Mobile Blogging App Review

I've tried a number of different mobile blogging solutions and have always found them lacking in some fundamental ways. Until now. The latest version of the SquareSpace iPhone app looks really promising. In fact, I'm writing this post on the app. I just took a screen shot of the editing user interface and added it as image to this post. I also just entered the image editing mode but all I could do with the picture is to delete it. The text editing tab is great as are the post saving options (save to the iPhone, save as draft to the site, and save and publish to the site).

One other really valuable feature of the new version is comment management. The app also has a notification feature for comments which is incredibly useful for a blogger like me who has turned on comment moderation which requires me to explicitly approve comments. You may recall that I had to turn that on given the number of spam comments I was getting.

All in all, a really promising app, assuming of course that the post I just wrote here publishes properly with the image imbedded.

<Please note that I had to fix the size and the positioning of the image outside of the mobile app so the app a really good but not yet perfect>

Design Blogging

I recorded a UXDesignCast podcast episode on Friday with David Hill who is VP of Brand Management and Design at Lenovo.  The podcast 
is available on iTunes, Zune, and via the podcast show notes site. We discussed David's background, Lenovo's approach to design, the skills of the design staff, and a number of other topics.  The one thing that stood out for me was David's use of blogging to get design input from customers.  While a reluctant blogger at first, he now blogs regularly and uses blogging as a way of having conversations with a large number of customers at the same time to ask about design choices to be made, preferences, and the like.  Make sure to check out David's blog.  Designers at IBM also make good use of blogging for getting design input from customers.  Among the many who do, Mary Beth Raven is among the most avid design bloggers.  Have a look at Mary Beth's blog too.  I tend to use Twitter to ask questions and to point to quick polls to gather input on specific issues or topics.  

Of course, we balance the use of blogging and other social networking approaches with other design methods as well including user research site visits, surveys, asynchronous large sample user studies, in the lab usability studies, longitudinal design and evaluation collaborations with customers, and many more. However, it is important to point out the significant change that has happened in the augmentation of more traditional methods by using techniques like blogging.  It is a convenient, asynchronous method of having a design conversation with thousands of users to get rapid input in a relatively natural manner. 

Is Blogging Dead?

I was shocked when I realized that I hadn't blogged here since November 6th last year. Of course I've mini-blogged via Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and audio-blogged via UXDesignCast and Life Habits podcasts. I've even hosted a webcast or two. The problem is that I always argue with others who say that blogging is dead having been replaced by these newer alternatives. I argue that we still need the longer format so that you can express deeper, wider, and longer thoughts than a 140 character space affords. However, my own behavior has betrayed me.

I refuse to give up on the concept that blogging is important for the following reasons.

  1.  Bloggers need to write the material that everyone else can write tweets and Facebook updates about. It's bad enough that we seem to be losing investigative journalists who can spend time to get into depth and truly investigate a story. If we lose bloggers, we'll have even fewer sources of original material. I did some investigation some years ago into the practice within academia of citing journal articles without actually reading them. I tracked down the original article that virtually all journal articles in a particular research area cited and found out that it didn't say at all what people thought it said. I then proceeded to do the actual research properly and published it in a prestigious journal and now that paper is often cited at least as often as the original. My point is that we now have many, many people on these social networking sites looking for things to communicate which is great if there is enough source material to communicate about. With newspapers decreasing and if blogging also declines, there's is very little source material left. What are we left with then? Celebrity gossip. Argh.
  2. We need original thought and a mechanism to express it openly using as many characters, words, and paragraphs that are needed. I often listen to podcasts that are longer versions of radio programs. I don't listen to live radio or TV for that matter. I find it interesting that the hosts point out that the full interviews are available only in the podcast form. I prefer to hear the whole story, not some edited down few minutes. I listen to audio books and always download the unabridged version. I can't imagine not wanting the whole book. That's how I see blogs - the full, unabridged version. I still like to read tweets or Facebook updates that point me to interesting blogs - that's how I now find them by and large. I also still use an RSS reader but don't use it as much for getting pointers to blogs to read.

So, blogs are still important but there's still a problem. There are still only 24 hours in a day (although a Facebook friend showed me how to increase it to 26 hours BTW). If you're tweeting, Facebooking, podcasting, and reading tweets, Facebook updates, and listening to podcasts and audiobooks, when do you have time to blog? The answer is one that I give regularly in episodes of my Life Habits podcast: determine your priorities and plan your time accordingly. I sometimes load up my iPhone with an episode or two of my own podcasts, particularly the Life Habits one and listen to my own advice. I'll do that in this case too and, in turn, devote some more time to thinking, writing longer than 140 character thoughts, and thus contributing to the content others can tweet about.


As always, I'd greatly appreciate your thoughts on my thoughts using the comment capability of this blog or via Twitter, Facebook, my podcast shownotes sites, or wherever you'd like.

Thanks for doing your part in contributing to the survival of the blogosphere.

Micro-blogging, Typography, Clouds, and Browsers

Joining me on this episode of UXDesignCast are Jay Trimble (Group Lead for the User Centered Technology Group, NASA Ames Research Center), Keith Instone (Information Architecture Lead, IBM CIO’s Office,, and Eliane Tozman (User Interface Designer, IBM Media Design Studio). The panel discusses the new way of using Web 2.0 including micro-blogging behind corporate firewalls with IBM Lotus Connections 2.5, the recent typography choices make by IKEA and what impact they may have, the need to consider the total cloud user experience importantly including ISPs, the implications for designers of Google’s Chrome Frame, key principles for and examples of effective Rich Internet Application (RIA) design, and planning for World Usability Day.

Mobile Blogging

I have a mobile device with me at all time and a computer only some of the time. I therefore thought I should try out writing and uploading blog posts remotely. I'm writing this post using my iPod Touch while I'm on vacation.

I'm finding that I'm doing more and more using a mobile device. I do the majority of my tweeting, a significant amount of my e-mail, as well as rss reading, facebooking, and even checking my Google Analytics on a mobile device. So, blogging makes sense too.

I'd love to hear about your experiences in using mobile platforms via the commenting mechansim below.