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Pixel-perfect social media graphics

How right-sized graphics can lend a whole new dimension to your online appearance

Tangled measuring tape

Most organizations would never send their leaders to a news conference in pizza-stained sweatpants and a moth-eaten Planet Hollywood t-shirt. But a startling number of them do the digital equivalent.

They stretch low-resolution logos and graphics to serve as cover images. They shovel photos online without noticing that the call to action is getting cropped out. Use intricate, complex images as pinkie-nail-sized profile photos.

The result is a blotchy, pixelated, distorted, unreadable mess.

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In defense of white space (and choices)

Gmail's new design offers plenty of white space... and a good example

Big white square

Gmail has had a very interesting redesign. (I love the big fat red "Compose" button. Doesn't work on me, though; I press it, and I'm just as anxious as ever.) You can read about some of the details on the Gmail blog, including an account of the choices they made around designing the left sidebar.

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It takes a village to build a world-changing social media presence

Building your social media team

Your social media team

Social media can help to engage customers, build brand, raise public awareness or support internal collaboration. Precisely because of its breadth of impact, it's not obvious where it fits in an org chart: In marketing or public relations? Communications or customer care? I.T. or H.R.?

Developing an effective social media team requires more than finding the right box on the org chart or figuring out where that community moderator should sit. It's about identifying the goals for your social media program, the competencies needed for successful execution, and the gaps you need to fill.

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Hear how art and tech combine for social change

Designing for Democracy: Thursday, March 5 in Vancouver

Frequent collaborator and Friend Of the Show Jason Mogus tells us about a fantastic-sounding event this Thursday, March 5 in Vancouver. Alex met the keynote speaker, Favianna Rodriguez, at Web of Change last year and was blown away; this is your chance to experience something amazing.

Here's the scoop, directly from Jason:

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It's lonely at the top

Google Reader, our newsreader of choice here at Social Signal (hunter-destroyer droids constantly prowl the premises, looking for holdouts still using Bloglines... there's one now! KABOOM!)...

...anyway, Google Reader has launched a redesign. It's crisper, cleaner, simpler and faster.

But apparently, there's a downside: you'll have a lot fewer friends.

Design and development

We draw on our international network of world-class design and development partners, all of whom specialize in social web projects, to deliver compelling community platforms for thriving conversation.

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Target V.P. Michael Axelin on the seven components of successful innovation

Tonight's symposium featured Michael Alexin, Oberlin College class of '79, V.P. of Softlines Design and Product Development at Target. Yes, this is the man responsible for keeping me clothed during my last pregnancy, and even tougher, the post-pregnancy pre-weight loss months.

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Usability tip: "cancel" isn't the same as "no"

Warning: a pet peeve follows. 

Way, way too many programmers are in love with the words "OK" and "cancel", as in the dialog box "You are about to format your hard drive and set fire to your house. [OK] [Cancel]."

Originally, it made sense: this was your chance to either proceed with an operation or cancel it altogether. But those words have become synonyms for "yes" and "no", and that's a problem.

Take this example:

Dialog box reading 'Confirm: Do you want [deleted] to remember the username?'

(I've blocked out the name of the offending Firefox extension because, well, why single them out when there are so many other offenders?)

This box popped up while I was trying to register a domain name. It was asking me a question: did I want something to happen? And the logical answers are either "yes", "no" or (and this is asking too much from most apps) "I'm not sure; tell me more".

But "cancel"? That could mean anything from "cancel saving the username" to "cancel submitting the form" to "Stop the Internet: I want off." A few seconds of reflection later, and the likely meaning is clear... but as Steve Krug pointed out so famously, making users think (at least about interface choices) isn't a friendly thing to do.

There are still times when "OK" and "Cancel" make sense; I don't suggest jilting them altogether. But when you're asking a yes/no question, what possible reason could you have for not offering users the ability to give a yes/no answer?

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Work Smarter with Evernote

Get more out of Evernote with Alexandra Samuel's great new ebook, the first in the Harvard Business Press Work Smarter with Social Media series!

Available on Amazon, iTunes and HBR.