How childish one is when one is frightened! There is no worse behavior than that which comes from distrust and ignorance.

Person I thank is Robert Walser for that quote from his excellent book Jakob Von Gunten

Aug 19, 2013


Your product is ready to “change the world” but the only thing missing right now is a steady stream of users. I know it sometimes just takes one war story to get started on your own, so here goes mine. Feel free to email me if you have any questions –


Whether asking for 3 inputs (name, email, pw) or a monthly subscription commitment, getting prospectives to become currents has its challenges. Pushing for a solid conversion rate while upholding your design standards intensifies the challenge, even further, as it should.

I find the benefits of A/B testing are often preached but the process is rarely shared. I keep going back to this 37signal case study because of lack of touch points.

At SumAll, I use a couple of different tools throughout the loop. I test out initial approaches via UserTesting in order to either confirm or adjust my direction. I then code and push the design live out to the wild with Optimizely running and collecting data against the goals that I set ...

Post in Data Driven Design series to follow

Jul 25, 2013

Super Normal

Designers generally do not think to design the “ordinary.” If anything, they live in fear of people saying their designs are “nothing special.” Of course, undeniably, people do have an unconscious everyday sense of “nomal,” but rather than try to blend in, the tendency for designers is to try to create “statement” or “stimulation.” So “normal” has come mean “unstimulating” or “boring” design.

I thank Naoto Fukasawa

Apr 20, 2013

Design with Data, Not Disclaimers

I think… Kind of… Something like…

I found myself using those types of disclaimers while sharing or explaining my design ideas. Those excuses blurred the expectations of the person I conversed with and allowed me to peddle uncertainty.

Recently though, I'm noticing how I lean less on the disclaimer crutch and instead consult the data related to my designs. Not only does this data-based design process help me solve problems as well as optimize these solutions; the data also helps me articulate my design decisions sans-disclaimers.

I'm designing and implementing several funnels across to track via Mixpanel. From the obvious and most valuable sign-up funnel to some scroll depth experiments site-wide to see the extent of user scroll engagement ... I'll follow up with the results.

Apr 12, 2013

The Little Nudger, The Jawbone Up

The smart wristband market has been tugging my curiosity for a while now. I was a little hesitant to jump in since there was a new take on the Nike Fuelband and Jawbone Up, with the FitBit Flex. After exploring the features though I decided it's not worth the wait and I picked up the Jawbone Up. All despite the Fuelband's benefit of having an open API as opposed to the Jawbone's unofficial API.

Active iPhone Apps

I've been wearing it for 3 days now and I could prematurely say that it definitely has a lot of potential well beyond its fitness intentions. So far I've been setting time constraints on design tasks with the idle alert. The idle alert makes the Up wristband vibrate after however many minutes you set of inactivity.

Idle Alert in Focus

But this inactivity is measured in terms of steps taken – so it works perfectly with mental tasks. I've set it to 45 minute increments so after the alert goes off I know I should be wrapping up that given task. The experience is in it's infancy but I could see various uses.

I thank Yves Behar

Mar 2, 2013

Community Design

I'm an introvert – happy at that. I prize small gatherings over larger functions. I take pleasure in hosting these smaller gatherings and the good times that result from them. Recently, I decided to host a gathering of folks that I'm less familiar with – the New York City based users of my company – SumAll. There's so much to learn from other's experiences so why not gather entrepreneurs with various degrees of mettle to exchange their valuable and painful stories.

On Deck

I wanted to test the waters on the idea so a one-time event would make for a nice prototype. I quickly drafted an eventbrite, event agenda, and an identity (~3hrs). Discovered the potential in hacking eventbrite.

ShopTalk Evenbrite

Then I emailed interesting users of the product like Tom Gerhardt of Studio Neat and several others. 32 people confirmed attendance and around 24 showed up. I then drafted up a guide to our conversation on Google Drive.

The Welcome

ShopTalk attendees welcomed at the door

What followed was a fantastic conversation between folks with successful Kickstarter projects to others with extremely profitable established businesses. All the attendees clearly shared their excitement for the next ShopTalk session.

