Prototyping

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Recently I've been working on a project where we've been exploring all kinds of use-case scenarios for a product. With this particular client, we saw they were getting more value right away from hi-fi wireframes so we jumped right in.

As we were going through difference scenarios and use cases, we found that by coming up with a few different user profiles were really helpful.

Jane- The everything mobile user

Bill- The everything tech geek

Jon- The tooln' tasker

Martha- The advice taker

As we presented our flows, we build stories around each of these personas and narrated upon them to bring as much life to the story as possible. We found the team started to really understand and see where the gaps might be along with identifying with what kinds of interactions a certain type of person might gravitate towards.

On Making Things

I'll start out by saying that this last season has been a whirlwind.  It has been one where I have truly been able to evaluate and reflect on the passions and things I love.  It has also been a season where I can say I've produced a ton, which has not always been the case as I have tried to find my place in a larger company.  So the question I ask is -what brought about this change?  Firstly I think inspiration has been a major part in it.  I have been lucky enough to have had some great mentors give some great advice along the way.  Secondly, it's going back to my roots.  Finding out what some of the key things that have weighed on my heart over time going way back to just a kid.

A bit of background about me.  I didn't actually study design in school.  I studied business with a concentration in information systems.  Through it all, though, I found that there was this burning desire to be creative and make things.  Growing up, my mother was always fiddling with drawings and paintings and later began teaching art to children in our home.  My grandfather was a civil engineer and designed much of the parks and landmarks in the Santa Barbara county.  Besides his work, he was always making things in the garage.  I can remember as a kid just being blown away that he could sketch up some rough ideas for a chair, grandfather clock, or patio-table umbrella with a pulley system, all out of wood and then get to work and produce something so well designed.

I think initially I was skeptical about my own abilities and potential to make things as I compared myself to some of these amazing things I saw my family making and just determined I was not artistic in any way.  It was only later that I discovered the fact that we are all humans just trying to figure things out and it takes time to develop a craft.  Lots of time.  It took my grandfather years of schooling to be able to design with exact measurements and then create.  It took my mother years of experimenting on pad a paper ( and if you ask her now she will deny she has any form of talent.  Not true. )  And it would take me time to develop my craft in design as well.

But now, as I reflect it takes a childlike wonder to experiment, learn, and continue through the failures.  Why do I say childlike?  I say it because it's when we were children that we didn't have the concept of comparing ourselves to others.  Ages of 2-10 or so.  We were still in this discovery phase where our scribbles on paper did not merit any sort of self confidence issues.  But as time goes on, and we don't exercise our artistic wonder, we become more and  more concerned about how good our product is instead of developing our wonder and craft.

All this to say, that it's when I get back to my childlike wonder do I really find joy in making things and begin to see progress.  Progress, though, should not be the end goal.  The end goal should be to know the talents and gifts God has given you and walk in them confidently and securely.

Music and creativity

Today I was thinking about creativity as I was banging my head against the desk trying to get through a UI problem.  There are tons of info out there creative process and what works and what doesn't depending on the person or project.

My usual tendencies are to stop and think about the essentials.  What are the things that the user really needs.  In the case of music, when I am putting together lead lines for a song I will have a process that I go through.  Starting with foundations and then working to experimenting.

1.  Know the theory
It's so important to have your fundamentals down.  Do I know what notes like the back of my hand for each key?  Do I know major and minor scales?

2.  Listen to the song
If it's a well known song, or even one that is new I will listen and note the progression.  Starting, middle, end.  What is happening, what emotions are being conveyed.  Does it start slow?  Does it progressively get lowder.  All really important to know in how to compliment and carry the song.

3.  What have others done?
Very similar to design, finding inspiration is important.  Just in listening to songs I like I will see if I can replicate and then begin to keep certain arrangements for myself to add to the toolbox.  

4.  Experiment
With my foundation and research I then can experiment and see what works and what doesn't.  How far can I push it?  Do I crank up my overdrive?  Do I add some sparkle reverb to just add texture?

5.  Simplicity
Just by adding the simplest of notes, tones, textures it can make the song.  It can all go horribly wrong when the lead guitarist things he can go van halen and go to shred town.  Simplicity carries a long way.  

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Code Kit

Guys, loving developing my design in plain old html and css.  As up till now I would create a rails app and design via text editor and terminal.  I think for my purposes though I was over doing it.  Especially when I'm mostly creating static pages.

Codekit is really great in that it compiles your code on the fly and uses preprocessors like compass and sass, which I love.  Really great, and especially for things like simple cms engines like Kirby which I've been exploring lately.

Check it.  Get it.

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Art? Genius?

My friend James and I concluded that by hanging out with each other we only make ourselves dumber. Our conversations are almost always of that of a 2nd grader, heck maybe that of a kindergartner. We somehow are always coming up with nonsense phrases and continually repeating them. Here’s some proof though that maybe, just maybe, we are pushing another kind of genius that is simply overlooked. Maybe an art in its finest form.