How About Some Fucking Whimsy?
The original front-door to MLKSHK when we were in pre-launch mode. You had to click and drag-out a circle to get inside. The error page you see is also a joke because we use Nginx.
Two years ago I wrote a post with the subtitle “Complain about the way other people make software by making software.” It was then quoted in a book by Austin Kleon and every once in a while someone reaches out to me to tell me they liked the quote. The post was about empathy, making things, and thinking about the people who make things for you to use; but that subtitle is about making things work the way you think they should work because it’s a way to share your point of view.
I am not into tricks to get users like faking engagement or sucking names out of your contact list. I hear this is a really good way to get lots of users. I am sure investors love stuff like this and high-five your bro-hand in pitch meetings when you bring up shit like this.
Related to those tricks are dark patterns where developers purposely make things confusing or challenging for users so they can bill one more month or hope the user doesn’t notice they’ve sent out a few thousand friend requests to their landlord, mother, and people who bought a stereo off of them six years ago.
I believe people who do these things can go jump in a lake.
The only only only thing I think about when building things for people is creating delight. That is all. My job is to create a place that delights people. Whether I am making a bank or a chat room or a place to pay a DMV fee, my site’s #1 job is to delight the user.
This might include doing things like Willy Wonka-style buttons to get into secret areas, but it also includes creating clear, lighted paths, free of dark patterns and privacy shenanigans. It means giving your users stuff that feels good to use. It means giving your users nothing to think about.
Delight also means people don’t feel threatened by other users and the creators of the site are available as often as possible to help clear things up and keep an eye on problems. Delight means making your site fast, secure, and responsive to their needs and browsers.
Shit needs to work! Delight means testing your code like an adult rather than moving fast and breaking things like an energetic, baby hippo. Baby hippos are cute but you don’t want one holding your credit card is what I am saying.
So yeah, make delightful things. Be good to your users. (Refer to your users as users because that’s what they do, they use the stuff you make!) User is such a great word. I love to use it.
These are the things I believe and this is how I build things. Thanks for listening.
—Andre “Pretty Fucking Delightful” Torrez
This actually started as a blog post for the weblog at work. It ended up having too many swear words and veered off into non-work related thoughts so I figured it should live over here. My job right now is giving people the freedom to keep their focus on making delightful stuff. We’re called Tugboat Yards and we’re taking the hassle out of taking online payments and managing the relationship with your users.
We also have some news next week that I can’t wait to share!Amber joined us at Tugboat!
posted on September 25
1987 Check In
I may have mentioned it a few times but in case you follow me on
@rdio and was
wondering why all I listen to is old music it’s because I decided this year
only to listen to music released in 1987. Yup.
For a little history: in 2010 I only listened to music released in that year. It
was incredibly fun and I actually discovered some amazing bands I never would
have heard. I took a break in 2011 but then did it again in 2012. I loved it all
For 2013 I thought I would do something a little different and ran a poll on my
old weblog that @mat encouraged his followers to
enter “1987”. I don’t know why he chose 1987 but everyone loves Mat and so 1987
So far: it sucks. I hate it. There is rarely anything surprising. After the
first couple of months the novelty wore off. There are a few safe albums I can
jump to in my day—currently listening to The Lemonheads’ “Hate Your
Friends” on repeat. I might listen to some Dinosaur Jr. later. (Did you know
J Mascis played on GG Allin’s “Hated In The Nation”? It’s true!)
Prince’s “Sign O’ The Times” is probably the most surprisingly good thing I
discovered. I remember hearing it when it was released, but back then I was
a skater punk and had no time for what I considered pop music.
The C86 bands that released something that year are interesting but forgettable.
The birth of Industrial was worth a couple of weeks. But now we are into the
second half of the year and I am finding it harder to keep going.
Anyway, that’s why I am listening to so much old music and messing up your heavy
posted on August 19
The Second Part of My Reader Meter Idea
@mijustin asked me via Twitter what the incentive
(beyond just being a patron of stuff you like) would be for people to sign up in
the first place to my idea I posted about a week ago.
It’s a good question and I do have another idea that would fit well within
Readerkit so I am going to tell it to you now.
On MLKSHK, the site my wife and I created a few years back, there is a little
banner that shows up between posts where you last started reading:
It is created when you first view your incoming stream and displays the time
since it was created:
You can use it to “jump” back to where you previously started and work your
It is an automatically generated bookmark that is inserted in between posts so
you can determine where you last left off reading so you can be sure to catch up
with every post.
I could see the initial sell to readers would be: “sign-up and get this handy
bookmark generated for you”.
Readerkit could also send out a monthly “Here are posts you might not have
seen” along with the bill described in my last post.
The only requirement would be the site’s publisher would have to insert a
banners and links.
So there are two ideas for you.
posted on August 15
The Reader Meter
I have had this idea bouncing around in my head for a few years. It
really came into focus after Readabilty introduced the first iteration of their
product which was met with a lot of unhappiness from publishers. I thought it
was a good idea that needed to be tweaked a bit to be something I would want
I think the idea of collecting money as a function of usage is a good one but
I don’t think anyone has gotten it right. The Flattr model
is uninteresting to me. I will not remember to press a button.
