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Joshua Porter
Works at 52weekofUX
Attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Lives in Newburyport, MA
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Joshua Porter

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Really good insight from Scoble about being critical and upping the bar on your software releases.
Robert Scoble originally shared:
 
Why I'm treating startups more critically lately

I've noticed that lately I'm treating startups much more critically. Today I chewed into an entrepreneur who was pitching me a new thing that was sort of like Oink, or maybe it was Foursquare, or maybe it was Foodspotting.

It's the third company I've told off lately.

I figured it was worth talking about why I'm being so harsh behind closed doors to entrepreneurs lately.

The bar has gone up.

What do I mean by that?

Well, Bizzy, a Foodspotting competitor, has recently closed its doors.

Why? Because no one was harsh enough with it.

The marketplace is far harsher than I am and I've seen signals from the marketplace that entrepreneurs better heed: there are too many startups, too many things to try, too many apps that really don't do much more than Google.

What I learned today is that entrepreneurs are often being given bad advice "ship now, and iterate," I learned from the CEO I was chewing out today. "Oh, how did that work for Color?" I asked.

See, the market is very crowded now for certain kinds of apps. Especially location-based and social network ones. So, if you're gonna pitch me something it better provide magic. Angels better sing when I open your app up. Otherwise, why should I use your app instead of Instagram, Foodspotting, Foursquare, Yelp, or my new ones, Batch, SocialCam, or Oink?

If your design isn't better than Flipboard, or at least as neat looking as Oink, why are you even trying?

Some advice:

1. Have at least one very clear, and cool, use case. I.E. have something you can show someone else that makes them say "oh, my, that's freaking useful."

2. Make sure every piece of your app at least matches the competition. The other day I was using a consumer electronics pricing engine and the search just wasn't working. Oh, really? I still might run their video but it sure doesn't feel good.

3. You gotta bring something really useful and new to the market. "But we let you search your past locations" isn't good enough. I can do that with Google and Foursquare. Telling me "but we have better social network features than Facebook," isn't good enough. Google has spent half a billion on Google+ and even IT is struggling to get people off of Facebook. You really think you're better than +Larry Page and +Vic Gundotra? Well, here's a hint: no you are not.

4. You gotta make it easy and make it work for all users. We live in a world now where we give apps only about 30 seconds. OK, maybe 60 seconds. Instagram hooked me instantly (and the entrepreneurs LOADED THAT APP FOR ME). One entrepreneur showed me their app this week, which had +MG Siegler on it. "Give it to me right now," I demanded. After they resisted they admitted that they probably wouldn't be able to deal with my contact list. Another company tonight that I met showed me a similar app, when I started it up (I do that while you talk to me) it gave me an error. Gone.

5. Your product must match your story. If you tell me "we're going to help you find great TV" but then you force me to build yet another social network first, I'm going to feel ripped off. So many companies present one thing, while saying another.

6. I hate the term "minimal viable product." That's like telling me "we're shipping without any features because, well, our investors and advisors told us to ship and fix the product later." Good companies do ship, but they pick the right features and they ship magic. Siri? Magic. Flipboard? Magic. Instagram? I had five comments within two minutes (and that was back when there was only 80 users on it). Tonight I used SocialCam again for the first time in a while. Within 60 seconds I had likes and comments. That tells me that that system has users and has a feature set that gathered lots of users (the CEO has a whole story about how they hid their best features and users keep praising them -- the future version he showed me tonight is making those features easier to find).

7. If it doesn't do something with both Facebook and Twitter (with Google+ to come) then you are gonna look lame. Why? I watch 33,000 of the world's best users and if they aren't using your app I probably will delete it after a few days and forget it. It's amazing how forgettable so many apps are. The best ones? Keep getting discussed and shared over and over and over again. How many times have I seen Foursquare used? Evernote? Instapaper? Mint? Foodspotting? Instagram? Thousands and thousands of times.

Anyway, one reason I do this is:

1. I want better technology to use. Many entrepreneurs have the right instincts. They are scratching their own itch, which makes for interesting products, but they often don't take into account the competitive landscape. After all, they don't have time to code all night AND keep up to date on what +Kevin Rose or +Kevin Systrom or +Alexa Andrzejewski are doing.

2. My own brand goes up if I support great companies. If I bring you more Flipboards and Siri's people take me more seriously. If I bring them more Bizzy's, that flounder in the marketplace, people take me less seriously.

3. The stronger entrepreneurs are, the better my employer does. I work for +Rackspace Hosting and if we're hosting companies that go all the way and get big and important then we do better economically. Even if you're on a competitor I want you to do well. Why? Because generally as companies do better they need better service from their hosting partner, which puts us in play for that business.

