The first dark pattern we are honoring is the “one-way upgrade.”

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This is a repost from Hologram’s design blog, Dark Mode, which highlights deceptive design practices found in software we use everyday.

As a design manager, it falls on my shoulders to manage the billing of the many design SaaS services we use. (Too many services, if I’m being frank.) From new research tools like Lookback to design industry staples like and Adobe Creative Cloud — almost every SaaS tool has rolled out a license management center to add and remove team members and manage billing in a central location.

Adobe’s “Admin Console” is their home to license management for their Creative Cloud for Teams service. This dark corner of the internet features a notorious dark pattern, which I’ve come to call the “One Way Street.” Adobe makes it dead simple to add new products and seats to my account with a single click but abdicates all responsibility when it comes to stopping the recurring billing. …

Introducing Hologram’s new Stellar Design System

Since day one, the Hologram team has been focused on simplifying cellular service for IoT devices. Today, I’m really excited to show you the next version of Hologram Dashboard which makes it even easier to manage a connected fleet. As part of these updates, we’re launching our design system, which we’ve named Stellar.

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Starting with the Platform

Design isn’t just the interface you see in our Dashboard but extends throughout the entire experience with Hologram. Over the past year, we’ve been hard at work making it easier than ever to launch a cellular IoT product:

  • Simplified coverage and billing so it’s one price across 196…

How we get online is broken. Let’s design a better way.

The internet is full of amazing things. Including the greatest gif of all time:

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But getting onto the internet leaves you screaming at your screen.



Calling 611.

Captive portals.

Creepy ad tracking.

Data caps for home internet.

That Router/Modem/Nightmare combo from your ISP.

When your phone connects to WiFi with one bar and now there’s no internet and nothing works and you start crying.

Let’s step away from the specific technical implementation of internet access, rather turning our attention to how we experience it everyday. The roundup of how we get online is an exploration of learned helplessness.

We’ll walk through how we access the internet at home, at work, and on the go.

Why the wording of a question changes the answer

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Photo by Jessica Ruscello

In Daily Life

Our friend Jordan is extremely particular about proper grammar and punctuation. You might call him the grammar police. Alternatively, this behavior could be described as high attention to detail. Both phrases are descriptive of Jordan’s behavior. The former frames the characteristic as irritating. The latter frames the trait as a positive attribute.

This is the framing effect at work, and it can have implications on user research and subsequent product decisions.

In Practice

When speaking with users, you might talk about plans to remove a specific feature as “dropping support.” This phrasing encourages users to feel as if they are losing something. …

Reacting and incorporating negative feedback

Summary: Humans are wired to resist change. Designers and Engineers observe this resistance firsthand when building the future. This article discusses how to manage negative user feedback, and how impact bias distorts our perceptions to overestimate the severity of future states.

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Photo courtesy of

In Daily Life

Carlos’s last meeting of the day has run late. It’s placed him in the unfortunate position of arriving late to dinner with his partner and his partner’s manager.

Carlos’s mind starts jumping to conclusions. He thinks of how his tardiness will reflect poorly on his partner for months to come. He won’t be able to make up for it until the next time his partner’s boss invites them to dinner. It could be months, or not at all! Carlos’s mind has started to spiral. …

Listen to users—Design for the root problem

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Courtesy of Unsplash

In Daily Life

“I think it’s the transmission,” Maliq says to the mechanic, sliding his keys across the counter. “Right, I’ll be sure to check that out,” the mechanic says, before stepping back into the garage.

No mechanic would take our less-than-informed opinion as gospel when diagnosing car troubles. If we think there is a problem with the transmission, they will take it under consideration. It’s a clue, but not necessarily the root problem.

In Practice

Similarly, as designers and researchers, we need to address conversations with our users in a similar cadence. …

Bidding a sad goodbye to Virgin America

I set down my phone, after taking a selfie in the purple and pink mood-lit interior of VX26. As we waited for pushback, I reminisced back to when I first learned about — and subsequently became obsessed with — Virgin America. I learned of “Redwood” when Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht broadcasted an episode of Diggnation from Virgin America’s first class.

From that day on, I couldn’t wait to find a way onboard. Being an lonely high schooler living in Jacksonville, Florida, there wasn’t any way for me to reasonably try out Richard Branson’s new venture. …

Getting Engineers Involved in UX

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Flexport Software Engineer, Dounan, working with our global logistics team members, Brandon and Julia.

Why Design Shouldn’t Solely Own the UX

Users don’t see or understand the API, the data model, the support playbook, or the hard operations work that keeps everything running smoothly. The user experience is the product.

Often, various factions inside technology companies divide and silo user experience responsibility. Shouldering it entirely on the product and design teams. However, the best technology companies have a shared responsibility for their user experience.

Design Sets the Tone

Research is done alongside product managers to align with user needs, business requirements, and product direction. Product designers craft the core user flows, interactions, and visual design. …

Handling the confirmation bias in your design work

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Photo by Roman Pohorecki

In Daily Life

No one likes to be proven wrong. Humans have fragile egos, which leads them to subconsciously protect themselves from embarrassment. This is why we avoid asking difficult questions, highlight facts that support our beliefs, or only recall facts that support our theories.

Think back to your latest political debate with your extended family members or discussion about flat design. While extolling the benefits of universal healthcare or drop shadows, you’ll tend to only recall evidence that supports your beliefs.

This tendency is called the Confirmation Bias.

In Practice

Product design can be as subjective as it is objective. Yes, there are clear heuristics and best practices to follow. There are also a series of decisions that fall to conjecture. This is why the best design processes involve multiple rounds of iteration and testing before they are engineered. …

Sustaining Unbiased Questions During User Interviews

Summary: This article explores why leading questions impact the answers people give, and how to craft the perfect question to derive hidden insights from users.

The Leading Question

Taylor asks, “How much better is this coffee?” You take another sip, nod in agreement, and say, “It’s so much better than that other hipster coffee shop.”

The phrasing of Taylor’s question created a barrier for disagreement, and encouraged the respondent to provide a favorable opinion of the coffee. “How much better” framed the answer.

Leading questions are found in everyday conversations, marketing material, and even inside the courtroom. Watch TNT or NBC on any given weekend and you’re bound to run into a Law & Order marathon. …


Quintin Carlson

vp design @Hologram. former ux research lead @Flexport.

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