Recently I was hit by the great tech layoff wave of 2023 and have been looking for my next adventure. As part of that, I’ve been working on a new portfolio. This process reminded me of some advice I gave my former direct reports while I was head of design at Amperity: You should feel… Continue reading Hate Your Old Design Work and Love Yourself
Recently I’ve been leading the product design team at Amperity in a deep-dive into data visualizations: which ones to use for different use cases, and how to simplify them to highlight a narrative. We’re going through a great book I’d recommend by data viz expert Cole Knaflic called “Storytelling with Data”. Years back I took… Continue reading Pie Charts are the Worst
An anecdote: Having lost sound in one ear of my earbuds, I dived into my stash of electronic odds-and-ends and snatched a new pair of cheap wired earbuds. I had, of course, Zoom meetings to attend. A while back, I started picking up cheap earbuds here and there ad-hoc, having only one purchasing criteria: they… Continue reading Weighing Defaults vs Discoverability
I was honored to be asked to be a keynote speaker for the XD Leadership Alliance, a group I’d highly recommend to leaders in Product and Design. Thanks to the XD Leadership Alliance’s great team, here is the summery and full recording of the 50-minute talk I gave at the Columbia Tower Club on May 30, 2019:
In a world where design is often an afterthought, what does starting a startup with a user-centered design from day one look like? How do you make design a part of your company values? Together, we’ll contrast the process of adding design in later versus starting out with a designer-founder at the helm, approaches that drive startup design ROI, tactics for achieving design emphasis with tight startup resources, and pitfalls to watch out for. In addition, we’ll touch on ways to permeate company culture with design principles, whether your company was started with a design-focus or you find yourself adding it in years later.
The single greatest enemy we have as product designers is our own ego, our own hubris. We walk into a situation with this idea that we know what is going on. Throw that right out the window. Users will constantly surprise you if you listen, and along the way they will make you a better… Continue reading Becoming a Humble Designer in 3 Easy Steps
Can one ever really say they appeared on a podcast? I guess I can, because this one had a live studio audience! Listen in as I get to chat with Philip Hunter, VP of Products at Pulse Labs, and our lovely host Leigh Allen-Arredondo, head of UX at Spruce Up. Our topic for this episode… Continue reading Podcast Appearance: UX Cake
The following is from a 1996 interview with Steve Jobs:
You know, one of the things that really hurt Apple was after I left John Sculley got a very serious disease. It’s the disease of thinking that a really great idea is 90% of the work. And if you just tell all these other people “here’s this great idea,” then of course they can go off and make it happen.
And the problem with that is that there’s just a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product. And as you evolve that great idea, it changes and grows. It never comes out like it starts because you learn a lot more as you get into the subtleties of it. And you also find there are tremendous tradeoffs that you have to make. There are just certain things you can’t make electrons do. There are certain things you can’t make plastic do. Or glass do. Or factories do. Or robots do.
Designing a product is keeping five thousand things in your brain and fitting them all together in new and different ways to get what you want. And every day you discover something new that is a new problem or a new opportunity to fit these things together a little differently.
And it’s that process that is the magic.
And so we had a lot of great ideas when we started [the Mac]. But what I’ve always felt that a team of people doing something they really believe in is like is like when I was a young kid there was a widowed man that lived up the street. He was in his eighties. He was a little scary looking. And I got to know him a little bit. I think he may have paid me to mow his lawn or something.
And one day he said to me, “come on into my garage I want to show you something.” And he pulled out this dusty old rock tumbler. It was a motor and a coffee can and a little band between them. And he said, “come on with me.” We went out into the back and we got just some rocks. Some regular old ugly rocks. And we put them in the can with a little bit of liquid and little bit of grit powder, and we closed the can up and he turned this motor on and he said, “come back tomorrow.”
And this can was making a racket as the stones went around.
And I came back the next day, and we opened the can. And we took out these amazingly beautiful polished rocks. The same common stones that had gone in, through rubbing against each other like this (clapping his hands), creating a little bit of friction, creating a little bit of noise, had come out these beautiful polished rocks.
That’s always been in my mind my metaphor for a team working really hard on something they’re passionate about. It’s that through the team, through that group of incredibly talented people bumping up against each other, having arguments, having fights sometimes, making some noise, and working together they polish each other and they polish the ideas, and what comes out are these really beautiful stones.
Nick invited me out to speak to General Assembly’s User Experience Design students and it was energizing and fun – full of great questions from a talented cohort, I look forward to working alongside them someday! — Today I am reminded once again about how freaking amazing @Cassie is. Thank you for imparting your wisdom… Continue reading I got to talk to a class about UX.