Archive for October, 2007

Don’t Go on Autopilot

Last week we did an excercise at work that got me thinking about focusing on great design. I came away from the excercise with 3 things that I’d like to try and keep top of mind. The last one is the most important and critical for me to remember even outside the context of design

  1. There is nothing, absolutely nothing that can replace in-person, one-on-one interaction with an end user. The farther away from the user you are the more likely you are to 1) slow down development 2) over design 3) make incorrect assumptions 4) flat out design the wrong thing. Rapid prototyping (preferably right in front of the user’s eyes) is incredibly effective at identifying the core of an idea
  2. All of the details of a new product are incredibly important… except for the ones that aren’t :). I think most of the skill of really good designers is an ability to identify which details matter and which don’t. Focus on the details that matter. They are what make a product great. It’s okay to gloss over the others. At this point, i think only experience and intuition can tell you what is important and what is not.
  3. Don’t go on Autopilot! If are given a task, keep your eyes open for implicit assumptions. Assumptions can lock you in to a single way of thinking and cause you to ignore a potentially much better path. At all points during a task, ask yourself, “am i on autopilot?”

I think it is pretty common for people to go on autopilot. I certainly do. Autopilot can be induced by others when they provide a task or instructions with assumptions, but it can also be induced by one’s own self. Last week i realized i was on autopilot with respect to a particular task i had at work. After working on something for a few months straight, I became blind to a different way to approach the problem. My error here wasn’t that i entered into the task with faulty assumptions or constraints, it was that i didn’t continuously revisit the task at hand as external factors were changing. Something to watch out for in the future…

This is going to be huge

It’s been a while since i’ve posted. Writing has been going to applications rather than blog posts, but i now have quite a queue built up. this first up is pretty huge.

For probably a few months now, i’ve had this concept in my head. Granted, unlike some of my other ideas, I have no skills to actually accomplish this, so i don’t mind that someone else has done it :)

technology like this could be really huge for consumers that are focused on simple. I can see it now: the no install, no configuration, home theatre. All of your devices just work together because they are near each other. Data over bluetooth/wifi, power over powercast. Or the no wires needed cell phone charging. Your phone just charges b/c you are in the house. The list can go on and on…

Granted, technology like this is a little disconcerting. I’m not really sure how i feel about pumping even more waves into our lives. I hope that some good, credible, research is done on technologies like this to put health concerns to rest.

Another concern is whether technology like this is wasteful. I really know nothing about this type of thing. I would be kind of turned off to the whole thing if the device was a significant power drain.

Overall, very cool technology and i’ll look forward to seeing some cool consumer applications.