For the past several months I’ve been head down, working on a huge update to my book and interview series, Delight is in the Details.
My original plan was simple: fix a few typos that were in the first version of the book and have all the audio interviews transcribed. But now that it’s shipped, you’ll see the update includes quite a bit more than just fixed typos.
- Two new chapters
- Two new audio interviews
- A Makers Q&A section
- All the audio has been remastered
- All the interviews have transcriptions
- The Resource Index
Over these past several months as I’ve been working on the update, I’ve been thinking more and more about what it truly means to be creative. I wrote “Fighting to Stay Creative” about two months ago as part of this whole thought process.
The ideas and principles I shared in that blog post blossomed into what has become the preeminent topic that now concludes Delight is in the Details. Which is: how to stay creative and how to build delightful products.
Something that always bugged me about the first version of the book was that it didn’t offer any how-to guides for building a delightful product. Because, really, there isn’t a checklist for that sort of stuff. But in place of a checklist, we have experience and commitment.
Delight is a choice, not a checklist.
And but so, now that we know we want to do our best creative work, what does that look like? How do we inject delight into our photography, our writing, our music, our apps?
I believe I’ve answered those questions (at least to some degree). This version of the book is what the first version should have been.
The updated version is available now.
Do me a favor and set aside 9 minutes to watch this video I put together with the help of my friend, Joel Sorge.
The video is one of three that comes with Delight is in the Details. This one is so great — and I feel the message of it is so important — that I wanted to share it in its entirety.
Monday, July 21
The first single from Weezer for their upcoming album. Dropped first on YouTube. It’ll be available on iTunes tomorrow, and they’re performing it on The Tonight Show this Wednesday.
Do you have a product, app, service, or company you’d like to promote directly to this site’s readership and visitors? Good news! This week’s sponsorship spot is available. If you’re interested, or have questions about it, email me and I’ll work you a deal.
Friday, July 18
On this week’s episode of my podcast, The Weekly Briefly, I share a lot about some of the most important ideas and values I’ve learned and written about while spending the past several months working on the update to my book, Delight is in the Details.
Marco Arment’s amazing new podcast playing app, Overcast, shipped on Wednesday and it’s awesome. I think it’s the best app design work Marco has done yet, and the smart speed feature is absolutely killer. Not only does it save you time without making the podcast hosts sound like the micro machines guy, but it also makes most average podcasts (like mine) sound professionally edited with tighter pacing.
What they’re actually saying is, “I don’t have any ideas that are guaranteed to work, and not only that, are guaranteed to cause no criticism or moments when I’m sure the whole thing is going to fall apart.”
Monday, July 14
The process for how Dustin Lance Black writes his screenplays is incredible. I don’t know how other movie writers do it, but Black’s process is not unlike the way I go about doing my long-form software reviews: Start with a closetful of research and other information miscellany, distill everything down, then put all the pieces together to form a narrative.
This week’s setup interview is with a new friend of mine, John Voorhees. I met John at WWDC this year, and we had some great chats about raising boys — I have two little guys; he has three older sons, one of whom has a portfolio of iOS apps.
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Learn more about TextExpander at: smilesoftware.com/shawn
TextExpander touch for iOS is available on the App Store.
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My thanks to Smile Software for sponsoring the RSS feed this week. I’ve been using TextExpander since the beginning of 2011, and good gosh is it great. I use it for automating email signatures, speeding up podcast show notes, inserting affiliate tags into my links to Amazon or iTunes, fixing odd CamelCase spellings, and about a billion other things. One thing I didn’t use it for was to write this editor’s note — but I did use it in my email to Greg at Smile when I sent him the list of sponsorship assets.
Thursday, July 10
Huge congrats to Maciej Cegłowski. Pinboard is awesome. If you’re not already using it, I wrote up this Beginner’s Guide a few months back. Also, if you’ve got an iPhone in your pocket and an iPad on your armchair, Pushpin is the best iOS app for Pinboard.
