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Posts from the ‘Technology’ Category

Stop Caring about the Analytics

May 16th, 2015

I have two blogs. One is this, and the other one is a travel blog — which I think is doing quite okay.

I installed analytics in both, with Jetpack for WordPress. Well, honestly, I have removed it temporarily for this blog because of some server issue before. But I have a hard time deciding to put it back.

Once in the past I was obsessed with stats. That was something that propelled me to produce new content and improve the quality of the content. When I used to have comments in my blog, it was even worse. I gauged post quality by the number of comments.

In the heyday of web design, you had page hit counters and a remotely-hosted stat site that detected demographic information of your site’s visitors.

It does apply to my tweets, too. I have my personal Twitter account and the travel blog’s Twitter account. I would obsessively check the follower count, the favorite list — whether someone, somewhere have favorited my stuff and how many times. Then, once in the lame past of my tweeting history, I also signed up for a service that detected when a user on Twitter has unfollowed me and it will notify me. I was that paranoid.

Then, came the silly Klout score.

I was dead obsessed about these things.

I decided then not to care about things like those anymore. There are several reasons.

First, obsessing about analytics takes away my focus on creating quality content. Or at least, genuine content. A content that is true to yourself, and one which you do with the ways you believe in. The mission is to have the constant motivation and trajectory to increase the quality of your content without worrying too much about what people say.

Second, analytics is mediocrity. If the content or product is genuinely good, people will come to you no matter what the analytics say.

Third, analytics is “business tell-tale”. It’s everything to do with selling & convincing. See point 2. Good content or product don’t need convincing. You can have fewer audience but greater potential.

You can have analytics tool installed or whatever, but don’t spend your time on that every night. Spend your time creating good content and product instead.

Human Engineers

May 7th, 2015

I would like to revise the job titles of Software Engineers, Computer Engineers, Web Engineers, or Mobile Engineers into just one: Human Engineers. After all, that’s what they do — they engineer for humans.

The same might also go for Designers. They are no longer UX Designers. UI Designers. Visual Designers. They’re none of them but one: Human Designers.

Engineers for Human. Designers for Human. Or Humanity, whatever.

When I speak to engineers about my design, whether it’s about the specification, the flow, the concept or anything, sometimes they’ll get back to me with a wall: Sorry, I cannot do this if you don’t document it in details. Sorry, that’s beyond our job description. Sorry, that’s something I’ve never tried before. Sorry — what if things mismatch?

While designers do their best to collaborate and explain their design to the engineers, and sometimes also help with coding and implementation, we also expect these engineers to have a bit of humane side — please improvise thoughtfully. I am not saying they should just improvise everything and whenever. They should do it with empathy, care, and with a full sense of ownership to the product. They should learn about ergonomics, user experience and design.

Think beyond the specs. Think for the users.

If the design specifies that the margins are X and you find out that they don’t stack together too well with each others, then do what’s best: Try to adjust and recommend the correct margins.

If the design misses some specifications and you think you can’t continue work — think again. You’re grown adults trying to make sense of your work, right? Own this thing, this work that you do. Perfect it. Make it better. Have the best guess. Then you can talk with us designers.

While designers need to think about technical limitations, we need you, engineers, to think wide and sound about ergonomic possibilities… or simply about what makes sense.

After all, engineers are humans, not machines, right?

How I Choose Technology Products

March 3rd, 2011

Of course, people would despise me: it’s a matter of personal preference, whether you pick something over the other. It is also a matter of less relevance to productivity. Some would say that with any tools you use, you can still be productive. The only difference is from the people. I wholeheartedly agree. This piece isn’t meant to be evangelic. It is just there as a honest observation of a designer who is always on the look for the best tools he can use to create.

There are various factors that somebody consider when picking up technology products. They could be the nature of their job, their interests, logical/mathematical considerations (you know some would obsess about specs more than anyone else), to the most intangible reason imaginable: a profound obsession over a brand. You see, the last one is something that is the hardest to change.
I never obsess about a brand. If I frequent a brand, then it is because (a) the way their products do things follow the way I do things very closely and (b) the products minimise the time I need to think about the way it works. When I have dedicated an amount of money to be invested in a technology product, I’d also like to (c) give my first shot the best shot. I wouldn’t want to sacrifice a small amount of money for more money when that small amount of money didn’t work (read: cheap products fail).

Let’s explore by each point.

The way their products do things follow the way I do things very closely

With personal devices, I am my own self first, even before my professional use. I use web browser first more than anything else. Then, I use social, navigation and taks management apps obsessively. Everything else comes after that. Yes, that includes entertainment. I don’t listen too much music or watch movies on my devices (not anymore, I used to do that, though).

The products I use must allow me to do these successively without hindrance. I don’t like being obstructed with unnecessary apps, popups, messages, everything else. I love simple and direct interfaces. I love the widest view there could be. I like things to start fast, and empty. Just type, and go. Just think, and find. I don’t like multiple logins. I love drag and drops. I love great multitasking management interface. I love interfaces that resemble closely to real life objects. I hate hardware that even feels like billboards: full of promotional, technical jargons we don’t understand.

Then, I am a graphic designer. I use Adobe software package intensively at work. I want my folders to be uncluttered, labeled and easy to find in an instant. I want the best calibration. I want to be as close to industry-standard procedures.

The products minimise the time I need to think about the way it works

I don’t know how many times in the past that I spent so much time figuring out how one thing got into an error message, or just why it didn’t work. Even for simple tasks like connecting to a wi-fi network. And more importantly, how they would work constantly good in the long run.

I don’t care how good the hardware specs are if the software is under par, or it will burn in just six months. That doesn’t event count the risk that the operating system would be burnt out because of some threatening executables like spyware, malware or even virus! I love continued, long-run stability, even if it’s slower than that new VGA cards you bought at cheap tech shops in some shanty wholesaler.

I also don’t care how I am so dumb about doing that syntax or command line thing, even though that really is a faster way to do it, if they don’t have simple, ergonomic graphical user interface to do that job.

Give my first shot the best shot

I’ve bought a phone naively thinking that I could live up with that. Turned out I couldn’t. It cost me more to buy another phone that actually worked to my liking. I don’t want this to happen again. I’d rather save and pay premium for premium products when they really suit my productive activities, or get the best-designed cheapest thing there on the market. I don’t want to own three or four devices just to be able to use a browser (read: a BlackBerry, an iPod Touch, a mi-fi device).

Conclusion?

I love ergonomic design. I would like to just use my technology products without having to scrutinise what’s inside, do my jobs without obstructions, and finish the day’s tasks with a big, happy smile. And do that all over again, for three years.

It just happens that the brand I frequent is Apple.