I do not recommend books very often, but I recommend this one. Go read: Ready Player One. If you have a single fond memory of the 1980s, or liked any of the following movies: The Matrix, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the old good one), Star Wars (again, pre-prequel Star Wars), and if you ever played video games as a kid (and still do) – then you love this book.

I read it straight through over the weekend and I could not put it down and immediately started re-reading it as soon as it was over. I’m gushing about it on my blog because my wife doesn’t share my love for giant robots, virtual reality, or video games but I know that you (the Internet) share my passion for all things geek. Of coarse – you might need to lower your expectations. I had low expectations and only picked it up because Barns and Nobles had it on the buy 2 get one free shelf (yes I still ready paper books). Anyway – hats off to the author Ernest Cline – he wrote the book I wanted to write.

Read it, and let me know what you think.

I have created some presentations on various topics including one on Best Practices for Personalization with IBM WebSphere Portal that I am going to post shortly to but before I do, I don’t want to just give it away for free, I want to at least collect the email address of users so I can send them updates or ask if they want to schedule a discussion. Note: Our website used wordpress when I wrote this, now we just a different method.

Assuming you use wordpress, here is how you can require a user to fill in a form in order to get access to a download.

Step 1: Installed the plugin Email Before Download – Email Before Download presents your users with a form where they submit information, like their name and email address, prior to receiving a download. This plugin integrates with the popular Contact Form 7 and WordPress Download Monitor plugins, allowing you to create any form you like and manage/monitor your file downloads.

Step 2: Installed Contact Form 7 – Contact Form 7 can manage multiple contact forms, plus you can customize the form and the mail contents flexibly with simple markup. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and so on.

Step 3: Install Download Monitor – WordPress Download Monitor Even though it is no longer supported, it still works.

Ok. So now let’s test:

I uploaded a small image as the file.

    Download requires your emailPlease complete the following for access to the free download. A link will be sent to your email. It might go to spam so check.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Good design tells a story, and it is the story that maintains a website just as much as the help desk and developers. When authors and users believe the story the design tells, the system can practically maintain itself. Imagine if Wikipedia were destroyed. If all the databases were corrupted and all backups lost. If this happened the world could come together and recreate it in a month of patriotic wiki editing, every person contributing his or her own time and knowledge to rebuild it, perhaps better than before. This is possible because everyone understands the story wikipedia tells. The same is true of all great websites from Amazon and Facebook to YouTube and Craigslist (which could use a little CSS in the next iteration).

When we design a site, regardless of how many bells and whistles it has, it is important that it tell a story that is simple enough that people can hold the whole thing in their mind. This sounds hard, but imagine your local grocery store. If I emptied the entire store and then, as a test, asked you to put a loaf of bread on the right shelf, or milk, or an apple, you would probably get pretty close. The story of how a grocery store is organized is intuitive to you as a user. It something you could explain. This makes it easy for both users and those that manage the store to keep it organized.

If you can’t tell the story of how your intranet at work is organized, if it burned down and had to be rebuilt tomorrow (assuming you would want to rebuild it) – could you do it? If not, you should call us at Base22. We can help.

To inspire performance rather than manage performance, we must give people something they can believe in.

A Deep Commitment to Purpose

As a designer you must be more than an artist. You must be more than a creator. You must be part philosopher, part scientist,  part teacher, and, yes, part salesman as well. Your idea needs a champion. It needs someone to protect it, defend it, promote and explain it. The most important moment of your idea’s life will be moment you first share it with someone else. Will you just blurt it out? Will you throw it into the world naked and defenseless? Or will you take care to arrange a proper introduction and walk your audience through the steps you took. Even if the idea came to you in a flash of insight, you should never assume it will be obvious to others. You should build your argument carefully.

In this video, the famous designer Saul Bass introduces a new brand identity to Bell System (now mostly AT&T) back in 1969. Watch how he builds his argument and justifies each design element. Notice how he stops and addresses unspoken but obvious objections. When you present a new design to a client think about this video. Remember that you design will be as important to your client as their own face. Because it is their face. If you are going to change it, you need to appear confident, certain, and thoughtful about each part of your design. Well done Saul. I can see why your firm won the work.

Saul Bass introduces the new logo for Bell System