Author: zefamedia

Don’t Mash the Method

Is ‘process’ the same as ‘method’? Many people seem confused. Does it matter? Sort of. It matters when your job is to take a look at how a company runs its design and production line. Over the years I’ve re-engineered the in-house processes for a handful of IT and New Media companies. I’ve learnt that, […]


It has been about six months since I changed jobs and now some of the projects my old team were working on at the time have started going public… This was my last mini-project during my last week at Provoke (ironic since I don’t eat meat!). I did the Information Architecture and Alastair Bruerton the […]

‘Goggle Type’ exposed as fake

A modified typewriter touted as the original Google appliance is, in fact, a well-crafted fake, the Skeptics Society, Mr Vintage and a font expert says. The device, an object known as a ‘typewriter‘, was said to have contained the template for Google, the popular search engine, as well as a strikingly similar name (“Goggle”). Embossed […]

An interview with Jack Wyndham : Inventor of Goggle

Jack Wyndham invented the Goggle Chrome Appliance and founded the Milton Beekeeping Society. He talks with zef[a]media. You invented the Goggle Chrome Type Appliance? I came up with the idea of a quick-search sheet for cataloguing honey varieties (and bees) down copper telephone lines in 1957 when I was 39, and patented it in 1971. […]

Goggle and Google : Side by Side

With the “Goggle Type Appliance” making the TV3 Nightline news last night, many people have been asking “…so what’s the difference between Goggle and Google?” Here’s a side-by-side comparison of a Goggle-generated document and a Google-generated webpage… [A] A slight variation in spelling. [B] The key topic or phrase is wrapped in a box. [C] […]

Google Chrome invented by beekeeper

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Gesturing Government

A lot of people I’ve been talking to recently are excited by the emergence of NUI (Natural User Interfaces), but are asking “Isn’t this just for gamers?” My immediate answer is “yes”. Gamers have been the first to embrace the technology (the Nintendo Wii remote controller  is one example of this). Future gaming consoles are […]

Flying like a Conchord

On my 12-hour flight to San Francisco, Air New Zealand offered a plethora of inflight entertainment including a grumpy hostess, movies, music and computer games. I’m one of those people who feels overwhelmed by too many choices when visiting a record store or bookshop. The Air NZ inflight entertainment system made me feel the same […]

Quantum Theory Perplexes Information Hippies in Nelson

Brendon Ford and I have just returned from a miniature junket in Nelson to present the mechanics behind the award-winning intranet we worked on for the Ministry of Transport back in 06/07. Quantum Content During my presentation I briefly tried to compare quantum theory to CMS-metadata-driven content – which for me has its similarities in […]

sliding around

I’ve started uploading some of my presentations to SlideShare… Here’s the one from kiwi foocamp… Visualisation techniques for workshops where you need to get a consensus in the room   And the one from Webstock 2008…   If you find these useful let me know and I’ll upload some others!

by jimi ! the critics have their say…

Tom Coates Rowan Smith Zef conjured a web persona into Jimi Hendrix before we knew what was happening. The real Hendrix was better (I was hoping for Star Spangled Banner) but Zef’s one was a damn fine stand-in. wasabicube Jimi plays a mean ukelele during Zef’s 8×5 presentation Shadowfoot Robyn …as one of the few […]

Getting it On! (@ Webstock 2008)

  Thank goodness Webstock is over!  Too much of a good thing can corrupt the senses… Photo by wasabicube On Jimi Was that pre-recorded? No Was that his real hair? Yes Wow, who on Earth was that? My bro: Was it videod? See it on YouTube. Official version should soon appear on Webstock. Can I see the […]

FullCodePress: User Experience Perspective

Occasionally I get emails asking about the (rapid) information architecture process I followed for   FullCodePress last year. Steve Batey from Meld Consulting asks all the right questions and has agreed to share my answers with you! [Steve] What were your thoughts going into the event about your role in the process? Were you concerned […]

Jakob’s Top 10 Provoked!

