Spoon-String Music: The Beauty of Constraints

Posted by on June 18, 2014 in App Updates

We’ve been heads-down for the past few months working hard on the beta version of Merch and we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel (like that glorious giant goose in Wawa after a long haul from Thunder Bay for you Canadians…). Along the way, we’ve run into challenges that made us step back, regroup, and find different routes to take without sacrificing usability or delight.

As designers and developers we love roadblocks. It sounds crazy but when we’re given constraints to work within it’s amazing what can happen. Imagine you’re in the studio and instead of your band, a killer producer, and a Neumann u87, you’re given a guitar string, a spoon, a 58, and a minidisc recorder. What do you do? Well, you make some of the best damn vintage-sounding spoon-string music the world has ever heard. When we run into challenges we roll up our sleeves and do the same thing.

iOS7 has presented some interesting challenges when it comes to marrying up our definition of a great user experience with what’s technically possible. Without getting too heavily into the nerdery of it all, there are certain things that iOS simply won’t do. While it’s frustrating because those tasks are straightforward when we’re working with the web, we rise to these challenges and find the best possible way for the fine folks using our app to accomplish their goals.

One of these such predicaments involved adding sizes and colours to clothing items. We’ve set everything up so that the merch in your clothing category is organized by type (shirt, hoodie etc.), then by design, gender, colour, and size. Let’s say we’re working with clothing that has a diamond on it – that diamond design could come in several sizes, types, and colours for both men and women. We’d like to give you an incredibly easy way to add those when creating items but the ideal method of adding cells to a table row was giving us some difficulty. We had to make some quick decisions and adapt our designs to accommodate some of the limitations of the platform – our equivalent of killer spoon-string music.

Originally, we had these two screens combined, but we had to separate them in order to have things play nice in iOS.

Originally, we had these two screens combined, but we had to separate them in order to have things play nice in iOS.

Making an app is a lot like making an album. There’s a lot of pieces that need to work together and a lot of decisions that need to be made along the way. Just like you won’t compromise on those vocal takes, we’re unwilling to make quick decisions just to ship a product. We believe that managing merch should be easier and when we discover constraints, we need to ensure that the choices we make are solving problems rather than creating new ones .

If you haven’t signed up for our beta yet, whatcha waiting for? Just scroll on down this page and sign up. We’re going to start sending out invites in a few weeks and we’d love for you to have one.

‘Till next time,