References . . . Fonts . . . The Meaning of Cool

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9 December 2008
Donald Light
References Whenever Celent publishes an ABCD vendor report, we always ask the vendors for references. We subsequently speak to these references and/or ask them to take a short online survey. When we help an insurer with a vendor selection process, we also contact references. In general, we expect references to be quite positive. There is a hope--since we do not live in the best of all possible worlds with the best of all possible software solutions--that references will also mention some things that they would like to see improved--either about the application or the vendor. But still, overall, the expectation is a bunch of A's, A-'s, and a couple of B+'s. Once in a while a reference will come out with a string of negatives--too slow, too expensive, too hard to implement or change, too much hassle working with this vendor's staff. Enough negatives that the reference is basically saying caveat emptor--or even, you might want to take your business elsewhere. What gives? How could the vendor not know, in general, what the reference is thinking--and knowing that, just give another reference? I don't have a good answer. But it looks like some vendor account managers need to do a better job of asking, listening, and getting broken things fixed. Fonts There is a school of thought in web design that small fonts are cool--and really teeny-tiny fonts are very cool. Personally I'm a "form and function" guy. Aesthetically pleasing forms are good, but only if the intended function is achieved. I'm not quite sure what is the function of website fonts too small to be read by anyone over the age of 40. Or maybe that is the function. The Meaning of Cool And while we are on the topic of cool. What does "cool" mean? It can mean "yes"--as in "It's noon, let's go get a sandwich." "Cool." It can also mean "good" -- as in "Look, I can put a lot more text in this label with a 1.5 point font." "Cool." But at a deeper level, it seems to mean something more. It seems to mean “This statement / thing / activity is just my style, just my taste, just my thing. And . . . I don’t have to explain how or why that is.”

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