4. I remember when +Gary Vaynerchuk chewed out a winery on air that had just put him up, had given him 250 cases of wine to throw a party, and I always respected him for that. It's so easy to just rub the back of someone who is showing you respect. It's another level to lay out the harsh truth. I find that laying out the harsh truth isn't easy, but generally builds better relationships. People remember what you did for them, and if you tell them to take another two months to get it right it might hurt, but it'll hurt a lot less than to go through the pain that Color or Bizzy went through.

All that said, I don't have all the answers. Some things that I missed have gone on to be major companies (LinkedIn and DropBox, for instance). Sometimes I'm too much of an early adopter, so my advice can turn out to be wrong. And sometimes companies will go on just to prove me wrong. So, I try to be humble about it and I try to put myself in their shoes. But, if I was building a product or a company I'd want people to give me the harsh truth too (it's why I always read my comments and especially consider the critical comments. Sometimes they are right, sometimes they are wrong, but I almost always learn something by listening).

Anyway, if you're an entrepreneur, I'm getting harsher. Bring your A game and it'll all work out and if it doesn't, there's lots of other journalists now, so you don't need to go through me to have success.

One promise, though: if I am harsh to you, I will always give you a second, and probably a third chance. Why? I've invested in you my time and my instincts and I want to make sure I'm not wrong when I do that.

Who's building a company that meets the bar? Drop me a line. scobleizer@gmail.com

Photocredit: I shot this photo of fish at the Guangzhou Fish Restaurant in China.
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+Robert Scoble 's post like this is the reason I am so much hooked to Google Plus......
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Great write up and couldn't agree more. Summarizing a concept or action in a single word is indeed an art form and in many ways goes beyond traditional copywriting / editing.
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Nice video by Andy Hertzfeld explaining the new nav bar change in Google+. The nav bar now stays fixed as you scroll, but they even add a nice touch where the nav doesn't scroll on smaller sized windows, conserving screen space.
Andy Hertzfeld originally shared:
 
Today we’re rolling out a new feature that makes the Google+ bar float at the top of the screen when you scroll down. It also floats differently on big vs. small screens to maximize reading space. Let us know what you think in the comments!

#googleplusupdate

Video Transcript

Hi. My name is Andy Herzfeld and I'm a designer and an engineer on the Google+ team.

One of my favorite features of Google+ is the black "plus bar" across the top, because it unites all of Google, putting most of my frequently used services a mere click away. The red notification count on the right lets me know when there's something new to view, and the drop-down sharing menu makes sharing to your circles accessible no matter what you're doing.

Unfortunately, like most users, I spend most of my time scrolled down in the stream, so the plus bar is usually not on the screen, so I don't have quick access to it. Today we’re fixing this -- let me show you.

We're rolling out a new feature that makes the plus bar and the thicker, gray navigation bar below it float at the top of the screen, so they're always accessible no matter how far down you've scrolled.

Of course, screen space is precious, especially on mobile devices, and we don't want to take up a large percentage of it with controls, no matter how useful they are. So we made the floating bar sensitive to the available space in the window.

Here I’ve made the window a little smaller, so notice that only the black bar stays on the screen when I scroll. Now I’ll make the window even smaller yet, and you’ll notice that now neither bar stays on the screen when I scroll, giving you maximum real estate to read your posts.

We've just started rolling out this feature, so you'll see it appear over the next few days.

Thanks for listening, and let us know what you think!
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Interesting point about hashtags, Twitter, and Google+ by +Adrian Holovaty I look at hashtags as a social hack that fits the service...every successful service has such things. As Clay Shirky has said, the definition of social software is that which gets gamed.

I don't feel at all the same way that Adrian does of feeling "duped" or "being played" by Twitter. Twitter's designers have consciously kept the service easy to use and understand. Let's celebrate that! That's not to say that Twitter won't or can't improve (or become longer-form) but I believe there is a place for several kinds of networks. Twitter is the short/quick one. I will defend their designers for a long time on this one...
Adrian Holovaty originally shared:
 
A response to +Chris Messina .
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I agree with you, Josh
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One thing I don't know is exactly who I'm sharing with right now...I'm assuming it's people who have me in circles, but I'm not certain. "Public" adds another layer ... but how and when does that get seen? For me discrete sharing is actually more clear than general sharing.
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Yep, you're in my 'Luminaries' circle ;-) Really enjoyed your A/B testing workshop at UX London this year and your 'Designing for the social web' book ROCKS!
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Joshua Porter

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Wow, amazing list of things learned from Steve Jobs. Thanks Guy!
Guy Kawasaki originally shared:
 
(Sat01) What I Learned From Steve Jobs

Many people have explained what one can learn from Steve Jobs. But few, if any, of these people have been inside the tent and experienced first hand what it was like to work with him. I don’t want any lessons to be lost or forgotten, so here is my list of the top twelve lessons that I learned from Steve Jobs.

