UX = User Experience Wed, 26 Apr 2017 20:21:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 32 32 2075023 The UX of Marketing SWAG Wed, 26 Apr 2017 20:21:28 +0000 Read More »]]> In Engineering terms, SWAG stands for Silly Wild Ass Guess. It’s used to estimate how big a project will be. It’s pretty unscientific, but useful for planning.

In Marketing circles, SWAG means Stuff We All Get. SWAG is generally a gift given to prospects and customers.

(I think the SW is pronounced similar to the bicycle SCHWINN, not like the word SWAY.)

SWAG should achieve three purposes:

  1. Make the recipient feel appreciated by you
  2. Make the recipient feel appreciative towards you
  3. Piggyback advertising. If they use/wear something that has your logo on it, other people will see it

Is SWAG common?
Yes, gifts to customers are as old as business itself. It started out as a simple thank you note. Maybe that turned into a free dinner or lunch. Eventually, it became free tickets to a show. When marketing got involved, they realized they could give a gift that actually served more purpose than just #1 and #2 above. They could brand the gift. This led to a whole cottage industry around SWAG and it’s extremely common.

Is SWAG ethical?
The saying, “There is no such thing as a free lunch” originated with the practice of salespeople paying for your lunch in the hopes that they could convince you to buy their products or services. It’s a bribe, plain and simple. It’s often not explicit, but it’s a bribe nonetheless. However, I would posit that all forms of appreciation are bribes. When I say thank you to someone, I am participating in a social contract. You treat me nice and I will treat you nice. Bribes sound bad but are actually a critical part of doing business. The whole point of the social contract is that things go better when we adhere to the rules. I say “Thank you”, you say “You’re welcome”.

Referral programs are an explicit bribe. If you refer someone, I will give you cash. The only thing more “bribey” is saying “I will give you an advance on the referral. I’ll pay you now and hope for the referral later.” This is clearly illegal in certain circumstances like politics. However, bribes like this happen all the time. The reason it happens is because it generally works.

Is there bad SWAG?
Yes, bad swag is when it feels heavy handed or the gift is inappropriate. Like if you sent an iPhone case to someone with an android. They would feel annoyed, instead of grateful. Bad SWAG is also when the gift feels cheap or overdoes it with the branding. If it’s a t-shirt, don’t just have your logo on the front and back. Keep it simple and classy. Otherwise, they won’t feel #1 or #2 at all and therefore won’t wear it. Remember the purpose. Don’t overdo it.

The best SWAG is thoughtful and useful. Sometimes, it’s just entertaining. For example, Engagio just sent out Bobbleheads that were custom designed for people based on their LinkedIn photo. Not useful, but entertaining.

Anything else interesting about SWAG?
Whenever you have an interesting gift, people will copy it. For example, Engagio had Gio socks last year. This year, lots of people had branded socks. If everyone has socks, then they are not interesting anymore. You have to constantly look for new and different things to give as gifts. We have tried Kindles with eBooks about Marketing on them. We have tried umbrellas and water bottles and other items. Whatever you do, it won’t last forever. You have to keep innovating.

SWAG is a good thing but can go wrong. They aren’t free. You need to follow up with the gifts. You can’t just give someone an umbrella and hope for the best. You need to call them and email them and set up meetings. You have to invest in their happiness and appreciation. This is true for prospects as well as customers.

Invest in your audience and they will invest in you. It’s the social contract.

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The UX of Figma Fri, 21 Apr 2017 21:13:51 +0000 Read More »]]> The CEO of Figma recently visited me and gave me a quick tour of their product. I think it holds great promise as a prototyping/design tool and I am giving it a try. The main benefit is real-time concurrent usage. In other words, two designers can collaborate live at the same time the way you might use a Google spreadsheet. I know that Adobe XD has been promising this feature for 6+ months, but the tool doesn’t even have a workable Windows version yet. I ran out of patience and am trying the competition.

My initial usage is slow, I’m learning a new tool.  Rather than use it for a few days and then review, I am going to document my first few hours with it.

  1. Italics. It took me 2 minutes to figure out how to make text italics. I was looking for a button [I] but it was actually a drop down box. I need to get faster at it.
  2. Zoom. It’s just not very smooth. Slow it down with more intermediate points. Maybe provide a slider?
  3. Components. I am struggling a little of how best to organize. I am just guessing.
  4. Sizing. I really don’t need things to be 22.48px wide. 22px is fine. Can there be an option to make 1px the minimum increment?
  5. Moving things. I have a component with two elements in it. I am trying to move one of them. Not letting me. Grrrr…
  6. Rulers as guides. Hmm, innovative. I kinda like that.
  7. Publishing to the library. That works nicely.
  8. Projects. I think I need one of those, but how do I get to it? Oh, it’s called files? Hmm. A bit confused, but Ok.
  9. Preferences. Why aren’t there preferences in the desktop UI? Am I just missing where they are?
  10. Found preferences! Duh, make it available under Edit

I got better at it over the day. I think there are a bunch of little things that would smooth out the experience. Ill keep experimenting.

