Why you shouldn’t listen to design Twitter.

A drawn portrait of Newton with objects including a Nintendo switch, a bell pepper and frying pan, and a dog.
A drawn portrait of Newton with objects including a Nintendo switch, a bell pepper and frying pan, and a dog.
How would Newton have found comfort in quarantine in 2020?

I’ve seen more and more tweets like this:

If you do not leave quarantine with:
• New skills
• Your side hustle started
• More knowledge
You never lacked time, you lacked discipline.

People write these tweets to motivate others to make the most of the current situation. If this kind of content motivates you, carry on! I’m excited to see what you do with that energy. Personally, tweets like these make me feel like I’m not doing enough — as if I’ve never done enough.

I know better.

But it took over ten years to learn this, in an…


What our product design team did to keep collaborating from the comfort of our homes.

Screenshot of multiple cursors moving digital, coloured notes around on a Miro board.
Screenshot of multiple cursors moving digital, coloured notes around on a Miro board.
Happy little cursors.

The IDAGIO team officially started working remotely this week. The same week I was supposed to run brainstorming sessions, in-person, with people who don’t usually “do brainstorming.”

I spoke to the design team the day before the first session to ask, “Can we do this? Is it going to be awkward?” The answer to both of those questions was a resounding, “Yes.”

We did it. Then we did it again and again. It’s working. We’re brainstorming remotely and churning out ideas as if we’re all standing in front of the same whiteboard.

If your team is new to working remotely…


What our product design team did to keep collaborating from the comfort of our homes.

Screen recording showing multiple cursors moving around and creating notes.
Screen recording showing multiple cursors moving around and creating notes.
Happy little cursors.

The IDAGIO team officially started working remotely this week. The same week I was supposed to run brainstorming sessions, in-person, with people who don’t usually “do brainstorming.”

I spoke to the design team the day before the first session to ask, “Can we do this? Is it going to be awkward?” The answer to both of those questions was a resounding, “Yes.”

We did it. Then we did it again and again. It’s working. We’re brainstorming remotely and churning out ideas as if we’re all standing in front of the same whiteboard.

If your team is new to working remotely…


Two happy women discussing a whiteboard that is covered in sticky notes.
Two happy women discussing a whiteboard that is covered in sticky notes.
Sticky notes bring us joy.

Six months ago, it was a struggle to get internal buy-in to do usability testing. People thought research took too long and that it stalled the development process. Product Design would go into a room and run sessions for a full day. Then we would have a long meeting to do a thorough dive into the findings. We would catalog and code every insight to prep for next steps and future projects. Good for the long term, but not helpful to a team who is building right now. Development teams were in the dark for a week, sometimes longer.

Fast-forward…


Two happy women discussing a whiteboard that is covered in sticky notes.
Two happy women discussing a whiteboard that is covered in sticky notes.
Sticky notes bring us joy.

Six months ago, it was a struggle to get internal buy-in to do usability testing. People thought research took too long and that it stalled the development process. Product Design would go into a room and run sessions for a full day. Then we would have a long meeting to do a thorough dive into the findings. We would catalog and code every insight to prep for next steps and future projects. Good for the long term, but not helpful to a team who is building right now. Development teams were in the dark for a week, sometimes longer.

Fast-forward…


In novels, in movies, in anthologies, in film festivals, in all the stories we tell: where are all the apps?

Photo by Lê Tân on Unsplash

There is technology, of course. People talk about fixing it, using it, destroying it. They build ships and watch holograms. Technology is described as a means to an end.

The way we tell stories is representative of how we view the world. The details we share are the details that matter to us. A well-told story includes only the details that move the story forward. There are descriptions of the environment: the sterile clean room, the dark forest, the starry sky within our reach. There are descriptions of people, with as much or as little detail — gritty or handsome…


Or: a reminder that what we know is always changing

There’s something compelling about a question with no immediate answer.

It’s like a block of marble. You know there’s something inside, yearning to make itself known. You chip away at it through conversations, field visits, surveys, and all the other tools we carry in our work.

Illustration of a person holding an object, another person is facing them taking notes
Illustration of a person holding an object, another person is facing them taking notes

Then, when you’ve chipped away at the block of marble just so, you reveal new knowledge and insights. You couldn’t see it before you started, but now it’s there, clear for all to view. This new creation of yours, understanding, gives you confidence to move forward. Proudly, you say,


Get rid of infinite scrolling and focus on creating intentional, not accidental, value.

Animation of emoji slot machine landing on a win of three matching, heart-eyed, grinning emojis.
Animation of emoji slot machine landing on a win of three matching, heart-eyed, grinning emojis.
Your brain on the internet.

There’s a rising call for more intentional use of the web. As consumers, we’re more aware than ever of how much time we sink into our devices. As consumers who also work on product teams, we’re coming to terms with our responsibility in that space.

Jim Forrest’s piece — “Internet, go the f*ck to sleep!” — struck a chord in March. He challenges what product teams choose to value.

“… venture capitalists asking how many active users a platform has are contributing greatly to bad design of products — one where addiction is seen as a positive metric of success.”…


iPhone showing Settings screen with VoiceOver turned on.

When you activate VoiceOver on your phone, it doesn’t give you the experience of a user with low vision. It gives you a different experience of using your phone.

Those 5 minutes or 5 hours of struggle gave you but a glimpse of some of the details of what one part or one variation of that experience might be like for someone else. The only way to better know that is to talk to them, to invite them to show you, to share their experience.

Why is your VoiceOver experience different? Because it’s steeped in your previous experience. It could…


Screen sharing: arguably the most common “visual aid” used in product team meetings. One lucky person is selected — or volunteers — to share their laptop screen on a larger screen. Everyone has a single point of focus, and idea generation and iteration can happen in real time. But there’s a bottleneck. Only one person can do the work. Every idea, note, change goes through one person. And they’re not about to pass their laptop around for each person to take a turn.

Meanwhile, the whiteboard sits by, idle, a few markers scattered across the table.

Not long ago, I…

Jen Goertzen

Do good, do it well · Senior Product Designer at IDAGIO · Cofounder of Caribou (http://caribou.co)

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