Blog

Memory is the diary we carry around with us

Pencil Bandoliers for Journals and Sketchbooks

I'm in love with this Journal Bandolier made of recycled bike inner tubes, made by Cleverhands and sold on Etsy. The bandolier is a strap fitted with small loops for carrying pens, pencils, and other handy tools wrapped around a journal, planner, or other book. I ordered one for the small 3.5" wide Moleskine. Bandoliers for other notebook sizes available as well.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/80431666/mini-bandolier-replace-your-pencil-case

Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation

Apple I

Adam Pritzker deftly combined this image of an Apple I and this Steve Jobs quote on design from an interview in 2000 that appeared in Fortune.

“In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains of the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.” - Steve Jobs

There's an expression of that soul of the creator, in the running failures and successes of the executed design, that attempts to make a connection with the user of the product. Some products are imbued with the soul of a passionate creative force, others become refined to the point of feeling somber. Underneath the surface of Apple products, there's always been a sense of human connection, either in the literal early smiley Mac icons, or in the more polished and subtle interactions and connections we have with machines using our touch screens today.

There's no way to understate how much Apple products have influenced what I do every day. I learned Basic and how to type in high shool on an Apple II. I played Tetris for the first time on a friend's original beige Mac. The first computer I ever spent my own money on was a PowerBook 520c, the very one I learned HTML on. With each successive generation of polish, in every one of these machines I've touched, I've always felt that connection, and that desire to want to play with computers. I wouldn't be doing what I do now if Jobs' Mac never existed.

Every product starts somewhere, but as with people, the soul is what sustains the connection. It's heartening and inspiring to me to think back on this legacy of product design and where it started. It makes me feel like every naive notion I have about design is OK as long as I have a passion to improve and deliver something with soul.

Designing Enjoyable User Interfaces: Lessons learned from computer games

I find inspiration in the literature that examines games and play as factors in creating delightful and engaging experiences. I like to think of how this applies to products outside of the video gaming industry. I've had Thomas Malone's 1981 paper, "Heuristics for Designing Enjoyable Interfaces: Lessons from computer games" on my desk for a while. I finally got around to reading it and found some interesting ideas that resonated with me.

The paper asks why users find games captivating and proposes guidelines for designing enjoyable systems. What I found relevant for interface design are Malone's observations about the experience with toys versus tools, and how to incorporate elements of game play to make tools more enjoyable.

One of the distinctions he makes is that when using tools, their interfaces tend to become virtually invisible, to allow the user to focus attention on tasks that satisfy their external needs and goals.

I don't think all tools become invisible, but well-designed, efficient interfaces for business software tend to feel this way. I also think of it this way—I don't go to the library to experience the library, I go to satisfy a need external to that physical place. The collection of the building, its contents, and it's staff are the tool, and more importantly they are simply a means to an end. The same is true of research databases or search engines. Most business software is focussed on fulfilling needs and goals, and the ones that I've used that feel efficient tend to have interfaces that fall away so I can focus on tasks.

We're using tools during large portions of our work day, and to some extent, for power users, their utility sometimes makes them boring, and we seek out ways to find challenges using them. I found this passage particularly relevant to me.

In a sense, a good game is intentionally made difficult to play, but a tool should be made as easy as possible to use. This distinction helps explain why some users of complex system may enjoy mastering tools that are extremely difficult to use. To the extent that these users are treating the systems as toys rather than tools, the difficulty increases the challenge and therefore the pleasure of using the systems.

Interesting idea, although the conflict of simple versus complex presents a challenge. With tools, simple features are great for satisfying that 80% of users that need efficiency, but the 20% of power users can probably stand to go beyond that simpler experience. For them, the challenge is to find ways to unlock the hidden features beneath the iceberg.

I thought of it as an iceberg representing features (excuse the cliche metaphor). The tip represents defaults and simple features for the majority of average users, and the larger mass below the surface represents power users and the often hidden, advanced features they use.

The conflict really has to do with power users. They want to push the tool to do more, they want to do advanced things. What Malone proposes in this case is to build in a progression of increasingly complex levels, and the analog in the business tools world would be access to advanced features, whether they be built into the interface itself, or require expert-level expertise to access those features. Have you ever looked at the insanity of an MS Excel spreadsheet loaded with macros? That's the kind of analog we're talking about. Or in a SaaS environment, it's an API that gives access to data.

