Engaging with Compassion with Eric Meyer

A transcript of Episode 164 of UX Podcast. James Royal-Lawson and Per Axbom talk with Eric A. Meyer about humanising the web.

Photo taken by Jeffrey Zeldman at An Event Apart DC 2016.



James Royal-Lawson: You’re listening to UX Podcast, coming to you from Stockholm, Sweden. We are your hosts James Royal-Lawson…

Per Axbom: …and Per Axbom.

James: We have listeners in 171 countries from Botswana to Estonia.

Per: Eric Meyer is an American web designer, consultant and author. He’s best known for his advocacy work on behalf of web standards, most notably CSS and much like ourselves, Eric has more and more come to speak about how we as digital designers alter other people’s lives and in this interview, recorded on location at the, from Business to Buttons conference earlier this year in Stockholm, we talk about design ethics and we asked Eric if he could start us off by sharing the moving story he started his presentation with.


Eric Meyer: So, one morning in January 2014 I was sitting in the living room of my house and my daughter Rebecca was playing on the floor right near me and the way the sunlight I was coming in through the front windows and following across her actually reminded me really forcefully of this picture I had taken off her several years before when she was just a baby and so, I asked her if I could take her picture and for once she actually said yes instead of doing the usual thing of like throwing up her hand or you know, telling me “seriously dad?“ Which was a favorite thing.

So, I went and got my camera and I took some pictures and actually got a few that really echoed that first picture which was kind of what I was aiming for but what I didn’t know as I was putting the camera away was that Rebecca’s cancer had returned and right around the time I took those pictures, a tumor was starting to grow from a ventricle in her brain, behind her right eye and 149 days later, in the early evening of her 6th birthday it killed her.

James: It’s an incredibly powerful and emotional start of a talk, I mean, both Per and I are fathers too. So, I mean, I can feel now the emotion that I receive from hearing it and thank you for starting your talk like that and it’s an incredibly good opening to the talk about how then Facebook would present memories of this in a happy fashion, framed in a way which is, yey! remember your year, remember these great memories.

Eric: Yeah, some people who are listening might remember that there was a news story at the end of 2014 about how Facebook was apologizing for Year in Review that was actually my fault. I was triggered because I gotten this timeline ad for Year In Review that showed one of those pictures that I had taken that day. In this design context, that assumed happiness, right? It was literally like a clipart-party around this picture of her face and I just and once I get over the sort of the shock that’s not quite the right word but I don’t know if I have a word for it but once I sort of recovered from that moment of, like horror almost…

James: Is that like an intrusion almost…

Eric: It was more than that. I’ve been given this picture in a moment that I wasn’t expecting and it’s been given a context that is, I mean, it’s kind of horrible. It’s inhuman — no human would do that, right? No human would say, hey, yey your child is dead, right? That’s — yeah, I mean that feels horrible just to hear me put it that way but anyway I took some screenshots because of the design and analysis brain sort of kicked in and then I just wrote this blog post about it and it went viral and it became a news story because Facebook apologized. That’s really what did it.

It might have been a minor news story except for that. But they learned from it. They really have learned from it maybe not as wholly or fully as I might hope but they, you know, Year In Review in 2015 and 2016, the design of it and the timeline ads have been more neutral in a sense but just less assumptive of happiness, right? Just more, hey, the year is now over and you might want to look back. If you’d like to here’s where you can do that, right? Which I think is a more human thing to do. To say, hey, you know, remember all the stuff that happened this year, want to talk about it or whatever, right? Sometimes it’s hard to translate these things directly into human interaction but they’ve become much more respectful, I think of the idea that, you know, if you’re Facebook, you have 1.5 billion monthly users, right? This is like literally a fifth of the adult population of the globe and…

James: It’s a big sample size.

Eric: It’s a very big sample size and not everyone’s going to have had a great year, right? Some people are going to have had horrible years or worst years of their lives, some people are going to have “meh” years and some people have great years, right? So, that 2014 design just assumed awesome year and now it’s much more — there are a lots of different kinds of years and if you’d like to relive it here’s a way to do that or if you’d like to, you know, go back through the highlights or the major points of it.

Per: But you’re saying they’re doing a better job but I also heard you say, I mean, it’s really difficult as a user to turn it off. So, I can’t really choose…

James: Or adjust it.

Per: Yeah.

James: Or manipulate it.

