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Dom Goodrum

Dom is the Design Director at Percolate. Before this he led the creation of digital services and advertising in London and New York. In 2013 he was recognized by Business Insider as one of the top 75 Designers in Technology.

Design

Thoughts on Building a Design Driven Company

A few weeks ago, I went along to the Bloomberg BusinessWeek Design Conference. Having come across the event earlier in the year, I was curious to hear what the speakers (from companies like Asana, Frog Design, and Gap) would share around the role design plays inside their organizations, and how this has changed as they’ve grown and taken on new challenges.

Here are my takeaways from that sunny day in San Francisco:

Evaluate Purpose

Regularly taking a step back and focussing the team on your core mission is vital for companies of all shapes and sizes. Evaluation brings priority to design decisions. (more…)


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Community

An Open Letter to Art Directors

This post is an open letter to Art Directors working at advertising agencies. It’s based on a presentation I gave at Social Media Week NYC where I shared some thoughts on how Art Directors and Designers can help their clients create more effective social marketing in 2014.

The first thing you should know is these thoughts are coming from a former Art Director. 1Before joining Percolate, I was involved in the conception, planning and execution of digital campaigns at agencies in London and New York. Over the last 10 years I have seen how the web, social and mobile have shifted the ways teams create brand campaigns and content marketing. Let’s take a look at how this went down.

(more…)


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Design

Doing market research to determine your product’s job

During the holiday I was catching up on some reading and picked up an article Noah shared that laid out a market research approach from HBS professor Clay Christensen. The piece went down well with me, and in places mirrored the research our design team has been doing here at Percolate. As we look to push our research further in the coming year I was interested to reflect on what has been working so far.

Let’s begin with the premise of the article:

Looking at the market from the function of a product really originates from your competitors or your own employees deciding what you need, whereas the jobs-to-be-done point of view causes you to crawl into the skin of your customer and go with her as she goes about her day, always asking the question as she does something: Why did she do it that way?

So what Christensen is saying is that it’s beneficial to carry out market research that will give you an understanding of the jobs your customers need to get done day to day, rather than ask questions that deliver a functional specification e.g. Customer A needs product capabilities X,Y and Z.

The article goes on to share how a fast-food restaurant chain used the research approach to develop the ultimate morning fruit milkshake to fit the job of bored commuters. It’s worth a read when you get a moment.

My love for banana milkshakes aside, getting meaningful data about the job of your customers is tough. Looking back it was pretty daunting actually. Simply put, you’ve got to find ways to connect with your customers, create a format which allows interviewers to learn on the job, and thirdly, figure out how to coach people to pull out the most valuable stuff (shifting from the mindset of identifying functions to insights around jobs customers need to do).

With these challenges in mind, here are 5 learnings from our market research to get you started:

Routine, not special occasions

It’s easy to think about doing research in preparation for building milestone features. A year or so after formalizing our approach here at Percolate, we have seen huge value in pushing the team to do weekly customer interviews. Work with people across your company to help you identify the right interview subjects; we’ve found interviews work great with prospects as well as our existing customers. Look to line up at least one interview a week to inspire thinking and conversations around the challenges and opportunities your customers face.

Prepare to press record

Any sort of note taking during an interview is distracting for everyone. Make sure when you sit down with a customer (in person, on the phone, Skype etc.) all you need to do is press record to get going (dictaphone app, camera, whatever works for you). As the interviewer you need to focus on listening and responding. Here’s a couple of things we do to prepare; get the low-down on who you are speaking to, develop a script of questions to prompt you through key areas you want to cover, and find a space away from your desk to focus on the conversation in hand.

Start small, and don’t stop digging

The goal of your customer interview is not to work out how to iterate on a current product design problem. Take that pressure off from the start. Your goal is to see the world from your customer’s perspective. To do that you need to create a script of small, open questions that enables you to build up the picture block by block. Before going into their current job, simply start by getting to know them and their previous experiences. Setting the scene with this approach will get you in the mode of asking follow-up questions and digging into why and how your customers do the jobs and make the decisions they do.

Moving beyond playback

Creating heavy interview documentation creates too much work for your team when it comes to reviewing reports. Early on we developed a simple report format that helped people steer clear of over-sharing, and instead focused on sharing concise learnings around the interviewee’s profile and specific jobs they are doing. This approach helped designers separate unique insights from common facts. This lightweight format lends well to pulling out workflow patterns when comparing customer perspectives, and it also provides you with bite sized chunks ready to drop into project briefs.

