UX = User Experience Wed, 15 Mar 2017 01:58:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 32 32 2075023 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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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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