I’ve been hinting for a while that we had big news for 2008 : and now the word is out! Provoke – Project Management, Information Architecture, Implementation, Development. Capiche – Visual Design.From Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox, January 7, 2008 10 Best Intranets of 2008 The winners of the award for 10 best-designed intranets for 2008 are: […]

It’s about the experience…

While Provoke has a golden reputation for being leaders in Microsoft-driven solutions, this doesn’t restrict our dUX (Design & User Experience) team from crafting an awesome experience for other technology platforms. The most recently example is – with the information architecture, visual design and HTML/CSS templates created by Provoke (in close collaboration with the […]


The Gathering was New Zealand’s biggest and best outdoor dance party, which was held every New Year for six years between 1996 and 2001. This is the first Gathering documentary which was about the 97/98 event, held at the magical Canaan Downs site on top of Takaka Hill near Nelson. In this footage you’ll catch […]

How Robust?

I have a lot of respect for Jared Spool – but I almost choked when I received this invite… Building Robust Personas in 30 Days or Less  Jared M. Spool, User Interface Engineering Length: 90 Minutes Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 1PM ET (see the time/date in your area) Price: $129.00 (includes handout) 30 days […]

Unravelling Visual Design

At Provoke we’re increasingly focussing on visual design and how this influences a user’s comprehension of content, interactivity and pathways. Moments before unravelling…Coming up with a nice-looking visual design usually isn’t the greatest challenge – the real magic lies in the delicate interplay between the brand, content, navigation pathways, interactive tools and how the visuals […]

busy beavers

My design team at Provoke have been busy creating mayhem… Congrats to Alastair who picked up Silver at the Best Awards last week for his Social Ticketing concept…   Isha (pictured below) has been finding new and creative ways to spread his fame – you can views his interviews with the likes of August de los […]

Microsoft Awards Provoked

Provoke took top honours at Microsoft New Zealand’s partner awards last week… Provoke won both the premier award for ‘Partner Solution of the Year’ (for our work on the Ministry of Transport intranet) – and – the ‘Business Productivity Solution’ award, beating finalists Polymedia and HP. Provoke was also a finalist in the Microsoft Technology Advocates […]


Provoke’s new Auckland office has just opened on the back of six years significant growth in the Wellington market. Provoke Auckland have already started working with a selection of new northern customers and are currently looking to close their first big deal with a large Australian-based company. With a budget of seven figures over the […]

Crazy idea archives : part one

My perfect job would be sitting around sipping soy lattes and coming up with bright ideas for the next “killer app”. Now, from the archives of the legendary zef[a]media bondi blue iMac – crazy ideas that never happened! p.u.p {a portal concept from 1999 – then updated in 2000} Impound your PIM – and get […]

reinventing dux

I’ve been reinventing the deliverables for the Design & User Experience (DUX) team at Provoke… The many facets of design and user experience – user requirements, business goals, content models, site maps, information architecture, task flows, interaction design, visual design – and more… Trying to fit this all into one tidy package has proven a challenge, […]

FullCodePress : The Aftermath

On Saturday 18 August 2007, teams from Australia and New Zealand competed to build a fully-operational website for a non-profit organisation in 24 hours. No excuses, no extensions, no budget overruns… Press release below. Full coverage, including videos, photos and commentary, over at FullCodePress Code Blacks bring home the trophy Kiwi geeks win trans-Tasman 24-hour […]

geeks gearing up for website olympics

It\’s not often that the geeks get to represent their country in a team sport. That\’s an honour usually reserved for the rugby types, the netballers, and the all-round action stars. More Photos But for seven self-confessed computer nerds, the embarrassment of always being picked last in PE is now a distant memory. This group […]

