It’s been almost a month since design guru Khoi Vinh launched his social collage app, Mixel, and after coming across a few inspired mixels on Twitter, we decided to check back with the first-time startup founder and veteran NYTimes.com design director. Mr. Vinh was in the middle of fixing some memory bugs that were causing intermittent crashing, but took time to Gchat Betabeat about how users have responded to the app so far.
But first we had to ask, based on evidence, would he consider Taylor Swift something of a personal muse? “Isn’t she a muse to everyone?” he wondered. Betabeat mentioned a surprisingly rousing rendition of “Fifteen” performed by some (adult) friends at karaoke night over the weekend. “She won’t be denied,” Mr. Vinh concluded.
As for the app at large, “Remixes are very popular,” noted Mr. Vinh, “Some of the remix threads get very long.” The last time we spoke, Mr. Vinh had pointed out that, for your average amateur, an art-making app without a social element was doomed to fizzle. “The threads are conversations, and when you open one up, it’s a little like walking up to a few people chatting at a party. People feel compelled to jump in and join.”
“They create a spur-of-the-moment opportunity to create something,” he added, “Because you have pieces and ideas to work with and add to or subtract from.”
He also noticed that early users were not reusing individual pieces as much as he and his co-founder Scott Ostler had expected. “Most of the images that go into mixels are pulled from the Popular tab or the Web Image Search tab (within the edit screen)…What we had thought was that people would also browse other people’s mixels and say, ‘Hey, I want to use that in a mixel of my own.’” A possible solution to that, he proposed a ‘drawer feature’, “So that when you’re looking at someone else’s mixel, and you see a piece you like, you can tuck it away for later.”
Mr. Vinh declined to share the number of users just yet, pointing out that, “We’re a creation app on iPad, so we don’t get the exposure that people will get to a Web site.” In that same vein, times of usage also differ, “We see a lot of activity at night, as people leave their iPads at home during the day, for the most part. And a lot of activity on Saturday, too. So it’s very different from the Web, which a lot of people will surf during work. We’ve also heard a lot of people say, ‘I’m having Mixel withdrawal’ when they leave their iPads at home.’” (That reminds us, we have some Words With Friends games to dominate . . .)
If you’re suffering from Mixel withdrawl yourself, here are five of Mr. Vinh’s favorites, followed by five of our own.