Valentine’s Day Love Drug Project

As Valentine’s Day is coming up, I thought I’d share relevant project from my past. You can also see this permanently on this blog by going here.

Back in 2005, I was heartbroken and single when Valentine’s Day came along. I decided to turn lemons into lemonade with a little Valentine’s Day art project called Love Drug. It initially started as a lark but it developed some momentum as it went along and resulted in a website and a novelty product. LoveDrug is a mock pharmaceutical that you can take to fall in love, or make your potential partner fall in love. I also created the UnLove Drug which has the opposite effect. home


The website resulted in a story in the Boston Phoenix which you can read below. This in turn resulted in people contacting me and ordering more than I had to produce. Regrettably, I didn’t meet any lovely female customers to whom I could slip a pill!

Love Drug review

Make Your Own!

And for those of you who are feeling crafty, I have made the artwork available for downloading should you want to make up some Love Drug of your own. The design files are PDFs and include labels for the bottles which you can print on sticker paper, and a template for the boxes that the bottles come in which can be printed on cardstock or heavier paper. For the bottles, I recommend using an old prescription bottle. You can also buy these at most local pharmacies. You can insert any candies you like in the bottles, I used pink and blue heart candies.

Here are PDFs

Twitter Digest


As an experiment, I’m planning on doing a regular post on Fridays that will include highlights from the stuff that I’ve been twittering during the week. If you’d like to follow me on Twitter you can do so at: Alternatively, you can subsribe as an rss feed by clicking the above banner.

  • Laugh at Marketing with the “make my logo bigger cream”
  • If you’re a fan of BBQ and bacon you’ll enjoy this.
  • Slydial – a very cool phone app that allows you do go direct to voice mail. That’s right, I don’t want to talk to you … I’d rather leave a message.
  • Jump London – a cool film you can watch online about “city running’ or Parkour.
  • Career Builder Ad – a funny ad about how to know if you need a new job.
  • The History of Marketing – a great short animated summary of the history of marketing.
  • Auditorium – a really fun online game that uses sound and physics in an interesting way.
  • Plinky – a start up by my friend and former colleague Ryan Freitas. Ever been at a loss for something to blog about? Plinky can help.

Charlene Li talks about The Future of Social Networks

A couple weeks ago, I hosted a talk by Charlene Li at Adaptive Path on behalf of the San Francisco Chapter of the American Marketing Association, where I sit on the board. The talk was a huge success and well attended, but for those who were unable to make the presentation Charlene has posted her deck online through slideshare. Check it out.

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One of her key ideas is that social networks will be like air … by which she means, that your network will flow with you as you explore the future web. So as you browse Amazon, the recommendations and reviews you see will be based on your network rather than the entire user base. This has broad implications for user experience and ties in well with the Aurora Project that I worked on last year.

It also ties in well with OpenID, which is standardized format for containing  personal information, and a data-integration platform, so that you could have a single login for any authenticated site your use (Amazon, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc). Man, will that make life easier! But wait, it’s already happening.

I see this evolution as a direct result of the “web 2.0” work that is being done by zillions of companies that are starting mash-ups to connect all the “web 1.0” services out there. Essentially, these second generation companies are simply acting as bridges between the first generation service providers. As we build these bridges we’re realizing that it would be easier if we had interchangable parts. Thus, OpenID. Think of it like this, interchangable parts are to the industrial revolution what OpenID is to the internet revolution.

SKY LIMIT Studio Customized This Blog

For those who have been reading since blog since it started a whole month ago, I am happy to report (as you can see) that my custom theme is now complete. This post builds on my previous posts about the process that I’ve done through to get up and running. In this post, I’ll talk about the selection of SKY LIMIT, and how it was working with them.

So with the design of my site complete, I went online to find a developer that might be able to do the WordPress customization and apply my theme. I explored two avenues; the first was reaching out to online providers that turn digital files into themes such as or The second approach was to take the project specs and put them on Craigslist for anyone that wanted to bid on the project.

The online providers were obliviously set up to do the project as fast as possible, and with as little interaction as possible. There were fairly clear specification requirements on their site but all communication was done through a tracker system. In other words, it took a while to establish exactly what I was getting and whether or not specific idiosyncratic customizations would be included in the base cost. Furthermore, their canned service responses that we doled out through the tracker gave me the impression that they were not focused on customer service. In terms of cost, it seemed like you’d be starting at around $500, plus additional fees depending on customization.

The Craigslist post on the other hand generated over forty personal responses before I took down the post. Perhaps this is a comment on the state of the economy, but I was really impressed with the quality of folks interested in bidding the project. I should note that it did probably take extra time to review each proposal, and that I was not on a deadline.  Honestly though, it didn’t take that much longer … and I got to exchange  e-mails with folks as far away as India who wanted the work. Bids ranged from $750 to $150. After averaging the estimates out, I found that the mean was around $300, so I used that as my target price.

