Notebook

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 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.

MiniAjax is a nice showcase of javascript libraries for rich interaction behaviors.

I don't spend my whole day in Gmail or other Google sites, but I like the idea of checking in on Google+ occasionally. Until G+ comes up with a standalone client, I'm installing it as a menubar application on my Mac using Fluid, a trick I use for Pivotal as well, inspired by the article on how to do the same with Basecamp.

Might be a temporary solution, but the result looks like this on my Mac.

Here's the instructions for doing this yourself if you have Plus.

Prepare

  1. Download and launch Fluid from here: http://fluidapp.com/
  2. Download a Google+ icon in PNG format. I found this one on Premium Pixels to be good.

Create App

  1. URL: https://plus.google.com/
  2. Name: Google+
  3. Location: Applications
  4. Icon: Select other and browse to the icon you saved above.
  5. Click Create.
  6. Success dialog window appears. Cick "Launch Now."
  7. Sign in.
  8. Select the menu: Google+ > Convert to Menu Extra SSB, and click OK in the dialog window.

Google+ icon should now appear in your menubar and you can click it to open Google+ in a drop down window. Drag the grippie in the corner to change the window size. Use two-finger scrolling to move in the window, because window scrollbars will be suppressed.

I could watch Jeff Smith sketching with a Sharpie all day. Core 77 featured Smith, principal/Design Director at Reflex Design, doing sketch demos for the students at Virginia Tech's ID department.

More on the Core 77 Boards.

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.

Mike Rundle writes about getting the first impression right in an application by guiding the first time user. He offers 4 great tips for getting traction on mobile apps:

  • Delight users with a beautiful look & feel
  • Take a novel approach to an interesting problem or market niche
  • Inspire user confidence through user experience consistency and ease-of-use
  • Guide newcomers around so they can learn and then show others

He then goes through the first impression experience with the Color app and talks about what they did wrong, and how they can fix it. Read more.

See also: Jason Fried's Blank Slates article.

Fred Wilson shares advice from his father on how to take advantage of the human brain's capacity to subconsciously process information for problem solving.

He explained that I should start working on a project as soon as it was assigned. An hour or so would do fine, he told me. He told me to come back to the project every day for at least a little bit and make progress on it slowly over time. I asked him why that was better than cramming at the very end (as I was doing during the conversation).

He explained that once your brain starts working on a problem, it doesn't stop. If you get your mind wrapped around a problem with a fair bit of time left to solve it, the brain will solve the problem subconsciously over time and one day you'll sit down to do some more work on it and the answer will be right in front of you.

Read more.

Project Rimino is an interaction design project proposing a hypothetical e-paper mobile device. The project was created by Amid Moradganjeh, an interaction design student from Umea Institute of Design in Sweden, for his masters degree project on mobile experience design. The design is based on both observational and experimental design research methods. Watch the video below for the concept.

Some of the ideas are pretty exciting. I particularly like the emphasis on everyday tasks, utilizing the materials of the device to create minimal, task-focussed interfaces. I love the reference to hand-crafted materials, and the poster-inspired UI, which reminds me of the cleaner the Zune after it was redesigned, is quite nice. Dig deeper into the site to learn more about the process and research.

Huge has announced HUGE UX School, a graduate program for design talent interested in pursuing careers in User Experience.

Ten students, selected from hundreds of international applicants, will join HUGE’s UX team in New York, where they will receive three months of hands-on training and learn the fundamentals of UX design.

HUGE started the school to help prepare design professionals for successful careers in interaction design and to find and cultivate industry talent. Students in this year’s class come from the United States, Korea, Italy, Dominican Republic and Germany and have backgrounds in industrial, graphic, and interactive design as well as architecture and human-computer interaction.

UX trainees will be integrated into the existing HUGE UX team and each will be assigned a mentor. Students will learn the basics of interaction design, from developing user scenarios and wireframes to conducting competitive analyses and user testing, and learn how IDs at HUGE solve problems. Additionally, students will be responsible for executing a full project from brief through to design. Select students will be offered full time positions with HUGE following the completion of the program.

To learn more about HUGE’s UX School program or to apply for next year’s program contact [email protected]

Miratech observed the difference between reading an article in a newspaper and on an iPad in an eye tracking study. They concluded that readers are more likely to skim over articles on an iPad than in a newspaper.


  • The type of medium doesn't influence reading time when the text is short (like an article).

  • It is easier to assimilate and retain information read in a newspaper than on an iPad.

They plan to write up another white paper presenting their results looking at ad visibility.

Read more in their white paper.

I'm off to work in Italy for a week with the Balsamiq team, so no posting on Konigi while I'm gone.

For the travelers who care about packing on the light side, here's how I'm going to roll on a single carryon bag.

- Goruck GR2 backpack (first trip with this bag)
- Gear
-- Mac short power cord
-- Euro travel adapter plug
-- Mini USB cords (I have a different set, but Griffin's looks cool)
-- Platypus 1L collapsible water bottle
-- Glasses
-- Sunglasses
-- Rite in the Rain notebook
-- Pen (Pilot G2)
-- Lumix camera and charger (bringing an older compact Panasonic Luimix DMCTZ5)
-- MacBook Air
-- Bose Headphones
- Toiletries
-- Adventure Medical Kit .9
-- Bug repellent wipes and wristband (I'm a mosquito magnet)
-- Sunscreen
-- Medication
-- Razor
-- Travel toothbrush
-- Travel toothpaste and mini floss
- Eagle Creek packing folder
-- 4 pair Capilene underwear
-- 3 bathing shorts
-- 4 Nike dry fit tshirts
-- 3 Nike dry fit polo shirts
-- 3 pair socks
-- 1 travel pants
-- 1 Patagonia Sun Hoody
- Sandals

Since it's a trip to Italy, I also temporarily upgraded my phone to an international data plan.

All packed in a single carryon bag that weighs in around 21 pounds. If I could leave the computer and other electronic gear behind, I think it would come in around 18-19 pounds, but this is a work trip. I'm also wearing a pair of Patagonia Guide pants, a Swobo wicking polo, and sneakers.