UX = User Experience Tue, 21 Feb 2017 06:41:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 32 32 2075023 Facts, Fakes and Fox Tue, 21 Feb 2017 06:41:27 +0000 Read More »]]> English is funny. Spelled different, pronounced the same, spelled the same, pronounced different. It’s like English doesn’t want to be “understood”. It’s like the language itself it trying to obfuscate the truth. Why is phonetic not spelled phonetically? Language is behind this whole issue.

Whether you are in the world of product development or politics, the facts are a tricky thing. I remember someone in a meeting once said loudly, “People don’t like it, that’s a fact!” As if speaking loudly and forcefully made them more correct.

Example: Stephen Miller raising his voice to try to mask that he is wrong.

I believe Stephen Miller (and the person referenced earlier) are actually incorrect in their assessment of the facts. But how does one prove facts when there are so many fakes? You can just say something and pretend it’s a fact when in fact, it’s a fake!

Donald Trump said recently that he won the electoral college by the largest margin since Reagan. When confronted with the actual numbers, he said, “I meant Republicans.” In fact, there are 5 elections since Reagan that had a larger majority of the electoral college. Finally, Trump said, “I was given that information.” As if being given false information absolves you from the responsibility of what you say. Trump is very prone to hearing a fake news story (often on Fox News) and then assuming it’s true. He says Fact when he means Fake. When he says “You are Fake News” to CNN, he really means, “You are Fact News”. Not to be confused with Fox News, which is mostly Fakes.

According to AdWeek, Fox News has the highest ratings of any cable news channel. I also believe that their truthfulness is lower than the other networks. Is there a correlation between fake news and popularity? When you are not bound by the truth, you can literally say anything you want. That’s liberating and people will believe you if you say it in a loud voice.

The problem, as I see it, is that the Press is not understanding the game and they are asking questions the wrong way. First, they need to establish common ground in the question and then treat the interviewee as a “hostile witness” asking purely fact questions. Here is a guide:

Reporter: “It is crucial to me to always be honest and state facts, not opinions. So I want to make sure that my sources are accurate. Are the FBI crime statistics accurate and truthful?”

OK, at this point, Trump needs to decide if he wants to make an enemy of the FBI. Either way he answers this question is fine. If he says no, then you ask who is the most reputable source of nationwide crime stats? Who has the facts? If he says Yes, then you get the following:

Reporter: The FBI stats that you agree are factual and accurate show violent crime decreasing steadily since 1990. Look at this chart I have. Do you agree that these stats from the FBI show violent crime is at an all time low?

Journalists need to treat the witness as hostile. Learn from lawyers on TV.

The one thing I don’t want is a world where the loudest voice wins. Fakes and Fox will always have the loudest voices. I want a world of quiet voices that seek truth and facts.

Food for thought.

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The UX of Android Auto Thu, 16 Feb 2017 01:40:56 +0000 Read More »]]> I recently got a new car lease. (Kia Sportage 2017) I liked the Nissan Rogue but the Kia has Android Auto and I wanted to give that a try. Otherwise, the cars were very similar in price and features. Here is my run down:

The Good

  1. “OK Google” works well for a specific set of cases. Call person, directions to, etc. If you stay in bounds, it is nice.
  2. It’s better than nothing.

The Bad and the Ugly

  1. It takes too long to boot up. I turn the car on and it’s about 20 seconds until the phone can play something. Go into your car and turn it on and then count to twenty out loud. It’s not fun.
  2. You can’t use your phone AT ALL when Android Auto is happening. This means, even if you are parked, even if the engine is turned off, you can not send that chat message to your significant other. You can not use the phone at all. I don’t really see why this has to be the case. Why can’t your phone work AND the Android Auto work? Is my phone really not powerful enough for that? (Google Pixel XL in case you were wondering)
  3. You can’t easily switch between your phone and someone else’s. My kid asks me, “Can I play a song?” and I have to figure out how to disconnect my bluetooth so he can get his in there. It’s several minutes of fiddling. It’s just not worth it.
  4. Scrolling is terrible. Phones scroll really smoothly. The android auto scrolling goes page by page with crumby responsiveness. It’s such a simple thing, but they really didn’t do a good job with it.
  5. Usability will cause me to crash the car. The buttons are too small, where to click is too complicated, responsiveness is slow. I have to LOOK at it. This is a terrible thing and will cause deaths to people. Usability is paramount in this situation.
  6. They truncate words. This is inexcusable. The screen is bigger than an iPad mini. It’s high resolution. They have tons of space to write. Yet, I can’t even see the full name of the podcast I am listening to. Either make the words marquee or just wrap to the next line. Hiding the words is awful.
  7. There are no default program settings. I want to play music in spotify 100% of the time. Why does “OK Google” not understand this.
  8. Multi-tasking is super sketchy. This is a hard one and I want to give Android a break on it. However, when I am driving with directions and listening to a podcast, the experience doesn’t really make sense. For me, this is a pretty regular occurance. I listen to podcasts, I always use google maps. Focus on this particular experience and you will find it could be significantly better.
  9. I don’t get plugged in mode vs. Bluetooth mode. I really don’t understand why I should plug in sometimes but not others. This is an education thing, but the experience doesn’t help me differentiate.
  10. Android Auto apps are very limited. You get audio apps like pandora, spotify and podcasts. You get directions. After that, not much. I am not sure how many things make sense, but it seems like there could be skins and clocks and other apps.

