Journal Entries

Subscribe to Bri Part II

I rolled up my sleeves and started plugging away on the subscription idea I shared in yesterday’s entry. I originally called it maggi.io since I owned that domain already, but then started thinking no one is going to find that. Plus, they’ll probably leave out the extra “i”. So for now, and from here on it’s going to be called uxscription.

I’m not sure whether it’s a play on subscription or prescription. I guess it doesn’t matter. The word looks right and that’s important for a product and brand name. You see it, and you have some idea of what it could be.

Just to be safe, I also bought the following domains; uxdesignshop.com, experiencedesignshop.com, and designscription.com. The basic concept is you can get in-demand services when you need them.

There are several other agencies out there with new business models where they market themselves as virtual companies. There’s Superside and Designity. I had some experience with the former, and it they weren’t great to deal with. The other just seems like the same thing.

So what is UXScription and what is it not? Let’s start with the tag line. I came up with “in-demand user experience design services.” I have been in the product and UX space for 30 years and I have seen patterns in the requests people make and the needs organizations have.

We are here to show you what you should do not just do what you’re asking us.

In-Demand vs On-Demand

Think about Netflix and all the other streaming services available. Sure, it sounds great that we can watch anything we want anytime. So what do we do? We end up browsing for three hours and land on Seinfeld reruns.

But when someone we trust tells us what we should watch, we go right to it, click play and we’re done.

In-Demand talent is our model. I’m a known quantity. My business is word of mouth. I’m not fungible.

I’m like a doctor, I can diagnose the problem and treatment pretty quickly, because I have seen how a lot of these things have played out before.

Other design firms with this upfront model remind me of Kinko’s (now FedEx office). They can do anything you ask for; business cards, posters, apps, etc. We have computers, software, and printers, isn’t that all you need to make that stuff? Kinko’s exists for people who don’t know shit about those things and for those who do. For the latter, there’s often a penalty for knowing too much.

All these other people know how to do things. What you need is someone who knows what needs to be done and why. Even better those who know what doesn’t need to be done and what you can get away with skipping.

The Order in Which You Do Things Matters

There is an element of being able to walk before you run. That’s why we have some packaged solutions. For example, standing up a WordPress site is pretty easy. You can go to WordPress.com and with a couple clicks, you have a website. It isn’t until much later you realize it wasn’t what you needed, or you needed so much more. The price of entry is cheap, but the cost of learning by doing is expensive – especially when you have other things to do.

I have personally set up at least 100 WordPress sites, and have customized the shit out of them over and over. WordPress isn’t the only CMS I’ve set up either. But in 90% of the cases, it will do.

Let’s Not Overthink Some Things

Follow the 80/20 rule or whatever maxim you like, not everything needs to be an innovation. Some stuff is foundational and fundamental. Sure, it could be perfect, but that’s not the part that needs perfection. Save your power for the things that will really matter. That’s why the UXScription website is organized around the business scenarios that lead people to seek help versus people looking for solutions.

Value is Never Expensive

Our pricing is based on the value we deliver. But that depends on what you value most in the moment. Is it time, execution or budget? We all want what we can’t have. Those three dimensions are in opposition to each other. Someone that promises that is either lying or lucky.

Back to the WordPress instance example. $1200 sounds like a lot for something anyone could do. But if you read what you get in that solution, and know exactly what it means, then by all means you should be doing it yourself. I’m not here to do your job. I’m here to do the things you cannot do.

Focusing too much on the cost and time ratio of work turns the endeavor into a linear transaction. Getting the most work for the least amount of money because the goal.

No one wants your problem solved more than me.

Transparency Shouldn’t be in the Pricing

Who cares if the pricing is transparent. Too high or too low is the wrong thing to be worried about when asking for outside help. The transparency is in the work we do. Being transparent about the price just encourages people to outsource the work to cheaper and cheaper workers. Sure, you know how much you’re paying, but you don’t know shit about who’s doing the work.

The Fixer

By the time some people have realized they need to get outside help, they’ve already burned up time. It’s the deadline that’s driving their decision more than anything else. What they need is someone who has seen this kind of thing before, not someone who’s going to talk to them about process. In most cases, they’ve already glommed onto a solution and just need someone who knows how to execute it. This is pretty common among new businesses and startups. For this use case, it’s get someone in, that just knows what they’re doing.

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Subscribe to Bri

I’m not one to read articles from Business Insider or Entrepreneur. Most of them have the stink of clickbait with their stories of how someone makes unrealistic sums of a money just doing a side hustle. They’re written in an interview style, but they don’t seem like they’re fact-checked. Anyone can claim to make $100,000 a month, but when you’re pretty much writing the article for the reporter, who’s going to know.

