Authored By Brian

I’ve wasted my Sunday today doing more or less nothing. Some hacking away on the API for Pukka and some research for trips to see WRC Espana at the end of October and the southern coast of Spain in the next week or two but it took more time than it should have. Needing a break I stood up and opened the window that faces to the inside of the building and heard the familiar sound of Adam Sandler crying “Holiday” in Wedding Singer after being left at the altar. I guess regardless of where you go some things are just funny to everyone.

I’ve been spending most of my days working on Pukka and progress is good. The data model is holding up under my feature expansion and the extensions to the underlying API are proving to be relatively minor. My most hated aspect of development, the data migration script, is even coming along fairly well. Success makes me nervous.

An advantage to doing my own thing is that I can finally slot in all of the steps that are too often left out of professional gigs due to lack of time or budget (or participant desire…). With a year of research and actual use behind me, I had the chance to start fresh. Initially rough sketches on paper that gradually increase in fidelity until they’re carefully drawn on lined paper. I’ve been prototyping on paper with various versions of the interface that I can swap in and out of to “use” the application. Despite my high school drafting classes, I’m not the fastest drawer but I can knock out a dozen interface possibilities in the same time it would take me to create a single Photoshop or HTML file.

Yesterday I decided that I had jumped the gun on redesigning the attendee registration editor without first redesigning the global header. I got sidetracked with some initial solutions that popped into my head but I was beginning to realize I didn’t know what the top of the page would look like and whether or not I needed additional real estate for secondary or tertiary navigation inside the page. Back to square one, create a list of criteria that the header must satisfy and then pull out the paper and pencil for some sketching.

I narrowed down from a variety of options to a couple of leading contenders and one of the two “feels” better to me but it doesn’t satisfy my requirements quite as well as the other. The problem is the other feels rather “busy” and it’s only in one color on grid paper. I had to step back and remind myself that this phase was about information hierarchy and access and not about visual design. Although it’s my responsibility to ensure the information architecture does not overwhelm the user, I frequently forget that visual designers have a wealth of tools at their disposal for controlling contrast and scanability. After six-plus years of working side-by-side with Roberto, I’ve learned more than I ever knew about graphic design and type. I think my general appreciation for design is what has made me a successful “technical” type who straddles the line in the middle directing traffic.

It’s looking as though there won’t be room for me back at IconMedialab when I return to the States so I’ve started casually browsing some craigslist opportunities to see what’s out there. There seem to be a lot of producer and product manager roles out there that sound appealing. I think given my consulting background and now my experience managing a complex web application and growing it in a user-centric manner would give me a good foundation to repeat my success on a larger scale.

Whatever the job is, it needs to have enough vacation to support my racing habi – er, addition. I couldn’t help myself… it’s the 2004 Series winning car in the most hotly contested series (as many as 60 equally equipped cars in a race). Justin Hall’s Spec Miata is now mine! (picture taken in Dec 2004)

It’s about 4:30, I have to run. I finally found a supermarket close to where I’m staying. I’ve eaten only grain-based products for the past 3 days while looking for a store that doesn’t require a car to get to. It’s probably one reason why I can’t kick this cold I’ve got – I’m not getting any vitamins and I’m eating like crap. Time to pick up some meat and vegetables! A better chair to sit in would radically help things too… my ass and back are killing me.

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