Seeing a new world

Our product design team isn’t broken down by research, UX or visual positions. We have a product designer role. We ask all designers to solve problems from start (strategy, research, prototyping, scope) to finish (visual design, QA, user testing), and everything in between. We’ve seen market research play a key role in developing the internal UX department of designers at Percolate. These experiences have helped people see the world from our customer’s perspective and get excited by our vision to transform marketing with our technology platform. It’s grown designers from knowing ‘how’ to execute a solution to ‘why’ we are building the platform we are.

One of our big goals for the year ahead will be to ensure that the distribution of our findings works harder for the company. If our research is empowering us with empathy around our customer’s lives, then we’ve got to make sure that empathy is served on a never-ending conveyor belt so everyone across the company can easily pick learnings up all day long.

Our immediate step is to get stuck in and ask better, more thoughtful questions to understand the future jobs brand marketing teams will be tackling 18 months from now. These learnings will help us continue to design a technology platform which integrates into the lives of our customers, one that will help them become better at their jobs. That’s what we’re getting after. Come help us.

Photo: Chris 73 / Wikimedia Commons


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

Get in touch and we’ll show you our system in action.


Design

Introducing the new Percolate brand system

It all started with an orange drip.

It’s been almost three years since Percolate was brought into the world with a logo that loosely played on the notion of percolating coffee. The drip at the front represented the content inspiration our technology surfaces for a brand marketing team. Since then quite a lot has happened: We’ve grown a company, culture, and, importantly, a product that focuses on helping brands create content more efficiently and effectively.

As we’ve evolved as a company and product, our identity has mostly stayed put, picking up definition and flourishes along the way, but maintaining it’s core structure and patterns. As we reached this next stage of our development, a stage that involves us defining and building a new category of software, we felt like our identity needed to be upgraded alongside. Ultimately, there were some things working well in the system and areas where we could be stronger and use the opportunity to take a more sophisticated approach to better reflect where we are today and where we are going. So with that in mind we challenged ourselves to take the design of our brand system forward.

Today, we reveal that new system that takes our identity to the next level. We’ve created a system that has dialed down intricacies and dialed up flexibility to allow us to truly operationalize our brand: Giving our team confidence to create incredible on-brand communications that let people know about a thoughtful technology company called Percolate.

This also fits into our broad product philosophy. After all, if the things we build should continue to grow (no feature we ship is ever completely final), why should a brand system stay stagnant? At the end of the day we don’t expect it to move as much as the product does, which changes weekly, but we do think the identity of a technology company needs to be more flexible than average and that’s what we’ve gone for.

With that all laid out, let’s dive into the design. Since most of you are marketers I’m betting you’ll find it interesting. Here are the 7 things you need to know about our new brand system:

1. Kubrick would have approved

The first thing you will notice is the new logo. It’s all orange, unapologetically bold and set in a typeface called Futura. We’re excited about how the logo pushes our primary brand color and reinforces our iconic drip here. What you might not notice at first glance are some small customizations to the l and t we made to balance the form. If the typeface looks familiar it will be because typographer Paul Renner brought it into the world in 1927 and since then Futura been instrumental in building some pretty significant brands, and rumor has it that it was also a favorite of a film director called Stanley Kubrick. 01

2. Going all in on Orange

The optimism of our company could probably be distilled down to the color orange. It’s a color that has distinguished our look from a market of blue tinted companies. It became clear early on that it was important for us to take orange further with our evolution of the brand. You’ll see new primary applications and stationary lead with orange to provide that first touch point for customers, partners and potential employees. You’ll also notice we have introduced a new secondary typeface in Sentinel, it sets up an elegant contrast with our logotype that will revealed more throughout this post.

