Unicorn Meat


Recently, at Engagio, I have been talking with customers looking at the details of the different problems (opportunities) to solve. I am looking for a particular situation with the following characteristics:

  1. A task that happens all the time, preferably by lots of people.
  2. Clearly sub-optimal workflow with incredible pain in every step.
  3. Computers could help.
  4. People are willing to pay to have it better.

If you have all three, you have the makings of an incredible B2B Startup. If you build a company that is worth a billion dollars, that is called a unicorn. I think I have stumbled across a situation that has all of those characteristics. This is the meat of the unicorn.

Maybe my analogy isn’t working. Don’t I need to make the unicorn before I can have meat? It’s like saying baby meat will help make a baby. Yeah, ok, I take it all back.

That situation where the task is incredibly painful. There is another word I use to describe it. A goat rodeo.

Look, not all blog posts are filled with wisdom and UX magic. Sometimes it’s just nonsense. Like this:

My first goat rodeo was in 1994. They wanted me to do a “mail blast” with a typewriter. A typewriter! I bought ACT Contact Management and print Avery Labels instead and used Word to do a mail merge for the letters. See, that’s a goat rodeo.

UX Candidate Design Challenge – v3

This was the last design exercise I made for people interviewing for jobs. People didn’t do great on it, like the previous ones, but I keep trying.

Design Challenge

A rich, famous comedian (Louie) employs 4 aspiring comedians. Their job is to write comedy with Louie.

Being funny is often not a solo effort.  Many famous comedians got their start working for someone else.

Design a way for the 5 people to work together on the scenarios above.  They are usually not in the same location/time zone.

There are no budget/training/technical constraints.

Sample Projects

  1. Louie is hosting the Golden Globes – short topical zingers
  2. Louie has an upcoming performance at Carnegie Hall – longer thematic stories
  3. Louie is hired to create a television sitcom – character development and dialog


Delivery and timing matters, so you will need some video component. The text matters, so there is a text component. Plus, all comedy is iterative. You need versions and permutations and plenty of annotations. The annotations could come in the form of other iterations.

It’s actually a very complicated system. Most people stumbled because they took a simplistic approach. Almost all systems used for work have real depth. The devil is in the details. Don’t try to think of this as something you can do in 15 minutes. The point is to see what questions you ask and how you move the ball forward.

Many designers refused to design anything. This is clearly bad in the interview. You need to design. Make something, some interaction. My suggestion would be to zoom in on one detail, like when someone gives feedback on a joke. Draw something.

Some designers just made flows with words. They were stalling and avoiding designing something. I can’t stress this enough…just dive in and try. You aren’t going to get hired by trying to do user research for the whole interview. Don’t worry about doing ALL of the sample projects. Just focus on something.

And finally, ask questions and make some judgments. Like, “Do you think they are going be high or drunk while doing this?” Hmm, maybe I should make the functions easier.

This whole system COULD be a simple Google Hangout. Video and text right there. I could deliver it today. Why redesign something that works? Think out of the box. Think. Act. Design.

The UX of Google Calendar (2016)

I reviewed Google calendar previously (2007). It was quite good. I had very nice things to say.

Fast forward 9 years.

It’s the same damn thing. No noteworthy enhancements. What the hell is going on over there? The styling is old and crusty. Do I really need to see 12am-6am? Can’t it zoom? Free busy scheduling is clunky. When I make an all day event, it doesn’t even change the view.

Microsoft Outlook/Calendar is much better. Office 365 is outpacing Google on innovation. The UI is fresher and the functions are more useful.

Come on Google, pull it together! I want a beta of something STAT.

Some people love Google, no matter what they do. Some people love Apple, no matter what. I don’t prejudge anyone, even Microsoft. Each product gets its own objective assessment.

Google Calendar 2007: A+
Google Calendar 2016: D

Sorry, I calls it likes I sees it.

The “Just Sayin” Rule

I’d like to make a new rule.

Any sentence preceding the phrase Just Sayin, should not be said in the first place.

“Just sayin” is only said after obnoxious or insulting sentences. These are better left unsaid. We all say things that hurt other people, intentionally or not. Shrugging your shoulders are muttering, “Just Sayin” diminishes the feelings of the other person. It doesn’t create an excuse, it makes it worse.

It’s like saying the mean thing and then saying, “I know that’s hurtful, but I don’t care. I didn’t break their bones, I just hurt their feelings. Feelings are for losers.”

Im just sayin. It should be a rule.

DirecTV-Ready TVs are Slow

Typing lefty…

For the holidays, I upgraded my TV to a fancy 4k Sony Bravia with Android TV. It was billed as DirecTV-ready. No box needed, fewer wires. I would go into detail, but typing is hard. Long story short, it sucks. Crazy slow, terrible UX. Changing the channel took 10 seconds. Fast-forward through recordings was unresponsive and skittish. If you paused a show and then god forbid pressed the wrong button on the remote, you would lose the buffer.

I reverted back to the box. Lame deal guys. Not good.

hand cramp.

Right hand needed for two weeks

The doctor said not to use my right hand at all for two weeks. This gave me an idea. This is a long shot but I figured I would ask.

Is there a junior designer without a job who wants to sit at my desk and be my hands for two weeks?

I’m right in the middle of a super cool product design. I would explain my thinking and technique. I would mentor and teach. I’d make sure you learned. No money, but I would help you in the long run.

Anyone interested? Contact me today via my blog or LinkedIn.

Wrist surgery

I am dictating this blog post using Google on my phone. We see how it works.

I just got back from having my wrist surgery to solve the pain I’ve been having for the last 18 months. I believe they call it arthroscopic wrist surgery. The doctor found two torn ligaments and a whole bunch of cartilage and crap on the inside that shouldn’t be there. He said it was a real mess.

My arm is completely numb, I cannot feel it at all. They say that will be fixed by tomorrow but for now it is the weirdest sensation I’ve ever had. They told me I can’t drive or use my right hand so designing should be a little bit of a challenge.

Hopefully when it is all said and done that I will be able to play tennis without pain once again.

Oh, before I forget, I passed out after the surgery. Apparently this happens all the time. I didn’t have anything to drink since last night. I stood up after the surgery was over and felt pretty nauseous. The next thing I know I had passed out and they were reviving me. Katie thought that I was having a seizure. But as I said, it apparently happens all the time and I feel much better now.

On a technological note, this blog post was fairly easy to produce all using my voice and my Android phone. You have to say the word. For it to end the sentence. You see it just made a mistake.

Testing the audio. Dinosaurs lived during the Jurassic period. It seemed to work there. Still pretty awesome technology.