I think it was a result of a clear change in the season, a bit more daylight, and a couple of new bikes in the group that there was no difficulty in rallying a good crew to ride on a rainy weeknight in early March. This is just one of the things I love about the place that I’ve been lucky enough to call home for all of my 30 years: stoke is high, regardless of the season.
We’ve had an amazing winter. I got to experience the rare occurrence where a planned week off actually coincided with a storm system that seemed to follow us through the Selkirks and then back down to the Cascades. I love to ski and I especially love that uncontrollably giddy feeling that that comes with a day of what seems like endlessly deep snow. The last couple of months have been full of pow, lots of fresh lines, lots of good beer, and consistent smiles.
But, as the snow level and temps have risen drastically over the past couple of weeks, we’ve opted to swap out gear and hit the brown pow — at least for now. A rare clear day later in the week meant more riding and more ear-to-ear grins as we raced sunset to claim our first post-work, full-light ride of the spring.
Pete and I have been talking for quite a while about trying out the concept of a sub 24-hour overnight. Now, we spend most of our time trying to figure out ways that we can spend well over 24 hours adventuring… how about a few days – no, a week – how about 2!? But, sometimes we have to go to work.
Inspired by Alistair Humphreys’ call to the microadventure, we have had designs on doing this all summer. In fact, there were a few instances where we were packed up and ready to go after work, but late meetings, early mornings, and life in general seemed to keep getting in the way. So, we pushed this off, letting the long summer days full of light come to a close. And as the mild fall nights have shifted to extra hours of darkness that are crisp and biting, we embarked on our first microadventure.
The day before, when I had asked if he could be in around 9 instead of his regular 7:30 or 8am, he replied, “I can make it work – this is important.” I don’t know if he was just goofing around, putting an ironic amount of weight on a 12 hour outing, or if he really meant that – probably some combination of the two – but that really resonated with me: this is important.
Prioritizing being outside, balancing the love for the outdoors with our desire to work (yes, I actually like to do my job…) is so very important. Not just refilling the part of my heart that gets it fuel from being out of the city on the weekends, but finding meaningful ways to engage with this part of my soul throughout the week really truly matters to my wellbeing and happiness.
So, off we went… With the weather threatening rain, we packed up the car in the morning and, after a long day, I picked him up from work just after 5pm. It was already dark so there was no real rush to get anywhere: just to get outside. We drove for about 45 minutes to get to the trailhead and started the 4.2 mile, 4000ft climb.
There’s something particularly focused about headlamp hiking. You only have what your light can reach to give you perspective. You have sounds and your partner as well, but other than that, it’s almost meditative. Gaining the windy ridge and getting a striking view of the shadowy hut under the light of the moon was heartening – even though it looked like it was miles away.
The lookout came quicker than we expected and was shuttered for the winter against the wind that was howling on top of the mountain. We looked for a protected spot nearby to set up camp but opted to return down just a couple hundred feet in order to get some reprieve from the clear but cold weather. We found the perfect spot and hunkered down for the night under the shadows of the Stuart Range in the distance with a blanket of stars completely enveloping us.
By 5:45 the next morning we were breaking camp and returning to the summit to watch the sunrise. Urgency set in as what looked like the fire of Mordor started it’s performance on the distant horizon. An hour on top of the hill with views stretching what felt like hundreds of miles and a hot cup of tea was a truly remarkable way to start the day. With every second the view changed – each moment unique and beautiful in its own expression of color and texture. We sat and soaked it in… and we took lots and lots of pictures.
We have both had many chances to see epic sunrises in various parts of the world. But this one felt different. The juxtaposition of sitting in this breathtaking spot, alone, with the full knowledge that in a couple of hours we would be sitting at our desks, giving presentations, and attending meetings felt like a special secret that would be ours to keep throughout the coming day.
By mid-afternoon this experience felt like a distant memory. But it instilled something in my day – it gave a sense of truth and purpose. No matter what was going on in the world, no matter what the day brought, this place and our experience of it is out there, on the distant horizon.
Scott’s video of the trip will put a smile on your face. Check out his other videos here.
I have been wanting to write about our summer trip to the South Chilcotin Park for quite a while now. But a busy schedule, lots of other rides, and generally just too much fun have gotten in my way. In light of a rough week for our country, I’ve been able to find the time this week to slow down, reflect, and focus on all of the good things in the world: namely, the outdoors.
