Design File Craftsmanship

“When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep…

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Steps to Design User Interface

I wish I had written the UX Handbook I wanted to a few years ago. It’s harder than I thought it would be. Anyway, here is an outline of how I would approach a section of the book. Steps to design soemthing: 1. Research & Problem definition This is not artwork. This is a user…

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Realism in Design

One thing I train designers to do is to use realistic examples in all designs. Never use lorem ipsum for text. Never put in nonsensical data for a chart. Always try to make things as realistic as possible. “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”Albert Einstein As an example: Many years…

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Operating Systems 2021

So it’s been over 2 years of using a Macbook Pro for work. I also have an Android phone, an iPad tablet, and a Windows desktop for the family. I am an avid beta tester, so literally every one of these is on the beta version. Here are some quick thoughts of each. MacOS This…

Design Acceptance Process

I believe in work rituals. They create a sense of normalcy in the messy work of creating a product. One of the reasons I like Scrum is that it has lots of good rituals like Sprint meetings, the planning game, and retrospectives. One thing I do not like about Scrum is that most of the…

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Introductions and Referrals

How many people do you introduce per year? For me, it’s about a dozen introductions. Introductions are much more powerful than a cold call to someone you want to meet. When a trusted third party introduces you, you are much more likely to connect with the other person. In business, many sales and marketing folks…

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Startup on the Right Foot

I’ve been thinking recently about how product companies are built from zero to initial launch. Everyone loves to focus on success stories, but most startups still make many of the same mistakes. I would generalize it and say they sell out their future to gain a short term benefit. Here is a grab bag of…

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Evolution of the Segment Editor

Problem Statement: As a non-programmer, I just want to select a subset of people from a database. However, when I try it’s either really hard requiring SQL editing, or the UI is so difficult that is makes me want to puke. Therefore, I will just not do it very often. Competitive Context When I started…

Streaming Live Sports 2021

Every once in a while, I upend my family room and change how everything works. My family loves it. (not) Well, guess what, it’s time again. I currently have a lot of services. Netflix, Hulu, Prime, HBOMax, Disney+, and YouTube TV. All of this streams through a Roku sound bar. Platform I love the Roku…

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Terrible UX: Kia’s new logo

Sometimes I just shake my head in dismay. Today, I was watching the Australia Open on television. In the back of the court is a giant logo that looks like this. My son and I looked at it and said, “What company is that? KN? Maybe the n is backwards. KVI? Maybe the V and…

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When Prophecy Fails

About 15 years ago, I read a book recommended by a mentor at Intuit (Bill Mirbach) called When Prophecy Fails by Leon Festinger. (Wikipedia Article) The book, published in 1956, studies a small UFO religion in Chicago called the Seekers that believed in an imminent apocalypse and what happened when the world did not, in…

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My History with Community Q&A and Forums

Over the past 25 years, there have been many forums that I have engaged in. This week Figma just launched a new forum for their users. It made me think I should note the previous communities I have been a part of. I had blogged about Q&A in 2008 and also Forums in the same…

Cartoons Sketches from 1992

I used to doodle all the time. My brother just sent me an old notebook he found. I had this running series of comics about the Assumptions. Creatures from the planet Assump. Get it? Anyway, here is a good sampling of them. RCC was my community college – I wasn’t a good student Assumption Lifecycle,…

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The Goals of a Manager

I’ve been managing people on and off for 25 years now. It’s hard to tell how I have evolved, but I am sure that I’ve changed some over the years. There are certain principles that I think about as a manager that have stayed with me since the beginning and others I have picked up…

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2020 in Review

At work, I asked everyone on the design team to make a 10-15 minute presentation of their 2020 in review. Specifically, it was meant to be a professional review, not home life. I suggested that they include some journey mapping of their highs and lows as well as some general review of what they worked…

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Problem Statement Comic

I find that most problem statements are not written very well. Some of them are blatantly circular. The circular problem statement Writing a good problem statement aligns the team on the mission. If you solve the wrong problem, you will have a poor business outcome. Give me a bad problem, I will give you a…

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Communication at Work

Good communication (imho) is the most important factor contributing a successful project or product. Interestingly, the ways we communicate at work are pretty diverse. The recent acquisition of Slack by Salesforce had me thinking about alot about this. Here is a list of how I communicate at work: Slack for general conversationIncluding posts for longer…

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Post Office Idea

Years ago, I used to write holiday cards for all of my coworkers. I would hand write the card and leave it on their desks. Now, in the age of Covid, we are all working from home. This presents a problem. How can I get everyone their holiday cards? I don’t have their addresses and…

Election Day 2020

I have a serious feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. In 2016, I felt confident in the morning and sadness and despair slowly built up during the day. Today, I am exhausted with all of the 2020 nonsense. I am sick and tired of there being news every single day. I can’t…

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Covid Protocols and Tennis

There are Rules My kids (the older 2) are pretty strict about Covid protocols in general. When playing tennis with others, we were following the Official USTA Rules. The rules say “Bring your own can of balls and ONLY touch those. Don’t touch any other set of tennis balls”. The invitations to play tennis also…

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Tab Groups in Chrome

Chrome recently updated their browser and added a much needed feature. It’s called Tab Groups. Firefox used to have it and for some reason lost it. Here is how it works. First, update chrome by clicking the top right kabob (three dots) and then Help → About Chrome. It should pop open a tab where…