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3. Layers change the pace

If you’re following the color science theme in this post you’ll be pleased to hear that our optimism has been boosted with the addition of a secondary color palette. Four colors across maroon, purple and blue add further imagination and trust to our brand communications and products. We like using color to change the pace of our presentations so you’ll see the colors there, also it’s given us a stronger dynamic range on illustrations, patterns and editorial elements.03

4. Tools for building products

Part of designing our brand system was about providing our team’s guidelines on how to execute the new Percolate . So in the last couple of week’s behind the scenes we loaded up some tools with our new styles to do this; from the keynote theme which guides our presentations, our image editor application for creating social images and our product style guide which our designers and developers use. We also updated Welcome to Percolate, the website for all things Percolate which is now a great place to find our new logotype, fonts and desktop wallpaper patterns.04

5. All the screens

Being a technology company we were pretty excited to take the new system to our software products. Our customers will see a new look Percolate from today and for everyone else, you can see a preview in the imagery across this site. The move here was updating our style guides to integrate the new typography and colors across our web and mobile products. We also finally got round to building out an icon font based on our new style, basically this ensures the quality of display across all devices and makes our job as designers and developers much easier when pulling stuff together. 05

6. Collaboration brought new perspectives

There is approximately 1673 miles between us and our design partners Berger & Föhr in Colorado. For 6 weeks there were no in person meetings, just plenty of skype email conference call activity. It was important for us from day 1 to work with people outside the company to bring a new perspective to our brand evolution. Our partners, Todd and Lucian had no emotional baggage with Percolate and they managed to construct a thoughtful dialogue from initial research questionnaires through to design concepts and  iterations to push our team and take the system to places we hadn’t imagined. 06

7. Building culture

Design can do more at technology companies than help create great products and marketing materials; design can help build your culture and make your team proud to be part of what the company is creating. From the start of this project ‘make awesome stuff for the team’ was definitely part of our brief. Today you’ll see the first signs of this with our new t-shirt designs and wallpapers for desktop and iOS.07

And that’s 7. Hopefully that’s given you a good overview of what’s been going down. We dubbed today Day Zero internally; the business cards have been handed out and I’m surrounded in new T-shirts, but this is just the beginning. This system will be brought to life with stories that have yet to be told about the future of marketing technology and the products we will build. TV visualizations up next will be a nice place to play.

The last thing I would like to say is we’re hiring the best designers you know, so tell your friends. I had to get that in right?  Yeah I thought so too.


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

Get in touch and we’ll show you our system in action.


Employees

Rethinking Our Company Pages

After almost two years in business, Percolate has undergone lots of change: new employees, new spaces, new products. With that, we wanted our company pages to better reflect who we are as a organization. Today you’ll see new pages outlining our business, how we work, our culture, new job opportunities and a place to showcase our clients.

Here’s how we got there.

Our first round of company pages were a collection of facts and job descriptions, which worked well for a time. But as the company culture has taken root and become an inextricable part of how we do business, the new pages aim to give visitors a real sense of what we’re all about. The pages are designed to be that initial conversation on the Percolate story: from the story of our founders and mission to our clients and the immense change in brand marketing we help tackle.

Here are the questions our new online headquarters will answer:

Is the company solving an interesting problem?

1. Our Business: Here’s the company mission and an interview capturing the founders’ vision and passion. As we continue to build Percolate, we’ve included a timeline of the company milestones to date.

What are the team’s values and how do they work together?

2. How we work: Percolate is built around two teams: product and business. Our professional values, our thoughtful technology and content set the tenor for the entire company.

What are the people really like and how happy will I be at Percolate?

3. Our Culture: We love the culture we’re building and demonstrate that with a tour of the office and day-to-day life. Our people are crucial to maintaining a healthy and happy place to work, so here’s where you’ll meet the team, too.

What opportunities are available?

4. Jobs: The company is growing and fast, so we’ve included here the many opportunities to join the team and define the future of brand marketing. A career at Percolate means helping build a lasting culture and developing professionally.

So, have a look around. Stay awhile, get to know us and maybe we’ll see you (or your resume) some time soon.


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

Get in touch and we’ll show you our system in action.


Releases

Upping the Collaboration

Our recent product release at Percolate was our most ambitious to date. We introduced some pretty significant new features over the course of a 10-week sprint as we moved Percolate to a more complete prompt-based content creation service for brands.

A 10-week sprint had a very different feel to it from our usual 2-week sprints.

Beyond the increase in sticky notes on the walls, we opened up our process and tried a few new things in an effort to get all teams contributing to and understanding the evolution of the service.

On reflection there were 3 things that helped us come together and stay together:

1. Unleash individuals first

To start a project naturally you want to tap into everyone’s brain and get the perspectives, experiences and ideas of everyone on the table.

