Discover what creates the magic in our work.

Jul 29, 2011

Land ho! Sail ho!

Jul 29, 2011 3:31 PM Posted by XiMnet Malaysia
I gotta say, the 1st half of 2011 passed so fast I don't quite remember what happened... Well OK I do remember but maybe it's not that spectacular.

Not memorable.

But I intend to make the 2nd half a lot more exciting, and to prove the point, we actually headed East
to Bukit Gambang, Pahang for a Retreat, all 12 of us. And it was a hoot!


We reviewed our strategy and to-do-list and made a collective promise to push for the next 5 months to deliver on our Product Development aka Nimbus or XTOPIA in the Cloud. It is a 3-tiered software se
rvices model that, when we get it shipped, will transform XIMNET from a project-focused company to a software services global setup.

Sure, we dream BIG.

And yes, we've also promised to ACT BIG TIME to achieve our goals.

During the trip, we tinkled with our Design Direction with a user-focused philosophy that will outline our UX Manifesto, sharpened our Marketing Focus with Mobile offerings, and most of all, laid the foundation for our R&D to transform the company, as mentioned above.

And over the next 5 months, Deborah & I will be a lot more diligent in posting our thoughts and journey snippets and you will see that we will be sharing the highs and lows of this ambitious journey.

And I will be working on publishing 3 eBooks to be shared with you.

More details to come...

And here's for a wildly exciting 5 months before we wrap for the year with wine and Christmas holidays.

I will end with a group photo of the team at Bukit Gambang. Here you go.


Jul 4, 2011

Mar 24, 2011

Web Design & The Chief Alchemist?

Mar 24, 2011 8:01 PM Posted by XiMnet Malaysia ,
I've been asked many times, in meeting rooms, sales presentations, wedding dinners, old boys gatherings, why do I carry this rather unusual title?

"CHIEF ALCHEMIST"?

Why indeed?

There's the long answer and the short answer thing.

So for this post, I will get to the short answer, which might be more relevant within this context.

Whichever ways you see it, the Internet is fertile ground for innovation. When I first got interested in web design circa 1996, I knew that the value of the web was not in any new fangled, multi-million inventions coming out of research labs within the guts of the Silicon Valley. The value of the web will be on how we put existing stuffs together to produce something valuable.

You throw text, images, videos and a bunch of codes together, stir them with imagination and make it do things for people in never before imagined scenarios or those areas that are blatantly under-served and bingo! you've opened NEW DOORS into this brave new, connected world of ours.

Look at GOOGLE.

Look at FACEBOOK.

Or YOUTUBE, for that matter.

Great ideas, YES! But really, it's always been there, those materials. You mine them out, connect them, slice & dice 'em, and whooosh, GOLD!

That's alchemy. Making gold out of ordinary things.

For us at XIMNET, we look at your content, your context with eyes of possibilities. That's our thing, OUR CREED, if you don't choke on that kind of words.

And we've done this for more than a decade. I am proud to say this without any sense of irony, we've got to be one of the top web design company. In Malaysia at least, if not in the region.

And we've seen promising competitors flamed out in the lean years after the 7 fat years, watched some losing their ways, gazing starry eyed, hallucinating under the desert skies, and witnessed some new ones sprouting like tiny mushrooms after last night's rain. (OK, I'll be honest, there's one I like a lot, web warriors, kindred spirits)

But we, we've been tested thoroughly in the crucible of fire. And for that reason alone, we dare to say we know what's its worth, this web thing.

I will whisper to you... it's about results...

Yes, it's all about delivering results my friends. And we've gotten the rituals and chants down pat. And a dash of love to work it too, but that's for another day.

So there, that's my passion, transforming everyday things into gold over the Internet. And if you don't mind, I want to get back to my lab. :-)

Have fun, my friends!


Chief Alchemist.

Mar 22, 2011

Feb 21, 2011

Creating Depth In Web Design

Feb 21, 2011 12:49 PM Posted by XiMnet Malaysia , , , ,
Have you seen one of those website that makes you want to touch the monitor to feel the texture or a beautiful big image so real you want to jump right into it? No, we're not talking about those fancy 3D flash websites but one that plays with depth so well it creates a whole new dimension right at your flat screen.

