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As Americans, there’s an inherent belief that we have a right to privacy. We live a country where the foundation of “we the people” is built on protections from personal intrusion by not only the government, but the people themselves. The fourth amendment declares privacy as:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

As the world has moved toward being more connected—and the totality of our “persons, houses, paper, and effects” have turned digital, become more fragmented, and less consolidated—the traditional notion of privacy has been thrown into turmoil. …


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When Bohemian Coding released version 3.4 of their popular app Sketch, designers everywhere rejoiced over a long-anticipated update to their favorite new design tool. Finally, it appeared as though copy-and-paste may actually be predictable; undo and redo were to become more reliable; and that ridiculous issue of the scrollbar covering the layer visibility button was to finally be resolved. I, along with countless other designers around the world, couldn’t install the update fast enough.

And that’s when the trouble started.

I don’t claim to know what the release testing procedures are at Bohemian Coding, but from where I’m sitting it doesn’t appear as though Sketch 3.4 went through any real-world scenario testing, or had any actual designers test it before it went out into the wild. Not only was the application woefully broken for a large subset of users (including myself), but some of the basic features we’d grown comfortable with seemed to be arbitrarily changed for the worse—my biggest gripe is that reorganizing layers properly has become nearly impossible without inadvertently nesting layers. …


It’s what happens when things go wrong that matters most.

Recently, I read a passage from Scott Hurff’s book “Designing Products People Love” about the UI stack and its importance in product design. In it, he writes about how too many products focus only on their ideal state — “the zenith of a product’s potential” — without considering the different shapes a product can take given different contexts; empty/loading states, errors, and partial content are all considerations he believes are just as important as the ideal state of a product.

A seemingly obvious concept, it struck me that as a designer I’d never viewed these considerations to be equals. Previously, I operated under the assumption that all the effort and brainpower should go into the ideal state of a product, while these other “fringe” states were simply afterthoughts. …


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A search for deeper meaning than ping pong tables and free lunches.

As a designer who’s made the rounds at several different companies and teams, I’ve had my share of exposure to company culture. One thing I’ve noticed, through all the different roles I’ve had, is that culture is relative — so much of it is defined by personal goals and trajectory, and it can take many different forms depending on a whole slew of circumstances.

It was at a previous job that I was first exposed to a “curated” culture, meaning there was purposeful attention given to creating culture.

The office space was well-decorated and conducive to an engaging, productive work environment. The perks were focused on quality of life and happiness. Bonuses came quarterly. On the surface, everything about their culture seemed ideal, and I was excited to be a part of it. But as I spent more time within it, I began to notice something important…


The English poet William Cowper once said, “Variety’s the spice of life, that gives it all its flavour.

People travel, have hobbies, try different cuisines, explore the wilderness, read books, watch movies, and make friends to experience all the various sources of wonder in the world. They yearn to fully inform themselves through different viewpoints — to supplement their understanding of things in the interest of curiosity, enjoyment, and personal growth.

As product designers, sometimes we aren’t afforded the opportunity to experience a great deal of variety in our daily roles — our company makes a product, and it’s our job to make that product better. That level of focus is what initially drew me to product design after spending so many years in the agency world; the idea that I could design something and then be given the opportunity to improve it over time, rather than just handing it over to a client never to be seen again, was very compelling to me. …


(originally posted on the 50onRed blog)

One of the things I love about being a product designer is the range of considerations that go into every decision. There are countless factors to deliberate that contribute to the success of a product, but one of my favorites may also be the most seemingly mundane: consistency. Consistency is the glue holding a design together. Without it, everything starts feeling disjointed and out of place.

There’s a handful of things to consider when ensuring a product design feels consistent: copywriting, UI elements, page layouts, navigation, and branding, to name a few. …


Common client requests and the effects of always saying “yes”.

As anybody who’s ever worked at a small design agency probably knows,
the client is always right. Well, except when they‘re not.

They certainly can be sometimes, but the unfortunate reality is too many agencies feel they have to do everything they’re told, no matter what, or risk losing their clients. Sure, it’s true that some clients may react negatively to suddenly not always getting their way, but let’s be honest, are these really the kind of people you want to be doing work for?

If the goal of your agency is simply to make money, or run a business, then the sad answer is probably “yes”. But if you’re an agency that wants to create amazing work, being able to tell clients “no” when when they make poor decisions or absurd requests is an absolute must, for a multitude of reasons. …


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(originally posted on the 50onRed blog)

Recently, we received an email from one of our advertisers telling us how happy they were with our Traffic Platform. They mentioned how much easier it was for them to use than other systems and thanked us for all the great work we’ve been doing.

We love emails like that.

First, they remind us there are real people behind the things we make — businesses and livelihoods that depend on the decisions we make everyday. Second, it lets us know we’re making good choices and the hard work we’ve put into improving our platform is paying off. But good choices and hard work don’t happen by accident. …


Check out Dribbble on any given day and you’ll see plenty of gorgeous UI concepts, with perfectly placed pixels and impeccable balance. I mean, I know it’s what initially drew me to Dribbble. But over time I started to notice a common thread throughout a lot of the designs I was seeing. As aesthetically pleasing as they were, I noticed that many of them seemed to be highly impractical.

One of the most common criticisms of UI designs on Dribbble is that a lot of them don’t consider real-world usage or actual implementation. Available data, content length, and information density aren’t always as consistent or predictable as we make it seem in Photoshop. …


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When user tests purposely affect behavior, it’s time to think twice about how we conduct them.

Earlier this week, Christian Rudder, co-founder of OkCupid, thought it would be a good idea to take to the OkTrends blog to try and get in on some of that sweet, sweet Facebook user study controversy. In his post entitled “We Experiment on Human Beings” he attempts to explain the nature of user testing on the web. User studies, Christian contends, are prolific in the world of websites, and as a UX designer myself, I can assure you that he is correct. …

About

Drew Christiano

Design Lead at Think Company

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