Experts are clueless.

Experts—journalists, analysts, consultants, bankers, and gurus can’t “do” so they “advise.” They can tell you what is wrong with your product, but they cannot make a great one. They can tell you how to sell something, but they cannot sell it themselves. They can tell you how to create great teams, but they only manage a secretary. For example, the experts told us that the two biggest shortcomings of Macintosh in the mid 1980s was the lack of a daisy-wheel printer driver and Lotus 1-2-3; another advice gem from the experts was to buy Compaq. Hear what experts say, but don’t always listen to them.

Customers cannot tell you what they need.

“Apple market research” is an oxymoron. The Apple focus group was the right hemisphere of Steve’s brain talking to the left one. If you ask customers what they want, they will tell you, “Better, faster, and cheaper”—that is, better sameness, not revolutionary change. They can only describe their desires in terms of what they are already using—around the time of the introduction of Macintosh, all people said they wanted was better, faster, and cheaper MS-DOS machines. The richest vein for tech startups is creating the product that you want to use—that’s what Steve and Woz did.

Jump to the next curve.

Big wins happen when you go beyond better sameness. The best daisy-wheel printer companies were introducing new fonts in more sizes. Apple introduced the next curve: laser printing. Think of ice harvesters, ice factories, and refrigerator companies. Ice 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0. Are you still harvesting ice during the winter from a frozen pond?

The biggest challenges beget best work.

I lived in fear that Steve would tell me that I, or my work, was crap. In public. This fear was a big challenge. Competing with IBM and then Microsoft was a big challenge. Changing the world was a big challenge. I, and Apple employees before me and after me, did their best work because we had to do our best work to meet the big challenges.

Design counts.

Steve drove people nuts with his design demands—some shades of black weren’t black enough. Mere mortals think that black is black, and that a trash can is a trash can. Steve was such a perfectionist—a perfectionist Beyond: Thunderdome—and lo and behold he was right: some people care about design and many people at least sense it. Maybe not everyone, but the important ones.

You can’t go wrong with big graphics and big fonts.

Take a look at Steve’s slides. The font is sixty points. There’s usually one big screenshot or graphic. Look at other tech speaker’s slides—even the ones who have seen Steve in action. The font is eight points, and there are no graphics. So many people say that Steve was the world’s greatest product introduction guy..don’t you wonder why more people don’t copy his style?

Changing your mind is a sign of intelligence.

When Apple first shipped the iPhone there was no such thing as apps. Apps, Steve decreed, were a bad thing because you never know what they could be doing to your phone. Safari web apps were the way to go until six months later when Steve decided, or someone convinced Steve, that apps were the way to go—but of course. Duh! Apple came a long way in a short time from Safari web apps to “there’s an app for that.”

“Value” is different from “price.”

Woe unto you if you decide everything based on price. Even more woe unto you if you compete solely on price. Price is not all that matters—what is important, at least to some people, is value. And value takes into account training, support, and the intrinsic joy of using the best tool that’s made. It’s pretty safe to say that no one buys Apple products because of their low price.

A players hire A+ players.

Actually, Steve believed that A players hire A players—that is people who are as good as they are. I refined this slightly—my theory is that A players hire people even better than themselves. It’s clear, though, that B players hire C players so they can feel superior to them, and C players hire D players. If you start hiring B players, expect what Steve called “the bozo explosion” to happen in your organization.

Readl CEOs demo.

Steve Jobs could demo a pod, pad, phone, and Mac two to three times a year with millions of people watching, why is it that many CEOs call upon their vice-president of engineering to do a product demo? Maybe it’s to show that there’s a team effort in play. Maybe. It’s more likely that the CEO doesn’t understand what his/her company is making well enough to explain it. How pathetic is that?

Real CEOs ship.

For all his perfectionism, Steve could ship. Maybe the product wasn’t perfect every time, but it was almost always great enough to go. The lesson is that Steve wasn’t tinkering for the sake of tinkering—he had a goal: shipping and achieving worldwide domination of existing markets or creation of new markets. Apple is an engineering-centric company, not a research-centric one. Which would you rather be: Apple or Xerox PARC?

Marketing boils down to providing unique value.