Plus one of their engineers actually reached out to me to ask about storyboarding and prototyping. The truth is that I can’t fully use the system until I have that.

Anyway, its good so far. More to come…

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The Death of the Unsubscribe Link Fri, 21 Apr 2017 04:43:17 +0000 Read More »]]> I’ve been getting alot of email lately from SDRs using tools like Salesloft, Tout and Outreach. I have noticed a couple of important trend occuring.

  1. There is no unsubscribe link
  2. There is no content, just a request for a meeting/conversation
  3. They are not personalized or interesting to me the recipient

It is hard not to think of these emails as spam. I assume the reply rate is dismal. Most importantly, I feel like all of the content marketing techniques learned over the past 10 years have been tossed out the window. I have questions:

  • Who is writing these emails?
  • How do I unsubscribe?
  • Are we witnessing the death of the unsubscribe link?
  • Is marketing and SDRs emailing the same people at the same time?
  • Are SDRs the new marketing department?

Think about that last one for a minute. If you, the marketer, sit idly by while your SDRs send your targets unsolicited emails, they are hurting your ability to engage and nurture those people. Just because technology lets you send emails to lots of people, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. I actually heard of a company whose corporate IP was blacklisted for this kind of email.

When I reply to these SDRs (which I often do), I give them a haiku.

Not personalized
Do not see unsubscribe link
Please leave me alone

You can google me and find a dozen things that will get my attention. You can read my blog or twitter or watch past speeches I have given. Any kind of personalization will get my attention. I still might not be the right persona for your company or care at all about your service, but at least I will treat you as a human being.

The unsubscribe link exists for a reason. It is when you send bulk mail with no personalization. There are laws that try and protect the rights of recipients from getting spam. These tools are blatently side-stepping these rules.

The point here is about choosing a side. Either send a truly customized email or include the unsubscribe link. What side are you on? Do you even know what your SDR team is doing?

I think I am going to start a kickstarter project called “Save the Unsubscribe Link”. The way it would work is when an email is uncustomized with no unsubscribe link, it will send 10 messages in reply every hour for 72 hours. The content will be the above Haiku. Anyone want to be the first to fund the project?

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The Simple Volume Control Mon, 17 Apr 2017 17:00:21 +0000 Read More »]]> We have Sonos speakers here at the office. The Sonos application is pretty cool. However, there is one part of the system that bugs me and it’s extremely simple.

This is the volume control. Now when you have a Sonos speaker in a group environment, the volume is actually a crucial function. Some songs are recorded louder or softer and when people are working a high volume can be very annoying.

To use this control, you have to put your mouse onto the slider and drag right or left. It is very sensitive, so finding the right setting is tricky. The volume controls on my keyboard are not connected to Sonos, just my local machine.

So why is this bad?

The main factor here is fine motor skills of the users, or lack thereof. Most users are unable to move their mouse in 2px increments. However, a single pixel, in this case, is the difference between too loud and too soft.

Other Examples of requiring fine motor control.

  • Resize a column in a table/grid and you might find you need to move your mouse 1px to find the spot.
  • Screen capture software often makes you start your clicking in exactly the right spot.
  • Settings in an UI is often behind a 10×10 icon with no padding so finding it is challenging
  • Drag targets are often tiny and dropping on the right spot nearly impossible.

The bottom line is that, as a designer, always make sure you are not asking your user to be too fine with their gestures. Make it finger compatible and you will be in good shape.

The thing that Sonos missed it a Spinner control. If we take the existing Sonos volume, I would enhance it to look more like this:


  1. Keyboard: Arrow keys move volume
  2. Dragging from anywhere on spectrum moves volume
    1. Up/Right = Loud
    2. Down/Left = Soft
  3. Mouse wheel also changes volume
  4. Clicking up/down arrow icons move by 1
  5. Double-click on up/down arrows moves by 10
  6. Allow type in a number in the input box.
  7. Left click on the OFF will mute

First, we added feedback. What volume is it currently at? Then we added gestures. I wrote about using multiple gestures years ago.

All of the sudden, this control has detail and nuance. It can be used by people without a struggle. It is the job of a designer to make sure the UI Requirements are comprehensive. It is the job of the product manager to not cut scope on these requirements. Yes, it takes longer, but a positive experience is worth it.

Simple controls are rarely simple if you look closely.

