Articles

Article

Let there be light!

4 Oct 2007

We moved to downtown Portland, Oregon in February of 2006 and while the space has had it’s perks, it also lacked a lot of natural light. So, we had decided that our next location would have much more natural light.

Construction in our new studio!

The new office space lacks private offices, but over time we have all migrated to a shared workspace anyway.

Planet Argon Rearranges the Furniture

It’s just our luck that within the same building, a new studio space opened up. We have people working this month on improvements to the space, such as a finished (wood) floor, installing a sink/kitchen area, amongst other fun stuff. We’re hoping to be in our new space, which is just down the hall around November 1st.

New Studio == Lot's of Natural Light!

The team is excited that we’ll be in a space that has way more natural light than our current space. :-)

Ground Kontrol
Small perk… Ground Kontrol is across the street!

Stay tuned for more photos as the construction team makes progress…

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Meteorites: Goodbye Summer!

25 Sep 2007

Even Simple Multi-tasking Can Make a Project 30% Late

“Instead of doing many things at once (thinly-veiled in the name of Productivity), focus your attention on one task at a time, which in the long run will allow you to do more.”

Collaboration with development is a handshake, not a handoff

“As designers, we have the opportunity to provide an immense amount of value as the design moves through the development process. This process is best when it’s less of a handoff and more of a handshake; it’s a commitment between the designers and developers. Trust is a key component of this relationship, and once developers learned to trust our design decisions—and realized that we were really listening to their feedback about technical feasibility—it allowed them to focus on writing code and not second-guessing our design choices.”

If you aren’t embarrassed by v1.0 you didn’t release it early enough

“It is well known that the sooner you catch a mistake in development, the cheaper it is to fix. I believe this is just as true in marketing. A sure way to find these marketing mistakes is to release. You wouldn’t write a thousand lines of code before you tried to compile it. Why would you spend a year or more on development before testing it in the market? Creating software should be an incremental process.”

How well do you know prototype

“Here, I’ve collected most common use cases that do NOT use all of prototype’s capabilities and their simple solutions. I hope this will be a basic checklist to go through when developing for your next project.”

Simple Ways to Help Your Design Suck Less

“I often deal with people that have programming and website creation experience but lack any design experience or even common sense in design. Creating things visually pleasing comes naturally to me (I think), I also study the area at a tertiary level. Following some published theories as well as my own aesthetic sense there’s some simple things you can do to create better design.”

Getting Creative With Specs: Usable Software Specifications

“Usability applies to our deliverables as much as to our designs. Creating a usable spec is an excellent way for us as designers to make things easier for the rest of the team.”

Foundations of Interaction Design

“…Interaction Design is distinct from the other design disciplines. It’s not Information Architecture, Industrial Design, or even User Experience Design. It also isn’t user interface design. Interaction design is not about form or even structure, but is more ephemeral–about why and when rather than about what and how.”

Hat Heads vs. Bed Heads

“Every project and every office has multiple personality types. How you work with them and how you manage the rationale of decisions and feedback is crucial to your success.”

Typenuts, The Funny Side of Typography

see for yourself… ;-)

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Rails Boxcar is here!

22 Aug 2007

A week ago, we quietly opened up the process for accepting new orders for our brand new hosting solution for Ruby on Rails. Here is what we sent out to all those who signed up on the Rails Boxcar mailing list.

Rails Boxcar is here!

We’ve been busy getting everything setup and tested for our newest hosting solution for Ruby on Rails. Boxcar, a pre-configured virtual server for hosting your business-level Rails applications, was developed out of our observations of how our Rails hosting customers are deploying their applications. Boxcar was designed to support the best-practices for Rails deployment.

How, you ask?

Unlike a typical VPS, we’ve pre-configured Boxcar to allow you to follow just a few steps to get your Rails application up and running as quickly as possible. We’ve also given you more control over your environment to install additional packages, gems, and programs.

We don’t want your Boxcar to box you in… except when you want it to.

Boxcar will provide you with more privacy. Your application will be completely separate from other customers’ applications. You will also get excellent performance as you will not be competing for memory usage or disk space with other customers, which leads to more stability for your application.

