UX = User Experience Wed, 18 Jan 2017 17:25:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 32 32 2075023 The (possible) Meaning of Life Wed, 18 Jan 2017 17:25:07 +0000 Continue reading "The (possible) Meaning of Life"

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 Continue reading "The Department of Redundancy Department"

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 Continue reading "New LinkedIn UI is Slow"

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 Continue reading "Obamacare is Terrible Branding"

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 Continue reading "Product Idea for an App: Told You So"

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 Continue reading "Mac Designers Need to Test on Windows"

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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UX = Value minus Friction Wed, 21 Dec 2016 17:46:53 +0000 Continue reading "UX = Value minus Friction"

It’s a simple formula.

UX = V – F

  • UX = User Experience

  • V = Value

  • F = Friction

If the friction or effort of doing something is higher than the individual perceived value then the majority of people will not want to do it.

Some examples where the effort outweighs the perceived benefit and therefore have the majority avoid it, despite its obvious value.

  • Working out
  • Doing your homework or studying for a test
  • Voting
  • Practicing piano or a new way to serve in tennis
  • Logging phone calls in Salesforce
  • Entering in JIRA estimates
  • Writing tests for your code
  • Usability testing

Apply this formula to anything in your life that you SHOULD do, but you don’t. The bottom line is that the hassle (friction) outweighs the benefits (value).

This is a core factor in designing software. If you want people to use it, you need to lower the friction point below the perceived value point.

For example, Marketo is NOT easy to use. However, the value is very high if you do use it. It is “easy enough” compared to the value you get from it. It is successful because the formula is still good. More value than friction.

I am designing software right now that had solid value for one type of user, but no perceived value for another type of user. Guess who complained about usability? The second type, of course. So now, my mission is to either lower the friction for them or increase their perceived value through new features. Ideally, we do both.

We often trick ourselves into thinking the value is higher and the friction is less than it really is. Don’t be foolish. Be harsh on your own products. Be a tiger mom for your product. It can never be good enough. Keep lowering friction and increasing value.

If you pretend your product is better than it is, you are the one who will suffer.


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Masterful Conversations Tue, 20 Dec 2016 18:08:53 +0000 Continue reading "Masterful Conversations"

I’ve mentioned this technique in other posts, but I was searching for it and thought it deserved its own spot. The technique is one that I learned during my 12 months at Intuit in 2006 called Masterful Conversations.

The basic premise of the technique is that we collectively spend all of our time talking about our own opinions and hardly even listen to someone else’s opinion. This creates poor conversations and poor relationships, especially in the work environment.

As a better model, they provided this simple graph to break your role in the conversation into three parts. You are supposed to spend your time in any conversation equally divided between the three parts.

1/3 Inquiry
It’s simple, just ask questions about what the other person said. If they say, “We should buy sauce for the dish!”, then you reply, “What kind of sauce did you have in mind?” There is always a question you can ask. People are never 100% detailed and accurate.

This is also called the Socratic Method.

The Socratic method is a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presumptions.

The benefit of inquiry is that it forces the person on the other side of the table to think more specifically about what they are saying. Often, the devil is in the details and inquiry helps people see they may have a flaw in their logic. Also, it shows that you are listening. In fact, it forces you to listen. Listening is actually a crucial skill that rarely gets practiced.

1/3 Reflection
In my first year at Marketo, I would argue with the CEO about some product detail. At one point he said, “Why can’t you just acknowledge what I just said?!” I think rather quickly and was jumping from his point to a conclusion. However, other people do not think at the exact same speed as you (slower or quicker).  So I replied starting with the phrase, “So what I heard you say is _____”.  Immediately, the whole conversation changed. He was open to my opinion because I acknowledged his opinion.

Reflection is crucial because people do not always understand the same sentences in the same way. By reflecting, “I heard you say…” the other person often will say, “No, that’s not what I meant.” Imagine a whole conversation where each party understood the conversation in totally different terms. Reflection fixes that problem and forces the other person to think more carefully about their words and make it clear what they meant.

This will often have the effect of changing the other person’s mind. When you hear an idea it goes through a more stringent filter than when you say an idea. By hearing their own idea back, it is possible for someone to realize the idea has flaws. This is especially useful if the other person does not like you. By mirroring their ideas you are employing cognitive dissonance. They can’t dislike you when you are saying their own ideas back to them.

Keep in mind, reflection is not agreement. You are only acknowledging your understanding of what they said. You are not judging their idea at all. You reserve the right to have an alternative point of view.

1/3 Advocacy
This part is the easiest for people. It’s saying your ideas. Most people spend 100% of their conversation in this mode. This is a practiced method that everyone knows how to do. The key is the 1/3 part. Don’t overdo it. Don’t advocate all the time. It makes you unlikeable.

People are emotional, not logical. We make decisions all the time based on imperfect information and poor communication. Check out my previous post on the UX of Arguments, detailing the reasons people disagree.