In the end, it is still better than nothing, but the experience leaves alot to be desired. It feels like a Beta product. It needs iterations and work. Am I going to get an upgrade? Or am I stuck with one version for the life of the car. God I hope not.

Side note: The Kia rides pretty well. I like the ultra-big moon roof. The turbo engine is too much for me, even in Eco mode. I want it to calm down. Generally, I am happy with the car.

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Product Management Bullshitometer Fri, 27 Jan 2017 19:59:30 +0000 Read More »]]>

Recently, I’ve been interviewing candidates for Product Manager and sometimes I hear phrases that set off my bullshitometer. This is a finely tuned piece of equipment that I keep with me at all times. It can detect bullshit intensity from any source. When I interview people, I keep a close eye on it.

CEO of the Product
An example came from someone who said they were the “CEO of the product”. I asked what they meant by that and they responded that you have to make things happen without having authority and that you have the ultimate responsibility for the product. I said, “But the CEO has plenty of authority and also has ultimate responsibility.” Then they back-tracked and fumbled around.  My bullshitometer was going crazy. Sure, they were nervous, but my point is that they used the phrase without really thinking about it.

Personally, I hate the phrase. It makes engineers and designers feel badly and discourages a sense of group ownership and responsibility. Product managers are not CEOs and there is no such thing as CEO of the product. Product managers are player/coaches, I can buy that. They are captains of a ship, I can buy that. They are the navigator.  Lots of good metaphors, but CEO is not a good one.

Product Market Fit
This phrase is thrown around in product circles pretty frequently. So I asked another candidate who brought it up, “How do you to measure it?” There are actually good articles on the subject of product market fit out there, however, PMF is not a binary thing. There isn’t a switch that flicks and now you have it. Clearly, there are signs you don’t and signs you are on the right track. Net Promoter Score (NPS) is always a good metric. My main point is that if you say the words Product Market Fit, you better be able to talk about it with some clarity. Otherwise, you are just making my bullshitometer fly off to the right.

There have been many instances where a product manager has come up to me with their idea of how to solve a particular problem. Almost every time, I walk to the white board and show them at least one way it could be better. I am not saying PMs should stay out of the design process. Far from it. However, if you are going to talk to me about wireframes, you better be knowledgeable. Don’t just try to bullshit your way through conversations.

I expect PMs to have great research skills. They should read this particular sentence and know that I put the word Sassafras in it. (Bonus points if you use it in an unrelated sentence during the interview.) I expect PMs to be insightful and read in between the lines. I expect PMs to be retrospective and be able to describe the good and the bad of their prior experiences without my bullshitometer going off. I expect PMs to be insightful and read between the lines. It’s easy to bullshit your way through a conversation. What is hard is doing the detailed work and summarizing it in a coherent way.

Maybe this is all a bit aggressive. I’ll accept that. I don’t think PMs have the patent on bullshitting people. Just talk to sales for 10 minutes and you will get plenty. We all bullshit people all the time. Just keep in mind that everyone has a bullshitometer and maybe we should dial it down a bit.

Maybe this whole post is bullshit. Oh well.


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The Negativity Filter Fri, 27 Jan 2017 01:38:42 +0000 Read More »]]> Sometimes I will hear people talk about something and I will hear alot of negativity in the statements. This is especially true on twitter, reddit or other semi-anonymous forum. A former boss did this frequently. I ended up helping people by using a special trick I call Negativity Filtering.

How does it work?
Basically, you just think about what they said and ignore/erase every part of it that’s negative and see what’s left over. In other words, if a robot was trying to interpret the actionable parts of a statement, what would it be? Pure logic and dispassion, no reaction to the invective.

Example #1: Email
The old boss sent an email to engineering yelling at them that no one cares about a particular bug and they should fix it right away and they all suck. The boss used ALL CAPS in most of the email.

There is a bug that seems important.

Example #2: In Person
The old boss told an employee in person that they didn’t know what they were doing because there was a typo in a document. They clearly should be fired for incompetence and even a monkey would do a better job.

There is a typo in a document.