In theory you arrange a brainstorm session, ideas happen and it all comes together. In reality some people have things to say, other people follow and support the opinions of the loudest person round the table and some people don’t feel confident enough to share their ideas. We wanted to avoid the bad bits of the brainstorming process.

Out of the blue one afternoon we got everyone together and laid out the purpose of the new features we were planning to add to Percolate. Then we gave everyone fifteen minutes to go think, doodle and write up their thoughts about two of the proposed new features. Once time was called we got back together to share and discuss everyone’s ideas as a larger group.

Giving everyone space and time to develop their own ideas, combined with surprising people with this session, surfaced a good range of quality thoughts.

Everyone felt like they had contributed. Some were ideas good to be implemented in the forthcoming release and others were perfect for the crazy list (which is definitely a good thing).

The 15 mins of individual thinking made the collaborative bit; sharing, discussing, arguing and opinion forming into a fun event that got everyone excited about how the new Percolate jigsaw would fit together.

2. Dear diary

After our group start, the challenge for the design team was to keep things upright and get things going, while at the same time keeping the process open for everyone to have input.

As we explored how the new features would come together, the walls at Percolate HQ quickly filled up with research and sketches. This helped the team see what was going on and people often stopped to discuss features as they passed by.

Although as you can imagine it was pretty tricky keeping everyone on the same page, so we started circulating a design diary at the end of each week. The diaries consisted of a round up of the week’s best sketches and annotations, which we scanned, complied and delivered in a handy pdf for weekend reading.

We found it a good way to playback the progression and decisions being made, and as a means to get considered feedback which helped provoke the meetings that needed to happen to answer those difficult questions.

Putting the diaries together asked the design team to construct a cohesive product story each week that could be understood by everyone.

3. Adding some personality

Early on we quickly established the editor’s experience of Percolate needed to be more action driven.

We wanted to introduce a coaching side to Percolate’s personality, to motivate, guide and support editors.

So where does the coach fit in?

The promise we make to brands is ‘Percolate is a system of prompts that helps you figure out what to talk about’.

So we spent a lot of time thinking about how a coach could influence the prompts we weave throughout the user experience of Percolate.

We wanted to prompt editors around these new activities: ‘Allow me to set publishing goals and tell me how I’m getting on’; ‘Recommend me new things to do on Percolate via email’; ‘Always follow up my actions with a next step;’ and ‘Help me plan, manage and optimize my publishing’.

This action-orientated thinking helped guide the design and development of the release; the new activities acted as checkpoints for us to review our designs against.

The before and after screens above illustrate how we’ve introduced the ways of the coach; before our landing screen was a stream of content recommendations, and now we have introduced a new home screen for editor’s that presents a single view of everything happening on their Percolate.

Building on Percolate’s personality has opened up new ways for the service to inspire editors. The coaching themes; create, manage and learn have been helpful for the sales team to explain the new features in the release. For the company it’s focused an ongoing conversation around how we’re delivering on our promise.

Next up is a return to shorter sprints and a decrease in late night Mexican food delivery. We’ll also certainly be looking to continue upping the collaboration.

To see how our latest release came together check out The World of Percolate.

Oh, and did I mention we’re hiring? We definitely are. Come join the team.

 


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

Get in touch and we’ll show you our system in action.


Design

Startup Design vs. Agency Design

I’ve been speaking with a lot of designers recently as we look to build out our team. Some of these designers are soon to graduate from college and are looking to land their first job; a fair share of them are leaning towards joining an agency to kick off their careers. I felt it would be helpful to put a post together to shed some light on what a startup offers graduates at a time when many are making this decision.

First things first, I get the agency choice. In 2004 when I graduated from the mighty Huddersfield it was the move for me: the opportunity to create professional work was a big attraction. Eight years later, things have changed. There is another play that needs some serious consideration – joining a Technology Startup.

This post is not a death match between Agency and Startup. Think of it more as a Summer Slam or Royal Rumble when we throw a few things around, there is some light entertainment and no one gets hurt.

The truth is after working at two great agencies for nearly 7 years I’m going to tell you good things about working at one. The agency experience was awesome. I’m also going to lay out why I think joining a startup is the right choice for some of today’s design graduates.

The Rules

Here are the rules. This post is set up to give advice to digital-focussed design graduates looking for their first job. You’re excited about designing interfaces for mobile and web and enjoy a healthy portion of graphic design and branding.

