As you might already know, this week internet went crazy about a security vulnerability in OpenSSL called ‘Heartbleed’. It’s an encryption flaw that is already being called one of the biggest security threats the Internet has ever seen. The bug has affected many popular websites and services — ones you might use every day, like Gmail and Facebook — and could have quietly exposed your sensitive account information (such as passwords and credit card numbers) over the past two years.

Mural.ly does not use OpenSSL to terminate SSL connections, so we were not affected at all. We use a different encryption component called Secure Channel (a.k.a. SChannel), which is not susceptible to the Heartbleed vulnerability. Therefore, you don’t need to change your password (unless you used the same password on other sites that’ve been affected by Heartbleed).

As OpenSSL library is used by roughly two-thirds of all websites on the Internet, we recommend you to read the following article on Life Hacker which focus on what you should do, also you shouldn’t miss the Mashable’s a list of  “the passwords that you need to change right now!“.

At Mural.ly your privacy is always our first concern, that’s why we wanted to keep you posted. If you have questions or concern feel free to drop us a line at support@mural.ly.

We built Mural.ly because we believe in the power of collaboration to solve the world’s problems.

Real time collaboration is a central part of how people work together in Mural.ly and we know it’s one of the most used features that we have.

We are introducing some new changes that make this experience more powerful and playful.

“Where are you??”

This is a very common question while working with other people inside a mural.

With this improvement, next time you collaborate, you’ll see people’s faces moving around the mural.

You’ll clearly see that someone is participating in the mural and actually feel his/her presence.

The animation below shows a brainstorming session between different mural members (click to enlarge):

collaboration-heads

“Hey, check this out”

Each time you want to take a look at what they are seeing, just click on that person’s face, you’ll be taken to his/her current view.

collab-follow

The following animation will show you how it works:

collab-2

Hope you enjoy these new improvements and remember to invite people to your murals or you won’t be able to try this amazing feature :)

Collaborate with your team in Mural.ly

Today we’re opening up a new site — http://status.mural.ly. We are going to use this new site to post status updates (maintenance windows, outages, etc). We’re hosting outside our infrastructure so it will be shielded from any network issues our main infrastructure may have.

This new application is connected to our main monitoring services, and it’s also linked to our twitter account so incidents posted here will be announced on twitter too.

StatusPage

We take our uptime and availability very seriously and we want to be as transparent as we can if there’s something wrong with our infrastructure.

Acting the UI can be a very cool way to prototype an experience. Sketch a few screens in paper (or have building blocks a la LEGO to show an animation) and then have a user be the computer and the other(s) the user(s).

Very recommendable exercise. Even more if you want to get into VFX in Hollywood!

Dav Rauch, an artist/creative in residence at IDEO that came from film, interestingly designed the UI for Jarvis in Iron Man. An insight from the chat was that Jarvis was designed AFTER the filming was done so they had to figure out how to make it credible. The film director gave him a simple, yet profound tip: “design it as if it were a dialogue between two people”. I think they nailed it.

Jarvis Ironman Interaction GIF

There has been chatter out there about us embarking on a new exciting project. We’re excited to confirm the rumors and tell you a little more about what we’ve been up to. Over the last three weeks we’ve been working out of IDEO’s San Francisco office – it’s been a blast!

Mural.ly Team at IDEO

Many of you know that Design Thinking activities are commonplace inside Mural.ly. Research gathering, synthesis and ideation are built into our DNA. Prototyping happens on a daily basis. That said, we have always sensed that there is an opportunity to help teams collaborate better during these phases…. So, what did we do?

We figured that to fully understand our most extreme users, we might as well come and work with them side by side for a few weeks. We flew half of the Mural.ly team over to San Francisco to immerse ourselves in their lives. So far it’s been fun and the insights gained as a result have been really inspirational.

The Immersion

IDEOers Pontus, Greg and Joe received us with arms wide open. So far, they have been our three closest collaborators in a wider group of research designers, interaction designers, storytellers and business designers that will be helping us along the way. (Notice the “Everyone is a designer” mantra in the job titles?)


