Talk with anybody involved with software development these days and there’s a good chance you’ll hear about minimal viable products. Over the past few years the phrase has exploded in popularity, largely due to Eric Reiss’ book The Lean Startup, where he proposes entrepreneurs leverage a continuous innovation as a means of product development. At this point the term is being tossed around everywhere—from two person start-ups working in coffee shops to large development teams building software for the major names throughout Silicon Valley.
The most popular posts on the 2 Out of Three blog are our ginger beer reviews. And while each of the five tastings we’ve conducted used identical judging criteria, the lineup of ginger beers has varied. This has made comparisons a bit cumbersome and doing a quick lookup for specific beverages on this site can be downright frustrating. Well, we’ve set out to remedy this situation by shining a light on the American ginger beer landscape with a comprehensive guide. It is one you can download to your mobile phone for a quick consultation at the market, or print and store in your wallet for those who prefer an analog version.
Consider this a public service for those of us who go weak in the knees at the thought dark rum, ginger beer, and a splash of lime mixed and poured over ice; the devoted legions who take their ginger with vodka; or, those who prefer their ginger beer served straight and cold.
In a post earlier this week I talked about my six month blogging hiatus. In actuality it was limited only to this website. I kept my writing skills sharp (I mean sharp in the same way the thirty-year-old knives at your parent’s house are sharp) with the occasional post on the Kiva blog. These pieces have generally focused on changes to the website, but I wanted to highlight one that detailed how we do user research at Kiva.
Days turn into weeks. Weeks turn into months. Months turn into years. I’ve neglected this blog for nearly six months, with only a single post in 2013. Luckily in that time my writing skills have not completely atrophied. But, I’m afraid if I hold out any longer I just may lose the “mediocre” skill which once lead a teacher to declare: “if I could get past the spelling mistakes, you might have something here.” Writing is an exercise I both enjoy and a skill I value as being essential in today’s world, where ideas travel to all corners of the globe as quickly as the internet connection that carries them.
At Kiva we’ve been watching our mobile traffic grow year over year to the point where our most recent numbers show us 9% of visitors are viewing our site on a smartphone. Seeing this trend, our development team has been itching to improve the mobile experience on Kiva for a long time, and with our most recent release, we’re excited to let you know we’ve taken the first step towards a mobile optimized site.
2012 may well be remembered as the year we woke up to the threat hackers pose to our online identities. One of the year’s most read stories was Mat Honan’s horrifying account of having his online identity stolen and the subsequent loss of data that resulted because a hacker wanted to take his Twitter account on a mischievous joy ride. After reading about the attack I spent a couple hours to safeguard my own accounts in order to minimize the chance such an attack could happen to me. With the new year upon us, now is the perfect time to take your own precautions.
The most frightening aspect of the attack Honan suffered was that his passwords were never compromised. The hackers gained access to his Twitter, Gmail, Amazon, and Apple accounts through social engineering—essentially they exploited system vulnerabilities and tricked customer service agents into resetting passwords in order to take control of his accounts. Not once did they actually figure out one of his passwords.
“The thing to remember is that UI design is like selling a restaurant, where you can’t just serve up good food in order to run a restaurant. You have to create an environment around the food that gets people in the mood to enjoy a really great meal: presenting the food really nicely, picking the right plates, the lighting on the table, the music that is playing. When you put all that together, it creates a much nicer experience than if you just were to serve up some good food.”
A former top Apple designer
Birthdays are a big deal at Kiva. Especially among our Product and User Experience Team, they’ve evolved as an opportunity to celebrate the fun personality quirks of each team member. As readers of this blog will know, my particular quirk is a fondness for ginger beer. So when my birthday arrived, the team skipped the cake and ice cream, opting instead for a gathering with ginger beer, limes and dark rum. This stellar event was organized as homage to the tastings 2 Out of Three has conducted over the past few years. Six different ginger beers were grouped into tasting stations where participants could write a review and rate each product on a scale of 1 to 10. Also included were the necessary ingredients for a Dark ‘n’ Stormy: organic limes, ice, and Gosling’s Dark Rum.
Sometime around 2006 I discovered the blog of Aaron James Draplin and I’m a better designer for it. Draplin creates timeless designs and provides memorable commentary from his studio in Portland, OR. He’s had a hand in designing many of the products I love from the branding for Coal Headwear, to the creation of Field Notes, and even t-shirts for Patagonia.
“It’s a very serious thing to kill an animal. People should take it very seriously, they shouldn’t be expecting to eat meat seven days a week, two meals a day.”
Elissa Thau, Magnolia Farm, Roseburg, Oregon