Don’t feel lonely!

All Boxcar customers will have access to a community-driven documentation project, aimed at helping everyone share tips
and tricks for configuring and maintaining your Boxcar.

Ready to hop on our train?

For the initial launch, we’re offering 6 and 12 month plans, both of which have a 30 day money back guarantee. Prices start at $85/month for the twelve month plan and $90/month for the six month plan.

Go ahead and place an order

Questions?

If you have any questions about our new Boxcar service, don’t hesitate to send an email to contact@planetargon.com or give us a call at +1 877 55 ARGON.

We’re excited about the launch of Boxcar and would like to thank all of our existing customers who have helped us design it.

Cheers,

The PLANET ARGON Team

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Meteorites: Hot August Nights

2 Aug 2007

26 Reasons What You Think is Right is Wrong

“A cognitive bias is something that our minds commonly do to distort our own view of reality. Here are the 26 most studied and widely accepted cognitive biases.”

The Five Biggest Web Site Mistakes

“Mistake No. 2 Don’t organize your site based on what’s familiar or convenient for your organization or its departments. You want a site that’s convenient for its end users—they come first. Put yourself in their shoes. Use language that makes sense to your intended audience; translate terminology (and any other jargon) into plain English.”

Multi-Tasking: Why projects take so long and still go late

“In most project environments multi-tasking is a way of life. This seemingly harmless activity, often celebrated as a desirable skill, is one of the biggest culprits in late projects, long project durations, and low project output. At the same time it is one of the least understood factors in managing projects.”

IT Conversations – Several podcasts of conversations with Interaction Design experts, from Irene Au to Jesse James Garrett.

Survey: Internet Explorer ‘most influential’ tech product in past 25 years

“Interesting word “influential.”" .. ""Best" certainly would have been a different story."

Microformats in Google Maps

“Today we’re happy to announce that we are adding support for the hCard microformat to Google Maps results. Why should you care about some invisible changes to our HTML? By marking up our results with the hCard microformat, your browser can easily recognize the address and contact information in the page, and help you transfer it to an addressbook or phone more easily.”

Proving the Value of Design

“We know that design is an expense—just look at any company’s balance sheet. And we know intuitively that for many companies, design is a profit center. But few organizations can actually prove that great design drives profits.”

Open – Code – New York Times Blog – The New York Times launches a new “blog about open source technology at The New York Times, written by and primarily for developers. This includes our own projects, our work with open-source technologies at nytimes.com, and other interesting topics in the open source and Web 2.0 worlds.”

Why usability is a path to failure

…"why oh why do people in this day age still hold up “usability” as something laudable in product and service design? Praising usability is like giving me a gold star for remembering that I have to put each leg in a different place in my pants to put them on. "

Never Use a Warning When you Mean Undo

“Have you ever had that sinking feeling when you realize—just a split second too late—that you shouldn’t have clicked “Okay” in the “Are you sure you want to quit?” dialog?”

What Puts the Design in Interaction Design

“Designed behavior is not invisible. Sometimes it is obfuscated; at other times, it is apparent or even obvious. Most importantly, designed behavior dictates the flow between action and reaction, which is the basis of an interaction.”

Using Omnigraffle to visualise Rails model associations

“a quick script to scan the associations between models and output it in the Graphviz DOT format.”

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We're hiring!

27 Jun 2007

If you’re in the Portland area (or would consider relocating) and are interested in a contract or potential full-time job working with Ruby on Rails, continue reading!

PLANET ARGON is currently seeking Interaction Designers and Ruby on Rails Developers.

We’re looking for passionate people that are enthusiastic about working in a diverse and collaborative environment. Developers on-site in Portland are preferred, but we will consider top-notch people that can demonstrate their ability to collaborate as quickly as our team does in our company offices.

If you’d like to apply, please introduce yourself with a thoughtful cover letter and resume. We’re looking forward to meeting you!

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Article

Scientific American Mind discusses The Science of Team Success

14 Jun 2007

In the June/July 2007 issue of Scientific American Mind, there is an article titled, The Science of Team Success, which discussed some findings from a recent review of research literature on teams.

