April 2010 Archives

Design as a Central Resource in Incubators and Funds

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In my last post, Giving UX and Design Advice, I started talking about a buddy of mine asking me about design support in incubators and described what goes on in the mind of one person (me!) who gives design and UX advice. I believe this gives clues as to how to find a person to fill the role of a design/UX advisor, or if someone wanted to become one, what they might expect.

Let's get on with the real topic, which is, if you're running an incubator, should you provide design as a central resource? And if you do, how might that work?

Also, when I say incubators, I think that we can include any investment operation, such as a venture fund, who wants to provide centralized design help to its portfolio companies.

The Problem Statement

There is recognition that for early stage startups, getting the product right has unprecedented importance over other aspects of the business. If this is true, then getting the user experience of the product right is paramount. Assuming we know the difference between design and UX, design has definitely the user facing component of the user experience of a product. Thus it's natural that helping startups find great design support is very important.

The problem with finding design support is that...there just aren't enough great designers around! The world simply doesn't have enough designers who are talented AND are great at crafting a great front-end user experience. Note that you can't just have someone who is talented because some guys are just not good UX people. So if we're lucky to find a great designer who is also a great UX person, then we'd want to utilize this person on a wide variety of projects.

However, in what form should the design/UX help take? Advice only, or actual work? Here are some examples of this in the real world now.

The Designer in Residence

About 5-6 months ago, the world saw its first Designer in Residence (DIR) at Bessemer Venture Partners. The term was first coined by Bessemer's David Cowan and shortly after the Mint acquisition, their designer Jason Putorti became the first DIR. I have talked with Jason about his experiences as a DIR and will wrap in some thoughts from conversations with him and Bessemer folks. For a more in-depth look at his experiences in his time as DIR, please look for his upcoming post at his blog.

The main purpose of the DIR was to help out the Bessemer portfolio from a design point of view. Any portfolio company that was receptive to help would get time with Jason, although it was mostly from an advice point of view. The startups that were receptive to outside advice really appreciated his visits and comments. Many startups did not feel the need to receive outside help and some of those probably didn't need any design advice, and some, by some viewpoint, probably could have used some even if they didn't think they needed it.

That's not to say that Jason didn't deep dive; this did occur but it didn't happen very often since his time was limited with each company.

Betaworks

As part of our operations at betaworks, we incubate some businesses. Thus, providing design help to our internal projects was deemed critical to getting those internal products out the door quickly and allow us to iterate on them, without having to waste time to find design help for every project. We hired a designer to be on staff to help us work quickly on our ideas.

In the case of betaworks, my proposed problem statement is not their main purpose for having the designer on staff; this designer actually does the work, and so therefore his time is limited because he needs to focus on projects to get design work done. Currently he works on 2-3 projects maximum, and at any one time is focused on one.

He hasn't done much at giving design/UX advice though, simply because his time would get overwhelmed helping too many people at once, and then only at the advice level.

He also has noted to me that he has extremely enjoyed the interactions and the projects, and the wide variety of problems to solve from simple sites to complex services. Such is the nature of working for an operation whose day to day interactions are always with the latest and greatest!

Parallels with Central Design Teams in Bigger Companies

The issues experienced, when attempting to provide actual work, mirror those of companies with central design teams attempting to service many teams at once. Because the teams do not have dedicated design support, they have to come to the central resource to get things done.

The typical issues encountered in these situations are:

1. Competition for design time, and the resulting tensions. Sometimes there is the threat of going outside the company for design help, which works for some companies and is absolutely prohibited by others.

2. Accounting dollar-wise for design time can be challenging, and things such as chargebacks to matrix headcount attribution have been tried to account for resourcing, and to see how much design time and cost a project has used.

3. Headcount is always an issue, and fighting to add to headcount in a central organization when it's not tied directly to any revenue generating project (instead, it's tied to all projects both revenue generating and losing) is a difficult fight to win.

4. Designers in these central teams are often stressed to finish way too much work and quality can suffer if the demands on their time exceed their ability to finish quality work.

5. Causing 4, scheduling projects is always a problem when so many people are vying for your design time. Prioritization is always an issue, and frustrations can occur when someone doesn't get support when they need it.