Another thing you should know is these thoughts are based on my experience of working at digital agencies with 15-150 people creating websites, online advertising and games, and more recently working at a startup building publishing software with a team that has grown from 6 people to 13 in the last 9 months.

Let’s begin, let’s go 5 for 5.

Working at an Agency

You’re going to do a broad range of work across industries, from charity to fashion, entertainment, telecommunications, media and beyond. Some of your work will get made, other pieces won’t make it.

You’ll meet some very talented people and learn a lot from them. You’ll get to work on projects that allow you to improve your craft and learn new skills.

Your ability to solve problems and identify insights will evolve quickly as you work across a range of projects.

You’ll help the agency pitch for new work. In the beginning, you’ll be creating design comps, and in time progress to more strategic contributions. Then there is the art of pitch theater (learning to sell work is invaluable).

There is a strong community around you hosting events for you to learn from and meet your peers. If you’re lucky you’ll go to award shows (recognition for your team and clients is great).

With all that said, I believe as a design graduate you will get these opportunities and more at a startup like Percolate.

Working at a Startup

It’s true what they say, working at a startup allows you to wear many hats from day one. As a designer, it’s open for you to contribute writing, code and strategy across the company – all contributions outside of your design training.

Your interface designs get built and you’ll see them being used week in week out. The pace of the product development cycle that comes with this encourages greater risk taking.

Continuous invention. At a startup you’re focused on creating new services which are all about disrupting industries and markets, from this comes very few guidelines and predefined design challenges.

Technology is pretty insane. It’s really exciting to be close to the web technologies that are changing the infrastructure of the internet. Your mind will be blown everyday.

You’ll learn how to build a company. With such a small team the first hand experience you get in seeing how the founders grow is transparent and inspiring.

It’s all about what’s right for you

So that’s how I see it, they’re both great choices. Ultimately it comes down to what you want to learn next, and what style of mentorship you are looking for. Remember though, this isn’t about committing to one path over the other: your first job out of college doesn’t sign you up to a path for the rest of your career.

We all want to find a place where we can thrive and get the right opportunities. For me it’s always been about finding somewhere that is much more than a job; after all you’re going to be spending some quality time wherever you land.

This just leaves me with two things to say, firstly, good luck to all the graduates this summer in landing your first job. Secondly, we’re looking for a designer to join our team, you should come work with us, it’s awesome.


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

Get in touch and we’ll show you our system in action.


Thoughts

Design + Startup

“Rabbit…Celery…Sendgrid…Redis…and workers, lots of workers, two boxes, another box.”

These are just some of the words that marked my tech baptisim.

I knew that when I joined a tech startup from an agency there would be some changes coming my way, but somehow I never imagined it would take me eight months and counting to get a basic handle (well, loose handle) on the vocabulary we use to talk about the tech that powers the products we’re building.

Since becoming Percolate’s first designer last July I’ve been working out how best to contribute to a technology company. I was recently invited to share my experience at the Design + Startup event hosted by IDEO and FRC. This nudged me to get my thoughts in order on the role of design at a company like Percolate. Here we go.

Meet team Percolate

Let’s start with the facts. We’re 11 and growing across product and sales teams (4 Developers, 1 Mathematician, 1 Product Lead, 1 Program Manager, 1 Designer, 3 Sales). We have come together from the corners of finance, technology, publishing, advertising and design.

As our team continues to grow one of our biggest challenges remains: figure out how best to work together. There is plenty of talk about building your company around a design / user experience culture, but when you take a moment to catch up on this it can leave you scratching your head on what to do first, and what is right for your team.

We knew we wanted to establish that design at Percolate would stand for more than a great product, more than a UX methodology and more than visual consistency. But what we didn’t know at first was how it would contribute to our day to day approach, what would it bring to the table for the wider team?

The stuff we’ve learned

Design changes the way people approach their work. I’m not talking about your team crafting work to satisfy guidelines, I’m talking about how it helps to break information down to make it more intuitive, and how it gives people confidence to execute great sales pitches. Here are three ways we’ve seen design change our approach:

1. Design gives everyone great materials

We want to look after our clients, we want to share with them the thought we put into helping them get the most out of Percolate; from their first impression to monthly progress updates and beyond.

Percolate Demo – Our sales team needed to show the power of our service in a simple way that would give people a sense of learning. We built a step by step interactive demo around a fictional soap brand, who wanted to raise their eco-credentials by publishing great content.

