15 posts Posts by Alli

10 Steps to Prototyping with POP

Over the years I’ve spent a not inconsiderable amount of time helping to choreograph enormous, complicated, expensive systems so that specific groups of human beings can derive benefit from them. And whether the end product of those efforts was a multistory building or an app running on a mobile device, one of the best ways to figure out how all the parts and pieces should fit together has been to build a tiny, simple, cheap …

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The Joy of Iteration

Like wine, whiskey, and celebrities with access to skilled plastic surgeons, software improves over time. Typically, the goal is to build a product with a limited set of features that solves a specific problem as quickly as possible. After that, gradual improvements based on user feedback refine a rough, often hastily improvised software offering into something functional and delightful. Not a lot of other creative work proceeds in this manner; imagine if Monet had periodically …

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Choose Words Wisely

Novelists exhibit stamina, poets profit from a sense of rhythm, journalists exploit facts, and bloggers benefit from prolificacy. And yesterday, as I mud wrestled with a single line of descriptive text within an app for fifteen frustrating minutes, I realized that writing for mobile interaction involves an entirely disparate set of skills. When I say “writing for mobile interaction,” I mean the text in an app that relates to the user interface: labels, title text, …

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A Good Idea

My cranium feels like an ancient stone belfry sometimes, in that ideas are flapping around inside it like semi-blind bats, bumping up against each other awkwardly in the darkness and emitting high-pitched squealing sounds. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with divers notions, schemes, plans, and goals; to find myself unable to take any action because there are so many possible actions to take. And compounding the difficulty, there’s the fact that it’s often hard to …

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On Condition of Anonymity

​In 1776, an American writer published a radical pamphlet arguing for freedom from the oppression of British rule titled “Common Sense.” The author, Thomas Paine, published his incendiary and wildly popular 48-page document anonymously (primarily because it included vast amounts of highly persuasive treason). There were other reasons, of course: “As my wish was to serve an oppressed people, and assist in a just and good cause, I conceived that the honor of it would …

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App Review: Felix for App.net

It seems doubtful that Felix, a new client for App.net developed by @billkunz, was named after the famous cartoon cat. The word felix means “happy” or “lucky” and, based on the positive response to the app evinced across App.net since its 1.0 launch yesterday, I think it’s more likely that Felix was so named because it aims to please. I’ve been testing the app like a two year old tests the resolve of her parents, all …

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iPhone Color Theory

Let me preface my statements by saying that I am not a trained scientist. I am also not a scientist. But I have developed a scientific hypothesis that promises to shatter everything you think you know about the world and humankind and maybe even the universe. My hypothesis is this: people want whatever color iPhone Apple wants people to want. Think about it. The first iPhone came in one flavor and sported an aluminum back with an unusually …

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All My Love, XOXO

​Imagine a situation where two kind and brilliant people named Andy stop everything they’re doing in order to invite 400 friends and strangers over for a four-day party. Perhaps their goal is to celebrate and connect people working independently in arts and technology. Possibly they want to share their city of Portland with people who will probably like it very much. And maybe they decide that the party’s theme should be (and I really need …

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Testing with Plunk

Every once in a while I find myself engaged in heated (yet consummately professional) arguments over the design and functionality of app screens with interested parties. These arguments, while occasionally contentious, almost never involve the involuntary stomping of a frustrated foot, the unfettered deployment of the f-bomb, or the weaponization of a shoe. Oh, and just so we’re clear: I win ALL the arguments. Many of these “friendly discussions” stem from uncertainty about how users …

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On Logos in Title Bars

​I know how it is. You’re a big brand and you’ve simply grown accustomed to seeing your logo stamped everywhere: on TV, in the magazines, on your leather jacket, your coffee mug, your business card, jingling on your charm bracelet, tattooed across the flanks of your hypoallergenic cat. It’s reassuring. Your logo feels like … belongingness. So now you’re halfway through the surprisingly complicated process of building an app and you feel unsettled. You and …

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