Provoke chief wins (another) award

Mason (‘Mase’) Pratt, chief executive of Provoke Solutions, has has been named NZIM/Eagle Technology young executive of the year. How young? Well, he’s first boss I’ve had who is younger than me (and I’m still in my mid-30s).Mase was a founding partner of Provoke, in 2001, at the age of 25. His citation points out […]


No, this isn’t the name of my latest usability technique, but a ‘smattering’ of news from the frontline here at New Zealand’s toastiest Interaction Design kitchen… Kitchen? Why yes… Provoke’s ever-expanding Design & User Experience team have been camped in the kitchen for several months now – we’ve been putting on the elbow grease, monitoring […]

Blobbing-Up Users

We’ve been going all gooey over ‘blob charts’ – our answer to persona data analysis – a godsend when faced with dozens of interview transcriptions and observations. When analysing users we look at a huge number of facets including: …Gender, Age group, Family situation, Income, Housing, Where living, Occupation, Education, Race/Ethnicity, Nationality, Language skills, Social […]

We’ve Been Skin’n

The Provoke Design & User Experience team had some fun last week when we were given the opportunity to design some ‘skins’ for a beta of the new Sharepoint Community Kit blogging tool. The Community Kit for SharePoint is a set of best practices, templates, Web Parts, tools, and source code that enables you to […]

Feedback from Power to the People

Apologies to my regular subscribers – I’m not keeping pace with my goal of two blogs a week. Part of the reason is the return of my dj turntables (I sold them in 1999 – now they’re back!), gathering and stacking firewood for the winter (which we’re told is “still coming”), and my work at […]

Good News Zealand

I’m going a little off topic from ‘User Experience in IT’ this week to user experiences of a different sort… It has been an interesting week for New Zealand with a plethora of "good news" stories. Beating is for Eggs First of all the so called "anti-smacking bill" (a far more accurate term would have […]

Reflections on Power to the People

Today I co-presented a full day workshop at GOVIS 2007 here in Wellington. I didn’t think I’d make it having spent the last few days in bed with an aggressive case of bacterial sinutus. Over the weekend I’d taken nasty antibiotics (for the first time in living memory), and was feeling a tad strange… My […]

Make Qantas Smarter (and win!)

Qantas have a ‘thick’ online booking system. This came to light when I read an article in The Dominion Post this morning, which reads: A mother says she will never fly Qantas again after her two unaccompanied children were bumped off an overloaded Wellington to Sydney flight and sent to Auckland instead. And here’s the […]

putting yourself out there

Many of you would have already heard of the threats against popular software industry blogger Kathy Sierra. That is the question…I briefly met Kathy when I organised a UPANZ event in 2006. Like most famous people I’ve met she’s not as ‘loud’ as she appears on-screen or on-stage. She’s petite and quietly spoken, and I […]

prototyping tools for web design

After a slow start to the year, the Wellington Usability Professionals group has an exciting series of events planned for 2007! To kick things off, their next meeting is Tuesday April 3rd and will be about prototyping tools for web design. A rapid iterative prototyping process is often used with user centred design (UCD) methodologies. […]

Good vs Evil

ponoko My ex work colleague Dave ten Have is making his dream real with new venture Ponoko. Ponoko allows designers to have their own workshop and factory to create products…as well as an online showroom to sell their designs. It’s a great idea, especially for spatial/industrial designers who can create in a 3D space or […]

I’m going off the rails

In an act of hypocrisy I’m abandoning electric rail in favour of a fossil-guzzling car. This was not a light decision, but the Kapiti-Wellington public transport system has literally driven me off the rails… For years I’ve been a staunch climate change warrior. I’d catch a bus from home to the Paraparaumu train station (20 […]

iFlat Earth

Are we throwing ourselves blindly into a yawning flat paradigm with the Apple iPhone? Let us consider a world without pressing your (or someone else’s) buttons… First of all, try kissing a glossy photograph of Bradgelina’s lips (Brad or Angelina, or both, depending on your persuasion). Next, try some real lips – you might want […]

