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Design Philosophy Case Study: Wherespresso

by admin on September 25, 2011

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 52 seconds

The Wherespresso site and app experience (UI and UX) has been hugely influenced by the guys at 37Signals. There’s no one who influences my thinking more than these guys (apart from maybe Seth Godin).

I thought I’d run through a few concepts for some of the more design oriented readers.

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Have One Big Idea

Our big idea is to help you find and share the location of the best coffee. That’s it. I’m trying to keep the app and website clean, uncluttered and fast. I want you to find what you need and be on your way (but come back another day!). Of course, there are some other features being built that will help financially support the site (I promise that it is not based on advertising!), but, underlying everything is the goal of revealing where the best coffee is.

Build Less

We’re all so time poor these days that the last thing I want is to complicate things further. So, keeping the Big Idea (above) in mind, I tried to build as little as possible to support this. Extra features means more complication in code and for users, and more complexity equals more cost for me, and more learning for you.

This point also goes neatly with building half products rather than half arsed products.

Perfect in this site will be reached not when everything is added, but when there is nothing left to take away (quote from Antoine de St Exupery).

Less Mass

In keeping with building less, Wherespresso has less mass. This means simple and clean interfaces, being in constant beta, making mistakes (but less of them) and everything else that goes with being lean and fast moving.

Embrace Constraints

Wherespresso has real constraints; constraints on having loads of money to be spent is the big one. Contrary to what some may think, Wherespresso is totally funded by Bootstrapping. I use my wages to fund development so funding is a good problem as it focuses the mind on what is truly important for end users and sustainability of the site.

Our Site and App takes sides

This happens as a consequence of designing and building with Less Mass and Building Less; I naturally have to make decisions that will reduce decisions for users. Whilst this might piss some users off – “Oh why can’t I do such and such” – in reality, less decisions for users means more decisive action and a simpler user experience.

Studies on giving more decisions have clearly shown that this increases decision paralysis. In keeping with the one big idea for Wherespresso: help you find and share the best coffee.

Build what matters

This point also goes nicely with the above point as well as Embracing Constraints. By limiting choices and making opinionated software, we end up building something that only gives you features that are totally germane to your goal of finding and sharing the best coffee.

My first consideration with any new feature (suggested by someone else, or even that I think of is): “does this really matter? How will it make the user experience better”.

Feature Requests

All Feature Requests are forgotten and met with a no, until the call for their implementation is too hard to ignore and I have to consider their worthiness.

This stops me becoming preoccupied with looking at scores of feature requests one by one.

It’s why Wherespresso will almost certainly almost be in constant beta

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