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I stumbled across www.dontclick.it today and just had to share it with you. It’s a website where you don’t have to click anything to use it.

I know that doesn’t sound like much but I had an overwhelming urge to click. I physically had to think what my right hand index finger was up to the whole time I was navigating the site. It’s like not chewing when you’re eating a Fruit Pastille.

Give it a try. Some people hate the whole idea. Others think it’s pretty nifty. Personally I rather enjoyed the mental acrobatics required of pushing myself to adapt behaviour I perform every day of my life. Deliberately not clicking to define a proactive action felt not unlike being asked to breathe through my ears.

Weird sensation isn’t it? I found it a very serene way of navigating – you just flow from one section to another in a care free manner. But that is also it’s weakest element – I found myself nervous that the navigation was somehow not something I was in control of, that I was slipping and sliding around in navigation oil.

But it’s still a set of wonderfully presented ideas about how to challenge your learned behaviours which I think is always worth doing when you can.

What’s the point in having a blog if you can’t occasionally spread the love? So instead of raging against the websites we love to hate I thought I’d start telling you about the websites we just love.

Today: www.moo.com

If you haven’t seen it before Moo is a printing company. Well, it’s more than that really. In their own words: “MOO dreams up new tools that help people turn their virtual content into beautiful print products.”

It exists because other websites opened up their technology and Moo stepped up, in this case, to Flickr, and built a website that can connect you to your Flickr photos and lets you order prints of them as the best business cards ever. Or thank you cards. Or Moving cards. Or congratulations cards. Or just lovely little mementos of your holiday snaps.

Reasons to love Moo:

  • Their customers love them.
  • They love their customers.
  • They have one of the simplest design interfaces around.
  • They’re great value for money. And they deliver nice and fast. And they are beautifully printed and packaged.
  • The cards are smaller than normal business cards and just seem much more valuable. They are tough. They have nice tactile sharp edges. They are glossy and feel nice to hold, and stack, and fan out, and pin up.
  • They encourage their users to show off their cards. They have a dedicated Flickr pool for that very reason.
  • They cracked how to make a boring business card into a purple cow.

Go and open a Flickr account if you don’t have one. Upload some of your favourite photos to it. Then stick £10 aside to order yourself a box of Moo cards. You won’t regret it.

Moo Card front

Moo Card back

I’d like to try to explain why ode has decided to follow a Pay As You Go model rather than the Eat As Much As You Like model. Or micropayments vs subscriptions if you’re feeling posh.

An overarching reason is that we don’t want to pre-suppose what and how much content our users will want to buy. If we forced them to pay a lump sum up front we may “win” their money but the service will likely never be used enough by the majority of individual users to justify their up front annual spend. We just don’t think that’s right.

Our users have told us that they are fed up with buying massive content driven solutions which they barely scratch the surface of day to day in the classroom. We will bring the cost down to each individual asset, offering ownership or rental rights at the smallest possible level. YOU choose whether to spend a lot or a little.

A subscription is a walled garden. We want to encourage deep linking and browsing into ode – to assets, playlists, groups, minishops and so on. If you need to log in to see any auxiliary functionality or even the content itself (“You mean I have to pay an annual fee to preview an asset?!” ) is locking out people who can spread the word about your product or content and seems short sighted at best.

Before you take out a subscription to a content delivery service you are taking a calculated risk well in advance of knowing how much value you’ll get in return.

Is the cost low enough? Do I have to pay a whole year up front? What happens if I want to cancel? There’s no way of predicting how good, reliable, exclusive or usable a subscription will turn out to be 6 months down the line. Or even if it will still be around.

“For music consumers there are pros and cons to the pay-per-download and subscription models. It is more difficult for users to get a sense of the value they are receiving with subscription models as compared to pay-as-you-go, according to Max Blumberg, founder of venture capital consultant The Blumberg Partnership.

“It’s a bit like gym memberships. Gyms make money on the fact that many people take out subscriptions, but do not use their facilities regularly — at least after their initial enthusiasm. Pay-as-you-go is more transparent.”

Max Blumberg, http://www.macnewsworld.com/story/58082.html

What does “unlimited access” mean? How can you process the idea of unlimited access to content? In all honesty unless you’re in the 1% of very heavy users will you ever dent the huge swathes of content these services provide?

Or, more likely, will you dip in, grab some content you like the first few times and then perhaps pop back again a few months later?

If you couldn’t consume unlimited content before, what makes you think you will want to now? What’s so great about having unlimited access to stuff you’ll likely never want?

When you can pick and choose at will from unlimited stock (assuming no download throttling) will you genuinely make constructive choices? When you have to part with a specific cost for a specific item it’s highly likely you will have thought harder about that purchase and will therefore get more use from it. Collecting for the sake of collecting is pointless and a waste of time.

If you cancel that subscription what happens to all the content you had against it? It’s very likely it’s gone. Forever. Virtual goods are difficult enough to place value against but I want to at least feel I own what I’ve paid for up front (even if I might just be renting it or buying a flavour of DRM).

A subscription service may place a download limit on you. But once again that is providing impediments to you as a consumer. Sometimes I only want a track or two, other times I may want to buy 50 albums worth of songs. Don’t get in my way.

When you are allowed to choose exactly what to buy you are also supporting that content provider/creator by deliberately choosing them over someone else.

Maybe you support a particular company’s ethical or environmental stance or you just think they consistently produce high quality content that supports your needs and you are making a statement: I choose to support YOU. How can you show direct pro-active cash up front support otherwise?

Even back in 1998 Jacob Nielson was predicting a future where on demand content paid for in incrementally small amounts was the best way to facilitate internet growth:

” The main problem with subscription fees is that they provide a single choice: between paying nothing (thus getting nothing) and paying a large fee (thus getting everything). Faced with this decision, most users will chose to pay nothing and will go to other sites. It is rare that you will know in advance that you will use a site enough to justify a large fee and the time to register. ”

Jacob Nielson, Useit.com

What is ODE?

ODE will be a webstore where educators can buy little bits of digital educational content and put them back together any way they like. Simple.