We are a part of something bigger than ourselves.

Cartoon Sausage Giving the Thumbs Up
Cartoon Sausage Giving the Thumbs Up

Effective immediately, all designers are going to be forced to write code. All of us. No exceptions. We were turned into unicorns as we slept last night.

Just kidding, but there is an essential lesson here. The more you know about the people, process, and tools involved in writing code, the better off you will be as a designer. They overlap. The same goes for all of the other disciplines it takes to deliver digital products.

It really does take a village.

In 2007 I was Design Manager at a fintech company in Chicago leading a team of product designers. As a result of a restructuring effort, I was given the additional responsibility of managing the Quality Assurance team. I didn’t know much about QA at the time — other than it was from a faraway place (50 yards down the hall on the south end of the 7th floor). I was given this rationale for the change, “Your team is defining how things should work, the QA team will make sure they work before we release it”. …

And it’s free, not freemium.

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An Explosion of Toolage

Unless you have been designing in a cave for the last 5 years, it’s impossible to avoid the explosion of tools fighting for our attention. Sketch, Figma, Adobe XD, InVision Studio, Framer X, Axure, Abstract, Zeplin, Miro…Ahhh…they’re evolving and overlapping. It’s even caused the creation of an entirely new DesOps role to help organizations figure out how to navigate their design ‘stack’.

It’s a lot and it’s distracting all of us.

The Job of a Tool

A tool should make our job more efficient, more effective and/or more satisfying. It should augment the process we use to go from concept to product. …

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Embracing failure is not a new concept, but knowing how to do it as a design leader is easier said than done. On one hand, you want to impart all of the wisdom you’ve learned the hard way onto your team so they can learn from your mistakes — before they make them. On the other hand, you want them to learn for themselves how to handle the adversity we face every day.

Truman Capote once said,

“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.”

If you shelter them too much, you are doing them a disservice. Some lessons are best learned by doing. And if you allow them to fail too much (or too spectacularly) it can nuke their self-confidence. It can also erode the trust you’ve earned from your customers (internal or external). …

The Top 5 Things Many Organizations Are Still Getting Wrong When it Comes to the Role of Design

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It’s been said that good design = good business, and now it’s science. Five years ago McKinsey began tracking the design practices of 300 publicly listed companies on the way to the creation of their McKinsey Design Index. McKinsey’s MDI rates companies by how their design strengths translate into financial performance.

While many companies are now starting to see the actual business value of design, there are still some overarching misconceptions keeping us down. These are the top 5 misconceptions I have encountered while consulting over the last year enlightened with the designers’ point of view.

#1 We know what they want. Let’s cut the user testing and get this thing released asap.

Designer POV: We don’t know exactly what they want. They don’t even know what they want, or at least they can’t articulate it yet. So we need to get out of the building and talk to them and figure it out together. It’s critical that while doing so, we remain objective and listen well. It’s far too easy for us to hear what we want to hear instead of the truth. And in the end, skipping this step would not save time, more likely, it would take us a lot longer to change it once it’s released. …

Truth be told i’m a sucker for a good infographic, and I also happen to enjoy making them. So over the past few months whenever I came across an article I thought could be helpful advice to anyone else in the trenches designing products, I tried to capture the essence of it in the form of a simple infographic. Each has been equipped with a quote from the HBO show Silicon Valley in the hope of reinforcing the concepts in a lighthearted way.

>An MVP is…

What and how much do you need to build to satisfy early adopters?

Jian-Yang: What would you say if I told you there is an app on the ma…
Erlich: We’re past that part! Just demo it…
Jian-Yang: Okay. Let’s start with a Hotdog.
(the app successfully identifies a hot dog)
Monica: Oh shit, it works!
Jared: Do pizza.
Erlich: Yes, do pizza.
(Jian-Yang tries the app on a slice of pizza)
App: Not Hotdog
Monica: Not Hotdog? That’s it? It only does Hotdogs?
Jian-Yang: No, and “not Hotdog.” …

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I have been listening to a unique and inspiring podcast called song exploder for a while now, and in doing so I noticed that designers and musicians have a lot in common. I wanted to share a few of the commonalities.

If you are stuck, walk away

At one time or another it happens to all of us — you just get stuck. You’re out of ideas. It feels like you are wearing creative blinders. Whether it’s looking at competitors, unrelated apps, reading articles, listening to podcasts or something else altogether…just get out and explore. Force yourself to take in some new experiences. Through this exploration you will gain diverse perspectives which you might have never been exposed to otherwise. …

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Life is just a series of moments strung together. With our mobile devices in-hand and always connected, it’s changing how we behave and what we expect from the brands we trust. If we can identify these important moments and understand their context, we can leverage them to create a better UX. This presentation was originally delivered at Adobe Creative Jam on July 15, 2016.

What is a moment?

mo-ment /moment/ — a very short period of time. a precise point in time.

Why making your app “easy to use” isn’t good enough anymore.

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The only thing constant is change

Approaching the design of a new product with the goal of creating an experience that makes things “easy to use” is a losing proposition, and the wrong way of thinking about UX in today’s world. The expectation people have of software today is much deeper and more intertwined with the other aspects of their life. Especially when you consider how people expect to have access to almost anything, anytime. …

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The Most Recognizable Thing on the Planet

An eye-tracking study of the use of the hamburger menu on desktop websites

I know, you are reading this thinking “just what I need, another opinion on the use of the hamburger menu”. Apple says “I’d prefer you didn’t…”, Google material design guidelines say “sure, but design it like this…”, Jacob Nielsen says “try pizza instead…”, and so on, and so on and so on… But wait, this one is different, I promise. This one is focused on answering a very specific question that could have interesting considerations for you to think about as you design your site. …

…is in the performance

Magical, not magic

Don't let the title fool you, I'm not saying that as UX designers we should ever resort to trickery or deceit in order to design a great user experience. I am certainly not suggesting that we make things disappear unexpectedly or create illusions of reality for our users. In fact, at DeveloperTown I work with my designers to stay focused on designing-in clarity and predictability for the products we launch. …


Randy Fisher

I am the Design Partner @Developertown. A design nerd. www.developertown.com

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