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Archive for April, 2014

Post 30: Customer test = areas to focus on

Today I’m working on designing solutions for 3 things I didn’t think I would be working on because I showed 3 people a prototype.

I’m as guilty as anyone of sitting at my desk for too many days in a row without showing people the product because its not quiet finished. Maybe I just need another day or two to get the UI right. You don’t. You needed to show someone yesterday.

After sitting at my desk for 1 day to many, I started a interview spree last week. FYI – going to an industry drinks night is an excellent way of showing lots of people quickly. Plus once everyone has had a couple of drinks, they tend to be more honest with their feedback.

Three of the interviews uncovered three areas of the product that deserve more attention and two which are of high importance right now (2 &3).


1. Messaging System
Interviewee: Senior Comm designer, IDEO Munich
This person hires lots of freelances. He understood the product very quickly, and had lots of questions. One very interesting one was “Where do I click to message the person?” Not can I, but where is it? This was fascinating to me. The person just assumed that because this was a mobile app, there would be messaging built in. Messaging hasn’t been something we’ve thought about, but it turns out, at least to one person, it’s something they would like to use.


2. Importance of About, Experience & Work Card
Interviewee: Basically everyone
Almost 100% of people I talked to this week (10-15) tried to press the icons that indicated more information about a persons work, experience and overview as soon as they got in the app. It was always the first thing. Now making designing these parts a priority.


3. Explaining Search
Interviewee: Account/studio manager, Melbourne
A couple of people asked about how search worked, but this person in particular went into detail. We think it’s a fair to assume that if people use this product, they will want to be about to search for profiles of people they are interested in. What we haven’t thought about is how that search will work. During the tests, people have asked a lot of questions about ‘how the search is organised’, ‘can I search by profession’, ‘can I search by availability’ etc. Right now our search screen UI doesn’t give any indication of how results are organised and that’s proving to be a problem.

Post 29: Designing Helpful Interfaces

Untitled-2Good interface designs should in theory help the customer complete a specific task with ease. For that to happen, the designer needs to understand what the task is the customer is trying to complete intimately, including understanding any potential potholes or things that might throw the customer off course.

Above are some screen grabs of our ‘Edit Card’ screen. This isn’t live yet, but I decided to take a stab at improving it based on my own assumptions of how a customer might move through it.


Adding & Explaining Something New

Displaying a persons work availability is something that has come up as an important feature in our user tests. It is however a new idea that if viewing for the first time, will likely not be 100% clear what it is/does.

To cater for this, I pulled the part of the form where you set your availability out of the main form and put it on its own to show that is it important/new. Beneath it there is also a short description of what this actually does/means.

There’s no data yet on how this design preforms, but I’ll follow up down the track when we find out.





Post 28: Doing more with less


Over the past few weeks, I’ve built 5 or more clickable prototypes showing potential various features of the product that we’re working on.

The objective here was to learn as much as possible about the features and ideas people liked, loved, found confusing, hated etc. However, we are a two person team with very limited resources, time and money.

I can’t code. Tony can, but he works full time and maintenance on his new iPhone app takes priority. So development is slow.


Work on what you can do today

There is that saying that you’re only as strong as your weakest link right?

Well Tony isn’t a weak link at all, but we can only move as fast as he can code. So then there is this question of how useful is it to spend time designing complex and detailed prototypes to get feedback about features we are months away from being able to build.

Yes – there is value in the learnings, but what is arguably more important is designing and testing for what we actually have now and can build soon.


Moral & Momentum

Last night I took screen shots of our current live app (.gif above) and threw a quick UI over the top. Using Flinto, I linked all the .pngs together to show Tony how our current product could look. It took me less than 90mins.

One of the biggest and most unexpected benefits from doing this is that we both felt energised and driven to hit it hard because all of a sudden our goal was far closer than we thought.


Do more with less

We’ve set a deadline for the end of May to have a working version in the market, or at least something we can show investors and something customers can sign up to. With Tony’s limited time and my work, we had to cut and chop features we’d love to build and settle on the key things that we will make the product valuable.

