design

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Haven’t done an Iconic Design post in a while, and I’m sad to be compelled to do so upon learning that Ferdinand Porsche died today.

Whether you feel the Porsche design (particularly the 911) signifies all that is right with automotive design, or a feeble attempt made by middle-aged men to recapture something lost (or both/in-between), it undeniably stands the test of time, and illustrates Mr. Porsche’s mantra:

“Design must be functional and the functionality must be visually implemented without gags that need to be explained.”

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I wrote a post a bit ago called “Buy One, Give One Free” that got batted around the Internet a bit.

The basic gist of my post was that artists (musicians, writers, poets, et al.) could adopt some ideas from Social Entrepreneurship , and repurpose these ideas to their benefit; specifically, the idea (most visible via Toms Shoes) of making it possible to give a product away when a customer buys one.

I bemoaned the fact that I didn’t see an implementation of this type of thing in the arts:

I’ve been frustrated by the lack of a mechanism for this type of sharing of information, which makes it easy for the existent constituent to introduce the work to her friends. As above, one may exist, and, if so, I’d love to see some examples, so please leave them in the comments.

Well, I’m really happy to report that, due to the fact that I have some brilliant friends, we’re making some progress.

I saw the following tweet from Ty White the other day, and new I was in for something good:

As Ty says in his blog post

A few months ago, George Howard blogged about a great idea for artists trying to get their word out: offer your fans the option to send a free copy of the record to a friend when they buy a copy for themselves. It’s a great way to offer your fans additional social capital (by sending a copy of a great record to a friend) while helping the artist get introduced to new people.

I took this idea to Jim from All Smiles, who immediately agreed to try it out with the new record. Easier said than done. As it turned out, we needed a new API call from Topspin (BIG thanks to Varley and Kris!) to detect when the purchase was complete, and also needed a way to store the sharers name, recipient’s name, and recipient’s email. I dove into PHP and MySQL for the first time, and thankfully Topspin bent over backwards to help get the API calls working.

As you can see, it takes a unique type of person (like Ty unquestionably is) to not only see value in an idea (and give credit where credit is due), but implement the idea. As Ty wrote, this was “easier said than done.”

Nevertheless, he did it, and the results have been solid:

Two weeks ago we launched pre-order, and this Tuesday the album hit the street. As of writing, we’ve seen 21% of purchasers take the option to send the album to a friend.

Ty feels this number (21%) can be higher with some tweaking, and offers some good suggestions on how to improve.

My point in all this is that we live today in an era where we can rapidly go from idea to execution. This delights me to no end. Not long ago, in order to get any type of web-based idea up and running was a long, expensive, tedious process that more often than not took the wind out of the excitement of the idea. In other words, you knew that it was going to be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to try something out, so you didn’t try. Not good.

Today, we can try with much lower costs (real and opportunity).

I’m fully aware that it takes a uniquely talented type of person, like Ty, to be able to pull something like the “Buy One, Give One Free” idea, but it can be done, and, increasingly, it can be done quickly and cheaply.

This bodes very well for all of us. The more ideas that can get to market – in order to succeed or fail – faster, the better.

Thanks, Ty, for making my little idea manifest. Let’s now continuously improve.

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