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Making Things Worse

No one has the intention of making things worse. All designers have positive intent. However, in reality, there are plenty of services that get worse with upgrades. Recently, I have had a few upgrades that feel like downgrades. Feedly iPad App I am not sure what prompted such a big change, but I am completely lost. I use Feedly in a browser and on my iPad. Honestly, it was near perfect. It was easy to use and pleasant to look at. The iPad upgrade made it difficult to use and unpleasant to look at. The browser version is still the…

New WordPress Editor 2018

WordPress has released a new editor. It’s very different than the previous one. This is a little meta, but I am going to review my first impressions of the editor in real time. I will also try out a bunch of the features. Drop cap is cool, I guess, but it looks like ass without a serif or stylized font. What’s the point of that. Changing text styles is pretty nice. However, every time I blur away from the paragraph the dropcap kicks in. It’s fairly disruptive when it flashes on and off if I am clicking around. I would…

UX Suggestions for Scoop

Scoop is a carpooling/ride-sharing service. Basically, I put in when I want to leave and it matches me up with people who want a ride near my work/home. They pay $6 and I get $5 of that per trip. The service in general is greatly appreciated, but the experience leaves much to be desired. Here is my design critique after using the service for a few months (exclusively as a driver, not a rider). Ask the Right Questions I don’t care when I leave; I care when I arrive. If I have a meeting at 9am, that means I need…

Turn your Data into a Story

The essence of data visualizations is to tell a story. There are some great charts like Napoleon’s march to Moscow and Florence Nightingale’s chart on the causes of deaths in the Crimean War. Recently, my oldest son pointed out the following chart to me. Both are an image of Washington DC. The first shows the number of families living below the poverty line by Ward. In other words, the dark red areas are poor. The second shows the average number of Emergency Room visits for children 0-17 years old. Do you see what I see?  Where there is poverty, there…

Maybe I’m a …

I never really thought about this until recently, but my first job as a product designer came when I was 32 years old. Maybe it’s best to backtrack and show the progression of what I thought I was. In 2nd grade, I made a sculpture of my father’s head. It looked better than the other kids. I thought, “Maybe Im an artist?“. In my early teen years, I read Mad Magazine, and copied the drawings, especially those of Sergio Aragonés. I thought, “Maybe I am a cartoonist?” Around that same time, I loved playing with computers. My dad bought us all…

Uncomfortable Chairs

I spend a good deal of my life sitting in an office chair. It’s a good bet that you do as well. The chair at my desk; I have adjusted to have the right parameters of height and position. However, it’s still fairly uncomfortable. When I get up, I find it hard to stand up straight. My back moans in pain for several minutes. Contrarily, when I get out of bed, I don’t feel the same strain. Now when I go into a meeting, that’s a different story. Those chairs are made by the devil herself. They are usually not…

Rank Choice Voting

Sometimes I imagine the whole world is a simulation and you could change one single variable to see what happens. What would life be like without John Wilkes Booth? What if Franz Ferdinand didn’t get lost that summer day in Sarajevo? What if Alexander the Great had died in his first battle? (He almost did) What if you could tweak other things? Like the way we vote. There is a movement happening right now to change our voting system to rank-choice instead of a single vote. By the way, this entire thought process is how Product Design works. You think…

Capturing Imagination

I love that phrase, “It captured my imagination”. It makes me think of my imagination as a wild animal. I’m hunting it, stalking in the shadows, staying downwind. I am trying not to scare it away. My imagination is quick and nimble, like an antelope or an ibex. (Hudsucker Proxy!) I must be stealthy to capture it. Capturing YOUR imagination is even harder. At least I know where my imagination lives. Your imagination might be anywhere. How am I going to capture it? I have to inspire you and create an image in your head. Imaginations live in the world…

UX Candidate Design Challenge – v4

UX Candidate Design Challenge – v1 UX Candidate Design Challenge – v2 UX Candidate Design Challenge – v3 As I am now hiring more people on the design team, I came up with a new design exercise. However, to jump to the end, it was too damn hard. So I only used it about 6 times before deciding to put it out to pasture. So, as I do with all retired design exercises, I share them with the world. Design Challenge Treasure Data is a system to manage many databases in an enterprise. There is data everywhere and it’s not…

Thoughts on Creativity (2018)

There are lots of threads/books/posts/podcasts on the topic of Creativity. Here is a sampling of my thoughts on the subject. Creativity is combining two unrelated items to form a new thing. I imagine our brains as a home office. We have our desk where we work on things. We have file cabinets with old memories, ideas, and experiences. We have tools like calculators, pencils and erasers. Also, there is a small garden gnome in the office named Creativity. (If your home office is missing a gnome, you should fix that.) When we are working on something, the garden gnome sometimes…

