4 posts tagged focus


We’re training young designers to get noticed, rather than to excel at their craft

So very true. I’d counter this, though, with the unfortunate observation that, as an industry, we reward this behavior.

Dribbble, while one of my favorite sites on the Internet, is most-often a popularity contest that is getting a lot of designers who make very pretty (but very untested) things a lot of attention. No problem, except for the confusing message it sends to these young designers.

Design blogs like The Dieline (and perhaps, even this very blog) are beautiful, but a lot of the work tends to be student work, that has never met mettle or gone through the ringer of a client that’s not entirely sold on the design.

…you’re young and inexperienced; now do things to get attention.

I’m not trying to pass judgement on these types of online establishments, I just think that we’re communicating a double-message to young designers: you’re young and inexperienced; now do things to get attention. Because of this, we’re cultivating a crop of designers who play this game really, really well, but may be completely lost or out-of-sorts when it comes to actual client work.

New Shiny!

Back when I was riding and (poorly) racing bikes, my riding buddies and I always had one or two acquaintances that were the gear-heads: willing to buy any latest hot-new-shiny that the industry had thrown at us. We knew what they didn’t. Shaving a couple grams of weight off your bike does no good if you didn’t get out and ride it every day. We all loved bike tech, but usually these guys at the extremes were outliers. Unfortunately, in the tech industry, I think the number of folks distracted by the latest shiny tech is greater than the ones focused on just getting work done.

(via @chadfowler)

Allowing for Focus

A follow up to my thoughts on the Netflix split from last week: Their former CEO and co-founder, Marc Randolph wrote an excellent post weighing in. The quote above comes from it, and you’ll want to read it in its entirety.

His take? Focus.

Randolph claims no insider-knowledge, so it’s just a theory, but I’d file it under educated guess considering his past ties to Netflix. His take? Focus. He thinks Reed Hastings wasn’t simply trying to spin things when he said that Netflix-proper wanted the freedom to focus solely on the streaming service and that it was a bold and gutsy move to do it when they did.

He makes a compelling argument and backs it using the example of Netflix’s original transition away from DVD retail (something I didn’t know about). I still wonder if there are some other ancillary reasons for the spin-off and I still expect Qwikster to be up for sale sooner than later, but the spin-off will certainly allow for the type of focus Randolph talks about.

By freeing our designers from having to create a sign-up flow that accommodated two types of business, we were able to cut out steps, clarify instructions and simplify the process. Conversion went up.

I’d not thought about it that way, but the entire exercise could be an incredible lesson in product design. Having two split sign-up paths has to increase sign-up attrition rate. Now think about companies that are trying to simultaneously pursue several models. The ability to sell one thing and sell it well is really attractive.

Are you making something?

I’m not quite as intentional or disciplined about it as Godin suggests, but this is essentially the niche the iPad has filled in my life. For the most part, things like RSS, Tumblr, most online reading (through Instapaper), and even a good chunk of Twitter time are relegated to the iPad. I rarely even think of these things while I’m working on my laptop anymore.

Particularly, because my primary work machine is a laptop, there’s nothing more rewarding to me than heading down to my favorite coffee shop, with only my iPad and relaxing without feeling the need to work.