Dear Ueno is an advice column for people who for some weird reason think we know what we’re doing. Read more about all this, or check out our old advice.

From Jan Raven de Klerk, a freelance designer from the Netherlands:

What is your design process like? Is it pretty similar for every project?

Sasha Lubomirsky, Executive Creative Director at Ueno SF, is here to answer:

Hey Jan,

Ah yes, process. It’s important to have one — and just as important to be comfortable throwing it out. …

Dear Ueno is an advice column for people who for some weird reason think we know what we’re doing. Read more about all this, or check out our old advice.

Caroline Lukins, a designer in New York, sent us this tweet:

I’ve just moved to NYC and my #1 priority is to join an awesome design team that is working on meaningful projects. Which companies have the strongest design teams and design culture? (Other than the awesome team at Ueno, of course!)

Sasha Lubomirsky, Director of Design and Development at Ueno SF, is thrilled to provide you with this answer:

Dear Ueno is an advice column for people who for some weird reason think we know what we’re doing. Find out more, or read our old advice.

From A.J. in Fresno, California:

“Hi there, I’m looking to transition from graphic design. I just wanted to ask, what do you all look for in a product designer?”

Sasha Lubomirsky, Head of Product Design at Ueno, joyfully replies:

Hey AJ,

Transition to product design, eh? Cool beans. What sparked your interest in that transition? And what aspect of graphic design have you focused on to date?

//Waits patiently for your reply


with a lump in our throat
called America.

we stared at screens,
our lips listless
but fingers feigning
fortitude, typing our

How did we get here?

Beneath the clacking,
America confessed:
I have always been
this broken
but you
didn’t care enough
to notice. Distracted
by the projection
of perfection,
the sheen of new love.

You praised me, she said,
and you held me tight,
but you didn’t feel me shaking
as I counted down the days
until I would be exposed,
our love
a farce,
a fairytale.

We stared
wondering if
what we had
was ever real.

But, she said,
if you paid attention
you would know
this was
always me:
I, forever complicated;
I, forever made of blood.

July 8, 2016

At Medium, we’re trying out a fortnightly Designer Day, where we get out of the building and work on design-initiated projects. One recent project I took on was creating a Design Research Kit: an overview of research for folks who are less familiar, with some helpful tips.

Thanks to Pablo and Jules’s suggestion, I came up with a kit that might be useful for those outside of Medium, so here it is for others as well:

Firstly, a quick overview of the two types of design research

Generally speaking, there are two categories of design research:

Strategic research: Tries to understand the problem space. Explores usefulness, desirability.

Tactical research: Assumes usefulness…


You know the old story about the ceramics teacher?

One semester, the teacher assigned half his class to focus on the quantity of their output, and half on the quality. Those in the first group would be measured on the sheer number of pots produced. Those in the second would be assessed by the quality of one perfect pot.

Which group do you think got the better grade?

flickr/Joel Goa

As it turned out, those in the quantity group produced pots with the highest quality. The theory is this: playing around, putting in time, and learning leads to quality.

I posted a slightly different version of this internally to Medium employees on January 29, 2015. See Hatching Inside Medium for more context.

Three misunderstandings about design research

Even though design research is based on some pretty old-school social science methodologies, it’s still a relatively new discipline. As such, there are some misunderstandings about it that come up. Here’s an attempt to clarify three of the biggest.

1. Usability is not enough

Design research is most impactful when it’s done earlier rather than later in the product process. …

First, a question: what prompted you to click on the link to this post? Yes, this one—the one you’re reading now.

At this point, you’re probably able to answer that question with relative ease. If someone asked you this in a week, you would probably just look blankly at the questioner: what post?

Micro-surveys are short, targeted, and timely questions like the one above.

Imagine a micro-survey that asks “What prompted you to leave the registration page?” of a user that just left the registration page.

Now compare that to a broader, more traditional survey that asks questions like “What…

Sasha Lubomirsky

Curiouser and curiouser.

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