“The designs in these concept videos are free from real-world constraints — technical, logical, fiscal. Dealing with constraints is what real design is all about. Institutional attention on the present day — on getting innovative industry-leading products out the door and creating consumer demand for them — requires relentless company-wide focus.”—
I’ve been struggling the last few days with what I can do versus what I can imagine. This quote is grounding for me, and helps me stay focused. What core interactions can I make? What emotions can I make people feel? How do I design that; how do I showcase that design?
Week Notes #8, Bi-Weekly/No Excuse Edition: Mar 23 – April 5, 2012
Logo Design I contracted Zack Davenport a little over a week ago to design the logo for Scrit Scrit. We just had our first review, and I’m extremely pleased with the work he’s generating. In the meantime, I’m using the logos I previously sketched as a placeholder.
Nerves vs. Productvity Last week, as I headed into my weekly meeting with Dan, I had barely anything started. I was panicked about the blank canvas in front of me, scared about my designs not being good enough. The deadline pressure finally got to me, and on Thursday night, the visuals started pouring out me, as well as the concept for the app layout. I’m happy to say that I’m on my way. (And yes, the splash page helped!)
Wireframes People who know me personally know that I am not a fan of wireframes. I have often been heard saying that wireframes are a waste of time, a way of creating a deliverable without really creating anything. And most of the time, I think it’s true. But, I’m thinking about using a non-traditional navigational UI, and I needed to see (quickly) if it would make sense. Sketching wasn’t working, so… wireframes.
Workflows As much as I’ve belly-ached about wireframes, I do find user-flows really helpful. Last week, in an effort to find an angle to get started with, I drew and redrew and redrew and redrew my workflows. The good news it, I’ve simplified beyond what I originally thought I needed. The bad news is, it appears I have a problem with…
Complexity vs. Differentiation I’ve been struggling with complexity. On the surface, everything is so straight-forward. In fact, on the surface, a lot of my workflows look exactly the same as Instagram’s. And that bothers me. I’ve known from the start that emotional design is going to play a huge role in Scrit Scrit, but what is my hook? What are people getting out of this, that they don’t get out of Tumblr and/or Instagram? Sera says, and I believe, that I’ve made those distinctions in my head, but that I haven’t made them clear to my users. This is what Liz was getting at a few days ago, as well. My app may function like Instagram or Dribbble, but the content is the differentiator. Those apps and sites don’t offer anything to people who make things with words, or ink and paper. I need to clearly state my unique differentiator, and then build up the community features to support that. But what are they?
Hackathon Update JR and I won an award for most useful project. Woo!
“It is an amazing thing to know where you are headed but a lot many times we must force ourselves to look beyond what we want and see what we need. This mistaking for what we want with what we need is a very very common mistake and sadly not easily remedied.”—Letters from a Designer: On openness of thought and spirit
I am now working on another business and I will never call it a startup. Calling it a startup adds a layer of abstraction that I don’t want. Calling it a business forces me to think about all the factors that require a business to function from the start.
Coop passed along this video today for an iPad app called Paper (on iTunes). While I haven’t tried the app yet (don’t have my iPad with me today), I can tell you that I’ve already downloaded the app based on the strength of the video, as well as the informational website. They do a very good job of capturing some of the experience around writing. I’ll be looking to this app’s marketing materials for reference as I start making my experience videos. Also, it has a really gorgeous icon:
“People think that design is styling. Design is not style. It’s not about giving shape to the shell and not giving a damn about the guts. Good design is a renaissance attitude that combines technology, cognitive science, human need, and beauty to produce something that the world didn’t know it was missing.”—Paola Antonelli, via Jonathan Moore.
As a designer, I also fall under the umbrella of Optimizer. I’m best at working inside pre-established patterns, making them better, removing cruft and noise, and injecting them with new life while still utilizing the same elements that have always been there.
I’m best at remixing.
In designing Scrit Scrit, I’m pushing outside of this comfort zone, and as you might expect when you leave a comfort zone, it’s quite uncomfortable. This is also a solo project, and I haven’t worked truly solo in a very long time. Although I used to enjoy working alone, I’ve come to find that I work best in groups where I can gain motivation and riffing material.
And so with Scrit Scrit, I’m doing two very uncomfortable things: designing from the ground up, and doing it (mostly) alone. The amount of self-doubt is sometimes staggering, and the anxiety is overwhelming, to the point where I can sit and stare for hours at a blank canvas and say, “I can’t. I’m going to fail at this.”
And that’s when I find myself back on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or Tumblr (anything with a feed!), going climbing, or watching TV. Or procrasti-writing thesis blog posts instead of doing thesis: when I know I have to do work and also know—know—I will fail—so why bother getting started?
AnthroPunk - how people promote, manage, resist and endure change; how people hack their lives (and those of others) - living the world not just in it. AnthroPunk is a new label for a number of older ways of conceptualising people and their constructions. Foremost, the individuation of people and their experiences and an explicit recognition that their lives are interactive, not driven by rules, scripts, schemata or frames, but by the creation of these. Context, like culture, is an outcome of human life, not the cause of it. Individual people collectively make the world around them, not only from the materials and ideas available to them but from new materials and ideas they construct. There are limits imposed by materials, but the application of ideas constantly transforms these into new possibilities, and new limits.
Came to this page via Anne Galloway’s discussion about writing as making. I love this. As a teenager, I found my way into the small and admittedly watered-down punk rock scene of suburban New Jersey. What attracted me then, and what attracts me now (and, I hope, always), is that punk is concerned with making, not consuming.
That’s one of the reasons why, for thesis, I gravitated always towards ideas that would enable people to make. There is something about making something yourself—however you can do it—that can’t be accomplished via Twitter or applying filters to snapshots.
A new, interesting, UX-y, designer-y take on a content management system from Dustin Curtis. It looks pretty good, and I love the idea of having a place for my ideas and my posts in the same place (currently, I jot down notes in my Field Notes sized notebook, handwrite an initial or short draft (or even just a few sentences) in my 9x9” gridded notebook, and then rewrite it in iA Writer. I might revise it several times, I might not, but when it’s time to publish, the only thing I can do is copy and paste. While the handwriting portion of workflow will never go away, I could see combining the computerized portions in this way, since the distinction isn’t as “drafts” vs. “publishing,” it’s “ideas” vs. “publishing.” And I like that.
“Most people by now carry versatile smartphones in their pockets that not only allow directly working with and analyzing one’s data but also collecting it through a multitude of sensors. But more critical than the actual data collection is the way this information is presented. For lowering your carbon footprint, the hard thing to do is usually also the right thing to do. Therefore, an application developer’s main goal has to be to motivate without scolding, frustrating or even angering. I think a good benchmark for a personal informatics interface is imagining how it would fare in the worst scenarios imaginable: for example, when trying to encourage its owner to wait for half an hour for the train after a long and exhausting day at work. In such a context, annoying sound effects, patronizing on-screen text or childish graphical representations can easily lead to the opposite of the developers’ intentions: a frustrated owner deleting the app from their phone.”—Dominikus Baur (emphasis mine). As in all things, less is more. Via Benjamin.