The Gap (or Why We Started a Design Course)

From our Product Design instructor, Marco:

Education is a hot topic. Does the value of a diploma out weight the ever-rising cost of tuition? I think the answer is overwhelmingly yes for some careers. But not all. In the world of design, what you’ve done carries more weight than where you went to school. That has been a known truth for quite some years. But with the advent of smart phones and tablets, the demand for qualified digital product designers has seen an unprecedented uptick. So how are designers learning these lucrative skills?

Universities excel at offering strong foundations of design theory, peer collaboration, and a period of focus and dedication, but at a mortgage level price tag.The problem is not only the cost; universities struggle to keep up with how quickly the design industry evolves. Never before has design been so tightly melded with technology. Terms like user experience, mobile design and interface design are becoming commonplace on design job boards but largely absent in curriculums. Read More

Making Awesome Stuff is Really, Really Hard

We use Asana to manage projects and track to-do’s for our team. Their web app is wonderful, but their non-native iPhone app has a lot of users begging for offline functionality.

I was one of them, and as I Googled around for news and information, I ran across a really smart post on Quora about the decision process Asana faces in creating a mobile app that works offline, while maintaining a user experience congruent with their web app.

It’s a great reminder of how hard building awesome stuff actually is:

Straying from simplicity is a challenge all non-trivial apps have to solve at some point in order to deliver amazing value to their users. Apple is currently facing many of the same type of issues with iCloud. How do you tame power and simplicity in one neat swoop?

This is where magic comes in. Magic is when a piece of software does something you did not think was possible in a way that is so elegant and seamless that you can’t feel there’s any other way things could (nor should) work. Writing on the same document at the same time in Google Docs. Finding friends on Facebook (make no mistake, a tremendous bit of engineering goes into this). Buying and installing an app on your phone.

Complexity made simple. In a way, this is the challenge Asana has set itself from the start. Turning human organizations into efficient creation and delivery organisms is a tremendous task.

Related: a great quote we posted from Rian van der Merwe:

It’s easy to write a few paragraphs about how much something sucks. You know what’s difficult? Recognizing and respecting complexity. Giving people the benefit of the doubt and trying to understand why they made the decisions they made — whether it’s related to business, design, development, or anything else.