So with that, let me tell you about a magical time and a magical place…
It was March and we had only been dating for a few months and planning a vacation in the summer seemed a bit premature… but the opportunity seemed too good to pass up. He called me from South Africa and we restated the facts: float place access, mountain bike hut trip, deep in BC. Ok, we’re in. I had just gotten my first mountain bike and I was loving going up and down mountains in a whole new way – and I had some work to do before August.
One day in late April we were pushing up a steep ridge line, clearing fallen trees as the route had just been cleared of snow after the winter. It was in that moment that I realized that this was the warmer-weather yin to my skiing yang. And I haven’t been able to put my bike away since.
I have always loved adventure – and over the past year I’ve been challenging myself to say ‘yes’ far more often than I don’t. That’s how we ended up riding our bikes from Seattle to Vancouver, BC where we traded road bikes for mountain bikes and a well-packed car and carried on north for the week.
As we flew out over the South Chilcotin Park in the 1960’s era de Havilland Beaver, I couldn’t help but think about The Hatchet… but we were assured by our pilot that this was the ‘best place ever made’ so I swallowed that fear and enjoyed the views. We landed on Lorna Lake and, after a brief all-direction scatter for our first backcountry bathroom stop, we headed off up and over Lorna Pass to drop gear at Bear Paw Camp.
Jan, the Bear Paw camp host, along with her golden retriever Jazz, met us in the clearing and pointed us to our canvas tents. We lightened our packs, had a snack, and headed back uphill. This was the first of many alpine meadows we would pedal across, many scree slopes we would push up, and many bushes we would schwack over the following days. It was also the first of many epic descents we would have, traveling from barren mountain tops, into open, flowing meadows where you could feel like you were flying, down into techy trees, and finally along (and through) pristine creeks back to camp.
The days’ riding would wrap up early enough for us to enjoy some beers (placed in the creek to chill by Jan, aka God, early in the morning), play some cards, and soak in the utter remoteness and comfort of the camp. I have been in more isolated places than this where you don’t see another soul for days and trails are difficult to identify at best. But I hadn’t experienced a place that combines the feeling and reality of remoteness with the relative comforts of a canvas tent, flannel sleeping bags, and a home cooked meal each night.
Being in a beautiful place without any access to cell service or wifi is an increasingly rare gift these days and it was truly that: a chance to be totally removed from the realities of the world outside of the mountains, the potential for bear encounters, and the countless miles of epic riding ahead of us. This was the trip of a lifetime and I can’t wait for the next adventure with this seriously good team! Our routes were amazing, each day better than the last but unique and amazing in their own way.
Our itinerary seemed to be the perfect combination of covering ground, getting good climbing in with great descents, and still with plenty of time to relax at the end of the day.
From plane, Lorna Pass to Tyaughton Creek Trail to Bear Paw Camp.
From Bear Paw… Manson Creek to Little Paradise and Relay Col.
From Bear Paw through Elbow Pass to Big Creek, up Graveyard Creek to Elbow Pass and back to Bear Paw.
From Bear Paw big climb up Deer Pass to Gun Creek and down to Spruce Camp.
From Spruce Camp up High Trail to Windy Pass, Lick Creek trail to Tyax Lodge.
The plan was to knock out two high elevation epic rides before the snow started falling. But a few days before we were supposed to go, the snow started falling. So, heads lowered, tears filling our eyes, we conceded that we wouldn’t be able to ride up to 7k this October and instead we would head south in search of the sun.
I expected the numbers to dwindle as plans changed and location shifted by a few hundred miles and took us to another state, but the team rallied and we had an excellent crew for a weekend in Hood River. A last-minute campsite booking put us in a spot where, all night long, we could feel the breeze from the train as it swept by and whistled every 25 minutes. But spirits (and whiskey content) were high and we weathered the storm that followed us with loamy, brown-pow days followed by excellent campfires, good beer, and even better company.
This week I focused on the getting the logo lockup created. The first step was lots and lots of sketching. Pictured here are a few pages from my sketchbook.
As I sketched and eventually brought the visuals into the computer I kept in mind the Breve brand characteristics: collaborator, curator, high quality, and socially conscious. I also kept in mind the purpose of the Breve brand. The brand mark is meant to show a distinct mark or seal but not to overpower the brands with which it collaborates. The final solution is a strong mark that can be used on its own or with the name “Breve” below it. A gray-brown paired with accents of blue and orange form the color palette. The primary color is subtle and will allow the brand to be secondary to the existing coffee shop brands but with a solid and dependable feel.
