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December 22, 2011 - No Comments!

Great Design Is Now The Currency

With the likes of Google, Facebook, Twitter and Path taking big steps towards 'great' design we are starting to see the era of design come to light. It may seem biased from a designers point of view, but it only takes a moment for anyone to look at all the old/new services being represented with incredible user interfaces, solid user experience flow and gorgeous branding throughout. Great design is now the currency.

Many of us should be thankful to the behemoth that is Apple - who played the underdog for many years until finally finding its feet with the 'iRange'. Companies have since replicated the simplicity, elegance and beauty that is the Apple products as Apple moved to become the most valuable company worldwide. Their push into top position sparked the adoption of gorgeous design across the web and mobile alike. Of course, it's not just Apple that pushed the envelope. Many companies had already started shifting their focus towards a cleaner look, sexier user interfaces and a focus on seemingly irrelevant design details that even Steve Jobs would have appreciated.

There was a time recently where designers were an afterthought, an addon to an already existing product. Now designers are leading services with their unique vision, giving their products the edge needed in an over-saturated market. This big push into design has spurred on a flurry of activity in terms of new hires, incredible apps, designer co-founders and more. But what will the currency of design look like as the year rolls on?

Late 2011: Designers create new vision & push the boundaries in various areas of the tech landscape

As we've witnessed, Google+ has brought their UI/UX into line across multiple products (Youtube, Gmail, Reader, Google+) while Twitter pushed a completely new interface for its mobile market (to be later rolled into their core product). Many other companies have developed into new fields and led the way with new designs that have inspired many.

Early 2012: Customers/Sales define the leading designs - Companies start redeveloping to utilise the most popular design aspects

In a matter of months we are likely to see duplications of previous designs, layouts, buttons and other UI components at play. Naturally, this will alter the user experience and effect how websites and apps are used. Customers will request (design) features from other successful products and companies will adopt elements to suit.

Mid 2012: Many products become visually aligned - Interfaces are continually tweaked with small updates vs large redesigns or redefining concepts

Websites and apps will be at a stage where the functionality of their products will only slightly differ in the way of design. Animations, icons, flow and overall styling will have a familiar feel as customers jump between different platforms. In light of this, many companies will begin to alter their focus away from design, leaving only small tweaks in the spotlight.

Late 2012: Design hits a peak of awareness and alignment - Design begins to take a sidestep to the next focus area of the tech landscape

Design as a currency will funnel into a merge point. At this time, many companies will already be focused on the next big 'edge' for their products and stepping up to put that into motion. Design will not disappear - it will become an important element of a product but not nearly as powerful as the months prior.

Do you believe great design is now the currency? Share your opinion in the comments.

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August 15, 2011 - No Comments!

Dan Shipper – Founder Of DomainPolish.com – Inspiring Entrepreneurs Interview

In this Inspiring Entrepreneurs Interview I spoke with Dan Shipper, the founder of DomainPolish. As a programmer for 10 years and a Freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, this young entrepreneur is making a big impact in the online technology scene.

Diesel Laws: Hi Dan, it's great to be able to chat with you. For those who aren't familiar with DomainPolish.com please explain what it is.

Dan Shipper: Hey Diesel, thanks it's great to be here! So DomainPolish.com is a really simple way for anyone to get instant feedback on their website from average end users. Basically it's like an on-demand focus group for your site. It's a really simple way for you to know whether people understand what your value proposition is, what your branding is, and find out how they feel about the service you're offering e.g. Whether they would use it, if they would recommend it to their friends etc.

DL: Great! I first noticed DomainPolish through HackerNews. How did HackerNews help in getting Domain Polish off the ground?

DS: I've been something of a Hacker News addict for a really long time now, so the process that I went through in developing DomainPolish was heavily influenced by everything that's written there in terms of the lean startup model and the customer development process. I literally conceived of, built and released the first version in less than a week. But beyond that, Hacker News has been an integral part of the DomainPolish user base from launch. When I first finished the project I posted it to HN and got a good amount of feedback but no sales. Then after about two days where no one had bought anything I got two sales back to back. The second person who bought it, Iain McQueen, decided to write a blog post that became very popular on HN, and the sales started rolling in. From there I've written a few blog posts which the community has found interesting, and I've gotten a lot of great feedback, and met a lot of people over the last week or so from there.

DL: I have been following along and watching you literally document the progress through HackerNews/Blog Posts - it's a very impressive and honest marketing campaign - did you plan that from the outset?

