May 9, 2014


Aside from this video being light-hearted and hilarious; it's interesting to see the interaction -or user interaction and HCI (Human Computer Interaction) for a web geek like me- and how the mental model is put into action. Regardless of the different "interaction styles", one can note the "trust" between a human and a system being it visible or not!

Apr 4, 2013

QR Best Practice

What is QR best practice?

- Make sure the QR code serves a purpose and adds to the user experience.
- Make sure it leads to a mobile optimised site.
- Consider location. Look to place them where people have the time and opportunity to notice and scan them.
- Don't just use QR for the sake of it. You're spoiling it for those that use it well.
- Put it where people will notice it.
- Make the code big enough so people can scan it easily.
- Include a call-to-action (CTA) telling users what they stand to benefit from scanning the code

Jan 15, 2013

Miss Representation, a whole World of it!

As media people, designers, advertisers, communication artists, etc, we need to be more aware about being the right type of "producers" in the way we are, we think, we design, and the way we just are, a reflection of thoughts and beliefs.

It's very tricky when you are also a "consumer" and in constant exposure of this same media, that you are aware of how it's affecting you, directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously. It's not limited to women, objectifying women or misrepresenting women, rather a whole set of concepts, values, human factors, cognitive paradigms and a shift in mentality.

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." Alice Walker

Pause...for a few moments and reflect!

Are you a victim of consumerism?! How far did you go?! Or are you so deep that it blinded you from other sightings, reflections, owning your own thoughts?! Or are you a mere mirror of that big worldly bubble of "Eat Sleep Work Die" or "Work Consume Sleep Repeat"?! And your life, thoughts, actions and even words are media-zed consumerism verbatim?!

Pause...and reflect over and over again... everyday!


Jan 2, 2013

Product Experience v/s User Experience

Product Experience v/s User Experience

How do YOU "see it" or define user experience design... For those who have trouble understanding what I do :P

Jun 26, 2011

Bye Bye Internet Explorer

If you happen to be one of "those people" using Internet Explorer -despite my previous direct and indirect messages to raise awareness amongst my network- I feel compelled to keep reminding you to stop and get your web life on the right track.

"Friends don't let friends use Internet Explorer. And neither should acquaintances. Educate others about moving off of Internet Explorer."

So I removed 2 characters from Microsoft's quotation... since this is how it SHOULD be and this is what millions of designers and developers would tell you!

Stop using Internet Explorer and get something decent! Decent as in a browser or an application that is secure, supports web standards and keeps up with emerging technologies and trends. In random order and based on your own preferences, you may choose Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Opera.

So what are you waiting for?!

More info:

Apr 27, 2011

World Graphics Day... offensively!

World Graphics Day is an opportunity to recognize communication design, and its role in the world.

Designers of the world... I salute you!

Today, April 27th, marks "World Graphics Day" as per the international body of graphic design and designers worldwide. A day to seize an opportunity to pause and ponder... on different levels.

Wikipedia states: "On this occasion, designers reflect and hope that an international network can contribute to a greater understanding between people and can help to build bridges where divides and inequities exist.". Yet, being the arrogant rebellion I seem to be, and will all respect to all parties, I hereby declare an offensive stand, holding my grounds, and stand up face on, face up in confrontation with the commercially influenced crescendo design, visual and web-ic.

What the heck is happening to creativity and design ethics... at least within the realm of my surroundings and the middle east region in specific. Yeah yeah yeah, you will immediately say "it's a business world"... it is absolutely a business world, and it is absolutely a distorted perception, understanding and definition of "business", just like your perception, understanding and definition of "design".

Ready to shed blood?! I bet on every drop!!!

Soooo... I will allow myself to explain, in plain terms, to the managers, CEOs and business people of the world, the Middle East and Arab world and Lebanon in specific. I know I am cipher when it comes to the business realm, yet, when it intersects with design, being it architectural, visual and communicative, or web... Haiiiiiiiiiiii my dear reader... And forgive my naivety if is offending in any way...