Nike Better World used the mixture of fluid movement and layers of images to replicate a faux 3D effect to the website. Everytime you scroll the page, the different layers of graphic moves creating a space between the objects. We especially enjoy looking at the page with the orange running shoes. They looked as though they are in the midst of falling everytime the page is scrolled.

It is not difficult to put some magic touch to your website to give them more depth.

Here are some quick tips we've learned to share:

1. The 1px Wonder
Notice how the white box stands out from the background? Actually a 1px grey line was applied to the box to give it a faux shadow between the white box and the background. This works especially well if you just want a simple touch of depth to your website and easily achievable using CSS.

Same method can be applied to navigational bars, buttons and others to create the effortless faux 3D effect for your designs.

Apple did a great job in using these magical 1px lines on its navigation bar to separate the section of the pages. The darker lines works as shadow whereas the lighter ones creates highlight.

2. Foreground and Background
While choosing an image to use, always choose one that has a strong perspective and focal point. Otherwise, try editing the image to emphasize more on the object at the front and a blurred out background to show depth. For instance, we've edited this image with two cows. The cows are nearer to you hence the color is brighter and clearer where as the background is blur and darker. This helps to make the cows stand out from the background creating a good depth of field.

3. Size Does Matter
An object on its own does not show any depth unless it is being compared to. By playing with the size of an object near and far it creates an instant depth. This method is commonly used in carousel styled photo gallery or operating system UI.


Although depth is not an important element in web design, but why limit yourself? There are so much more methods you can try and explore to give your design more flair.

Here are some of our favourite websites using depth beautifully:

http://www.floridaflourish.com/
http://www.wearecupcup.com/
http://www.joshsender.com/
http://riotindustries.com/
http://365daysofastronomy.org/
http://www.jonabel.com/
http://www.nineflavors.com/
http://www.motocms.com/
http://substrakt.co.uk/
http://carlcartee.com/

Feb 17, 2011

A Project Executed With Love :- The Girl Effect

Feb 17, 2011 11:36 AM Posted by XiMnet Malaysia , , ,

It's seldom I come across a project that I will rave about. And I mean, we are seldom given a brief that will change the world, one person at a time, a village after another.

Here's a little story about something I find extremely compelling. Over the weekend, I started reading an amazing book called THREE CUPS OF TEA.

It kept me awake till wee hours in the morning for the simple reason that Greg Mortenson, a lost mountaineer, stumbled unto an impoverished village called Korphe in the remote highlands of Pakistan and was nursed back to health by the headman.

He made a promise to Haji Ali and it changed his life, and most astoundingly the lives of those many children across Northen Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Greg Mortenson, many years and many schools later started an organization called THE GIRL EFFECT.

As a practitioner in the business of web strategy and communications, I have planned, designed, and maintained more websites than I can count. For more than a decade, that is.

I'll have to say that I was awed by the simplicity and impact of the website of THE GIRL EFFECT. It has all the critical components for a great website.

1. A Compelling Story Told in an Engaging Way!

2. A Clear Call for Action. You Can Make A Difference

3. Viral-ability

I will say it again, wow story told well, great design to support the message, and a clear invitation to participate.

WOW!

5 Stars!

Can somebody give me a project like this?!!












A final word. What is most admirable is, I can almost see those passionate people who made this work, with LOVE oozing out of their hearts. All said, the greatness of this website comes from the great attention the team member poured into the planning and execution.

And you can't do that unless you are inspired by true love and devotion.


I should know...

Feb 8, 2011

Digital Marketing and Customer Experience Design


Guys, there's an elephant in the room!

For almost 15 years, which I believe is about the full length of the e-commerce history, the digital marketing or similarly called interactive marketing industry across the globe seems not keen on paying attention to the idea of improving the service experience for customers.

The brick and mortar businesses and their subsequent e-commerce guys are mostly working independent of each others. The customer experience of these companies are broken. The chain of service and the delivery of the brand experience is sub-par.

Why hasn't anyone done much about this? I think the answer is fairly simple.

