Put your best interface foward

I’ve traveled through many airports recently, so I’ve had lots of time to consider airport advertising. Most airport ads are obscure and inscrutable, and software ads in particular are often filled with buzzwords and jargon. Without the generic distinctions of logos, slogans, and color palettes, the majority would be interchangeable.

When I was walking in Boston’s Logan Airport, this is just one of the many lackluster ads I saw:

How will this ad create new business? For those who don’t know what “ERP” is, the ad is impenetrable. For those who do know, the ad doesn’t give them any new information and isn’t particularly memorable. Perhaps the sole function is to promote the brand? If that’s all, I would say that this ad is a squandered opportunity.

Contrast that ad with this one that was a few steps away:

FactSet creates software for financial professionals, and it has chosen to put its product front and center in its campaign. As an interaction designer, I’m biased, of course, but I find this ad much more accessible. Anyone walking past can see the product, and can understand (at the very least) that FactSet delivers a dizzying amount of information. The UI displays enough detail that people in the know will recognize its differentiating qualities. As I was standing near it, quite a few people stopped to take a second look. No one did for the Big ERP ad above.

At Cooper, we know how much work goes into creating a sophisticated information platform like the one FactSet has displayed, so we’d like to extend some appreciation to FactSet for taking pride in their UI, and for putting it front and center. If you’ve got something that you think is vivid, powerful, or differentiating, show it off. If you don’t, hire some great designers so you can.

8 Comments

Doug Winter
I disagree completely, the first advert speaks emotionally to their potential customers, providing immediate justification to look up the product. The second advert just shows some numbers and graphs. I've fallen asleep already!
Jonas LaRance
I'd combine this post with the last and get: It depends on what's most relevant to your target audience and what causes them to respond in a desirable manner. Then measure it and disagreement will generally get more specific and productive.
Vibha Bamba
I disagree, i cant imagine any one being intrigued in such a data heavy interface. There is a lot to be said about simplicity, play value and immediate engagement with display advertising. There's very little take away & I agree that both cases are a squandered opportunity. Its interesting that there isn't enough exploration on low cost, low touch play strategy being integrated into these forms which can largely help emphasize the product message.
Christopher
I think it's very telling that you choose to use the word 'dizzying'. Well designed information interfaces need not be 'dizzying' to provide usable analysis capabilities. While I like the idea of surfacing the interface as a feature, this particular design is overwhelming and would likely drive people away.
Jeroen van den Eijkhof
As a former network engineer staring at screens with alarm notifications and many different types of ways to display uptime and network usage I know that this is dizzying only for the person who sees it for the first time. I believe that a person who actually would benefit from this would look at it and probably go "Ah, that would be a nice overview to have!" It only has 3 columns with varying "widgets" in them. A person who has used this only a couple times and knows how to grok that stuff will get information instantly. That said I do like the top for it's playfulness and also being clear that "We sell something better than an ERP". The last one just displays an interface but doesn't give an incentive towards what they do or really offer. The copy wasn't very good either.
Jeroen van den Eijkhof
As a former network engineer staring at screens with alarm notifications and many different types of ways to display uptime and network usage I know that this is dizzying only for the person who sees it for the first time. I believe that a person who actually would benefit from this would look at it and probably go "Ah, that would be a nice overview to have!" It only has 3 columns with varying "widgets" in them. A person who has used this only a couple times and knows how to grok that stuff will get information instantly. That said I do like the top for it's playfulness and also being clear that "We sell something better than an ERP". The last one just displays an interface but doesn't give an incentive towards what they do or really offer. The copy wasn't very good either.
Dominique Willems
It might attract its target audience more than the ERP one, agreed. In this case, it also attracts a lot of confused travelers looking for flight data, however, as is clearly visible in your picture. ;)
James
All these people reenitapg that Greg's a print designer who doesn't understand CSS just don't get it.They have adopted themselves to the css mentality, instead of adapting the technology to design needs.Most miss the point altogether, like:Greg I just want to ask you what if I told you that Quark will no longer be supporting style sheets? Would you be ok with that? Even if you were working on a 120 page document? I'd be pissed, just like I would be pissed if they took away CSS.This is irrelevant. Greg has not talked against the general idea of stylesheets, he talked against the CSS concept and implementation in particular. His points are specific and razor sharp, and could be used in designing a BETTER stylesheet language for the web. Like this point:CSS captures styles not semantics or design intention. A design intention would be something like: I want to balance these two columns or perhaps This text should line up with the logo image in the first column. When designers do things like this:#content{position:relative;top:32px;left:20%;width:40%;}They are capturing the style specifics not the design intention. Why 32 pixels? Why 40%? Perhaps the logo is 32px tall? Perhaps the other column is 60% wide? When the logo changes size or placement how will you know what styles to touch? There is a basic concept called parametric design that can be used to specify the parameters of the design.Right on!And since a lot of web pages nowadays are web apps , are you css people familiar with actual programming for GUIs? If you know GTK, QT, Java or what have you, they all have MULTIPLE layout models. CSS only has one, and a cripled one at that, the box model. A single model cannot solve all needs. (btw, almost all languages offer a table or grid layout manager, without sacrificing fluidity ).Some points:a) The concept of styles is correct. It's CSS that has it all wrong.b) Design should be intention based and parametric. Hell, CSS does not even have parameters! If I want 20 design elements in my stylesheet to be 200px (or 20% or anything), I have to repeat myself 20 times over. When I want to change it to 200px it's 20x times the work actually needed).c) A lot of stuff should have been built in, in CSS and HTML and easier. Rounded corners? Blow me, just have something like:#box {curve-top-right: 20px }or have a way to define such effects in code blocks and share them.etc

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