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Posts tagged Business.

Four Design Links: February 4, 2010

Witness the return of Four Design Links!

1. Saul Bass: On Making Money vs Quality Work

"It costs every designer money to make things beautiful."

2. Productivity in 11 Words

To-Do List
Photo by Jayel Aheram

"One thing at a time. Most important thing first. Start now."

Probably the best thing I read last week.


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NickFeb 4, 2010

Four Design Links: January 14, 2010

Thursday brings another Four Design Links, a look at some of the articles and sites we've been reading this week.

1. Philosophy is Back in Business

Are we ahead of the curve or what? First business needs design. Now it needs philosophy.

According to a recent article from BusinessWeek, organizations have lost sight of the big picture. Philosophy, which considers problems of values, character, and ethics, can put businesses on the right track, serving human needs and interests.

[C]orporations are promoting the notion that their mission extends beyond profit and provides new frameworks—transportation, fuel, manufacturing, and so forth—for improving existence. These assertions require supporting actions over the long term if they are to have merit. In our connected and transparent world, where so many can easily see deeply into our operations, it has become clear that companies and even nations have character—and that their character is their destiny. For institutions to ensure that their characters, or cultures, are consistent with their behavior, they need more humans within their organizations who can appropriately manifest the desired culture through leadership, business practices, and individual behaviors.

Looks like there's a future for philosophers in the boardroom as well as the classroom. We've been saying it all along. ;)

2. Zen Humidifier

Masuza Humidifier

Love this humidifier from Masuza. Made of Japanese Cypress, it uses no electricity. Water is naturally drawn through the wood and evaporated into the air. Minimal, beautiful, and natural -- this is a great little piece of design. Via.

3. Sheepthink

How much of popular culture is simply people following the crowd? Can advertisers get you to buy something by falsely telling you that that other people like it? Clive Thompson writes about a research study that attempted to find out.

In the study, a music store was set up with a ratings system and purchasing habits were tracked in a variety of scenarios. Unsurprisingly, the researchers found evidence that social pressure is real -- that popular music (as rated by other listeners) tended to sell better. Most interesting, though, was that when the researchers purposefully rigged the system to promote bad music, in at least one instance people lost faith in the system and bought less music overall. Another data point for honest advertising.

4. Letterhead Collection

O-So Grape Letterhead

Filed under Inspirado, I'm digging this collection of letterheads from Letterheady. Some of the older ones are especially neat.

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NickJan 14, 2010

No New Normal?

We've all heard a lot of talk lately about the "new normal" - the notion that American consumers will not return to the same old spending patterns post-recession.

I've found the idea that consumers will start spending less or change their spending patterns pretty encouraging. However, last week, Grant McCracken had a piece on the HBS Blog arguing that there is no new normal: consumerism is driven by deep-rooted cultural motives, not just greed, vanity, or desire for status. I think his article is worth a read. He also makes reference to a book on "Shoptimism" which seems to dive deeper into many facets of consumerism and retail consumption, and supports the prediction that spending will start again once confidence and credit come back. Sigh.

no new normal

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AndreaDec 2, 2009

Killing Ideas

This Friday, let's all of us professional creative types indulge in a little well-deserved pathos.

Killing Ideas


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PaulNov 27, 2009

Black Friday Ethics

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Design Less Better! Black Friday is tomorrow and in lieu of your usual programming, I thought this was relevant.

CNN ran a story last week about deceptive practices some retailers pull on Black Friday. It's worth a read if you (or someone you know) is thinking about hitting the sales tomorrow, especially for those "doorbuster" deals.

Watercolor of a turkey by Karen Faulkner
Turkey print by Karen Faulkner

I agree with the interviewee in the piece, if the deal is good enough to put in on the front of a store's ad, they should have more than four or five in stock. Online deals can be trouble, too. You might get a good price, but the product might be out of stock and unable to ship for months. This happens to me almost every year.

