Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.
Kottke wrote How to beat Apple. The post is very well written, but here’s my favorite part.
4. I can’t remember if this is my own theory or I read about this on Daring Fireball or something, but the Apple products & services that Apple does well are the ones that Steve Jobs uses (or cares about) and the ones he doesn’t use/care about are less good (or just plain bad). Jobs uses Keynote and it’s very good…but I’m pretty sure Jobs never has had to schedule his own appointments with iCal so that program is less good. Cloud apps and social apps are at the top of this list for a reason…I just don’t think Jobs cares about those things. I mean, he cares, but there’s not a lot of passion there…they aren’t a priority for him so he doesn’t really know how to think about them and attack those problems.
Care. Deeply. About. The. Shit. You. Make. Or stop. Doing it. For fook’s sake.
This article Aged to Perfection reminded me about the notion of “beausage” in physical goods. Beausage is shorthand and refers to “Beauty through usage”. I was reminded by the author of the article that most products live in the “raw/worn” state for a majority of the time they’re in use — This is a very practical reason for products to be designed for “worn” use. I’d be very surprised if beausage wasn’t a factor that went into the creation of the first iphone, judging from that picture.
Products that show their wear well and feel used and “lived in” are familiar and comfortable, like an old pair of jeans. I haven’t seen marvelous examples of this in the digital world. Pixels don’t exactly erode, so I understand that there’s no explicit need to think about creating products that wear “well”.
But what if it were an active decision to instate this kind of “wear” the longer someone used a product? I believe that brands and internet experiences have yet to take advantage of the notion of “beausage”.
So many experiences nowadays seem to try to induce usage by introducing “badges” and viral gimmicks. That sucks. No one likes gimmicks. People fall for them initially, but it’s ephemeral and relies on an endless fountain of more gimmicks and badges and crap to get you to use their product.
My vision for internet products is that they actually provide mucho utility out of the gate and the longevity of use of a product conveys social currency. Going to a spot on the “MY” page (could be a profile, for instance) of your site should feel like the digital equivalent of “beausage” and you should be able to easily convey how much utility you derived from the platform based on how “worn” it feels.
There’s an ocean of a difference between an app and a transcendent experience. A few years ago, I won a design contest for Microsoft for some concepts around creating apps that business users would love.
I saw this piece by Stephen Anderson on O’Reilly Radar and thought it prescient. Customer and user loyalty matters more than ever, but emotional engagement and personality in the customer-product relationship is essential to delivering transcendent experiences that people continue using and actually *want* to share with friends. I believe this involves iteration, organic content creation, picking a narrow focus and conveying this focus in emotive ways.
From Stephen’s talk at Web2.0:
So that’s really where I’m keeping an eye out for web apps that engage people in an emotional way. If you look at a company like MailChimp, for example, I think they’re doing that — it’s a mail management system, a business app — but I laugh every time their mascot has a little quote or does something. They’re engaging me in an emotional way, and I think there are very few sites or businesses doing that.
I think that’s really the next thing we’re looking forward to — apps that people still use after three, four, five, or 10 years that they still love, enjoy, talk about, and share with others.
While these tenets are important in any consumer internet startup, they’re particularly vital in the area of education and learning. When there are a gazillion different options for apps, content (in its various media forms) for a learner to choose from, striking an emotional connection that persists over time is of paramount importance.
The learning cycle between what is taught and when a student is tested on it is far too short, he proclaimed. Short learning-testing cycles, Wozniak said, are nothing like the projects that technology innovators are afforded in real life.
A really innovative person is known for something that usually took an awful lot of thinking, maybe even over years, and a lot of development in a laboratory putting it together and getting it to work. And it’s new and it’s different. And it’s not something you read about in a book.
The greatest innovation projects Woz participated in at Apple almost always involved technology he was unfamiliar with. But, he said, when you want something for yourself “you work hard to learn it.”
Woz talked about judging student performance by giving “students one long project that spurs innovative thinking at the beginning of a semester and graded on their results.”
“The value of these big projects is you learn diligence, lot of repetition. A lot of hard work results in something that’s your own. Your own. You built it. You have personal pride,” he said. “Personal pride is the strongest motivating force there is.”