There are simpler examples from our world. Some IAs use these kinds of expert-level skills to get access to data from websites to come up with information graphics that help us visualize that information when wrestling with server log analysis or content inventories. I did a lot of this with tools like Graphviz in the past. In traditional design tools, it could mean pushing an advanced feature in graphics software to do things beyond what they were intended for. I'm thinking of things like using JavaScript and Scriptographer in Illustrator, in this case.

Malone talks about building multi-layered systems in games in order to push advanced users to become more engaged and sustain their use with the game.

[A] multi-layered system could not only help resolve the trade-off between simplicity and power. It could also enhance the challenge of using the system. Users could derive self-esteem and pleasure from successively mastering more and more advanced layers of the system, and this kind of pleasure might be more frequent if the layers are made an explicit part of the system.

What he's talking about is common in games—providing an ecosystem that supports leveling up with the purpose of providing incentive and reward via building up expertise and engagement.

This reminds me of what Kathy Sierra talks about in her talks on creating awesome users. Experiences that progressively introduce and teach users about advanced features have a better chance of sustaining engagement with them. This is something we all want in our products.

I love the idea behind this. It becomes our responsibility as interface designers to know how to identify the tip of the iceberg to provide the simple defaults, but simplicity isn't all. We might keep the majority of our users working with the obvious features, but we want to provide the conditions that will let them become expert, and over time keep them feeling continually challenged and satisfied. Our challenge comes in knowing how to push the iceberg up, or teach the user how to swim deeper below the surface.

http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=800049.801756

10 Omnigraffle tips you might not know

All the OmniGraffle users out there will want to check out Todd Moy's list of tips and tricks that all OG power users need to know. The character replacement one in particular will save you time. Although I tend to just clone an entire object's style the style brush with W and OPT+W, you should definitely learn about cloning discrete styles with chicklets. You'll wonder you never did.

Check them all out on Viget Advance and level up your OG skills.

http://www.viget.com/advance/omnigraffle-tips-and-tricks/

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

http://www.slideshare.net/yiibu/letting-go-9109114

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.

//konigi.com/tools/graph-paper#update201108

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.

//konigi.com/tools/omnigraffle-ux-template

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.

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/08/bypassing-the-leap.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+typepad%2Fsethsmainblog+%28Seth%27s+Blog%29

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.

Update:

@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.

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/07/articulating-your-preferred-use-case.html

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.

http://www.personamail.info/

CSS Techniques for Horizontal Rules

I like to use HR tags. I use the technique in the first example below, but occasionally want a nicer separator, and hate having to use a graphic to show that chiseled aqua-style divider or to created the faded line of a gradient. Examples 2 and 3 use background gradients in webkit and mozilla. All versions of IE just show the solid rule.

Normal

Demo


HTML & CSS

<hr />


hr {
  background: #ddd; 
  clear: both; 
  float: none; 
  width: 100%; 
  height: 1px;
  margin: 0 0 1.4em;
  border: none; 
}

With Faded Edges

Demo


HTML & CSS

<hr class="faded" />


hr.faded {
  clear: both; 
  float: none; 
  width: 100%; 
  height: 1px;
  margin: 1.4em 0;
  border: none; 
  background: #ddd;
  background-image: -webkit-gradient(
      linear,
      left bottom,
      right bottom,
      color-stop(0, rgb(255,255,255)),
      color-stop(0.1, rgb(221,221,221)),
      color-stop(0.9, rgb(221,221,221)),
      color-stop(1, rgb(255,255,255))
  );
  background-image: -moz-linear-gradient(
      left center,
      rgb(255,255,255) 0%,
      rgb(221,221,221) 10%,
      rgb(221,221,221) 90%,
      rgb(255,255,255) 100%
  );
}

Carved

Demo


HTML & CSS

<hr class="carved" />


hr.carved {
  clear: both; 
  float: none; 
  width: 100%; 
  height: 2px;
  margin: 1.4em 0;
  border: none; 
  background: #ddd;
  background-image: -webkit-gradient(
      linear,
      left top,
      left bottom,
      color-stop(0.5, rgb(221,221,221)),
      color-stop(0.5, rgb(255,255,255))
  );
  background-image: -moz-linear-gradient(
      center top,
      rgb(221,221,221) 50%,
      rgb(255,255,255) 50%
  );
}

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.

