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Tag: UX

Our Maps are Upside-down

I am going to assume you believe the world is spherical. No point otherwise. Ok, imagine the sun in the middle and the Earth is spinning around it. I ask you this question, “Is the Earth going around the sun in a clockwise or counter-clockwise rotation? I think any normal person would say that the correct rotation is clockwise. We have precedent of clocks after all. This is how sundials work. So if you imagine we are going around the sun clockwise, it would look like this: Now, I would further espouse that if you were looking at the earth…

First Try: LimeScooter

In case you haven’t heard, Electric Scooters are the new “disrupting” thing in cities, especially San Francisco. Today, I had a lunch with a recruiter in the city and CalTrain was running very late. The walk would have been 25 minutes and I only had 20 to get there. Previously, I had used Lyft to get from point A to point B, but there was an electric scooter right in front of me, begging for my attention. As a dedicated beta user, I quickly opened up my Google Play Store and installed Lime. (There are others like Byrd and Spin,…

Bad UI Example: Moving the Cheese

I have a 2018 Kia Sportage. Nice car overall; not too expensive, drives well, cool moon roof. However, the radio does something that is a UI no-no. I’ll explain. First, this is the offending UI here. It is on the left side of the steering wheel and controls the radio station. The left rocker (technical term for that kind of up/down control) is for the volume and the right rocker is the station. The screen for the car middle dashboard looks like this: However, I can change the UI to be focused on the radio. In that case you get…

Google Inbox vs New GMail (2018)

I’ve been a Google Inbox user for a few years now. GMail felt absurdly outdated and unpleasant, so I switched. Recently, Google splashed a new can of UX and features onto GMail. I would say without doubt it is an improvement, but there are still some flaws compared to Inbox. I wish they would take the best of both worlds. Here is a breakdown. Functionality GMail is hands down more functional than Inbox. It’s really not even that close. Inbox hasn’t improved since they launched it, whereas GMail continues to accrue features. The big news in the latest update include:…

UX Review: Calendar Schedulers

In talking with lots of folks, I have been using Calendly.com to help coordinate schedules. The back and forth of scheduling is a real pain and these systems make it much better. I tried three today. For language sake it can get confusing, here is a legend: Host = Person who has the subscription and whose calendar is being interrogated Visitor = Person who is scheduling time Calendly This was the one I have been using for a while. It is solid, but the UX was always a little clunky and disappointing. The UI was poor on the host side…

Product Specification Phases

TL;DR Product specification has a point of diminishing returns. Like most things in life, a nice chart makes it easier to understand. Time flows from left to right. The green line is how complete a specification is and the red line is how hard it is to make the green line move. Important: This chart assumes that product management has provided details of the problem space and requirements. How much of the specification they provide is variable and won’t be discussed in this post. Also the way PMs and Designers split up the work will also be omitted from this…

Hello PowerPoint, My Old Friend

Figma had been doing a decent job of letting me specify the product I am working on. However, there were some pretty serious gaps. Performance was a constant problem. First time load: 20 seconds. Freezing the screen, about 20 times a day. Community is ridiculously slow to load/use Strange behavior pretty frequently Also, a more important problem came up. As my prototype approached 80 screens, it started getting harder and harder to add/change things. What should have taken me minutes was taking me closer to an hour. Maintenance was getting harder and harder. Also, I noticed that presenting the prototype…

Design Influences

Every major product I have designed has had specific influences. Some examples: Marketo In 2007, when I was thinking about the Marketo UI I rewatched Minority Report (2002). The UI where Tom Cruise waved his arms in the air was the inspiration for how Smart Lists would drag items from the right to the left. Additionally, IBM Rational Rose, had this filtering system that I liberally paid homage to in the way filters worked. Engagio I was introduced to a tool called Lever, which is a recruiting tool. It inspired me to think deeper about Chrome extensions and how they…

New DirecTV UI Fail/Learn

As a designer, I always look at the design of things, especially user interfaces. Recently DirecTV updated their user interface in dramatic fashion. It’s very different than before. I could call it an epic fail, except that I hate that term. It’s an Epic LEARN. There is a forum thread on AT&T (who now owns DirecTV) about the “upgrade”. Here are some before and after pictures and analysis. OLD RECENT NEW Readability Ok, the first thing, what do you notice? It should be the contrast ratio. The blue UI is bright and easy to read. The font size is large and…