I recently shared "The joy of an early release lasts but a short time. The bitterness of an unusable system lasts for years." -a user experience quote I picked up from somewhere I can't recall- and it falls within the context.

Correlating between "business" and "design", usability and user experience is the "shared ground" where both parties mostly debate/agree upon. As such, I will state:

A design, a logo, a poster, an application, an interface may cost an arm and a leg, or peanuts and will definitely fail to address your audience if your audience could not relate, use, understand or figure out. So mr./mrs. "decision maker" think a dozen time before you cut corners "believing" a "free" solution or a "2hours or 2days" shorter deadline will save you cost... it will save you cost for sure, the cost of succeeding within the bigger image and longer term.

And yes, disabled mentalities of the business realm, I assure you, disabilities should be catered for, accessibility -even if at a bare minimum- goes side by side with function and aesthetics! Or, in simple "business" terms, if your business is coffee, water, shoes, clothing, services, or anything... I assure you, individual with disabilities drink, eat, wear and use... when you discriminate, you are intentionally leaving a percentage of the market outside your profit... and if you call yourself an efficient marketer or business strategist, I beg you to think again!

So what is "Design"?!

In "design" terms, it's about creating a mood, a look and feel, triggering emotion, communicating messages with and without words, communicating the right message within the right context -or the indirect message within the proper context-; it's when form follows function, when function follows form, when form and function synergistic-ly and gracefully -or boldly- intertwine and become a statement. It's something you can only grasp by experiencing, by feeling, by connecting the dots of the psychological, artistic, visual, mental and emotional. Design is so many other things.

In "business" terms, design is:
... and again... forgive my annoyingly disturbing sarcasm...

- Coloring... Obedient designer slave says: yes, let me grab my Crayola set and give me 20 minutes or so and this website will be done!

- Skinning... Obedient designer slave says: no worries, I will just use a free template and need 20 minutes to plug and play!

- A 10 minutes job... Obedient designer slave says: I will do it in 8 minutes, we already did many templates before, I will just flip the layout, move a couple of elements around and change the background and text color.. and it will be awesome!

... shall I carry on?! ... I am sure you can spare a couple of minutes and crack your LOLs and ROFLs checking Clients from Hell.

To put things above into perspective... Yo... business people... kindly check above "Design is" definitions and keep that in mind the next time you devise a plan, a deadline or a strategy... for your own sake, and the world's, if not for design's sake. I pledge and firmly attest that when it comes to design, it's way beyond matching colors, elements and resizing photos; way beyond "how much time do you need to design this?", you may rather ask "what factors and information do you further need to translate this message perfectly?"; design is a labor of understanding, interaction, and love!

OK... so all is blah blah blah... what am I saying over here?!

"Designers of the world..." Unite, be aware, be alert, hold your ground.. it's not a business world, it's a visual interactive functional world... it's a design world... a designed business world... our role is to raise awareness, to educate, to understand and communicate.. let's communicate on all the levels.

"Business people of the world...." I need to hear from you... I would love to have a chat to you... please ping me, I wanna see your perspective, I wanna learn, I want to understand, I want ... I need... I need to know your perception, I need to learn from you, I need to understand. I need to be able to go beyond innovation and trends... I need to go beyond the limitations and illusions...

Above all -or is it really?! after all the blitz :P- happy World Graphics Day! :)

Mar 20, 2011

Would you prefer it if Facebook looked like this?

It's interesting to see other designers really concerned about the web aesthetics, look and feel. Although, it seems for many people, friends, family and colleagues -and most of my clients- refer to Facebook as the "web". I am sure you've heard a client ask for web design "I want it to be like Facebook, only better" .. hehehe.

Thank you Jonathan Moreira for standing up and pointing out where the most popular -and not necessarily the best- site fails.. or at least that's how I see it. I wrote to Facebook a couple of times about user experience and interaction style...but it seems my "style" of indicating what should be improved has fallen on deaf ears.. not that I, Maher Berro, am a fancy or important user experience designer.. eventually I am nobody trying to be somebody; but if there is something I have learned along the way of user experience is to consider every single feedback from your users, whether it was trivial, nasty or out of context... it may be shedding light on aspects no one has yet addressed!

