A candid self-assessment: Ignifluous vs. 30×500

An understatement

So … I can be the stubborn sort. From time to time.

Particularly, I can be petulant when it comes to changing things about myself. It is a flaw that I struggle against, and one of my weapons in this fight is throwing myself into challenging situations. Put myself in places I can’t help but change and grow, as it were.

Which is why (among myriad other reasons), when I discovered Amy Hoy’s incredible 30×500 Launch Class at the beginning of 2012, I knew that I HAD to take it.

And that equally, I needed to succeed at it – not to prove anything to anyone, but because I needed it – no matter what it took.

30×500 is an all-consuming whirlwind of mindset change & personal growth – and teaches you the foundations for building a product business that is successful, sane & humane.

And it is HARD.

Realistic hope

But – and here’s the thing – it is good hard. It is the kind of hard that keeps you coming back for more. The kind of difficult that keeps you awake late at night, as you brainstorm new ways of tackling the challenge.

It is honest. Amy never paints 30×500 as a comfortable cruise, or a rosy prance in a field of wildflowers. Realistic pragmatism is the name of the game at Camp 30×500 – and it’s not always comfortable seeing yourself in the unflattering mirror of reality. But it is worth it – if you don’t realise something is broken, you don’t have a hope of fixing it.

But 30×500 is not a futile escape attempt from the Steamroller of Despair. There is a clear path laid before you, in carefully curated detail, that makes it obvious that, “Yes – that is actually possible for me to achieve, if I just keep going”. It sets lofty goals, and then shows you concrete steps to get there.

Add to that a hugely supportive community of new students, returning students & alumni. For me, part-way through the course at the moment, this has been critical. I’ve stumbled repeatedly, gotten stuck, fallen behind, been stubborn – and every time the class has been there to listen, share experiences, and help me to get back on track.


I’m about 2/3rds through 30×500 at the moment, deep in a frenzy of research & analysis. At this point, I’m very aware of my shortcomings – and very confident that if I keep putting in the work, keeping working forward, and stay connected to the class, I will overcome them. As Amy puts it,

“Rules + Process + Effort = Result”

30×500 has offered me hope, and shown me a clear, sensible, pragmatic, repeatable approach to get there. It’s presented by a talented teacher that really cares, and is taken alongside a group of amazing students at different stages of their journey.

It has changed the way I think in ways that are already proving immensely valuable to me.

And slowly but surely, it is helping me replace my petulant stubbornness with productive determination.

What more could I possibly ask for?

(If you want to learn more about Amy’s 30×500 course, check out her website, http://unicornfree.com/)

Gamification: an opinionated suggestion

Would you like an achievement …

I want my user to enjoy using my product.

And what better way to do that, than to make it like a game? After all, everyone likes games, don’t they!

So when you sign up for my product … 10 points! Achievement unlocked!!

When you edit your profile page … 50 points!!! Woohoo!!!! Feel the fun!!!!!!!

When you’ve closed off 50 whatsits … 2000 points!!!!!!! How incredible!!!!!!!!!!

Or not.


… or to achieve something?

I don’t play games to be told I’m awesome, although that can be nice. Even though games are fictional arenas, I play games to be awesome.

I don’t use a particular product for the sole purpose of being good at using that product. I use that product to get things done.

As Kathy Sierra says,

“Users don’t care who helps them – they just want to be awesome.”

When a product tells me I’m awesome, that doesn’t mean all that much to me.

But if a products helps me to be better at what I’m trying to achieve … that’s a whole different story.


A fork in the road

Option A: Build a product which celebrates trivial interactions, and pressures your users to share them.

Option B: Build a product which lets your user achieve awesome things & feel great doing it – so much so that they can’t help but tell everyone about it.

Which one would you want to use?


(Edit: I was introduced to these ideas by Kathy Sierra in her fantastic talk at Webstock 2012 – that talk totally reshaped the way I think about UX.)

How to unstab a football with UX

Periodically, I come across the idea that, “experience cannot be designed.”

I’ve always been conflicted when thinking about this question.

Sure, you cannot perfectly predict human behaviour & reactions. But design can make a phenomenal difference in how people react.

My thoughts suddenly snapped into clarity today, when Steve Baty tweeted

“The notion of designing for an experience is not one of control. It’s about having an [emphasis] intent. This isn’t some power/ego trip. ” – @docbaty (original tweet)

To paraphrase:

  • You can’t make people enjoy playing football …
  • But you most certainly can remove the giant spikes from the ball.

Can a User Experience be Designed?


Set out to delight your customers, not control them. To understand & support what they are trying to achieve, not push them to conform to your design.

And remember to unstab your football.


Posted in ux

Better Writing redux: a masterclass by FAKEGRIMLOCK

FAKEGRIMLOCK’s brilliant post BECAUSE AWESOME delivers a masterful lesson on helping people, thinking about your readers, and making awesome stuff.

When I woke up yesterday, I never expected I would find my self reading copywriting advice written by a self-described giant robot dinosaur.

How wrong I was!


If you care about making awesome things your customers will love, go read BECAUSE AWESOME right now. Whether you feel like you want some fresh perspective, or you’re trying to help someone else to understand, FAKEGRIMLOCK has written the perfect article for you.

Better writing?

I think it is safe to say, we all want to communicate better.

I previously considered myself a good, if wordy, communicator, especially when writing emails, letters and other documents.

However I now suspect I had unconcsiously adopted a style of writing that valuedbeing impressive over being effective.

I have recently encountered new ideas about written communication from:

These led me to a startling revelation – I was not considering my reader when I wrote.


I had been writing with only what I wanted in mind. This isn’t terrible, of course – communication isn’t effective if it doesn’t achieve what you wanted. But your reader is a vital partner in achieving your goals. If they do not understand, or do not read, what you wrote – they cannot help you.

So I have been trying to learn how to make my writing easier to read, and easier to understand. However, I want to take this thinking a step further. Where it is possible, I want to make my writing enjoyable to read & understand.

After all, a reader chooses to spending some of their time & mental effort (both limited & precious resources), in the hope of extracting some value from your writing. I suggest that if your reader receives more value, for less time & effort, they aremore likely to respond positively to your communication.

With all this in mind, I have made several changes to the way I write:

  • I try to prioritise three characteristics in my writing: brevityclarity, andhighlighting what matters.
  • And when I write, I think, “what part of this does my reader care about?

I am new at this, but I think these ideas are already helping me to communicate better.

What about you? What other ideas do you have about how to communicate more effectively? I’m really interested in learning from you!


(Originally posted at: http://ignifluous.tumblr.com/post/20875805148/better-writing)