This is good. Actually its great.

It’s product triage.

If you could only save 2 or 3 of your products features, what would they be?

They are the things you should build first and get right. Everything else can wait.


Install the latests prototype on your iPhone here:



Post 27: Build, Measure, Learn, Repeat

We are attempting to build a product that helps people tell their professional story on mobile devices. We’ve been working on it for a couple of months.

A few weeks back I wrote about what happens when you try and solve all the problems of a product at once – the business model, the mobile interface, the desktop interface, the company log in, the individual log in, etc. etc.

Basically I was trying to do too much.

The focus since then has been to design & build prototypes that mimic an experience that we think could be valuable for individuals and then showing them.

(You can watch the first prototype test here).

The video above is of the second prototype in use, and yesterday we shipped a third version (you can install it on your iPhone from this link

So far the feedback has been… meh.

No one has turned around and demanded we build this product. No one has bought a round of shots in celebration. There have been no high-fives.

“This is interesting, there is something in it…” is the best and most consistent feedback we’ve been getting. Oh and “This looks like Twitter.”

Untitled-1At the moment the whole app is based on exploring someone ‘cards’. Above are examples of the first card you might see from user. Surprisingly to me, while the first card looks horrible, the feedback has been that it is most interesting and potentially useful.

This is a tough point in the product development cycle. You have to keep making calls often based on gut instinct, whether you keep exploring or change tack and look at something else.

Right now, we think we need to keep pushing.

Tony & I really want a place to tell our stories online, so at least we know we will have two customers.

Oh – and this is actually live. You can sign up and create a card right now. It looks like crap, but we don’t mind. Go here —>

Photo 16-04-2014 11 17 25 pm



Post 26: Prototype Customer Test

Have you ever looked through someones LinkedIn profile on a phone? We filmed the experience a month or so ago. It wasn’t great, mainly because there is a lot of text.

Last week I hacked together an interactive mobile prototype by uploading .png’s made in Illustrator to

You can get the prototype on your phone now by clicking this link:

A friend (@LeishaMuraki) filmed herself using the prototype for the first time.

These kinds of videos are gold. Just watching where she tries to touch the screen and hearing what she things parts of the interface do are incredible valuable.

An Email About The Design Industry

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 10.29.31 am


I wrote this to a friend this morning and wanted to share it because I hear these topics talked about all the time. The text from the screenshot above and ‘*’ on ‘Understanding’ is below.


Hard to know what roles they are thinking about filling, but I wouldn’t be surprised if their were jobs in the industry that weren’t being filled by the output of the education system here. The gap between industry and education is every widening.
I believe that we are at a really unique time in the design (specifically graphic) industries history.
Demand to be a designer and ‘work from home‘ + abundance of courses teaching design + access to design hardware and software +wider community understanding* (thanks Steve & Apple)  = Over supply of designers, many under qualified.
Key points that concern me about the Australian design industry:
1. Most People Speak Different Languages
(Generally speaking) Design and business are still talking to each other in different languages. Firms like IDEO, Frog & Tank don’t make this mistake. This is where value is miss-understood. Design effectiveness isn’t measured. That’s insane.
2. Digital Design & Education
(At a graphic design level) Digital design is extremely underrepresented in the curriculum’s of most education providers.
3Design & Business Education
The number of students that are graduating without adequate business skills is remarkable. Our industry is unique because even before you start your formal training you can begin freelancing or running your own business. Unlike law or medicine you don’t need any formal qualifications to be a practicing graphic designer. You also don’t need to complete any work experience. This means we have lots of students graduating and starting their own ‘Motherbird’ studio without any idea of how to charge clients or manage projects or understand billable hours.
I’m not convinced that forcing students to complete industry practice is the right way to go (although it would help). I’d rather see a much larger investment in educating our students about running a business and helping them understand that we are in a service industry. The market is impartial. It doesn’t care if we can’t manage our own time.


*Understanding: this is still relatively low. People look at Apple products and launch events and understand that design is somehow linked to increase value, but I’m not convinced that they understand why or when to use design.