UX Industry Goes Loco

In New Zealand the demand for Information Architects, Interaction Designers, Web Designers and Usability Consultants is hotter than global warming. It’s so hot that the local industry is possibly nearing some sort of a meltdown – nearly everyone seems to be looking for User Experience (UX) experts – and you’ll find plenty of people who […]

I’m Hiring (Again…)

When you see the latest jaw-dropping feature from Flickr, 37signals, ZoomIn, TradeMe or [your favourite website], do you think, “how on earth did they do that”? Do you then dig around the browser code, scour the web, read the blogs and try and actually find out HOW they did it? Ever tried to DO it […]

Filtering Out Advanced Search

Last year I designed a prototype of an advanced search system for Student Job Search (SJS). I’d taken inspiration from the iTunes ‘smart playlist’ feature and created an ultra flexible tool for students to add multiple layers of search phrases and criteria. Then a few months ago SJS asked us to build the search for […]

New Govt Web Guidelines

The new version of the New Zealand Government Web Guidelines is out for consultation – get in quick as consultations close on 31 October 2006. The whopping  132-pages of Guidelines have been reviewed and rewritten by a working group of several government agencies, with input by industry accessibility experts and the Usability Professionals Association. The […]

I Aye?

I’m almost back home from my workshop and conference run – GOVIS, OZ-IA and this weekend PKS2006… OZ-IA in Sydney was kinda interesting, but in my experience it didn’t match the blurb which promoted the event as a “conference/retreat where you can engage with panels, and participate in group sessions”. Infact, the whole event was […]

I’m Hiring

Well, strictly speaking, Provoke is hiring… I’ve now been working as the Director of Design & User Experience at Provoke for just under two years – in that time my small team has been flat-out conducting user research, usability reviews, designing conceptual models, information architectures and interaction designs for webapps, mobile devices and folk songs. […]

BankDirect vs Kiwibank

It’s one of those strange things about my world – every time I criticise a company or Government department the next day they’re nominated for an award (or even actually win something). It happened with Statistics NZ and the Online Census and now it has happened with Kiwibank. Kiwibank wins 2006 Sunday Star-Times Cannex Banking […]

TranzMetro Goes Web2.0

TranzMetro, Wellington’s commuter train service, has undergone several partial make-overs in recent years and the railyards are a  living case-study of a confused or fragmented branding department. But, in the spirit of Web2.0, I think they’ve finally hit on a winning formula – and this morning we were greeted with customised railcars, designed by the […]

Buy Kiwi-Designed

In New Zealand a battle of words is raging over a new ‘Buy Kiwi-Made’ campaign. The Greens (who lead the campaign) say that ‘New Zealand manufacturers and workers can be assured that only products actually made in New Zealand will be entitled to carry the New Zealand Made labelling, as specified by legislation.’ But some […]

When the Web Was Young

Glimpses of zef[a]media between 1995 and 1999 – courtesy of the Wayback Machine… [Note: Wayback Machine isn’t perfect, some links and images are missing]. 1995 I’ve been scouring the archives to find versions of this website from 1994-95, but all I could recover was this logo… 1996/1997 This homepage wouldn’t pass usability tests these days! […]

Get the Method with Boxes and Arrows

My latest piece of writing – ‘Method Acting with Personas’ – appears over on Boxes and Arrows It’s a suggestion for publication and your interest might help get it to the next stage. Take a sneak peek… Register for Boxes & Arrows (and then you’ll be able post your comments and a rating for my […]

Microsoft Bridging the Gap Between Developers, Designers and the User Experience

This article originally appeared on Digitalmelon, and is re-blogged here with the kind permission of Chandima Kulathilake. Chan has been recently evaluating new Microsoft technologies for User Interface Design – in what is just the start of Microsoft recognising interactive designers as integral to software – better enabling them to deliver an engaging User Experience. […]

Gold-plated Paper

Dealing in software design I often work with budgets worth many more times than my car (and sometimes as large as my 25-year mortgage). And because I often work in the early stages of web projects what I’m delivering to clients is usually nothing more than concepts on paper. When the end-product is merely conceptual […]

Bob’s Webstock Lyrics Uncovered!

