Building Myi… a few times

myiSome products are destined for glory. Some are destined for the scrap heap. Myi was one such product. The brainchild of Nominum Inc’s former CEO, the project saw a two year development cycle but was never launched. Regardless, it involved some top notch people across the spectrum of departments so I have to say… Myi was pretty cool. No, really!

Nominum is a DNS company. Some would argue that they are the DNS company as Paul Mockapetris, the inventor of the Domain Name System (DNS), is chief scientist and chairman. While they know a lot about providing large scale services to telecom providers they didn’t know much about creating consumer services. Myi was an attempt to package existing DNS abilities into something that the average household could relate to and benefit from. I still think the idea has legs.

nominum1

The user “dashboard” offered a styled interface for investigating, modifying, and purchasing apps.

The art director spun an unapologetically female aesthetic onto the brand. This product was being aimed dead center on educated affluent women with children, nicknamed Mominums. Come on! How is that not cute? Anyway, the undeniable success of the iTunes app store model drove us toward offering each service idea as an “app” that could be purchased a’ la carte. Need to block Facebook from 3pm to 8pm so junior can finish homework? Myi had an app for that.

I was the UX lead on this project which meant that I worked with the designer to come up with layouts and widgets then lead a small team to execute those designs. Honestly, these were all top notch talent. The work this team turned out was awesome. The thing is we kept turning it out… over and over.

The first was a fully functional prototype we built for the CEO to present at a conference. We locked ourselves in a room for three days and built an entire working front end in PHP. It was some serious start up action in there and was pretty damn fun.

nominum3

The UI featured a HTML5 carousel style selector which populated the “drawer” space below it. Not particularly scalable but it had a certain “wow” factor.

Then we built it again in Rails figuring that this would be the front end that would actually be used to connect to the supporting services. This process was beyond “agile” as features flew in and out like pigeons at the park. While it was argued that we have more of a restful service and make AJAX calls to a Rails API, we ended up just making a straight forward Rails view based application. It worked well.

Then we moved over to Codeigniter. I’ll be honest here. I have a secret love for PHP. We secretly meet in Summer and write letters during the rest of the year. I still love you, PHP!!!

Then we decided to throw a Javascript framework on top of that. Yes, I’m talking about the fourth version of the same exact application front end. It’s important to realize that at this time MVVC was just starting to infiltrate the UI/UX world and best practices had not yet been solidified. There was no JS template system yet so we ended up with a lot… and mean a lot… of data-xxx attributes all over the place so the app could pass data around.

Learned skills.

The Myi project allowed me to explore some new tools; CSS3, HTML5 Video, Web Fonts (@font-face, licensing process), Codeigniter, SASS, Agile Development.

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