Letting Go

Two great slides from Yiibu's presentation, Letting Go, a talk about design in an time of increasing disruption.

"Issuing your customers with something that is rough, incomplete, and possibly even substandard seems counterintuitive but there is growing evidence that people don't necessarily want the perfect product. They prefer to deal with something ragged around the edges that they can adapt or improve."
— Martin Thomas in "Loose: The Future of Business is Letting Go"

"The best designs will set the stage, but stop short of fully defining the experience."
— Adam Silver, Frog Design

Awesome presentation deck. Would have loved to see and hear it in person. See the full presentation here.

Photo credits: 1, 2


Konigi Graph Paper 2011 Update

It’s been about 3 years since I updated the printable graph paper PDFs I provide for user interface design sketching. You can download the printable PDFs from here. (Yes, I use the word "Here" in links.)

In the last year I've gotten a lot of requests to replenish the inventory of wireframe and storyboard graphpaper notepads that I fulfilled via Amazon.com, and the wirebound sketch books. I feel bummed every time I tell people that I decided to get out of that little business. It seems enough people still like to use them. I've even been told via Amazon comments that the storyboard notepads were being used by animators and filmmakers, which is a lovely full-circle I think.

In any case, I updated the graph paper page to provide PDFs of the very Illustrator files my offset printer used to create the final run of wireframe and storyboard notepads that were sold on Amazon. I also now provide an 8-up page. In an upcoming article I'm going to show you how you can print and bind your own notebooks from these. I think it's more satisfying anyway to do it yourself and have only enough paper on hand for what you need.

Enjoy. More to come. Get the updated graph paper.


OmniGraffle UX Template 2.5: Updated with iPad Pages

@nickf called me out for not having iPad templates in the Konigi OmniGraffle Wireframe Template, so I got off my lazy ass and added some since this thing hasn’t been updated in over 2 years! Added iPad Portrait 1 up, iPad Portrait 2 up, iPad Landscape 1 up. They have guides for 2x2 or 3x3 grid.

Note, this is for OmniGraffle Pro ONLY. You will not be able to edit shared layers to modify the headers and other templates. Get yours.


Seth Godin on the Importance of Domain Knowledge

Seth Godin's blog often talks about where successful ideas come from, and in this post talks about bypassing the need to make huge leaps in innovation by synthesizing what we know and have learned from history, using Palm as the cautionary tale.

It's not enough to be aware of the domain you're working in, you need to understand it. Noticing things and being curious about how they work is the single most common trait I see in creative people. Once you can break the components down, you can put them back together into something brand new.

This is why we are constantly doing competitive monitoring and analysis of the products in the industries we work in. At times I feel kind of crazed signing up for betas out there, because the speed at which they appear now is overwhelming. I just have to remind myself that it's ok to spend the time if there's some research value, and then quit.

Whether we're just looking at the landscape from a high level, or deeply investigating and deconstructing how things work, continually expanding or improving domain knowledge is always going to be an important activity for us as designers.


Can you guess what this is?

So I’m working on this hand drawn font and looking at characters with diacritics is having a weird effect on me. While working on it, the ö character reminded me of something from my childhood and I had to remake it in type.

So if you can guess what this is by @ing me on Twitter or in G+ if we follow each other there, I’ll give you a floppy disk notebook from my stash, and a few sketch pads. Game on. Happy Friday.


@dakotareese came closest within minutes, then @emenel and @sjaa guessed it.

The inspiration was the Martians, aka Yip Yips, from Sesame Street:

I don’t know how he got so close with just nothing but those 3 letters to go by, but @dakotaresse wins the prize if he wants it. And if you’re curious, it’s Futura in the middle flanked by Gill Sans.

Articulating Your Preferred Use Case

I like how Seth Godin states everything so clearly. Usually it's a pithy piece of advice about how to do the right thing, do right by your product, and thereby do right for the market by serving the right users with the product they want, and forgetting about trying to serve everyone else.

Here's one thought about really knowing your use case and putting it out front for the market to see, and letting it guide your conversation.

Many organizations will take any customer, any time, and bend and writhe to accomodate money in whatever form it arrives. Other, happier organizations understand the benefit of optimizing for a certain kind of interaction, and they have the guts to decline the part of the market that doesn't want to use their tool/organization the way it was intended.

And what to do if your use case becomes irrelevant (ouch!):

You'll often be wrong about what the market is and what it wants. When that happens, time to either shift your use case (and the way you're organized around it) or stick it out but be prepared for a long, tough slog.

Hear, hear. More over here.


Persona Email Client Prototype

Persona is a concept for a theoretical email client prototyped by Ali Seçkin Karayol, Marco Triverio, and Harsha Vardhan at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design. The prototype focusses email on people or conversations rather than presenting the typical data-dense tabular view of messages. The attachment view also offers a nice way of viewing all attached files in a gallery presentation.

There are some compelling ideas for re-imagining the focus of email consumption here. The group plans to do some sessions with real users, and I would be interested in seeing if users ask some of the hard questions. Certainly pivoting the entry point to focus on people can help. Another hard problem with email is bubbling up importance, and dealing with volume. So far, I don’t see anything beating the processing of filtering email manually and visually, with regard to that problem.


Being Without Chasing: The Grateful Dead vs. The Top 40

Seth Godin's blog entry, "The Grateful Dead and the Top 40," looks at a band that only ever had 1 "hit record," but who were very succesful at what they did. They may have not hit the Top 40 more than once, but one thing is true, they knew themselves as artists, and were true to that.

In terms of chart success, Elton John is probably the polar opposite of The Grateful Dead. He's #2 on the list of most hits on the Billboard Top 40. The Grateful Dead and Elton John are very different artists and have sold records to very different audiences. Elton John has a bigger share of the mainstream and the Billboard charts. I would doubt that either of those attributes were ever a goal of the Grateful Dead, yet they commanded a loyal following who connected with them, and got their music to millions of fans through record sales, touring, and the bootlegs.

I'm not a fan, but so many of my friends in college were that I couldn't help but be aware of the phenomenon that is the Dead. Yet to the mainstream pop music listener, they may seem like small potatoes, and I've heard a few people in my time dismiss their music without acknowledging the rarity of their following.

Dismissive criticism was probably a much easier thing to avoid before the Internet. Godin points out that social media today makes it easy to notice the passing mutterings of the critics who aren't clued in to what makes you special in the market. To those finding themselves receiving this kind of attention and wanting to be reactive in order to reach Elton-status, he offers this advice.

The next time you have a choice between chasing the charts (whichever charts you keep track of) and doing the work your customers crave, do the work instead.

Doing important work on a product that isn't on the charts might be tough. You might be doing work that goes unseen compared to products that are easily noticeable and press-worthy. Every product is going to find a critic. If you're making a product, being Elton-famous shouldn't be your goal. Knowing yourself and your product, and being true to that are better ways of doing something meaningful.

Via Seth's Blog: The Grateful Dead and the Top 40.