Tips from a once-upon-a-time design intern, now interviewer

Hi! I’m a Product Designer at PlanGrid. We build collaboration technology for construction. All sorts of construction projects use us, from hospitals to schools, to art museums like SFMOMA, to incredibly big projects like Hudson Yards in New York. It’s a rewarding, super complex industry to design for.

We’re approaching our third term hiring student intern designers. We’ve loved the awesome contributions our past interns made, and we couldn’t be more excited to meet the newest bunch of candidates! …

Hello! It’s my birthday! Which means today you should be nice to me and read this. :)

A few months ago I was inspired by the Zero Waste community to start cutting back on the garbage I produced. As it turns out, many of the environmentally-friendly swaps I made ended up being cheaper, prettier and major upgrades to their wasteful counterparts.

Here’s a quick top three of my favourite swaps so far. As a birthday gift to me, give one of these a try! ✨ You won’t be disappointed.

Compostable Bamboo Toothbrushes


Bamboo brushes look a heck of a lot nicer…

Can a UI affect our interpretation of others?

It started with an offhand remark from a friend as she grimaced at her phone: “What a novel.” She gestured to the Facebook message filling her screen.

The message in question was polite and standard: a salutation, a reference to how they met, a socially-savvy balance of interest and casual. There was nothing that should have sparked such displeasure.

What was happening here?

Let’s do some science!

From my friend’s comment, it sounded like the length of the message had a lot to do with her ‘ick’ response. …

As designers, we know we’re supposed to avoid unnecessary decoration, but what is decoration, actually?

A common mistake is to define decoration as any visual elements with flourish (fancy filigrees, skeuomorphic icons and diverse palettes come to mind). The error is that none of these elements are inherently decorative; the context of their use is the deciding factor.

Take for example the North Atlantic ships Paul Mijksenaar describes in his book, Visual Function:

“The size and number of funnels were deliberately chosen to create a powerful impression of grandeur. The interior was designed to please and above all reassure the…

In Design as Art, author Bruno Munari has a lot to stay about the personal taste of designers:

“A designer with a personal style, arrived at a priori, is a contradiction in terms. There is no such thing as a personal style in a designer’s work. While a job is in hand, be it a lamp, a radio set, an electrical gadget or an experimental object, his sole concern is to arrive at the solution suggested by the thing itself and its destined use. …

A Guide to Picking the Perfect Design Tool

Q: I’m currently studying to become a UX Designer and I’m learning several prototyping tools, including X, Y and Z. Do you have other recommendations on tools I should be learning?

A: Let’s step back for a second.

Pretend there are two carpenters, both dreaming of making the best chair in the world.

The first carpenter decides the best chair can only be made by the best tools: he dives into hammer-research and learns everything he can about hammers. He goes to the Hardwareland Mega Superstore and tries out their entire selection of hammers, comparing their weights, handles and other…

That blog. That design. That business. That weekly call to your mum.

Why haven’t you?

I’m not ready.

Don’t worry; you’re among friends. We’re all just winging it, hoping to avoid a crash landing at best. None of us are totally ready.

I’m waiting until…

People invented dates; there’s nothing about Monday or the 1st of the month that makes it any better than today. You’re procrastinating.

I don’t know how.

Experiment. Try something. Learn as you go. At one point, you didn’t know how to tie your shoes or use a spoon, either. …

Our brains are double-crossing sneaks: just thinking about doing something releases the same feel-good hormones as actually doing it. We get high off illusions and inflate our self concept: “I thought of doing x! To have such a thought, I must be a very {insert positive adjective}-y sort of person! Good for me!”

The reality is:

Thinking about starting a blog doesn’t make you a writer.

Feeling bad for someone in need doesn’t make you a kind person.

Talking about starting your own business doesn’t make you an entrepreneur.

Downloading Sketch 3 doesn’t make you a designer.

Bookmarking Node.js tutorials…

So, you have your study all designed out, you’ve booked your participants, your prototypes are wired up and ready for consumption… Now what?

As I’ve said before, I’m a bit of a checklist fanatic. This is the checklist I use to ensure a usability test runs smooth as butter. (Or at least, to minimize the chance of total mayhem.) This is specific to my processes: feel free to take it, modify it and shape it to your needs.

Before the Study

  • Has the test plan reviewed by other designers? By the team lead? By the product owner?
  • Have you setup and tested the…

Photo courtesy of Marc Wathieu.

Internet forums have been around since the digital Stone Age, acting as open asynchronous communication tools for the every-man. Nowadays, they’ve inherited a second use: they are also an archive. The conversations, questions and community are valuable resources, containing both factual information and historical records of the internet culture that are still useful years after the fact.

But, this information is currently trapped: forums and their contained conversations are hard to navigate through and often have chunky, ineffective search.

How can we tap into the archived information in these dated conversations and tame the unruliness of the forum?

Pattern-Matching in Reading

Some psychologists…

Chantal Jandard

Product designer at PlanGrid. The pixel is mightier than the sword.

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