Category Archives: randomness

Using Keynote during your design process

keynote screen design

Using keynote as an organizer for your thoughts during the design process:

  • Create an outline or screen inventory towards the story I’d like to tell.
  • As I’m working through the wireframes, I’ll record my thoughts as bullets into the keynote
  • Formatting your thoughts – keep it simple, go high level then break out specific UI elements.
  • Most importantly – always be ready to present your ideas, at any stage in the process.

Formalizing designs in a presentation has it’s advantages:

  • Keeps you focused
  • Keeps the audience focused
  • Is portable – can be emailed later w/out lengthy explanation
  • Is progressive – once begun, you can simply layer increasing information on top of the first presentation.
  • Is repeatable – once done, you can leverage the same presentation style for other projects.

 

Pro-tip: I work almost exclusively in Adobe Illustrator when wire-framing. It works great for layering increasing detail/resolution on the design from functional wireframes to final designs. Since the most recent Keynote software update, Keynote has issues copying vector designs from Illustrator directly to the page. Before you copy an element from Adobe Illustrator, outline the text (Command + Shift + “O”) in Adobe Illustrator, then copy to Keynote. It adds a step in the process, but is quicker than going between Illustrator > Photoshop, and the Keynote/PDF you result with is high quality with a smaller file size. Small file size is key if you’re uploading multiple version to Basecamp or sharing in email. 

 

All night, friday night.

Kicking the feet up at 1084 Monterey in Hermosa Beach.

Every once in a while, you need the pointless. the slightly drunk, goddamn no point type music. it’s been out of rotation way too long while the very serious world of parenting and leading a company has been in play. reactionary? probably about time. release? certainly. this is the kind of b- bullshit i grew up listening to, and it sounds really good for a change. at least a hell of a lot better than the consumable bullshit on TV.

TV on the Radio. it’s where my head is so often.

and when I’m not – I’m here: bradleykal

The career of a modern designer.

finding direction

Sitting in a kick-off meeting, little tedious, sometimes steals your energy. Simultaneously reading email, IMing, listening to the client, giving feedback. Occasionally thinking how lucky I am to be in this room, in this conversation, & what/who we’re designing the software we’re creating.

Don Draper now builds software for a living.

Clicking through the email subscriptions and discovering a conversation about why they’re doing software vs. advertising. nice. These are the small points of validation when you think your life/career works more like a series of winding rivers, and less like a decision.

http://www.fastcodesign.com/3025950/why-i-left-advertising-to-become-a-software-designer

There are some great gems in this article about WHY software needs design. & how people with creative backgrounds can influence in a positive (designed) way that people interact with software. Smaller software tailored to the user, not enterprise. Making it technically “work” is no longer the need, making it usable is now the hard part.

“…Charles Phillips, puts it: “using enterprise software sucks.” It’s ugly. Cumbersome. Difficult to use. And impossible to love. “When engineers started to build these incredibly complex systems in the early ’90s, their biggest concern was: how are we going to make it work?” …. Now that business technology can deliver those basic user needs, it’s time to ask: How can we make business software work beautifully?”

Great food for thought for those of us who get up in the morning sometimes not knowing what the day brings, but feel purpose & drive towards a longer goal. Making things work beautify is the same in User Experience as it was in Advertising. When it works, you know it.

Creating an “Architecture of Participation”

design team tabletime at sparc

This past Thursday I was fortunate to hear Bill Taylor of Fast Company speak at the Charleston Chamber of Commerce annual event. There were a lot of components to his talk that sounded like the culture we’ve created Sparc. The phrase that caught my attention was the “Architecture of Participation“. There have been many times that I’ve thought of gathering the right people in a room as being an “architect” of people. My friend Taylor seems to be an expert at that. Or when my developer buddy Josh “architects” a solution by knowing what technologies play well together & essentially get shit done. This type of “architect” means as a leader, you facilitate problem solving by leveraging your team for the solution. That’s why we have a team, right? I think we were already doing this well, but sometimes having a word for it helps bring these quiet practices to light; formalizes them.

What interests me in the Architecture of Participation is how it calls out a leadership style I’m very comfortable. Traditional leadership has relied on the leader to identify & solve a problem on his own, then project the solution onto the people below them. The concept of leadership through participation means that rather than working in a vacuum, I can leverage the smart people around me. In the end, they’re typically the ones implementing the solution – this helps them “own it” as well. The Architecture of Participation simply means I facilitate the conversation & then let people be good at what they are already good at. Coming from a creative background, we (my team) is already skilled at working as a team – nothing new here. Learning & creative process intentionally leverages diverse skillsets, so why not problem solving on a leadership level?

I moved forward w/ a plan this past week to create “advocates” within our design team. Motivated individuals who can help lead the team in one aspect of design. This scales me, and offers the opportunity for these smart people to own a focused element that we need as a team. The advocates focus on aspects such as design quality, user experience or front-end development. Things our team need, but I can’t always facilitate the conversation 100% of the time on.

It’s a great thing to work with talented people. By creating an Architecture of Participation, we enable more creative solution & allow the smart people we work with to scale the team as a whole.

 

 

 

 

Balancing what’s important

Here’s to the big changes that fundamentally make you shift your life and try to balance what’s important. With the arrival of the little man and some down time for work, it’s been hard to focus on any one thing (besides sleep), but taking the writing in my head and trying to get it somewhere has always been therapeutic. Cheesy dad stuff, but looking at this little guy really does put everything quickly into perspective. Call it “the shit that matters vs. the noise”, but it’s finally time in life to be a little introspective about the last 6 years journey to get here, and again, what really matters. I still plan to write when possible here, but having an outlet for all the cuteness is equally important.

More on the little man over on his site, the Adventures in Creative Parenting blog: Naish.Kaloupek.com

 

Playing with Trains

So, on a recent trip back to Blacksburg, I uncovered my collection of model trains. Boxes of them carefully saved in the attic. While I was a little slow to get the train set built to run around the Christmas tree, I’m still digging the results. Was a little challenged to fit it on a tight space, but the over/under with two trains running is pretty entertaining. Next steps? Maybe add some landscaping and zombies – not sure how much commitment i want to throw at this.

 

a beautiful morning, to not surf

One of those morning’s where even the disappointment of bad surf can’t bring it down: wake up in the dark, drive down to the beach with coffee to check the waves. Mushy, messy and caught by the wind. I don’t often walk down without without a board. And once down there, I’ve never not jumped in for a quick paddle. This morning was nice, a little introspective, and sipping coffee watching others struggle over the mess of confused seas in the breaking light was for once better than being out there, struggling and angry about the conditions. Nice to have a moment of not struggling and be able to observe. Not sure where to go with that thought, but I wish I’d brought my camera. Morning light rolling over the connector was beautiful.