The Exchange

ShopTalk discussion

All in all, the experience was enlightening. Designing the conversation guide was a bit challenging considering it's realtime interactions that you're trying to shape. I'm looking forward to the next session and the batch of lessons I'll learn from it.

I thank Tommy Dodge, Mark Uzunian, Kimi Mongello, and Korey Lee

Mar 1, 2013

Big Data on a Measuring Tape with Arduino

SumAll Data Tape

At SumAll we want to help people make better decisions by letting them see all their data together, stay on track with daily emailed summaries and set goals to the metric of their choice. The data's conveniently accessible from all screens but for our one-day hackathon we wanted to see how we could pull data out of the screen with the help of Arduino. We never really tinkered with Arduino and figured it would be a great time to get our physical computing on.

Morning Coffee

In the morning we spent some time getting familiar with the TwitterClient Arduino sketch example that comes with the Arduino IDE.

Then we hijacked it so we could pull in a SumAll specific metric, our daily new-user count. Some compile errors later, we had our user count showing up on an LCD screen in real-time. The essential connections were set but we were still showing data on a damn screen. Lacking a muse in the middle of SoHo is embarrassing – so a co-worker and I dashed the Utrecht art supply store on Lafayette.

Co-Worker Dan Busch

The Yellow Muse

We paced the aisles and came upon a yellow measuring tape – clutch – we're measuring ourselves by our user count – what better way to push this concept outside of the screen with a literal measuring tape. Some servo hacking, sawing and chalkboard paint later we came up with this analog dash that shows us our daily user count in real-time. We could easily change the metric being shown and adjust the scale.

SumAll Data Tape Internals SumAll Data Tape Front

Ambient Indicators

An early prototype of something that every SumAll user could potentially have in their office or home – their performance mounted on the wall. Hustle when it's low, grab a beer when it's high.

I thank Dan Busch, Nick Sderakis, and Evgeni Milev

Feb 12, 2013

The Modern Maker’s Flow

I love where I work and our customers are passionate about the product, SumAll. Most of our customers are entrepreneurs and an inspiring sample of them have been successful Kickstarter project starters and then consequently Shopify store owners.

It seems like there’s a very utile funnel for modern makers: Use Kickstarter to market and fund your idea ➞ Open up a Shopify store to sell your newly created wares ➞ Use SumAll to keep track of your venture's progress and optimize towards success. Besides the obvious value of adopting this trifecta – it’s damn sexy to see the friction of outputting a creation fade. I’m excited.

I thank Davin Chew and Dane Atkinson

Jan 16, 2013

On Building Selfish Tools

There are a few things coming up this year that are encouraging me to save as much as I possibly can. Part of this ambitious effort is setting daily budgets that'll help me stack X amount of dollars at the end of the month. I briefly surfed the app store for a simple tool that would perform that single task – nothing bloated or complex – no luck.

I want to set the day's budget once and log my charges on my phone and see how throughout the day – I burn through this daily budget.

Straight to the Point


Cash is fantastic in letting you know how much you've spent throughout the day – your wallet sheds it's girth with each purchase. I only use my debit card and doesn't provide any compound feedback like cash does.

Set your budget

Budget Input

So in around 2 hours I made something extremely simple to test out and see if the prototype works.

Spending Input

Feedback is always embraced, prototyped for the iphone: visit Currency

I thank Miachel Pruett

Dec 18, 2012

Jacques Audiard, Engineer of Empathy

Maintaining the balance and polarity of experiences that a character goes through in an entire film is difficult. The balance should feel authentic and "deserving" of the character, it should mimic the nuisances of daily tragedies and victories — hard shit to pull off. It’s a gamble with the perception of the audience. Did the audience already graft themselves to the main character? Would the occurrence of a negative experience be received as undeserving or not quite aggressive enough? The variables in designing a plot that handles all this with care must be maddening. I know no hybrid writer / director that does this better than Jacques Audiard. I award him my empathy ivy. Here are some trailers, Rust & Bone is out now. Buy some popcorn.

Rust and Bone Scenes

Rust & Bone A Prophet The Beat That My Heart Skipped

I thank Jacques Audiard

Dec 2, 2012