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Myers Briggs 2017 Fri, 07 Apr 2017 16:04:46 +0000 Read More »]]> I had another Myers-Briggs for an executive team offsite this month. Previously my tests in 2014 yielded these results:

2014 INFP
Introvert(11%) iNtuitive(75%) Feeling(12%) Perceiving(33%)

  • Slight preference of Introversion over Extraversion (11%)
  • Distinct preference of Intuition over Sensing (75%)
  • Slight preference of Feeling over Thinking (12%)
  • Moderate preference of Perceiving over Judging (33%)

They call this personality type, the Mediator/Idealist.

This time I resulted in INTJ, also known as the Architect/Mastermind.

The different tests didn’t give me the same preference statistics, but the above shows the equivalent. I don’t have a strong preference for anything apparently. The descriptions of the personalities both match me somewhat. The moderator thought I showed extroverted tendencies, which always conflicts with how tired/uncomfortable I get in group settings like parties. I am obviously a conundrum for these things.

Here is a breakdown of my sub preferences.

I don’t know. I am not sure how useful this all is for me. I want to feel special, like a unique snowflake. The two reports both can be applied to me with some flaws.

How well do these things work for you?

If you want, you can read my Myers-Briggs full report.


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Where am I from? Fri, 31 Mar 2017 18:51:06 +0000 Read More »]]> has this chart to show me where I am from. (I sent in a sample of my spit)

The little orange dots are matches for other people with connections in my DNA. As you can see, I am Eastern European. My ancestors lived right in the middle Empire central. The Holy Roman Empire, The Ottoman Empire, The Austro-Hungarian Empire, The Russian Empire and the Third Reich in Germany all controlled this area for some period. My people probably gave up deciding what to call their country.  Today it would be modern Poland, Lithuania, and Belarus. My children are the first generation in my family to have a mixed heritage. They have Irish and German ancestry on their mother’s side.

It seems that cross-breeding is a slow process. Even if you move thousands of miles from your home, you are still likely to marry someone of the same heritage as you. We should mix it up more. Sameness is boring.

I come from a place that changed over and over and over again. I guess that is why I love change so much.

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Marketing Podcast 2017 Wed, 29 Mar 2017 02:20:50 +0000 Read More »]]> I was interviewed on a podcast by marketers last week. Kristen Malkovich and Grant Grigorian did a great job making me feel comfortable and asking good questions. They need to buy some better audio equipment but otherwise, it went off without a hitch. I talked about the following topics:

  • being the first employee at Marketo
  • Marketo is a programming language
  • the future of automation and orchestration of “plays”
  • B2B design

Take a listen and see what you think. I hate the way I sound. To my ear, it sounds like my brother, not me.

Side note: I haven’t been blogging lately because I have been up to my eyeballs in deliverables at Engagio. We have new people starting each week and they all need stuff. I have help arriving mid-April (thank god) on the PM front. So much to do, so little time. Exciting times.

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My Dream Prototyping Tool 2017 Wed, 15 Mar 2017 01:58:55 +0000 Read More »]]> Here are the requirements for my dream prototyping tool:

There are some that are mature and cross-platform like Axure, Justinmind, Balsamiq, MockPlus, Figma and Microsoft PowerPoint. However, the two that are not are Adobe Experience Design (XD) and Sketch. I clearly need it to work both in Mac and Windows.

Has symbols (reusable components)
This is crucial. Tools like Adobe XD and MockPlus have this, but PowerPoint and others do not. (Come on Microsoft, listen to me!) It’s essential to speed up design time to have these sorts of embeddable elements.

Links / clickable prototypes
Adobe XD and MockPlus have this decently, with the exception of symbols not having reusable links. Invision does it, but it’s a separate tool from the designing. Figma is missing this key capability. It’s a must-have.

Usable in real-time by multiple users
Figma is kind of awesome on this front. They are the only ones with this feature. If you work with a team of designers, this is killer. You can have a central master prototype and work on different sections at the same time. It all publishes the prototype to the cloud. I love this capability. It’s closer to the way engineers with their code repository like Git.

Easy to use
Axure and Justinmind, sorry; you guys are terribly complicated to use. I don’t need all the bells and whistles of Javascript. Just keep it simple. But not too simple like Balsamiq. Keep it in the middle. Goldilocks!

Modal layers
Simply, I use menus and modals.  I want them to popup when I click something. Modals are in every single desktop software design. Allow for it. Ideally, allow me to even have transitions on this layer so I can have a part of the screen slide into place.

Scrollable areas
MockPlus does this well. They define scrollable areas so the prototype can have long content.

Nice interactivity with comments
Invision does this well. You can comment on the designs and give feedback. Having comments tagged to versions would be helpful.

Bring it all together
So start with Adobe Experience Design for usability, but cross-platform, with real-time collaboration like Figma and symbol management like MockPlus, plus interaction on the web with comments like Invision.