“We recently reviewed the past 50 years of research literature on teams and identified factors that characterize the best collaborations. It turns out that what team members think, feel and do provide strong predictors of team success—and these factors also suggest ways to design, train and lead teams to help them work even better.”

Our team recently refactored our ways of collectively sharing what we learn with each other. This comes after a brief period, where our individual knowledge of new information was increasing, but shared knowledge amongst the team wasn’t. As a team, we were making wrong assumptions that everyone was spending enough individual time, learning about new techniques for doing the work that we do.

Assumptions are bad.

Once we realized that there wasn’t enough shared understanding of a few steps of our Design and Development process, we had to quickly evaluate how information was being distributed to all team members. Through this discovery, we’re now encouraging all members of our teams to have more open discussions about new ways of solving problems. While it’s up to the individual to ask questions when they don’t understand things, it’s also up to the team to approach individuals when they see something that isn’t consistent.

Everyone is a mentor. Everyone is a student. Everyone is a team member.

“A 1995 experiment by psychologist Diane Wei Liang, then at the University of Minnesota, psychologist Richard L. Moreland of the University of Pittsburgh and Linda Argote, professor of organizational behavior and theory at Carnegie Mellon University, nicely demonstrated how team members benefit from their collective knowledge when they learn together.”

While our team is far from perfect, we’re finding that our productivity levels have increased as we’ve become better at learning together. As we continue to evolve and grow our team, we’re seeking those that will add more value to our team, not just those who might consider themselves the next Ruby on Rails Rockstar.

Rely on the team, not the individual.

So, if you’re in the process of designing (or redesigning) a team, you should definitely “read this article”:":http://www.sciammind.com/article.cfm?articleID=D9058A4E-E7F2-99DF-36023504D1E43BD6.

Building Better Teams
Scanned from Scientific American Mind June/July 2007

Also, if you’re an excellent team player and feel like you flourish as an Interaction Designer or Rails Developer in a team-focued environment, introduce yourself.

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Article

High time for Highrise

13 Jun 2007

Earlier today, 37signals, posted an article, which referenced an in-depth review of Highrise by Robby. This review has various tips for getting started with Highrise, and how our team has integrated it into our internal workflow. We’ve been able to use a little GTD along with the Mail.app Act-On plugin to painlessly keep track of our new inquiries.

After trying many other products, none of which ever met our needs, Highrise has become a major fixture in our process for sales, contact management and networking. Also, Basecamp recently received a little spit and polish to give both products a common look and feel, which has made the integration all the more seamless.

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Meteorites: Wheel in the Sky Keeps on Turning

11 Jun 2007

Watch this Wine Evangelist

“Gary has been sharing his passion for wine with daily online videos where he sniffs, slurps, and spits wine all the while imparting wit and wisdom about wine (and about the New York Jets).”

E-mail is not a platform for design

“E-mail is not a platform for design. Unlike the web, which also started as an exchange medium for text messages but which benefited from the inclusion of images and other media, e-mail works best when used for its original purpose, as the most basic of content exchange systems.”

How to hire the best people you’ve ever worked with

“…I like hiring people who haven’t done the specific job before, but are determined to ace it regardless.”

How Bad Design Increases Business

“The web is a marketplace. When people stopped respecting the rules of the market it crashed. They put priority on getting users with no revenue stream. They put priority on fancy trinkets of websites that didn’t produce income or even have a business model. That was Web 1.0 bubble.”

Hacking Firefox: The secrets of about:config

“…many of Firefox’s settings aren’t exposed through the Tools > Options menu; the only way to change them is to edit them manually. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most useful Firefox settings that you can change on your own and that aren’t normally available through the program’s graphical interface.”

Hot for Features

“Instead of the engineering specs, design and marketing have to work together to figure out what the story of the product is, how all the features fit together into a unified product that can be sold and enjoyed. We don’t need to sell simplicity any more than we should sell complexity. We need to sell — and design — products that are useful, usable, and desirable.”

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