Hacker School is a free, full-time immersive school for people who want to become better programmers. “Batches” are 3 months long, and they typically have around 35 people. In their words, it’s “like a writer’s retreat for programmers.”
They’ve written a User Manual for their admitted students, but I agree with The Crated in that their manual can (and really should) be read and used by everyone.
Fast Company published an article yesterday about new wearable fitness tech company Athos.
Basically, they’ve created workout clothes that can sense exactly how hard you’re working when you work out. The clothing takes the form of either compression shorts or long-sleeve shirt (they have to be tight and touch the skin) that are embedded with electromyography (EMG) sensors. You can then view the data in real-time on your smartphone.
The shirt and shorts, along with “The Core” (essentially the electric brain of the system) will cost you about $200. (I believe this is stated incorrectly in the Fast Company article above.)
Article: Alan Cooper and the Goal Directed Design Process
This article was published in 2001 by Hugh Dubberly (Cybernetics, Stanford HCI) and is a summary of Alan Cooper’s influential design philosophies as well as a short profile and history of Cooper himself.
Cooper advocates five significant changes to the conventional methods of software development in his goal-directed design process:
1. Design first; program second.
2. Separate responsibility for design from responsibility for programming.
3. Hold designers responsible for product quality and user satisfaction.
4. Define one specific user for your product; then invent a persona—give that user a name and an environment and derive his or her goals.
5. Work in teams of two: designer and design communicator.
We’ve come far since Cooper originally published his book 15 years ago, but old habits die hard. In the last year, I’ve worked with a number of companies and startups that continue to make mistakes like programming first and designing second.
Article: “Designer Duds — Losing our Seat at the Table”
A meditation on what it means to do “design” in light of a number of high-profile, highly “designed” apps that have been turned out to be completely useless and mostly just pretty. The apps in question are Dropbox’s Carousel photo app, Facebook’s Paper app, and Biz Stone’s Jelly app.
In reference to these apps, the author asks:
Again one wonders: what were they designing for? What outcomes did they hope to catalyze through the software and service? Whose life will be improved, or even affected? How seriously are they even taking this?
This article is another important reminder that “design” ought to be user-oriented, empathetic, and human. Not simply a “beautiful” solution to a nonexistent problem.
In order to avoid losing its place atop organizations, design must deliver results. Designers must also accept that if they don’t, they’re not actually designing well; in technology, at least, the subjective artistry of design is mirrored by the objective finality of use data. A “great” design which produces bad outcomes —low engagement, little utility, few downloads, indifference on the part of the target market— should be regarded as a failure.
Article: “Why Apple’s Swift Language Will Instantly Remake Computer Programming:
Swift is built specifically for programming iOS devices. Compared to the current language used to program iOS devices, Objective-C, it’s easier and faster for a number of reasons:
More regular syntax. Swift features a more regular syntax than Objective-C.
Already linked with developer tools. Swift is faster, because it’s already linked with a number of other developer tools, like an IDE and a debugger.
Way faster, easier to learn, and easier to find errors. Swift comes with Playground, an interface that allows you to write your code on one side of the screen and instantly see the results on the other side.
Nobody using your app? Its okay, you arent alone. Heres what may have gone wrong, according to Google.
Takeaway point: Do real user research. Watch people’s behavior instead of just listening to what they say.
Google’s “Material Design”
Google recently (relatively..) released their Material Design Guidelines for all Android developers to follow when developing in apps.
In truth, I found the document to be full and rich of overall good design principles. They’ve taken high-level concepts about what good design is and provided very detailed tips and guidelines on how to actually implement them.
They get into the nitty gritty of how to use height, width, depth (down to the level of blur you should use to convey a particular position in z-space!), color, typography, etc. to communicate a clear content hierarchy.