One might ask, “But can’t the boss just be more positive?” My answer is yes, obviously. However, I wish everyone would be nice and positive and understanding, but that just isn’t the world in which I live. So instead, I take some responsibility upon myself and use the negativity filters.

Last Example: Donald Trump
His Tweets are so negative, it’s hard to deal with. However, if I erase all the negativity, I am often left with something normal.

Happy New Year to all. Love!

See, there was something nice on the inside of it! Negativity filtering works. People often have good things inside of their negative statements.

Next time you think someone is being negative, try the trick. Filter out the negativity and see what’s left. You might be surprised.

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The (possible) Meaning of Life Wed, 18 Jan 2017 17:25:07 +0000 Read More »]]> There are infinite possibilities, but one sticks out for me. This is what I think life is and the meaning behind it and the secret to a successful life.

First, you need to imagine that technology is taking us to a place where we no longer have fear, hunger, or death. The advances in technology will eventually enable us to avoid aging, live in a virtual reality, be able to survive underwater or in an active volcano. Technology will allow us to replace body parts or grow new ones. Have a bad liver? Just rub some stem cell juice on it and voila, you are healthy and young.

Now imagine what it is like to live in that reality. It’s probably intensely boring. Seriously, if you didn’t have to die, didn’t have to eat, never grew old, never feared anything, what is the point? I think the bottom line is that we would be so bored, we would be going nearly crazy.

How would you spend eternity if you were a god?
I think the answer is simple: You would go on vacation all the time.

But just going to Hawaii isn’t enough. After a few hundred thousand years you would have visited every spot on the planet. You would need to experience something new and completely different. The kind of vacation I am describing is virtual. You plug into the vacation maker virtual life 3000 and it lets you live a full life with no memory of being a god. You feel and experience like a normal person. When you die, you wake up as a god again and feel refreshed.

Imagine that you, right now, reading this sentence are actually a god on vacation from your own omnipotence and randomly selected your life to live for 80-100 years. What would your God-self want from you on this vacation? I think the answer, again, is simple: You would want you to live a life that isn’t boring!

If boredom was the reason for the vacation-life in the first place, you would want to have stories and variety in your life. You would want it filled with drama, fear, joy, adventure and comedy. You would want all the best attributes of a great book or movie.

Many cultures have picked up on this possible reality. Hinduism believes that we live our lives infinite times. Some cultures say “God is inside you.” Maybe someone had a glitch in the vacation maker 3000 and told everyone the secret. We keep living lives, over and over and over again. This is how we spend eternity. This is what we need. We need to live human vulnerable lives.

You may not believe what I am saying is true, but you can’t prove it one way or the other. It’s possible that what I am saying is true. If it is, then it is not God whom we must atone in the afterlife. Someone else doesn’t judge us. It is ourselves who judge our experience. Imagine waking up and saying, “Ugh, that sucked. I didn’t do anything good!”

The meaning of life is the life itself. The secret is to have an interesting life with ups and downs, drama and comedy. The secret is to wake up when you die and say, “Wow, that was a good one!” If you were to die/wake up tomorrow, how would you judge your life? Are you satisfied with that answer?

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The Department of Redundancy Department Tue, 10 Jan 2017 18:24:42 +0000 Read More »]]> This elevator control brought to you by the department of redundancy department.

Why do we call the first floor L in this scenario? Why not just say 1? L for lobby just seems unhelpful.

Plus, the door-close button doesn’t do a thing. It’s totally useless. Pressing it has no effect at all.

It’s the little things in life that make all the difference, yes?

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New LinkedIn UI is Slow Fri, 06 Jan 2017 02:03:51 +0000 Read More »]]> I don’t know how many people have the new UI in LinkedIn. I can’t seem to get out of it. (Yes, I tried)

  1. It’s slow af. Come on guys. You have buko resources. You should focus on speed, speed, speed. This is unacceptable.
  2. It’s ugly af. Look at the picture above. Seriously, is this an improvement? Looks lame to me. I hate the icons at the top.
  3. It’s confusing af. I don’t know where shit is anymore. I get used to stuff being in a particular spot. Stop moving it.

Congratulations LinkedIn! You hit the UX trifecta. Slow, ugly and confusing. Pat yourselves on the back while I struggle with this nonsense. This animated gif expressed my frustration well.

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Obamacare is Terrible Branding Thu, 05 Jan 2017 00:56:15 +0000 Read More »]]> Medicare has a name. Medicaid has a name. Even unemployment insurance and Social Security benefits can be referred to with non-partisan labels. Names matter.

The Affordable Care Act is a bill but if you have that health insurance, what do you have? You have ObamaCare. This is the stupidest branding move I can remember and it will affect tens of millions of people.