Eric: Yes. So, their related product called, On This Day which shows you, you know, today is April 27th, it’s, you know, say, hey, here’s a post from two years ago on this day that you might want to see, you know? Yeah, it’s hard to suppress. If there’s specific dates, like, I had to show my wife how to suppress the range of time basically from just before that tumor in 2014 was discovered because we didn’t discover it for several weeks after that moment of taking the picture to a couple of months after the funeral. It’s not easy to find and I wrote a blog post a few months ago basically saying, here is how you do this and it’s weird I, occasionally, it will come up or like I’ll see mentions on Twitter would be like, oh my God, I had no idea you could do this, this is so useful because, you know, there’s just period of time I don’t want to get memories from whatever reason. I wish that they made those more obvious.

Per: Yeah.

Eric: I really do because both to turn off and then later to turn back on because I know that in my process, for example, there was certainly a period of time and six months later it was part of that time where I didn’t want to have stuff thrown at me without warning.

Per: Yeah.

Eric: Which is what Facebook was basically doing. They’re saying, hey, here’s a thing from three years ago, I was like, oh right that — why am I seeing it — I don’t want to see this. But now, I actually like to see many of those. There are still periods of time that I would be more careful about. I actually, I personally haven’t blocked anything because I want to see what the experiences for somebody who doesn’t know about those preferences — which is 99% of the world probably but yeah, just the ability — because when it comes up there’s a little chevron that you can click on to get a little drop down and one of your options is, I don’t want to see this again.

James: Right, yeah.

Eric: Right? So, if you know to open that menu but then once you’ve done that, basically, what they’ve said is, okay, we won’t show you this thing again but…

James: But the one from two hours later or the one from the day before…

Eric: Exactly.

James: That’s going to go…

Eric: So, what I wish they would do in that situation is say, okay, you don’t want to see this, you know, is there something about this time would you like to like specify a range of time that you don’t want to see from because, you know, if I were just sort of an average user of Facebook, I might see that and say, yes, okay, I want to block this month of 2014 or whatever and then a couple of years later as is the case now, I might want to turn it off and start to see those memories again because there’s a period especially in intense grieving where you don’t want to see those things randomly. But then I think at least for some people and I know other people for whom this is true and it’s becoming true for me, I kind of do want to see those again.

Now it’s certainly bittersweet but it’s nice to have those reminders again to remember, you know, happy times. So, I wish Facebook made those things more obvious but they don’t so far, oh, at least not last I checked.

James: Yeah, there’s an awful lot of complex aspects to it. It was like…

Eric: Yeah.

James: You certainly would have had a really happy memory during, maybe 2014, at one point because relatively, like, if it is a day of success in treatment, for example or something then that’s one of the things that would get thousands of likes on Facebook because everyone around you would understand the importance of that and how happy they would be for you.

Eric: Right.

James: And then that kind of comes crushing down a few months later. So, as an individual item it looks really happy, in context, in a wider context, a more human context, it’s not appropriate, it’s not suitable.

Eric: Yeah and that’s one of the big risks that they take and at any sort of time-based memory type app, like time hop, for example takes — is that, you know, well, an example that I’ve shown on the talk that somebody sent me is where they’re both for Year In Review in 2014 but basically at the same time that I have my experience and then On This Day later in 2015, they were shown a picture of a sonogram of a pregnancy that had ended in miscarriage, right?

James: Yeah.

Eric: So, of course, at the time that it went up, you know, they were like, here’s our, you know, the new or latest addition of our family is coming and like a million likes and comments, congratulations and I’m so happy for you, right? So, by any measure — sentiment analysis, analyzing the likes, you know, natural language processing, like, this is something you’re going to want to see again.

James: Yeah.

Eric: But no, it’s not, right? And there’s no way for code to anticipate that. So, you know, if you’re going to do something like this where it’s like; hey, here’s something that happened in the past, you should at least make it really obvious how to turn that off either for in total or for this thing or for a range of time or “don’t show me memories that involve this person” whatever it is because, you know, I talked to someone else who, they got an “On This Day” that they had posted the day that took possession of their new house with their new spouse that marriage ended badly a couple of years later and so, you know, just to be able to very easily say; you know what, any memory that involves this person, I’d not like to see right now because I am going through, you know, a very difficult process of recovering right now but then later, you know, maybe it becomes, okay, I’ve dealt with those emotions but this was still my first house and I still liked to remember it even if has these extra connotations that I have now dealt with, right? Because usually these sorts of things, they can take a long time to deal with, right?

Per: So, to make those design Facebook needs a lot of empathy and compassion but also in their case needs to deliver business value.

