Simon and I took Mum and Dad to Morocco for four days. This is the mini-film of a few clips from the trip.
Enjoying the Halloween show at @zsllondonzoo! @simonw’s head is the owl’s favourite landing spot (at ZSL London Zoo)
Me and a Giant Tortoise!
I recently gave a talk at SmashingConf in Freiberg. I wanted to share the story of our startup Lanyrd and some lessons learned along the way. This article is based on that talk, the abstract of which is:
Natalie launched the first version of Lanyrd.com with her co-founder and husband Simon Willison, while on honeymoon in Casablanca. As the site took off, they realised their side project was destined to become something much bigger.
This talk will tell the story of Lanyrd from a two-week proof of concept to a fully-fledged startup, the lessons learned along the way about building and launching a product, running a company, raising investment and the entrepreneurship journey. This is the talk she wished she heard before getting started! In September 2013, just a week before the SmashingConf 2013, Lanyrd was acquired by Eventbrite.
Our startup story begins in June of 2010 with our wedding - a rather unconventional beginning to be sure.
Simon and I met in the first week university, 10 years before we got married. In our time together we had already built and launched several side projects.
After the wedding, we quit our jobs, gave up our flat in Brighton and set out on honeymoon overland through Europe and northern Africa. Our intention was to travel as long as we could, whilst earning money from freelance projects on the way.
When we got to Casablanca in Morocco we fell ill with food poisoning.
It was Ramadan so we couldn’t buy food during the day, and we were too ill to continue travelling so we hired a flat and hacked on a prototype of Lanyrd, an idea I’d had that we had been discussing over a few preceding weeks.
We built something that we wanted to exist. A week later, when we launched the first possible version that worked to our friends in private alpha, we realised it was something other people needed too.
Lanyrd is a social conference directory: we help people and companies find the best conferences and professional events to go to, help them get the most out of them whilst they are there and provide a space to collate slides and videos after the event.
This is the video we made as part of our application to Y Combinator in November 2010. We were accepted into the Winter 2011 class (January to March)
A lovely little bag of gifts was waiting for me at the hotel for being a speaker at Smashingconf! :) (at Rheingold Hotel)
Updating the sign on our office door following today’s announcement of Lanyrd’s acquisition by Eventbrite http://lanyrd.com/blog/2013/eventbrite/ (at Lanyrd TNG)
The Dances of the Planets
Draw a line between the positions of two planets every few days, and you get these amazing orbital rosettes. This one is for Venus and Earth, which repeats in cycle every eight years.
Check out more at Ensign Software.
If you like this, then you’ll love Daniel Starr-Tambor’s musical creation "Mandala" dedicated to the orbits of the planets. It’s the longest palindrome ever created, and it’s awesome.
Jo pours caramel over the flapjack beehive that Simon made!
Designing for User Generated Chaos - SXSW Interactive 2013
This is the podcast of the session I gave at SXSW this year (2013) with Henrik Berggren (Readmill), Jan Senderek (Popset) and Nico Perez (Mixcloud).
We treated our panel very much like a four-person talk rather than a panel. You can see more information and the links to sites we talk about on our Lanyrd session page.
A perennial user interface challenge is the humble button. In particular an interface element that not only invites the user to change or action a certain state but that exists partially to indicate which state something is in.
These action-state buttons are entirely different from a standard submit or buy button because they need to stick around, letting the user cancel the state they changed or using it as a reference to see what state something is in.
This is an issue we share at Lanyrd with our event track and attend buttons. How do you say ‘you have told us you are attending this event’ whilst also letting the user change that state.
For Lanyrd, after much deliberation, I went with a darker selected version of the button, so it still felt clickable, and copy that attempted to indicate both the action an the state. The button changes from ‘Im attending this event’ to ‘Stop attending this event’.
Twitter’s follow buttons share this dilemma. Twitter have chosen a combination effect of showing copy indicating the ‘state’ when it is active (following) and the ‘action’ (follow) when it is not. They have a button-y enough button that invites you to click it, regardless of the state.
The hover text on the follow button if you are already following someone is to change from blue to red and he text changes to indicate the action ‘unfollow’. Hover on the button if you are not following the person is a standard subtle hover effect.
Foursquare have a similar approach for their save list button. It looks like a button and has the action ‘save this list’ before it has been clicked, then the button has the state text ‘you’ve saved this list’ with a depressed button effect little bit of colour on the tag once clicked. Unlike with twitter it isn’t quite as obvious that you can change the state back again but it is a nice solution.
Twitter and Foursquare have struck a nice balance of state and action. It is important that if you can turn something on that you can then undo it and turn it off. However, with these particular state-action buttons, so long as the action is still reversible, it works quite well to show the current _state_ if an action has occurred from the user, so if they click the button they know hat changed. If no action has occurred the invitation to do that _action_ is more important.
I found a spare moment (really not sure from where!) to bring my blog back to life. Some of you may have noticed that due to server issues and memory leaks, it has been a little ‘fluctuating’ of late.
Fed up of maintaining a custom written blog engine on dedicated hosting, I decided to jump in with two feet and move to Tumblr. I even bought a theme! As a designer and front-end developer this is not something I would normally do but barely having time to set this up is one thing but I didn’t want to disappear down the rabbit hole of constantly ‘redesigning my blog’.
Style Hatch had a couple of nice themes, some of the only responsive ones I could find in fact! (And also what is up with the theme trend of re-skinning the scrollbar!) Some of the others I was considering include Cadence, Patchwork and Origin West.
So far I am really liking the tumblr editing tools, the iphone app is great too. I think the usual rule applies: the easier something is, the more you use it, so who knows, I may even write more! :)
We are still getting the URL re-directs up and running but all of my old posts have been imported over (thanks Simon!) and I have been adding some of my old code to github too.
The ‘travelators’ at Toronto airport are awesome! There is your standard travelator and then next to it is the EXPRESS travelator!
The express covers the distance of three standard travelators and has interesting expandable metal slats. This means for the first 6 meters or so it moves at about the same pace as the standard travelator.
Then the floor slats come apart like links in a coiled up chain and you have to hold on to designated parts of the handrail as the rest expands. At this point you accelerate and are now swishing along at twice the speed of the standard travelators.
At the end of the travelator the reverse happens, the slats collapse up on top of each other and you decelerate and dismount. For those of you who wish to find this travelator it is in the international transfers area of Toronto airport.
We also discovered a rare specimen of a rubber travelator in SFO which we had a lot of fun bouncing on!
Some shell sketches I did to get over a creative block (and to play with some new pens!)
These are beautiful creatures about five inches long, with white bodies and a large chestnut shell. There are only about 6 other colonies in the UK (the snails are protected by law), and planning application was in process that would have affected the habitat as colonies only live within a 30m radius. I wrote a LOT of emails and informed the local environment agencies and government departments and the colony added to the list of protected colonies and was saved.