Ello – the good, the bad, and the ugly

Ello is a new social network, aimed to take on Facebook by not selling peoples information. It’s invite only, and has a very sparse set of features.

The good:

  • Follow people like Twitter
  • usernames like Twitter
  • focus on posting like Twitter / Tumblr
  • posts are re-shareable, full of media, more like Tumblr than FB.

The bad:

  • Execution is really bad.
  • It’s really strange to navigate and use.
  • Doesn’t work on mobile at all.
  • While the team seems to be scrambling, nothing seems to be happening.

The ugly:

  • VC funded with no business model. This is worse that Twitters year over year fail to turn a profit.

Let’s add some ethics to design

Why? Because we can.

A playful answer, but more often true than not. If something works, why not keep doing it? Marketing and sales are areas where this attitude is so entrenched that some people never question it. "Always be closing", "sell sell sell". Why are we pushing this grandmother to buy an android device she’ll never use? Because we can.

We put all the responsibility in the hands of the recipient, the buyer, or the clicker of ads. Often rightfully so, in my opinion. As good balance to douchy sales tactics is that if people simply don’t buy, the salesmen will quickly stop and try something else instead. Other fields are not so clear cut though.

As designer we believe it is our mission to delight users. To make the product easier to use, more entertaining, and always more sticky. Last week my favorite gamification researcher, Sebastian Deterding, posted a keynote where he questioned this idea; Why is it our job to make things more sticky?
I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly. No matter if work with web or apps, you are providing either tools or entertainment. There really is nothing else. Entertainment should of course be entertaining, and I wont rant about game design in this post. But should tools be fun? Should they be sticky?

Steve Jobs once described the computer as a "bicycle for the mind". A tool to reach farther and faster than a human could without it. But are computers living up to this promise? I would argue no, and it’s because of us. As designers, we’ve perverted the idea of tools. Creating hammers people really like to use instead of ones that gets the job done. We’re not looking for the best way to solve a problem any more, we’re debating how to make our users engage more with the product. Again something which is fine, if it’s entertainment. But if it’s a tool, this is a douchy sales tactic.

I think we need to stop talking about delighting our users and get back to trying to build the best tools for the purpose. No matter how good we dazzle our clients, eventually the sales pitch will end and the users are left holding chocolate hammers.

Building web apps with WordPress and BackBone.js

Gave a talk today at WordCamp Norrköping on how to build web apps using WordPress, JetPacks REST API and BackBone.js.

A short presentation on the why and how to use BackBone.js and WordPress to build interactive web, apps or otherwise. My slides are available below and you can find the demo app on GitHub.

WordPress & Backbone: The Dawn of Web Apps from Jesper Bylund

Medium’s new embed feature

Medium.com is quickly shaping up to a great reading and writing experience. A recent surprise feature is their story/collection/user embeds which let you bring medium with you anywhere.

JesperBylund

Odd to see what is basically an iFrame experience from such a design focused company. One can only conclude that they see some great experience behind this. Can’t wait to find out what it could be.

The surprising effect of boredom

I’ve spent years trying out all the tools and tips for increasing productivity I could lay my hands on. Hundreds of apps, and services. Tips for sleeping. Hacks for staying focused. They all worked.

Each one increased the number of todos I checked off my lists. At least for a day or two. After that the search was on for whatever could help me improve more. I’m not even sure now if the methods failed as novelty wore off, or if I just got bored and started looking for my next fix.

The problem is that time went by and I wasn’t actually getting anywhere. My todos were demolished but poured in ever faster,and I never really achieved what I wanted.

I had become an efficiency junky.

I’m not sure when the turning point came. But over the last few years my projects are reaching further, quicker. My todo lists shrank, as did my working hours, but my output increased.

What did I spend the rest of my time on? Being bored. Nothing I’ve ever tried has increased my output or my mood as much as being bored. Boredom has a bad reputation, but it seems to focus my mind.

I’ve come to enjoy being bored. Even try to find time to be bored. Not that I enjoy the actual boredom, but I do enjoy the simplicity that comes after it.

Like meditation but without the training. Being bored for a few minutes, by yourself, can make all the difference in a stressful day.

Try it. It’s free.