Provide Only Advice, or Resources to do the Actual Work?

Here you go, the pros and cons of both!

Advice Only:

PROS:

1. Can handle a lot of projects at once.

2. Can talk about issues larger than just design alone, that are related to user experience.

3. Breadth of exposure to many projects gives a breadth of experiences to bring to bear on any one given project.

4. Effectiveness is potentially at its greatest at the certain stages of the project, like at the beginning during product definition before decisions have been made, and evaluating what has been done already, especially if there is evidence that there are problems with what has been launched and receptiveness to help from the team is greatest (since it's obvious there is something that needs to be fixed, rather than not having concrete evidence before a product is launched.

CONS:

1. Only helps those who are receptive.

2. Even receptive people may ignore your advice, or simply forget about it later.

3. Advice can only be implemented if the team can internalize what is being said. If they do not have enough depth of understanding, they may not be able to implement fully, or only partially which may not be enough.

4. Lack of depth on a project can result in incomplete advice.

5. Advice can be wrong, or simply wrong for a given team. The right solution for a given problem may come in a multitude of forms; the advice a single person gives really only offers one solution but it may not be the solution that a team requires to get to success. Remember that success can come in many forms. For example, even if a product has a terrible UX, if the startup is sold and investors make money, then by many measures, the startup has reached a success despite ignoring UX advice.

6. Giving design/UX advice requires an individual who enjoys giving advice as a career and not doing the actual work. It may be hard to find skilled individuals who want to give advice and not do the actual work.

7. Giving design advice is only part of the solution; we still have to find someone to do the actual work. Designers are still hard to come by. Without anyone to implement the advice, the advice may be pointless.

Doing Actual Work:

PROS:

1. Inserting a great designer is the best way to ensure that the right design work gets implemented. Having someone on the team who is there, fighting for the right thing to do 24/7, is the best way to ensure that a great UX gets launched. It also enables depth on a project, so that the probability of the right design being implemented is greater.

2. Evidence has shown that most designers love doing the actual work, and that it is much more satisfying than just giving advice. So it's most likely easier to find designers to staff a central group that does work.

CONS:

1. Coverage of projects is extremely limited, often only one project at a time.

2. Since coverage of projects is limited, you need a lot of personnel to cover a lot of projects. Paying salaries for all these folks and supporting them can be a challenge for an operation that does not have recurring revenue (ie. a fund or incubator is not a business with revenue). Or do we charge our startups, which has its own issues given that they are most likely early stage and very sensitive to expenses?

However, if the entity that provides design support has deep pockets, then either design support can be provided for free, or at a steeply discounted cost to the marketplace.

3. Running a central group which does work is like running a design consultancy. It will have the same issues as any consultancy in managing the work and client. Having worked at frogdesign, I can tell you that running a consultancy is not an easy thing; keeping deliveries on schedule, maintaining happy customers and quality of work all takes experience.

4. How do we know that the designers on staff can maintain quality? What if the best design support can be found outside the central group? What if the design talents that the startup needs are not found within the group?

5. Finding designers to hire is still tough. How much time is required to even build the team itself?

6. Central group design support is still very discontinuous; the group comes in, does work, and then stops for a while. In the space between projects, a lot of learning is accomplished which may not get back to the designers. At some point the startups will require their own dedicated design help which is continuous and 24/7.

One might notice that in either case, the list of cons exceeds the pros. I would say that the brevity of the pros doesn't minimize their importance. Each of those pros has tremendous value for each path. It is the cons that we must watch out for and be OK with, when setting up design support for an incubator or fund.

Footnotes:

a. As I was finishing up this post, I got word that the venture group at Google provides design support on contract, and on a limited basis to its portfolio companies. I hope to meet with the designer to get his take on how this works and how it's going for him.

b. One of my reviewers pointed out that this post ended kind of open ended and left him feeling the need for some firm conclusion. Yes I bailed on giving a specific conclusion because I believe that the direction an entity takes is highly specific to the situation and its own needs. I do not think there is one size fits all in providing either type of design support. I wanted to point out what the pros and cons of each direction were, and let the reader create his own solution based on his own requirements.