So here is my idea. I have wanted to do it for a while. I have domain names and
have made half-hearted attempts at building it. It is exactly how I want to pay
for reading my favorite weblogs:
Rather than a pay wall this is more like a pay meter. A porous sort of wall that
really just identifies you as a reader after you become a site’s subscriber. If
you are already signed into the application then you can subscribe directly on a
publisher’s site with one click via a widget. You don’t have to subscribe to
access the site. You can keep reading any participating site as you normally do.
The only difference is this application (let’s call it readerkit.com because
that was a domain I bought for it) tracks every time a subscriber views a page
on the site and develops an inventory of content you have read.
At the end of the month you are sent a bill that you do not have to pay.
For example, let us say John at Daringfireball has signed up and determines
he would like 25¢ for all pages viewed in a session. A session being some amount
of time where a reader checks the index page and reads some posts.
Let’s say the reader does this twenty times a month. At the end of the month
a bill is sent, detailing the use, and displaying a total for Daringfireball
(20 x 25¢ = $5) as well as any other site the reader is a subscriber of in that
The email has two buttons: pay now and modify bill.
Clicking “pay now” will take the reader to a page to verify they want to pay the
whole bill. Payment is made to Readerkit and then immediately dispersed to the
Clicking “modify bill” will take the reader to page where they can edit the
bill. They can remove some sessions. They can directly edit the total amount
going to the publisher—that is increase or decrease what they are paying.
It is completely up to the reader, this is just a way to prepare a bill for them
and establish their opinion of the value for the content during the month.
Here is the cool part: readers who consistently pay their bills will contribute
toward a confidence number that publishers can look at and get a sense of how
much money will be coming in at the end of the month. In addition, a publisher’s
biggest supporters can be identified and viewed along with their support
There are lots of things you could do with a supporter list: better tech
support, a view into your most loyal readership, but what this is
really about is putting an engine in place to calculate a value on the content
that the market agrees with.
I wish I could build it but since I can’t I hope someone out there can because
I want to use it.
Ever since I helped start Federated Media (8 years ago??) I think a lot about
how to support independent publishers looking to diversify their income from
just advertising. While FM lost the plot at some point, I still believe in the
original mission John laid out. That’s why I joined
Tugboat. I still believe in independent publishing
and I think there are still a lot of opportunities to build support structures
to keep them going.
posted on August 05
It Happened To Me
- I once sat in a meeting around 2002 where someone tried to talk UBISOFT out
of putting Tom Clancy’s name on the games.
- I was once asked to leave the set of a Sugar Ray video.
- I once interviewed a guy for a job and he told me he had a “brilliant” idea
and if I hired him he would tell me the idea. I still think about that one.
- I had a boss try to get me to register a domain name with a space in it. He
was the sort of guy who wouldn’t take no for an answer. “Well in a few years
everyone will have spaces in their domain names.”
posted on July 03
A Delightful Clockwork Slight of Hand
Made by Swedish artist Per Helldorff:
via This is Colossal
posted on July 02
The Origin of Tweet
The Origin of Tweet is a well researched post from the creator of Twitterrific.
It’s not everyday that a word you helped create gets added to this
prestigious publication, so I thought I’d share a bit of the early
history of the word “tweet.”
posted on June 28
How XOXO Works
Andy posted a summary of how the application process of XOXO worked.
XOXO 2012 was one of the best conferences I have ever been to. It ranks right up there with my first SXSW in 2001. Other than conferences I can’t think of too many other events I’ve been to in my life where I knew I was witnessing something so special.
Since we all came back from XOXO and said as much on our weblogs and Twitter, I think Andy and Andy had an almost impossible task for 2013. It still remains to be seen if they succeeded. We’ll only know once the conference is over and we’ve all returned to our weblogs and Twitter to sum up our experiences.
But the thing I think they did accomplish is they reminded everyone that there is value in being someone who actually makes things.
posted on June 28
Bye, Bye Reader
As you know Google Reader is going away on July 1st. Here are a few links you should know about before it does.
- http://readerisdead.com/ — To pull all your information out of Google Reader. This includes much more than Google Takeout or just exporting your OPML.
- http://www.goread.io/ — A new day, a new reader. Here’s a clean, open-source one. I haven’t spent enough time with it to figure out the keyboard commands but it sure is pretty and fast.
- http://allyourfeed.ludios.org:8080/ — Be sure and throw your subscriptions.xml OPML file from Google Reader in there so they can build an archive of the feeds we’re losing.
posted on June 28
I wish LinkedIn had a feature where I could pick a year, say 2008, and see where all the people I worked
with at the time have moved on (or not) to. A sort of “Where are they now?” for my co-workers. What
I really want is a LinkedIn for my actual work history and the people I have worked with, not people I am
networking with or hope to work with. Where is the LinkedIn that restricts my contacts only to people I have
or do work with?
posted on June 27
JJG is right. The last two questions in this interview with Rick Rubin seem to apply to any creative endeavor.
posted on June 27
My First Post
For a long time I have been unhappy with TypePad’s lack of updates. While hosted Wordpress and
sites like Medium and Svbtle were innovating and adding tons of great features, TypePad did almost nothing
I could see in my daily use. It’s still a pain to use the template editor. It is still a pain
to manage my files. I was going to dive into Jekyll—but then I got a crazy idea…
posted on June 25