WelcomeIDEO

We had five teams scheduled for interviews, we also visited the d.School at Stanford (see below), Intuit and also chatted with a team from Fidelity Investments. Asha from Fidelity loved our initial prototype of a wall scanner and may have saved her a few hours of transcribing.

dschoolsession

All in all it was a great first week or so out of the building, dedicated 100% to fully understand and observe our users in action in order to define where there’s opportunity areas to improve.

Sharing learnings and putting them to action

As we are processing the learnings, we figured that we’d share them with you along the way… in addition to getting prototypes out there to test if the improvements to Mural.ly resonate with you.

IDEO session

Expect a series of posts with bits and pieces of the experience and most interestingly, the improvements to Mural.ly that should make it simpler, faster and delightful to use.

Fun times. Stay tuned!

 

How do we design Mural.ly?

In this series of posts, I will open the design kitchen behind Mural.ly.

I will retell the challenges and opportunities that arise when designing a product from scratch with its own users as the starting point and the compass.

Some background

The first Mural.ly insight arises from the actual pain of one of its founders at their previous company: an online games studio.

As it usually happens in most creative processes, every time the team had to work on a new concept for a game, they individually collected tons of references for inspiration, developed new ideas around them, and tried to share them with the rest of the team.

The team found this process tiresome and frustrating.

They needed something that would let them share content in different formats like videos, links, photos, etc; in a way that would allow them to shape their ideas together.

First insight

The first emerging ideas for Mural.ly began to be designed in these early prototypes and as they evolved its main function and role was shaped.

How could we solve this problem?

What shape should the solution have?

How could we validate it?

These were some of the questions that popped-up in the very early stages of development.

Under conditions of extreme uncertainty and limited resources – as most startups – and with the strong mission to avoid building a product that nobody wants, we embraced Lean Startup principles from the beginning.

UX Challenge

From the UX Design point of view, this mindset allowed us to set a work environment based on experimentation and learning.

The main purpose was to focus on our users from the beginning - being able to engage real customers in testing early versions of the product.

This is something I want to highlight. From the start, the company was built bearing in mind that our product needed to “solve somebody’s problem”.

Nonetheless, we soon encountered limitations as we started to follow traditional UCD (User Centered Design) practices. Within our highly dynamic and unpredictable environment, these practices were not enough to deal with our specific needs.

At this point, we found enormous value on Lean UX principles that helped us move on.

Startups and Lean UX

Lean UX takes the best parts of the designer’s tool kit, combining the foundations of Agile Development, Lean Startup & Design Thinking in a way that makes the UX methods relevant to these new contexts.

In the upcoming posts, I will share experiences drawn from our learning journey.

I will do my best to exemplify how we started to adopt Lean UX principles in our daily routine:

How we involved our customers, which type of user research we carry out, the tools we use and the way our team works collaboratively as a way to break down the silos of the different disciplines to solve users problems.

We built Mural.ly to fully unleash the imagination of visual teams and we believe that communicating effectively is essential to accomplish this.

Adding comments and replies within murals is an easy way to discuss ideas as it resembles someone pointing at an element and saying something about it on a real whiteboard .

That’s the feeling we’ve been trying to achieve in Mural.ly: bringing realtime face-to-face interaction into our virtual collaborative canvas.

Today we are announcing some changes to the way comments are used.

Collapsable comments

All comments are now automatically collapsed when not used. This allows you to visualize the mural by reducing the amount of elements on-screen. Any comment can be easily opened and collapsed by clicking the corresponding icon.

as-1016-comments-collapse

Pinning comments

If you feel that one comment is really important and want to make it part of the mural content, just pin it. Click on the pin button and it will stay visible.

as-1016-comments-pinned

New reply/comment feedback

Creativity can be chaotic and murals reflect this.In the past, when you entered a mural after some time, you just didn’t know what was new and where to focus your attention.

With this new improvement, new comments and replies will appear in a flashy pink color, indicating that there’s something new there.

as-1016-comments-new-comment

To sum up, as from today all comments will be collapsable and if you feel that you want to see them as mural content, just pin them.