Many thanks to James Cham @jamescham, Jason Putorti @novaurora, and Neil Wehrle @neilw for reviewing this post!

Giving UX and Design Advice

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A buddy of mine was helping some friends setup an incubator and he asked me whether or not they should have some UX/design support that is resident in the incubator.

It's an interesting proposition. According to Dave McClure:

Addictive User Experience (aka Design) & Scalable Distribution Methods (aka Marketing) are the most critical for success in consumer internet startups, not pure Engineering talent.
(from Startups & VCs: Learn How to Design, Market, & Eat Your Own Consumer Internet Dogfood)

I tend to agree. Most startups are started by business people or engineers. It is very rare to find startups started by designers; relative to the other disciplines, it's like finding a needle in a haystack. So most entrepreneur teams really have no formal training in the area of user experience and any that do well are either lucky or naturally talented. But yet at early stage, the quality of the product experience matters so much more than at any other time and is so critical to the early traction a startup can get. Also, designers are among the hardest of disciplines to hire for; there simply aren't enough to go around, especially compared to the number of engineers universities crank out each year. Thus it's natural that an incubator, which provides a lot of critical resources to its incubated businesses, would want to provide design as one of those resources.

I should also say that we've been really bastardizing the use of the term "designer". There are many sub-disciplines within the category of design: visual design, graphic design, interaction design, user researchers, usability testing professionals. Saying that someone should get a talented designer is not a cure-all for UX success. You must have some basic level of understanding and skill in a few of these areas in order to create a great user experience.

For the last 4 years, I've been advising startups partially in the area of UX and design. I think there are parallels in what I do and what an incubator might provide. Both an incubator and I have a portfolio of companies to provide design support for; but yet how to provide a level of support for so many customers at one time? Is it actual design detail work or is it just guidance? Certainly I have thought a lot about providing UX and design help to all the startups in my portfolio, and in what form that help looks like. However, the nature of providing help in this form comes with interesting dynamics.

All About Influencing

Everything is influenced based, which means that in no way can I force someone to come to my viewpoint. I have to convince them that my way is better through belief in my past experiences and/or through some sort of research, or through the persuasiveness of my reasoning. These individuals do not report to me; nor in reality do they even have to listen to me. I do not hold their destinies in my hands so I cannot have that level of control over whether they listen to me or act on my advice.

In the beginning, this was a source of mild frustration because I would tell my startups that something was wrong or could be better in that way, but yet they would seem to not do what I just told them to do. I realized that early on that my advice was just that; it was advice that someone would just add to their knowledge base and they would act on it or not.

Not Letting Grinfucks Get to You

I also have to let go of the fact that they may not listen to me at all, or totally disagree with me and discount whatever I advise. Sometimes they would even agree with what I said and then go back to doing whatever it was they were doing later (I believe this is what Mark Suster calls the "grinfuck".). However, I can't let this get to me or else immense frustration will set in.

However, as much as we see someone else is failing (by our own standards), I have to admit that there is always the probability that I am not right. If there is anything I've learned about product design is that there is huge variability of success amongst users. I think if we thought hard enough, even the most crappiest designed products have had huge success in the world (ie. Windows). Or we underestimate users' tolerance for imperfect design; sometimes users put up with so much because the product satisfies some basic need very well. Then, when you consider what makes a startup successful, it throws even more variability into whether or not a perfect design is really required. For example, one metric for success is when a big company buys your startup for a lot of money; you may have a really imperfect product but yet we're successful because we sold our startup for a lot of money and made a decent return.

To me, this is all a probability game. Too often we get caught up in black and white: "if you don't implement my design ideas, you're gonna fail." To me, it's about maximizing all chances of success, with UX and design being one of those all important details a startup works on. When you execute well across a number of fronts, that raises the probability of success. The more details you execute poorly or imperfectly, the less your probability of success. So I ask you, the intreprid entrepreneur, wouldn't you want to listen to some UX design advice to maximize your probability of success overall?

Gotta Keep an Endless Flow of Ideas Comin'

When teams don't like my initial ideas, I find I have to keep throwing ideas at them until something sticks. In some situations, I seem to have an endless supplies of things to try. In others, I hit a wall and run out of ideas very quickly. It's definitely frustrating to me when I run out of ideas, as I consider myself a pretty creative guy. But there is ultimately an end to ideas when they come from a single person, and from someone who doesn't live and breathe the startup day in and day out.

