Late Steve Jobs once remarked about design,
Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.
A lot of people repeat it, but do they really know what they are talking? Specially in today’s IT corporate filled with phony jargons like “innovtion”, “cutting edge”, “out of the box”, etc. coming specially from the most rigid (always thinking inside the box) guys from the top management.
Well, pet peeves apart.
Coming to the point, why am I writing this post today? Because, its been long since I wrote and I have been meaning to resume blogging lately. And today, when I completed a critical ‘invisible design’ as a part of a mobile app I am developing, I thought its worth sharing.
A part of the app that I am developing involves uploading large files from mobiles. Large files, low upload speed phones#, low bandwidth, spotty data connections on mobiles, failed uploads, restarted uploads, etc. sounds a ring? Well, the straightforward and naive way to do that would have been to ask the user to chose a file and try to upload it. If anything fails, just tell the user and let him take a call or just silently restart (from scratch) the upload when data connection is available. Well, what if it fails again? How many times the user driven or the automatic restart will happen? Will the large file ever get uploaded?
#Most mobile phones, including smartphones usually have low upload speeds as compared to download speeds. Even in most middle end phones with the so called 3G speeds, they only mean high download speeds (HSDPA) and not upload speeds (HSUPA)
If upload does not sound a ring, then think download. What if your torrent downloaders did not offer resuming of a download and only allows restart (from scratch) of the download ? Will your favorite movie ever download if your connection is spotty, or your router SNR is high, or the router had a power cut, etc.? Did you ever observe that ‘ordinary’ (taken for granted) thing? Ask older (1970′s and 80′s) folks from the computers world, they will tell you how dowloaders worked back then.
You can say that is a feature (developers will say architecture) of the torrent software, but I say its design too.
Now think of a solution to that upload from mobile problem, wherein the client (the mobile app) uploads the data in small chunks and both client as well as server (where files are uploaded) are stateful with regards to the amount (chunks) of data uploaded. If the data connection drops somewhere, the client can communicate and negotiate with the server on where to resume the interrupted upload. That saves the trouble of manual or automatic restart, saves resources, time and simply get’s the job done. But do you ever observe such ‘ordinary’ things (which just get the job done), besides the user interface bells and whistles, in apps that you use? I guess not.
No, I am not showcasing any innovation, the concept of chunked upload is very much existent and referred with the same name in the tech industry, ‘chunked uploads’, but its like talked a lot, implemented a little. The point that I am trying to make today is that there is much beyond what you see in an object (specifically app/site) that you use, which makes your life simple. Observe it!!
Hat tip for developers: Empathize, eat your own dog food, sink yourself in your end-users’ shoes and see what they see, feel what they feel, you will understand the deeper meaning of design, specially the invisible one, and you will start making better software (I am hopeful that you are making good software already, you just need to make it better).
P.S.: I am thinking to release the chunked uploads Android app code (Java) and server code (Python/Django) as an open source code on github soon, *if I get enough free time*.
1. Experts are clueless, especially people who declare themselves experts. They cannot help you as entrepreneurs They are going to tell you to do better sameness, to do what everybody else is right. They are going to tell you their point of view, often from a very arrogant point of view. Usually they are disconnected from customers. Steve Jobs did not listen to experts, on the contrary the experts listened to him. Instead of listening to the pronunciation and interpretation of experts, its much easier to listen to customers themselves using social media. You meet someone who calls himself a guru or an expert, that’s the person to avoid. As an entrepreneur, you have to figure things out for yourself.
2. Customers cannot tell you what they need. Focus groups just don’t work.
3. Biggest challenges beget the best work. Instead of byte sized chunks, give your employees and co-founders the biggest challenges. People rise up to challenges and it brings the best out of them.
4. Design counts. Lot’s of people care about design. Experts will tell you about price, demand, blah. It’s lot easier to enchant people with great stuff rather than crap. Even if the population is 10% only.