The UX of Waze Carpooling and Scoop

I tried very hard to make CalTrain work, but I had to give up. It took too long, with too many transfers. I would have to buy a scooter or bring my bike on the train. Ultimately, driving was way easier. Goodbye reading.  🙁 So driving takes between 30 and 50 minutes depending on when I leave. I noticed, however, that the leftmost lane was moving super fast. Ahhh! The carpool lane! If I had an electric car, I could get the stickers and ride there by myself, but the Kia Sportage does not apply. So I was left with…

Design Tools Roundup Sep 2018

Preface: Designers are a terrible audience. We have no real loyalty to anything. A new tool comes along and we abandon our old tools in a moments notice. Right now, Sketch + Invision is pretty popular, but I think these new tools are far superior and people are already swapping them out. Let’s dive in… Framer X (New Beta!) A brand new entry into the design tool space entered beta yesterday. The tool has drawing and prototyping like Figma, plus some really cool new features. The most exciting is Stacks. I think Figma will likely copy this feature. I certainly…

What is America’s Role in the World?

A fairly straight-forward question, with an impossibly hard set of answers: When something is bad in the world today, what is the role of the United States? First, let’s agree on some facts: Human rights abuses, Genocide, and Natural Disasters are Bad One country taking over another country is Bad People should not be judged by the amount of melanin in their skin Whenever I am faced with a difficult question, usually a user interface or product question, I immediately list out the options. Option 1: Do Nothing This is what we tried to do after shit was hitting the…

What I Look for in a Designer Portfolio 2018

Disclaimer: My own site isn’t perfect. There are much better portfolios than mine. I have done a terrible job of showing the problem, iterations, and case studies for the work I have done over the past 205 years. I put plenty of energy into this blog, but not as much into the portfolio section. With that said, I am back into the swing of recruiting and looking at lots of portfolio sites. Some are based on templates and others are obviously hand-coded. Here is some insight into what I am looking for. Blink Whether you like it or not, I…

New MacOS User – Week 2

After using Windows beta operating systems since 1992, I now have a new 13″ 2018 MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar.  I have it plugged into a 34″ widescreen monitor. I keep the MacBook open on a stand to the left of the monitor. Here are my thoughts after using it for one week. Keyboard Shortcuts I have to use a curve keyboard or my hands start to hurt. As far as I can tell, there is no such thing as a Mac curved keyboard. The good news is that Windows keyboards are compatible. However, my problem is about the…

Hiring UX Designers 2018

I am settling into my new position at Treasure Data. The people have been great. Currently, I have one immediate open head count, plus more coming soon. If you are interested in working with me, please let me know via LinkedIn. Here are some good things to know: We are going to use Figma, although FramerX looks intriguing Treasure Data is a B2B application, not a mobile game These are my informal levels for designers These are some of my previous design principles We love people who are curious, engaged, and creative Junior, mid-level, senior are all possible Speaking Japanese…

An Unexpected Job Change

At the end of 2005, I was interviewing with Craig Walker at a company called Grand Central. They didn’t have funding at the time, so I ended up taking a different position at Intuit. Two weeks later, Craig calls me up and here is the conversation: Craig: We got our funding, we can give you lots of stock. Please join us! Me: I feel guilty. I just joined Intuit 2 weeks ago. Craig: Wow. Ok, but I think you might live to regret this decision. Me: Yeah, you might be right. Well, 18 months later, GrandCentral sells to Google and…

Design Strategies (Broad vs. Focus)

When you find yourself in a situation where there are LOTS of projects you can work on as a designer, you need to choose one of two strategies. Strategy 1: Go Wide This strategy is best when your team is too small and there are tons of engineers outnumbering you. This is super typical in a startup. Strategy 2: Focus This strategy is best when you have lots of designers and can dedicate time and energy to a single project. More typical in bigger companies. Which to choose? Because I have been in startups for most of my career, I…

Caffeine 2018

My first job out of college was as an assistant to some guys at Columbia TriStar Television Distribution. I worked for David Ozer and Jeff Wolf. (Shout out!- I can’t remember their bosses name.) I learned to sign their names and I taped their receipts to pieces of paper for expenses. My computer was an IBM with a Pentium 75 mhtz chip. My previous chip was a 486, so the Pentium was a major step up. One of the perks of working there was a fully stocked refrigerator filled with soft drinks. Another perk was the in-building gym. When I…

Your Phone is a Slot Machine

Slot machines make billions of dollars a year around the globe. They make more money than all of the other games in a casino combined. It’s a simple psychological device. Step 1: You play Step 2: You either win or almost win (a.k.a. You lose) Step 3: Dopamine is released in your brain Hint: Step 3 is the key to the whole thing. Now consider your phone. Step 1: You look at your phone Step 2: You either have a notification or you don’t Step 3: If yes, Dopamine is released in your brain When you look at your phone, you…

Things I would like (2018)

