Facebook [Finally] Announces “Home” in place of the Previously Roumored Faecbook Phone

For a few years now it’s been rumored that Facebook would be entering the mobile marketplace with a unique hardware devices of its own. Late last week however we were forced to come to terms with the reality that thsi was not happening with the announcement and later early release of the beta version of Home, Facebook’s Android launcher  hoping to place people before apps.

So, what is Facebook Home? Facebook Home is a custom Android launcher and theme rolled into one. Currently its only available for a select group of Android phones but should be expanding in the near future. Sorry iPhone users but this won’t be coming your way since Apple doesn’t allow custom anything for your phones aside from your exterior case. What is a custom launcher you ask? In Android the launcher allows us to access apps and control different aspects of the user experience.

To be honest, I really like this idea. Our phones really are for connecting with those around us. Keeping us in touch with family & friends while we are on the go, at work or out of town. The only problem is that I’m not that close with all 977 of my Facebook friends. Some of them are friends from freshman year of college, some are work associates, some are loose acquaintances and don’t require my constant attention to every detail of their life. Even for some of my closer family and friends, I just don’t care that much (sorry!) and I really dislike the idea of having to view these tidbits through Facebook’s lens.

I can see some teens and college students easily adopting this since their whole world revolves around there interactions with the people around them but for people like me, where efficiency is key, I don’t see the adoption rate being so great. I need to know things like battery life, calls, messages, emails, I use fast app switching to bounce from email to web to apps. I also feel a little uncomfortable with all the information made available to the launcher knowing how Facebook often likes to use (and abuse) personal data such as all calls, messages and items stored on the phone.

Time will tell if this was a great move by Facebook or just another passing idea aimed at data collection but I still give them props for going out of their way to do something different.

Sponsored Content: An antidote for ad blindness?

The iconoclastic adman Howard Luck Gossage (1917-1969) once said that no matter how much data and analytics you can throw at your advertising, there’s one inescapable truth: “People don’t read ads. They read what interests them, and sometimes it is an ad.”

But it’s usually not an ad.

No one will argue that traditional ads have less influence now than ever. Over the last few decades, consumers’ attention has grown increasingly immune to advertising. They fast-forward through spots and flip past ads as a matter of reflex.

So what now?

Read more of idfive’s March’s whitepaper at Sponsored Content: An antidote for ad blindness?. If you enjoy learning informed design from idfive, then subscribe to our monthly whitepaper.

Why government website design can’t afford to suck.

Screen capture from the MPD site, via Co.Design

Screen capture from the MPD site, via Co.Design

I’ve grown tired of the notion—or maybe it’s the concession—that government websites should be deserts of design sense. Far too often, the goal of creating a beautiful, functional website design for municipalities is sabotaged by the misconceptions of stakeholders within the organization who insist that the public prefers parsing text-laden dumping grounds of links and indecipherable legal gibberish. So what do we do when the functionality, design, and usability of a government website is held hostage by key decision makers? I say we call in the police.

Fast Company covered a brilliant reboot of the the Milwaukee Police Department’s site—a design that featured arresting photography (sorry), parallax scrolling, social stream integration and a simplified information architecture. The result: A departamental site that not only connects visitors to critical information (such as Most Wanted mugshots and breaking news), but also creates an engaging brand experience that strikes a perfect balance between humanizing and hero-izing the “thin blue line.”

Do you know these guys?

Mugshots from the MPD site, via Co.Design.

A project like this is a rare bird, though. It takes intestinal fortitude on the government side, yes, but more than that, it requires trust between the design agency and the client. While we’d all like to be able to unfurl a tapestry of case studies showing how executions like this have worked in the past, the truth is, there often are none. When you’re setting a precedent, the only thing you have to go on is trust. A little imagination doesn’t hurt either.

Rather than waiting for case studies to justify why your organization should take a leap, what if we flipped the convention? What if we took it upon ourselves to BECOME THE CASE STUDY?

I know. Scary as hell, right? Of course we can’t ignore the fear of failing on the tax payers’ dime. But do we really want to use that fear as a crutch for complacency? Decisions like the ones made by the MPD can set the tone for an organization. It influences how the public sees it (Is this organization simply business-as-usual or is it trying to do more for citizens?) as well as rippling through the internal ranks (Does this place inspire me to punch a clock or kick things into high gear?). A website’s success (or failure) has deep and wide-ranging implications.

And for what it’s worth: the MPD site’s traffic is up 2,000% compared to pre-redesign. Considering that mugshots and critical calls to the public are centerpieces of the new site, every additional set of eyeballs is one more opportunity to yank a bad guy off the street. What are the chances of that happening if the department had been content to regurgitate the same strategies of others like, say, the Los Angeles Police Department

Personally, I’m excited to watch this case study unfold.

Web Design Best Practices with Browser Diet

I was bouncing around the internet this morning (yes, bouncing) looking through my usual RSS, techy-news sites and Google+ when I stumbled on a link to Browser Diet. So, what is Browser Diet?

Browser Diet Screenshot

Browser Diet is self-described as “the definitive front-end performance guide” for web developers to help make their websites faster. And though it’s not a flashy website, it was built to provide community-driven, quick practical guide guide written by some of the best known experts on the matter. Some of these tips may seem like standard practices for veteran designer/developers but others may help even the most seasoned know-it-all cut the fat on their next project’s page load times.

Left Brain, Right Brain, Wrong.

We all grew up saying, “left” and “right” brain to explain-away creativity, personality, and natural tendencies.

Well, all that good stuff is false. As it turns out, you need both your left and right brain to process language, make pictures and form rational thought. Both sides do it… but for different reasons.

This is where things get interesting. The right-hemisphere is for sustained, broad, open, contextual attention while the left-hemisphere is narrow, sharply focused attention to detail.

So, what does this entire mean for marketing, and more specifically, online marketing?

Einstein believed that “the intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We’ve created a society that honors the servant but has forgotten the gift.”

It’s true that our society gives priority to the rational over the emotional and the virtual over the real.

Knowing this should give you insight into how to create a message that’s more likely to connect and drive action. Cater to results and logic, but don’t forget about emotion. It’s present in everything we do and it would be a massive mistake to ignore it. If you don’t believe me, tell us about one purchase decision you’ve made that was not emotional. (hint: you wont be able to… every purchase decision is emotional).

Watch this video for a lot more detail on this topic by renowned psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist.