Notebook

Switching to monthly link drops rather than weekly.

Crazy big link drop because the world gets crushingly demanding of one's time around the holidays, and it takes time to recoup.

This is a good bit of advice for kids and adults alike from Jake the Dog. Adventure Time is my son's favorite show, and one of mine as well. I made the print for his birthday, and will put it on of our walls. I like having the reminder every time I feel discouraged when starting something new.

You can see the extended version on YouTube and purchase a print at Society6.

What I'm doing
I'm doing a review of customer support sites, looking mostly for software (desktop and web) and services-related sites that provide a customer support site for getting answers to questions, and viewing documentation and tutorials.

Why I'm doing it
Some sites have better search capabilities for questions than others. Other sites do well at presenting documentation. I'm finding that there's sometimes a difference in how companies handle giving answers to the most granular questions as opposed to presenting a unified view of a product via a manual-like experience. There's a smaller/larger need, first time/experienced user dichotomy of needs, among other different descriptions of how and why a user approaches a support site. The need may range from "How do I do X" to "How do I get started using this" and every grayer need in between. I'm currently involved on a project where this is the problem we're faced with as the company has gone through several stages of growth, and needs to evolve legacy content and systems.

Can you help?
What are you favorite support sites in terms of these kinds of needs? I'm going to screen capture and review a handful of them here and show a cross-site comparison of capabilities. As a bonus, I'm doing a giveaway of a couple sketchbooks from those who comment.

Please give me the name of the company and the URL for the support site. And thanks for helping out!

Some of my starting points

Today I took my first mountain bike ride near my new home in Marin County. Humbled, mud splattered, and soaked from not making it through several streams, I paused to reflect on how different the place that I'm in now is from where I was a year ago.

I spent a wonderful 3 months living on the side of a hill looking onto Mount Tamalpais in Marin with my family re-connecting with nature, and discovering the joy of living with only several bags of possessions and a new slate. With my new place and time in life, and after the small temporary move to search for a home, and a final move to that place, I'm finding myself looking, exploring, putting things in new places, getting rid of more possessions, and finding inspiration in unfamiliar spaces. I've been surprised by how easy it is to adjust, and by the many kind people willing to accept this odd, seemingly misplaced city boy in this slower paced town.

Over the past few years my voice seems to have gotten quieter on this site. I started blogging less, pointing less, and talking less. If you've met me in real life, you know I'm already a person of few words, so my voice now feels like a whisper. With the move away from city living, I also feel less inclined to do, in reaction to what's happening around me. I feel like I'm looking for the things that I want to focus on doing. I also feel like the first few years of this blog have been about recording and continuing to define things for myself. But it also feels like it's time to learn anew and make again—to empty my cup as I've done so many times before.

Best wishes for an amazing new year, everyone. May it be full of creative wonder, meaningful failures and satisfying successes. Here's to starting over and putting a few more miles in these legs to make it through the tough spots.

If you can, give to the Red Cross to provide support to Hurricane Sandy victims, and help elect a president who will keep FEMA in tact.

This is a rather long link drop because I've been doin stuff.

I gave a talk at Asbury Agile 2012 and have published my presentation deck and speaking notes as a zine-like mini book in a new section of this site. My friends on Instagram have seen me teasing out this talk for a few months now, and I'm happy to get the ideas out because this is something I've been thinking about ever since I started this site.

This is the perspective of someone who is starting over and taking the beginners path. Check it out.

The IA Issue of ASIS&T Journal is out, edited by Thomas Haller. Here's a listing of articles in this issue.

  • Information Architecture in the Age of Complexity, by Andrea Resmini
  • The Architecture of Information, by Martyn Dade-Robertson
  • Optimizing Websites in the Post Panda World, by Marianne Sweeny
  • A Metaphor for Content Strategy, by Carrie Hane Dennison
  • How to Start Sketchnoting, by Veronica Erb
  • A Conversation with Eric Reiss, Author of Usable Usability: Simple Steps for Making Stuff Better, by Thom Haller

Get more info about this issue of the Bulletin or Download the PDF.

Have been busy getting settled on the West coast, so starting back up again and a very short list of links.

I'm spending my final full week as a Brooklynite and feeling the bitter sweet pain of saying goodbye, while looking hopefully towards the next chapter of my life. After 19 years as a New Yorker, I'm heading with my family to live in Marin County, CA.

New York is a city that I've loved from childhood, and the only place I could see myself living as a young adult. With my head full of every cliché dream, I believed it was the place I needed to live to find myself. When I moved here I thought I would work in the art world, where I spent the first few years hustling, but I discovered my path was to lead elsewhere. I've thrived in this inspiring city for a long time, and drew energy from this place. It's helped make me who I am today.

I spent a short time in the first few years living in Manhattan at Times Square and the East Village. The rest of my days were spent primarily in Brooklyn at Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Sunset Park, and in the last 9 years, Park Slope. If you know me, you know I've considered myself a Brooklynite more than a New Yorker. There's an energy, creativity, diversity, and much more relaxed sense of being I've found in Brooklyn that is wonderful. But nothing lasts, and although I thought I'd live the rest of my days residing in Brooklyn, the pull to the outdoors became too strong. With 2 sons that need to bust out, break free from living in boxes, and restraining their boyish need to bounce and scream to be quiet for neighbors, the timing just feels right.

Many of the designers I've come to know, respect and admire have been my neighbors here. This town introduced me to some incredibly smart people who have influenced me, from the original group of IAs that met in Victor Lombardi's IA Salon over 10 years ago, to the more recent impromptu gatherings Lou Rosenfeld, Yoni Knoll, and I have put together with our BK/UX peeps. I've had a good run, and I've met so many incredible people here who I hope to never lose as friends. I hope none of you hold it against me for leaving to the left coast, and I thank you for your friendship.

So it's with a little sadness that I say goodbye to New York, and with hopeful anticipation that I'm welcomed to the Bay Area. If you're in San Francisco, know that I plan to spend a lot of time exploring in your beautiful city, and that I'm always looking for like-minded UXers to have coffee with. I've owed a few people a coffee date for years now.

See you on the other side.