Republicans originally started calling it ObamaCare because they wanted to make it partisan, but democrats started calling it the same thing shortly after. Why didn’t they give it a name like, “Medisure” or pretty much anything other than ObamaCare? The reason it is bad is because Obama is a democrat and there are people who will never ever support something with his name on it.

The reason it is bad is because Obama is a democrat and there are people who will never ever support something with his name on it. They made a huge mistake by not branding it with a neutral word. Now, it’s a political football when it should be a non-negotiable government benefit.

So what should we do?

Trump Option #1
If Trump is smart (which I doubt), he would replace ObamaCare with a single payer system (great article) and call it some neutral word like Medisure. This would be a huge boon for the US, saving 300 billion dollars per year, plus increase choice and coverage for all Americans. Plus, progressives would be forced to vote for it cementing Trump is a guy who gets shit done.

Trump Option #2
Fiddle with the existing ACA law and rebrand it from ObamaCare to be TrumpCare. This is pure stupidity, but a highly plausible scenario.

Trump Option #3
Destroy the ACA and let all those people who lose their healthcare pound sand. No more ObamaCare. Good luck. This is possible, but geez it sucks.

Trump Option #4
Let congress pass a repeal law and then refuse to sign it. Veto it, which would keep the ACA in existence. This would be the craziest thing to do. I think Trump will choose this option because, “Why not?!” Everyone will go bananas.

Am I missing an option?

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Product Idea for an App: Told You So Fri, 23 Dec 2016 23:58:22 +0000 Read More »]]> I always had this dream of an app called “Told You So“. Here are the requirements:

  1. You sign in with Google or Facebook.
  2. It asks you to make a prediction.
  3. You sign it with your finger.
  4. It has a button for “I disagree” and someone else can sign that.
  5. It stores the predictions and signatures in the cloud.
  6. Later, when the event happens, you bring the prediction back up and show it to your friend/family member and say, “Told you so.”
  7. BAM button plays the “You’re the best around from Karate Kid.”
  8. Resolve button gives you the option of who was right, or possibly “disputed results”.
  9. It keeps score for family and friends.
  10. Ability to tweet the results for a public “Told You So”

Simple app, right? I would use this app all the time. People make predictions and then say, “I never said that!” I want to write that shit down and store it in a way that can never be deleted.

I am not saying this app would have Flappy Bird kind of success, but I think it would do well.

Speaking of which, here are some predictions for 2017:

  • Politics: Trump will make me sad for at least 20 unrelated reasons. Also, despite lots conflicts of interest, Trump will not be sanctioned in any real way in 2017.
  • Sports: Andy Murray will win the Australian Open in Tennis
  • Culture: Casey Affleck will win Best Actor for Manchester by the Sea
  • Stock Market: Dow Jones will be at 21,951 on Dec 31, 2017
  • Work: Engagio will be growing like mad. (OK, this one is self-serving)
  • Tech: Battery technology will FINALLY take a step forward. 2x life.
  • Medicine: The world’s first HIV vaccine becomes commercially available
  • Personal: My oldest kid will be accepted into Stanford. (Wishful predicting)
  • Personal: My middle kid will record 5 full songs on his first LP. He will refuse to let me watch him perform.
  • Personal: My youngest will read a book that I suggest. (long shot)

Predictions are difficult. You have to be willing to be wrong and take a stance on something. Let’s meet back here in a year and see how I did.

Happy Holidays!

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Mac Designers Need to Test on Windows Thu, 22 Dec 2016 18:00:21 +0000 Read More »]]> An open letter to designers who only see the world through Apple products.

I’ll just jump right to the point. The rest of the world doesn’t see your work the way you intended. Take a look at this screenshot from my Windows 10 machine running Chrome. The site is a designers portfolio.

Notice the blurry font

100% zoom

I can’t read the text. It looks terrible.  I can see that it is embedded Lato from Google fonts.

So why does it look blurry?

The answer is “Font-weight: 200”. When I turn that off, the font looks slightly better. (I am not a fan of Lato when it’s thin). I am sure that on a Mac this looked better, but on Windows, it looks terrible.

According to NetMarketShare, Windows represents 80-90% of the market, while Mac is 5-10%. This view is shared by every single tracking service out there. If you are not testing on Windows, you are likely creating a bad experience for people.

I ask each and every one of you designers to look in Google Analytics and look up the OS stats. Here is mine for 2016:

My site is heavily trafficked by Silicon Valley and designers and I still have the majority of people visiting from Windows.

If you are a designer, you should be taking care of your portfolio site. It is the first and last thing I look at as a hiring manager. It should be awesome, not just serviceable. You are a designer, your site reflects on you.

There are services where you can see how your site looks in different systems. If you need to test interactions, you can install Windows on your Mac to test.

So word to the wise: If your font looks jacked up I am likely to hold it against you in my hiring decisions.

Bah Humbug! Umm, I mean, Happy Holidays!

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