Simplicity and Elegant Design

I read this article on Fast Company today that I thought made a great statement for web design. Google has been admired for its simplicity, and others have tried to mimick their success. Marissa Mayer is the guru of simplicity at Google she was interviewed in the article and sheds some light on Google’s success. Here is a quote from the article that I really thought hit the nail on the head:

“Google has the functionality of a really complicated Swiss Army knife, but the home page is our way of approaching it closed. It’s simple, it’s elegant, you can slip it in your pocket, but it’s got the great doodad when you need it. A lot of our competitors are like a Swiss Army knife open–and that can be intimidating and occasionally harmful.”

This is something that I have to keep in mind in any of the projects that I undertake. I always want to add more and cooler features, but that can end up bogging down a site’s clean interface. A site that is meant for the average user should be simple enough for the average user. It isn’t the average user that wants to jump into all of the cool features right at first. I think the features should be available if desired, but closed in the knife as the analogy suggests.

Great Article!

XML Feeds

I think Atom and RSS feeds are awesome. It took me quite a while to realize what they were good for. Being able to format data in such a way that anything else can use the data easily is pretty cool. I think we are going to see a lot more feeds than just blog, news, and other article feeds here in the future. I think it’s a great way for people to be able to keep their information current on their own servers, and create a feed that can be used by other servers and services elsewhere on the Internet. I’m seeing huge potential.

My New Job

Well, I’ve blogged a bunch about how cool Paul Allen is in a few of my past blog entries on my Discuss It Utah Blog and now I get to work for him! Cool! huh? I met with Phil Burns (Infobase Ventures’ COO) today, and he offered me a job in the business incubator. I am really excited and I hope that I can make great contributions to the company! I will be finishing my duties as a Teacher’s Assistant for Dr. Hansen’s ISYS 402 database design course and will begin working for Infobase Ventures! I feel very blessed.

Google – the next evil empire?

Google is huge and still gaining momentum. Most of their products are absolutely amazing! I attended the Marriott School’s eBusiness Day lectures yesterday where Paul Allen, CEO of Infobase Ventures, and Josh James, CEO of Omniture, spoke and Google had to be mentioned 20 or more times. People love Google. People used to love Microsoft. Although I love Google’s products, I find it to be a bit scary when one company begins to dominate the market. Wal-Mart is another scary, huge company that dominates the retail industry. People still love Wal-Mart because they offer the every day low prices and have good store policies.

I love Google because they offer us so many great products for free, their AdWords ads aren’t annoying and don’t feature scantily clad women, and their stuff is clean and easy to use. You have to admit Google Earth is the hottest thing since indoor plumbing.

Because they are so good at doing everything web, they are a huge threat to people who are trying to create something new and innovative on the web. Not that others can’t still make a cool product, but new product development is like playing chess. You have to anticipate what your competition is going to do in response to a hot new technology on the web. If the web was a chessboard, Google is like the Queen and then some.

Just a thought.

Thoughts on Agilix’s GoBinder & Backpack

At the eBusiness Day yesterday, Agilix was there showing off their new version of Go Binder (called Backpack). They have added some new features to it, and it’s cool and all, but I was talking with one of the guys, who I believe is a software developer, and I was saying that it needs more collaboration functionality. At least for students in the Marriott School, we do almost everything as a team, or in groups. I think there is an easier way to share documents information among students than emailing a file to someone else. That was the standard answer for collaboration questions that I got. I was thinking, and suggested, wouldn’t it be awesome if you could take notes in class, hit a “Share” button, and it connects to a website and publishes your notes so that either other team-mates or other class-mates can use them.

Backpack has a neat little calendar function where if teachers actually used Blackboard’s calendar for scheduling assignments, users could easily have a comprehensive assignment schedule. However, teachers don’t use the calendar, they always put it in Excel or Word. Every semester I take all of my classes’ syllabuses (syllabi?) and enter in the assignment due dates into my Palm Desktop. This usually takes about 4 or 5 hours. I believe that there are others in my classes that also do the same be it in Microsoft Outlook, iCalendar, or on paper day planners. If there was an easier way to collaborate class schedules, where say I create a schedule for BYU’s Business Management 341, Sec 7, I could easily share the class schedule with the rest and they could sync it with their calendar program. That way, others might also contribute to the scheduling process, and it wouldn’t take so long to create a good semester assignment schedule.

Wikis have been very successful collaboration tools for users to go and share knowledge and information. Wikipedia has grown immensely in size and popularity. I think people are willing to collaborate and share in the work if they are able to see the benefit. The Open Source community has flourished based on this model. I think that people would be willing to put some work into creating an assignment calendar, comprehensive set of class notes, and what not. They just need a vehicle which will allow them to do so.