Most companies, for whatever's their worth are seldom customer-focused. Most companies in Malaysia or across the world, be they listed/berhad companies, SMEs or small enterprises tend to be process focused. In other words, they see their business from inside out, and a customer is often seen as an inconvenience. Now if you add the multiple channels that customers now interact with companies, and multiply the inherent intricacies with turf-ism, the occasional clueless leaders, fear of technology by some older folks, and technology-fetishistic IT guys looking for the latest gadgets and trophy apps to run, the Customer will often be knocked down from his throne.

The result is disgruntled, under-served, uncared and totally under-appreciated customers, who are looking out for better care, better intimacy and better service and buying experience!

So if you ask me where's the holy grail of the Internet?

The answer is an integrated customer experience, off and online. PC, and mobile and whatever other devices, all plugged in together with the focus on the customer's experience of your company.

Set the performance indicators, measure the success rates, listen to the feedback and keep on improving.

Obvious, no?

Well, yes, and all of us at XIMNET will be working to help our customers deliver this OUTSIDE IN experience.

Designing a customer-centric service experience that's unmatched. And that will be one helluva differentiation to take on your competitors.

So, the day will come when you, the people working in the sales & marketing department, the IT folks, the PR heads; when you think about getting help to connect the dots for your company and your customers; if you google for "DESIGNING CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE" and drop the usual "WEB DESIGN MALAYSIA", or "MALAYSIA WEB DESIGN", or even "DIGITAL AGENCY", then I think you are on the path of reclaiming winning this war.

GOOD LUCK, design experience warriors!

Google's Work of Art

4:40 PM Posted by XiMnet Malaysia , , , ,
After the successful and controversial Google Street View, Google did it again this time by introducing the **Google Art Project. Explore museums around the world in few clicks and discover masterpieces at incredible zoom level.


**Google Art Project is an adaptation of the Street View Project for indoor use.



This unique collaboration with some of the world’s most acclaimed art museums enables us to discover and open up the world of art through thousand artworks online in extraordinary details and informations.

Experience it now:

1. Google Art Project: http://www.googleartproject.com/
2. Youtube Channel: www.youtube.com/googleartproject

Related Articles:

1. The New York Times: Real vs. Virtual: Examining Works of Art Online
2. Engadget: Gigapixel Images of Art Classics

Feb 1, 2011

Digital & Web Trends 2011

Feb 1, 2011 2:55 PM Posted by XiMnet Malaysia , , , , , ,
Have you been to YTL's YES flagship store at Lot 10, Kuala Lumpur? Gadget lovers will enjoy spending time in the store with many gadgets to play with such as iPad, latest mobile phones, Mac and others. There is a huge digital wall at the store called the "Touchwall" displaying information such as the weather, news, sports, photographs from Flickr and more.

Image Credit: Yes @ YTL Communications Sdn Bhd

2011 marks the significant change on how we interact and consume information, communication and design.

How XiMnet is going to stay relevant as a digital marketing solution provider in the tide of change?

After months of research and brain-storming, we came out with a list of recipe that will serve our customers first-class gourmet solutions from our creative kitchen this year.

1. Large (Full Page) Background
A picture paints a thousand words. Nothing is more convincing and convenient to deliver a message visually and directly to your audience and captivate them within seconds. We have started using this style since the begining of 2010 and it has generated quite a bit of exciting results. Some of our clients in the Property Development sector find this extremely useful to attract home buyers and prospects.

2. CSS3, HTML5 & Jquery
As Flash does not play well with some of the new technologies around, we are looking into some of these tools to help create a platform for rich media information. We are always thinking ahead on how to represent and display information to our clients' audience effectively. Information does not have to be displayed page by page, they can be pulled out where and when needed, or even rearrange to the sequence you prefer. Moreover, they should work seemlessly on any gadget or platform.

3. Mobile Ready
More and more information are made accessible to mobile phone users these days. Hop onto a bus, ride in the LRT, have a meal at the restaurant and everyone is holding onto their mobile phone connecting to news updates, social networking sites, chat and others. In order to catch the huge percentage of these users, we are going to equip ourselves with mobile ready websites and solutions. This will be a huge challenge in exploring a wide range of mobile browsers, tablets and other gadgets.