In addition to finalizing the brand mark I continued to work out the supply chain issue the most central problem on the coffee shop side of Breve. I had the opportunity to speak with a couple of local coffee shop owners as well as some individuals that work in high density areas such as South Lake Union and Downtown Seattle. As I worked through the process of supplying hot coffee on a delivery basis it seemed like there might be a better solution for all users.
The central problem that I am working to solve is that people working in high density areas don’t get a moment for themselves in the day. Rather, for their coffee break they have to rush to the nearest crowded chain coffee shop and rush back. While the delivery model didn’t seem to be solving the problem, the idea of bringing local coffee shops into neighborhoods they don’t normally have access to was appealing to both coffee shop owners and coffee drinkers that I spoke to.
After testing the delivery model and not finding this to be a solution that works for both user groups (coffee shops and coffee drinkers) I went back to the drawing board. Over the past few days I was able to test the idea of a mobile coffee shop that houses baristas from different shops each day of the week. The Breve app would allow the functionality of ordering and paying ahead of time, finding out what roasts are available today, and tracking your loyalty as well as your preferences. The defining difference in this structure is that individuals will go pick their coffee up from the mobile coffee shop which will be centrally located in their neighborhood.
Here you can see some of my thought process on this transition.
The first research phase of this project, including market research and user interviews, is nearly complete. I have consolidated my research, defined my user, and begun the brand exploration process for Breve.
What is Breve?
Breve is a service that allows busy professionals living and working in dense urban areas to take a moment for themselves each day. By signing up for the Breve subscription you will receive your favorite coffee drink from curated local and socially responsible coffee shops on a schedule that works best for you. Each time you receive your drink the Breve app will give you a description of the particular roast you are enjoying, tasting notes, and more information about the coffee shop that has chosen this roast for you.
Breve will redefine your coffee break. Rather than having to rush away from your desk and settle for whatever coffee is closest you will have the opportunity to be taken care of and have that break just for you and your morning coffee. The Breve app will allow you to take notes on your favorite blends and receive loyalty points at coffee shops around the city.
On the weekend when you have a bit more time you can explore new neighborhoods while you visit these coffee shops in person and use the loyalty points you have earned throughout the week to get lower prices and free drinks.
The Breve Brand
I began with user research that allowed me to really get to know who would be subscribing to the Breve service (more details on the user personas next week). In short, the Breve user is a 25-45 year old professional that works 10-12 hour days and drinks coffee regularly. When they have more time our user is very intentional about their purchases and is especially interested in ethically-sourced products and getting to know the story behind their goods.
After finding out who the user is I began to explore the brand. My first step in this process was to list the features that would be beneficial to the user and using those features to really define the character of Breve as a brand. After defining the brand character I was able to craft a brand promise and brand statement. At that point I was able to move towards developing a visual style. The first step in that process was to create a visual mood board.
While Breve is its own brand the intention is to create a space for collaboration with local coffee shops with strong branding of their own. Therefore the Breve brand will be a have a more subtle and foundational feel.
I chose Lato for the typeface because it is a solid-feeling sans serif that offers structure and stability without being overbearing. For a graphic style I have selected images that have a modern, structured feel whether through solid, iconic imagery or subtle, geometric patterns. The photo style will be similarly structured and minimal with a close-up focus on the product. The intention of the Breve brand is to share the story of the individual roast and coffee shop that has selected it.
The Breve brand can be used alongside other established brands in a complementary way and will communicate trust and intentionality to the user.
For one of my final UX projects in school I am focusing on a project I’ve been thinking about for a few months. I knew that Starbucks had been beta testing this concept in their corporate offices but I wasn’t sure they were going to be able to push it to the public for quite some time. So, when I read a few weeks ago that Starbucks is launching their coffee delivery service in Seattle and the Empire State Building sometime in the second half of 2015 I was both disheartened that this project I’ve been so excited about will be going public with all of the backing that comes with a company like Starbucks and encouraged that there is hopefully a good user experience in this idea somewhere.
My concept is to provide a coffee subscription and delivery service to busy young professionals who love their coffee and want an alternative to the big coffee options like Starbucks. My research has shown that there is a desire for this kind of service in high density professional areas (such as Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood or San Francisco’s SoMa area). Companies like Eat24 and GrubHub are growing their food delivery service and Starbucks will be using Postmates to handle their coffee delivery (Postmates currently delivers from various restaurants to your door or desk). The model exists but doesn’t yet exist for custom hot drinks on demand.
