May 23rd, 2008

I was recently featured on Online Market World radio. Description of the interview:

QVC Chief Information Architect Mike Madaio shares QVC’s unified view of TV and online customers and what the company is doing to help deliver consistently great customer experiences across the board.

You can listen to the segment here.

2008 Online Market World Conference

May 20th, 2008

I was mentioned as featured speaker in the Online Market World Press Release:

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Amazon Kindle – Will I Buy One?

November 28th, 2007

Amazon claims that the “Kindle”, their new wireless reading device is revolutionary, because it “reads like real paper”, and I have to admit having kindle-envy from the moment I watched the video demonstration. Years from now, we will likely note the Kindle’s release as a landmark day in reading history, and will consistently place it near the top of those “most innovative gadgets of all time” lists.

I, however, despite my famous quote “Now that I think about it, I’m quite looking forward to interactive paper”, will not be one of the early converts to the Kindle… for one major reason: Money! Not only is the device $400, but you have to buy the books at retail price. Only suckers pay retail for books.

I get free and cheap books through several methods:

My Library! – I can search the county catalog online and have any book delivered to my local branch (for FREE), within 72 hours. Sure, I pay my fair share of late fees, but the money saved on books (especially ones that I borrow and DON’T like) makes it worthwhile.

Book Swapping Sites – I use PaperbackSwap, though there are a number of them out there. What I like about PBS is that there is no fee for a transaction (users pay their own shipping), and that I can gain credits by simply sending out books to any user — there is no need to find a user who wants the exact book that I have and has the exact book that I want.

Half.com/Amazon Marketplace/eBay – Unless you are looking for a niche product or something that has *just* been released, it can usually be had for less than half price on one of these sites.

So, unless there is some social reason why you need to read a book the week it comes out (i.e. Harry Potter), or it is a rare, non-mainstream title, there really is no reason to pay retail for a book.

Which brings me to the Kindle. If I pay $400 for one of these bad boys, will I also have to shell out more for everything I read? When I am done with a book, will I be able to resell the “used” version via Amazon marketplace? Will I be able to import free eBooks from other sites on the web like Project Gutenberg? Will I be able to trade Kindle “books” with other Kindle users?

One might argue that the Kindle price of books is far lower than hardcover new releases, so people who do buy a lot of those might benefit from Kindle. Sure, that is true, but at $5 savings per book (using Amazon prices), you will need to buy 80 books to break even, and this isn’t counting your ability to resell, trade and share real books that you purchase.

I realize this is just one way to look at the Kindle. There are many advantages. Firstly, the Kindle is really cool. Books aren’t. That’s worth something, right? It is also smaller and more convenient than many books. It has additional uses like the ability to preview books, get news and blog feeds, use wikipedia, etc. Features like word lookup, page and quote annotations, etc, may end up making the Kindle experience “better” than reading a book.

I’ll admit it: I want one! My only point is that they will need to address the social sharing and reuse values that regular books bring to the table if they ever want to replace them. (Or, just stop selling books. ;o)

Project Complete

November 25th, 2007

The majority of my time over the past 6 months have been spent working on the new release of the website for the company I work for. As I rule I do not talk about that here, but after everything we did, I feel the need to at least point out what we did. As with everything else, there are things I like and things I don’t.

[the site]

Is Email Still Fun?

November 4th, 2007

“I turn on my computer. I wait impatiently as it connects. I go online, and my breath catches in my chest until I hear three little words: You’ve. got. mail. I hear nothing. Not even a sound on the streets of New York, just the beating of my own heart. I have mail.” ~ Kathleen Kelly, “You’ve Got Mail”

Today I was working in Firefox, and I decided to close the ubiquitous (for me) tab that was open to Yahoo! Mail, and, as I did so, I recall thinking: “I’ll just check back later, maybe I will get something good.”

This got me thinking — is checking your email fun anymore? It sure used to be, but now I hear people complain about the vastness of their inbox far more than I hear anyone talk like Kathleen Kelly (not that anyone was ever that gushing, but, at one time, people certainly loved email).

Perhaps email has just become like regular mail, where we get mostly junk, but still get that little twinge of anticipation each time we open the mailbox, because today could just be the day where something special lies inside.

The Big Issue with Google Docs

October 21st, 2007

I’ve been using Google Docs lately to write papers because it is so much easier to move from computer to computer than with traditional word docs. Once you get used to the interface, it really is just as effective… save for one major problem — there is no way to determine how much you have written!

Paul Stamantiou says it much better than I, so I suggest reading his post here.