So I admit, I was sucked in by a headline about a UX designer who claims to make a $150,000 a month with a subscription style business. I could see how his model could, and probably does work. The numbers seem a bit high, but the guy does a great job of showing his math and is open about his model.

If you have 40 clients all paying a subscription (aka retainer) of $3500-5000 a month, you can get to that number easily. Fulfilling the work is the challenge, and that’s where speed pays off.

That’s what makes the article so unusual. Most of the time someone makes an audacious claim, like “The 4-Hour Work Week” and the solution (just resell supplements and buy a bunch of Google AdWords) is usually unappetizing. The “just set it, and forget it” model is almost always too good to be true.

For me, I like living the a la carte life of a freelancing and consulting. I have worked for big companies and have run an agency. Both were rewarding experiences, but they also taught me how much I loved autonomy.

Another thing I have learned is; by the time people have decided to look for outside help they just want the problem addressed. Quick and adequate sells. The two biggest questions to be answered are “how much?” and “when can I have it?” Questions about the what, why, and how can be asked in future iterations. That’s when there will be time to really think through the problem holistically. By then, they’ll need a full-service agency.

I have been working in the digital design space for 30 years. I know how to do things in minutes that can take people days. Some of it’s because I have developed an intuitive sense that enables me to interpret what people are looking for quickly. But mostly it’s because I’ve gone through the trial and error and experimentation phases most people do not have time for.

I’ll be working on a list of things I can offer in a subscription mode and posting that to LinkedIn and see how it goes. There’s a certain type of work that lends itself to this model. Figuring which will work is going to be an experiment.

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Gravel Rides

I got in two decent rides over the holiday weekend. Yesterday, I was hoping to take out the hard tail and do some trail riding. That bike has been acting up with some noise coming from the bottom bracket. I figured it was probably some water or moisture. But there was a new clicking sound coming from the back wheel. I had a broken spoke. This is the third or fourth spoke I’ve broken on that bike. Pisses me off.

So I took the gravel bike out instead and hit the trail. I skipped some of the single trail I usually take and extended some of my road riding.

Today, I took the gravel bike out again and did a big loop down into the regional park where the reservoir is. It’s about 1,000 foot climb to the entrance, and mostly fire roads around the lake. There were a couple a hills too steep to ride, so I had to hike them. I got in about 20 hard earned miles on today’s ride. All told, I’ve gotten in about 70-80 miles over the last 7 days.

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Another shooting, and another

Don’t be fooled. There is no such thing as gun rights. It is white man rights, the gun is just the symbol. There is no one more free in this country than a white guy with a gun. If a black man is even thought to have a gun in public, it’s shoot first ask questions later.

Every guy (and it’s always been, a guy) that has lectured me on guns and the 2nd amendment is full of shit. They are bad faith actors who’ve been spoon fed some talking points cooked up by the NRA in the 70s. These people aren’t constitutional scholars. It’s the only thing in The Constitution they’ve read, if they’ve even read that.

The worldview of a gun nut is one of fear. It’s always about protection and concern someone is going to take something from them. The world is out to get them. As long as the world stays a dangerous place, despite actually getting safer, their feelings are validated.

Deadly force is the only option on the table. Ask them to even consider other possibilities and they draw a blank. It’s not even up for debate. And yet, they can rattle off an infinite number of scenarios, corner cases, and outlying unrealistic situations where they need to have a gun.

Don’t for a second think they want everyone to have guns for the same reasons they do. The most generous interpretation is they think everyone should have equal protection. How practical is that when weapons and killing power is in constant escalation?

What gun nuts (and stop calling them advocates. they don’t deserve such an adult sounding label) want is the ability to enforce laws as they see fit. The rhetoric around protection is just an appeal to others who lack creativity and imagination for better solutions.

There is no such thing as gun rights, no matter what the Second Amendment says. What we have are people with a severe fetish that are lying and being intellectually dishonest.

Until we stop acting like gun nuts share the same values and principles as the rest of Americans, this problem is only going to get worse.

At this point, I literally don’t give a shit if they do take away all the guns – 100% of them. They should be forced to make the choice. When they say “you can have my gun when you pry it away from my cold dead hands”, I say don’t threaten me with a good time assholes.

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Kayaking on Tomales Bay

Today we got the boats in the water for the first time in about a year. It was the same spot as our last kayaking session, the boat launch next to Nick’s Cove. The water was pretty calm compared to the days of high wind we’ve been experiencing around here. Other than just getting out on the water, it was uneventful.

If there’s time today, I might take the board out for some surfing.

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