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Top 5 Best Looking Online Applications

September 1, 2009 Leave a comment

As the summer winds down many people will start to slack on their workout regiments and dieting fads in preparation for the winter. Beach-toned bikini bods will give way to blubber concealing puffy knit-sweaters, and soon enough only the summer memories will be keeping us going through the dark winter days.   Lucky for us, the most beautiful online software applications will continue to show skin throughout the winter, keeping their interfaces trim and efficient as ever.

‘Best-Looking’ is a category more often found in high school yearbooks than software design reviews; application critics are fonder of specific terminologies like ‘navigational elements’ and ‘interaction design.’ I’d like to throw the specifics out the window and concentrate on the straight-out best looking, curvaceous, saliva-inducing app. designs on the web.

1. Pandora:

The online radio service, Pandora, has long been the hallmark of a slick online application. From its refreshing, cool blue color scheme to its curvy card-like song icons, Pandora is a looker.   Pandora also has an integrated advertising platform that completely swaps the entire application background when a new advertiser appears. Although many would say this large design migration is disturbing, it actually sits better than tiny ad swaps or ole’ the inescapable hovering banner trick.

2. Tumblr

This Twitter competitor lets users ‘tumble’ various stories, links, images and videos out to the web. Although twitter wins as far as it’s ability to efficiently reach a group of followers with a message, Tumblr gets the award for prettiest ‘real-time news platform.’ Tumblr’s beauty may be the result of the site’s user base, who are fond of posting dazzling landscapes, closeups of delicious foods and quirky pictures of star wars figurines in real-life situations.   Beyond the appealing content, Tumblr possesses a simple yet attractive interface that keeps the people coming back to it.

3. Newton Analytics

Newton Software is a recruiting software solution that is fully accessible online, offering features that allow businesses to announce jobs, review resumes and track applicants.  The company recently launched a new reporting suite, Newton Analytics, that is simply beautiful to behold. Clearly the reporting functionality is quite advanced, allowing users to analyze dynamic data and target bottlenecks before they happen.  Newton Software is  equally advanced in its stand-out design: providing slick graphing modules, handy drop down menus and a relaxing blend of colors.

4. Google Adwords

Google recently upgraded the look of its money-making advertising platform, going from about a 4 to a 10.  The new adwords interface very closely mirrors the Google Analytics platform (which could also be considered a contender for best-looking.) Fancy graphs, soothing gradients, and enticing new tabs are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the updated Adwords.  Although many nay-sayers complain about Google changing up a tried-and-true design, the newer version proves that it doesn’t hurt to be good looking.

5. Hulu

Although Hulu.com was launched with a public bias it was able to eventually gain footing as a very popular video portal.  Hulu certainly posses advantages over YouTube in its exclusive access to network television content, but it also has the edge when it comes to looking good.  Watching online video content on Hulu is akin to watching a football game from the owner’s box:  it’s not as nitty-gritty as many other ‘bleacher’ video sites, but it feels exclusive and has a multitude of perks.   From the background dimming options to the slick control panel to the wide-screen view, Hulu is clearly the centerfold of online video.


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It’s always better online – industry playing catch-up

July 16, 2009 Leave a comment

iphone newspaperIts amazing to see what people are doing online nowadays.  Cut out any cross-section of modern day society and you will find it’s cyber-doppelganger, often making a process more efficient and accessible. From online dating to religious ritual, the Internet has provided an invaluable outlet for expressing the many facets of human culture.

Despite the proven power of the internet, there are still bastions of old-thinking that grumble about the pitfalls the online world can expose us to.  They will eventually come around. Take the political world. It wasn’t until the recent ‘Obama-fi-cation’ of politics that candidates began to expound their views via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and dozens of other cyber-stages. For the most part, pre-Obama politicians stuck to their nightly news pundits and caucus speeches to get the message out.  Other recent Goliaths to fall include the TV, film, and music industries (although I still question their web dedication).

There is still a major fraction of industry that refuses to accept the full efficiency and economy of the Internet.  Sure, they might be using email and Google search, but that’s about it. I’d like to create a list that spans various cross-sections of industries that are still missing the big picture. Feel free to chirp in with any other examples.

Newspapers:

I know.  Many of us still like to get that Sunday New York Times on the doorstep, crisp in our hands as we sip our morning coffee.  Is it really worth it though? It is estimated that nearly 500,000 trees are cut down to produce every Sunday’s newspaper. New digital ink formats like the Amazon Kindles’ make it possible to nearly replicate your old newspaper experience with a completely digital one. Not only that, but you will be able to access a wider variety of articles from various sources, rather than being trapped by the opinions of a handful of writers and media execs. We need to stop postponing the inevitable and bring the axe down on paper newspapers, rather than reading their slow, wordy obituaries.

Paper Receipts:

Sure, there appear to be a ton of technologies and solutions that can digitize receipts, but none of them have quite caught on yet. Most consumers still make a purchase from WalMart, BestBuy or McDonalds and still receive paper receipts that they either throw away or stow in some musty file cabinet. One notable company that hopes to digitize all receipts is AllEtronic, which creates an easy way to divert and organize all your receipts online with participating retailers. We need more retailers to jump on the bandwagon though. Not only does a world with no paper receipts prove more eco-friendly, but it also saves us all the hassle of dealing with crumpled up balls of trash.

Human Resources and Hiring:

Although we all know about online job sites like Monster.com to search for job openings, there still is a notable lack of enterprise hiring solutions that are fully online. Many businesses are still dealing with clunky installation CDs when it comes their recruiting, applicant tracking and applicant management needs. Hiring is something that becomes twenty times more efficient online because it can take on a more effective mode of collaboration, analytics and management.  Newton Software is one web accessible solution that is ahead of the curve.  Newton Software touts easy online access, a seamless hiring process and affordable pricing options.

Cars:

You’re thinking I’m a bit ahead of myself on this one. I’m actually speaking of the business model that manufacturers use to sell cars and how it may benefit from a Web 2.0 makeover.  Online advertising is now a multi-billion dollar business with Google leading the way through their innovative AdWords solution.  The auto-industry is desperately looking for new ways to market and sell their cars.

What if all of our modern day GPS-aware cars were able to serve us advertisements that were location relevant? Did dad forget to stop by Home Depot on his way home? Not if his car lets him know a few miles before the exit.   Sure, it may get annoying (or dangerous) if you are flocked by a swarm of flying Dunkin Donuts’ across your windshield, but it may be well worth the price break on your car.   Manufacturers could sell their cars at more affordable prices with some incoming ad-revenue from big brands across the country.   Perhaps you might have the choice to turn ‘annoying’ advertisements off by paying for the car at full price.