5. In presentations: big graphics, big font. Steve used to do one word slides with 60pt font.
6. Jump curves, not better sameness.
7. Something “works” or “doesn’t works” is all that matters. – change/pivot based on what works. Don’t be stuck with fads and religion. Initial offering of an iphone was – only the 3rd party apps that were safari plugins – then shift. six months later – great 3rd party apps – open system. – reversed
8. “Value” is different from “price” – Steve proved – there are class of people who perceive value more than price.
9. Hire A players. Hire people better than you. Engineers – don’t think management, finance, etc. is easy – don’t think like that. Take pride in saying that I hired someone who is better than me in finance/marketing/…
10. Real CEO’s can demo.
12. Real entrepreneurs ship and not slip. Don’t worry, be crappy. When you have jumped curves, the first version can be crappy. It can be a piece of crap but it has to be a revolutionary piece of crap. Don’t ship crap, ship something that has jumped curves which can have elements of crappiness to it.
13. Some things need to be believed to be seen. – voila – u always heard it the other way round, right? You will have to belive, ship and then let it be seen. If you want proof, it will never happen.
The quote I like the most is:
”You’re gonna screw up. If you’re gonna go fast enough to succeed you’re gonna make mistakes. If you are not making mistakes you’re going too slow, you will never win. And it’s all about how you deal with those mistakes, it’s the key.”
– Dan Levin, COO, BOX.
Leaving apart the commercial associations, I watch this video (or listen to its audio) for a power booster, whenever needed.
I am in the process of getting my next venture up and have been talking to people to join me as founding members. Most of them are just not interested, even to explore. The one’s who are interested are either not a skillwise-fit, or want to do it as consultancy or just as a help. The one’s who are really interested, have their own set of nuances, like each one of us does (even I do). The question that confronts me is – should I put up with their nuances and work with them?
My answer to myself is : yes and no
Yes, on the personal side of things. It should not matter to me how the person handles his personal life and I should either accept it or keep no personal connection with him. The latter is hard when you are just two people on a boat. So I should just let his personal life be. e.g. if he eats with two hands and his mouth chomping the food like a cow, just let it be.
No, on the business side of things. I should not let any of his (or mine) nuances play foul with the business.
The way I have done it is, write the DNA/basic-principles/guidelines/values for the company. Each person who shall work for the company should either align with the values of the company or be left out (or fired like a liability if required be).
While writing the values document for my own venture, I thought that it might be useful for others too and decided to contribute it to pluggd.in – “India’s Largest Platform for entrepreneurs and Small Businesses” along with a workable template.
You can find the post here
The template can be found here.
There is no reason not to follow your heart.
We all knew, well more or less, that it was coming, from the last 7years. It was just lurking around the corner all the time. The wall street would have been more worried about how to use/cope-with this event and its slow commencement has definitely taught them how to live with it. However, I (a true disciple of Steve) and many other like me were more worried about the legacy that fall upon us when Steve is gone. The day has come. No, I am not talking about his material assets, I am talking about the legacy that he has instilled in the hearts & minds of each and every one of us. Its like a baton that we have to carry, glorify and instill in the hearts & minds of future generations, because after all we are just
"mere mortals" our part of the track will end somewhere sooner or later and we shall have to pass it on.
We (me and many other like me) have been horned defenders, advocates, fan-boys of Steve and have taken his words to be line drawn in stone. Its time we take those words to the truest of their destination, live and execute them, without expectations, pride or fear.
In Steve’s own words (from his speech at Stanford’s commencement address, 2005):
“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.”
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
There is no end to the text that I can write in Steve’s praise and a lot of videos (some of them rare) that I can share but I will keep this tribute short on this sad day and share more on some later date.
May his soul rest in peace but the fire he kindled live forever in our hearts & minds.
I just wanted to put this here
Original post By: Indus
No holds barred immersion into your business is one quality which IMO keeps people at sidelines. If you don’t engross, how can you tell the story, if you don’t act foolish, how can you break the ice and win nay-sayers? If you don’t keep showing your face, how would people feel your presence.