Breve (breh-vay) is an Italian word meaning “quick” or “brief”. It also has significant meaning in the coffee and espresso world. Breve will bring you high end coffee to your workplace, giving you the opportunity to try new roasts from local coffee shops that you might not otherwise have the time to experience.
Next week we will see more user research, customer experiences, user profiles, and features that will make the busy coffee connoisseur’s daily experience more delightful.
We had the opportunity at the end of the quarter to work on a UX project specific to Amazon that was written for us by the Kindle team. It is a wake screen ad for their ad supported version of the Kindle. I chose to work with Eagle Creek and explore what would draw users to the call the action and then give them an enjoyable experience with the offer.
I started with researching the tablet market. I hoped to find extensive information on actual Kindle use but, understandably, Amazon keeps that data very quiet. So, I jumped into the tablet market in general.
In addition to the market growing quite quickly and steadily year over year, the demographic data of tablet use also offered important and interesting information.
I also found some interesting information about the characteristics of tablet owners and how they interact with their tablets and with the internet in general.
With that information I was able to start developing user profiles that would allow me to better understand how different individuals would interact with this interface.
Once the user profiles were developed I was able to start prototyping. After sketching I started with paper prototypes. Assuming a call to action that carries the user to the first screen I tested this on a few Kindle users. What I found was that users did not like being taken to a new screen when viewing the product detail. Rather, they wanted to feel like they were still in the offer screen.
I created the second iteration that addressed this user feedback by having the product detail in a modal window. I then tested this on additional users to see if this solved that problem. With the second iteration the modal issue was solved but I found that users were not inclined to click through to the product view because they wanted to see the customer rating on the first product page. As I moved toward building the final iteration I considered this feedback.
Here you see the final screens – including the actual wake screen ad – in both portrait and landscape view. Two rounds of user testing offered valuable feedback and allowed me to create a better experience for the user.
Central Co-op is a Seattle food cooperative that has been the heartbeat of the Capitol Hill neighborhood for over 40 years. Over the past ten weeks Seana and I have had to opportunity to rebrand the Co-op and it has been such a rich experience to dive deeply into the story of this place.
Before starting with any visuals we worked to develop brand. Researching their history, using their current mission statement, and employing the trusty ‘ole white board and a lot of sticky notes we were able to define the brand.
We provide a member-owned co-op alternative to buying natural and organic food and household goods that positively impacts the Seattle community and the environment.
Informed | Engaging | Alternative
We believe that our community has a choice in where their food and household products come from. That’s why we provide a local, member-owned alternative to food and product buying.
Once we had defined the brand in this way we were able to start exploring the visual expression of the brand. We sketched and sketched and then sketched some more and then iterated on those sketches and finally found a solution that is a strong representation of the brand and is a logo that would last the test of time.
We were very inspired by the centrality and rooted nature of the co-op. Not only geographically but also because they take a very big part in the local Seattle community. They choose to give back in very real ways to their community and endeavor to source locally whenever possible. That concept evolved into a geometric representation of many parts creating a whole at the core of the community. Our logo solution is a modern and alternative take on the trusted idea of a quality seal.
In addition to the logo we built out a library of textures to be used throughout the branding. The strong, geometric logo is complimented by hand-touched textures created with a combination of watercolor and halved apples used as stamps. The style guide outlines the use of the logo, typefaces, and textures.
Once we established the logo and the style guide we were able to take the brand into some additional assets. We developed aprons, shopping bags, interior signage, delivery vans, and an environmental experience for the exterior of the building.
The final piece that we developed is the web presence. We brought the alternative and engaging nature of the Co-op into the web space by developing a homepage that feels fresh and exciting and that doesn’t adhere strictly to standard web conventions. Instead our site invites the user to explore and dive deeper into the experience of the Central Co-op.
Sometimes you need to take a little break. I got the chance to go kayaking on an unseasonably warm March day last week with Nate and Richie. As much as I love sitting at my desk and creating things, being out in the mountains and on the water is what feeds my soul. We even managed to snag a group shot with the aid of a partially exposed rock and Richie’s remarkable ability to jump into his kayak from said rock and paddle into frame within seven seconds.