Advent-ure Time

It’s crazy how quickly time always flies – it feels like just yesterday that I was pressing “Submit” on my business school applications (approximately 5 minutes before the deadlines, of course), and now I’m almost finished with my first semester at Columbia Business School.

There is one thing that has remained constant over the past several holiday seasons – advent calendars! Behold:

  1. 24 Ways – http://24ways.org/
    24 Ways

    24 ways is the advent calendar for web geeks. For twenty-four days each December we publish a daily dose of web design and development goodness to bring you all a little Christmas cheer.

    24 Ways was the first advent calendar I found back in 2008, when “Web 2.0” was the buzzword of the day instead of “IoT”. Always has great articles on design and development – though I don’t keep up as well as I’d like each year, the topics are still relevant for months after.

  2. UXmas – http://uxmas.com/
    uxmas

    An advent calendar for UX folk.

    Newer calendar (began in 2012) focused more on design and UX with gems like Santa, the Child, and the Magic of UX.

  3. Performance Calendar – http://calendar.perfplanet.com/2014/
    Performance Calendar 2014

    The speed geek’s favorite time of the year

    Started in 2009,a more technical look at sites through the holidays.

  4. Responsive Advent – http://christmas.code7.co.uk/
    Responsive Advent

    A responsive advent calendar featuring a selection of funny, heart-warming, and nostalgic festive videos. For extra fun, we have a competition giving you the chance to win a vaguely festive prize!

    Contains gems like “How to wrap your Christmas cat” and N64 nostalgia.

Let the festivities begin!

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Here’s to 2014!

Happy new year! Every new year seems to fly by faster than the previous – I can’t believe that I’m already almost four years out of school. While 2013 was a fantastic music-filled year for me, I’m very much looking forward to what 2014 will bring. Here’s to a year filled with pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and fun experiences.

In the meantime, a few of my favorite phone apps from 2013, to help with daily organization and information intake:

1. FeedlyHome
Feedly Screenshot Photo Jan 05, 14 27 16
When Google announced the sunsetting of Google Reader at the start of the year, I immediately began searching for alternatives so I could slowly wean myself off Reader. There were quite a few on the market, including feedly, The Old Reader (which had to rollback its userbase, due to overloading from the influx of ex-Google Reader users) and Digg’s anticipated reader. In the end, Feedly won me over with its clean, simple design and cross-device compatibility. An added bonus is that it works nicely with…

2. PocketHome
Photo Jan 05, 14 28 28 Pocket Edit Screenshot
From my RSS feed to friends, I find a lot of articles that I want to save for later reading. Pocket makes it easy to bookmark articles no matter your device, and an added bonus is that lets you read the content directly on Pocket, rather than needing to navigate to the full NYTimes website, etc. Kudos to Shannon for recommending this to me, and Chin for featuring it in her recent Refinery29 article.

3. Yahoo! Weathervia iTunes
Photo Jan 05, 14 30 45 Photo Jan 05, 14 30 50
One of the most pleasant surprises of the year – a clean, beautiful and useful weather app from Yahoo! of all companies. In addition to the usual weather metrics, Y!Weather also includes wind, pressure, precipitation and sun/moon position information – all displayed on a backdrop of gorgeous photos (from Flickr, of course) aligned with the current time of day and weather forecast.

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Online Retail Usability: Barneys New York

I swear, I don’t go around to retail websites to nitpick at usability issues – with the craziness of the holiday season, I’ve been navigating through these sites much more often than usual. Today’s culprit is Barneys New York. More specifically, their check-out and subsequent registration process.

Shopping Bag Screen

So you’ve placed a nice (likely expensive) item (or five) in the shopping bag, and now you’re ready to checkout and get them itemz in your hand. After looking through to make sure the items, sizes and quantities are correct, you scroll down to hit the “Checkout” button, except wait a second… (Click on the image for an enlarged version)
Barneys Shopping Bag Online
After scanning all the info on the right, you have to switch to the far left in order to initiate the checkout process. From a distance, those call-to-actions on the left look obvious, but when you’re zoomed in and focused on the shopping bag info on the right side, the CTAs are nearly invisible.

As a side note: no, I did not actually buy this lovely (and very expensive) bag – hah, I wish! Anyways, let’s say you decide to register for an account, which leads to issue numero dos:

Account Registration Screen

(Click on the image for an enlarged version)
Barneys Register Account Online
Same problem! Again! What the heck, Barneys. Also, in this view, there’s the Newsletter email “submit” button at the bottom right that provides a bit of additional confusion.

Although this wouldn’t necessarily deter me from purchasing something from Barneys’, it would be a more pleasant experience if the actions were designed as part of the form flows.

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