Yer Adaptive Path Update

Apologies for having so little to offer. Work has become a little… nutty (in a good way!), and I haven’t had time to think and write.

In lieu, some pointers to stuff we got going on at Adaptive Path.

Redesigning Blogger, a one-day workshop where Doug Bowman and Jeff Veen step you through how they redesigned Blogger to better explain the message, encourage registration, and do so while looking good.

Additionally, 37Signals is offering their workshop, Building of Basecamp, an in-depth look at the development of their leading-edge project management tool.

Use the discount code APDC to receive 10% off either or both days.

In other news, Scott got “Web Design: ROI Is Not a Silver Bullet” published on It’s very similar to what he wrote for the Adaptive Path site, though with some smart introductory text for a UX-unaware audience. Most cool is that we’re getting the value of user experience word out to the more business and tech press.

More Ways To Dispense Paper Towels Than To Skin A Cat?

As I have increased the frequency of my handwashing (best way to prevent colds!), one thing I noticed is that there is an astonishing variety of mechanisms for dispensing paper towels. You’d think it’s a pretty, well, solved problem. You’d think that, by now, the optimal solution would have been hit upon, and just used.

But no. So, I’ve gone into bathrooms and photographed some of the variety I’ve seen…

There’s everything from the spring-loaded…

…to the pull-and-tear…

…to the one that got me started, the wave-your-hand…

…and much more.

As a design-minded person, I find all these different approaches to the same problem fascinating, because they each betray different concerns. I would think that, for the user, the most optimal is the upside-down-kleenex box — easy dispening, and no need to touch anything.

But for the provider of the paper towels, they probably like the big rolls, because I’m guessing they’re cheaper than the sheets, and last longer before refilling.

I don’t know why bathrooms still have dispensers that require manipulation — touching them defeats the hygienic purpose.

And do we really need motion sensors in them? (And I find that those motion sensors tend to work poorly).

Anyway, I’d love to start a collective album of paper towel dispensers over on Flickr. I’ve developed a tag, papertoweldispenser, that can serve this singular purpose. People of earth: go into your public bathrooms, photograph your dispensers, upload them to Flickr, and tag them so they appear here! Let’s see just how many varieties there are.

Organization Centralization can be a good thing!

My essay, “Organization in the Way: How decentralization hobbles the user experience” has just been posted to the Adaptive Path site. Readers of peterme will recognize its genesis a few posts back. I was able to evolve the piece so that it spoke to a broader concern in design and user experience. I also wrote this passage, of which I’m most proud:

Ideally, these measures would balance to create a superior product. Realistically, all of those disparate objectives often conflict, leading to one of three results: 1) “design by committee,” where, in an effort to achieve consensus, innovative impulses are dampened, 2) “design by accretion,” where products are cobbled together in a serial fashion, each department contributing without regard to what the other groups are doing, or 3) “design by gauntlet,” where projects are subject to so many approval processes that they can be stalled at any point along the way.

It sounds like I would do well to read The Mythical Man-Month as it touches on some of the same problems with projects.