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My Notes from Fabio Sasso “Design is not Final, Failure is not Fatal”

I’m at the Reasons.to conference in Brighton this week and just attended a nice talk from Fabio Sasso, senior designer at Google titled Design is not Final, Failure is not Fatal.

The talk was a personal tale of how Fabio overcame a personal fear of feeling unworthy to his fellow designers, how a robbery prompted him to start his own blog as a file backup system, and how everyone should put themselves ‘out there’ more.

Fabio also talked about:

  • Starting as a way to backup his design work after a break in, he started his blog Abduzeedo which led to him creating tutorials for people that were starting their careers
  • When Fabio got a post on the front page of Digg his blog boomed – from ~100 views a month up to over 10,000 in a matter of hours. It led to the blog being featured in Wired and other publications
  • Share what you know – there is no reason to keep things to yourself
  • Fabio used to think that ‘better people’ would do the sharing and therefore he shouldn’t, and that if he did people would say ‘he sucked’. However, someone somewhere will find your content useful
  • Sharing gives you motivation and pushes you improve
  • People asked how can he make money when he is sharing his work? However, in the long-term he got great opportunities through his blog which came from openly sharing
  • “We are the ones that put barriers in our lives”
  • Balancing blog with work – do it at night and weekends. It’s all about enjoying learning new things. A blog can be a place to try stuff that can’t do at work, i.e. at work Fabio can’t mess about with the Google home page but can try something radical on his own blog
  • Regarding the design process at Google: with new products such as Wallet there is a lot of time on user research because it is a a new product. They need to explore how to educate people to pay using a new device. Lots of time is spent understanding how the audience would behave. Something like Google Search is different – it is a big team divided into small groups based around features
  • Google is hard to design for because the audience is so broad – from grandma to super technical users – it’s hard to balance
  • At Google, visual designers vary – some are not interested in pushing pixels, but prefer looking at the strategic impact of visual design on a product
  • RE: designers at Google coding… some do, some don’t. Some are purist visual designers, but there are some that code. Designers ‘have to code’ because you are designing from a specific medium, so you need to understand that medium
  • RE: worrying about likes and comments – sometimes people commenting aren’t even your audience or don’t understand why you made the design decisions. You see some design communities, like Dribbble, where many designers just redo the same style designs over and over and all comment saying they are all so good. This limits variation

Overall the talk was motivational, reiterating the fact that one should put oneself out there more, sharing more, and creating more. The benefits in the long run outweigh the fears and doubts in the short term.

My Comments On… “Google Glass could enhance the High Street experience but what else can it offer brands?”

I recently supplied a few quotes to The Drum on how Google Glass can be used by brands as a marketing tool. The full article can be read on The Drum with full commentary from the editorial team, my quotes are below.

Joel Blackmore, senior innovation manager, Somo, described Glass as “an ultra-personal device” and claimed that it meant delivering “appropriate content is more important than ever before.”He added; “The simplest thing a brand can do to use Glass as a marketing tool is to find a way to deliver brilliant and relevant content” to users.

 

“The New York Times has already produced a good example of this with its Glass app. I’d encourage brands to start experimenting with the Glass technology to understand the best ways to deliver their content to users in an appropriate fashion.

 

“Using Glass and having content pop up in your field of vision takes some getting used to, so having unwanted advertising content would be even more disconcerting right now. Putting the right branded content onto the Glass screen is more important than advertising for brands at the moment.”

There you go, shocker! Content is more important than advertising for a brand to remain relevant to a consumer. We’ve known this for a long time, Glass just confirms this once again.

Has the Role of the Google Glass Designer Reverted Towards an Art Director and Copywriter?

Will the lack of standard options throw the digital designer?

Will the lack of standard options throw the digital designer?

I recently ran a Google Glass hack day where ~40 developers and designers were tasked with pioneering new creative uses for Google Glass. One of my favourite parts of the day was when I briefly caught up with the head of design and I asked how his team was doing. He said to me that his input as a designer using the mirror API was limited and often his design choices were reduced to choosing an image, a few words, maybe an icon or two, and the use of colour to get his key message across. This made me question: is the role of the Glass designer more similar to a traditional art director and copywriter than it is to a digital designer?

Google Glass currently only let’s you design content through the Mirror API where only cards of images, copy, icons, and colours are permitted. As Glass places content directly into your field of vision, choosing the right content is essential to stay relevant and therefore installed. This means the choice of image, copy, and iconography is more important than ever before and a designers role is now more to choose the perfect image, write (or work with someone to write) the perfect short form copy, and use iconography and colour in significant, meaningful ways on the tiny real estate.

Designing for the Glass Mirror API calls for considered, concise design choices. Whilst designing for a smartphone app could be compared to writing a blog post, with room for flourish and explanation, designing for Glass is like composing the perfect tweet, say only what is relevant with minimal media attached to get your point across in a couple of seconds.

Google Glass: The Next Era of Personal Computing

Recently I wrote up some initial impressions on using Google Glass, but Glass represents something so new that my impressions form and change every day. It has been very difficult for me to neatly arrange my thoughts for this post as I feel Glass represents so much and is, arguably, a culmination of Google’s finest work yet.

