• Weeknote 500

    June 22nd to 28th

    Five hundred!

    Not the number of actual weeknotes, though. We started much later and skipped quite a few since then.

    A few weeks ago, when I continued writing weeknotes after a long period of silence, I said to myself: keep going to 500 and then…

    Frankly, I sometimes struggle to write these posts. Sometimes I think there is nothing interesting to report. Or there is something interesting on my mind, but I don’t have the time, energy or skill to write about it properly. Or something interesting happened, but we can’t talk about it publicly. In either case, it’s a little frustrating.

    Looking back at all the weeknotes, I must admit, that they are not as honest and transparent as I want them to be. I often amplified the positive aspects and omitted the problems, doubts and struggles, thus painting a picture that’s not totally accurate. I think that’s partly because these posts are the only content on our website. Greeting your visitors with negativity is probably not the best idea. Maybe that changes, when the weeknotes step back and are not the defining content of this website anymore.

    Although writing these weeknotes is often not as satisfying as I would like it to be, I still see some value in them. 500 won’t be the last.

    As for what happened this week, have a look here and there.

    Posted by Johannes.
  • Weeknote 498 + 499

    June 8th to 21st

    Looking at our activity log of the last two weeks, I realized that we are currently and actively working on four precious products. Two have been just released: Data Populator and Product Field. Two more are in the works.

    Say goodbye to lorem ipsum

    We always made sure to design with realistic data, but doing so was very tedious. That’s why we developed Data Populator. It has been a very powerful tool for us, and now that we shared it, we are glad to see that it struck a nerve with lots of designers.

    While a great little helper on its own, Data Populator is a piece of a larger puzzle: a workshop series we have developed for designers, product managers and developers about getting the most out of Sketch and how to manage design workflows in complex projects (contact us, if that sounds intriguing).

    Field better products

    The Product Field is also released and ready to be used by everybody. We’ve already gathered some valuable feedback from people who tried it with their product ideas. Klaus, Wolfgang and our Michael – the three authors of the Product Field – held a first public workshop this week at the betahaus. More to come. Of course we also offer internal workshops for companies. If you have a product idea you want to evaluate, contact us.

    Because we now have all these products lined up, we are also working on a new website. In the last years, we de-prioritized our web presence to the point where we didn’t even talk about it anymore. We told ourselves that we don’t really need a proper website with a portfolio. But now that we working on it, I suspect that there was also another reason for postponing a redesign: it’s grueling to work on your own website. At least for me it is. It’s gotten worse, though. 15 years ago, designing my own website was fun. I thought everything I did was awesome. Most of it probably wasn’t, but the delusion helped.

    These days I find it really hard to represent our studio. Maybe that’s because this company is evolving so much lately. And our ideas for the future are even more exciting.

    There is this story about Otl Aicher, who – when asked by a client to do a corporate identity job – suggested they should publish a book about themselves instead. Only then, when they reflected about what they are really about, he might work on their visual identity.

    A wise men he was. Nevertheless we will build the website before we publish a book.

    Posted by Johannes.
  • Weeknote 497

    June 1st to 7th

    The main event this week was the launch of The Product Field at betahaus. Michael roped in almost everybody in the studio and infected us with his passion. From Arved who layouted the templates, to Sean who did some hand-lettering, to Aisha who organized the stage appearance of a bicycle messenger (if you weren’t there, consider it a cliffhanger that will be explained once you watch the soon-to-come video of the presentation).

    The presentation was a great success. People were really interested in this method and provided meaningful feedback.

    If you are interested in using The Product Field in your organization, you can either join one of the upcoming workshops at betahaus, or contact us to arrange a tailor-made workshop with your team.

    A couple of months ago, we decided to donate 10% percent of our profits (the precious one-tenth, as we call it internally) to support organizations or projects that make a positive change. Florie has spent some time this week preparing an initial workshop to discuss the matter with the whole team.

    Philipp was here for two days to work on a final polishing of an iOS app with Nils, the developer. It’s always inspiring talking with Philipp about his work, because he really delves deeply into the matter and doesn’t stop until every tiny little details is perfect.

    We made steady progress on all fronts of Puichon. A few more steps in this ultramarathon.

    Extreme sports like these call for optimal nutrition, so Louise came by twice this week and regaled us and our guests with her cooking. Yummy.

    Posted by Johannes.
  • Weeknote 496

    May 25th to 31st

    Above you see early iterations of a tool we developed together with Wolfgang from mindmatters and Klaus Peter from news aktuell: The Product Field. It’ll be presented for the very first time to the public on May 16th as part of Product Tank Hamburg. I won’t go into details now, but we’ll soon talk a little more about it.

    On our side, Michael is the driving force behind Product Field. But last week, prepping the release, many eyes and hands in the studio helped out to get it done. One of the highlights in this process was the arrival of the templates from the silkscreen printer.

    Proudly printed by BÄNG in Ottensen
    The culinary highlight this week was the seitan gyros Louise cooked for our team lunch. Kamila, who helped us a while ago as a working student, joined us. It was good to see her again.

    Our Apple Watch finally arrived. We’ve ordered a few hours too late and had to wait quite a bit. Christophe was the first to give it an in-depth test run and kept us updated daily about his experiences.

    Posted by Johannes.
  • Weeknote 495

    May 18th to 24th

    I spent the week in bed struggling with a persistent cold that built up slowly over the last two weeks and doesn’t seem to have any plans of going away anytime soon. Because of that I sadly missed the visit of a group of people from Malmö and Hamburg. As part of a quite special event format named 040x040, we opened our studio on Friday morning for coffee, croissant and interesting talks (full schedule here).

    Seems like I also missed out on a good party in the evening. There is photographic evidence posted on Slack showing Aisha, Florie, Arved and Christophe posing with DJ MAD, their gestures and grimaces suggesting they had a lot of fun (Or alcohol. Or both).

    The good thing though about being stuck in bed is that you have a lot of time to dive into books. I read about Cretan resistance fighters during World War II and the Natural Method, the story of the record label Merge, and why we need different houses.

    I also learned about writing better texts. On and off, I'm working on the content for our future website, and "Text sells" introduces some helpful techniques. From the same publisher comes this book, which I just started, but I’m already intrigued.

    Finally “Die Tocotronic Chroniken” arrived this week. Of course I’m biased, because we are friends with the band and the book features some of our work. But I really think it’s one of the best books ever published about a band. It’s very visual, showing hundreds of annotated photos, artworks, flyers and other documents, which describe the group probably better than a more text heavy book could have. This tome is a must-have for any Tocotronic fan, but I would also recommend it to someone who is just interested in (rock-)music in general.

    That's it for this week's (book) notes.

    Posted by Johannes.
  • Weeknote 494

    May 11th to 17th

    It was a short week, so is this note.

    As usual there was a lot of activity on Puichon. Christophe is still laying the design foundation, Sean and Florie worked on app concepts and I focussed on a very specific user flow.

    Following the intense session from last week, Arved, Michael and David spent some more time on our self-initiated project.

    We also released a Sketch plug-in called “Data Populator”. If you work on layouts with a lot of lists or collection views, this one is a massive time saver. Set-up once and populate all your screens with realistic and consistent data within seconds.

    Posted by Johannes.