Netflix has spoiled me. The video streaming pioneer is a sophisticated platform and service that makes browsing a huge catalog feel as comfortable and familiar as scanning the media shelves in my living room. That is, if my living room shelves could magically refresh themselves with new dvds while remaining perfectly curated to my tastes and (mostly) clutter-free. The 18 year old company has made me expect savvy streaming experiences – especially when viewing premium content.
So imagine my horror when I signed up for HBO NOW and discover the user interface looking like a free WP magazine-style theme template! There doesn’t seem to be any account personalization outside of the very basic watchlist, which allows you to save items to watch later. That leaves the front page to fall back on the curation efforts that appeal to the largest common denominator in a large and diverse audience… and we know what happens with that approach. Or, if you didn’t know, here it is.
[Pictured, from HBO NOW desktop app: A collection of movie stills that all feature white males, with a few decorative guns and women in the mix. The guns outnumber the women.]
If I didn’t already know that HBO does actually have great programming, a page like this would send me directly to the subscription cancellation page in my Google Play account. Yet the network can bank on it’s huge and hugely popular catalogue of critically acclaimed series and documentaries to make viewers like me slog through what looks like someone’s copy+paste-from-the-CMS-backend job.
HBO has finally bent to the inevitable tide of online entertainment consumption that is ringing the death knell of traditional cable services. I think they finally understood that folks like me (and I’m among a growing majority) would sooner forego the pleasure of the timely viewing of Curb Your Enthusiasm, VEEP, Getting On and so so many movies than submit to the tyranny that is a traditional cable subscription. However, they are a long way from serving spoiled only video consumers who expect smart information architecture and customized content.
In the longrun – after a number of series binges – the poor navigation and lack of dynamic discovery in the app will make the offering much less attractive to me. Especially at it’s premium $14.99 price. Further, Netflix is quickly catching up in the original programming game. To remain competitive HBO will really have to push to develop it’s applications to golden user experience standard customers now expect.
I’ve recently had the privilege of working on content management and publishing for the world’s largest retailer. The opportunity to be a part of the digital strategy team for an organization of such scale has been thrilling, but it’s required some sacrifices. My aversion to cubicles notwithstanding, I can be counted on to be in the office 40+ hours per week and, woefully, in the car 15+ hours per week (#commuterprobs). It could be worse, but it has put an near freeze on all of my blogging activities. A fact that’s made my inner entrepreneur restless and demanding: I must blog.
With spare time short, blogging has to be quick and efficient without sacrificing my digital content values: quality copy and visual excellency. Thats where apps like Canva become a blogger’s salvation. The web application allows non-designers to pull together tasty graphics that please the modern media consumer’s palette. Using templates and simple drag & drop actions members can create slick looking presentations, social media images, flyers, and blog graphics, among an impressive number of formats. The company’s recent move to open the pool of layouts to contributing designers should make options even richer, granted they maintain high design standards and keep navigation and browsing easy.
The Canva user interface is very intuitive, but to get you started and keep you going, members learn to use the platform using the app’s design school. Think Codecademy meets Polyvore. And it’s free! Freemium, that is, as it’s got a useful basic service that is free of charge, but premium features can be purchased to enhance your experience of the product. For example, the graphic above contains a watermark because the background image is a premium image. Just $1 to remove that and obtain a one time use license.
I used a free template to create the graphic below and it’s one of many that are good candidates for periodic posts. From pretty images & pithy sayings to decorate an Intagram feed, to quarterly reports turned into an infographic, Canva helps the helpless add polish to their digital repertoire. That makes it well-qualified to be the app of the week.
When eBay introduced collections a few months ago I wondered if they were a replacement for their not-so-slick lists. Themselves a fairly new extension of the veteran Watch List, lists were a way to categorize all those things you “watch” – often with no real intention to buy. They encourage the rampant window shopping that, if other members are like me, makes up the vast majority of time spent on eBay. Unfortunately, lists don’t have a sexy* user interface and are buried under vague navigation clicks. The result is they’re forgotten just as quickly as they’re made.
The Retail Tech Summit took place Sunday, March 2nd, as part of San Francisco’s Fashion Tech Week 2014. The event featured presentations and panel discussions from companies that are using technology in new ways to improve retail experiences online and offline. Surprisingly, though, this years selection of presenters skewed toward the offline end of the spectrum. It was a refreshing break from the barage of e-commerce options that dominate the fashion app landscape. I was especially intrigued that among a short list, there were two applications at the summit focus on helping mobile users find brick and mortar shops to patronize.
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The Green Light by eighty
“Betabrand is partnering with COLOURlovers for an incredible new contest. Betabrand, a company based in San Francisco, is an online community that designs, manufactures, and releases new items every week! They are now launching a new clothing line for women and we’re going to help them choose colors for one of their designs. Our users will be choosing five colors for a pair of Betabrand leggings.”
I’ve been a fan of online dress up games since before they were made for anyone older than about 8 years. Thankfully, the fast-growing fashion e-commerce industry has made developing such games for adults more worthwhile. My lastest digital styling obsession is Covet Fashion app, from Burlingame-based game firm, CrowdStar.
The iPhone note you see here is one I look forward to daily, because it means I have more gameplay ammo. For those that like to create outfits using digital tools the game is very engaging. It’s a great mix between games where you dress up digital “dolls” and sites like Polyvore.com, which feature real clothes, but no bodies to put them on.
The object of the Covet Fashion game is to enter events which require you to create looks for a specific occasion. If your look is highly rated by the community you win a piece of fashion to add to your virtual wardrobe. Access to events is limited by either the value of your closet or the necessity to use a certain brand in your look. Some brand-sponsored events feature a real prize for the top-rated look, as judged by the community and the Covet Fashion team. More
There are some that use freelancer platforms for the purpose of earning a bit of extra cash. For a growing number, though, the work found on sites like oDesk and Elance (my two most used) are not just side gigs – they are part of – or wholly – the source of full-time employment. Accordingly, it’s becoming more important that these platforms offer ways for freelancers to evaluate potential clients, just as they are themselves evaluated.
The recently announced merger between the above mentioned companies has, predictably, caused a stir amongst the community of online workers – and the general timber is not a happy one. The loudest cries I’ve heard come from More
As if we need more reasons not to eat Jack in the Box, an apparently-not-new commercial (I get most of my TV via the likes of Netflix) has made it blatantly clear that leadership in the company has little to no respect for the skills and talents required of a good social content strategist.
In the commercial a young woman prattles on in “social speak” – complete with spoken hashtags & misappropriated slang – while the company mascot stands by in utter incomprehension. Yet it’s not the bubble head that is portrayed as the ditz, it’s the woman whom the company has ostensibly hired to manage the brands dialogue with the public online. More
If you’re new to a work-from-home lifestyle, you might still be relishing the freedom to work from the couch in your sweats, or at the kitchen table in your PJs. It doesn’t take long, however, before these purported luxuries become a real drag and you start longing for the ergonomic advantages of an office setting. Yet if you have an aesthetically driven career (or personality, in general) the thought of working in stereotypical office is purely terrifying. More
PHOTO: Onlookers admire a model in head-to-toe snakeskin during a presentation by West Coast Leather.
#FTW13. There were several hashtags circulating in association with Fashion Tech Week 2013, but I chose the quickest to type. Others, though probably more transparent for the uninitiated, lacked elegance and specificity. And in any case, FTW13 better echoes how I feel about my decision to relocate to the city of San Francisco: win. More