I strongly believe that with the support from the ever evolving technology of high speed internet connection these days, it is only a matter of time before we create the next history; digitally.

Jan 26, 2011

Happy Birthday, XTOPIA!

Jan 26, 2011 11:35 AM Posted by XiMnet Malaysia , , , , , ,

XTOPIA's websiteXTOPIA is officially 1 year old (blow the candle, yeah!).

XTOPIA has come a long way since 2004 when XiMnet first launched our own Content Management System (CMS) for our first client, BP PETRONAS Acetyls Sdn Bhd (BPPA). I still remember the days back then when we tried to hack and assemble the open-sourced CMS to fit into the BPPA's Intranet design. With the tight deadline looming, the open-sourced CMS was giving us headache in customizing it as it contained too many functions that cannot fit into the portal design.

On that one fateful day in 2004, when we were reviewing the BPPA's project progress report, we made the decision to build our own CMS. Since then, we have been deploying XiMnet's CMS for various clients across the industries. XiMnet's Content Management System is given interesting names as we go through several upgrades, such as XiMnet CMS, SWiRL, iCube, JoyCube and finally XTOPIA.

Today, XTOPIA consists of several modules:

There will be more functions to be made available in XTOPIA, so stay tuned to our blog for updates.

Jan 25, 2011

XIMNET & Digital Alchemy in 2011

2011 is going to be a special year for XIMNET. Yeah, I will explain, but before that, some backgrounders.

2011 is the 11th year XIMNET has been in the web development business. I will, from now onwards, no longer refer to XIMNET as a web development company but simply as a Digital Agency. I think a digital agency not only sounds a lot better, but also because the work we do at XIMNET are no longer limited by the web.

So XIMNET is a Digital Agency, and we are going forward riding the waves of exciting change brought about by constant technological and societal changes in the new millinieum.

Hi there, my name is Wiley Chin. I am the Chief Alchemist of XIMNET MALAYSIA, a digital agency that's focused on delivering quantifiable, exciting results to our clients in Malaysia and across the region.

Looking back, what a journey it has been for my team and I over the past 10 years. XIMNET was founded in San Jose, USA on 2000. I remember sitting in our little office putting ideas together and reviewing them with Patrick K, and Esmond G, who is always running too far ahead and changing his mind about what is needed for this client and that.

And yes, I remember one winter morning in 2000, I made a remark about how bad the "Columbian Coffee" was in the pantry, and Luisa B, who is incidentally from Venezuela, thought I was mad. Apparently Columbian Coffee is gourmet coffee. I didn't know that, and to me, Aik Cheong Coffee from Malacca is 10 times better.

But all those heady dotcom dayscame crashing down after September 11, 2001.

When it became clear that we were headed for closure, I made up my mind to take the company to a different direction. With some funding from a friend, I bought out the company from my VC friend, Esmond G. And so around September 2002, XIMNET MALAYSIA with its focus on web development got started.

And we've been operating in Malaysia for 8 years going to 9, not counting the founding years when I was an employee. In my mind, however, XIMNET is 10 years old.

2011 is our new decade to take XIMNET, the digital agency and run the distance in creative digital exploration, developing a powerful suite of apps that will form an exciting e-commerce platform , results-based digital engagement consultancy, and most of all, "digital alchemy".

2011 is our year to paint bold strokes against this vast canvass of possibilities called the digital space!

DIGITAL ALCHEMY @ WORK will feature all of my team-members with their respective roles and insights in our business.

1. Florence Wan will be focusing on digital Sales & Marketing consultancy.
2. Lydia Lai & Hui Sheng will be talking about XTOPIA and our software exploits
3.Deborah Sze and Team will be creating innovative designs and user interface ideas.

NOTE: I used to maintain a blog called THE ALCHEMIST'S LAB . It's been a little dormant after more than 6 years of being a place where I collect my thoughts. You can go there to take a look at where I come from, but going forward, this is the new home for my ideas and thoughts.

Till then,

ENJOY!

Wiley Chin a.k.a. Chief Alchemist