BrainBlog is the Brains4All weblog. Established 2004 in The Netherlands. Brains have been working in IT since 1983, working on the internet since 1993, and using their own agile development process for design and application development since 2003. We talk about about design and usability, the industry of software and web development, web applications and simplicity, beautiful and spectacular things.

Online Nation

August 29, 2008 |

Image by Seth Stoll available under a Creative Commons licenseEight out of 10 Dutch are regularly online, says DutchNews

When it comes to internet use, the Dutch are ahead of most of the rest of Europe with eight out of ten people regularly online, according to a study by Forrester Research.
The report also shows that Dutch 16 to 34-year-olds use the internet for an average 16 hours a week. Only the Scandinavians are online as long.

The latest Comscore reports give slightly different numbers and even show a decrease of 1% of internet usage in the Netherlands. Netherlands has had the highest broadband Internet penetration in the world and remains steadily in the number one position. Internet access in Holland is completely saturated.

Other countries in Europe are moving up fast, showing more people online, more often consuming more data and services.

While online last year, the Dutch spent an average of €365 per head buying everything from secondhand comic books to houses, according to another study also out on Monday.
The total amount spent online through sites like is estimated at €4.6bn in 2007, research group Blauw said. This figure does not include purchases made through webshops.

Even though the reports vary, on the whole you can draw one conclusion:

If you're not making it your business to have an active online presence, you're losing money to competitors who are.

The Phantom Writers have a few tips for moving your off-line business on-line.

A few years ago off line businesses would never have dreamed of bringing their businesses into the Internet arena but now marketing has changed so rapidly that businesses cannot afford to ignore the Internet.

What is the most heard excuse?

1. My business is local and the Internet is global
2. I have a wholesale business I cannot sell hard goods on the Internet
3. Websites are expensive and what do I do with one anyway?
4. Internet "surfers" are not interested in my offline goods

Here are some tips from the article to help you think about:

1. Local businesses have local customers that still use the Internet to research their purchases. If you're not showing up on the net, they'll eventually move to a competitor that is.

2. You can make use of drop shippers and fulfillment houses that can be contacted online. Drop shippers can deliver directly to your customer and give you the wholesale prices. Fulfillment houses can take care of your inventory and shipping to your customers.

3. A good professionally designed and developed website works to help you and your customer. Websites can be designed and built for a very reasonable price by using experts like us. Don't think of your website as a online brochure or an online shop only. Your customers are used to having Internet tools to interact with people and companies. A great way to use your web presence is to help increase customer service levels. Very cost effective. Also new web techniques can be used to help you better understand your customers and to forge a relationship.

4. Internet surfers are actually your own customers but in a different place. They are serious shoppers and expect the high standards they have been used to offline. Your website will provide them with all this and more.

What other tips can you share to move your offline business online effectively?


Diamond skull comes to Holland

August 26, 2008 |

diamondSkull.jpgThe famous diamond-bedecked skull by British artist Damien Hirst will be exhibited in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam from 1 November until mid-December.

The museum’s director Director Wim Pijbes says that the contract for showing the work is the strictest he has ever signed. “The skull has to be placed in a dark room without anything else around it. Everything we have to do is in the contract. We can't even mention who the owner is...”

The skull, that of an 18th century European covered in platinum and 8,601 diamonds, was sold in 2007 to a group of investors for € 75 m, the largest sum ever paid for a work by a living artist.

The sculpture is titled "For The Love of God". The title of the piece comes from Hirst's mother who asked her son, “For the love of God, what are you going to do next?”

For Hirst all his art is about death. This piece was influenced by Mexican skulls encrusted in turquoise. “I remember thinking it would be great to do a diamond one — but just prohibitively expensive” he recalls. “Then I started to think — maybe that’s why it is a good thing to do. Death is such a heavy subject, it would be good to make something that laughed in the face of it.”

Later he was quoted saying: “What have I done? Because it’s going to need high security all its life.”

What do you think of the Diamond Skull?


That Old Time Software, the end of an Era

August 21, 2008 |

Khoi Vinh is the Design Director of the New York Times. He blogs about Design over at Subtraction and he's one of my favourite reads. He's observant, perceptive and a highly talented and entertaining writer and designer.

He writes in a recent post about That Old Time Software that he's had it with complex software:

I also think that we’re at a stage now where software interfaces just have to be more immediately intuitive than ever before, have to tell a story with extreme compactness and on first pass. There’s still a long way to go in raising the bar for good interfaces, but it’s much higher now even than where it sat at the end of the last century. In the intervening years, there have been too many good interfaces — still not enough in general, but enough to show us that software design can accomplish much more with much less.

He goes on to signify the end of an era.

Web applications have tremendously abridged the opportunity window for all new software, whether it resides on the desktop or the network.
Much of this is not news to many readers, I’m sure. But sometimes, in the midst of change, it’s easy to overlook the fact that we’ve moved from one era to another. Maybe two years ago it would still have been passable to ship an application like that. Today, it’s puzzlingly anachronistic. In a few more years, it’ll just be completely unacceptable.

Of course I agree with Khoi's vision. It is totally unacceptable to produce and ship customer hostile web applications or software.

However I keep seeing complex feature loaded unusable web applications come to the market only to frustrate users and waste clients' valuable time and money.

What customer hostile web applications have you run into lately? Link it up!


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