From the Dresden Dolls to ukulele covers of Radiohead to becoming a parent, art and life for this performer are inseparable — and public.
Scott: The “saying no” thing is interesting. I think that a lot of people listen to this podcast or work in user experience and work in design. We all know about simplicity.
We understand that there are lots of good ideas, even for a dialogue box, or a simple part of a web navigation structure — the top of a website’s navigation — that we know there’s lots of potential ideas.
But only a small number of them can be used if we want the whole Gestalt of the thing to be good and to be simple and to be coherent to people.
We all intuitively know that, but the problem is that there’s so much pressure in most organizations to kowtow to marketing, and the notion that more is better.
The same thing is true with ideas. I think that to end up with something that feels simple and something that looks good, you’re going to have to reject lots of ideas that are viable. There’s nothing wrong with the idea.
It’s just that in the product, or in the release, or in this particular design approach, that there have to be things that don’t fit so that the other things can shine. That’s just a side-effect of wanting to make something that’s really good. If it’s really good you’re going to make big bets on a few ideas.
A lot of very good ideas that could be big bets for other projects are going to have to be rejected. I think Apple has exemplified for us the cathedral view of a great product. The people who work at Apple often work on a very small part of a very large, important thing.
They’re willing to work on that small part because they know there’s a coherence to the whole thing. They’re willing to make sacrifice to their ego about how large their contribution is because they know the entirety of it is going to be great.
At most organizations it’s the opposite. People don’t think that the entire website for their company is any good. They think the Gestalt is bad. They want to take more ownership of a small part because they want to feel like they worked on something great.
It was a constant tension at Microsoft about this where Microsoft was notorious for having lots of features, and some of those features might be really designed well, not all of them, but some of them.
That was a side-effect of the fact that the people who were in charge of those features didn’t think the whole product was good. They wanted to work on something that was really good, so they put all their energy into making a small part of it shine, even if that meant it was inconsistent with the rest of it.
I think Steve Job’s quote is true about making anything great. You’re going to have to reduce. There’s going to be good ideas that you reject. There’s going to be good speakers who you might want to have speak at UI18, but to make it good you want to have a small number that get the most attention.
So it’s just a natural tradeoff of trying to make good things.
Karen: So, having worked on sites for many large publishers, you realize, like, “Oh. If you let your designer go in and specify the exact right image size that would fit perfectly in every single design, you would wind up with a million different image sizes.” They’d all be slightly different, and publishers run into this problem and they will eventually go in and say, “No.”
We are not doing that. We are going to cut a handful of different image sizes, maybe five or six, and those are the sizes you’re going to have to work with. And you will choose one of those sizes, it may not fit perfectly. But it’s going to be close enough, and so that’s what you’re going to use.
There’s no way to necessarily anticipate what the exact right size should be, but if you think of it in the system, and you look across the range of possible places that those images might be used, you can get pretty close. You’re not going to be horribly wrong.
One of the issues that we’re running into is that many publishers today, when they’re going to mobile, actually haven’t anticipated that they would need different-sized images for mobile screens. One of the surprising problems I’ve run into, is that they actually don’t have large enough images.
Everybody thinks that mobile images always have to be smaller. But with retina displays, often times what we run into is that the largest image size isn’t large enough to be used to fill the whole screen on a retina iPhone. That’s one of those examples where it’s like OK, well what are we going to do.
We’re either going to have an image that doesn’t fit perfectly or has to be scaled up a little bit so it gets a little crunchy. Or we’re going to have to go back to our production team and say, now we need you to cut another image size. So those are decisions that…
It’s like you could make those in the long term. The fact that that might happen, the fact that you might realize at some point in the future that you don’t have all the content elements or all the image sizes that you want, isn’t a good reason to not do your best of analyzing what the system should be and coming up with some reasonable defaults now.
Amy Phillips sits down with Neko Case for a career-spanning podcast interview in this installment of In Sight Out, a …
Dharma talk given by Andrea Fella at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, CA. Recorded on 2011-08-18
Ben: This is the question that I always get. [laughs] It’s not just from other folks in the industry, but obviously from every customer that we talk to. A lot of times, and I’ll just kind of explain here kind of how exactly this ends up playing out for us. A lot of times when we were doing fixed bid pricing, a customer was committing to us for the duration of a project.
Maybe, let’s just say, it’s a three month project, and it’s $50 grand, something like that. We’ve got some duration. We would look at that. We would say, “Let’s do three payments. We’ll do a third upfront. We’ll do a third when we’re halfway through, and we’ll do a third at the very end.” We would structure something kind of like that.
There are contracts that are signed in that scenario, that commit both parties to doing all this stuff, and making all those payments. What we found is that in order for us to request the flexibility and pricing that we want, we also have to give a little bit in terms of the flexibility for that contract.
What that means is that we don’t ask somebody to sign a long-term contract for us. In that same scenario, we would certainly put some thought behind, approximations, of what the budget should be. We may come up with a very similar number, but it’s all with the understanding that it’s an estimate. We’re doing our best guess here.
Then what happens is if we don’t do our job, if our customers aren’t happy with what we’ve delivered, they absolutely have the ability to walk away. Everything that we’ve done up to that point is theirs.
That understanding means that for us, we’re basically sharing the risk of the project with our customers. Instead of committing to some number, and seeing scope change, and dealing with all the struggles that come along with that kind of management, where there’s change request, and just constant dialogue about that. What we’ve found is if we don’t do our job, we lose it. We have to make our customers happy. We have to show that we’re delivering value for the price they’re paying.
Now, we’ll also say, for us, we adjust our hourly rate to make sure that we’re inline with what will allow us to deliver a really high quality project for a price. In the end, what happens is this becomes a very constant conversation with our customers. It opens up the conversation about money. We find ourselves literally every week talking with our customers about, “Hey, we’ve spent 60 hours so far on this. That’s about where we think we should be.”
But also, it’s possible that, “Hey, we’re a little behind honestly. What we’d like to do is get into a little bit more depth of conversation around the priorities that you have. Let’s get those literally listed, first priority to the last priority, and recognize that we may not get all the way through this list. If something is going to get cut, what should it be?”
It puts those decisions in our customer’s hands, and allows them to prioritize exactly what we work on, obviously with our recommendations for what would be a valid delivery. We get to work with them on it, I guess, is the point. That’s created much better, much stronger, longer lasting relationships with our clients.
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