Mac and Cheese

By Daniel Pasco

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Picture Hamlet.

Okay, now picture Robert De Niro playing Hamlet.

When I put those two elements together, my brain stalls: I don't know what De Niro's Hamlet would be like, but I'm confident that it would be unlike any portrayal before it, and probably awesome.

Obviously Hamlet's been done to death, but that's the point: everybody knows Hamlet. What makes it interesting is the actor's treatment of the material.

This is the central premise to The Aristocrats - everyone already knows the (very obscene) joke, but your ability to tell it in a new, interesting, and above all, entertaining way is the hallmark of your skills as a comedian. It is always great to see a real artist's take on the basics.

Mac and Cheese

Most of the time, when people think about mac and cheese, a cardboard box full of dry noodles with a packet of powder is what springs to mind. But occasionally you'll find someone that treats the dish seriously (I've seen it on the menu at the Four Seasons before) and takes pride in showing you their take on it. Real gourmet macaroni and cheese is a melange of ricotta, and cheddar, baked (often with breadcrumbs) to form a tantalizing golden brown crust.

A chance to show your quality

In the iOS space, there are a ton of application genres that have been done to death, but there is always room for something better. My first thought when Tweetie was announced was "oh, great, yet another Twitter client" - yet Tweetie really stood out from the crowd and showcased a lot of innovative features in a class of applications that most people considered to be totally saturated. Eventually it went on to do more than just stand out from the crowd; it went on to be acquired by Twitter and is likely the most popular iOS Twitter client in use.

If you're thinking of taking on a project, don't be discouraged just because someone has already taken a stab at it, or even if the market appears to be saturated with competing products. "So-and-so already did that" is probably the worst reason not to make a product. The maxim of "best-to-market trumps first-to-market" has been demonstrated repeatedly by Apple, and if you are really good, your take on things will stand out from the rest of the crowd.

Every task, no matter how small, is worth pouring your heart into. Whenever we look at a new project, I ask myself "What is it about this app that is going to make it a Black Pixel app? What characteristics do I want people to associate with our brand?" For us, those characteristics are great design, real utility, beauty, and delight.

We talk about such things frequently at our office, but this weekend I'm doing something a little different: I'm going to talk about this and other aspects of our design philosophy at the Voices That Matter conference here in Seattle. My plan is to share the things we've learned and how we do our work. I'm also planning on listening closely to what people like Cathy Shive, Bill Van Hecke, and my friend Mike Lee have to say as well.

Hopefully I'll see you there.


Daniel Pasco

Daniel Pasco

Daniel is the CEO of Black Pixel. He tweets at @dlpasco.