Percolate Onboarding – Once we have calibrated a client’s dashboard they’re all set to start publishing, all we need to do is deliver the key (that confirmation email). We recently decided our plain text email approach wasn’t up to scratch. Creating a walk through of the publishing communities that power their Percolate engine hosted by Biggie Smalls most definitely is.

Percolate Network Graphs – How’s Percolate working for you? That’s the big question we need to keep asking editors to ensure we’re presenting them the most interesting stories. We have started to create network graphs to show editors the sources that are influencing their publishing the most. From here we have a great framework to discuss, learn and fine tune their sources.

Our takeaway here is design has to go beyond your core products: It has to arm your sales team to do the best work they can. Once you start making these materials together, maintaining these standards becomes everyone’s responsibility.

2. Design moves specs to stories

First of all you should meet Greg, the guy doing the Ace Ventura impression below. He is our Program Manager at Percolate, this means he looks after all our clients technical needs. He’s in the engine room all day setting up accounts and making sure everything is ticking over just fine, he’s working with development partners and he’s scoping out internal and client facing tools.

When we first started working together he would present the team user flows for upcoming tools. These were highly detailed diagrams, with every use case considered and documented in one place. Whilst these were clearly a work of art, they were also overwhelming and we found our energy went into breaking down the complexity.

Since then, we’ve all hung out some more and moved from complexity into digestible chunks of information. Now we’re moving towards introducing a narrative around specs to ground our objectives, to introduce the use cases before revealing the top level experience blow for blow. We’re getting to a really great place, our reviews are more productive and we’re making better stuff.

The thing to remember here is that everyone in your team hasn’t been thinking about the user in the same way in previous roles and companies. Introducing a product story framework to your team’s approach will boost the productivity of your working sessions.

3. Design adds an extra ‘give a damn’

We’ve always liked the color grey at Percolate, you know, it helps keeps things calm. Although the team wasn’t quite expecting we’d need to use 7 tones when we redesigned our dashboard. I thought crafting our interface was a pretty big deal, so with encouragement of Guillaume (our front-end developer) I made some charts to prove our grey theory, thankfully everyone agreed.

This isn’t about about a designer using too many greys. This is about encouraging your team to care about everything, this may well start with calling out that a panel color is the wrong grey, or that a line of type needs to come down 5 pixels. These small details can feel pretty insignificant when the product team is in the heat of a release, but sharing these observations are important and help shape the type of team you’re building.

Sure, you don’t want to build a culture where everyone is picking up a megaphone, barking at each other when something needs fixing. You do want to grow a team that feels good about challenging the approach you’re taking to a sales presentation, or the approach you take to scoping product features and putting together onboarding documents.

Why all of this matters to you

These are just three ways how one skill set has begun to help shape our culture at Percolate. When thinking about the culture you’re building at your company, take a look at the qualities of the people across you’re team, understand their personality traits, best habits and approaches to work and think how the wider team can benefit.

These are the qualities to form the foundations of your company, these are the qualities you need to work hard to develop and scale as you grow and bring people in with new skill sets. This is how we’re building our culture at Percolate.

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If you give a damn and are keen to invent the future of publishing, you should probably apply to the openings we have at Percolate. We look forward to hearing from you.


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

Get in touch and we’ll show you our system in action.


Releases

2.4: Robin Rhode

I’m bending the rules here a little to continue our theme of naming product releases after a graffiti artist, it’s a good one though, so I hope you don’t mind.

Meet Robin Rhode. I came across the South African artist a few years ago while searching for illustration references. I was immediately drawn to the way he combined raw aesthetics with performance. Let’s play table tennis.

The walls of Johannesburg provided the canvases for Rhode’s early work. He used basic materials such as charcoal, chalk and paint to sketch out narratives and invited friends to complete the scenes. These pieces allowed to him grasp photography and animation techniques, with pieces often broken down into stop frame image sequences.

A couple of years later I was at a Q&A session at the Hayward Gallery in London and learned a little more about the motivations behind his work. On the surface what appears to be simple, playful scenes often where outlets for Rhode’s feelings on social inequality, politics and poverty. In ‘Juggla’ below, our faceless circus clown symbolizes Rhode’s opinion that entertainment workers were “…at the mercy of the wealthy, juggling or holding nothing”.