In an exclusive scoop, Zef brings you the original lyrics from Bob’s legendary Webstock performance on May 25. Those who were lucky enough to be present at Webstock may notice a few differences from the improvised live performance, including “Flickr’d” substituted for “Google”, and “pointing device” exchanged for “mouse” – just like a good CSS, […]

Triple Bottom Line Usertarianism

As the designers of user interfaces we have an obligation to not only our clients, but our users and their greater working environment. In practical terms, Triple Bottom Line Usertarianism usually means expanding the traditional user experience framework to take into account not just user and client satisfaction but the overall user-ecology. Usertarianism is a […]

Taking Stock…

Well – Webstock was a blast. Here’s snippets from my seven days of coffee and haze… Sunday (PM) I join the Provoke crew to wine and dine the phenomenally busy Kelly Goto. Monday Running a packed UPANZ event with Kathy Sierra + Bert Bates… Kathy gives us plenty of food for thought – Phil and […]

It’s K-Time!

Webstock is the biggest thing to hit the Wellington web industry since Trade Me sold for $700m in cash – the difference is that, this time, almost everyone gets to share the riches. For me the Webstock Experience started last night over a relaxed dinner at the Matterhorn with the Provoke DUX team and  (a […]

“I aint got no use-a-bill-latty”

As the President of the Usability Professionals’ Association of New Zealand (you can just call me ‘Mr President’), I\’m charged with supporting and growing “usability” in this country. Well, things seem to be ticking along quite nicely, with the latest UPA survey of over 1300 usability professionals worldwide (including a healthy 21 responses from little […]

Usability is Bad for the Environment

Soon after I relaunched my blog in January 2006 my subscriber base shot up from about a dozen regular readers to over 300 – and now fluctuates wildly between 150 and 250 I’ve been wondering about these fluctuations and discovered an interesting trend… Whenever I write about environmental issues – the subscriptions increase. …and… Whenever […]

‘Absolute Beachfront’ by 2050

What will New Zealand look like in 20 years if we don’t have fresh Water, are still dependant on Oil and human-induced Climate? A sea-level rise of 5m will make my house ‘absolute beachfront’.To debate this I recommend you subscribe to Future Blog – which has a focus on Wellington/New Zealand environmental issues. It’s well […]

Environmentally Friendlier Pop-ups

Old fossil Web1.0 technologies (such as pop-ups) continue to pollute our browsing environment and are hampering progressive and sustainable navigation. So, in one of my previous blogs I declared “War on Pop-Up Pollution“. In this issue I look at some alternative techniques to “display information within information”. Why Pop-ups Are Evil Forced Consumption’¦ According to […]

Meantime, in my day job…

Recent success stories from the Provoke coal face (where I manage a small team of interaction designers)… The National Bank of New Zealand’s new plastic fantastic personalised photo cards have been so popular that oil prices in New Zealand have shot up yet again. During beta-testing I cheekily tried submitting this cartoon of a rabbit […]

War on Pop-Up Pollution!

Pop-up creators are polluting our fragile web eco-system – they must look to alternatives. Now pop-ups are infiltrating people’s homes and messing-up the web eco-system.You might not realise it, but your friends, family and co-workers are all suffering from the long-term consequences of pop-up pollution. Common  symptoms include cluttered desk-tops, confused navigators and homeless browser […]

Online Census Flopped?

The online census attracted less than half the expected number the Dominion Post reported yesterday. Less than half the expected number of people filled out the new Online Census.The paper reported that Statistics NZ had hoped that 15-20 per cent of the population would complete the census online, based on dry runs conducted last year […]

Eco Entrepreneurs

Peter, a retired engineer who lives in Waitati (near Dunedin), says he has designed a prototype system which will convert household organic waste into biodiesel fuel. His contraption links up to an existing ‘insinkerator’ disposal unit or can be fed directly with compost and shredded garden waste. “With my system anybody can make biodiesel. It’s […]

Just “waiting for the real thing?”