Wednesday, July 9
Yevgeny Yermakov is on track to interview 100 designers (mostly graphics folks) asking them each the same 5 questions. No surprise, I could get lost in this kind of stuff. Getting a peek into the values, habits, mistakes, and successes of other creative folks is incessantly fascinating to me. And it’s also helpful, I think. Another person’s biography can help remind us that we’re not phonies after all, and it can also give us ideas and inspiration for how better to live our own life.
Tuesday, July 8
Not everything in our professional lives is a transaction, scrutinized and evaluated against how much it costs us, how much someone should pay. Not every teaching relationship must be formalized—a mentoring opportunity, a coach, an internship. Not every investment of time has to be “worth it.” Sometimes you just have a brief conversation with someone because—why not? You never know what will come of it.
A thousand times, yes.
In 2011, when I was on the cusp of quitting my job to take my website full time, there were a few smart folks who I knew from the internet that were willing to take time out of their day to give me some advice and answer my questions and calm my fears. Even now, 3 years later, I often re-visit the advice and perspective they gave me back in 2011.
And in the 3+ years since I began writing here full-time, I now often get requests from others for input and advice on things. I wish I could be more available than I am, and I know there are things I can do to get better at it. Such as scheduling an “open” work time each week (even if it’s just 30 minutes), and that time slot is reserved for giving back to others by answering emails, doing interviews, etc.
Monday, July 7
This week’s setup interview is with my pal, Chuck Skoda. I love this part of his answer to our question about which app he could not live without:
Focusing on my “can’t-live-without” apps feels like missing the forest for the trees though. The most powerful thing about my iPhone is the aggregate of possibilities I can bring with me wherever I go. If my phone was just Tweetbot or just the Camera app, would it still be with me 24 hours a day? Probably not, because the whole package is more than the sum of its parts. It’s hard to quantify how the iPhone has influenced day to day life over the last number of years, but I can’t imagine going back.
The original idea for the bag started over 2 years ago but it was a long process to finally see the finished product through. Each new product is a learning process and brings on new challenges, but in the end it’s worth the work.
I’m a sucker for behind-the-scenes stories like this.
Wednesday, July 2
I’m publishing this week’s episode of The Weekly Briefly a bit early, because of the holiday weekend.
In this week’s episode I talk about some different expressions of what investing in quality looks like. Not just from the common standpoint of what we buy, but also investing in making quality products and cultivating quality relationships.
My pal Chris Gonzales pointed this out on Twitter and it was news to me: when you’re browsing a list of login items in 1Password on iOS, if you swipe from left-to-right on an item then you get the option to “Copy Password”. Delightful.
Tuesday, July 1
Slim Your Wallet — it’s easier than you think.
No one wants a brick wallet weighing down their back. Here are some easy tips to slim down.
- Differentiate between your most frequently used and least used cards. Store the less frequently used ones together. This reduces the bulk of leather between every item.
- Ditch your receipts. Take photos of them for tax and store in accounting apps like Evernote.
- Minimise coins. Sure you might need a few for parking, but do you really need a piggy bank in your pocket? Tip more!
For wallets designed to make the most of these tips, visit Bellroy.com.
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My thanks to Bellroy for sponsoring the RSS feed this week. You can tell a lot about a man’s personality and taste based on the grill in his back yard and the wallet in his back pocket. I personally prefer the most slim and simple wallet possible, while also having some personality. I have one of Bellroy’s Note Sleeve wallets in my back pocket as I type this. I’ve had it for a couple of years now and I love it — the quality is top notch, and it’s full of personality. Highly recommended.
Speaking of July and summer, if you’re planning on grilling out this holiday weekend, I updated my backyard cooking just recently. It’s got a list of everything you need to make the best smoked ribs, beef brisket, hamburgers, and/or bbq chicken in town. That is, unless you live in my town. In which case you’ll be making the 2nd best, if you’re lucky.
