Sam Brown

The redesign of

One of the primary reasons I wanted to work at foursquare in early 2010 was to have the ability to work on one product alone and continue to improve that over time. The majority of my freelance projects never lasted more than 3 months, once a site had shipped I had very little to do with it and would move onto another project. Being able to rapidly iterate on a single product over time and see real measured improvements has been massively satisfying.

When I started working at foursquare we had two designers, a visual designer and a user experience designer. Both working across all aspects of the product on everything from web and iOS app design to communication materials and graphic design. A grand task for just two and thankfully the team has grown to almost 10 since then with a mix of visual, interaction, ux and web ui designers.

At foursquare we see the website as an integral part of our product and getting the chance to redesign this from the ground-up was a great opportunity, one that the small redesign team has slaved, sweated and poured a vast amount of our effort into over the last few months.

The new foursquare site is a breath of fresh air compared to our old utilitarian and generic 2009 website. While we continued to push amazing new features and projects to the site, we have always felt constrained by it’s abilities and style. Today we launch a brighter, fresher and more flexible design that is not only a huge improvement visually but lays the groundwork for new features and projects that are coming down our road map in the very near future.

Gone are the days of content-in-a-blue-box and in moves the era of easier to digest content, interactivity and discovery. With easier navigation, even more photos & comments, and clearer venue details to interactive maps, venue recommendations and list discovery we hope that becomes the destination site for people looking to keep up with their friends, discover what’s nearby, save money and unlock rewards.

Checking into full-time employment

Yesterday, April 11th 2011 marked my first day as a full-time foursquare employee! I have been working solely for foursquare since August last year on a contract basis and it was around this time last year that I first started doing some occasional freelance work for the NYC startup.

This last year has been a complete blast and to have been offered a full-time position whilst still based in the UK was amazing. At only 55 full-time employees our team are really cranking out some amazing new product and it’s a job I am absolutely relishing.

Now you know why so many cobwebs have grown over this site, I plan to change that too. :)

Have you tried foursquare? Check out the new sign up flow and start exploring today →

My passion for Side Projects

I have written about why I think Side Projects are massively important and something everyone should be doing regardless of full-time employment or being freelance before on several occasions in How to stay sane when freelancing from home & Why I love being freelance.

Now I’m planning on speaking about it at SXSW Interactive Conference 2011 in Austin, Texas next March. Infact, I am that passionate about it that I am part of two fantastic panel line ups:

Collaboration Nation: How Side-Projects Can Keep You Relevant →

Pet Personal Projects for Fun and Profit →

If you plan on attending SXSW and are interested in this topic or either of the panels specifically I would be grateful for your vote. Thanks.

Debates over terminology and semantics are for...

“Debates over terminology and semantics are for archivists and academics. If you’re interested in the living heart of what you do, focus on building things rather than talking about them.”

Very sound advice from Ryan Freitas on 35 Lessons in 35 Years via @wilsonminer

To Bumper or not to Bumper, the iPhone 4 Question

Pre-ordering the iPhone 4 from the Apple Store website on June 15th was a must for me and it is fair to say the process was not as smooth as it could have been, but after a solid 45 minutes of trying I managed to get my order in. Fast-forward 9 days and UPS arrive with my NewShiny™.

I’ve had 3 iPhone’s over the years, the original first generation silver-backed iPhone, the plastic backed iPhone 3G and now the iPhone 4. Due to the duration of my mobile contract the 3GS never quite fit and thus I skipped this model. My clear favourite out of all the iPhones was the original silver-backed 1st Gen. The plastic back of the 3G & 3GS I never really liked and got seriously scratched to bits. I cringed every time I saw someone place their iPhone glass-side down on a table to protect the plastic back, I never felt comfortable with that.

When I heard the iPhone 4 was going to have glass on both sides I was both pleased and worried, pleased that it would be more scratch resistant but naturally worried it would be even more delicate and it is safe to say that my concerns were just.

The iPhone 4 looks amazing, without a shadow of doubt a superb piece of industrial design. It feels heavy and solid in your hands even whilst being thinner. It feels like a rock-hard piece of metal and glass. The previous version felt light and throwable, something you used all the time but didn’t worry too much about, this one however feels different. There is little grip and the coated surfaces front-and-back do little to help you. The sides are sharp, rounded yes but still slightly uncomfortable.

Diesel Hastings Pouch

Diesel Hastings Pouch

I have never owned a case for any of my iPhone’s and I have never full-on dropped one or cracked a screen (touch-wood), but last year I purchased the Diesel Hastings Pouch – and loved it. It protected my iPhone in my pocket from keys or coins and placing it on a table was no longer a worry, I only wish I had purchased it much much earlier.

My plan was to use the same pouch for my iPhone 4 however due to the thinner body the device slips right out of this case at worrying speed. My previous iPhone fit snug. So I had a quick scout around but couldn’t find anything I liked for the iPhone 4 and decided to give one of the Apple iPhone 4 Bumpers a try.

iPhone 4 Bumper

iPhone 4 Bumper

Fitting the Bumper was easy enough and the combination of moulded plastic with rubber edges feel great and most importantly offer masses of grip, be it in your hand or on a surface. The metal buttons for volume and power are a nice touch, if only the silent switch had an accompanying one. Sadly the bumper doesn’t quite fit the phone, likely only due to the need to get it on and off with relative ease. Every now and again pressing the power button you can feel the sides of the bumper slide up and down the device, if only by a few millimetres.

Another major downside to the Bumpers is that it now makes your iPhone 4 look like a 3G with a case, which may have it’s benefits to some but with the gorgeous new looks of the iPhone 4 it to me is slightly disappointing. I really love the new look iPhone.

A major upside to the Bumper is that it does do one vital task very well and that is helping you not cover The Spot which if covered kills the 3G signal. /via Daring Fireball.

I plan to soldier on with the bumper attached for now even though I really don’t like it, I feel the lack of overall grip of the device is so low that I fear I’ll drop it at any moment. Hopefully some nice pouches or cases are in the works and will be out in the near future that will suit my taste, but for now the Bumper will have to do. I already miss my NewShiny™.

Sam Brown co-founded Iterate, and was previously VP of Design at Foursquare. Based in NYC.