Original Post and Source:

Mar 1, 2011

The simple two-step process

"Step one: Open all doors. Learn a little about a lot. Consider as many options as possible, then add more.

Step two: Relentlessly dismiss, prune and eliminate. Choose. Ship.

The problem most people run into is that they mix the steps and confuse them. During step one, they aren't open enough, aren't willing enough to consider the impossible. And then, in step two, fear of shipping kicks in and they stay open too long, hold on to too many options and hesitate.

Simple doesn't always mean easy.

by Seth Godin

It's interesting to see the dynamics of the interaction amongst teams and projects when drawing back on experience. I would non-reluctantly avow that I have been on both extremes; yet, the proper recipe is a the right amount of the ingredients, being it arrogance, guts, knowledge, perception, and most importantly, awareness and skills!

I feel pity for the teams who miss on the values, on many levels. Being in a position where I was very fortunate to experience remarkable production, efficiency and success makes it trivial to critique the other side of the fence...

Feb 26, 2011

Facebook Security

While on Facebook, check the URL in your address bar above. If you see http: instead of https: then you do not have a secure session and more prone to security issues (beeing hacked). By default, http is the non-secure setting, but you can change it...

Account > Account Settings > Account Security > Secure Browsing (https)

Jan 24, 2011

In-Accessible Paradox

Along side my web-geekyness, accessibility has been a major aspect of my approach to the web industry at large. Whenever I come across a "head-turning" graphic or piece of design. I strive to analyze it from different angles, being it context, placement, cultural, social, political, experimental, etc... while emphasizing on braille to good extents.

For instance, having braille on the bottom side of a handrail in public transport stations, public parks and spaces is outstandingly inspiring as it actually serve as the signage system we all take for granted!

Anyway, making a long story short, here is an example that defies the purpose; thanks to my good friend Mary Abi Nader and® for sharing the photo.

The braille says "Do Not Touch" and ironically, a visually impaired user may ONLY read, know, or experience that by touching; it could not work any other way!

For a second, I get a mix of emotions, the desire to laugh in tandem with compassion and uncertainty on what would have been the best approach to deliver the message, the right message through the right channel(s). Would an aural solution do the trick?! If you were blind, how would you be most comfortable in "reading" that message or acquiring its instructions?! Do you think a sensor triggered beeping sound upon approach would be an alternative?! That could be my approach... but what if you were blind and deaf?! Why would you choose to leave a portion of your users "get hurt" because you did not think it through properly.

Yes, no, I know it's not the end of the world, you may be saying: "what the heck, it's just a simple signage where nobody will touch... if it were a blind person, tough luck, they're only a few, I have a million friend and none of them is blind... so they can live without having that piece of information!" etc.. maybe not in the exact wording, but I have heard and seen similar behaviors only to feel sad yet more aware!

So... people of design... be aware! You are designing for everybody... don't keep anybody out!

May 7, 2010

Characters and Capitals

During a recent password audit in a company, it was found that a blond female employee was using the following password:


When asked why such a long password, she said she was told it had to be 8 characters and include at least one capital...


Although it's a silly joke... it indicates how users [dumb or not our users are not limited to particular groups or mentalities] perceive simple tasks and steps that we take for granted and seldom consider addressing... :)

So.. the next time you are designing a system, an application, a space, a website, or etc... pause and think! :)

Sep 1, 2009

Good design is...

Things which are different in order simply to be different are seldom better, but that which is made to be better is almost always different.
Dieter Rams, 1993

My goal is to omit everything superfluous so that the essential is shown to best possible advantage.
Dieter Rams, 1980

Good design is innovative
It does not copy existing product forms, nor does it produce any kind of novelty for the sake of it. The essence of innovation must be clearly seen in all functions of a product. The possibilities in this respect are by no means exhausted. Technological development keeps offering new chances for innovative solutions.

