Fun UX Example: Starbucks.com

[This site uses cookies, but not the kind you eat]

Today I clicked on a link to a Starbucks.com page, and a popup opened up, for the now ubiquitous cookie/privacy notification. Only this time, the words used were not the dry jargon filled trope we are now so used to seeing everywhere. Instead, the popup made it lighter by saying that this is about cookies, just not the ones you eat.
[This site uses cookies, but not the kind you eat]

Cute, isn’t it? It’s also noteworthy that they describe how they use these cookies in simple terms.

But wait, there’s more!

Why does the fun take on actual cookies work here? Because it’s Starbucks. And they know it.

Which is why, right after you dismiss the popup, up comes another one. Are you annoyed by two consecutive popups? I wasn’t. Because the next popup is this one:

[How about a real cookie?]

Colour me impressed!

This is awesome UX! You have to put up a notification because of regulations, you see an opportunity to connect it with a popular product of yours, and in a cheeky yet cute move, you create an opportunity to induce a sale!

I was so pleased with this experience that I opened the page in another browser just so that I could see the popups again (and take screenshots for this post in the meantime).

Lessons learnt:
Always look for opportunities to make UX of your product fun for the user. And quite often there might be an opportunity in the decisions that you don’t have much control on – you need to be able to spot it and make it work for you.

New WordPress Plugin: Playing Card Notations

If you run a WordPress blog or site related to card games, like poker, bridge, rummy and the likes, and have the four suites’ unicode characters pasted away somewhere so that you can paste it whenever you are writing a new article where you need to show hands with cards, you need to take a look at my latest WordPress plugin: Playing Card Notations (PCN).

All you need to do, is install the plugin from WordPress’s repository, activate it, and use the shortcode [pcn] with simple text notations. E.g. Four of a kind, Aces can be represented as [pcn]AhAcAdAs[/pcn] by the shortcode [pcn]AhAcAdAs[/pcn].

You can configure display options like font, colour scheme and standard or reverse from the Appearance > Playing Card Notations Settings page in your WordPress admin panel.

Do install it, use it, and let me know of your feedback or feature requests in the comments below.

Link to the plugin’s page on WordPress.org.

Installation

For an automatic installation through WordPress:

  1. Go to the ‘Add New’ plugins screen in your WordPress admin area
  2. Search for ‘Playing Card Notations’
  3. Click ‘Install Now’ and activate the plugin

For a manual installation via FTP:

  1. Upload the addthis folder to the `/wp-content/plugins/` directory
  2. Activate the plugin through the ‘Plugins’ screen in your WordPress admin area.

To upload the plugin through WordPress, instead of FTP:

  1. Upload the downloaded zip file on the ‘Add New’ plugins screen (see the ‘Upload’ tab) in your WordPress admin area and activate.

Usage

You can use the shortcodes pcards or pcn to display cards and card hands in your blog’s content. The standard card notations of (A-J, 10 or T, 9-2) followed by suite letter (s for spades, c for clubs, h for hearts and d for diamonds) work.

Uninstall

In the Plugins screen of your WordPress admin area, navigate to Playing Card Notations, click on Deactivate. On the refreshed screen, click on Delete.

Bookmarklet: Add Keyword Search to the Listings on IIMJobs.com

Job hunters from the IIMs and other such colleges often go to this cool site called IIMJobs.com, started by an alumnus of my alma mater. It’s quite a live board, but there is one thing that I sorely miss there – filtering the job listings by keyword. You can select your experience range, your preferred location, and search. You get to see all jobs in your preferred city for your preferred vintage, but you may not be interested in them. And you have to sift through the listings page to find jobs suitable for you.

This got me thinking – what if there was a filter box, where I could type in my preferred phrase and it would filter the listings on the page, keeping only those that you want to see?

So, I spent a Monday morning putting together some code, and here it is – a bookmarklet which, if you save it on your browser’s toolbar and click on it when you are on the IIMJobs listing page, you will get a cool keyword search input box. This will let you filter the listings on the page by keyword – basically it will hide all the listings which do not match your search phrase.

All you have to do is drag the button below to your browser’s toolbar.

<a style="padding: 18px 32px; font-size: 16px; margin-bottom: 40px; background-color: #444; color: #fff;" title="Drag me to your bookmarks/favourites" href='javascript:(function(){$("#searchform").find(".greybtn").closest("div").before("

“),$(“ד).appendTo(“.keywordParent”),$(“.keywordSearch”).keyup(function(e){var%20o=$(“.keywordSearch”).val().toLowerCase();$(“.jobRow”).each(function(e){-1Add Filter @IIMJobs

Do let me know in the comments below if you like it, or if you have any feedback on how to make it better.