Eric: Yeah and you know, the risk that they’re taking here is that in a situation like, in these situations like we have described, you know, the house or the sonogram or the picture of my daughter, you know, there are people who don’t have — they don’t think about design that’s not their job. It’s not what they do. They don’t know about things like preferences that much and they’re not interested in digging through Facebook to figure out how to customize it, like, Facebook is where they go to talk to their friends but if these things become difficult enough they might just leave, right?

And you know, we can say, well, how is Facebook ever going to miss one person out of 1.5 billion but that’s very inhuman in a sense, right? It’s very negating in a sense and it’s also, if that happens with enough people, right? And enough story circulated enough people say, oh I’m, you know, because if someone leaves Facebook over this they’re going to have to tell everybody because everybody expects them to be on Facebook.

James: Because they vanish from Facebook.

Eric: Yeah, well, they vanish from Facebook and so they have to let people know so the people don’t say, oh, are you not coming to the thing, we told you about it on Facebook weeks ago, right? You have to tell everybody, look, I’m — this is our sort of digital community I’m pulling out of it for these reasons and so that everyone else sort of has that, a lesser but still, you know, transmitted reduction of trust.

James: Yeah there’s a seed also been sown.

Eric: Right, exactly. Where someone says, oh, yeah this friend of mine quit Facebook because doo, doo, doo, doo, daa, right? And so it keeps propagating and so if enough of those things build up people leave and/or they block them out, which, again, my intent was not to, like, shame them or call them out. I actually, the post was all about, this is something we need to think about as designers, right? This is just one example, you know, they’re not really — Facebook is not uniquely evil or horrible at this, like, we all do it.

James: Yeah.

Eric: That was my point but.

James: Facebook is just such a — it’s just so massive and we never had a system as big as Facebook before. So, of course, it’s going to throw up wonderful and lesser wonderful examples of the, I think, towards the end of your talk you said about, you know, we’re doing stuff that we were designed for as humans to cope with and Facebook, I think, is the example of how we pushed ourselves beyond where we were in a very short space of time, relatively short space of time.

Eric: Yeah, it’s pretty much been a decade.

James: Exactly.

Eric: I would say.

James: I’ve got friends that I was talking to, yeah, they’re showing 10 years on Facebook celebration thing that Facebook is creating for us.

Eric: Yeah and 10 years of iPhone.

James: Yes.

Eric: Which is, I mean, yes there were other, you know, online devices but iPhone is really what kicked off the whole thing where we always have a connection to the hive mind all the time basically.

James: Yeah.

Eric: And you know, I’ve actually had a very different experience in the last few days because now I am in Europe and your data, American data, American carrier plans are horrible. Like, nobody in Europe would ever tolerate the kinds of mobile carrier plans that we have in America but whatever. So, I basically — I’ve, because of the data charges that are available for my phone, I’ve been restricting myself only to wi-fi. So, when I’m walking down the street I cannot pull up a map, right?

Per: Oh, yeah, of course, yeah.

Eric: Right. To say, okay, wait, I’m here, I can go there or whatever, you know, all those sorts of things like, hey what’s this building? I don’t know and right now I have no way of knowing, like that’s — it almost feels weird now to be able to see that whereas of course, 10 years ago you would just say, I don’t know what this is, let’s look for a plaque let’s, you know, let’s write that down, the name on the front of the building so we could look it up later.

Per: Talk to a person from the city.

James: Exactly, excuse me, do you know what this building is?

Eric: Or talk to somebody, like, what’s the deal here, right?

James: Yeah.

Eric: All those things — it’s weird how, you know, it’s only been 10 years and yet literally centuries of what you would have to do.

James: Yeah.

Eric: Now seem really weird and alien.

Per: And that’s really a good example of because I mean, the bigger theme of your talk really was how we, as designers alter the course of people’s lives and how we have a deep impact on the future of society. So, it’s not just in these cases that impact so many but all of us as designers, as individual designers whatever we were working on make a difference. So, we impact people’s lives.

Eric: Yeah.

Per: And perhaps we don’t stop enough to think about that.

Eric: Yeah an example would be, I know that this happens in America, I don’t know if it happens here, where many businesses, the job application process is purely online. So, if you’re not online, like, there are fewer job opportunities, like, fewer channels to try to find work. You know, maybe you can go to a public library and that’s what actually what public library computers in America get used for a lot is for people who are trying to apply for jobs or you know, interact with the government, right?