Ever had a brilliant idea that could potentially ‘spice-up’ a business, the world wide web, or the planet? Like many creative people my great ideas often stay “just ideas”. They tend to languish and then fade away. Except, in my case they don’t always fade away – a few abandoned concepts have come back to […]

Anesthetising Our Way of Life

According to at least one New Zealander we’re well on the way to sharing a similar fate as the 14th century Easter (or ‘Rapanui’) Islanders. This morning Linda Clark was interviewing Peter Lloyd – a Hawkes Bay senior anesthetist turned climate change expert. He had grave concerns for New Zealand and the planet in the […]

Painting Over History

Another little bit of Wellington history was given a ‘big brush over’ earlier this month. It was a row of old shop-front signs on the corner of Cuba and Ghuznee Streets (which looked as though they originated from the middle of last century). It’s the sort of thing which goes on all the time, but […]

…but will it fold the washing?

For christmas my eldest daughter was given a Knex construction kit – and a few hours later Ferris was born. Ferris is pretty simple, but inquisitive – its main function being to drive around the floor, bump in to objects, act ‘confused’, persist and eventually get out of tricky situations. Of course “Ferris” – part […]

Students Treated to Defensive Design

The Student Job Search website has been relaunched, but at first glance you wouldn’t notice much of a difference… While the visual design has largely remained untouched – most of the work has gone in to turning a potentially arduous registration process in to something digestable and usable for both students and employers. Provoke’s ethos […]

ZoomIn BloomIn Brilliant

Zoomin is a New Zealand dynamic street map site, where you can zoom, pan and navigate around the map in real time. Sound Googlesk? Well, it is, but better. What I really like about it is the user experience – it’s uncluttered and simple to use – minimal navigation and appropriate use of AJAX. And, […]

TV3 Website Gives Me Nightmares

Just when I thought the web was actually going through a revival with usability, web standards, AJAX taking hold – and New Zealanders actually starting to churn out some pretty decent websites – TV3 had to come along and trash the party. Obviously TV3′s web designers needed a ‘What’s Hot/What’s Not’ list – so I’ve […]

Insincerity Sucks

An article in the Sunday Star Times (‘Insincerely yours’, Oct 9 2005) claims that New Zealand companies “are robbing their customers, robbing their staff, and robbing themselves with an insincere approach to customer service”. The article goes on to say: The good experiences were powerful – but so were the bad ones: “Some people were […]


My customer experience today at a ‘Theme Basics Store’ in Wellington… [ZEF] Hi, do you sell shower curtains? [TBS SHOP ASSISTANT] Yes – over there… (points) [ZEF] (looks over) They look great – can you tell me what length they are? [TBS] Hang on (finds a brochure) 180cm or 190cm – it depends – we’ve […]

Foto Blotto

It was my first exploration into the brave new world of ordering photo-prints online. I thought the experience would be simple… Visit a website Upload a bunch of photos I want printed Choose the size and format Enter my address and credit card details Then forget about it a for a few days… …until “viola!” […]

Blind Greens

While travelling from Ohakune to Paraparaumu the other day I became obsessed with the plethora of political party billboards lining the highway. To the point…The National Party takes the cake for effective design (and billboards per mile), and the Social Credit party billboard in Wanganui wins the prize for sheer audacity… (won’t they ever give […]

Trade Me Your Region

The Trade Me ‘change my region’ feature assumes New Zealanders are hermits – never leaving the comfort of their internet device, home, street or town. I live and work in more than one region.The purpose of ‘change my region’ is to allow people to search for goodies in ‘their region’ (or, alternatively, over the whole […]