9 things that happen to you when you join a “shareable” content website; and You can’t imagine what the end of the list looks like!

  1. You start thinking in lists.
  2. You are obsessed with SEO-friendly titles.
  3. You insist that you have collected all possible wisdom related to any topic in 15-20 points.
  4. You insist that this wisdom is not peculiar to your personal experience, but universal for everyone who has been bombarded with the link to your list on Facebook.
  5. You get bored with photographs that aren’t looped animations.
  6. Every thing from the 90s becomes a subject of a potential article.
  7. You spend days on YouTube looking for videos you can pass on in an article to be shared. Who cares about original content?
  8. When you come across animal pictures, you start counting if you’ve collected 10 of them already.
  9. One web page doesn’t seem large enough to contain 10 points at once.

My 6 Basic WordPress Plugins

wpplugins
I make a living working on WordPress. And this blog is on WordPress. And at the risk of sounding repetitive, I’ve been on WordPress for 4-5 years now. One of the most important things in the install workflow is selecting and installing the plugins you’d need. While the exact set of plugins varies from project to project, and depends on the intended functionality of the site, there are a few basic ones that I make sure to install on every site I deploy. The exhaustive list is too big, but here’s my top six, which you may find useful.

  1. Akismet: Automattic’s own plugin which saves me a lot of time & energy in filtering out the comment spam, done by SEO bots mainly.
  2. Google Analytics: Any GA plugin will do. But most loved by us is the one by Joost de Valk. Why do you need this? You do want to know the details of the traffic you get, don’t you? And then you can export that data, import it into your spreadsheet software, and soar into the dreamy world of pivot-tables.
  3. YARPP: Remember how you forgot to leave Amazon the last time you went there, because you kept clicking on the “the people who bought this also saw this” products? Well, why not use the same tactic for your blog? Increase the stickiness. Increase the meaningful interlinks. Increase SEO juice. There are plenty of related posts plugin, but I favour Yet Another Related Posts Plugin. Why? Is the name not enough?
  4. BWP Google XML Sitemaps: Sitemaps are important. Sitemaps let crawlers know where all your content is. It’s like the related posts for robots. Must for improved search rankings, and findability. Preferred plugin: BWP’s.
  5. Regenerate Thumbnails: How many times during development have you realised you need a new size of an image, and found that WordPress is either giving you too small or too big an image? And then after registering a new thumbnail size, how many times have you wondered if you need to delete and reupload the images already in the library, so that the thumbnails in the new size are created for these images? If you have come across such questions, you need to install this plugin, which regenerates thumbnails for all the images already in the library.
  6. Smushit: Have lots of images making your blog heavy to load? Install this plugin, so that every image you upload is passed through Yahoo!’s smush.it service and losslessly compressed.

Which plugins do you recommend as the bare necessities when installing a fresh WordPress setup? And do you have alternatives to the ones mentioned above?

Share them in the comments.

Webcomics and Community

If you are geeky enough and it is either Monday, Wednesday or Friday, the moment your Firefox window opens (yes Firefox!) your fingers move to type in the letters “x-k-c…” to see what new idea the awesome Randall Munroe has dreamt up.

And of course you know that Munroe has been going through an illness in the family since the beginning of the week gone past. When I saw the comic that informed us of this development (this one), I was worried, of course. About the person concerned, and as a reader of that blog, about what would happen to the comic.

Knowing the fate most webcomics go through, and especially what happened to one of my favourite webcomics, Cectic, which had to be abandoned by the original artist owing to paucity of time, I was worried. I don’t think XKCD has ever missed a scheduled update, and it would have been unfortunate to see arguably the world’s most loved webcomic having to break that record.

But no. Randall posted collections of sketches he had made earlier, which kept us entertained. And then, one day, I find a new comic, which looked like a XKCD comic, but had a different style about it. And then I noticed – it wasn’t Munroe’s work. It was Jeph Jacques (of Questionable Content)! Munroe was running a guest week on XKCD! The web’s most famous comic artists were contributing on XKCD while Munroe couldn’t devote time to creating new content for us. Jeph was soon joined by David Troupes (of Buttercup Festival), Bill Amend (of FoxTrot), Jeffrey Rowland (of Overcompensating), thus giving us probably the richest comic content ever! Each of these comics are made in the trademark XKCD style, but are very clearly representative of the artists’ own styles. And the stories are both in the styles of the respective artists and of XKCD.

And when I opened XKCD today, I was elated to see Zach Weiner (of SMBC!)’s comic. Two of my most favourite comics together! And in style! Why don’t you have a look?

Munroe’s crisis seems to be nearing its end as indicated in the page today. Let’s hope he’s back soon, but thanks to him and all the artists for giving us probably the best webcomic week ever and turning a crisis into a basket of delight for us readers!