One of my favorite Rhode pieces is called ‘Car Theft’, a performance piece that played out at the Walker Art Center in 2003. He burst through an awaiting crowd to sketch a 2D car outline on the gallery wall, he then disappeared for 2 secs only to launch himself at the drawing and mimic the action of braking into the car, alarm bell accessories and further disappearances added to a memorable performance.

Today, Rhode continues to make solo work and in recent years has collaborated with a bunch of different people, from Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes to a commission from BMW to help launch the Z4 Roadster.

This is the point of the post where I switch your thoughts from the performance of Robin Rhode and introduce you to the features we’re working on around an editor’s performance on Percolate. Here we go.

Release Notes:

Introducing ‘Your Week on Percolate’

The posts screen on Percolate is called ‘Percolating’, it’s where an editor can see the social analytics (Retweets, Reblogs and Likes) around their posts.

Our 2.4 release see’s the introduction of ‘Your Week on Percolate’, the next step in presenting editors more interesting data around their posting.

‘Your Week on Percolate’ is a place where an editor can see their top level analytics at a glance. Simple data stories show editor’s their total number of posts for the week and the points these posts have earned (made up by total social interactions and clicks). The second row show’s an editor the sources that have influenced their recent posting and also the sites they are linking out to most.

Percolating is also the place where our learning engine surfaces related sources around each story an editor publishes. The idea here is to present interesting sources for an editor to add to their Percolator, which in turn builds out their interest graph for any given topic.

For this release we reworked our recommendation engine to allow us to more effectively surface related sources (people who also have shared this link) as well as recommended sources (people who are posting interesting content around this topic). This recommendation engine is an exciting step towards introducing new layers of discovery around source pages for editors.

The release also includes a few other small behind-the-scenes pieces like a better testing setup, a new site for our brand partners to help with integration and some more infrastructure fixes we need to help us continue to scale.

Stayed tuned, source pages and other goodies coming up in 2.5.

Drop us a line here to check out the Percolate demo and see how we help brands create content.


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Insights

9 Thoughts on Building Great Products

Last Friday I went along to ‘How to Build Great Products’. I attended the previous event in April, so I was prepared for delicious sandwiches and a day of great stories around making digital things of all shapes and sizes.

Here are the headlines that spoke to me during the day.

1. Observations FTW
Always remember the most meaningful user research is observational; watching how people use your service, understanding how it fits into someone’s life and how a change in their environment or device influences their experience.

2. Create loops
Creating participation loops is the art of user acquisition. Think Farmville; fun, intuitive interactions provide instant gratification and convert people to players. Game notifications create motion, motivating players to return.

3. Finding your form
Struggling to brand your company? Try applying the thought process of Mr Darwin’s‘Natural Selection’ to identify the appropriate levels of Mimicry, Camouflage, Visibility, Kin Recognition and Strength Display your brand needs to win in the market place.

4. Deliverables eat babies 
The Lean UX mantra streamlines process by championing cross discipline collaboration and focusing on outcomes, not deliverables. For the latter, understand the level of documentation needed amongst your team and go for it.

5. Fast is better than accurate
Your community is more forgiving with unperfect product releases than you think. Be conscious that you’ll slip into patterns when moving at great speed – evaluate your strategy for each push to ensure your approach is right. It’s all about moving with intelligence.

6. Design for surfaces
Kikin is a new web browser for the iPad which presents a touch based search. When designing for tablets think less about typing fingers in search fields and more about touching keywords to reveal related content inline.

7. Avoid ugly baby trajectory
By defining a set of ‘live or die’ metrics upfront you’ll be able to constantly monitor your performance. This will enable you to make informed decisions around which features to release. You’ll also hopefully avoid bringing up that ugly baby.

8. Your first guests
When launching a product think about who’s on your invite list. These are the people who will be seeding your company. Their participation will help define your product’s personality and play a big role moving forward. Think about them.

9. Believe in the comeback
Sometimes obstacles arise, but stay strong. Moviepass is bringing a Netflix like subscription model to cinema-going in real life. They also have an incredible story of overcoming media companies who tried to shut them down.

Thanks to @kkearney@tfadp@saaspire@jboogieDavid Black@theschnaz,@ronjdub@courtneylewis@stacyspikes for their words of wisdom.

Image by pohutukawa2008


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

Get in touch and we’ll show you our system in action.