Because there is this assumption that everybody is online. Well, no, not everyone is online, right? And the people who are not online are really being left out but the design assumption of, well, everyone’s online, let’s just put it all online and there’s less paper, we’re saving the environment right? All these positive things, right? People can apply whenever, they don’t have to come in when the offices open or whatever that is, those are all positive but they are real negatives that maybe haven’t been thought through.

Per: One of my big takeaway next week, we can create both delight and pain with exact same design.

Eric: Yeah.

Per: The gist of your talk.

Eric: Yeah, I mean, and that’s one of those sort of irreducible problems that we have as digital interactive designers is that, you know, we’re designing for huge crowds but everybody feels that interaction is being personal, like, literally personal.

James: Yeah.

Eric: Right? And so people take it personally when they’re blocked or when, you know, if they hit a barrier that nobody designed as a barrier, right? There was no really intent to be a barrier yet they hit it and it feels personal because you, you know, like, you’re doing it in bed at night before you go to sleep, on your handheld device, right? Even though somebody at Facebook, was like, wow, I got a design for, you know, 1.5 billion people that’s still every single one of those 1.5 billion interactions feels completely person. It’s a really hard challenge and we’re not going to get right all the time but just by trying we earn at least some trust, some capital basically with users to say, okay, well, this situation was really negative but there have been so many other good experiences that I’m willing to cut them a break, right?

James: I jokingly say occasionally now about life is an edge case because at times it just feels like we’re ploughing through experience after experience as an edge case.

Eric: Right.

James: That’s not the primary designed thing and I’m battling through them one after the other and the organization themselves don’t see that I’ve gone through 15 edge cases today because they’re 15 different organizations but to an individual that’s my life.

Eric: And the danger with the term edge case is that it actually, linguistically, sets us up to push those things to the edge.

Per: Yeah, exactly.

Eric: And to say, well, I’m not going to worry about that, right? We’re designing for the 90%

James: Yeah, the 80/20, yeah.

Eric: Right? Like, they literally say, we’re designing for the majority not the minority but like in some sense every one of us is a minority in some way.

James: Yeah.

Eric: Right? Not in the sort of — the formal definition of minority were like, for me, I can’t stand the taste of chocolate, any chocolate, right? That makes me a very small minority.

James: Yeah.

Per: Yes.

Eric: Desserts are not designed for me, right? And I get that and I’ve adapted to it over time and it’s helped by the fact that I literally cannot stand the taste, right? So, it’s not like I feel like I’m necessarily missing anything except in some cases there might be, well, all of our desserts are chocolate, I’m like, well, and I’m not having dessert or I’m not having dessert here — but when we say edge case, right? Evan Hensley once said to me, the term he’s telling, you’re defining the edges of what you’re willing to care about and we really need to push those boundaries out. So, actually in the book that Sarah Wachter-Boettcher and I wrote, we advocate for the term “stress case”, right? Because it stress tests your work to think about those cases, right?

To say, okay, what have we planned for this banquet for 100 people and have we thought about people who have this allergy or that allergy, you know, is there something for vegetarians, is there something for vegans, is there a dessert for people who don’t want chocolate or whatever.

Again, you can’t necessarily think of every single one of them but just by trying to do as much as you can, you’re doing better than most designers — honestly if you just — if you make that effort and Microsoft’s inclusive design practices site, they have a lot of information for free and they show how, taking that approach of thinking about the stress cases and — in fact I don’t think they use that exact term — but thinking about stress cases that makes the design better for everybody.

Per: Right.

Eric: If you make it so that the Xbox can be played by someone who only has one hand. Then it’s easier for people who have two hands, right?

Per: Exactly.

Eric: Or, you know, if they make it so that voice chat is much more usable for people who are literally paralyzed, right? Everything is vocally driven then anyone can use that same vocal interface and maybe they prefer it. So, it creates more robust experiences.

James: Yeah. So, one final word, now, if we’re saying that we’ve managed to — we’ve engaged with our compassion as individual designers, do you have any quick tip of how we can maybe get others to engage with compassion because we’ve got it now.

Eric: I mean that’s tough. I think probably the best way, I mean, certainly to talk about it but for many people just talking about it isn’t enough or they might only see the downsides.

James: Yeah.

Eric: Right? Oh, well, I have to think about everybody that, you know, if I design for everybody, I’m designing for nobody.

James: Yeah, overwhelming.

