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Design posts:

Don’t Take On That Project!

The following is a guest post by Edward Guttman, Director of User Experience at CodeStreet, LLC and Harvest customer. Ed has been honing his craft as a designer for close to 20 years, and here he shares his thought process behind deciding which projects to take on.

Let’s say your design firm is looking at a healthy sales pipeline and the signs are that you may get more work than you can handle. Everyone should have such problems, right? Should you just hire more people and grab all the work you can? Maybe not. There is a good chance that some of that work isn’t good for your business because it doesn’t align with your goals and your company vision.

Everyone who starts a business does it with some goals in mind and a vision of what kind of company they want to be. Most prospective clients have no idea what these are, so it’s up to you to make sure that you only pursue and take on work that best serves your needs. At my firm, we found that a useful tool was to establish assessment criteria that helped us to filter out work that we didn’t want to take on. These criteria gave us an agreed upon framework for our discussions and allowed us to make decisions efficiently and with confidence. We defined this framework by identifying three key things that an ideal project would provide us:

Venn diagram of an ideal project

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All I Want Is a Free Trial

I’ve been trying to join a gym, and this is how it went down:

Last weekend I walked into the gym and told the front desk that I’d like to try the place out. A person came, shook my hand, led me to his desk, and sat me down. He pulled out a form and asked me questions – what’s my name, what’s my workout routine, what’s my goal (I had none, and he gave me a look), where do I live now and where I moved from? I interrupted him and asked, “can I just get a quick tour?” He told me this is the process and he had to ask these questions.

Ten minutes or so of my life evaporated. He then showed me the price – and this part I never understood – he pulled out a laminated price sheet and told me that even though there’s a number printed there, he was offering me a different number (was it a psychology test? should I have clapped?).

He gave me a 10-minute tour of the facility, even though I’ve just explained that all I want is to come in two to three times a week, run for half an hour, and sweat a little. Then he showed me the pilates and spinning rooms.

I left, head spinning, and forgot to get what I went for: a free trial pass. So I went back this past Saturday. The guy wasn’t there. Another lady helped me, but she did not have access to his forms, and she was going to ask me for all the information again. After my insistant pleading and explaining, she gave in and offered me two business-card size guest passes. I took them and ran.

At Harvest, we make it easy and fast for people to try us out, and we make pricing as simple and straight forward as possible. It’s bewildering to see another business trying their best to confuse potential customers and waste their time.

Dial Input

Recently my wife bought a new microwave for our apartment, and it has a dial for inputting time. This is more-or-less what it looks like:

See that big circular dial on the right panel? That’s how you put in time. Turn counter-clockwise and the time goes up, and if I shoot pass the desired time, I just turn clockwise a bit. Once you get a hang of it, it’s really, really fast to set the time.

I’m used to putting in the time via a number pad. To put in one minute I have to press 1-0-0. That’s 3 presses, 2 locations (not to mention the mental load of searching for the correct number to press). The dial is a much simpler and more elegant way of inputting time.

Circular input is common in everyday life: bottle cap, thermostat, radio tuner, steering wheel, or the iPod classic. And it is conspiculously missing on web interfaces – maybe because the input methods (keyboard and mouse) don’t really go well with dials?

Susan Kare, Mother of Happy Mac

I’ve been captivated by the sketchbook of Susan Kare, the artist who created Happy Mac (and the other iconic interface elements for Mac). It’s fascinating to see these original icons that have defined so much of our UI today came from a $2.50 sketchbook.

Perhaps it’s just nostalgia, but Happy Mac makes me smile – something the newer, slicker, monochromatic Apple logo cannot do.