Saturday, December 16, 2006

Why Threadless is cool

You know you've made it when you have a reasonably large fan blog that raves about how cool you are.

If that's the case then the t-shirt design site has more than made it - and "Loves Threadless - The Unofficial Threadless Fan Blog" has no qualms telling us all about it.

Threadless is an online community t-shirt store which has been around since 2000 and is run by a company called SkinnyCorp in the good old USA. I've bought t-shirts from there for about 2 years and seen it evolve into one of the best B2C E-Commerce sites around which epitomises Web 2.0.

The concept is fantastic - Basically it's a t-shirt store with an ongoing design competition. Two or three user-submitted designs are chosen each week to be printed and sold online based on the ranking given by Threadless members.


Here's a bullet point summation of why I think it's so successful and cool.
  • The user's are continually involved in the making of the website - they upload designs (Approx. 60,000 to date), rate designs, send in photos of them wearing the shirts, etc Threadless don't pay designers big fees for the t-shirts they print (Approx. 400 to date).

  • They have connected with their customers providing feedback on their products, and in part informing their strategy by introducing new product lines such as Threadless Select, Kids Tee's and Type Tees

  • The t-shirts they print have already been pre-approved by the target customer - and therefore have a good chance of selling

  • The execution of the site is excellent - it's design, ease of use and featureset are fantastic.

  • The t-shirts are cool and inexpensive - I own several so they must be.

  • Threadless Street Team - Affiliate type program where members get points ($1.50 discounts of their next purchase) for link referrals via websites or email which lead to purchases. Earn me a point by clicking on this link and buying a tee.

  • When you're considering a purchase, the site shows photos of real people wearing the shirt, and the odd celebrity such as Michael J. Fox and Zach Braff (Scrubs).

I have some support - won 2nd prize in the Retail category of SEOMOZ's Web 2.0 awards.

What do you think?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Google reader - wow!

I just discovered Google Reader and it is great. It makes it easy to catch up will all the good blogs or feeds I read - and all in 1 place! You can sort by site, add tags and mark posts as read so that lists of posts don't get out of control. It has a great interface using expanded view and list view, and is very easy to use.

And what's even better is that it slots nicely into my Google personalised home page alongside my Gmail - Why would I go anywhere else?

Apparently Microsoft has a RSS aggregator built into Outlook 2007 which will be convenient but until I upgrade from Office 2003 - Googles the one for me.

Check it out.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Web 2.0 - What does it mean anyway?

Good Question!

While I don’t pretend to know what Web 2.0 really is, and I certainly can’t articulate it in a couple of paragraphs - I do have a firm view on what it is not.

Web 2.0 is not AJAX
Web 2.0 is not Ruby on Rails
Web 2.0 is not the Atlas framework
Web 2.0 is not a technology.

As far as what Web 2.0 means for Intergen and our clients, this article on the Boxes and Arrows website does a pretty good job of explaining what Web 2.0 means to the Enterprise - and potentially how we could learn to understand it better, use it within Intergen, and offer better solutions to clients.

A Web 2.0 Tour for the Enterprise

Lastly, it may all be bullshit - but what if it’s not.. Some NZ companies are already adopting Web 2.0 technology and values - TradeMe being a notable example - Do us as Solution Providers want to continue to be leaders? Or watch our competitors pass us by…

Sunday, November 12, 2006

World Usability Day 2006

World Usability Day 2006 is on Tuesday 14th November and New Zealand will be the first country to kick it off.

World Usability Day promotes the value of usability engineering and user-centered design and the belief that every user has the responsibility to ask for things that work better.

The party is coming to Auckland on Tuesday 14th November and to 'celebrate', the Auckland UPA (Usability Professionals Association) Cluster has Natasha Hall from Trade Me and Shona Bishop from BNZ speaking. It will be interesting to see what these two have to say.

For more info on the event see the "Usability at Trade Me and the Bank of New Zealand" Event Details and the UPA New Zealand website

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Card Sorting and Usability Testing - Part One

In the past couple of weeks, I've taken part in two practical exercises which have really hit home the importance of involving real users to improve the information architecture and usability of a website - and how the two are linked.

The 1st was a Card Sorting exercise while at a UPANZ seminar on Information Architecture by David Pomeroy, and the 2nd was sitting in on some Usability Testing sessions run by Optimal Usability. I'll cover Card Sorting today and the Usability Testing later.

There is plenty written about cart sorting in IA books and websites but I had never read a good definitive article, nor had the chance to take part in it. Although the exercise was really simple my take on it is that it is an exercise using a series of cards, each labelled with a piece of content that make sense to particpants (users). It would be great when creating a site map and helps identify the following:

  1. How users see the information
  2. How different groups of users react to the content
  3. How many categories of information are there
  4. What the categories should be called

I think it is an easy exercise to sell to clients because it is Simple (Hey - if I can do it... it must be), Cheap, Quick and involves real live users.

Since then, I've looked for good articles and this is one of the best on the Boxes and Arrows site. Card sorting: a definitive guide

I'd love to hear others thoughts or experiences...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

How do I enhance my businesses reputation - without being obvious?

Recently, a colleague of mine posted on his blog how customers can leverage the internet to communicate dissatisfaction with a businesses products or services to a huge online audience, it's potential negative effects and how this makes good customer service even more critical to successful business.

Well - I think that's what he meant anyway.

There are examples of New Zealand websites that are dedicated to this. E.g. where punters can review the work of sparkies, builders and plumbers etc for all to see. Along with the real horror stories, there are some great reviews of Tradesmen who had provided excellent customer service - which has got to be great for business.

However, I ask - how can a business leverage the internet to enhance it’s reputation and increase sales or grow it's business - apart from just providing better customer service?

I could create a Blog and rave about my products and services - Many companies already do this to good effect with ’sponsored’ blogs by exployees and evangelists. E.g. Microsoft, Oracle.
But the web user is pretty sophisticated nowadays, and take what they read with a grain of salt.

Are there more effective, less obvious ways of increasing a businesses reputation?