Design For Mobile Conference

I flew to Lawrence, Kansas, last week for the first Design For Mobile conference. It was the first mobile user experience-oriented conference in the United States.

You might ask how in the world did a mobile conference land in Kansas, of all places. (I certainly did!)

The conference was organized by Barbara Ballard and her design gurus at Little Springs Design, which is located in Lawrence. It’s much easier to put on your first design conference when you host it in your own city!

But it turns out that Eastern Kansas is not a mobile wasteland. Indeed, Sprint’s world headquarters is located just down the highway in Kansas City. Barbara has great ties with Sprint as she had worked there earlier in her career.

There were two great talks by Sprint, too. Although I’m more of a GSM guy myself (rather than CDMA, which is the technology Sprint uses), these were two of my favorite presentations. Michael Lundy was design lead on the Sprint Instince device and gave a great case study presentation on what it took to get that device out in just 9 months. On the second day of the conference, Jason Ward presented on Sprint’s impressive user experience research capabilities. I’m definitely in awe of their sophisticated measurement tools!

Luckily, I also won an unlocked Motorola RAZR2. I’m very happy about that because my personal device library is heavily biased towards smartphones, so this is only my third feature phone device. I won the device by knowing the answer to the question: “What are the two best selling mobile devices (or, device lines) of all time?”

The answer: The Motorola RAZR and StarTac!

I kept a constant update on Twitter, using both my personal and Hand Interactive accounts. (Each from a slightly different perspective.) If you’re curious, I tagged them all with the tag, #des4mo, and you can see the list of Tweets at:

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Lost in a Corn Maze

Some friends and I joined up with the Chiltern Outdoors group to enjoy the giant corn maze in Sterling, MA, yesterday. It turns out that this farm does it every year and their “Mega Maze” is very well known throughout Massachusetts! Who knew?

There were about 15 people who showed up for the Chiltern event altogether. We broke up into smaller groups to go through the maze; 5 of us in my group.

Oh boy, did we get lost! Our group kept tracing and retracing our steps. Finally, after an hour and a half we asked the kids working there for help to at least get onto a new path and into a different section of the maze.

Another hour and half after that, we literally stumbled onto the way out. Thank goodness! We were all becoming a bit stir crazy by then. And hot. And hungry!

Here’s a picture of our group at the exit. Notice the relief on our faces!

Our Corn Maze Team - Happy to be Done!

(Thanks for the picture, Thom!)

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Autism Speaks: Walk Now for Autism

In Westfield, MA, yesterday for the autism walk. My friends, Patrick & Kathy, have beautiful son, Ryan, with autism. Every year, more than a dozen family show their support by walking for their team called “For the Love of Ryan.” Learn more at:

The organizers put a nice video on YouTube:

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Boston Mobile Application Development Firms

I recently wrote to the Boston chapter of the Mobile Mondays group and asked if anyone had any recommendations for local Boston-based firms with mobile design and/or development expertise. To be honest, there were fewer companies than I expected. But on the plus side, it looks like I don’t have any real competition in the mobile user experience design niche…

Check out the full list on my web site:

I’ll continue to update the list as other firms come to my attention.

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Just Ordered a Motorola Q9 Global

The other day I realized that AT&T, my wireless operator, has never given me a subsidized phone. So I went online to see what kind of deal I might be able to strike. Since I’m trying to expand my library of mobile devices for testing in support of my freelance activities through Hand Interactive, I thought it was time to fill in a gap and get my first Windows Mobile device.

Looking around the AT&T web site, I found two devices on my Windows Mobile wishlist with great discounts, the Motorola Q9 Global and the Samsung BlackJack II. Both are nice smartphones with qwerty keyboards and fantastic industrial designs. Which one should I get? To be honest, I love the industrial designs of both devices, so I couldn’t use that as the deciding factor.


  • Both devices run Windows Mobile Standard (not touch screen), but the Moto Q9 has the newer 6.1 firmware.
  • Both offer 3G data speeds.
  • Both are quad-band devices, which means that both would work equally well when I travel to Europe or Asia.
  • Both offer cameras (2 megapixel), which isn’t great but currently par for the course for enterprise-oriented devices.
  • Both offer micro-SD card support, but Moto Q9 supports up to 32 GB vs. BlackJack II’s support for 4GB.
  • Both offer web browsers, though Moto Q9 ships with the latest version of Opera, as well.


  • Neither device offers WiFi. What the heck?? How can an enterprise smartphone not offer WiFi nowadays?? If either device had offered WiFi, then that would have been the deciding factor and I would’ve selected it immediately.

Both devices are pretty evenly matched, so it was a tough choice. In the end, I selected the Motorola Q9 because it had the newer firmware and came pre-installed with Opera. (Internet Explorer on Windows Mobile is terrible.)

If Samsung comes out with the BlackJack III that has built in WiFi support, then I’ll definitely have to consider picking it up…

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“Hero” by Perry Moore

Holy cow!

I started reading “Hero” by Perry Moore yesterday morning — and had finished it by late last night. What a good book! Thanks for the recommendation, JP!

Hero by Perry Moore

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Exploring iTunes App Store

I updated my iPod Touch to the version 2.0 firmware (but hated paying Apple $10 for the priviledge). The good thing about updating, though, is that now I can install third party applications without having to jailbreak the device.

The first app I installed was Koi Pond. It’s just $0.99! I can see why it’s one of the most popular apps on the iPhone. It’s beautiful and has a cool interface. Very well implemented. I love how you shake the device to feed the fish! The only annoying thing: The Blimp Pilots (makers of Koi Pond) have optimized their web site for iPhone/iPod Touch users, which means that it kind of looks like crap when you access it using your PC.

In my free time, I’m going to have to download and try out more apps…

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Hand Interactive on Twitter

I launched a second Twitter account to post items specifically related to the mobile industry: user experience, usability, devices, events, tips & tricks, etc.  I’m committing myself to posting at least 3 times a week!

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Hand Interactive Launched!!

hen my previous employer, iSkoot, moved to San Francisco earlier this year, I decided to stay in Boston. Which meant that I was soon looking for a new job as iSkoot decided not to maintain an additional Boston office. It made good business sense, but was kind of unfortunate, so we parted on good terms.

Since that time, I’ve been freelancing here and there as a user interface designer, usability analyst, and information architect. I’ve even given a lecture to an ad agency on mobile technologies. So to support my freelancing efforts, I’ve just launched a new web site:

I put selections from my mobile design portfolio on the web site and have started writing a series of articles on mobile design to help draw an audience.

Hand Interactive Mobile Edition

When I launched the site, I also committed to ensuring that each page is viewable both in a desktop web browser and on mobile phones. After a bit of trial and error (and spending a lot of time testing the site in the Verizon and T-Mobile stores in Harvard Square), I’m glad to say that the mobile version of the site looks awesome! So if you have a mobile phone, point your browser to:

I decided not to automatically detect mobile devices and send them to the mobile version of the site at launch. Maybe later, I’ll add the feature in. The real difficulty comes when trying to track the user’s preference. Because the web site allows the user to easily switch between the standard desktop version and the mobile version, I’d have to track whether the user had elected to view the standard edition so that he wouldn’t be caught in an automated loop (mobile to standard, then auto-redirected to mobile). It would take a bit of programming and testing to do it right without upsetting the user, so maybe I’ll add that feature in later. After all, my philosophy is that it’s better to remove a feature than to add in a poorly implemented one!

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Chairman Meow

Ran across this web site today. I am totally lusting after a Chairman Meow tshirt!

Chairman Meow Poster

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