Every Wednesday, Pivotal Labs Product Managers gather over lunch. Sometimes we discuss a book we have been reading. Other times we discuss a particular client’s product and offer feedback. Recently we have been trying a bit of an experiment: we critique products on Product Hunt. Informally, we have started to refer to these exercises as “product hunts.” For 60 minutes, we dissect the product, business model, and technology, and throw our thoughts on a mural to post here.
This week’s product hunt was special because we selected from this years TechCrunch Disrupt finalists, ultimately critiquing the winner of the competition, Alfred. Alfred is the “first human powered operating system for your life.”
We also had the privilege of our PM friends at Yammer, Ankit, Philip, and Laurence, joining pivots Rhea, Kirk, Shuqiao, and myself for the Alfred product hunt.
Check out the discussion via the mural.
This post is coauthored by Pam Dineva and Kim Dowd, design pair extraordinaires.
We shared 40 hours a week, a screen, a product, client relations and a problem space. Now we’re on a quest to codify the tenets of pair design.
Pair Design Rule # 3: Accept your pair’s exotic habits.
We designers are an interesting bunch. Snowflakes. Unicorns. Butterflies. Rock Stars. Special. We. Are. Special. Our habits are also special and good and make us individuals which in turn makes us creative, critical and exploratory. In all of this, we can develop little quirks of personality that surface when design pairing.
Rather than fix, just accept. We all have our own odd extra ears and whatnot. Embrace it. Grow your own practice by fully understanding the motivations that drive your design buddy to do all the crazy things that make you want to nibble on glass.
Habits We Have Found in the Wilds of Pivotal Labs
- Layer Lover They love layers for all things. Nav. Hand interactions. Their 147 layers are very organized.
- Layer Hater They hate layers for all things and “fix” all layered files to have no layers.
- Data Hoarder Copying and pasting ten versions of the same screen into one document, so that nothing is lost. Ever. Really. Ever. Saving a new version of the same file every 20 minutes, to enshrine the “process”. It’s meticulous version control, so that later they can reflect on process, inspect the deltas. That day may or may not come, but they’ll be ready for it.
- Neat Nuts Accidentally cleaning up an entire Dropbox folder in trash because they were “neatening.”
- Symbol Worshiper Symbols all the time. Always making a symbol in Illustrator because it’s “more efficient” even if they have no idea what the page will look like.
- Fancy Pants Coder Writing all notes, everything in markdown
- Font Optimizer Loyally using fonts from Typekit only.
- Recovering Architect. Writing every single note or whiteboard scrawl in small caps.
- Key Commander Using or creating custom shortcuts for everything.
- Mouse Lover Never creating shortcuts. Imma just gonna take my hand and put my whole consciousness in this curser here. It’s called a mouse!
- Cave Dweller Using the darkest custom theme option in alllll tools, Illustrator, Photoshop, sublime.
- Chatty McStarter Oh, they want to talk… They need half and hour of banter before the worky work starts.
- Cheer Captain Very enthusiastic team “yays!” and positive reinforcement sprouts like flowers in their path.
- The no breaker The Olympic athletes of the design world, they haven’t taken a break since 2007.
- Armchair Psychologist Standing on one leg at meetings “to make them go faster and be healthy.”
- Coffee Pot Worshiper The first half an hour of each day happens next to the coffee machine, in a complex dance of beans, cream and project planning.
- Email Multi Tasker They are with you… until gmail calls their soul home.
Remember, our greatest strengths are often our greatest weaknesses. So be kind and patient with your design pairs. If you are working with someone, it is because they are talented. Their habits are actions that spur from what they value. If you can figure out what they value, and you can learn about their practice, and in turn grow your own practice. Nobody said it was easy, dangit.
More in the pair design series:
Why Pair Design
Pair Design Rule #1: Wear One Hat at a Time
Pair Design Rule #2: Yes, And
Pair Design Rule #3: Accept your pair’s exotic habits
Following up on the popularity of our U.S. Retail Apps Report – which has been featured in Internet Retailer – we now turn our sites to their U.K. counterparts.
About the Retailers
With their high revenues and established market presence, the top 10 U.K. mCommerce retailers (based on Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Mobile Guide) certainly have the resources to build stellar apps that drive revenue, brand awareness, and customer loyalty. So why are some still falling behind, launching poorly executed products that tarnish the brand image and turn customers to competitors?
What the 2014 Retail Apps Report Covers
We investigate these issues and more in the report. Our 2014 report delves into the features that are critical to success and assesses whether U.K. retailers are meeting the needs of their mobile users. More areas of coverage include:
- Which retail apps rate highest and lowest
- How to optimize performance of a retail app
- Why great design is critical to keeping users
Download the 2014 U.K. Retail Apps Report
Download our exclusive 2014 U.K. Retail Apps Report to understand what retail apps are leading, what makes them successful, and why mobile is an opportunity for all retailers to boost engagement and drive the bottom line.
U.K. Retail Apps Report
Monday: Lunch Tech Video – Sarah Clatterbuck – Stealth Accessibility (Titanium)
Sharethrough makes it easy to embed ads in a native iOS app, by using their iOS SDK. This SDK enables developers to make money off their app by incorporating ads that have the same look and feel as the rest of the app. Neel Patel gives an intro this SDK, how to incorporate it into your project, and various ways to customize the appearance of the ads that are served.
Ambiguity is something that all projects have to deal with, particularly on the product and design side. By participating early in the design process, engineers can both understand and help to mitigate this ambiguity. In this talk, Rachel Kroft talks about how engineers can participate in various parts of the process, including user interviews, design reviews, and prototyping.
Riak is a distributed database that has historically been a “eventually consistent” system. Version 2 introduced the option to configure it as a strongly consistent system, opening up more flexibility to developers. In this video, Jordan West talks about the advantages of Riak, and some of the biggest changes between versions 1 and 2.