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Hi again. Thanks so much everyone for all the nice words following yesterday's announcement.... we're all super-excited as well! 🙂
In this post we'd like to give you a little glimpse of what Mike joining will mean for you, in the short and medium term.
In the last two months, as Mike gave notice and wrapped up work at his previous job, we've been chatting about what he will do at Balsamiq, and have pretty much settled on the following responsibilities, to start with.
None of this is set in stone of course, and everyone does a little bit of everything here so it doesn't mean that Mike will be the only one taking care of these things, far from it. He's just taking on the responsibility to help us make sure we continuously make progress in these areas, that's all.
This is basically what Mike already does with Konigi, just more of it.
Part of it is reading hundreds of UX related blogs, highlighting the best content for the rest of us.
Another part is teaching us about good UI. Usability is one of our two main things we like to compete on (the other being customer service), so I want good UX sensibility to be pervasive throughout the company.
That's why I've asked Mike to do a monthly lesson on some aspect of usability for us. Since we love to share and your success is our success, he's going to do it in the open, in our brand new Balsamiq UX Blog, which we are launching today.
Another aspect of this job is for Mike to represent us at some of our favorite conferences, teaching people about UX topics (not necessarily Balsamiq-related), and meeting and listening to our customers in person.
In other words, to continue to do what he does best, just more of it. I can't wait to sit back and enjoy the show. 🙂
Another job I'd like to get Mike's help with is to be a product manager for Mockups.
A product manager, at least from what I know from Adobe, is someone who:
Translated to our little startup reality, I'd like Mike to:
One of the first things Mike wants to do is interview some of our customers, to learn how they have been using Mockups so far. What it's good at, what its most frustrating limitations are. Again, he'll share these interviews with you in the open, on the UX blog.
From now on, Mike has the last say in the design of every new feature we ship. I'm sure we'll have some heated discussions about how to best solve a particular UX challenge, but I'm totally looking forward to having those and I trust him enough to say that the final word should be his.
Aside from new features, Mike is going to help us improve the features we already have or are now working on. For instance, one of his first priorities is to help us solve some of the pieces of myBalsamiq we're not totally in love with.
I believe UX encompasses more than just a website or software, but rather every interaction point people have with us. So Mike is going to review our support processes, the text of the automated email messages we send out and even help us work on our Typinator shortcuts to make sure they're nice and to the point.
Last but not least, Mike will take the lead in designing our next products, when the time is right.
Our website is one of our weakest assets right now. It's not easy to navigate, not updated frequently enough and as let's face it, pretty ugly (hey, I did it all myself, remember?)
In fact, I am surprised we were able to achieve this much success so far despite our website.
Mike is going to be in charge of cleaning it all up, improving the navigation, making sure the documentation gets updated (and stays updated), all that good stuff...
We also now have 5 different blogs, which means 5 WordPress installations to manage, a theme to share, etc.
Mike says he loves to do this kind of stuff, and we love him for it! 🙂
I really like Mike's minimalist design style and attention to detail, and can't wait for it to rub off in our product and website.
The first thing Mike is going to do in this area is to create a new set of components for Mockups, a new skin to complement Mariah's current hand-drawings.
Many of you have asked for a skin with cleaner lines, and we understand you. Sometimes our current look can be a little too rough, especially when showing your work to some clients.
I love Mike's set of Omnigraffle Sketch Stencils, for instance. They are clearly still a sketch, but much cleaner than what we have.
Mike has already started thinking about what the ideal new skin would look like, and I've asked him to document his progress on this project on the UX blog, from start to finish.
This will be good, and I have a feeling it will have a big impact on sales as well - that's why I told him to take his time, we're not quite ready to have twice as many customers right now, we must automate Val's job a bit more first! 🙂
I hope you'll join the conversation and help us create "the ideal sketchy wireframing skin". 🙂
Do not fear, Mariah's skin will still be there - it's one of the main reasons behind our success! - but once Mike is done you'll be able to choose his new skin from the View menu as well. I can't wait!
Aside from the new skin, Mike will also tidy up our look any time it's needed. We still have some programmer-art scattered around Mockups and myBalsamiq, so he'll swap that out with pretty pretty assets soon. What a relief! 🙂
So, lots to do. Better get to it! 🙂
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Hi, Matty. Probably not until next year, but maybe in pre-release form before then. We’re focussed on shipping myBalsamiq this quarter.
I really need that “cleaner” skin you talk about in this post – but actually one with straight lines. Can you tell me where that is on the roadmap?
Instead of having 5 different wordpress installs why don’t you guys just use a category for each user?
keep it all on the same install and make it easy to manage. Just a thought.
You could also manager one install using a dynamic wp-config.php file and multiple db’s (http://www.duanestorey.com/blog/wordpress/one-wordpress-install-multiple-sites/)
or use WordPress MU or even a plugin to control multiblogs (http://www.digitalistic.com/2009/10/07/manage-many-wordpress-blogs-with-one-installation/)
I’m really looking for the changes and wish you good luck and strong will during performing them!
wow…this sounds really great. Can’t wait to see the new site! Along with all the points mentioned above! 2010 is starting out with a bang for Balsamiq…kudos!…and enjoy the ride!
what an amazing addition to your roster. Indeed, Mike seems to me the ideal guy to push UX to new levels, both for the products themselves but also for the marketing department (this website).
Way to go!
This is a match made in heaven.