If you follow the masterful conversations 1/3 rule, you will notice that your communication quality goes up and people generally like you more.

Recently, a professional woman was stating that as a woman she is perceived as pushy when she interrupts in a meeting, but men are considered assertive. This is, by and large, a fact of company behavior. My suggestion is to interrupt, but 2/3 of the time interrupt to mirror or ask a question. I think (hope) that kind of interruption will change the dynamic in the room and actually give power to the woman and when the 1/3 advocacy comes around, it will get listened to.

This advice is for everyone and I hope it helps. However, it does take practice. Keep at it.

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Goodbye New York Jets Mon, 19 Dec 2016 19:44:58 +0000 Continue reading "Goodbye New York Jets"

Superbowl III was played in 1969. Broadway Joe Namath guaranteed the win and came through. It was a miracle moment for fans of the Jets. I was born a few years later and grew up in the shadow of that glorious moment.

I was a Jets fan, hoping that one day, another Joe Namath would lead the Jets to victory in the SuperBowl. We got close and had some great moments. In 2000, Vinnie Testaverde manufactured the greatest comeback ever on Monday Night Football. I watched the whole thing from my bed. (It was 1 am when it finished)

We made the AFC Championship game several times, but in my lifetime, the Jets have failed to ever get back to the SuperBowl. They have gotten close, only to disappoint me at the last second. Yet, I remained a fan. I was not a fair weather fan. I stuck with them.

Even when the Patriots and Tom Brady started kicking our asses for a decade, I hung in there. Even with the Mark Sanchez butt-fumble, I hung in there. Even with Dan Marino’s fake spike play, I hung in there. I stayed because a fan stays.

And then I heard this news.

Woody Johnson Takes On Role as Fund-Raiser for Donald Trump.

A while back, I heard the news about the CEO of Barilla pasta being severely anti-gay. I voted with my pocketbook and decided to stop buying Barilla pasta, even though it was my favorite. So now, when I heard about Woody Johnson and Trump, I felt like it was the last straw. Woody Johnson inherited his fortune and hasn’t really done much with his life. He has mostly just amassed more money and avoided paying taxes. I’ve looked the other way for 16 years (since he bought the Jets in 2000), but enough is enough.

I don’t care about any of the Jets players. I don’t respect the coaching staff. I don’t respect the owner. I don’t enjoy watching the games. Almost 5 decades is enough. I give up.

I am no longer a fan of the New York Jets.

I am unsubscribing from DirecTV Sunday Ticket. I probably will not watch the San Francisco 49ers or Oakland Raiders (even though the Raiders are doing well this season). I think I will stop watching football altogether. It is a pretty violent sport and truthfully, I enjoy watching tennis more.

This is permanent and non-negotiable.

This likely will mean that the Jets win the Superbowl next year. I have that kind of luck. I won’t complain, though.

Good bye, sweet Jets. Good bye.

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Hiring UX Designer 2016 Wed, 30 Nov 2016 18:58:38 +0000 Continue reading "Hiring UX Designer 2016"

I am starting my search for a UX Designer to join our team at Engagio. I actually prefer people in the earlier stages of their career. (Directors need not apply)

Designer Characteristics:

  1. Creative. Can come up with new solutions to problems.
  2. OCD. Does it bother you that their is a mistake in this question?
  3. Productive. We have a lot to do. Lots of context switching and multi-tasking.
  4. Concise.
  5. Confident. This position will have interactions with lots of people, including executives.
  6. Positive. It’s not personal; it’s always about the work.
  7. Special. A parent or loved one must vouch for you.
  8. Smart. Knows designing is hard work.
  9. Eloquent. Can explain why.
  10. Clever. Can come up with a witty retort to this list.

Job Characteristics:

  1. Deliver engineering specs. Engineering needs to know what to build. This is your responsibility. Don’t count on PM to do all the detail work. UX Design owns these engineering specs.
  2. UX is not just UI. User Interface Design, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Graphic Design and even Curriculum Design are all part of user experience and this job entails all of them at some points.
  3. Iterating with Engineers. This isn’t an Ivory Tower department. We sit right in the middle of engineers and help drive a project to the highest possible quality in collaboration with engineers and other various groups.

When applying, please include a link to your website.

Hint: I am actually going to judge your design ability by what your website looks like. Don’t skimp on your own site.

About Engagio
We are a small but growing startup in downtown San Mateo. Engagio makes SaaS B2B software for sales, marketing and account management. Products include:

Account-Based Platform matches Leads to the right Account; identifies which accounts are engaging (MQAs); and aggregates account insights (Scout) to serve as the foundation for ABM.

ABM Analytics shows the impact of Account Based Marketing efforts with account-centric awareness, engagement and impact metrics that matter.

PlayMaker orchestrates cross-channel interactions across sales, marketing and customer success to engage accounts with personalized and timely human touchpoints.

Engagio is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Apply Now!

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