Mercury Day 1: Cave Paintings and Product Definition

Cave Paintings

In almost every project I’ve ever done, I usually end up full of ideas (assumptions) about it before I get all the facts and do my due diligence. Sometimes I just think through these things, but most of the time that thinking takes shape in some graphical editing tool or a CodePen or even a browser mock-up.

I call this type of thinking Cave Painting. It’s usually crude, uninspired and marked with premature thinking. And if we’re being honest, when I look at it later I’m embarrassed to the point where being mauled by a sabertooth tiger doesn’t sound all that bad.

Most times I find it really beneficial to do this, it helps clear out the pipes; to get all the stupid out. This way I can move past that those premature ideas and actually focus on designing with actual intention.

This Cave Painting was done in the browser. The intention of this was to think about a Profile View with the content of relevant to that user. I like the idea of a profile being focused on the ‘shelf’ content.
This is an earlier version of that view done in Sketch.
This is an idea for a header. I like this a little more than I should at this stage so it might stick around.

Again, the point of these comps was get premature assumptions out of my system and recorded them to some degree.

All of these comps use an early pass at a concept for a logo. Refining that idea and soliciting feedback from other designers will eventually be its own post.

Product Definition

Now that that’s out of my system, I shifted over to defining the product: key features, focuses, intentions. Pretty much wrote down most of the things I thought were relevant to Mercury at this stage of things. These are early and formative, I expect them to evolve and deepen over time.

Basically, you should be able to log in and add books to a specific set of pre-defined collections (currently reading, loved, finished), you should be able to review books and follow other users to see their reviews and books they’ve collected.

Full specs are here.

Tomorrow I’ll probably shift into defining user flows for creating a collection, reviewing a book and maybe defining some common language for Mercury.

Side note: Canvas is a great fucking app. It’s a markdown-like app focused on team notes.