Core Concepts of the Ruthless Monk

The Ruthless Monk is my general approach to site conceptualization. Here is my general overview of the tenets of hitting something Monk Style.

The user’s current position is considered the center of the site. Wherever the user is, they are in the right place. Bring content to them, don’t use your navigation as advertisement. This only makes the user feel they are in the wrong place, and all other places are better.

Items that are of more relevance are closer to user. This means, stop carrying navigation and global elements around the site. If the user chooses a path, their focus is on that topic or action. Leave shit behind when it’s not needed.

The degree to which items are presented and the visual and cognitive impact they will have. Not everything can be cranked to 11. A simple visual inspection of every screen should reveal the top 2-3 actions you want a user to take. These are the items with the loudest volume, the rest need to be turned down.

Discreet modal shifts within a current space. I call these ‘Flips’ they are nothing more than div layers that contain a complete and concise task. They are called when needed, and should adapt to user position and mindset.

Story Shaping
Arranging user opportunities through a story metaphor. If I asked you to tell me about your new camera, it’s unlikely you would organize your thoughts in the same manner as a camera maker’s site. Think about how a conversation evolves, how people will interrupt at moments of interest and change the course of the discussion. This is real time Story Shaping.

Content will always beget an action. If it doesn’t provoke action, it is likely useless. Also, ask yourself what questions a user would have based on a piece of content. That is likely to inform your choice of actions you provide, and think ACTION, don’t always think movement.

If it doesn’t add something, remove it. Be ruthless in your dislike for every object on the screen. Strong, single and simple actions will always beat complex, wishy-washy activities. At some point, everyone is a uni-tasker… realize the power in this.



Illegitimi non carborundum

The business of ratios

When there is no point to something, the best idea is to not do it

Food : Basil Lemon Shrimp

Good sized shrimp, cleaned and whatnot… chop up a bunch of fresh basil, zest a half a lemon, squeeze the juice in… a half spoon of chopped garlic… drizzle olive oil.. fresh ground pepper… cook in pan… put over pasta… swoon.

My Favorite Video, pt. 1

This is usually the type of thing that goes on inside my brain everyday. I have a strange surreal thing happening to me these days.

Mercury Rev – Opus 40 by the remarkable Anton Corbijn

Essential iPhone Apps

As requested, here’s my essential iPhone Apps:
In alphabetical order

Air Sharing
Let’s your iPhone be mounted to your desktop like an external drive. Not sure why this isn’t normal behaviour, but this works fine.

Amazon Mobile
Buy, compare, shop, wishlists… indispensable when you’re a cheap bastard like myself.

AOL Radio
I’m not a radio fan at all, but find myself listening to this every so often. Stations around the world and a batch of very specific stations (Classic Punk and All Clash being two of my favorites).

One of two Eno-based apps on my list. This music generation app is fun and addictive, plus it keeps the kids busy when you need some quiet in the car.

A dedicated Flickr client that also uploads to your account directly from your iPhone.

Can’t say enough great things about this app. Just get it.

Multiple protocol Instant Messenger AND Skype client. Yes, use Skype on your iPhone and tell AT&T to go to hell.

Very good RSS client. Syncs with the desktop version also.

Now Playing
Essential if you love movies like I do. Look up movies, showtimes, etc.

Oblique Strategies
Brian Eno’s mystical fortune cookies for creative thinking

People will argue about which Twitter client is better, I think this one is pretty nifty.


Brilliant. I’m using it for book writing, note keeping, photo storage, file transfers, and public UX notes. If you haven’t seen it yet, go get :