“Story «» Strategy «» Product «» Business Logic «» Interaction «» Interface «» API «» Data Structure «» Server Architecture”—
My version of Tony Chu’s thoughts on the flow of “web making,” by which he means product building. (Tony is a friend and former colleague from SVA.)
His version is as follows:
Strategy «» Story «» Product «» Interaction «» Interface «» API «» Business Logic «» Data Structure «» Server Architecture
I’d like to explain why I’ve switched a few of these ideas around, and mention that, as I do so, I am coming at it from an entrepreneur-in-waiting point of view, rather than a feature-building point of view. In my mind, the difference between the two is that as an entrepreneur, I’d look to build a business that can sustain itself as immediately as possible, while taking on as little outside investment as possible. On the other hand, a feature-builder might be an employee at a larger company working on a specific, already-made product, or they may have their own company and be building a product that would be better suited as a feature of another company’s existing product. I’m not making a judgement call on either of these (I’m an employee at a company working on an established product, after all), just establishing a frame of mind.
Story and Strategy
I’ve switched Story and Strategy because, at least in my practice and experience, I almost always know what I want the future to feel like when I use what I make. This is because, as a designer, I like to design for myself, and so I want to make tools and products that would be useful for me and people like me. Yes, yes, this is the reason that there are X-many photo-sharing apps and social networks in the world. But innovation comes from passion, and I’m certainly capable of putting Strategy before Story (I do this in my work and freelance practice all the time). Depending on your school of thought, this will differ; for example, a business-minded person may prefer to find a market before deciding on the business, or a social-minded person might decide to make a product addressing a specific problem, wicked or not.
I’ve bumped Business Logic up several steps, to be right after product, whereas Tony places it after API. Why? I think this is a mistake that too many people hoping to strike gold in tech are making right now: Come up with a cool idea, sell a piece of it for a large stake in the company, and develop the idea without too much thought for how you will make money.
In my mind, this is the difference between entrepreneurship and feature-building. A good product should be able to make money from the start, even if you decide not to charge for it initially as part of a business strategy.
But in the end…
The practice of sorting, phasing, boxing, and arrowing is comforting. It’s wonderful to have a blueprint for how to do something. And yet, in reality, each of these phases flows into the other and none are ever finished during the life time of a product. The challenge is keeping a finger on everything and never letting anything slide for too long.
As Tony so eloquently put it:
That’s just building stuff. On top of that, to build a company you need to manage culture, recruiting, management and finance.
How anyone can keep all this in their head is beyond me, but I would certainly like to try.
“I think subconsciously people are remarkably discerning. I think that they can sense care. One of the concerns was that there would somehow be, inherent with mass production and industrialisation, a godlessness and a lack of care. I think it’s a wonderful view that care was important—but I think you can make a one-off and not care and you can make a million of something and care. Whether you really care or not is not driven by how many of the products you’re going to make.”—Jonathan Ive (via moustache)
“[When you’re writing a television series] … You have to write when you’re not writing well. I wrote 88 episodes of The West Wing. One of them is going to be your 88th best.”—Aaron Sorkin (via petervidani)
My lovely girlfriend / domestic partner / partner-in-crime / fiancé / personal chef, Amy, started a new blog to document her near-daily kitchen experiments: Amy Made. For those of you familiar with Amy’s cooking and the studio-famous “Amy Made” brand (looking at you, SVA), do enjoy her photos, recipes, and descriptions. For those unfamiliar, Amy makes delicious, healthy, vegetarian meals in our ridiculously small New York kitchen.
A cohesive, well-reasoned argument for major labels from one of my favorite artists, Mike Doughty:
In the wake of recent future-of-music discussions—Louis CK’s direct-ticketing move, which may indeed revolutionize touring for artists with that large of an audience, and the Emily White/All Songs Considered/David Lowery thing—I’ve been having arguments about record labels and money.
“Thanks to an FCC filing from Comcast, IMS Research, has learned that the small, privately held firm of Boxee, with no external lobbying budget, appears to have almost single-handedly brought Comcast, the largest cable operator in the world, to the negotiating table over basic-tier encryption, and has apparently won everything it was looking to get.”—Boxee brings Comcast to negotiation table