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Week 229

This was was the first full workweek of the year, which meant it was time to review our work of 2013 and set goals for 2014. To this end, Alper traveled to Utrecht and on Monday we sat down and strategised. We’re still using Google’s OKR method, which continues to be a useful and relatively painless way of turning what are sometimes nebulous business goals into actionable, measurable things.

The rest of the week, we worked on CHUTORO. Having finished and documented the first two-week sprint, we started up the second and already final one on Tuesday. We had a number of calls with our friends at GEElab in Karlsruhe in which we jointly decided on which concept to develop further from the portfolio we had delivered in sprint one. Satisfied with the course to take, we got to work on Wednesday through Friday.

It had been a while since I last experienced a design process which did not flow. For a large part of the week I wasn’t satisfied with the work we were doing. Not that it was bad—it certainly was good enough, but it just lacked a certain character and whimsy. We worked through the concept, detailed its interactions and did some technology explorations—with help from Tom, who generously shared his experiences working with SMS and conversational UIs from Hello Lamp Post and Havasu. We detailed all the messages going in and out of the system. We considered embellishments and alternatives to the core concept. Etc. etc.

It was only when we went over the main scenario of use once more that we realised a subset of all the things a user would do—which we initially saw as a minor practical hurdle to smooth out with some clever design—that we realised we could take that activity and turn it into a fun, interesting thing to do in and of itself. In stead of smoothing it out so that we could move on to the thing we’d initially felt we wanted people to do, we could leave it as a fun challenge and offer it to people as such. Finally, I was satisfied with what we’d come up with. Relief.

In between, we had the usual range of activities on the side, such as a call on Tuesday with Magaly in preparation of our soon-to-be-announced workshop at Lift 14 and new year’s drinks hosted by the Dutch Game Garden where we got to catch up with many friends of the studio.

A solid first full week of the year, in other words.

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