Hello, July. Over on The Sweet Setup, we put together a short list of awesome apps that will help you get the most out of your summer.
Monday, June 30
By far and away, this week’s setup interview is one of my all-time favorites. For one, I’m a long-time fan of Jago’s illustrations (he’s the artist behind the Jesus Storybook Bible, which we love), so it’s awesome to see his setup on the site. But his interview is just fantastic — several great photos of his workspace and a lot of nerdy detail about the tools he uses and how he uses them.
But it’s not your typical use-case. Here’s just one example:
I couldn’t do without Dropbox. Through a combination of cunning and trickery, I currently have a 463Gb account, and I make good use of it.
Friday, June 27
As you know, Editorially (which was awesome), shut its doors recently. Over at The Sweet Setup, we used Editorially every single day — it was our ideal collaborative writing tool.
Jeff Abbott wrote an overview of what made Editorially so great and what some of the alternatives are. As he states, after trying just about every other alternative we could find, we’ve moved to Google Docs for our collaborative writing work.
This week, on my podcast, The Weekly Briefly, I talk about the connection between staying creative and building a delightful product. Both have the same “guiding principles”, in that they are expressions of serving others.
Thursday, June 26
Awesome breakdown by Brian Lovin on all the little details and interactions in Path.
Path is such a well-designed app. I used for a while back, and very much enjoyed how it works as an app, but as another social network it never stuck for me. I also had considered using it as my personal journal of sorts, but Day One is just so much better suited to that.
There are a lot of things that make Path, as an app, truly great. But how long will they be around? In all seriousness, assuming Path gets acquired and shut down one day, or just flat out shuts down, what will become of its inspirational design and engineering?
(Via Marcelo Somers.)
Wednesday, June 25
Certainly the best-looking smartwatch out there. I’m still a bit blown away by the fact it’s a round display. But: Price? Battery life? How does it charge? How many people will be using (and still enjoying) their Moto 360 in a year from now?
Sean Madden, writing for Wired on the fine line between “magic” and frustration:
The average smartphone user interacts with his or her mobile device over 100 times per day, and the majority of those interactions fall into just a few categories: opening an app, selecting from a list, bringing up a keyboard, and so on. If each of them is imbued with too much visual whiz-bang, using your phone becomes the digital equivalent of eating birthday cake for every meal.
It’s a great article, and what Sean talks about is exactly what Ben and I hit on in last week’s episode of The Weekly Briefly.
In short: whizbang features are cool and they look especially delightful in a press release. But the hallmark features of our gadgets are nowhere close to the most used features. How fast do apps launch, how easy is it to navigate the device, how smooth is the scrolling? These “boring” features are the ones we interact with a hundred times per day. And that’s why you’ve got to get the fundamental stuff right, because that is what ultimately defines the user’s experience as delightful or not.
And so, if you get the fundamentals wrong — by being poorly engineered or over-designed — then it’s like gluing a piece of gravel inside your customer’s $650 running shoes.
P.S. I literally wrote a book on this subject. It’s called Delight is in the Details and as we speak I’m up to my ears in a big update. If you want to follow along with the new work I’m adding to the book, you can learn more here.
Tuesday, June 24
The ABC channel will feature live, multi-streaming video and on-demand content, entertainment news, live hourly updates, original programming and video highlights.
PBS Kids is only available in the US and will feature full-length episodes and clips of popular shows including Curious George, Dinosaur Train, Peg + Cat, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Arthur, Wild Kratts and Sesame Street.
Nice! Maybe the PBS Kids channel can help me reclaim my Netfilx recommendations.
Also on the update, is a new Flickr app that has just about all the same functionality of the iOS (er, iPhone) app.
Monday, June 23
This week’s Sweet Setup interview is with Joe Caiati. I like his story about why, when upgrading, he chose to go with the 5c.