An abstract drawing of clouds and rain by my five-year-old son
An abstract drawing of clouds and rain by my five-year-old son
Image by my 5-year-old son. Open to interpretation.

Recently I’ve been battling depression. Like millions of others, I lost my job at the end of March due to negative affects of COVID-19 and my search for a new one hasn’t been fruitful. I started off pretty optimistic, but as time dragged on with not much to show for my efforts, that optimism waned and was slowly replaced by negativity and fear.

When I didn’t get snatched up quickly, I began to think I must not be any good. That’s when the depression started to creep in. I didn’t want to admit how much of my identity is wrapped…

I really didn’t see it coming.

Don’t get me wrong. I knew full well the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic we’re all navigating right now. I tracked numbers. I read articles. Over the past couple of weeks my wife and I have taken every precaution we can (short of stockpiling hand sanitizer and toilet paper), to the point of feeling a bit paranoid. We’ve tried to do our part to help those who have been affected. We gave extra to nonprofits and organizations who are helping people in this crisis. We supported local small businesses who are struggling to stay afloat. We counted our blessings that…

Recently I’ve been on the hunt for the next adventure in my career. A handful of times throughout my search I’ve received email responses to job applications, similar to the following:

Dear Alexander,

Thank you for your interest in [Unnamed Company] and congratulations on making it to the next step in our hiring process! Having reviewed your career history, we are pleased to extend you an invitation to complete our two pre-employment assessments: a cognitive assessment and a personality assessment.


First, the term “pre-employment” is being used pretty loosely here. This is the first communication I’m receiving from the…

I’m over being catty

Recently I did some work on a friend’s portfolio site. Her coding skills are a little rusty, so I made some updates for her before she started a job search. No big deal. The work was easy and I was happy to help. But what happened next surprised me.

She started getting interviews. Like, right away. Now, I realize how ridiculous that sounds. Of course she got interviews. That’s how the process works, isn’t it? You apply for jobs and you get interviews. So why was I surprised? Because from my perspective it seemed like the process for her was…

That might make you a better designer.

“What are your strengths/weaknesses?” This is a pretty common interview question. For a while now, my answer to the question of weaknesses has been that I have a hard time letting things go. And then to give it a positive spin, I would talk about how in the A/B testing world, that’s not always a bad thing. I’d give a brief example of how I turned a losing test into a big winner by analyzing data and making some tweaks. It’s always been fairly well received, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on how it can be applied to…

Unsolicited advice from a college dropout

Congratulations. You did it. You got through high school or college or whatever. So, like, what now? More school? Enter the workforce? Backpacking through Europe?


When I graduated from high school, college seemed to be the next step. I never really thought about other options. That’s what all my classmates were doing (or at least that was my perception), so that’s what I did. Long story short, I wasn’t ready for higher learning and I ended up dropping out. From there I took a long and winding path to get my career started. Sometimes I wish I could go…

…and I say that’s a good thing.

I love design. There’s a reason why I chose to pursue it as a career. It’s more than just my livelihood, it’s also a passion and a hobby. But it’s not what I live for.

My father used to say he took his work seriously, but he didn’t take himself seriously. Meaning he worked hard but liked to have fun. And additionally, there’s more to life than work. I always saw my father as having a good work ethic. He devoted himself to his work. He worked late when it was necessary. But when he came home, he was present…

A design system isn’t like a code of ethics. It’s more like a set of company values.

Design systems are so hot right now. With companies like Google, IBM, and Apple making their design systems public, companies big and small seem to be racing to publish theirs as well. There’s been a lot of talk about why you should incorporate these systems into your projects.

Here’s why you shouldn’t.

Design systems should be internal.

A design system, like a style guide or a pattern library, is an internal tool. It’s a set of documentation and components that a company uses to build their product. Why are people making their design systems public? …

TLDR: My testing experience has taught me to be more holistic in my design thinking and process.

Recently I’ve been doing a little self-assessment, taking a look at my career goals and trying to gauge if I’m on the right path. Part of that has included taking inventory of my experience, skill set, strengths, and weaknesses. For the past couple years I’ve been working in conversion rate optimization, which skews towards marketing. But eventually I’d like to design products, so I’m trying to figure out how to draw the line between where I am now and where I’d like to…

Recently, I was shopping online for a new flat cap at one of my favorite brands, Goorin Bros. I’ve bought a couple of hats at their Austin store and I’ve loved the buying experience there. The hats, the vibe, the friendly and knowledgeable staff: all good things. So yeah, I’m already a convert. Because of that, I tend to be a little more forgiving when shopping on their website. Plus, I’m a web designer, so I tend to be slightly more patient than your average user. …

Alex MacDuff

Designer person living in beautiful Austin, Texas.

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