• 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.
  • Weeknote 493

    May 4th to 10th

    If there is something we sometimes suffer from, it’s not being able to show the work we poured our hearts in. “Puichon” is a project that keeps us very busy since almost three years, but it’s still in stealth mode. Then there are other projects were we didn’t design the final product which is visible to the public, nevertheless we were involved a lot in the process of getting there. The recently launched website of DIY store hagebau.de is such an example. In the end it was done by the in-house team, but we designed the foundations and created a pattern library that supported them to develop, expand and maintain the website.

    While we often can’t show project like this, we can talk about our general approach to pattern libraries. So we chatted with PAGE magazine. The result is an article in their current issue:

    Precious’ Pattern Lab from PAGE 06/2015.
    We also have something concrete to show this week: Finderzimmer, an app for buying and selling used kids clothing, is now available on the app store. We’ve been working on this product since October last year, and after a closed beta phase we are now very excited to see how people will respond to it. A huge thank-you to Anne and her team at g+j for making this project possible, and kudos to the gang at mindmatters, who developed the app.

    We are always very critical with our work and tend to forget about the achievements among all those little things that aren’t quite right. That’s why Michael introduced a new format recently: The Project/Milestone Completion Celebration. Rules: present all the positive aspects about the project in front of the team. No if and buts, no “we could have better” – these are for a retrospective, but not for the celebration.

    This week it was my pleasure to celebrate the launch of Finderzimmer. And while preparing the presentation, I was surprised how many good aspects I came up with. It’s a great exercise to put things in perspective (especially for the self-critical) and a lot of fun. Try it with your next project!

    Julie completed her high school internship and presented her project, a tablet app called "Quiz Field”. Within three weeks, she developed the concept, designed the screens in Sketch and made an interactive prototype! Here’s a video of an interaction sketch, which she used to test the game mechanic: More great news: Arved is back. He was interning at precious a while ago, then continued his studies in Denmark and Gmünd, spent a few months in Berlin for an internship at edenspiekermann and traveled alone through Cambodia. Now he’s settled in Hamburg, and we are glad to have him on the team.

    Another fresh face in the studio: Lukas, a young and talented programmer from the sunny part of England. He met us at github and worked remotely on a few Sketch plug-ins. This week, Lukas came over for a few days to work on an internal project with us. Something with colors. Stay tuned.

    More celebrations: on Tuesday we all left a little earlier to check out if this new BBQ joint is up to the American standards of birthday boy Sean. Unfortunately the sky opened its gates and flooded the place right before we got there. We found another place to eat and had a good time anyway.

    Another source of joy was the arrival of our custom made drafting dots:

    Samples of custom made drafting dots. Now we have to decide about a final design.
    Over and out.

    Posted by Johannes.
  • Weeknote 492

    April 27th to May 3rd

    It was a short week and nothing special happened, so here’s a quick one: Christophe and David are still finishing the foundations of the design system for Puichon. In a related project, Sean and Florie are getting to the bottom of how people are communicating and planning in a business context. I worked on another sub-project designing user flows.

    Michael prepared a self-initiated project which we will kick-off next week. He was also still involved in two other projects that are coming to completion soon. With a little help from Michael, our intern Julie made a stop-motion movie to prototype her quiz game ideas. She also scribbled user flows which took up about two meters on our wall. A sight that impressed her teacher quite a bit when he came visiting.

    As always, Aisha’s activities were so manifold and diverse, that it’s hard for me to summarize them in a sentence or two. Let just say she made sure everything is running smoothly and everybody has a good time.

    Posted by Johannes.
  • Weeknote 491

    April 20th to 26th

    This week, Julie started her 3-week school internship. Her goal is to design and prototype a quiz app. So much cooler than my internship in a public administration office.

    Our beloved espresso machine almost exploded. Dear engineers: putting the sensible pressure regulating electronics directly under the water tank, without any cover, isn’t such a good idea. Fortunately, the machine found another way to blow off steam. And Espresso Tecnica’s swift service prevented caffeine deprivation.

    Louise is really busy with her new food truck, so we were happy that she made some time to cook our team lunch on Thursday. She made a vegan salad reminiscent of a popular North German dish: Matjes salad. Michael was giddy with pleasure.

    Finderzimmer, an iPhone app we’ve been working on since December last year, got submitted to Apple. It should be available in about two weeks. More about it then.

    Our friends and clients (we worked with them on “Kapitulation” and “Schall & Wahn”), Tocotronic, played a show to celebrate their new release. It was a great night. Check out their album, in stores next week.

    Posted by Johannes.
  • Weeknote 490

    April 13th to 19th

    I feel a little guilty having ignored the weeknotes for more than two months. But to be honest, I pretty much forgot about them.

    The main reason of these regular postings has always been reflection. To take a step back once a week and review the past days in the studio. I’m still surprised when someone mentions something I wrote about, because – other than myself – I don’t have a reader in mind. Sure, I obfuscate project specifics and censor myself at times. But I have no ideas how many people are reading these postings and frankly I don’t care. The weeknotes are a tool. And publishing them online enforces a habit.

    So why did I forgot about the tool and broke the habit? Other tools and habits replaced them. One the one hand, we are getting better and better at sticking to our weekly review. For these regular team meetings we established a format that seems to work very well so far. We also started another regular meeting (stand up) for our most extensive project.

    On the other hand, I started using IDoneThis a while ago. It's an app that asks just one question: “What’d you get done today?”. So every evening before I leave the studio, I take 5 minutes to think about what happened that day. And then write it down.

    Since last week we are testing IDoneThis with the whole team. At the end of the day, everybody can see what the others have accomplished. I hope we can stick to it, because I really like this ambient awareness, especially when I can’t be in the studio.

    Like this week. I had to stay in bed on Monday, then worked two days from home, spend only half a day in our studio on Thursday and worked at a partner’s office on Friday. Still I have a good idea of what’s going on, because I attended the weekly and scanned our IDoneThis.

    Apart from my above thoughts, there’s only one other thing I want to share with you, my dear reader:

    Florie, Aisha and Michael (left to right) finally mounted a sign with our logo at the entrance.

    Illustration by Florie, who delighted everybody with it at our weekly review.
    Posted by Johannes.