Advising Generally Means You're Not Doing the Work

However, advising is generally not actually doing the work. You're evaluating, giving your opinion, suggesting changes, giving ideas and direction on what can work better. Rarely am I actually launching Photoshop or doing actual HTML.

I like advising. I like teaching and guiding others and it's a source of great satisfaction to me to help others succeed. I also like to see if my theories actually work or not, so now it's a challenge to see if my ideas are right or not. Second, advising allows me to cover a far wider set of customers than by doing the actual work. In order to do great work, you really have to focus on a project; multitasking can get you only so far and I'm sure anyone who is in the contracting business will tell you the pitfalls of working on more than one project at a time. Quality of the work, thought leadership, and time management all become huge challenges when you're working on just one more extra thing.

The downside to advising is that I'm not doing the actual work. Advice can only communicate your ideas so far; words just cannot replace the actual design work being just done by you. To some, doing the work is far more satisfying than giving advice. Hey I know - I've been there. I've lost count of how many sites I've launched at Yahoo, or the immense enjoyment I feel when I'm part of team designing, building, and launching a product at Apple or through our contracts at frogdesign. You also don't learn as much unless you're doing the actual work; living and breathing the design allows you to be immersed in the users and their problems with your product. Hearing it secondhand just isn't the same.

I think for many designers, it's tough to just give advice. It is hard to let go of the immense personal satisfaction and learning of doing the actual work. I think this is partially why there aren't that many designers out there giving advice in some form or another. It's actually pretty cool to be doing the work and taking a product all the way through to launch.

One other important point about doing the work: it also maximizes the chance that your ideas will get implemented. Any ideas you may plant in someone are just thoughts; taking those thoughts to action requires firm belief by the listener in what you said, being able to internalize it, and then act on it. But if you are on the team doing the implementing, then you have the best chance of implementing the ideas into the product because you already believe in it and have internalized it, and recognize and can walk a path to realization of the idea.

Not Doing the Work Means Wider Coverage of Projects

One advantage to stepping back from the actual work is that you can cover a wider variety of projects simultaneously. I do not know of any designer who can handle more than two projects at the same time; most only work on one at a time before moving on. Spreading your brain across multiple projects really puts quality at risk. It is very difficult to do your best work when you're not focused on one thing.

However, if I'm giving just advice, I can do that across many more projects. Still, it is consistent with multitasking issues that if I don't get depth on a given project, that it's hard to give really detailed advice. So often I may spend more time on a single project and get to know it better and then I can give more depth in my advice. I do think my past Yahoo experience as been a great advantage here. At Yahoo we worked on a wide variety of projects and I am usually able to bring some depth to my advice without needing much time to get to know a project.

The Difference Between Design Advice and UX Advice

Just so I'm clear - I think there is a difference between "design" advice and "UX" advice. Definitely the two are related. Building a great user experience pretty much means you're employing great visual and interaction design, coupled with user research to reinforce and inform. However, I think there are differences as well. Mostly, I think that design is a subset of creating the entire user experience, which encompasses branding and its effects on a user's constant use of a product, tackling a certain market segment, and customer service, among other things.

When I give specific design advice, I tend to think of looking at the specific elements on an interface and commenting on the interaction or its aesthetics. I talk about placement of controls, and what is confusing and what is not. I talk about the flow across screens and whether or not that makes sense, or could be easier or not. Often this comes in the form of a design walkthrough with discussion after.

However, when I give UX advice, my comments go wider and I talk about the entire product experience. A conversation may start with "can I get help on my GUI?" but sometimes I see the problem is not with the GUI but it's with a broader issue of why the heck we're doing this in the first place. I start talking about who the customer is, and why they're targeting the customer. I also talk about getting a better product definition and problem statement.

Personally, I think it's not a good use of time if the problem statement is incorrect in the first place to dive into detail UI issues. Once you have refined the problem statement (aka iterate until you find the right product fit for a customer base and get a scalable business model - thanks, Steve Blank!), then we can start talking about whether the UI you have created is appropriate for that or not. Then we can take an orderly approach to crafting a superior UI for a problem that users desire a solution to and hopefully make money off of.

