DESIGN NOTES with Kevin Barry of Nova Launcher - Design Notes

Thu Sep 24 2015

Fore more info, go to This week's episode of Design Notes is with Kevin Barry, the developer behind Nova Launcher. Nova has between 10 and 50 million downloads, a 4.6 star rating, and an unlock key that's routinely in the top 20 paid apps on Google's Play Store (particularly impressive since games show up in the list too). Nova Launcher is immensely popular for its customizability, from a basic "stock plus" experience to making your home screen a fully decorated design piece. Given the scale of Nova as a product, there are tons of interesting points to consider from a product and design perspective, and we talked about many of those on this week's episode. Here's a brief rundown: - Deciding when to adopt or adapt features from Google's stock launcher - Matching functionality while improving or optimizing code - Deciding to keep features that are eventually removed from stock - Deciding when improvements or tweaks should take over as default options - "Just put it in settings" - Knowing when it's okay to remove features - Predicting edge cases and potential problems - Getting feedback from the community - Identifying potential problems and coding defensively - Designing for Android's new runtime permissions - Drawing over other apps in Marshmallow - - Possible security concerns - - Drawing over apps in Wear? - The launcher landscape of the future - - When will we stop needing launchers? - - Judgmental personal assistants with sass

Previous Episodes

Designer/author Dan Saffer & I dive deep into the theoretical UX questions and principles discussed in Dan's work. From what might make us uncomfortable about cooking a roast from across the planet, to the myth of invisible design, and how we might get a handle on the well of undiscovered functionality offered by voice interaction.
Design Notes is back, and for the 15th episode I spoke with Carla Diana, a designer who brings objects to life, translating complex human emotions to the limited (but growing) expressive palette available to social robots and sentient objects. In the episode, we cover the process of translating feelings like stress into lights and sounds, having conversations with autonomous vehicles, and whether our eventual robot companions will experience emotions (and a sense of self) that in any way map onto our own. Check out Carla's work at
This time I had a chat with Steve Selzer, Experience Design Manager at Airbnb. Originally I met Steve at MCE in Warsaw where he gave a talk on designing friction into products intentionally, an idea that sounds counterintuitive but one that highlights the importance of reflection and self-actualization in every experience. In the episode we covered the idea of humanity-centered design, how designers can think of themselves and their products in relation to a user's life, and how to avoid a dystopian on-demand future. After you listen to the episode, check out Steve's posts on Medium for more, and don't forget to share the episode if you like it :) Full show notes at Original illustration for album art by Christopher Delorenzo