Is the Kindle Fire for content or purchases?

I bought my wife a Kindle Fire for Christmas. I’m impressed and she loves it (and the price isn’t bad either).

I’ve read a lot of hype that says that Amazon is pushing the device to make more sales, but I really believe that is a pure content device. It’s a great reader, beautiful HD player and runs all the Android apps once you get out of the Amazon App store.

In contrast to most critics I actually prefer the size of the Fire to the iPad and I don’t really have any issues with the Silk web browser. My wife carries it with her everywhere- It’s the perfect purse device.  She has a Nook e-reader before and we’ve installed the Nook App so she has her previously purchased Barnes and Noble’s e-books on her Amazon Kindle Fire.

You really have to have an Amazon prime membership to get the most out of  the Fire. With the a Prime membership you can stream videos to it and participate in the Kindle lending library.


Web Principles: Users hate change

If I was going to write book of web principles certainly one of my top ten principles would be Users Hate Change

If you’ve been on Facebook the day a change is made you’ve certainly seen it in your news feed.  Today, for example, Facebook changed up the contents of the primary feed, made the photos larger and added a widget to the right sidebar about what your friends are doing. If your friends feed is like mine, then it is full of all manner of whining about how people want facebook to switch back and hints on how to find the old interface. On the otherhand, I like it. It’s an improvement. I think it makes facebook more useful for me while removing steps I took in their old interface to see what I wanted to see.

If you’ve ever redesigned a web site, you’ve heard about how much people hate change. My favorite redesign story about how people hate change was when I worked at The Commercial Appeal a decade ago and we launched their new design in January 2000. The design eliminated frames from a Pagemill design and started to implement CSS– we designed the whole thing in Dreamweaver. It wasn’t a great design, but a huge step forward. Faithful readers of The Commercial Appeal’s web site reacted like we had dug up Elvis and moved him to a hidden grave.

One particular set of emails from a retired lady who had moved to Chattanooga stood out from the rest. The day after the redesign she reamed us for moving things around and messing up her daily return to Memphis via the Internet. Her email was pretty similar to the other 1000 or so emails we received about the redesign. What was unique about this lady from Chattanooga was the 2nd email we received from her two weeks later. She emailed to apologize for her first email and to let us know she actually liked the new design and now everything she wanted was easier to find.

So, the moral of the story is Users Hate Change, but eventually with a good well-tested design, they will come around and use the site.  I promise you all those people swearing at Facebook today will have forgotten about it in a weeks time.

For me, I like change– for better or worse. Innovation and improvement are hard. If you are unwilling to change you’ll never know if that next step is two steps forward or a step backward.

Jakob Nielsen has a great related post on how users are resistant to change: Fresh vs. Familiar: How Aggressively to Redesign

Which browser would you kill?

Let's kill Internet Explorer 7I spend a lot of time testing web sites and making sure they look right on different platforms, different browsers and just like it’s always been some browsers really make me pull my hair out. Right now, it’s IE 7. Anytime I open up a web site in IE 7 (I have a WinXP install that I’ve saved with it on it), I’m just surprised by how slow web sites open and then all the little design touches that disappear (degrade gracefully).

It really surprised me that IE 7 was finalized in November 2006— almost 5 years ago. I was excited when it was released so we could get rid of the dreadful IE 6. W3 Schools show that IE 7 makes up 6 percent of the current browser market share. As more people abandon Windows XP that will decrease quickly, but if you are viewing this in IE 7 I want to encourage you to move your online life to a new platform– upgrade IE or download firefox, safari or chrome.


Blast from the past

This afternoon Rex Nelson was announced as the new President of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges and Universities. Ten years ago when I was employed by one of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges and Universities I designed that organizations web site as part of my job.

Curious as to what their site looked like, I checked it out and wow. It was still my site design, 10 years later. I showed one of my colleagues the site and he said it had “stood the test of time” and didn’t look that out of date (for a 10 year old design).  I think this was one of the first sites I wrote a little vbscript and created a database for a school comparison tool. Of course, we started picking it apart… left aligned, tables, too many images, background image, etc.

Which browser do you use?

The latest browser usage reports have google’s Chrome browser being used by nearly one out of every 10 users online with Firefox gathering around a 23 percent market share and IE at 57 percent. When I first saw this report I wondered about regional variations in browser usage, but on second thought it really doesn’t matter because you want your sites to be useful by the majority of readers no matter what browser they prefer.

Even though I use Firefox on a daily basis, I always make sure I thoroughly test sites in IE because that’s the browser being used by the majority of our visitors. I normally don’t give our sites as thorough a viewing in Chrome and Safari as I do Firefox and IE and often times I just ignore Opera.

I have to admit that on personal sites I tend to ignore earlier versions of browser (like IE6). Even for a while a ran banner telling IE6 users to upgrade their browser.