Good design makes a product useful
A product is bought in order to be used. It must serve a defined purpose – in both primary and additional functions. The most important task of design is to optimise the utility of a product.

Good design is aesthetic
The aesthetic quality of a product – and the fascination it inspires – is an integral part of its utility. Without doubt, it is uncomfortable and tiring to have to put up with products that are confusing, that get on your nerves, that you are unable to relate to. However, it has always been a hard task to argue about aesthetic quality, for two reasons.

Firstly, it is difficult to talk about anything visual, since words have a different meaning for different people.

Secondly, aesthetic quality deals with details, subtle shades, harmony and the equilibrium of a whole variety of visual elements. A good eye is required, schooled by years and years of experience, in order to be able to draw the right conclusion.

Good design helps a product to be understood
It clarifies the structure of the product. Better still, it can make the product talk. At best, it is self-explanatory and saves you the long, tedious perusal of the operating manual.

Good design is unobtrusive
Products that satisfy this criterion are tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained leaving room for the user’s self-expression.

Good design is honest
An honestly-designed product must not claim features – more innovative, more efficient, of higher value – it does not have. It must not influence or manipulate buyers and users.

Good design is durable
It is nothing trendy that might be out-of-date tomorrow. This is one of the major differences between well-designed products and trivial objects for a waste-producing society. Waste must no longer be tolerated.

Good design is thorough to the last detail
Thoroughness and accuracy of design are synonymous with the product and its functions, as seen through the eyes of the user.

Good design is concerned with the environment
Design must contribute towards a stable environment and a sensible use of raw materials. This means considering not only actual pollution, but also the visual pollution and destruction of our environment.

Good design is as little design as possible
Back to purity, back to simplicity.

Aug 25, 2009

Optimize user registration

Too many websites still force users to register without good reason, or provide an ineffective registration process. You can avoid frustrating users on your website by thinking about the following points:

1. Ask users to login or register only when necessary
Those parts of a website that aren't personalized should be equally accessible by registered and non-registered users. Only ask people to login or register when it's required to complete an action, not earlier.

2. Make registration optional where possible
Customers shouldn't have to 'create an account' in order to buy products from an online shop. If a site needs to remember simple previously entered information, this can also be done by using a cookie, which of course requires no effort from the end user.

3. Prominently explain the benefits of registration
Users will be happier to register if they know that they're getting something useful, rather than if registration is seen as a barrier between them and their task.

4. Avoid lengthy registration forms
Another source of frustration comes from questions in registration forms that look irrelevant to the task in hand. Remove such questions and explain the rest e.g. "We need your phone number to notify you in case your flight times change."

5. Consider progressive registration
This means asking only the bare essentials in the beginning (e.g. an email address and a password), and enabling users to update and complete their full profile at a later stage.


Jan 20, 2007

Native to the Internet

It would be hard to find or point out what is "native to the internet" since this entire digital world is based on metaphors of the real world, things we use and do on daily basis. It’s the real "physical" thing being customized, tailored and "digitized"; for instance, it’s all about using a digitized versions of: files, folders, papers, pages, archives, clips, desktop, attachments, copy and paste, editing, searching, templates, filing system, etc. The library, for instance, is the foundation of that archiving system as Rhodes and Sawday observed; the early systems of manuscripts and private/elite libraries pre Gutenberg where people –the ones who could afford and thirsty enough for knowledge– used to travel cross Europe to grasp information scattered in the layers of these valuables documents and scripts. Hyperlinks could undeniably have evolved from libraries indexes where information was listed by topics and themes; instead of ‘clicking’, you needed to walk around to the right/desired aisle amongst the high stacked shelves, or open the right/needed cards’ drawer. Alphabetical and chronological indexes could also be another old version of hyperlinks, using your thumb to separate all the topics starting with “A”, all the events on “March”, etc. Taking menus and pull-down menus as another example, it sparks the idea of being an imitation, an evolved version, of scrolls and ‘letters’ between kingdoms, war chiefs, lovers, governmental sanctions, etc; it is a form of hierarchy –alphabetical, chronological and status– of accessing information from top to bottom (the examples in mind: alphabetical indexes, calendars, written text [whether from left to right or right to left, it’s always from top to bottom], etc) which have become a standard taken for granted (ever imagined a calendar where December is high above January?). Eventually, these examples are amongst heaps that do constitute multimedia as well as being part of multimedia; not as indigenous or native in the true meaning of the terms, yet they are the foundation of the endemic internet.

