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Photo by Startaê Team on Unsplash

You’re a hotshot designer. A cutting-edge tech startup is courting you to come join them to build the future of whatever industry. You’ve been loving the conversations so far—the team seems exciting. After a few chats, the hiring manager sneaks in a request, “as a formality”. They want you to do some work for them. For free. For a whole weekend. To assess whether you’re really as good of a designer as you claim to be.

Having been on both sides of the equation—from crafting a design challenge to help assess candidates, to completing more design challenges than I care to admit—I am sharing my perspective on how we as an industry can best evaluate design candidates for hiring. I believe removing the design challenge from the hiring process will lead to a more successful screening process, and to discovering better hires for your team. …


I’m taking a bit of a break from my typical content to hopefully help some English-speaking folks with their travels in Japan. Note that I cannot take responsibility if this guide doesn’t work for you, if you lose your luggage doing this, or if the content in this post becomes out of date. It worked for me, but use it at your own discretion and risk.

Traveling in Japan is awesome. The sights, the smells, the food, the stuff— all of it.

But if you’re like me, you start to accumulate little things along the way, and if you’re really like me, you end up buying yourself a whole new suitcase to take your new trinkets home. …


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Credit: Funky Tee via Flickr

Our friends in Europe and Asia have been doing it right for decades. In silence, without so much as a whisper, our cousins across the pond have been using a bidet as part of their daily bathroom routine.

“Ew, gross, are we really about to talk about bodily functions?” Yes. Specifically, we’re talking about pooping.

It’s time America. It’s time Canada. It’s time to invest in a bidet, or start using that weird old one that’s been sitting unused in that one bathroom in your house.

I think comedian Rob Cantrell says it best:

You know what I don’t think we’re doing right? Wiping our butts … Do you know how confident you feel when you walk into a room and you know you’ve got the cleanest asshole in the room? You just walk in and go ‘look at these funky butt mother fuckers’. …


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This story is part of a series on my experience learning to code at Recurse Center. Go here to start reading from the very beginning.

I’m four weeks into Recurse now, and here’s how I’ve been faring.

Longing for frameworks

I’ve been hacking my way through understanding JavaScript. For many people, working with JavaScript means working with other frameworks like React, Vue, or whatever the flavor of the month is. These frameworks and libraries are incredibly helpful for abstracting away complexity in developing software.

For example, if one’s application includes a text editor which allows users to change text color, font, and size, you can imagine someone at some point has built software to do this. …


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This story is part of a series on my experience learning to code at Recurse Center. Go here to start reading from the very beginning.

Week one has come to an end and it’s time for me to look back at the work I’ve done so far at the Recurse Center.

Show up and code

As I mentioned in my previous post—Recurse Center is completely self-guided. This was somehow extremely difficult to describe to my mother (love you mom, thanks for reading!) so let’s see if I can do a better job here.

Basically, self-guided means no specific/defined goals, other than those you choose to set for yourself. No explicit check-ins, outside of wanting to share with peers or present a demo. No requirements in terms of lines of code written, products/prototypes built, or anything else.


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Image credit: tehgeekmeister via Flickr

The last few years have been non-stop. I guess that’s a given, seeing as that’s how time seems to work. But my story was basically college to work to grad school to work to work to work. So right now, life looks a bit different.

I just started my first week of Recurse Center in New York City. As a Recurser, I’m going to be spending the next six weeks working on becoming a better software developer. …


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Monday morning. November 21, 2016. 6:00 am EST. New York City wakes up to a new shop right off of Fifth Avenue, built without the public having any idea.


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Finance is ripe with UX design opportunities. The possibilities are simply lost in confusing language, lots of numbers, and dense charts on screens.

For the past four years I’ve been designing software for investment banks. I wanted to share some thoughts from working in this space, in the hope of showing you the opportunities and challenges of financial UX design.

The cobbler’s children have no shoes

There have been many times where I worked with users on the same trading desk, and each of those users worked a little bit differently (more confusing language — a ‘desk’ is just a team of people). These desks are groups of skilled professionals. …


Guiding conversations, tracking points, and reacting to users were all part of the process.

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This past weekend, my friends and I released Emoji Salad as part of the first annual Emojicon. Emoji Salad is an SMS-based chatbot game, which allows you and your friends to play a Pictionary-style game using emoji.

If you haven’t checked it out, please check it out here.

Designing Emojibot, the host of Emoji Salad, was challenging. After all, how do you give a chatbot a personality? Since this bot is the key interaction point of the game, we felt that giving users an engaging experience interacting with it was of prime importance. …


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I love design and hip hop — I’m really happy to be able to write about these two worlds of mine colliding.

As most of the world knows by now, Kanye West has released his latest album The Life of Pablo to the world. Botched release of the album aside, there is a lot to be learned from Yeezy’s latest.

Specifically—It’s okay to iterate on an idea (it might even take years), and iteration usually leads to a better, more validated final product.

It might take a few years to get an idea right

With all of the hype surrounding the release of the album, I stumbled upon a post linking to this clip from Stones Throw Records in 2010. Kanye was working with producer Madlib, on a track that would end up becoming “No More Parties in LA”. …

About

Ari Zilnik

Designer. New York based, Toronto raised.

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