Sphere (Review): Hidden treasures, 2.0 Orange & the perils of style for design agencies

Sphere Custom Range

So, I (along with the rest of the Blogosphere) have been checking out Sphere since it launched yesterday. Sphere is the latest in a growing range of blog search engines. (I’m also waiting for Gnoos to launch – we’re just days away apparently from having an Australian blog search engine.)

My initial thoughts? I don’t like it. (But only because I’m miffed that my blog doesn’t show up in their search results at the moment.)

Seriously, I’m always interested to see a product that Adaptive Path have launched. Say what you like, but these guys are thoughtful designers. And this time around they’ve exposed the thought process they’ve gone through, which makes it all the more interesting.

So, from a design/user experience perspective, here’s what I’m thinking:

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tag cloud interface for list selection (hello Jobby!)

GoJobbyTagCloudInterface

Via TechCrunch today I came across a new beta site – Jobby. This is a site that allows you to upload your resume and create a bit of a personal profile (if you’re hunting down work), or if you’re a potential employer, to search for suitable talent.

There’s nothing particularly special about that but – as Michael Arrington points out – the interface is worth a second look, if you’re into that kind of thing. Michael says:

The interface is exceptional and you don’t have to do more than click a couple of times on a tag cloud to set up tags. You’ll have to try it to fully understand how it works.

I think that might be a *bit* of an overstatement, but it certainly is a *very* efficient implementation of the ‘tag cloud’ as a interaction device, in this case, for creating lists.

Ajaxian is similarly impressed and says that Jobby:

combines a solid combination of interface and functionality to create an easy to use kind of user experience

The interface designers at Jobby do need to be congratulated for taking a new ‘web 2.0′ interaction concept that has been poorly implemented in so many places, and applying it in a new environment where it solves old interaction design problems. So, let’s check it out…

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mobile: user interface design – the great frontier

Paper Prototype Testing for Mobile

I was reading a great post by Russell Beattie recently on handheld stylesheets and the great implementation that Opera have launched on their community portal recently. It took me back to my (not so distant) days finishing up my Masters degree with our digital project. As you may guess, my group did a mobile project.

It was a great little project and it really allowed those of us who’d been working in web for so many years to apply our skills to a different platform and develop some really interesting learnings. For me, I was pretty amazed by what we found with regards to Information Architecture and Interaction Design.

Being a university project, of course there was a lot more research involved than you’d usually have the budget of the time to do for a commercial build. This allowed time for me to definitively show that there were very, very few ID conventions when it comes to interface design for mobile web content.

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congratulations Reach Out! (Winner @ NetGuide Australian Web Awards)

WebAwards

Hooray for Reach Out! who were winners at the recently announced NetGuide Australian Web Awards

Reach Out! is an initiative of the Inspire Foundation who are dedicated to making the future a great place for our young people.

They’re a bunch of smart, dedicated and passionate people who have used the web well for a long time to help achieve their objectives and to communicate with young people. Young people are highly involved and integral to the decisions made and the projects undertaken.

And they do really cool stuff, like my favourite: Reach Out Central or ROC – a great little interactive environment designed using the principles of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to teach kids skills that will help them manage their mental health through the challenges of adolescence and for the rest of their lives. If you’re not into CBT, it also has a great Aussie soundtrack, and Joel Edgerton volunteered his time to narrate along with some other special guests doing voiceover.

If you had a spare bit of cash to donate to a worthy cause, you could do a lot worse than get behind these guys.

Disclaimer: I know as much as I do about Reach Out! and Inspire because I’ve worked with them on a number of their projects. But, don’t don’t just take my word for it. They totally rock. See for yourself!

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