Dec 18, 2006


Technology and food has always been a long debate: food pills and genetically modified food (meat, vegetables and fruits) do exist before some of us were even born! From another perspective, the whole world populations used to be farmers, growing their own food; how many farmers do you know? Hardly any! How many modern farmers – modern farmer referring to any information and/or technology related practitioner/individual, who is taking part in cultivating technology – do you know???

In a way, it sheds some light on the future of online meals ordering. However, it is a simple example of how our lives, as individuals, are being recorded; each one of us is digitized, a digital number in cross-multi databases. GPS (global positioning systems) are no longer microchips injected under spies’ skins; they exist in our mobile phones, cars, portable computers, credit cards, etc; where we are, with whom, what we are buying, using, etc. Eventually, a digital profile for each individual will exist (it already does), it would list your preferred and/or favourite restaurant, drinks, groceries, cloths and shoes brands, books, weekends’ runaways, your medical records, vital signs, social interaction status, the list is endless.

Nov 24, 2006

Violence and adult content!

Banned computer and video games are another aspect of ‘on the edge’ of the media; some would argue that media is a double edge sword, although we all would agree that its benefits are way more than its vices; just like the internet allowed pornography to be accessible and widespread; or terrorists claims, demands, threats and messages of kidnappings; or use of mobile and emails for school bullying (there even is a game on school bullying!); etc. I guess the issue here is the set of rules and regulations standardize by governments and most importantly, social behaviour as well as individuals and families nurture in respect to ethics, values and norms. It is also worth mentioning the lack of convenient decisions/rules based on appropriate and relative research: Graffiti is a form of art, "freedom of expression" which if ever given the opportunity of providing art spaces (i.e. Canada) there would be a notable decrease in demand on such games. Australia is not the only country to ban similar violent and/or adult video games, censorship is also applied in New Zealand, China (for disrespecting Chinese culture and history), and Greece (any type of video game is illegal!) to name a few.

Why would there be adult content in children’s games from the first place? Why would they design "coffees" and code them in a findable/accessible way? When I think about it, the designers of the game are very aware of the market and are targeting these teens/users from different angles, violence (unrestricted violence in doing/applying everything the society would stand against) and adult content; both angles are highly desired, addictive, and rewarding to that specific group age despite the un-ethicality.

Should really make us think! Are we, as consumers of media, unable to distinguish from the virtual and the real world?

I would say… Yes and No… for a whole set of reasons.

What do you guys reckon???

Oct 17, 2006

Digital Cultures

Gerard Goggin’s ‘The Internet, online and mobile cultures’ was quite a read. Goggin is interpreting the status of media in the Australian context, focusing on Australian corporations leading the way and/or taking part in sharing the pie; his concerns are related to Poster’s discussion of ‘the dominant English on the internet’ since English should not be entitled to the ‘American power’. Media in general are mostly governed, ruled and/or operated by American policies, a fact commonly acknowledged with the example of the media of TV/news: propagandas of the superiority of one nation, one perspective and the indirect/hidden aims of its own interests. Another example also highlighted by Poster on multiculturalism, is the relation of the second media generation and ethnicity; in one episode of the Simpsons, it caught my attention when Homer commented on his perspective of the world’s nations (an American understanding and perception) “Christians, Jews and miscellaneous’ which underlines Poster’s affirmation of the lack of an anti-discrimination set of rules in our societies. Eventually, the internet can be regarded as an illustration of the expression “it’s a small world”, a world where all contributors will keep on shaping it and projecting its future; Goggin’s expresses the internet being an user-generated context, as such, users cannot be limited to one sect, one nation nor one perspective when it’s a tangled network, the individual, the family, the community, the nation, the world.

