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Tag: UX

Making Things Worse

No one has the intention of making things worse. All designers have positive intent. However, in reality, there are plenty of services that get worse with upgrades. Recently, I have had a few upgrades that feel like downgrades. Feedly iPad App I am not sure what prompted such a big change, but I am completely lost. I use Feedly in a browser and on my iPad. Honestly, it was near perfect. It was easy to use and pleasant to look at. The iPad upgrade made it difficult to use and unpleasant to look at. The browser version is still the…

New WordPress Editor 2018

WordPress has released a new editor. It’s very different than the previous one. This is a little meta, but I am going to review my first impressions of the editor in real time. I will also try out a bunch of the features. Drop cap is cool, I guess, but it looks like ass without a serif or stylized font. What’s the point of that. Changing text styles is pretty nice. However, every time I blur away from the paragraph the dropcap kicks in. It’s fairly disruptive when it flashes on and off if I am clicking around. I would…

UX Suggestions for Scoop

Scoop is a carpooling/ride-sharing service. Basically, I put in when I want to leave and it matches me up with people who want a ride near my work/home. They pay $6 and I get $5 of that per trip. The service in general is greatly appreciated, but the experience leaves much to be desired. Here is my design critique after using the service for a few months (exclusively as a driver, not a rider). Ask the Right Questions I don’t care when I leave; I care when I arrive. If I have a meeting at 9am, that means I need…

Turn your Data into a Story

The essence of data visualizations is to tell a story. There are some great charts like Napoleon’s march to Moscow and Florence Nightingale’s chart on the causes of deaths in the Crimean War. Recently, my oldest son pointed out the following chart to me. Both are an image of Washington DC. The first shows the number of families living below the poverty line by Ward. In other words, the dark red areas are poor. The second shows the average number of Emergency Room visits for children 0-17 years old. Do you see what I see?  Where there is poverty, there…

Maybe I’m a …

I never really thought about this until recently, but my first job as a product designer came when I was 32 years old. Maybe it’s best to backtrack and show the progression of what I thought I was. In 2nd grade, I made a sculpture of my father’s head. It looked better than the other kids. I thought, “Maybe Im an artist?“. In my early teen years, I read Mad Magazine, and copied the drawings, especially those of Sergio Aragonés. I thought, “Maybe I am a cartoonist?” Around that same time, I loved playing with computers. My dad bought us all…

Uncomfortable Chairs

I spend a good deal of my life sitting in an office chair. It’s a good bet that you do as well. The chair at my desk; I have adjusted to have the right parameters of height and position. However, it’s still fairly uncomfortable. When I get up, I find it hard to stand up straight. My back moans in pain for several minutes. Contrarily, when I get out of bed, I don’t feel the same strain. Now when I go into a meeting, that’s a different story. Those chairs are made by the devil herself. They are usually not…

Rank Choice Voting

Sometimes I imagine the whole world is a simulation and you could change one single variable to see what happens. What would life be like without John Wilkes Booth? What if Franz Ferdinand didn’t get lost that summer day in Sarajevo? What if Alexander the Great had died in his first battle? (He almost did) What if you could tweak other things? Like the way we vote. There is a movement happening right now to change our voting system to rank-choice instead of a single vote. By the way, this entire thought process is how Product Design works. You think…

UX Candidate Design Challenge – v4

UX Candidate Design Challenge – v1 UX Candidate Design Challenge – v2 UX Candidate Design Challenge – v3 As I am now hiring more people on the design team, I came up with a new design exercise. However, to jump to the end, it was too damn hard. So I only used it about 6 times before deciding to put it out to pasture. So, as I do with all retired design exercises, I share them with the world. Design Challenge Treasure Data is a system to manage many databases in an enterprise. There is data everywhere and it’s not…

Thoughts on Creativity (2018)

There are lots of threads/books/posts/podcasts on the topic of Creativity. Here is a sampling of my thoughts on the subject. Creativity is combining two unrelated items to form a new thing. I imagine our brains as a home office. We have our desk where we work on things. We have file cabinets with old memories, ideas, and experiences. We have tools like calculators, pencils and erasers. Also, there is a small garden gnome in the office named Creativity. (If your home office is missing a gnome, you should fix that.) When we are working on something, the garden gnome sometimes…

The UX of Waze Carpooling and Scoop

I tried very hard to make CalTrain work, but I had to give up. It took too long, with too many transfers. I would have to buy a scooter or bring my bike on the train. Ultimately, driving was way easier. Goodbye reading.  🙁 So driving takes between 30 and 50 minutes depending on when I leave. I noticed, however, that the leftmost lane was moving super fast. Ahhh! The carpool lane! If I had an electric car, I could get the stickers and ride there by myself, but the Kia Sportage does not apply. So I was left with…

Design Tools Roundup Sep 2018

Preface: Designers are a terrible audience. We have no real loyalty to anything. A new tool comes along and we abandon our old tools in a moments notice. Right now, Sketch + Invision is pretty popular, but I think these new tools are far superior and people are already swapping them out. Let’s dive in… Framer X (New Beta!) A brand new entry into the design tool space entered beta yesterday. The tool has drawing and prototyping like Figma, plus some really cool new features. The most exciting is Stacks. I think Figma will likely copy this feature. I certainly…

