Refresh DC November 2010 Recap: Designing for One Billion People

Jason Garber, Former Senior Web Developer

Article Category: #Design & Content

Posted on

Refresh DC returned in a big way a week before the Thanksgiving holiday with a top-notch talk on "Designing for One Billion People."

Clearspring's Director of User Experience, Jim Lane, spoke on a number of topics relating to how his company tackled design challenges at tremendous scale. Clearspring builds and supports the AddThis sharing platform and currently serves 2 billion share button views every single day.

Jim broke his talk down into five points:

  1. Design for growth
  2. Be dangerously open
  3. Be data-informed
  4. Build to scale
  5. Embrace customers

You can check out Jim's slides over on SlideShare for details on each, but I'll share here a couple of interesting bits I took away.

First, Jim noted that Clearspring uses OmniGraffle instead of Photoshop for rapidly designing the AddThis homepage. That revelation raised a few eyebrows in the room.

Second, Jim showed off some remarkable statistics and information on the A/B tests that Clearspring runs. The full stats fall under his "Be data-informed" slides. I love that they take a very deliberate, informed approach to making design decisions. When you're dealing with the magnitude of impressions-per-day that AddThis receives, you need to be making informed visual and technical design decisions.

Lastly, Jim mentioned that one of AddThis' developers (my apologies for not remember the person's name!) had concocted a method of arranging service icons in the infamous AddThis sprite programmatically so that the PNG is optimally compressed. That's some serious business, right there, folks.

I'd again encourage you to check out the rest of Jim's slides for more great information. Also, keep an eye on Refresh DC while you're at it.

Thanks again to Jim Lane and Clearspring for presenting, The Motley Fool for hosting, and LivingSocial for getting pizza and drinks for everyone!

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