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Month: December 2015

Confidence makes the world go round

I’ve been listening to Freakonomics Radio and Planet Money on my car ride to work. Economics is a fascinating subject. It has just as much to do with human psychology as UX Design. One segment was by some guys who fixed Brazil’s hyper-inflation by inventing a new kind of money. They said, “People have lost confidence in the stability of our old money. We need new money.” (Paraphrasing) Confidence is required for all society to work. Some examples: A company hires you with the expectation that you will provide value to the organization greater than the amount you are paid. They give you…

The Story Behind Two Marketo Icons

Choosing Icons is sometimes tricky business. I chose all of the icons in Marketo since 2007.  Here are a couple of stories that help explain. Marketo Icon Glossary The Smart Campaign Light Bulb The most important icon in Marketo was the Lightbulb. When I first designed the system, I was trying to explain how it worked to Jen Erale and Jodi Florence (Marketo’s first customers). I explained it like this. Keep in mind, at the time (2007), JavaScript was not as understood by marketers. And certainly using JavaScript on one site to trigger action on another was a very new…

Talking to Users

I just spent some time talking to a user about a design I made. I walked her through it and we started talking about the possibilities. The worst version of this exercise is when the user says, “I don’t know.” in response to questions. The best version of the exercise is when they get excited and start geeking out with you about it. Account Based Marketing has so much space to innovate. All of the tools that currently exist fall way short of solving the use cases. It’s exciting talking to users who understand the space and understand what the design…

Working “As Designed”

I just updated my LinkedIn App. Previously, I had complained that it didn’t work in landscape mode. They “fixed” that. So now, if I rotate, this is what I get. Do you see what they did? They just took the layout and flipped it horizontally. In other apps, it redraws the screen and uses the space differently. In Slack, which is well designed, they use the complete canvas sensibly. This is not a bug, this is behaving “As designed”. They meant to do this. Now it is possible that a UX person is crying at LinkedIn right this minute. They…

Designing Middle Out

I believe that you shouldn’t design in the chronological order the user will use the product. In other words, you don’t need to design the login screen first. You can pick a point in the middle. I call it an “anchor point”. This point serves as one of the important foundation interfaces. It shows a specific interaction that represents a wider set of areas. These are often a single screen, but they give a gist to how the rest of the product will work. At Marketo, that screen was the Smart List editor. This is a newer screenshot from the product.…

Craigslist is a Great UX Case Study

A colleague once asked me why Craigslist had become so successful with such bad design. Craigslist is a complicated company without a ton of information online. It doesn’t employee many people and has made a good deal of money. On the surface, it looks ugly. However, it has been very popular. Fascinating reading on Quora about why Craigslist has/hasn’t been disrupted. One thing I have been thinking for years is that aesthetics takes a disproportionate amount of credit/attention/focus by many people including designers. Craigslist is successful BECAUSE of it’s UX. This doesn’t mean it’s UI. Learn what the words mean. I’d love…

Something from Nothing

Yesterday, I was staring at my screen trying to figure out how a user would create and manage the object I conceived. I wasn’t even staring at a blank canvas. I was staring at a hole, a nothing, an absence of something. It was my job to get rid of this “nothing” and replace it with “something”. It reminded me of a movie called The NeverEnding Story based on a great book of the same name. The fantasy land was destroyed, by a faceless menace called The Nothing. In the end, it was up to the hero to replace it…

Timeless or Noteworthy

When designing something new, you have to choose what it looks like and how it acts. One designer said to me, “It should be timeless and classic.” I disagreed. If you are designing something new, it should be noteworthy and contemporary. One example is the iPhone. Pick up an original version and it will not at all seem fashionable. It looks small and clunky. It looks sad by today’s standards. Look closely at the graphics, three dimensionality, bevels and shadows galore. That isn’t timeless. It is not beautiful today. It’s old and dated. No designer would choose this look today. HOWEVER,…

Account Based Marketing

For the better part of the last ten years, I have seen the world through the eyes of a demand generation marketer. Starting with Kelly Abner and working through thousands of others, my point of view was how to help them create more leads and nurture them through a funnel. Now that I have started at Engagio, I have switched my glasses from demand generation to account based marketing (ABM). Now, the world looks very different to me. I see signs of ABM everywhere I look. Some examples: A group of people in a company are discussing a particular customer.…

Open Letter to LinkedIn

Dear Mr./Mrs LinkedIn, You have the most potential and most fuckups of any site on the web. I love you and I hate you. The Good You are THE defacto social network for professionals. There are plenty of times that your user interface does the right thing. Discovery of new people is usually pretty accurate. The interface to build your resume is excellent and has replaced paper resumes in many cases. As a recruiting tool, you have become the best source out there. Craigslist has not innovated and you have become the place to get a job as well as…

My Crazy Dell Adventure

One perk of a new job is getting a new computer and monitor. I made several terrible mistakes. Here we go… The Wrong Laptop I did some research and decided on the Dell XPS 13. It has crazy high 4k resolution (3200 x 1800) and a super fast processor. Plus a touch screen. In hindsight, these were all mistakes. I really don’t need a touch screen, I don’t need the high resolution. Windows doesn’t handle high resolution perfectly, especially with a second monitor. The Wrong Port The XPS 13 comes with a USB Type-C (3.1) port. It does NOT have…