That’s all I want. I’m willing to spend approximately $500 per year per person on this software if it did everything above.

All I want is everything. Is that too much to ask?

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Not how I wanted to lose weight Fri, 10 Mar 2017 19:16:42 +0000 Read More »]]> Around the holidays (3+ months ago), I got a stomach ache. It didn’t go away for a week. Since then, my appetite has diminished by about 50%. I noticed the issue quickly and bought a new scale that syncs to my phone. (It was on sale at the time) I strongly suggest getting a scale like this for anyone who wants to lose weight. I find the feedback loop incredibly useful and your doctor will appreciate the more detailed history. Then I went to a doctor.

My first doctor said, “Hmm, this could be appendicitis or some other serious problem. Let’s do a CT Scan and a bunch of blood tests.” I got the results and they were all negative. The doctor didn’t know what to do and suggested going to a specialist.

The specialist was from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. The school did not fill me with confidence. He said, “Hmm, let’s do an endoscopy and colonoscopy”. For those of you who don’t know, this is when they jam a GoPro down your throat and up your rear to take pictures of your innards. The prep for it is to drink a special fluid that cleans out your entire digestive track. (Completely! Yuck!)

The results came in. I had a small hiatal hernia and a tiny amount of Barrett’s Esophagus, plus a small polyp that was non-cancerous. The hiatal hernia was causing Acid Reflux and GERD (i.e. chronic hearthburn). He suggested taking proton-pump inhibitor pills like Nexium. I am not a huge fan of taking medicine for the rest of my life, plus googling proton pump inhibitors yielded very mixed results. Some articles said it made the problem potentially worse! So I got a new specialist at Stanford Medicine to try and understand better what to do.

First, let me just tell you: if you can, get treated at Stanford. They have valet parking, gorgeous offices, and the best doctors. It makes you feel like you are being pampered by the best physicians on earth. Some of this may be placebo, but the whole place just made me feel confidence. (Last year, they did successful wrist surgery on my torn ligament)

Ok, back to the saga. Doctor #3 said that my main symptom was weight loss, not pain. He then went o20-minutenute lecture about how Americans are too fat. He said, “Whoever said 3 square meals a day must have worked in the food industry. We need 1 meal a day. Maybe 2 small (half-sized) meals if you want.” He said when you go to a restaurant, they typically give you double the food you actually need. He also said diabetes is rampant. It was quite a passionate lecture. He looked at my weight chart on my phone.

He said, “Well this isn’t how you want to lose weight, but it’s still a good thing. If you aren’t in alot of pain, let’s just keep an eye on it. In the meantime, keep exercising (tennis 2x per week) and don’t overeat.” He then suggested Maalox or Mylanta if I felt heart burn. (Liquid antacids)

To be clear, I haven’t changed the kinds of foods I eat. I generally don’t eat McDonalds or drink soda. This weight loss is all due to 50% less food. I may get hungry again, but I hope I can stick to 50% portion sizes.

The doctor is right, we all eat too much food. This might not work for everyone, but for me, just changing portion size has had a dramatic effect.

By the way, he said my hiatal hernia was too small to justify open chest surgery and the Barrett’s esophagus was too small to warrant treatment at this time. He said my GERD was also mild and liquid antacids were good enough for now. I took some more blood tests, but nothing surprising so far.

Usually, I blog about user experience, technology, and design. However, this is what’s on my mind right now, so there it is.


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Adobe Experience Design (XD) – Almost Mon, 06 Mar 2017 23:19:00 +0000 Read More »]]> My design tools:

  1. Pencil (#2 Soft HB Dixon Ticonderoga) and paper
  2. Microsoft PowerPoint on Windows 10

However, over the years, I have tried numerous alternatives. So far, none have been better in terms of quick iterations, high (enough) fidelity, portability, and ease of communication. I have tried numerous prototyping tools, graphics editors of all shapes and online services. No joy.

Recently, Adobe has been working on a product called Adobe Experience Designer (XD). They first released it on the MacOS, which means I couldn’t really use it. Then they released an Alpha for Windows. They called it a beta, but let’s be real, it’s not useable at all. The key missing feature is symbols and layers. Symbols is the one killer feature for me. I am happy with PowerPoint EXCEPT for its lack of symbols.

What’s a Symbol?
Good question. A symbol is a reusable object that you edit in one place and use it in many other spots. For example: In my UI, I have a navigation bar. If I make a bunch of pages, the navigation bar needs to be replicated. If it’s a symbol then I can change the nav in one place and it updates everywhere. This is the biggest pain in PowerPoint.

So the big problem for me trying Adobe XD is that it doesn’t have symbols in Windows yet. I just have to be patient and wait. I’ll review it in more detail once that happens.

Is it here yet?

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