Go back to Mural.ly and try these new improvements.

mark-meeting

On a warm sunny afternoon in Sao Paulo, Meg and I stroll into a small office in an unfamiliar part of town. We have just walked from our apartment and after some confusion over which building we were looking for, we go up a small elevator and get shown into a generic looking meeting room.

After a week and half of what feels like meeting every NGO, non-profit and researcher who has ever had any interest in the favelas, we are more than a little disoriented. We know that today’s appointment is with a market research firm looking at the lower income segments of the Brazilian populous, but other than that we have forgotten the relevance to our project.

This is not the first time we have arrived at an office not really knowing why we were there or what might happen. This slightly haphazard approach has helped us to expose our project and engage with a host of unusual and tangential experts who almost always provide us with new insights or avenues of attack. This practice of open innovation has been a new, enlightening and often anxious experience.

As our contact walks into the office room, we quickly realize that we can’t quite remember who in our network had set up this appointment. So, when the conversation about our connection comes up, we test the waters, and throw the name out of a person we thought had introduced us. The look across the table is a blank stare, which continues for roughly 40 seconds while we fish randomly in the dark for how on earth we had been connected to one another. Eventually we give up. The meeting ends up being lukewarm and we leave early feeling embarrassed and slightly disheartened.

In that moment, not knowing who had connected us threw us off track, which made it difficult to decipher the relevance of our project to this contact’s practice. We didn’t have a base we could use to generate small talk, and create a friendly and open meeting space. This poor start tainted the rest of the meeting and cost us a potentially valuable opportunity.

It was this experience that forced us to get organized—we needed a central place to keep our contacts together, so we could understand how they were interconnected.

Social innovation is as much about who you are connect to as it is what you do. If you want to operate under an open innovation model you need to constantly present your project for critique and share ideas. In order to do this effectively, having a diverse network is essential and, as we learned, so is the management of that network.

Tools like Linkedin help us to keep a professional network and to find new contacts. However, Linkedin is not project specific or collaborative. For example, Meg and I can’t keep a shared network just for our social initiative, Mark. Furthermore, Linkedin does not document how you were introduced; it generalizes and shows only a host of different mutual contacts. We needed a single diagrammatic overview of all our Mark contacts and how they had been introduced as well as contact and professional information.

As designers we could imagine a sprawling web of interconnected contacts and the first program we turned to was illustrator, yet with its inconvenient format and static nature we couldn’t easily collaborate on the diagram or include interactive content.

It was then that we discovered the range and diversity that Mural.ly is truly capable of. With features like connecting lines, multiple text colors and box shapes it was easy to quickly create a color coded network diagram of our contacts and through whom they connected to us. To provide contact information we dragged in their Linkedin profiles to allow rapid one-click access to all of their details.

The result is a weblike sociogram of contacts and friends divided into classifications like funders, journalists and mentors. Mural.ly’s collaborative and cloud-based nature means Meg and I can access this map together and view or add connections from anywhere in the world.

sociogram-murally

The creation of this mural allows us to quickly identify people who have really pushed our project forward and to visual capture the holes in our network where others might be able to provide new contacts and insights.

sociogram-2

Now, we are sure to never go to a meeting without having referred back to this diagram. Needless to say, it has saved us from any more embarrassing moments. Thanks Mural.ly!

Today we are announcing a smarter way to connect elements inside a mural.

The ability to “connect the dots” and find relations to come up with great ideas is one of Mural.ly’s main benefits. Plus, this has been one of Mural.ly’s most popular feature requests. That’s why we decided to add a new way to link elements inside a mural.

We knew that the previous way of connecting elements was tedious and took too much time. Time that kept creative people from achieving the flow state, critical to come up with new ideas.

There’s now an easy and fast way to do this.

To add a connector, just click and drag on an element’s handler.

as-1004-smarter-connectors-handler

By doing this, you are already drawing a connector. Just drag to another element to connect both.

as-1004-smarter-connectors-new

We believe it really speeds up things inside a mural and you can quickly come up with something like this:

as-1004-smarter-connectors-todo

Go back to Mural.ly to try this new feature.