EP 64: Design what you do

[SORRY! I filmed a video for this, but I don’t know where it went and I just mentioned this post in an email and realised that I never published it. I’ll put a video up soon.]

In this post I talk about something that’s been catching my attention a lot lately.

How to design a home page that reflects the needs of your business model and doesn’t overwhelm your audience?

I stumbled upon Path.to earlier today and while there are many examples of sites that have got it right, this one seemed relevant.

In my opinion, the Path.to folks have ticked two boxes:

  1. Designed a home page that reflects is business model requirments;
  2. Presented just the right amount of information at one time
Below that are screen shots of the current Path.to site and a mock up I did to show you how they could have got it wrong.
Here are the other links I mentioned:
Joe Kraus Blog http://joekraus.com/your-product-describe-vs-discover
The Loop http://www.theloop.com.au/

Image 1: What the Path.to site looks like now. Good.

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EP 63: For me, this start-up defines 2012

15 minutes ago I watched this video (not the one above) which was posted by Flyn Tracy (at Tractor Design School) about ‘Start-Up Weekend‘ in Toronto where I learned about a start-up that has got me majorly excited, Visualize.Me (Twitter & Facebook)

I have 2 main thoughts about this start-up:

1. This start-up is going to kill it and make lots of $$$;
2. This start up has a big chance in 2012, but what if it was 2002? 

I’ll cover the second point in more detail soon through Desktop Magazine.

About point 1, I’m excited and hopefully for this start-up. More people are learning to value and appreciate design and this company will capitalise BIG TIME on that shift.  For what it’s worth, here’s how I think and hope things pan out for them:

Best of luck to the whole team. Hope they kill it.

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EP 62: Like a black eye on Brad Pitt

(I filmed a video with more thoughts at the bottom)

“The internet is so young, it still hasn’t had sex yet.” – @garyvee

In social media circles, that quote is famous and it’s also very very true. Last week I stumbled upon a site (I’ve forgotten what it was and didn’t capture the address in the screenshot) that was pretty well designed, but one thing stood out like a black eye on Brad Pitt. On the left hand side I found these 7 social media sharing buttons looking like they had been just slapped on at the last minute.

My initial rection was to blame their designer, but after a few minutes I began to think more about what had actually been the cause that resulted in the buttons being placed so poorly. I wrote a blog post about it, deleted it and then tried to solve the problem myself. Through that process I realised that it may not be the designers problem, its actually more likely to be a reflection of where we are at in the history of the internet and digital design.

Social media is here to stay and each site wants their own sharing button, fair enough too. What is more important for most start-up companies is having a product that works first and then is beautiful second. That’s good, it’s the way it should be, but when it comes time to focus on UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) a lot of standard and common elements that appear everywhere get re-created from scratch.

From that thought I started to entertain the idea of creating a universal set of visual guidelines for commonly used visual icons, devices and buttons. What would it look like? Would it be possible for designers around the world to put together a some basic visual guidelines that companies and designers could use? Would this create a more consistent, beautiful and user friendly internet? With those questions in mind I decided to try and test the idea…

It could look something like this:

…and with it, you could create something like this:

…which applied to the original example would look like this. Not perfect, but I think it’s a bit nicer:

The situation is this, the internet is growing up fast. Overtime things will start to settle down. For now, we’re being bombarded with all sorts of visual solutions, some elegant (like the Square site), some creative (like the Field Trip site) and some not so nice (see above). It might be a bit premature and you might even think unnecessary  or silly,  but a universal visual system for commonly used web elements could be the kind of thing we see develop as we get our heads around the colossus that is The Internet. What do you think?

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EP61: Can your beer talk?

The photo: Beer, best mate and girlfriend

My origional Tweet, and the reply from Boags

Twitter: Boags Beer
Twitter: Gary Vaynerchuk
Book: Thank You Economy
Book: Crush It

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EP60: When I learned to build

(Monday 1:20am)

I’ve been lying in bed staring at the ceiling for a few hours with a few big ideas in my head. I remembered another time I couldn’t get to sleep, back in 2007.

Mazz (life long best mate) (@someyoungguy888) and I had seen the global warming awareness film by Al Gore (@algore), An Inconvenient Truth. After the we left the cinema I remember both of use being shocked by just how great of an impact human activity was having on our planet. We were actually furious. We thought about all of our friends and realised that if they hadn’t seen this film, they too would have no idea how serious the situation was. It was then that we decided to start something, anything, that would raise awareness about global warming.

So that night, I’m lying in bed thinking about what we could do and how best we could capture the attention of young people. Myspace was the most popular social network at the time so it was an pretty obvious decision to use that as a starting point to begin to spread the word. But let me get to the point here. What was really significant about that night was how I actually went about starting our project.

Instead of organising a meeting with my mate for later that week, I got out of bed, turned on my then PC, and named and branded and created a Myspace page (it’s still live, check it out) for our project in 2 hours. It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t beautiful, not by a long shot, but when Mazz woke up, he had a friend request from “CleanLife” and we were underway. The next day we researched some key statistics and quotes, I put them into basic .jpegs and added them to our profile. Within 2 days we had over 100 friends and our logo was featured in the “Top Friends” section in over 40 of them. In short, we were having an impact.

Original Cleanlife logo

Example of one of our statistics that we used

Looking back, although I didn’t realise it, I was following one of the rules that I now live by: Built it, then show it. The reality about having an idea is that they really aren’t worth anything. If you have an good idea or even a great idea, that’s fantastic, but don’t expect anyone to take you seriously unless you actually go and do something about it. You don’t have to go and spend weeks and weeks and $20,000 building it, not at all. In fact, that is a bad idea. All you need to do, is build the most basic part first. For our little awareness raising machine, that was a strong recognizable brand and platform to spread our message.

So next time you have an idea, before you tell too many people or email your favorite tech celebrity for advice, build something.

Some quotes about building:

• If you don’t have a product you don’t have shit. Build it, then show me.
• Real artists ship – Steve Jobs (Apple)
• Build what you want to see in the world – Jack Dorsey
• Draw what you want to see in the world
• If I had to do this in 15 mins, what would I do? – Tim Ferris
• Is there a simpler solution?
• Build, measure, learn. – Eric Reis
• Done is better than perfect. – Facebook
• Move fast and break things. – Facebook

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Ep. 58: Path 2.0

Path 2.0 Video

Shawn Fanning
Dave Morin (Twitter)
Path (Wikipedia)

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Ep. 54: The Awesome List V1.1

Download the pdf. here NH_AwesomeListV1.1

1. Fill it out the night before;
2. Do the Other Tasks first;
3. If you don’t finish the Important Tasks, move them to the next day;
5. Break the Important Tasks down into smaller parts

The Awesome List V1.1

How I divide my day

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