A short wish list. You should do this at least once a year. A Better Battery I think battery technology is what has driven the mobile revolution. Imagine an iPhone running on double-A batteries. The better battery would be Longer lasting Faster charging Safer (won’t blow up) Smaller I think this alone would enable a whole bunch of things I want to see including A better smart watch A better electric car Less dependence on foreign oil A better laptop/tablet Artificial Trees These things are 1000x as effective as a normal tree at converting CO2 into Oxygen. I would love…

Eat Club Review

What is Eat Club? For those of you who don’t know, Eat Club is a service where they gather lunch dishes from many local restaurants and package it up for delivery. The model is interesting since they don’t just pick it up and deliver. The Good They have a menu system with nice photographs.  One thing I appreciate is that they take “real” pictures of the food , not just food porn. For example: The food always arrives exactly at noon and you get an email notification. It doesn’t look awesome, but the realistic pictures are close. The Bad One…

Laws for Presidents

I’d love to see laws passed by congress that would apply to ALL presidents, on both sides of the aisle. The executive branch has grown in power for the last 50 years and needs some hedge trimming. Here is a list: Candidates for President must release their tax records to avoid hidden conflict of interest issues. Preemptive nuclear strikes MUST first be preceded by a congressional declaration of war. All nuclear strikes must be signed off by at least 3 cabinet members. Presidents are not allowed to endorse any candidate or engage in any election activity during their tenure. Presidents…

Choosing a Mobile Font

Right now, Im designing a mobile app and choosing a font. (So many fonts to choose from!) Some rough requirements gathered from various stakeholders: Not too stylized/fancy Easy to read at small fonts Round o  – I like circular o’s and p’s and b’s and d’s etc. Enough styles (italics, bold, light, semi-bold) Numbers should not drop/descend too much I looked at many and made a medium-short list: Lato Ubuntu Work Sans Montserrat Nubile Valera Round Raleway Nobile Open Sans I narrowed it down some more with subjective reasoning. For example I knocked out Lato because everyone uses Lato. Also,…

Bad Sidebars and Platform App UX

This is my sidebar in JIRA. 19 items! That’s objectively too many. I wondered what would happen if my screen wasn’t as tall. How does it adapt? I shortened my screen height and then refreshed the browser. Do you see it?  The scroll bar in the middle of the sidebar? This is how I feel right now: How is that the intended UX?  I don’t know what the default sidebar includes, but there should be no possible way to make my sidebar have a scrollbar. If I expand the sidebar to the right, I get this: Although this is better…

Well Designed Stuff (2018)

Just a random list of stuff I think is COOL. Figma I am designing all of my work on it. It’s not perfect at all, but there are a few things that are just sweet. For example, I love the co-authoring capabilities. I wish all software worked this way. It makes me feel more connected to my co-workers. Hopefully, Figma will be able to fend off Adobe XD and Invision Studio. I have my doubts, but for right now, Figma is my jam. AG-Grid This is JavaScript library explicitly to help you make robust grid/table systems. They just have a…

UX Mission: Complex Column Sorting Icons

Mission: To communicate to the user that a table has a complex sort. Data Example: Sort order: This data is sorted first by State, then by City, then by Age. So what icons can I put in the headers to help communicate the sort? Google images shows alot of different icons for sort. The simplest looks like this: It’s simple, it declares the primary sort is that column and it goes … down?  What does down mean?  Is it high number to low number? Is it alphabetical or reverse alphabetical? Is it earliest date versus latest date? Also, what would…

My Presentation Process

I used to speak more often to groups. Its quite enjoyable for me and I hardly ever say “no” to invitations. Here is my process to prepare and give a presentation. It’s the same process I suggest to people just getting started. Step 0: Define the Parameters This is usually given to you. Who is the audience? How many people? How long to speak? Are there other speakers? Will there be a Q&A? Where is it? When is it? Someone else should give you this information. Step 1: Decide the Topic This is harder than you think. It has to…

Alot, A Lot and other Phrasing Faux Pas

I don’t know when or where I started, but I type “alot” instead of “a lot”. I squish it into one word. Yes, I am fully aware that I am using the phrase incorrectly. It’s my vice. I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs, but I type “alot” as one word. I’m sorry. However, there are other phrasing faux pas that bother me to no end. It’s unfair, I know. Here is a short list: Let’s FLUSH out this idea NO! It’s FLESH out the idea. You FLUSH out a piece of dirt from your eye. For all INTENSIVE purposes…

Warnings about Using Cookies – Lawyers Suck

Ok, so now there is a law somewhere in Europe that says that websites must disclose the use of cookies. I have one question: Who seriously thought ANYONE would care or read those warnings? Have we learned nothing from Apple’s Terms and Conditions? People do not understand. They do not care. This is just nonsense. We aren’t protecting people, we are protecting lawyers. That’s what this is about. It’s a money grab from lawyers to advise clients on how to comply with meaningless laws the same lawyers created. It’s a scam! A family member is currently going through a divorce.…