New York

We spent a few days in New York at the end of January. It was my first time back in 12 years and I forgot how much I love that city. It really is the center of the universe.

Manhattan, looking from Brooklyn

Manhattan, looking on from Brooklyn.

Waiting

Waiting

14th Street Station

14th Street Station

Chelsea Bridge

Bridge in the Sky

Chelsea Market

The Chelsea Market

Chelsea Lobsters

Lobsters at the Chelsea Market

2014-02-01 15.36.04 - Version 2 (1)

Hello from the Met!

PS – If your looking for a great place to stay, I highly recommend Veronica and Don’s Airbnb. Staying in the West Village makes you feel more like a New Yorker than a touristy Midtown hotel ever could.

Happy Holidays 2013

from the Hrachs.

Adjust your Fidelity

Adjust your Fidelity

Adjust your Fidelity

It’s been a wonderful year, personally and professionally. I’m thankful for time I get to spend this break with my family and friends. Merry Christmas, folks.

Adjust Your Fidelity

UX on a budget.

Adjust your Fidelity

During the Q & A session for CS & UX: Putting the Pieces Together, my friend Josh Feig had a smart, very practical question (paraphrased) that I wanted to expand on:

How do you best apply the UX process to a project that has a tight timeline and limited budget?”

Whether you’re designing a digital product at a startup or you’re at an agency building a website for a client, budget and time will always be two constraints that have direct effects on the UX process. Designing an interface can be time intensive depending how much attention you allocate to each interaction. On top of that, explaining to a client how user experience design is an iterative process, which requires even more time and money, is a tough sell.

My suggestion is to lower the fidelity of your UX deliverables. Detailed wireframes created in Omnigraffle (or similar software) can be time-consuming to create while the same design problems can be solved by quickly sketching on paper or a whiteboard. Sketching is an undervalued technique that allows you to visualize tough design challenges without having to jump on a computer. It’s also a communication tool to convey complex interaction to the other members of your team more effectively than an email or wireframes alone.

Many agencies frown on presenting anything less than polished deliverables to the client, which is understandable. Clients pay good money for your expertise, and they deserve refined deliverables that inspire confidence in your abilities. Though, in my experience, clients are accepting of sketches as deliverables if you include them in the sketching process.

That’s right, bring the client in and sketch with them, then capture everything with your phone camera or an iPevo. Not only will you both have a better understanding of the project scope by defining the interactions together, you’ll save valuable time and budget by eliminating the need for formal wireframes, client presentations, revisions, and all the other unnecessary protocol that comes with the traditional agency model.

CS & UX: Putting the Pieces Together

Come out and see me speak with my super smart sister, Anna Hrach, at the next Phoenix Content Strategy Meetup. It’s also one of the featured events for Phoenix Design Week 2013.

Content Strategy (CS) and User Experience (UX) might seem like completely separate disciplines. But the reality is they’re working towards the exact same goal: amazing digital experiences that satisfy both business objectives and user needs. So, instead of separating them shouldn’t we really be asking how the two could come together to create solutions?

Join us to hear how brother-and-sister duo Jon Hrach—UX Designer at Modest UX—and Anna Hrach—content strategy manager at ethology and co-organizer of the Phoenix Content Strategy Meetup—had to do just that when they went from tight-knit siblings to real-life coworkers.

I’m pretty excited about this one. Book now, though. There’s only a few spots left.

Update: Wow, sold out. You guys are amazing.

Update 2: It was great! Thank you to Phoenix Design Week and the Phoenix Content Strategy Meetup for having me. Thank you also to Aaron Smitthipong and Andi Robbins for saving the day with AV support. You guys are amazing. Embedded below are a few photos from the event and the presentation slides.

XOXO 2013

In September 2013, I was fortunate enough to attend XOXO: an experimental art and technology conference.

Neon

There’s a contagious energy about XOXO that’s hard to explain. People of the internet collectively descend on Portland for 3 days of inspirational talks, events and fun. Pitches for new startups and talk VC money is frowned upon. It’s heartfelt, genuine and devoid of cynicism. The entire conference felt like a warm hug over and over again. And if you know any Hrachs, we like to hug. (Sorry about that.)

Andy Baio and Andy McMillan are making the world a better place by inspiring people to build products independently. And ‘products’ is probably too narrow of a description. Things? Wonderful and beautiful things? Just build something. Just be happy building something. Do it independently and control it. Be your own publisher, gatekeeper, and boss. That’s what they want for you. That’s what they want to see the world filled with. That’s how the world will be a better place.

And so they produced XOXO, which is in its second year and I was lucky enough to attend.

Opening with Chris Anderson

XOXO Attendees

While many things make XOXO wonderful, the level of polish and attention to the entire experience stood out the most. It was Apple quality in terms of a conference. From the laser etched wood badges, to hand picked food trucks, to the quality of events and speakers; it all conveyed one thing: they deeply care. This is service design at its best. If only everyone cared this much about anything.

Take a stand

And the events. The events! They fit in so many amazing things that I felt like I had been there a week after the first day.

We visited Panic’s office, which I’ve always wanted to see since first reading about the founder’s room. We had drinks on the roof top of Wieden + Kennedy, and while I’m happily out of the marketing/advertising world, I very much enjoyed seeing their incredible office (Don’t be late for your meeting in the nest). We hung out at an arcade that had all of my favorite nostalgic 90′s-era arcade games (old school Street Fighter battles ftw). There was an intimate concert with Jim Guthrie, Jonathan Coulton, Jack Conte and Anamanaguchi. We screened independent films and played table top games. We collectively played beautiful, unreleased pixel art video games from independent publishers. We had more fun than we ever expected to.

The line up of speakers were equally impressive but three especially stood out:

  • Vi Hart stole the show with an energetic, spontaneous, and downright hilarious talk on finding the way that fits you best to self-promote your work. She’s also an amazing musician.
  • Marco Arment spoke to his experiences and fears running a one person app company. He also announced his new podcast app: Overcast. I’m a big fan of Instapper and I’m excited to see this.
  • Cabel Sasser gave an incredibly sincere, emotional, and funny talk on how he overcomes his own self-doubt. It’s moving when someone as accomplished as Cable allows themselves to become that vulnerable in front of 200 strangers. He had the most genuine moments of the conference and made everyone feel just a little more human.

I hope they do post videos of all the speakers. There was too much good stuff to not share with the world.

Make Me Proud.

Finally, there’s Portland. It was my first time visiting and it’s my new favorite town. It’s friendly and approachable, but has the excitement and feel of a much bigger city such as San Francisco. Life revolves around good food, coffee and beer while Portalandia stereotypes are embraced. XOXO would not be as successful in another city. I know I’ll be back soon.

Hopefully, it will be at XOXO 2014.

Oh god.

Here’s the rest of my XOXO photos.