It has been widely discussed that Glass isn’t yet a final product and will evolve into something more sophisticated and powerful. The more I discuss this idea with the Somo innovation team and friends around the industry the more I realise how exciting and powerful Glass will be, so I wanted to take a stab at why I think Glass has such massive potential, and look at the impact it will have on our lives.

Google are changing the way we interact with computers

Glass represents some of Google’s finest work in one product; it follows a few recent significant strategic moves by the tech giant.

In 2012 Google changed the way it indexed information; the Knowledge Graph was created to understand the relationship and connection between objects, moving away from just searching for strings of characters. This helped Google to “understand the world in the way [we] do”. Cool.

2013, Google announces Conversational Search, utilising the Knowledge Graph to the fullest. Forget the fact that Google’s speech detection is as good, if not better than Siri, using the Knowledge Graph now allows Google to ‘hear’ questions you are asking it and respond in a human way. Ask Chrome ‘how old is Obama?’ and it knows you are very likely asking ‘how old is Barrack Obama?’. Then ask ‘how old is his wife?’ and it knows that you are really asking ‘how old is Michelle Obama?’. Subtle difference, massive implications.

Again, 2013 and Google launches Google Now, their predictive assistant that learns from your behaviour across the web and serves you content that you want, when you want it. On Android this is amazing. Stick with it…

Later in 2013 and Glass is soft-launched. Glass has a, largely, hands-free UI that enables the user to talk to it, and it talks back – a big step towards Natural User Interfaces (NUIs). Super.

Right. Now Glass does not perfectly implement all of the above at the moment but Google have now released a device and technology that learns from you, serves you relevant content at the right time in a couple of unobtrusive ways, it will talk to you, you can talk back, it will understand you. Game. Done. Changed.

Image

Wearable tech needs to be fashionable

Say what you want about Glass v1; some think it’s cool already, others do not. For wearable tech to be mainstream it needs to be cooler. It needs to be in the arm of some Tom Ford specs, not look like a Bluetooth headset on crack. No doubt Glass will be refined when released to consumers, but I believe that we will see ‘now with Glass technology!’ claims on Tom Ford, Burberry, Oakley etc. glasses. It will become integrated into fashionable goods. A brilliant article on why wearable tech needs fashion to thrive should be read for a detailed explanation. Continue reading

What iOS 7 Means For iPhone Owners, Developers, and Brands?

A couple of days ago I wrote a blog post for the Somo blog on iOS 7 and what it actually means to users, devs, and brands with apps. The full article is copied below. 

One of my favourite things about working at Somo is the fact that I am constantly surrounded by 140+ mobile specialists, all passionate about any new mobile release. We talk, compare, and argue about every tiny mobile related announcement. Yesterday, was of course Apple’s WWDC developers conference where we knew that Apple would announce some pretty major changes to their mobile operating system. As we all know now, the major announcement was iOS 7 – a brand new, designed-from-the-ground-up operating system that brings hundreds of changes to the look and feel of the iPhone.

 

While the conference was taking place we were all engaged in a pretty lively all-Somo email conversation. Below are some of the key points taken from that thread, highlighting some of the big changes iOS 7 will bring to the Apple developer community, all iPhone users, and any client or brand with an iPhone app.

Continue reading

My Comments On… “Seeing Things Differently: Are Brands Missing the Boat With Augmented Reality”

This has been up on The Drum’s site for over a month but I didn’t see it until now!

The article discusses Augmented Reality for advertising purposes, and asks what is needed for AR to become mainstream. Read the full article on The Drum for more comments from Maarten Lens-FitzGerald, co-founder of Layar, and Lauren Offers, head of Aurasma marketing.

 

AR will be further propelled into the mainstream with the introduction of AR-enabled mobile devices (without the need to install an app). Progress is being made in this area, with Metaio and ST-Ericsson introducing the first augmented– reality chipset in February this year, paving the way to always-on AR. Chip designer ARM is also working with developers to build augmented reality that can track real-world objects such as buildings. Joel Blackmore, senior innovation manager at Somo, believes universal access is crucial to build mass-market scale.

 

“The problem with current AR is that it needs to be fired up in a native app, requiring a download or an open app in order to interact. This places unnecessary barriers for customers to engage in an AR experience, in what is often an impulse situation,” he explains.

 

“For AR to become mainstream and open up all the marketing opportunities it promises, the experience either needs to be fired up within mobile web (thereby negating an app download) or even better, be built into the smartphone and tablet operating system as a standard AR viewer. Once steps are removed from the process through mobile web access, or removed altogether through universal access to an AR engine, we can use mobile to create the link between the physical and digital worlds and augment on a mass-market scale.”

 

 

Tips for AR success: How can advertisers harness what is still a relatively underused medium?

 

“Your experience is only as good as your content. If you are delivering any content through your experience, make it worthwhile. If the user only gets the same trailer they have already seen on YouTube, is this a good experience? Provide exclusives if you can.”
Joel Blackmore, senior innovation manager, Somo