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Post 24: F is for Focus

Last week I started to feel overwhelmed by this project. I’d been building parts and pieces of it in no particular order, but started to find it difficult to see how they might all fit together.

My dev partner (@adeperio) started asking me questions about the product structure that I couldn’t answer easily enough.

To tackle this problem, I decided to spend two days sketching out and then eventually building (in Balsamiq) the majority of the product as well as I could.

It was a useful process that gave me a much clearer idea of how the different parts could fit together.


After my first pass at this, it looks like there could be 4 key features to the product.

  1. Newsfeed & content consumption
  2. Search & discovery
  3. Notification & network activity
  4. Cards, lists, settings & profile

(A couple of days ago I posted a video showing how search might work.)

User Tests: Start doing them now!

The horrible admission I have to make is that I’ve only recently done my first real user test of the product, using the Balsamiq mock-up above. #idiot

On Saturday night I showed a friend (and potential customer) the mock-up and asked him to complete a few key tasks.

It was a disaster.

He knew about the idea prior and was very underwhelmed at what I had built – from a UI point of view that is. Because I’d spoken to him about how important the UI would be for this product, to see some crappy colourless Balsamiq screens was a bit of a let down.

We spent too much time critiquing the mock-up UI rather than the product architecture. My fault again.

I realise now that the mock-up above was really just for my personal benefit and probably wasn’t designed to run tests on as it doesn’t envision what’s in my head.

That being said, as with every user test, I did get some very useful insights and a jolt back on course about what should be built next.

There was one of those, “This is great, but how and why are people going to use it to start with?” conversations. And you sit there and try your best to sound like you have a plan.

Fortunately this time I was semi-prepared for the question and had a reasonable answer.


Following, buckets, lists, cards, blah, blah, blah, features, iOS, HTML5… are all things that get talked about, but what is the one most important thing that you are building first? And why?

For this product, its reasonable to assume that if we can build something that helps customers tell their professional story in a beautiful, unique, engaging way, they are going to want to share that with other people.

This is where we start. (The pink high-lighted area in the image above).

All other discussions about following and friending etc. are off the table.

The focus is on building something that helps people tell their story in 5 cards or less.

Mobile first.


We will add the other shit later.

Taking two days to map out the whole product was good – its helped us get to a point where we know what to do. And most importantly, why.

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