UX Tool: SubForm

These two guys apparently set up a kickstarter to build a new design tool, named SubForm. I just watched a few videos. It’s not available for download yet, but rather than go “stealth” the two founders decided to build tool in broad daylight. I have alot of respect for that. It jives with my personal value of transparency. Of course, it means your competition can see your work, but I have always found that the benefits of being open outweigh the benefits of being secretive. The videos are interesting. The SubForm folks have really taken responsive CSS strongly into the design…

Concurrent / Collaborative Editing

Metcalfe’s law states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system. In other words, the more people using something, the more valuable that thing is. My first few computers in the 1980s were islands, completely isolated from the rest of the world. It wasn’t until Prodigy and CompuServe that I realized there were other people in the world like me. My first modem was a 1200 baud. I think my dad paid $400 for it. Later, I was one of the first 1000 members of America Online which…

Design Tools 2018 Prediction

I think the market for product designers stink. We have no real loyalty and minimal budget. I would never join a startup that targets me as a customer. However, there are plenty of players out there. Here is my prediction for 2018 in the space: Adobe The category king in many ways. Photoshop and Illustrator still dominate worldwide design. However, Silicon Valley and the early adopters have begun the revolt. Adobe has to re-earn loyalty from scratch the way Microsoft has lost Silicon Valley and early adopters as well for the OS. For product design, Adobe has XD. I tried…

Product Responsibilities Framework v0.2

Product Responsibilities Framework v0.1 Frameworks for how to organize your product team are sometimes difficult to follow and figure out who does what. Product managers are often given too many job responsibilities and end up being spread too thin. Lately, I have been thinking about this and wanted to redo my v0.1 framework and add in a few items like Adoption Marketing and Market Demand Research. Plus, I reorganized the structure to make more sense to me. Take a look. I believe in open-sourcing this sort of thinking. I don’t have a book, I don’t have a speaking tour. We…

Google Interprets Material in Many Ways

Material Design isn’t one single thing, even at Google. I spent about 5 minutes taking some screenshots of different Google properties and their interpretation of Google Material Design. None of these are “pre-material”. Quick looks: The new Google Calendar is much better than the original mess. However, they are stretching material in new ways. Notice the blue SAVE button on the top right. Also, the fields have background colors and icons on the left. Google Inbox (to me) is a nice improvement over GMail. Notice the blue SEND button on the bottom left. Form elements are transparent with gray lines.…

Axure RP Revisited 2017

Just for kicks, I downloaded Axure RP. I have been using Figma and thought, “I wonder how long it would take me to make this in Axure. 10 min later, I was giving it a try. Meta Point Whenever you are curious about something, just do it. Don’t wish for it, don’t hem and haw. Just follow Shia LeBeouf’s advice. It’s amazing to me how many people think curious thoughts and then refuse to act upon them. OK, </soapBox> Axure Review Bottom line: Axure is by far the most flexible prototyping tool short of actually programming the UI. It is…

Removing Backgrounds from Photos

I have been an ongoing customer of Photoshop for the life of the product with steady upgrades every year. However, today, I canceled my Photoshop subscription. My main reason is that I just don’t use the program frequently enough. I basically use it to crop images or eliminate the background on photos. It’s not like I am an avid photo manipulator or a creative services production artist. I Googled Photoshop replacement and found two options that look fine to me. Paint.net and GIMP. I am trying the development version of GIMP right now. It’s taking a long time to boot…

A proposal for improving artboards in design tools

In Sketch, Figma, Adobe XD and others there is this concept called an artboard. It’s basically putting all of your different screens on one mega screen and you organize it as you see fit. You zoom in and out to go to where you want to go. Unfortunately, although its the new cool thing, I find the usability to be terrible. Here is a picture of my current project. On the left hand side you have your different artboards (or Frames in Figma) and a tree of all the different content. I have an alternative proposal for all of these…

Design Tool Sadness (2017)

I want the best of all my tools. Here is my perfect mashup: Powerpoint Table Editing Text formatting Ease of use Storyboarding Figma Symbols Constraints Concurrent editing Cool-factor Adobe XD Performance/speed Large community Stable financial resources Yesterday, I was trying to wire up the prototype of the system I am working on and Adobe XD was sucking so bad that I literally screamed. Their symbols are garbage. Who the fuck thought that changing a symbol on one artboard should change it everywhere?  You can’t see the changes you are making and don’t realize you fucked up your whole system! I…

