Stepping Back to Leap Forward

By August 25, 2007Business, Design

SDC - 0805: Scenic Capture (by ciordia9)

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort.”
— John Ruskin

Developing products is downright hard. If it was easy we would all been citizens of Eureka and happily building the next [big thing](http://www.scifi.com/eureka/madeineureka/). Our product is no different. We are tasked to bring to life a personal knowledge management system that can help you kick ass. Not just one of you, not just the geek in the corner (oh, that’s me..damn), or the developers yanking on the api, or the executive assistant looking for a better way to corral the boss, but all of you, mothers included.

Something is not right here.

Recently we came up for air and realized there was a problem. We were eating our own dog food, like [Jorgen](http://niveon.com/ “Jorgen Hahn, of Niveon”) (our developer) says, “Glass shards and all.” As we crunched and crunched with this mixed bag of strange kibble something wasn’t jiving. We asked our friends over at [Blue Flavor](http://blueflavor.com/) to give us a design pass to make sure we didn’t have [beer goggles](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer_goggles) on.

After we woke up from being hit by their multi-page bat of observations we knew the issues we were feeling had substance, form, and names.

Know where you are.

Having perspective is very, very, important. We had been running so far, so fast, for so long, that we began to write off issues for “they’ll be fixed later”, “we can solve for this after…” statements. It only takes a few of those to rack up before your logic starts to get dim.

[Blue Flavor](http://blueflavor.com) had labeled a lot of our interactions as [mystery meat](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mystery_meat_navigation). Truthfully, we had a lot going on. To allow for greater flexibility with greater control created a very object oriented model. Explaining the operation of such a model was going to take training. Things popping up, a lot of on:hover concepts, so much information that we didn’t want to overwhelm the user but at the same time were not able to avoid it.

Validation of these errors came to us from two other sources; when my wife Robin was introduced to our internal alpha she asked me a question for nearly every process. While Jeff’s Mom just stared at him and the screen, blankly.

That’s where having good people around who can snap you awake helps. In some older corporate environments being shaken awake can be a bad thing. For Jeff and I, shaking us can be very good. We really desire to learn and make a contribution, not another pain.

Know where you are going.

Being [agile developers](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agile_development) and passionate about what we are creating we spun everything on it’s head.

Jeff and I want something that rocks, not just another engineers tool. We took the bumps on our head and camped out for the weekend we went through the system A-Z; addressing and understanding all of our documented issues before pushing back and getting in touch with the big picture.

We were looking for a pattern in the concepts. We found it by remembering the range of people we were creating this for and picking a champion to begin with.

Momma’s Boys

“Well, what would your mom do?”, I’d ask Jeff.

I found it funny at first, but the more I said it, the more it fit. We had discovered a frame which we could lock on to. If our mom’s can’t do it how can we expect anyone else to? It gave us a reference and starting point for a new conversation.

The discussions have been amazing.

We can rebuild it, we have the technology.

With renewed vigor we’ve been rebuilding the interactions of [Liquid Minded](http://liquidminded.com). Every one involved is excited at the new direction. We’re working with a lot more open and intuitive concepts that will allow for greater understanding of where you stand in your life and how you can affect change. The advanced functionality isn’t being stripped to afford this. We’ve just figured out how hard we have to work to make sure that what is there is accessible by everyone.

While we can’t wait to get this out to you all we are glad we’ve taken the time and energy to give this the love it needs. Save for your continued patience and following us. Stay tuned for more updates and upcoming sneak peaks.