Another point worth indicating is Goggin’s discussion on the convergence of media, which Poster discussed years before as converting into a single interactive information industry. Goggin highlights the mobile aspect of the convergence of media, designing media tools to be as much inclusive as possible, iPods, mobile phones, PSP’s, Palm handled PC’s; it can be also discussed that the future of design is ‘services’ design, especially when studying the online communities and social softwares being on top of the spectrum.

Oct 4, 2006


Postmodernity (also called post-modernity or the postmodern condition) is a term used by philosophers, social scientists, art critics and social critics to refer to aspects of contemporary art, culture, economics and social conditions that are the result of the unique features of late 20th century and early 21st century life. Among these features are included globalization, consumerism, the fragmentation of authority, and the commoditization of knowledge.[Wikipedia]

Personally, I would tend to add “technology” as a sect of the above definition for the reason that keeping up and engaging on many levels with technology - its continuous change, development, transformation, expanding, and most importantly its fusion with people’s daily tasks - makes us postmodern. It’s not only physical engagement with technology that counts; mental incentive is the higher drive for synchronising our states, since evolving based on a need and a must is what rendered cave men today’s architects of the future.

Relating postmodernism and multiculturalism, virtual communities are not a replacement of real communities, yet, they complete each other (in a sense) and are related to each others. A simple example, in my humble opinion, is Flickr as one example of social software, forums, academic online discussions (to mention a few) as well as the multiple shapes of communicating socially via technology; not only as a way of bridging time and space in the confinement of a mutual goal, but as a way of strolling in parallel and effectively in communicating any certain message on both the levels of real and virtual.

Sep 10, 2006

Shaped by Technology

All types of media mostly generated and communicated by technology are shaping our thinking, behaviours and our lives (more or less). The relation to performativity [the daily behaviour of individuals based on the norms of the society in which they live (Wikipedia)]; eventually, we live in a society highly impacted by technology reflected through a number of media mediums.

Though I am sure it applies to all of you guys, along with millions of people around the world, I may be describing myself when I state my ‘incompleteness’ without one, if not all, of the media ways I got myself accustomed almost every day; my mobile, my music player, my computer, my internet [with its wide selection of email, blog, multiple examples of social software, etc], my TV, my palm handled, to mention a few. Here is a worth reading article about how technology is shaping our lives, to which many of you would relate: Can you imagine your life without a cell phone? A computer? A TV?.

Some argue that our thumbs are getting bigger due to the daily and constant exposure to mobile and most technological devices. What do you think about that!!!

Feb 1, 2006

Creative thinking, writing and design

There is this joint Master degree being offered for the first time in Lebanon, where LAU is part of it!
...more about it

This part of the module will focus on the intellectual linkage of art, design and technology. Students will also be presented with a range of criteria to analyse the context of creative practises in new media. 50 students will be selected to participate in the first online phase of the course.

Personally, I have been up close and personal with some of the candidates discussing their proposals and approaches. It is very interesting to engage from a third party perspective and evaluate the journey I have been through, through the lenses of that course.

The proposal should be a project idea for a creative digital production in the fields of art, design, and technology, expressing your reflections on traditional and contemporary Arab culture. You might want to consider it more as a digital media art project, or a design project that makes use of digital technologies. So, you have to present us with a proposal for such a project, and how you would plan to work on it during Part 2 and 3.

What the evaluators will be looking for in the proposals are:
- fresh ideas with an aesthetical approach
- artistic imagination and creative interpretation
- critical perspectives with socio-cultural implications
- use of technology as an expressive language etc. but yet the project should be very much accessible and feasible