Think of a 2 x 2 matrix. The vertical axis measures how your product differs from the competition. The horizontal axis measures the value of your product. Bottom right: valuable but not unique—you’ll have to compete on price. Top left: unique but not valuable—you’ll own a market that doesn’t exist. Bottom left: not unique and not value—you’re a bozo. Top right: unique and valuable—this is where you make margin, money, and history. For example, the iPod was unique and valuable because it was the only way to legally, inexpensively, and easily download music from the six biggest record labels.

Bonus: Some things need to be believed to be seen. When you are jumping curves, defying/ignoring the experts, facing off against big challenges, obsessing about design, and focusing on unique value, you will need to convince people to believe in what you are doing in order to see your efforts come to fruition. People needed to believe in Macintosh to see it become real. Ditto for iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Not everyone will believe—that’s okay. But the starting point of changing the world is changing a few minds. This is the greatest lesson of all that I learned from Steve.
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I redesigned the Facebook logout button:
http://bokardo.com/archives/redesigned-facebook-logout-button/
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great button
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Wonderful story by Vic Gundotra about Steve Jobs calling him at church on a Sunday. Add it to the legend that is Steve Jobs.
Vic Gundotra originally shared:
 
Icon Ambulance

One Sunday morning, January 6th, 2008 I was attending religious services when my cell phone vibrated. As discreetly as possible, I checked the phone and noticed that my phone said "Caller ID unknown". I choose to ignore.

After services, as I was walking to my car with my family, I checked my cell phone messages. The message left was from Steve Jobs. "Vic, can you call me at home? I have something urgent to discuss" it said.

Before I even reached my car, I called Steve Jobs back. I was responsible for all mobile applications at Google, and in that role, had regular dealings with Steve. It was one of the perks of the job.

"Hey Steve - this is Vic", I said. "I'm sorry I didn't answer your call earlier. I was in religious services, and the caller ID said unknown, so I didn't pick up".

Steve laughed. He said, "Vic, unless the Caller ID said 'GOD', you should never pick up during services".

I laughed nervously. After all, while it was customary for Steve to call during the week upset about something, it was unusual for him to call me on Sunday and ask me to call his home. I wondered what was so important?

"So Vic, we have an urgent issue, one that I need addressed right away. I've already assigned someone from my team to help you, and I hope you can fix this tomorrow" said Steve.

"I've been looking at the Google logo on the iPhone and I'm not happy with the icon. The second O in Google doesn't have the right yellow gradient. It's just wrong and I'm going to have Greg fix it tomorrow. Is that okay with you?"

Of course this was okay with me. A few minutes later on that Sunday I received an email from Steve with the subject "Icon Ambulance". The email directed me to work with Greg Christie to fix the icon.

Since I was 11 years old and fell in love with an Apple II, I have dozens of stories to tell about Apple products. They have been a part of my life for decades. Even when I worked for 15 years for Bill Gates at Microsoft, I had a huge admiration for Steve and what Apple had produced.

But in the end, when I think about leadership, passion and attention to detail, I think back to the call I received from Steve Jobs on a Sunday morning in January. It was a lesson I'll never forget. CEOs should care about details. Even shades of yellow. On a Sunday.

To one of the greatest leaders I've ever met, my prayers and hopes are with you Steve.

-Vic
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Hello dear Joshua ,
Please reading my poems & send your comment about them.
My 13 poems are english language in my blog.

http://smh-rahemobham.blogfa.com

Thank you
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Still one of my favorite blog posts ever, because it recognizes a truth to working that goes unnoticed 80% of the time. Makers need uninterrupted time to make.

http://www.paulgraham.com/makersschedule.html
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So true, never thought of it like that! Thanks for sharing.
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Paul Adams explains why he left Google (he did a lot of great research behind Google+). Really too bad that he didn't feel like he had any strategic pull (have heard that before about Google) or that they blocked his book. He's a UX researcher! That's what researchers do...they publish! Thanks for writing this Paul...
Paul Adams originally shared:
 
Why I left Google. What happened to my book. What I work on at Facebook. http://t.co/O1I9V6Q
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In his circles
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3,682 people
Work
Occupation
Interface/UX Designer
Employment
  • 52weekofUX
    Co-founder, present
  • Bokardo
    Founder, present
  • HubSpot
    Director of UX, present
  • Performable
    VP Customer Experience
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Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Newburyport, MA
Story
Tagline
Interface designer & writer. Founder of @Bokardo & @52weeksofUX. Dir. of UX at HubSpot
Introduction
I'm a designer, writer, and speaker who loves all things web. 
Bragging rights
Mainiac. Two daughters. Beautiful wife. Twin (sister)
Education
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
    Computer Science/HCI, 1996 - 2000
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