Making Light of Things

November 2008 Archives

Colour Conscious

In Anne’s world, everything has to be pink. She’s even promised to buy a pink car and drive us around in our old age.

A week ago we bought her a nightlight. A pink nightlight.

“Why isn’t it called a daylight?” she asks.

“Do we turn it on in the day?”


“And we don’t turn it on in the day because…”

“Because we’re going out,” the little girl answers.

Brain Buzz

It’s 4am.

“What’s wrong, can’t sleep?”, Faith asks.

“For the first time in a long time, I’m lying here, wide awake, thinking about work”, I reply.

“Wow, that’s great”. She heads back to slumberland.

I am so blessed to have a wife who understands exactly what I mean, what I feel and loves me knowing exactly the person I am.

It has been a long time. Since the redesign of the MOE Corporate website half a year ago, we’ve shifted into the necessary maintenance mode, quashing small bugs and ironing out processes to keep the website stocked with up-to-date information.

The initial days of the redesign were an amazing high for us. We had a ton of feedback, both external and internal, from colleagues in other departments who had problems finding information that sat on an entirely new information architecture framework to journalists who couldn’t navigate the new site. It was an amazing experience to be able to address all their feedback in real time as we morphed the homepage, tweaked navigation and made important information more accessible within minutes of receiving emails. The response time in which we were able to react turned many frowns upside down (hate the cliché) and shocked many users who weren’t expecting immediate response from government web team.

It was also a high because we received numerous emails thanking us for bringing a Singapore government site into the 21st century. The geekier ones (some of them are you guys reading my blog) loved the underlying code and gave us suggestions with which we used to improve the online experience.

We were designing something collaboratively with our audience and it was amazing.

That was then.

Maintenance mode is an iterative process that goes on perpetually. As we comb the website for possible improvements, our audience had also gotten used to our design and adapted to our flaws. Innovation was exercised in the publishing of new content, like the insertion of flickr photographs and online video into speeches and press releases.

There were ideas I could offer, but for the most part the audience seemed happy with the information they were getting. There was very little impetus for change, and it would was hard to expect colleagues to put in extra work to cut information a dozen new ways simply because I thought it would serve our audience better.

We missed you.

I missed you.

Continue reading Brain Buzz »

Content Complexity vs Navigational Complexity

Editor’s note: This post pertains to the day job, and is probably boring as hell. It is also posted on the MOE Web Development blog.

The dream job of any designer is one that gives the flexibility to design a product exactly the way the designer wants it. The best-case scenario is where the designer’s vision matches what the users want. Users may not want pretty user interfaces and this is where designers need to learn to tame the designer ego.

Designers, on the whole, deal with a whole lot of constraints other than just ego. Even beautiful products such as the Macbook is constrained by cost and availability of materials.

Continue reading Content Complexity vs Navigational Complexity »

Wanting to Fly

Anne asked for a pair of wings last night. Not a pair of bird wings covered with feathers, but the girlier ones - the fairy ones.

“I want to fly real,” she said.

Living in a small apartment 8 storeys from the ground, we can’t help but get a little alarmed at her obsession with wanting to fly. It would be a natural reaction to explain to her that people, unlike birds, can’t fly because we were never made for flying, but I would also like to be careful not to stifle possibilities.

After all, where would we be if the Wright brothers hadn’t defied all odds, armed with the same vision my 3 year old daughter has?

We weren’t made for a lot of things. We were made to cover great distances, achieve great speed, or dive to great depths, yet we have done all these things because the Jonathan Livingston Seagulls amongst us refused to accept the status quo.


Had a bit less than two hours to spend with the wife and kids this evening before heading back to camp. It’s so hard leaving Anne, who’s sobbing away crying “I want daddy”, and asking me only to leave in the morning.

I hate to do this to the little girl.

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