Finding the Right People

OK I just expounded on my experiences in giving design and UX advice. Why? It's important to understand the motivations and experiences of a person who loves giving design and UX advice so that if your goal is to find similar support, you're going to have to find a person with similar motivations and experiences.

I have not met many people who are happy giving design advice only. Most designers I have met want to do the work and derive great enjoyment from the work. At one time, I too loved doing the work; however, the complexities of life forced me to create a situation where I could still contribute and grow in my experiences but not mean that I am on critical path for any particular project. (Someday, I would be happy to talk about exactly what complexities I mean here, but just not in my blog but live over a beer ;-) ) Giving advice rather doing the work meant that I could still be part of the process as well as be a part of a greater number of projects, but not do the actual work because my life isn't structured to deliver actual work well.

So if you want design and UX advice, you're going to have to find someone who is OK with not doing the work and hopefully loves doing this.

I started this post by talking about helping a friend out regarding design support in incubators and then focused on the individual giving advice, in order to understand what kind of person might be good in such a role and what experience they might need. Watch for my next post on my thoughts on design as a central resource in incubators.

OK I'm annoyed.

All around the startup circles I hear about how startups need designers and how having a talented designer is going to solve their product UX problems.

This is a problem.

That's because getting a talented "designer" isn't necessarily going to fix your UX problems. There are many problems with this idea:

First, a product user experience is much broader than design alone. There are many elements that create a great experience for users with your product. The front line is held by the GUI where a designer usually plies his skills. But there is also product stability and quality, pricing, customer support, branding and marketing - you get the idea. Sometimes your product experience's problem is not design by something else.

Second, there are many talented designers who are really bad at crafting a great user experience. In my experiences at hiring designers at Yahoo, I have found that some designers, while extremely talented in the areas they are skilled in, were really bad at creating a great user experience! This is because they do not have the open sensitivity to what others need in the product, cannot escape designing for themselves, or simply lacked training in creating a great UX. We have successfully trained some people to follow traditional UX design processes and thus made them into great UX people. However, not everyone is good at UX; they just lack some innate sensitivity to what makes a product useful, usable, and desirable all at the same time.

Having said the previous, there are many great user experience people who have no traditional design training whatsoever. Having one of these lead a product team may be all you need to take a mediocre or bad UX and create a great one. Typically we call these folks great product people and they can come from many different disciplines.

Third, people still use the word "designer" to mean a wide variety of skill sets and occupations. These are:

Visual Designer - someone who is great at aesthetics and "styling", and creating art. They are masters at creating a visual style for your product.

Interaction Designer - someone who is great at creating great interactions with the product, making it easily usable. They are great at making interfaces understandable and quickly learnable.

User Researcher/Usability Engineer - someone who excels at researching users and their needs, watching and recording their reactions to products both the good and the bad. They gather data to inform the design and improve the product.

Each one of these skill areas is a full discipline in its own right. People go to school for 4 years, do graduate research in them, and then work solely in this area as a full career.

Thus saying you want a designer doesn't help me find the right person for you. We have to figure out what kind of designer you really need based on the problems you are trying to solve, or the holes in the skills you have.

By the way, every startup has headcount issues. So they want that guy who can do it all. Realistically, there are people who have skills in all those areas. But they are the most sought after folks on the market, and there are so few of them to go around. To wait for that perfect person to show up will mean that you are going to wait a long, long time.

Typically, in the past, we have put together a team of 2-3 of the various functional areas to work together on creating the UX. Finding people who are really good at any one of the skill areas is the easiest; finding someone with 2 or more of those skill areas grows quickly exponentially impossible in any reasonable timeframe.

As mentioned before, potentially it is more important to find people who are great product people: those who are talented at creating great user experiences need not be designers per se, although it is necessary to have design skills in order to do the actual work in creating it. Without those skills, a product person would have to work with others to do the detail work. Therefore, a great product person leading a team of people who may not be so good at UX (ie. designers, engineers, etc) can generate an awesome result.