Designing your prototype structure

It’s rare that you get to build a system from scratch. The early decisions you make will stick around for a long time. Last week, I built a new design system for my new job. For this project, I chose Adobe XD over Figma. When Figma releases new performance enhancements, I might change my mind, but its Adobe for now.  I refactored it a few times and have been thinking about the structure. DISCLAIMER: I don’t think I have all the answers. I am doing this on my own and no one has shown me best practices. I am learning…

Figma or XD (again)

I’m all set up at my new desk. I have a riches of monitor space. They are attached to arms so I can lift it up and show the work to someone standing next to me. My new laptop is the Dell XPS 13-9350. No USB port! Crazy, but its working well so far. I’ve been working in Figma designing my new product, and I just got an email from Adobe announcing their 2018 line including the new Adobe XD. I am still so torn on which tool to commit to. On the one hand, Figma has concurrency, constraints and a…

More (Unfortunate) Thoughts on Self-Driving Cars

I think the first big markets to pick up self-driving cars will be Long Haul Trucks and Taxi-Cabs. Long Haul Trucks It makes sense to transform shipping into a robotic effort. It’s cheaper and safer. However, I see one flaw. People are assholes. – Glen There was this robotic hitchhiker experiment where the little guy would travel around the united states. 2 weeks in, he was found decapitated in the woods. People are assholes. Not all people. Some people are assholes. If there were self-driving 18-wheel trucks, some people would want to derail them or even hijack them. In fact, it…

LinkedIn Loose Connections

Linked does not care if you know the people you are connected with.  Look at this screen they just put in front of me. Add 381 connections!!  I don’t know those people! LinkedIn is saying to me, “Hey, why don’t you send out 381 emails to people you don’t know asking to connect?” I guarantee that other people click this button all the time. LinkedIn is making a mockery of what a connection is. It’s not someone you know. It’s meaningless. I don’t even understand the point anymore. If everyone is connected to everyone, then NO CONNECTIONS MATTER! LinkedIn needs…

Moving on from Engagio & MarTech

After 9 years of Marketo and 2 years of Engagio, I am moving on to a non-martech product. Engagio has a great future ahead of it and as a shareholder, I fully expect them to go public and be worth billions of dollars. I think I have built a good product foundation at Engagio that hopefully will serve them well for years to come. I have made great friends there that hopefully will stay in touch with me. As for Marketing, I have appreciated all of you and how wonderful it is to design products for you. There are so many…

New iPad OS – Worse

My iPad asked me to update the OS. Unfortunately, it changed a whole mess of stuff that made the usage worse. Everything seems more complicated. Some first day thoughts: I don’t want a more complicated dock at the bottom – I don’t want frequently used apps I don’t want to split screen I never ever want the video to play in a tiny window at the bottom. Never. I don’t want to 5-finger twist whatever gesture. I don’t want to pay money for iCloud so I can have apps that aren’t actually on my iPad. I DO want to adjust…

LinkedIn’s Windows 10 App

I use Windows 10. But Glen, you are a designer, why don’t you use Macs?!? – Everyone Here are my answers since everyone brings it up: I’ve been using Microsoft operating systems since 1986. I’ve beta tested every OS they have ever released including Windows ME (Yuck!) Most of the world (and about 35% of my users ) have Windows. All of the engineers here use Macs, so SOMEONE should be looking at the product the way that our customers do. I see no benefit to switching. The Mac doesn’t have better software for me, isn’t faster for me, doesn’t…

I miss Skeuomorphism

Skeuomorphism is the design concept of making items represented resemble their real-world counterparts. (Examples) Im in Windows → Chrome → WordPress and almost all of the shadows, gradients and rounded corners have been eliminated. I miss buttons that had heft and affordance that screamed Click Me. The Nielsen-Norman group recent published a study that found significant reduction in task completion because of flat design. I know design fashion is a real thing that makes a difference, but I think flat design has had its time and now we need to bring back rounded corners, shadows and gradients. Bring back affordance! Affordance is when an…

The UX of Figma

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…

The Simple Volume Control

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…

My Dream Prototyping Tool 2017

Here are the requirements for my dream prototyping tool: Cross-platform 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…

Adobe Experience Design (XD) – Almost

My design tools: Pencil (#2 Soft HB Dixon Ticonderoga) and paper 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…