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/06/the-grateful-dead-and-the-top-40.html

Fred Wilson on Subconscious Information Processing

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.

http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2011/06/subconscious-information-processing.html

How Color Already Blew It

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.

http://flyosity.com/design/how-color-already-blew-it.php

Eye Tracking Research on Reading on iPad vs. Newspaper

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.

http://www.miratech.com/blog/eye-tracking-etude-iPad-vs-journal.html

HUGE Launches UX School for International Design Talent

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 work@hugeinc.com

http://www.hugeinc.com/news/noticed/huge-launches-ux-school-for-international-design-talent

Project Rimino, The Future of Mobile Experience

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.

http://www.rimino.com/

Off to Work in Italy

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.

Why The Valley Wants Designers That Can Code

Jared Spool talks about why designers who code are popular in Silicon Valley right now, and for the most part, it boils down to this. Small software and web startups value and are able to use a broader range of skillsets, because one of the highest priorities, especially for bootstrapped startups, is to ship while lean on resources.

Jared notes that those who don't think designers should know how to code say this dilutes the designer's value. I think we're talking both interaction designers and visual designers here.

The main point for me is that particular organizations favor someone more M-shaped than T-shaped, which is to say, they need to be deeper in more than one set of skills. This is true of more types of organizations than just small startups, but the main idea is that multi-role people are valued in organizations that are open to having a person who can execute on a diverse set of responsibilities, even if they're viewed as "diluted" in terms of being less deep in one area.

I'll say this. I started out doing interface design and development work on databases in-house in a corporation. Early on in my career, I envied the people who got to work on the sexy, high-profile projects and made the switch to doing front end-development at an agency. Unsatisfied with that, I went back in-house doing both design and development, and then envied the design side, and went to a company to do interaction design only. I've never been satisfied in a silo, and have been happiest being involved across a project. I've found that working on both ends as a designer and developer to be ideal for me, even if the development is only front-end development and prototyping.

That said, I don't think it is particularly easy to find a home when you're more M than T-shaped. Certain types of organizations won't even let you interview for more than one type of role.

I've spoken to quite a few people looking to make a shift from one side to another over the years. It's kind of easy to recognize an M-shaped person. They may have worked in small organizations that gave them more room to flex their muscles outside of their role, or they may be freelancers that get to and maybe have to do design and development. For whatever reason, that varied experience can make it hard for them to find the right home and to convince hiring people to consider a cross-disciplinary role to fit them into.

This is why I think what Jared is talking about could be very helpful to both the budding UX designers out there, and those considering making a change in role.

It seems obvious to say, but if you can already do some development and you want to use it, you might look for an organization that values it. Small startups or in-house positions with small development organizations where multi-role people are valued is a good start.

If you can't do some kind of code, at least learn HTML5, CSS and a little Javascript, and maybe some other server-side scripting languages. If you can't convince your organization to use you in that capacity, then demonstrate your skill doing prototypes in code when the opportunity presents itself, and keep your skills sharp. When there seems like no way to flex your development muscles in your current job, work on personal projects continually to stay sharp and relevant!

Read more at UIE. Interested in learning to code for the web? There are some resources for that here.

http://www.uie.com/brainsparks/2011/05/31/why-the-valley-wants-designers-that-can-code/

Aaron Koblin: Artfully visualizing our humanity

From Aaron Koblin's TED presentation:

"Artist Aaron Koblin takes vast amounts of data -- and at times vast numbers of people -- and weaves them into stunning visualizations. From elegant lines tracing airline flights to landscapes of cell phone data, from a Johnny Cash video assembled from crowd-sourced drawings to the "Wilderness Downtown" video that customizes for the user, his works brilliantly explore how modern technology can make us more human."

Beautiful, incredibly creative use of user contributed hands for data-driven art.

http://www.ted.com/talks/aaron_koblin.html

Speed Wireframing a Click-Through Prototype Using Symbols in Mockups

Click the full screen icon, it's much better that way. Headphones warning: rowdy party music ahead.

I rarely do click-through prototypes, but if I have to, then I use Symbols and links in Mockups to make it painless. This is a speed-wireframing video I whipped up to demonstrate to customers in a few minutes what the experience of wireframing with Symbols is like.

http://youtu.be/_8IyyvECYrg?hd=1

Don&acirc;t Simplify the UX. Curate.

Jason Toth of Viget discusses the danger of blind devotion to simplification in design, and writes about the role of UX designers as curators of content. He offers useful suggestions for how to play that role so we don't come off as content hackers.