What I Look for in a Designer Portfolio 2018

Disclaimer: My own site isn’t perfect. There are much better portfolios than mine. I have done a terrible job of showing the problem, iterations, and case studies for the work I have done over the past 205 years. I put plenty of energy into this blog, but not as much into the portfolio section. With that said, I am back into the swing of recruiting and looking at lots of portfolio sites. Some are based on templates and others are obviously hand-coded. Here is some insight into what I am looking for. Blink Whether you like it or not, I…

Choosing a Mobile Font

Right now, Im designing a mobile app and choosing a font. (So many fonts to choose from!) Some rough requirements gathered from various stakeholders: Not too stylized/fancy Easy to read at small fonts Round o  – I like circular o’s and p’s and b’s and d’s etc. Enough styles (italics, bold, light, semi-bold) Numbers should not drop/descend too much I looked at many and made a medium-short list: Lato Ubuntu Work Sans Montserrat Nubile Valera Round Raleway Nobile Open Sans I narrowed it down some more with subjective reasoning. For example I knocked out Lato because everyone uses Lato. Also,…

Bad Sidebars and Platform App UX

This is my sidebar in JIRA. 19 items! That’s objectively too many. I wondered what would happen if my screen wasn’t as tall. How does it adapt? I shortened my screen height and then refreshed the browser. Do you see it?  The scroll bar in the middle of the sidebar? This is how I feel right now: How is that the intended UX?  I don’t know what the default sidebar includes, but there should be no possible way to make my sidebar have a scrollbar. If I expand the sidebar to the right, I get this: Although this is better…

UX Mission: Complex Column Sorting Icons

Mission: To communicate to the user that a table has a complex sort. Data Example: Sort order: This data is sorted first by State, then by City, then by Age. So what icons can I put in the headers to help communicate the sort? Google images shows alot of different icons for sort. The simplest looks like this: It’s simple, it declares the primary sort is that column and it goes … down?  What does down mean?  Is it high number to low number? Is it alphabetical or reverse alphabetical? Is it earliest date versus latest date? Also, what would…

Warnings about Using Cookies – Lawyers Suck

Ok, so now there is a law somewhere in Europe that says that websites must disclose the use of cookies. I have one question: Who seriously thought ANYONE would care or read those warnings? Have we learned nothing from Apple’s Terms and Conditions? People do not understand. They do not care. This is just nonsense. We aren’t protecting people, we are protecting lawyers. That’s what this is about. It’s a money grab from lawyers to advise clients on how to comply with meaningless laws the same lawyers created. It’s a scam! A family member is currently going through a divorce.…

2018 – My Year of Mostly Rejection

It’s been a strange year for my household. My eldest son got rejected from all but one university he applied to. My middle son got rejected from several musical groups that he was more than qualified for. He also failed his drivers license test 3 times in a row. My youngest got in a fight with his entire middle school, which was one of the craziest experiences I’ve ever heard of. And finally, my search for my next adventure was met with one disappointment after another until finally I found a good home at Sitetracker. I’m not even going to…

Joining SiteTracker and Designing using Salesforce Lightning

I joined a new company called SiteTracker this month as their newly minted Head of UX. Just to be clear, I am the only designer, so “Head” is a little high falutin. I will post eventually about my interview process and lessons learned. SiteTracker is a Series A startup growing quickly in Palo Alto, CA and Montclair, NJ. The product is basically project management software, maybe even leaning towards an ERP system. It’s not for any kind of project that YOU do. It’s for big enterprises with high volume, highly templatized projects. Imagine a project to upgrade the cell towers…

Google Assistant with a Foreign Accent

I’d like my Google assistant (and Alexa) to speak American English with a foreign accent. Specifically, I’d cycle through different dialects such as Jamaican, Australian, British, Irish, and maybe even Spanish. Again, I don’t want them to speak a foreign language, just speak my language in their accent. It just sounds nicer to me. It’s fun to hear it. It’s harmless right? Plus, Google already has this technology. Of course, they don’t have an “accent” option. However, if you change the input language of your device, the assistant then takes on a local accent. So therefore, English (UK) as your…

Chat and SMS Tools

Let’s start with my list of requirements for the perfect chat tool: Mobile, Browser, and App form factors Easy images (especially memes) Video conferencing on demand Group chat SMS Integration End-to-end encryption Broad distribution (Everyone has it) Ultimately, I want a one-stop shop. Alas, I cannot find exactly what I want. Some of the candidates: Google Hangouts Messages Allo Textra Mighty Text Telegram Slack Telegram actually has a really nice interface. However, the problem is that not enough people have telegram. We started using it as a family (and like it) but good luck using it with anyone else.  It’s…

Designing with the Salesforce Lightning System

I’ve started designing a product in the Salesforce Lightning System. There is nothing extraordinary about it. It’s a perfectly reasonable design language, similar to Google Material in many ways. Of course, there are a few things I wish they could improve. How could I use a tool or system and NOT have requests? Have you just met me?? 1. Salesforce Sans is Unhelpful Why do people feel like they need to invent a custom font? There are plenty of free fonts out there. The big problem is that tools like Figma support Google Fonts. I can make a prototype in…

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…