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Read These Later – Week 30

January 28, 2010 1 comment

There’s a lot of talk about Minimum Viable Product. What I want to see is more conversation around the idea of the Minimum Usable Interface: Realism in UI Design

The goal is not to make your user interface as realistic as possible. The goal is to add those details which help users identify what an element is, and how to interact with it, and to add no more than those details.

Another fantastic Letter of Note: Harvey Weinstein tells Erol Morris he’s boring

Speak in short one sentence answers and don’t go on with all the legalese. Talk about the movie as a movie and the effect it will have on the audience from an emotional point of view.

Small By Choice, Whether Clients Like It or Not

Q. People have compared you to the Soup Nazi on “Seinfeld.” Where do you think that comes from?
Ms. Esparza: That comes from American culture. The customer really isn’t always right. We believe we have the expertise to bring the best product. We don’t randomly put these ingredients together. We spend the time to test these and try them.

What to do if the world hates your idea – Scott Berkun

In some ways how you handle rejection is self selection for creative work – if you cant handle a few rejections from publishers, how will you handle a few bad reviews of your finished book?

And if you are trying to get a book published, here’s a tally of the books an editor at Del Rey rejected last year and why: Why I Say No

The Social Behavior Incentive – a good checklist for  Social Design [ed note – this may be the only time I ever link to anything Robert Scobble has said]

Site Search Best Practices – Another good checklist. You know, someone should just make a book of checklists for interface designers. Like a final gut-check prior to handing something off.

Engineer’s Guide to Drinks

Categories: links, read this

Read These Later – Week 28

January 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Links to articles and posts that I’ve found interesting in the last week:

1. An Ethnographic Study of UX Professionals: ‘UX professionals are some of the most professionally unhappy folks I’ve ever encountered.”

2. 5 Myths That Can Kill A Startup: “Some companies have an unfortunate culture that mandates relentlessly hard work. When things get tough, people work harder. When things are good, people work harder still to try to keep the “good times rolling.” But this cycle of doom will ultimately fail as people burn out, get sick or simply quit.”

3. Confidence For Good: “People, both women and men, should be so fiercely passionate about good ideas that self-promotion is a natural extension. Otherwise, why is it worth doing in the first place? It’s when confidence and self-promotion are obfuscated from passion that the claims become flimsy and empty.”

4. Hi There: “Life is getting friendlier but less interesting. Blame technology, globalisation and feminism.”

5. Boarding Pass Fail: Redesigning the airline boarding pass.

6. Use Twitter in Your Next Presentation (ed. note: I was unlucky enough to witness a terrible presentation last week and walked away wishing the presenter had boiled down her points to 140 characters each – turns out there’s a strategy for that)

7. And finally… my bacon side project, House of Sticks, competed in a blind taste off against 8 other local and national brands last night. For a couple of guys with a hand-welded smoker in Oakland, we didn’t do that bad.

Categories: read this

MySpace Post-Mortem in the Financial Times

December 7, 2009 1 comment

This weekend’s must-read for me was Michael Garrahan’s “The Rise and Fall of MySpace” over at FT.com.

…by the beginning of 2008, things began to sour. Facebook, a rival social network that was simpler and easier to use, was gaining momentum and starting to grow more quickly than MySpace. Murdoch confidently told the world that MySpace would make $1bn in advertising revenues in 2008 – but the company missed its target. Users began to desert the site, which had become cluttered with unappealing ads for teeth straightening and weight-loss products. News Corp executives could hardly hide their displeasure, and in April this year, DeWolfe left, closely followed by most of his senior management team.

I went into the article with some trepidation; reports after-the-fact are always more about ass-covering and finger pointing than actually distilling some kind of objective truth. Having consulted directly with some of the people mentioned during a sensitive time in the company’s history, I’ve got my own perspective on the events described. More than anything, I was intrigued by the narrative the article weaves, and the import Garrahan places on Rupert Murdoch’s actions.

Overall, it’s a good article for those that are interested in the anatomy of disappointment. It is marred a bit by some howlingly bad technology writing (e.g. “MySpace was firmly at the forefront of Web 2.0”) but manages to transform blatant attempts at perception management by News Corp PR and anonymous former MySpace execs into a compelling read.

Categories: read this