I think the argument for facilitating curation is as apt for feature selection and design as it is for content. I view the role of someone doing content strategy as being able to take in the glut of information for analysis and providing direction for how to deliver the message with greater efficiency and maybe at times, poetry.

Curation and editing go hand in hand in my mind. It's as much the role of the curator to question the body of content to find the core of the message to deliver, as it is of the editor to guide a writer to find the lede. That could mean eliminating parts that detract from the message or it's delivery, rather than simply combining and compressing a lot into a small space.

Application interfaces provide problems similar to content. When taking in the number of possible use cases and stories that the application can support, a designer provides direction in terms of the delivery of an interface users interact with. On the interface side, it could mean questioning the necessity of the thing you're hiding for progressive disclosure, rather than finding clever ways to hide it in the first place.

Read more on VigetAdvance.

http://www.viget.com/advance/dont-simplify-the-ux-curate/

Steve Jobs on Saying No

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying ‘no’ to 1,000 things.”

—Steve Jobs on product development, from "Steve Jobs: Get Rid of the Crappy Stuff" in Forbes.

Gallo exaggerates a little, but I like the point he tries to argue later in the article about focus and reduction. It takes courage to reduce and say no, and that is a big differentiator when it comes to Apple hardware and software.

Apple is the easy example, but for good reason. Many argue that hindsight analysis of Jobs' strategy might be easy, but the company's success in product development continues to provide lessons to learn.

The idea of knowing when to say no seems obvious and is something you might say is always top of mind. But, if you're working on a product, you're likely to be challenged every day with decisions to say yes or no to the possible products you might design, and the features you might build into your products. Every one of these challenges requires courage to say no if the outcome compromises your vision, because in the moment it will seem like the world is begging for you to do it.

I know as a user of different products, I've been vocal about the pet features I've wanted as a "power user" of said products, and bitched when that voice didn't get heard. But I believe that the tech products that I continue to use and that are of value are those that hold onto a clearly defined vision and purpose, and whose features reflect that with selectivity and refusal to deviate from it. More often than not, to me, these products have provided a more focussed experience.

Via Core77

http://blogs.forbes.com/carminegallo/2011/05/16/steve-jobs-get-rid-of-the-crappy-stuff/

Why Invest in Sketching?

Jumping in and immediately starting to build the product, even if it does get completed and ship, is almost guaranteed to produce a mediocre product in which there is little innovation or market differentiation. When you have only one kick at the can, the behaviour of the entire team and process is as predictable as it will be pedestrian.

—Bill Buxton in Sketching the User Experience
Buxton writes in this passage on the impact of iterative sketching on risk, exploration and innovation.

The more you know, the less you need.

“The more you know, the less you need. The experienced fly fisherman with only one rod, one type of fly, and one type of line will always outfish the duffer with an entire quiver of gear and flies. I never forget Thoreau's advice: 'I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes...'"

—Yvon Chouinard in Let My People Go Surfing.
Chouinard is a mountain climber, environmentalist, and founder of Patagonia. He was writing about product design in the quote above.

Why Creative People Need to Be Eccentric

I love these two posts by Mark McGuiness on the 99% on why eccentricity and how daily routine helps trigger creativity.

He points out three characteristics of a hypnotic trigger:

  1. Uniqueness - it should be something (or a combination of things) you don't associate with other activities, otherwise the effect will be diluted.

  2. Emotional intensity - the kind you experience when you're really immersed in creative work.

  3. Repetition - the more times you experience the unique trigger in association with the emotions, the stronger the association becomes.

I live by daily routines, but I also associate that with my need to feel balanced and in control of my time and the living and working space around me. I also have a tendency to be impulsive or to dive very deeply into activities, so routine acts both as clock and trigger.

There are some excellent anecdotes about the routines of famous creatives. I find myself really intrigued by the more eccentric ones, like those of Victor Hugo and especially that of Orhan Pamuk. Pamuk's act of re-creating his "walk to work" trigger is pretty ingenious. Read more...

http://the99percent.com/tips/7021/Why-Creative-People-Need-to-Be-Eccentric

Creating Sketchboards in Mockups

Sketching interfaces is a path focussed on generating many ideas and finding the right design. Lately I've been thinking about how to adapt the activity of physically sketching on paper to get the same results in Mockups. On the Balsamiq UX blog, I wrote about a technique I've been experimenting with to do sketchboards in Mockups using a Symbols library.

http://blogs.balsamiq.com/ux/2011/04/28/sketching-in-mockups/