I went to Half Price Books the other day looking for a copy of The E-Myth Revisited, a book that’s been on my “to read” list for a long time. I arrived at the store, headed for the business books, found the Entrepreneurship bookshelf and started skimming. Sure enough, they had it! And then it caught my eye. Sitting on the shelf next to the book that warranted the excursion was another similarly titled book by the same author:
How do you like that? Here I am, at the bookstore, with an idea that I’d like to turn into a thriving business. It must be destiny. So I purchased it and we left the store before Megan had a chance to grab her usual armful of books. (Just because they’re half price doesn’t mean we should buy twice as much!)
Over the past week, I devoured the contents of the book. I didn’t just read it; I underlined it and made margin notes. Then I turned those into notes on a separate notepad. Then I typed the notes. Then I reformatted my notes into a blog post. Yes, the very post you are reading right now.
When you design a company, you design it visually, emotionally, functionally, and financially.
...how do you provide an answer to a question that you know has no answer? ...that's the game called business.
...a free market system provides all of us with significantly more opportunity to fail than to succeed.
Yeah, he just barely comes short of directly telling me I will fail. Ok, well how about something constructive?
There is so much in this book including the five essential skills of an E-Myth Entrepreneur (concentration, discrimination, organization, innovation, communication) and the four categories of preference that an E-Myth Enterprise must be aware of (visual, emotional, functional, financial). There’s a lot to be said about all of these, and maybe some will be the subject of future posts, but I don’t want to end up reprinting the whole book here. If you want to know more, go buy it. It’s a quick read, but it’s packed full of goodies.
In the meantime, I’ve got a lot of design work ahead of me.
I am a mobile app creator. It is my business not only to build apps, but to help clients understand what they need and want. As I advance down this path, I took some time to consider myself: how I use my iPhone.
First, I made a list of every app I have currently installed on my phone. Including web sites I've saved home icons for and the apps that come with the phone, I have 70 apps installed.
Next I divided the list into apps that I use and apps that I don't use. I tried to stay strict to this criteria. I was tempted to put apps that I liked but didn't use in the use list, but I didn't stumble. I also grouped the apps that come bundled with the phone together. After this, I have 17 installed apps that I use plus another 14 bundled apps that I also use. That leaved 6 bundled apps I don't use and 33 apps that I installed but do not use.
I was surprised by the number of apps that lay unused, taking up space on my iPhone. I decided to group them to help me understand why I wasn't using them. This is what I came up with:
I’ve never been much of a gamer. I pretty much only play phone games when I’m stuck waiting for something and don’t have anything else to do. I am rarely in that situation
I figure I would use these apps except for the fact that I have other apps that perform the exact same function.
These apps are tied in to some social networking website that I tried out once, but never really got in to. These are the ones I forget to post updates, and never care about my “friend’s” status updates.
These are apps that I wanted to try out, and were free. Some of them are cool apps. In fact, they honestly get occasional use, but that is only to show off some feature or design element. I don’t actually use these apps.
There is one app that I never use mainly because it is a poor design. All the app does is do a location check, and then launch a mobile optimized website that included advertisements for the very app I’m currently using.
There is nothing wrong with these apps, and I believe there are many people that use them religiously. I have just found that I have no need for them.
These are apps I like, but I either rarely need them or I forgot I had them. They were lost in the sea of apps spread all over my phone.
This was an enlightening experience, so I decided to do the same thing for the apps I used. I was able to divide those into three categories:
These are apps that are utilitarian in nature. They help me accomplish tasks and get through the day. Some of them replace real world gadgets completely.
These are books and news. If I do have any downtime on the go, it’s nice to be able to see what’s happening in the rest of the world. Also, part of the point of having an internet connected device is the ability to quickly look stuff up.
The other reason to have an internet device is for communication. I include social networks that I participate in as well as email in this category.
With all this done, what does it mean, other than the fact I have several apps I should delete? It reveals how I use my iPhone. I use it as a tool for communication, reference, and productivity. I don't play games, and I don't really play with the phone, but I do like to play with new apps (see the 10 "demo apps" and 4 "duplicate apps" I installed). Interestingly enough, I don't really use the phone as a media device. I do use the camera, and I occasionally use the iPod app to listen to a podcast when I walk my dog, but I don't really use it for playing music or video.
This is all well and good, but it brings up another question: Am I a typical iPhone user, or am I atypical? I would imagine that I am typical within a certain category of iPhone owners. I guess I need to do more research. I think I'm going to make a habit of asking people what apps they have installed on their phones, and which ones they actually use. This is interesting information, and also very valuable information to a mobile developer such as me. I wonder if there is a service or social network that collects this kind of information.
The raw data follows:
I live in a historic neighborhood in Dallas. The area has a certain charm and character to it quite different that what you find in new housing developments. Most of the houses were built in the 1920s. They have large front porches; many of them have swings.
A few miles away is another neighborhood, almost as old as this one. There are a few houses from the same time period here, but most houses are new construction. The older, smaller homes were torn down for newer, larger ones. It is a nice neighborhood, but it doesn’t have the same character as my neighborhood.
The difference is that I live in a registered historic area. Here, the homes cannot be torn down to be replaced by new construction. All new construction must match the existing style. In other words, significant effort has been put into preserving this part of our history.
The Web is like the other, non-protected neighborhood. Many sites were built in the late 90s and early 2000s, but most of them have been torn down in favor of new construction. In some ways this is a good thing. Most of those early sites were ugly. Bright backgrounds, blinking text, Comic-Sans font, and background music. These are all things I do not miss. But I fear that the character of the Web has been lost to the mass production of cookie cutter websites.
The sameness in design doesn’t bother me as much as the consolidation of the content. When was the last time that you actually “surfed” the web? I used to “sign-on” and then begin a journey of following links deeper and deeper down the rabbit’s hole. The Web was a place where any crackpot with a computer could and would post their thoughts and ideas. You could discover a topic and hit every site in that ‘web-ring.’ Today, one Google/Wikipedia search, and I’m done.
Today, we’ve traded out “Under Construction” icons for “Beta” tags. Our web-rings have been replaced with “social bookmarks”. Our home pages with guestbooks are now blogs with comments. And although it may just seem that we’ve just swapped terminology, I think the Web has lost it’s charm and character.
I think we need a historic district for the Web. A place to encourage new content, but it must match the style of a certain time period. We should also find the old ‘classic’ web sites and relocate them to this district. I also think there’s a place that’s perfect for this: GeoCities. I’ll bet you didn’t know they were still around. This could breathe new old life right back into the Web. What do you think?