When getting started on a new design sprint it can be easy to want to hit the ground running by sketching or drafting wireframes, but an important first step that can sometimes be missed is the UX audit.

What exactly is a UX audit you might ask? When I say UX audit I am referring to the surveying the competitive (and sometimes not-so-competitive) landscape — seeing what others are doing, how they are doing it, and, potentially, why they are doing it that way.

UX audits are an important step in the design process because they allow the designer to:


Every designer has their go-to set of websites they consult when looking for inspiration, assets, or how to solve a common problem.

Here’s my list, organized by category. Last updated 7/7/17.

***This list is really the end-all, be-all: https://www.evernote.design/

UI Inspiration & Style Guides

Web/Desktop UI

Mobile UI

Data Viz + VR/AR/MR UI

Style Guides

Design-by-Category Inspiration

Visual Design

UX Design

Motion Design


A couple months ago I was sending an unimpressed Bitmoji as a response to a text message, and I suddenly found myself wondering about the people that create these illustrations.

As a designer, I read a lot about other designers and design process. Interviews, self-published blog posts, articles about studio culture…there’s a lot of this out there for our industry. It seems like just about every major brand with a design team has a design blog or publication on Medium (like ours, Design at IBM).

So I was surprised at how little I was able to find when I googled…


Or, why I wanted to start a random lunch program at a large company.

When I joined IBM Design 3 years ago, the design studio was a little different than it is today. I think one of the biggest differences was that we were a lot smaller then. The studio was only about 120 people, on one floor, in one building in Austin, TX. That may seem like a large number of people, but it was actually pretty easy to know just about everyone after a month or two.

Today we are much bigger. We have about 360 people (and counting!) in Austin, across multiple floors and buildings. …


How I created a visual identity for a STEM event geared toward middle school girls.

It all started with a simple request for a logo…

A lot of designers know how this story goes. A small ask to create something can easily spin out of control. But this time it was different because I was the one pushing for more.

Currently I am a design lead on the IBM Security design team, but I’ve recently found myself between projects. Around the same time this “between time” happened, an email came through to the female designers on our team asking for help to create a logo for an internal event. The event, called IBM Cyber Day…


to-be scenario map

Since starting my career as a web-then-product designer, I’ve worked on teams of different shapes and sizes at various companies. And, if you’re a designer like me, it probably sounds all too familiar that my experience with these teams has varied from not-so-functional to pretty-good-high-fives-all-around.

But recently, I had a great experience with our product team on a new project, and I think it’s due in part (a big part) to one thing we did early on.

When we came together on this new project, we had a 4 day workshop on site in Austin. The design, development, and offering…


A quick overview of do’s and don’ts for designers from the person reviewing
your portfolio.

Over the past few years (and past few jobs), I’ve had to help hire new designers, either directly for myself, or indirectly by helping out HR.

I’ve noticed that young designers don’t always know what to include in their portfolios. Of course they know to try and put their best foot forward, but a good portfolio is so much more than that.

So I’ve compiled my best portfolio advice for young designers applying for jobs.

1. Show your process work

A pretty picture of a final mockup is just that…


Thoughts on how to manage the thousands of photos we take.

In the beginning…

Taking photos used to be a thoughtful hobby. With only a finite number of photos per roll of film, you had to carefully pick and choose what you shot. Photos were easily catalogued in albums so people had visual volumes of their families, travels, and milestones. These could then be picked up later and browsed, making it easy to go back and see how far you had come.

Today our process moves at a much more accelerated pace. With smartphones, we have cameras on us at all times, and we have the ability to take an infinite amount…

katie orenstein

internet lover ♡ cheeseburger aficionado ♡ security design lead @ibmdesign

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