DS: No not at all. It's been a habit for me to submit projects that I've completed to HN for a while. I've also done a few other blog posts in the past documenting other experiences I've had with successful projects that the community has seemed to like. But after Iain's post became popular and I started seeing some success I realized that I probably had a story that people would be interested in and could learn from. So I wrote a few posts about it and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. It's been a clear decision for me to just be open and transparent about the whole process because a. I think it's really interesting and I wish there were more people doing it and b. I have nothing to lose by doing it, in fact I think it's been a huge help to my business both from a marketing perspective and just because I get to talk to a lot of really smart people who give great feedback.

DL: It's incredibly inspiring to learn from someone being right in the trenches. And you're quite young too, do you find it hard to juggle between college and business?

DS: Striking a balance is definitely something that I've had to think about in the past. I've been coding for about 10 years, and have done a number of software businesses starting in high school so I've been pretty good at managing it in the past. It definitely got a little tougher over the past few months as I started seeing more success, especially last semester interviewing at Y Combinator. But I think overall it's been very doable.

DL: Yes, the entrepreneurial mind never switches off! When did you know you wanted to become an entrepreneur?

DS: I get that question a lot and to be honest, I don't remember. It was very early on which is why I started programming. Knowing how to code is the only way that a 10-year-old programmer can produce something people want in a scalable way for free.

DL: Do you think a good education is important for entrepreneurs?

DS: Well I think in order to answer that question you would have to define what a good education is. Certainly you don't need a college degree to be a good entrepreneur - a good education as it applies to entrepreneurship can easily just consist of practical experience. Beyond just practical experience though, if you want to define a good education as coming from college, I think college provides a lot of room for an entrepreneur to meet new people, explore new fields of interest and invest time in learning about things that have nothing to do with business. I think it's really important to be well-rounded and well-educated. But the question is, at what cost? For some people, the college experience may not be worth the debt it incurs. So is it a necessary requirement? Absolutely not. Do I feel like I'm getting a lot out of school as an entrepreneur, but more importantly, as a person? Absolutely yes.

DL: Very true. You do have to work out what is right for you as an individual. What do you have planned next for DomainPolish?

DS: Well I have a new release which was supposed to come out tonight, but I've been getting bogged down taking it from 95% done to ready-to-ship. There's just a lot of little things that need to be taken care of. The new release has a ton of new features, including complete start-to-finish order automation, awesome visualizations of the feedback you get, and the ability to send the usability surveys out to friends and family so you can get quantifiable feedback from people you know in addition to feedback from the cloud.

DL: It is definitely worth taking the time to get it just right. Once the new version comes out where do you think you'll take it?

DS: Yes, I'm sort of taking this one step at a time, so if this release is well received I'll look into continuing to expand the brand and turning it into a real company. I know there's a need out there for something like this. It really depends on whether or not I can cost-effectively target the sales channels that reach the target customer for this service. Its biggest problem is that many people look at the feedback as a one and done type of thing. So I'll either have to continually find new users which is extraordinarily difficult and expensive to do, or figure out a way to provide enough value and change consumer mindset enough to make it into a subscription model.

DL: That's an incredible insight into where you are taking DomainPolish. I really look forward to following your progress with it. What's your one tip for entrepreneurs just starting out?

I've boiled down my methodology for doing projects like this to just three words: Build. Release. Iterate. - Dan Shipper

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DL: Thanks so much for taking some time out of your hectic schedule to chat with me Dan. I'm really keen to see where DomainPolish takes you.

DS: Hey, no problem! It was a pleasure talking to you. Thanks for thinking of me for the interview.

Connect with Dan Shipper via Twitter @danshipper and make sure you check out DomainPolish.com. You can also follow @diesellaws.

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August 13, 2011 - Comments Off on Pablo Villalba – Founder Of Teambox.com – Inspiring Entrepreneurs Interview

Pablo Villalba – Founder Of Teambox.com – Inspiring Entrepreneurs Interview

In this Inspiring Entrepreneurs Interview I spoke with Pablo Villalba, the founder of Teambox. Moving into CEO position, Pablo now handles Product Design, Marketing, Programming and Sales in his 15-person-strong company.

Diesel Laws: Hi Pablo, I really appreciate being able to talk with you today. For those who aren't familiar with Teambox, can you please shed some light on what it is.

Pablo Villalba: Thanks Diesel, great to chat. Teambox.com is a Project Management Software that allows users to collaborate online. You can create your own projects and share tasks and files with your group in a centralized way.

D: Teambox is a fantastic tool (we use it for Barkles). Where did the idea come from to start building Project Management Software?

P: Well, I felt the need