A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. The inverse proposition also appears to be true: A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be made to work. You have to start over, beginning with a working simple system.

John Gall

The Value of Ideas vs. The Value of Execution


What's important to you in the development of a product?

Steve Jobs:

One of the things that really hurt Apple was after I left, John Scully got a very serious disease.

And that disease — I've seen other people get it too — it's the disease of thinking that really great idea is 90% of the work.

And that if you just tell all these other people, you know, "Here's this great idea," then of course they can go off and make it happen.

And the problem with that is, is that there is just a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product.

And as you evolve that great idea, it changes and grows.

It never comes out like it starts, because you learn a lot more as you get into the subtleties of it and you also find there is tremendous trade-offs that you have to make.

I mean, there are just certain things you can't make electrons do. There are certain things you can't make plastics do or glass do or factories do or robots do.

And as you get into all these things, designing a product is keeping 5000 things in your brain — these concepts — and fitting them all together and kind of continuing to push to fit them together in new and different ways to get what you want.

And ever day you discover something new that is a new problem or a new opportunity to fit these things together and a little differently.

And it's that process that is the magic.

The Making of Medium.com →


Sometimes even good ideas need to be killed.

We did this many, many times over the course of this project. Sometimes we were just killing an idea, other times we were throwing out something we’d built.

It takes a great deal of perspective and courage to kill something for the betterment of a product. Even before we came on, this product took on different forms multiple times. It can be frustrating at times, but in the end, if you don’t make difficult cuts the product becomes complex and lacks direction.

Using the product

If you’re spending the bulk of your time looking at sketches or discussing static pages you’re making way too many assumptions. A great product or service works well, it doesn’t just look good. Many UX issues are invisible. They need to be used to be discovered. For this project, mandating usage through posting articles and issuing bugs helped ensure we were using the product.

The whole thing is an amazing read. I love hearing all of the behind-the-scenes genius that goes on behind making a beautiful product. There's just something about watching craftsmen sweat the details that makes you appreciate things more.

Revolutionary Products →

Ryan Block:

The products that break the game open aren't playing the specs game or the iteration game -- that comes later, if they're lucky. It's about vision. It's right place, right time. It's execution. And it's super rare.

These product don't always look revolutionary on day one. In fact, they can even be pretty hard to spot at first blush. But they're always easy to identify in hindsight -- once they've fundamentally changed how we do something, once they've caused us to question how we ever went without them.

But the buzz inevitably wears off, and the long haul sets in. We remember the magic of our first WiFi router or microSD card -- but now that stuff has become totally pedestrian. The game-changers make way for mature new product categories, which in turn produce mature new products.

When I read this, the first thing that came to mind was Siri. From my experience, it has a luke-warm reputation right now among my friends...but I think down the road we'll see it become a much bigger part of our lives.

Embrace Constraints →


Let limitations guide you to creative solutions

There's never enough to go around. Not enough time. Not enough money. Not enough people.

That's a good thing.

Instead of freaking out about these constraints, embrace them. Let them guide you. Constraints drive innovation and force focus. Instead of trying to remove them, use them to your advantage.

This is one of my all-time favorite posts. I read this several years ago and it's become a part of me ever since then.

For example:

  • My iPod mini wasn't big enough to fit my entire music library. So I created Smart Playlists that would slowly rotate fresh music onto my iPod mini based on my listening habits.

  • Twitter is only gives me 140 characters to express myself. So I take it as a challenge upon myself, "How creative or how much value can I provide in just 140 characters?"

  • My monitor at the office isn't big enough. So I started using OSX's Expose, Spaces, Mission Control and mastered keyboard shortcuts for quickly switching apps/tabs/windows.

Time and time again, I find myself rationalizing, "I need more, More, MORE." But when I finally take a step back and start thinking outside the box, I always find creative ways to solve the same problem.

For more different ways of thinking, check out Getting Real by 37signals.

Read: Getting Real