However, there are a lot of people in the design field who are trained in designing great user experiences. Thus, great UX people tend to be those with a design background. But still, not all of them have to be designers.

All startups would agree that at early stage, getting the product experience right as soon as possible is probably more critical at this stage than any stage in the life cycle of a company. But let's get a little more educated and specific on what it means to create a great user experience, what design's role is in that process, and which design roles we need to create it.


Why Did I Buy an iPad?

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People keep asking me why I bought an iPad, and then what I think of it. Since there seem to be many who care, here's why I just had to have one and my thoughts on it:

1. I'm an early adopter and love gadgets. I am always curious on where technology is going and love to be the first to try it.

2. I need to maintain my geek cred by always getting the latest device before everyone else.

3. As a UX person, it is important for my profession to keep up to date on the latest in design so that I can know what others are working on, and add it to my own my work. Thus, while these early devices can be expensive, I see them as part of my ongoing education as a designer and in my work with startups.

4. I learn by experiencing these devices first hand, which makes more effective as a designer, and an advisor to startups who are working on the latest and greatest. If I did not experience these products firsthand, meaning living with them and using them day after day, my knowledge of what is possible is going to be limited by my imagination and not by actual experience. Also, when I live with devices, new applications, interactions, and methods come to mind through these devices being with me constantly. If something wasn't such an integral part of my life, I would not know it well enough to extend and be creative with it.

5. Besides being experiments, some of these devices actually do improve my life. At the same time, I've been burned by many early devices whose businesses died underneath them. It's almost like picking startups to invest in; I try to pick the devices to try by hypothesizing whether or not they're going to be around in a year. So Apple is probably a good bet for longevity as a corporation, but in the past they have launched and then killed products just as us early guys fell in love with them.

OK now specifically about the iPad

1. Some of you heard me talk about this already, but one of the biggest reasons why I bought one was to replace my Taiwanese crappy netbook Hakintosh. When I used to go out to meetings, I would bring my MacBook Pro which was heavy and also has my life on it. To lose or crash that MacBook Pro would mean the death of me! So I bought a netbook, installed Mac OSX on it thanks to the hacker community, and life was much better as the netbook was perfect for email and blogging during breaks between meetings.

Then literally 2 weeks ago, it stopped charging the battery. Weeks before, the WIFI stopped working and so did the ethernet port. Slowly but surely, as all PCs do, it just started disintegrating before my very eyes. I needed a replacement solution but didn't want to spring for a MacBook Air; too expensive!

I was ecstatic to see the iPad come out AND let you dock a full size keyboard to it. If I could have docked a full size keyboard to my iPhone, that would have also worked for me. A long time ago, I had a folding IR keyboard which I would use with my Palm Treo 680 and it was great sitting at a cafe blogging or emailing away because I could type fast. Switching to the iPhone removed this functionality and I waited patiently for an Apple solution. Thankfully in a few weeks when my keyboard dock arrives, I'll have it!

By the way, I trust Apple's quality a lot more than any PC manufacturer out there, as evidenced by the slow self destruction of my netbook and every other PC I've ever owned. When I bought my iPad, I shelled out another $100 for AppleCare which is by far the best extended warranty/service plan ever.

2. Noting the larger form factor for touch computing, and having had the experience of small format touch computing with the iPhone, I suspected something revolutionary that would happen with such a platform for touch computing but wasn't completely sure.

I have seen touch screen PCs before but they were awful. Well, running Windows under anything is pretty bad! But forcing a touch screen onto Windows makes it doubly bad! And it doesn't have all the rich touch gestures that Apple built into the iPhone and iPad. This drove part of my uncertainty on whether or not the iPad would truly revolutionize computing or would it just be a larger screen touch device that wouldn't go anywhere.

Knowing Apple's great work on the iPhone, I had to see for myself whether or not it would go somewhere. And the only way was to get one and play with it.

3. I'm not sure I would use it as a media viewing device. It's still primarily a blogging and email tool for me, and I think I would also use many of the same useful apps from the iPhone here on the iPad too.

4. I think gaming will be good. I've heard about some of the cool multiplayer games already, and also have fond memories of those video game tables where the screen was under the table surface and you could play Pac-Man against someone.

