Invest in People

Written by Verne on January 18th, 2012

If you’re going to invest in something, invest in people. People are the single most worthy asset in your life to put your faith (and time, and money, and…) into.

This isn’t about blind faith. You need to surround yourself with the right people first.

Then, just be accessible. Just as you should have faith in people to do what they’re supposed to do, you should have faith that they’ll engage you when they need your support. Adding natural mechanisms for conversations in your day or week helps, too.

Offer the benefit of the doubt by default. Never become jaded. Believe that everyone can hit a homerun. That’s what they’re there for.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you can’t afford not to place your faith in people. It’s the only way you can get anything done. So if you need to see it in that light to be convinced, then yes, it’s a productivity tool.художник на икониИкони на светциХудожникОткъде да купя иконаидея за подаръксондажи

Building design systems (and other thoughts)

Written by Verne on January 5th, 2011


Happy New Year! It’s been a while but I thought I’d stop in to wish you all a fantastic new year. If your 2010 was anything like mine, 2011 has a tough act to follow.

As a quick update, I spent most of 2010 heads-down and wired in with my family over at Jet Cooper (the new design shop I founded around the time I last posted here). Working as a freelancer is one thing, but building a real digital agency of 9 awesome people over a very short year and a half is a whole other ballgame. Oh, and we also won our first interactive award (our first award ever, for that matter). Hopefully that helps to excuse my absence here a little bit.

If 2010 was a year for me to work my ass off and build the team, processes and standards that would support all of our operations, then 2011 will be about reflecting, learning, sharing, innovating and all the other things that otherwise help strengthen the vision behind building a wickedgood design shop. A consequence of this is that I might be writing more frequently, now that it’s baked into our 2011 chartifesto (charter + manifesto).

But I’m not going to make any promises yet. I think you’ve all seen how that pans out (at least in context of me blogging).

I will say however that I’ve written my first post of 2011 over at the Jet Cooper blog on building design systems. Here’s an excerpt:

What begins to organically materialize during the design process is something that our team has started to more formally define as the design system. It’s nothing new, and as designers, we usually already do this informally – we pick typefaces, text colours, link colours, button styles and essentially make design decisions that create conventions for us to follow through the length of the project. However, without any formal definition or even recognition of the impact of the conventions we’re building, we tend to not assess the decisions we make as critically as we should. What we end up almost doing sometimes is hacking our own conventions midway through a project as we discover new contexts that our current conventions don’t accommodate. A little foresight at the start of the design process can help mitigate these situations.

I can’t tell you how regularly I’ll be doing this (there’s still quite a bit of heads-down work to be done right now), but I can tell you that there’s a justice league of really smart people that I work with that do post regularly on that blog. You might find particular interest in the product we’re building.

I have every intention of keeping this blog for sharing the ins and outs of running a design shop (the entrepreneurial side of things), but you might find that I’ll post more of the concrete design insights (which is inclusive of thoughts on UI, usability, interactions and user experience as a whole) over at the Jet Cooper blog. I hope to see some of you over there.

Lastly (and simply): thank you for the continued support. I know we didn’t talk much in 2010, but like close friends, sometimes you don’t need to exchange words to have an impact. Thank you equally to those who will be sticking around to see how things unfold and to those who will hit the Unsubscribe button in their feed readers. You’ve all made 2010 one of the best years I’ve ever had.

Happy 2011. :)викКартиниикониикониПравославни иконииконописikoniсвети георгиikoni

Multiple Save Buttons

Written by Verne on June 4th, 2009

холна секция

Just a quick note on web forms. Everyone likes short forms (i.e. 5 or less fields). In fact, if you’re designing forms, you should almost always aim to breakdown yours into smaller and more digestable chunks of fields rather than have 20 fields vomited onto a single page.

But, sometimes it’s unavoidable. If you’re editing your profile on one of your kajillion social networks, for example, it’s acceptable to have a lot of fields on a single page. Nonetheless, you still run into longformitis from time to time (fatigue from filling out long forms). One technique I’ve seen that combats this is to have multiple save buttons throughout the page, evenly dispersed between sections of the form. This is the web form equivalent to having checkpoints in Super Mario, and it’ll allow users to save their changes without having to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page.Картини

Applications of usability principles on a social network

Written by Verne on March 17th, 2009

Daily ChallengeIn October 2008 I joined a great group of guys over at Daily Challenge to lend some creative firepower to an already blazing group of talented young individuals. At that point, Daily Challenge was merely weeks into its first public beta release of its new socially-conscious-driven social network and sported an undesirable user interface that was begging for some creative attention. But that didn’t matter – as with any new age development team working on a new social media product, the goal was not to release a perfectly designed or developed site, but rather to get an idea out into the market quickly and start listening to the feedback.

Fast forward 5 months and Daily Challenge releases its 2.0 website – the product of many long days and nights of usability sessions, focus groups, research, self-reflections, yoga desk calendars, and lots and lots and lots of attentive listening. We planned, mapped, designed, redesigned, redesigned again (and again and again), developed, tweaked, redeveloped (and again and again… you get the point) and launched a site that we felt was not only leaps and bounds better than its predecessor (in pretty much every aspect), but was also, more importantly, much more usable.

Daily Challenge beta 1.0 vs beta 2.0

And that’s what this post is about (in case you were wondering where I was going with all of this…).
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Improving the transition from paper to Photoshop

Written by Verne on March 8th, 2009

Improving the leap from pen to PhotoshopPaper prototyping is a method used by many web designers (including myself) to help plan and conceptualize new site designs or features. Simply put, it’s creating website prototypes on paper. By removing distractions like code and syntax and any technical elements, the designer can focus in isolation on the form, structure and design of the piece he’s working on.

Many web designers use paper prototypes because they have artistic backgrounds and likely got started in this field through their love of a 2B pencil and sketchpad. Others use it simply because it’s the fastest way to give an idea some shape. Everybody’s got a pen and paper within arm’s reach – not everyone can whip open Photoshop every time a new idea sparks.

Still, I’ve been hearing lately that it’s not uncommon for web designers to struggle a bit with translating their paper prototypes to the Photoshop canvas. I think we’ve all been there – a perfectly drawn sketch of the most amazing website (in the whole wide world, mind you) that, once brought to the screen, garners the same reaction that Picasso probably had after every painting: Crap, that’s totally not what I had in mind.

In response to some of these struggles, I’ve decided to share a few pointers that I think have helped me convert a greater percentage of sketches into actual websites. Enjoy!

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