It's a recession, so the desire to save money is stronger than ever. But instead of hitting the big retailers, may I suggest buying less?

Consider buying local, doing things with your family, or go homemade. It's more satisfying way to show you care. And you'll be much warmer and well rested come tomorrow.

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NickNov 26, 2009

Google vs. Whiter Teeth

Losing the war on spammy ads, Google goes after the source.

white teeth speak false truths

Sick of those whiter teeth and fitness ads that seem to be everywhere these days? They're not only annoying, most of them are scams designed to charge people's credit cards for fraudulent services and subscriptions (a business model we've discussed many times on BlogLESS).

Until last week, Google's policy was to remove the offending ads and their associated pages. Of course, this didn't do much good as spammers simply put up new ones faster than they could be taken down. Now, Google is attacking the source of the problem, banning the companies that generate scammy ads.

Fewer awful ads, now that's something to be thankful for.

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NickNov 24, 2009

How Much Do You Charge Now?

Like those long voice mail menus, are some cell phones designed to run up your wireless bill? The New York Times tech blog seems to think so.

In this NYT blog post, David Pogue discusses letters sent by readers regarding pricey data transmission fees. It seems that Verizon counts ANY amount of data sent from a phone as a full megabyte, which shows up on customers' bills as a $1.99 charge. Not unexpected, but here's the kicker:

The phone is designed in such a way that you can almost never avoid getting $1.99 charge on the bill. Around the OK button on a typical flip phone are the up, down, left, right arrows. If you open the flip and accidentally press the up arrow key, you see that the phone starts to connect to the web. So you hit END right away. Well, too late. You will be charged $1.99 for that 0.02 kilobytes of data. NOT COOL. I’ve had phones for years, and I sometimes do that mistake to this day, as I’m sure you have. Legal, yes; ethical, NO.

For the record, I have accidentally clicked that button many times and quickly shut down the browser when I realized my mistake, but I don't recall any charges showing up on my bill.

I will say this: It would seem to me that if there is a very easy solution to this problem. Presumably Verizon can tell which URL customers are trying to connect to. If someone receives only 0.02 kilobytes or whatever from Verizon's address, they ought to ignore it as an error. This humane gesture would save them a bundle on customer service calls and data holds, not to mention reducing the number of angry blog posts out there.

As for the phone design conspiracy, my Verizon phone lets me reconfigure the button to something other than their web store. I just did. I realize many people don't ever touch the settings on their phone, but at least it can be changed. It's their phone, so you'd better believe they have the shortcuts configured for easy access to their most expensive services. Is that surprising to anyone?

I'm less inclined to believe this is an evil conspiracy, as the NYT post seems to promote, than an unfortunate confluence of corporate thinking. It's not ethical, but it's not a trap, either.

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NickNov 17, 2009

Four Design Links: November 12, 2009

Here are Four Design Links that interested me this week. Hope you enjoy!

1. How To Spam Facebook Like A Pro

As a follow up to their coverage of social gaming scams, Tech Crunch posted this great article on the other dark side of social games: collecting your personal data and using it to spam (and scam some more).

An excerpt:

People on Facebook won’t pay for anything. They don’t have credit cards, they don’t want credit cards, and they are not interested in shopping. But you can trick them into doing one of three things:

  • Download a toolbar: It could be spyware (such as Zango) or something more legitimate, such as Webfetti or Zwinkys.
  • Give up their email address: You’ve won a “free” camera or perhaps you’ve been selected as a tester for a new Macbook Pro (which you get to keep at the end of the test). Just tell us where you want us to ship it.
  • Give up their phone number: You took the IQ Quiz, so give us your phone number and we’ll tell you your score. Never mind that you’ll get billed $20 a month or perhaps be tricked into inviting 10 other friends to beat your score.

It's worth a read to see what's at stake for consumers and the kinds of things that happen any time a new platform comes along without enough regulation.

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NickNov 12, 2009
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