5. Don't need 3G. No way am I paying for another wireless contract from AT&T! I have a Verizon MIFI card and am going to use that as an untethering device. Besides my netbook-like use case means I'll mostly be in a cafe or somewhere with free WIFI.

6. My hope is that it will be a replacement for my Kindle 2, which I stupidly left on the seat of a plane flight last year.

First Experiences with the iPad

1. Definitely excels as an email and blogging tool simply because the screen format is much bigger. Typing is much better but I really want the keyboard dock.

2. Touch typing really tough. I brace my left thumb on the bottom edge to stop it from sliding down, and I use a modified hunt and peck to type. Still, faster on this keyboard than the iPhone keyboard.

3. Regarding the early games, all I gotta say is WOW. The large touch screen allows some dramatic imagery to display during game play, ie. Tap Tap Radiation. It also provides a larger gaming surface via touching, ie. Smule Magic Piano. The iPad's connected nature also easily allows gaming with other people, like with Smule Magic Piano's duet feature. Very well done.

4. Larger screen really makes drawing programs shine, like Adobe's Ideas app. Much closer to real life canvases now, which makes for better drawing opportunities.

5. I like it that Apple allowed iPhone apps to run. But some of them crash or behave funny. Most do work thankfully. The 2X screen magnifier is very nice.

6. Touching on large displays of data really causes me to think of new interaction paradigms. I love the Weatherbug Elite app and the ability to look at large weather maps and lets me interact with them via touch versus a mouse.

7. Reading is AWESOME. My Kindle app is that much better, especially after I lost my Kindle 2. But who cares now!!! With my Kindle 2, I always wanted to swipe to turn the page and now I can (although, yes, I could always do this on the iPhone).

8. I loaded my favorite movie on it, Star Trek. Playing it was cool, but it didn't blow me away, the fact that I could play movies on it. Nor did playing music on it. I think that my iPhone will still be where I will consume most of my music, and my Apple TV or my MacBook Pro is where I will watch TV shows and movies.

I think that if there were some other features alongside it, that might make it more interesting. Social features? Chatting? Commenting? Additional info on the movie/show? Otherwise, it's not that exciting to me. Nice to have, but not necessary.

By the way, streaming still sucks in general. It even doesn't always work on my fiber optic line back home. When it does work, it's amazing, like when Hulu actually plays a full show without stopping in the middle. So much for the internet in the US, the crappiest broadband in the world.

9. I am officially "swipe-happy". The real world interaction style of using your gestures to make logical interactions on stuff on the screen is amazingly natural and I want to swipe every screen now.

10. This is now where I think the iPad is a revolutionary platform. The use of real world interaction styles makes it a ton easier for not-so-computer-literate computer users to quickly be able to interact with such a complex device. Giving my iPad to my kid was definitely a mistake; now she won't give it back!

I think this is where the App Store will truly make the iPad something beyond anything we have now, leveraging the creativity of 1000s of developers to make the most amazing applications utilizing the swipes and gestures of this platform.

11. By the way, now I can sit up at night in the dark and email, blog, and tweet effectively. My iPhone wasn't bad, but it's just too small for a lot of things. A bigger screen that does not have another flapping part of it (ie. the keyboard) is sometimes really nice to not deal with especially when you're curled up in bed.

12. I would also like to note that it was also Apple's attention to detail on the screen technology (unfortunately the Nexus One's touch screen really is lacking compared to the iPhone's), the richness of the gestures available, their amazing hardware/software interaction that makes iPad's response to gestures quick and natural (you can notice the difference already with a Mac mouse and a PC mouse; just see the subtle differences in which they behave when you move either. The Mac's mouse is so much better) - all of these details that Apple makes sure are taken care of and maximized means that apps which use the functionality feel natural in response and execution. There is no annoying hesitation on when you swipe...and then something happens. It just does as you and your senses expect.

When the platform is so well done, the apps on top shine even more. Too bad the PC guys will never ever figure this out. They are perpetually in a mode of cost savings and processor performance enhancement. These other more "human" details are lost and certainly misunderstood, and it means that Apple will always be the leader.

Long live my iPad! (...and I most certainly will buy the next generation, which will undoubtedly have a camera in it yeah!)

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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