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Remote Team Bonding

In the Age of Covid, we are all working in a new way. I spend more time in meetings and less time sitting with people at their desks. As a team leader, I want to make sure we are bonding and developing relationships with each other. We can’t sit and have lunch together or bullshit…

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Unnatural vs Natural Acts of Product Development

When developing a large product, especially for enterprise customers, it is tempting to do some engineering specifically to land (or keep) a big customer. This, on its face, sounds good, right? “The customer is always right.”Marshall Field – Wikipedia I think this makes sense in a department store. However, when dealing with large enterprise software,…

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A Brief History of Me (So Far)

Can you put your life into bullet points? Can you summarize and really boil information spanning decades down to its essentials? Let’s give it a try. Act I (Growing up)Born outside NYC in the foresty suburbsWas pretty bad at school, but I read non stopGot into Art pretty early. Loved to drawWent to a local…

Covid Decision Making Framework

I don’t know what the question is, but the answer is a spreadsheet.- Glen Lipka I love collecting weird data and making charts out of it. In the last year, there has been a ton of interesting data. Decisions are made often with lots of bad bias. One area my family struggles with are decisions…

UX: Putting a Chair Together

My son (16) put together a new chair for his home desk last night. It wasn’t very complicated, but he struggled with it for a few hours. This was his first attempt at putting together any kind of furniture. I didn’t help him because I wanted him to experience the feeling of trying to put…

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Live anywhere?

What if… What if all information companies and information jobs were given permission to work remotely? Several companies have already announced that their workers can work from home permanently. Each of these workers has to decide, “where do I want to live?” For the majority of my life, I had to commute to work; which…

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YouTube Commercials 2020

Recently, YouTube has increased the average length of their commercials. I dont have a scientific study but I had become used to long ads that I could skip after 5 seconds. Now, they are 10-15 second ads that I can’t skip and usually 2 of them back to back. Plus, there are more mid-video ads…

What do you believe?

My sister made me listen to a Joe Rogan podcast about a guy claiming to have worked in Area 51 on flying saucers. After 5 minutes, I knew the guy was lying about everything. I tried to listen, but it sickened me to my stomach. There are people who believe: QAnon is a real guy,…

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Unsafe at Home by Just Jared

My seventeen year old son just released his second music album. It is a big step forward from his original Album. He has been upgrading his home studio and learning more about mixing and music theory. He is planning on attending college for music, but because of Covid is going to take a gap year.…

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Government Sponsored Design

I was listening to a podcast by Malcolm Gladwell about a 20th century U.S. General named Curtis LeMay. He is a fascinating and influential character by the way. In the episode “May the Best Firebomb Win” Gladwell tells of a contest for our nations elite universities (Harvard, Yale, etc) to design the best incendiary bomb.…

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Personality Test 2020

I take a Myers Briggs quiz every year or two. I am having my design team do the test for a remote bonding exercise. Here are my personal results from the past: 2014: INFP | Mediator/Idealist.2017: INTJ – The Architect2019: INTJ, -A/-T The Architect 2020 INFP-T – Mediator/Idealist. Results map I think these two personality…

Roadmaps

Roadmaps are funny things. In my cynical experience, their whole purpose is to make people feel confident that things will go according to plan. The Dark Knight, 2008 This might be controversial, but in my experience roadmaps are deeply flawed documents. Here is a partial list of some of the common problems: They are jumbled…

New Host: A2 Hosting

I have been hosting with asmallorange.com (ASO) for 6 years now. They were a decent host for the most part. I was using a simple shared hosting package. However, in the past year I became a bit disgruntled and disappointed. Complaints Complaint 1: Free SSL Google has long said that they will optimize for secure…

Letter -> GPA Spreadsheet

I love spreadsheets. I believe the spreadsheet represents the most innovative and amazing user interface ever created. Imagine explaining to someone how a spreadsheet works assuming they had never seen it before. They would absolutely laugh at you and say that is unintuitive and difficult to use. Yet it is used for millions of different…

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Used to…

Things I used to do and believe, but don’t anymore. Wear jeans and a watch. 1 year ago.Build computers from parts. 30 years ago.Think I could work at startups forever. 5 years ago.Believe my hair would always be thick. 25 years ago.Read books non stop. 15 years ago.Have nightmares of being chased by something, every…

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Pet Peeves 2020

Last time I listed Pet Peeves was 7 years ago. I just compared lists (didn’t check first) and surprisingly they are completely different. Shy ZoomersWhen someone on the video conference doesn’t show their video. I can’t focus without seeing people’s faces. People shame me for asking them to show their video, which makes it worse.…

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“All Lives Matter” is a Mean Thing to Say

I know when some white people hear Black Lives Matter they automatically hear “Only Black Lives Matter”. This is human psychology at work right there. Unfortunately, that is not what activists are saying. What they are saying is that the laws, police, institutions, financial systems, education systems, and fabric of our society is set up…

Home Networking Setup

Being at home with a full family means lots of people video conferencing all at once. This is putting a strain on our home networking setup. I have tried a few methods. Here are some of my learnings. 2.4 and 5 GHz WiFi The tried and true Netgear router. It works for a room, maybe…

Dungeons and Dragons

When I was a kid, maybe 12? I played Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) with my cousin and some other kids. My cousin was the Dungeon Master (DM). I distinctly remember a session where we were arrested and put in a local jail. During our daring escape, we let everyone in the jail out and it…

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