Notes on interaction design & development. Get the Feed.
By Christoph Ono, builder at GBKS, and tweetable at @GBKS.

Startup School 2013 Notes


Great visual, interactive booklet with sketch notes of all the talks. Lots of nice little bits to ponder. I first wrote down the idea of Wookmark in 2009, and the site has been up for roughly two years. Lots of exciting things have happened along the way, but sometimes it feels like a grind. That's when it's nice to hear those stories from other people that are also spending their time building stuff.

Designer bullshit backfire. (How designers have created a monster)


Recently SomeOne’s Hudl brand for Tesco had a rationale that was called out as ‘Designer Jargon Bullshit’ on the Creative Review blog. This struck me as entirely unfair and a clear example of bullshit backfire. The line the commenter took issue with was as follows: “[The star] is a solar system metaphor that reflects Hudl being at the centre of a digital orbit, and of family life” …Which might sound a bit overstated and outlandish, sure. But it’s the idea. Of course it’ll sound like bullshit. If you told someone Yahoo! was all about adventure, it’d sound like bullshit too. But it’s just the starting idea. It’s designers talking to other designers about where the idea came from. That’s the bit they leave out when pitching to clients for fear of sounding like a twat. Or leave in to sound incredibly artistic and insightful and blow smoke up the clients’ arses depending on how they operate. Either way, it’s the patently overblown starting point for a lot of rational decision making later on. If you start off with something really rational, you’re going to end up with a real fucking grind of a project once you’ve re-rationalised everything in a really rational way. Start with something that sounds mental and you’ve a much stronger chance of ending up with something interesting afterwards. So don’t call it bullshit. I know it certainly sounds like bullshit, but it’s actually much more delicate than that. It’s the concept made to look like bullshit so the client won’t hate it.

Managing Platforms Is a Human Art


The key to understanding and managing platforms lies not in new codecs or product concepts, or in advanced management classes at Ivy League business schools. Rather, the best teacher might be the Kenyan wilderness, the original Valley which birthed the first human societies, the earliest adopters of technology. Managing a platform, even one which is cutting-edge, real-time and robust, is like managing an African ecosystem, one which is ancient, messy and thriving with life.

Tell a story


Shitty pictures of your food are all over the Internet. Sites like Instagram are loaded with photo after photo of lumpy goo. What you’re trying to share is the joy you feel when the waiter delivers that beautifully plated pork chop. But your photo doesn’t tell the story of that experience. Your photo rips away the delicious smell, the beautiful room, the anticipation of eating, and the presence of people you love. Instead, think of your photo as a story. When people tell stories, they think about how to communicate the entirety of their experience to someone else. They set the stage, introduce characters, and give us a reason to care. Of course, that’s hard to do in a single photo, but if you think in terms of story, could you find a better way to communicate your experience? How about a picture of the menu, or of your smiling dinner companions? Anything’s better than the greasy puddles you have decided any human with access to the Internet should be able to see.

Siri Response Times


Marissa started with a story about a user test they did. They asked a group of Google searchers how many search results they wanted to see. Users asked for more, more than the ten results Google normally shows. More is more, they said. So, Marissa ran an experiment where Google increased the number of search results to thirty. Traffic and revenue from Google searchers in the experimental group dropped by 20%. Ouch. Why? Why, when users had asked for this, did they seem to hate it? After a bit of looking, Marissa explained that they found an uncontrolled variable. The page with 10 results took .4 seconds to generate. The page with 30 results took .9 seconds.Half a second delay caused a 20% drop in traffic. Half a second delay killed user satisfaction.

You don't understand why the iPhone 5C is brilliant yet


When you walk into an Apple store, the question is no longer “how much do you want to spend”, now you’re being asked who you are. The identity question changes the smartphone market in a few ways for Apple. Firstly, the iPhone, which has always been a pretty premium product, now owns the luxury segment of the market by a mile with the 5s (the gold color is a nice touch here). The 5s, and future non-c iPhones, don’t have to play it cool, they’re the cream of the crop and they will adopt the appropriate swagger: chamfered edges, sapphire crystal home buttons, and metal and glass bodies. Second, for a younger generation, having an iPhone doesn’t have to mean having the same phone as your parents. The 5c is appealing to a big swath of the current iPhone market, but it also expands the boundaries to newer segments who might have been alienated by the perceived professionalism or expensiveness of the device. Now, people who see their phone as a more casual component of their life don’t have to get the old iPhone. There’s a cuter, cooler iPhone for them.

Communicating Animation Ideas


Static mockups, whether mobile or not never tell the fully story. The two main things I’ve found that help the most when implementing designs for mobile apps are: communication and animation examples. Communication meaning clearly articulating the vision of the animation and examples meaning, giving examples of your animations ideas and visions.

TED talks are lying to you


...the real subject of this literature was the professional-managerial audience itself, whose members hear clear, sweet reason when they listen to NPR and think they’re in the presence of something profound when they watch some billionaire give a TED talk. And what this complacent literature purrs into their ears is that creativity is their property, their competitive advantage, their class virtue. Creativity is what they bring to the national economic effort, these books reassure them — and it’s also the benevolent doctrine under which they rightly rule the world.