It was pretty clear at this point that I wanted someone that I could talk to, and who could advise me a bit, so I decided that I’d go with one of the independents who was domestic and preferably in the same time zone. As a consultant myself, I also preferred to work with a consultant or small business. I interviewed three of the best candidates to discuss their past projects and make sure they were comfortable with the pricing I was offering. I was willing to pay less than the online providers would cost, but I was willing to be flexible schedule wise,and I promised to write something up (this) if the project went well … which it did.

Ultimately, I settled on SKY LIMIT which is based in Seattle, WA. Note, that they’re previous incarnation is TYZ Design, so that’s the place to go to see their portfolio. I worked most directly with Christopher Wood, who is their Director of Marketing to get the project off the ground. We negotiated that I’d pay 50% up front, then 50% upon completion. Working was Christopher was great, he responded to my e-mails promptly and connected me with the developer who was doing the work at the appropriate times. I’d recommend working with Christopher and SKY LIMIT for anyone trying to get a customized blog up in short order.

The project did take a little longer than expected due to some cross-browser issues that wouldn’t go away, plus a couple of tricky details that were important to me, but this didn’t bother me too much because I was flexible time wise. Plus, they were transparent and communicative along the way. Having worked with many service providers, and as a service provider, I can tell you that it’s always better to just explain what’s causing a delay. People can deal with delays if they can empathize with what’s going on behind the scenes, and work on contingencies (so long as you’re working hard to fix it). What I cannot stand, and what will destroy our relationship, is delays without transparency. Don’t do it!

So, thank you to Christopher and his team at SKY LIMIT. I look forward to working with them again if one of my consulting clients has an appropriate projects.

A Design Process Diagram

Last year I was invited by Kim Lenox, to present at a San Francisco IxDA event that took place at the IDEO’s offices, and at that event I talked about a process diagram that I created for Adaptive Path. In this post, I’ll share that diagram, and a slideshare that outlines how the diagram was created with the very process it illustrates. I also want to give special thanks to Jesse James Garrett who worked closely with me on the development of this diagram, it would not have been possible without his insights and ideas.



Process Diagram

One of the challenges in coming up with this design, was that the best design processes are flexible, iterative, and agile. So how do you diagram for a moving target? The design addresses this in two ways. First, it features internal loops, or pathways, that allow it to represent the iterative nature of the design process. In other words, it is hard to know in advance how many times you’ll have to go through the prototyping and testing cycle, but you can know where the forks in the road are. Second, the diagram embeds one convergence/divergence diamond process inside another, rather that putting them in sequence, which is often the case with other diagrams I have seen. I should clarify, that this diagram actually has three diamonds, with one in sequence and the other embedded. The first diamond is unique in that the top half is not truly generative because it is about defining the opportunity space, and creating an inventory of what is currently in that space. Thus the “discover” and “gather” cycle.

What is a convergence/divergence diamond? In the diagram above, the top half of each diamond illustrates a generative process where you might, for example, generate ideas. The bottom half of the diamond represents a convergent process that serves to distill, combine, or select from the set of ideas generated in the top area. For this reason, I show the convergent section as “imagine possibility”, while the bottom half about “analyzing patterns”. The process of analyzing patterns is a comparative analysis to understand similarities and differences between the ideas. What ideas overlap? Where are the gaps? Etc.

Say you are trying to make a new wallet, here’s what the process might look like step by step. I’ll start with the first diamond and assume that you’ve got your client relationship stated already:

  1. Diamond #1
    1. Diverge: do discovery to understand how “wallets” are defined in the marketplace
    2. Diverge: gather examples for the market
    3. Diverge: repeat until you have a representative sample of the territory and have set boundaries
    4. Converge: look for similarities and differences within the set you’ve collected
    5. Converge: set goals for how your product will sit in the market space (relative positioning)
    6. Proceed to a discussion of the opportunity space
  2. Diamond #2
    1. Diverge: articulate the challenge and discuss possible solutions
    2. Diamond #3: initial cycle
      1. Diverge: move from your articulation of the challenge to imagining possible solutions
      2. Converge: look for similarities and differences within the set you’ve collected
    3. Converge: define one potential solution
    4. Converge: make a prototype based on your definition
    5. Diamond #3: iterate and repeat until you have prototypes which it can be evaluated
      1. Diverge: move from your articulation of the challenge to imagining possible solutions
      2. Converge: look for similarities and differences within the set you’ve collected
    6. Diverge: change perspective by exploring the challenge in a new way. For example, if you’ve been thinking about the wallet in a utilitarian context, try thinking of it as a fashion accessory, a status symbol, a self-expression, etc.
    7. Converge: look for similarities and differences within the prototypes you’ve made
    8. Define: articulate the most successful solution
    9. Hone: make a higher fidelity prototype and refine definition
    10. Make: your final wallet

Here’s the presentation deck that explains how the diagram was developed using this process:

Here are some additional design process diagrams, that were kindly forwarded my way by Jon Littell at Hot Studio and others. Plus, here is a link to a great report on the Design Council’s website that shares research that they conducted into different processes being used at eleven global firms.

Thanks, and I look forward to your feedback. If you’d got other diagrams that you’d like to share, I’ll add them to this post!