“The problem comes with the fact that it is damn hard to get a real sense of how much you have written in Google Docs due to the lack of a proper, ruled page layout view. I have gotten to the point of frustration; continually copying and pasting my documents into a real word processor…”

Article: Staying User-Centric in the Maze of Web 2.0

September 13th, 2007

An article I wrote was recently published as a two-part blog post on the Notes on Design blog.

Read part 1, then click “view Mike’s next post” at the end to read part 2.

Guest Blogging

September 9th, 2007

I am currently guest blogging on “Notes on Design”, the blog of sessions.edu.

I’ll post all the links within this post.

Check back for more soon…

Alternatives to Evite: MyPunchBowl

September 9th, 2007

The most popular group of posts in the history of my blog center around problems with and alternatives to Evite, the mostly famous online party planning an invitation service. Recently I stumbled across a new service, MyPunchBowl, which is a Web 2.0 take on this service. I’ve only started to play around with MyPunchBowl, so it’s very hard to say that it’s better or worse than Evite at this point, and as with any web 2.0 application, MyPunchBowl is surely ripe for the typical AJAX user experience issues.

However, after a cursory look at this new application, it does seem to solve two of the major problems that I pointed out in my initial review of Evite. My biggest problem is the way the Evite interface puts undue pressure on the user to come up with something interesting to say in the message field when responding. Although it does offer an alternative where the messaging area is not visible at all to guests, this takes away the ability to see who’s going to the party, which is at least part of the point of it in the first place. MyPunchBowl handles this issue in two ways: first, it separates the messaging from the response. Users who respond “Yes” can then view the message board and post comments if they choose. The beauty of this is that the person is not asked to make comments while they respond to the invitation; as such they are probably more likely to quickly answer without worrying about saying something witty or funny or deciding to come back later when they think of a good comment. Users who respond “No” to the invite never even see the message board; instead, they are prompted to pass along a private message to the party host. I love this because it prevents those incredibly awkward and mostly annoying decline messages such as “Hey Mike, thanks for the invite your party, it sounds really fun, but unfortunately, I have to take my cat to the dentist next Saturday so I’m not going to make it!”

The other huge problem with Evite is that the invite e-mails are terrible. They provide no information about the party, and generally just waste a lot of space. MyPunchBowl, on the other hand, still has a somewhat cheesy graphical display, but at least offers the ability to show the description of the event in the e-mail itself (so the user doesn’t need to click to find out what the event is). I especially find this helpful with people who are at work, who might not want to click. The best possible scenario, and something that Evite alternative DarkGuest offers, is the ability to respond directly from the e-mail, giving people yes / no / maybe choices directly in the e-mail body. Despite not having this feature, however, the e-mail from MyPunchBowl is definitely a step in the right direction over the useless e-mail from Evite.

I should also point out that Evite has recently been giving me a ton of technical issues. Last time I tried to organize something, I had to set up the invitation three or four times because for some reason, every time I tried to set it up, it ended up erasing all the data I had previously entered. Perhaps I did something wrong, but a user like me should be able to figure these things out relatively quickly; to have this happen several times shows some definite usability issues.

So, in summary, combining these issues with the intriguing features of MyPunchBowl, I’ll definitely be trying this new service the next time I organize a gathering of friends.

This post was dictated using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9.

Usability of the iPhone

September 6th, 2007

I was lucky enough to have the chance to play around with somebody’s iPhone for about five minutes the other day, and I have a few thoughts about the interface:

1. First of all, the scrolling interface for websites, Google Maps and YouTube is absolutely stunning. The ability to simply move around the page with your finger is incredibly intuitive and easy. As with anything seen in a commercial, I was a little bit skeptical about this, but playing around with it myself has me convinced.

2. Typing with the iPhone is terrible, especially for someone used to working on a Blackberry. When the phone is turned vertically, so that the keyboard keys are smaller, it is virtually impossible to type anything. Every character that I attempted to type was the incorrect one. When I turned the phone horizontally, I was able to type somewhat effectively, however the lack of physical feedback offered here was still a major problem. This phone is great for browsing the web and using fun applications, but it’s got a long way to go before it can compete with something like a Blackberry or the Treo for business productivity (i.e. email).

3. The Internet connection was incredibly slow. I tried to load eBay, I tried to load ESPN, and neither would load within about a minute. (I’m able to use my Blackberry in the very same location and load pages a lot faster.) Interestingly, however, the YouTube application that lives on the iPhone loaded relatively quickly.

4. While I used the iPhone several people hovered around me, stretching to get a look. This phone certainly is a phenomenon.

This post was dictated using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9.

stupid cancer.

August 21st, 2007

Although this has little to do with UX, it was one of Time’s best websites 07. Cancer under 40? You’re not alone.

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