Eric: It’s not necessarily true but I understand where that sort of impulse comes from, just to show, okay, we did this thing and it was much better for many more people, right? So, we had whatever success metric, right? So, to be able to say, you know, like, they do it at Microsoft, you know, we made Skype more usable for people who are blind and not it’s easier for everybody and, you know, we had X percentage increase in engagement or, you know, X percentage reduction in complaints about the experience of using whatever it is, right?

To sort of show these use cases of how these sorts of things can be applied but really, I think what it comes down to is just sort of making the case of, look, we’re helping people. We’re not helping users, we’re helping people, right? It’s easy to think of users as sort of behavioral puzzles to be solved and just to remember; look, these are actual people with really complex contexts. So, we can’t know everything about, right?

We can’t know what everyone’s context is and you know, so, to try to be more engaged with how can we help more people, you know, but maybe sometimes that means that we don’t joke in our copy but, you know, joking on your copy is a really risky thing to do. I mean, joking around with people really only works if you know their sense of humor really well and even then you’re taking kind of a risk but you know, I’m going to — I mean, we’ve seen people whose, you know, joking tweets on Twitter suddenly go viral.

James: Yeah.

Eric: You know, because they were talking to three people who sort of got, like, this is how we joke and then suddenly it’s, you know, a 100,000 people who stopped by to tell them what a horrible human being they are.

Per: Yeah.

James: Yeah.

Eric: Even though, you know, I mean, maybe they are but maybe they’re not.

James: In context, yeah. In context it kind of worked but yeah, out of context it’s offensive.

Per: Yeah.

Eric: Yeah.

Per: Wow.

Eric: So.

Per: Thank you Eric for increasing our awareness for being on the show and for all the fantastic work you’ve done for the web professionals over the years.

Eric: Thank you being on the show, it’s been an honor. I appreciate it.

Per: Thank you.


Per: So, through this whole story and it’s such a powerful and moving story and it gets actually a harder to listen to each time but it was great listening back to this interview we do with Eric now, when we were talking about settings, you realize that there’s no way that you can anticipate, there’s no way you can predict all the things that can happen in a person’s life but I cannot even predict, in my own life, what will happen. So, I cannot before hand set the settings that would protect me from the future designers work. So, it’s catch 22.

James: Yeah.

Per: You can’t do the settings before you know the outcome.

James: Exactly, yeah, the whole story bolted, you can’t predict the future. So, you can’t go in and set all the settings but also, things change, context change, things happen so you can’t go in 10 minutes before something happens to change your settings so that you’re protected, you know, we haven’t even got DeLoreans. We’re not going back, back forward in time to kind of get the settings right.

Per: Right.

James: Before something, you know, happens to us.

Per: But even after the fact, it becomes so complex is we’re even talking about that, I mean, perhaps I would like to — I don’t want reminders of these three months of my life but I want reminders from all these months. So, I mean, how granular can you do those settings, it’s impossible.

James: It’s completely unsustainable. It’s completely impossible to do with and to manage. I mean, I love — one of the things that I like from the conversation with Eric was talking about how, you know, we can’t know the context for sure, we can’t know the situation that the users are going to be in. We’re always making presumptions and that means we’re always on — always on thin ice aren’t we because I guess we’re always wrong. Even if we have done research and we have met people, we’ve looked at data, we’ve looked at stuff, we’re still inferring so much. We’re inferring context and the user situations based on data, anecdotal data that we’ve gathered which we’re presuming applies to everyone that might use our design.

Per: Right but you can’t meet all the people because you can’t meet 2 billion people.

James: And the future hasn’t happened like you said. So, you don’t know, we mentioned in the interview about how — you don’t know how many poorly designed things someone been subjected to in that day already or it might be just a bad day at the office and then your design comes up and it’s just not the right context for them in that situation. We couldn’t have known that. We can’t know that.

Per: Right. I love what he says then about how people are not puzzles that we have to solve because we cannot solve them.

James: No.

Per: So, I mean, so, we’re doomed basically as designers then.

James: Yeah, well, yeah because we can’t turn everything either in to, like, vanilla plain and boring beige “Year In Review” designs. I mean, everything can’t be so stooped back and plan because that would just be an incredibly dull place to be in and I still don’t think it would get the context right because it would be context less and that’s almost as irritating as having some context, I mean, not in the example that Eric gives us, clearly it is an improvement but in many other situations it’s like, Facebook, just today, threw up — is seven years today since me and you became friends on Facebook.

Per: Oh, yeah, I saw that as well.

James: But it’s essentially kind of like meaningless or it was just vacuous video of just a random pictures of me and you together over the last seven years and it says, there, we like each of our lot, 300, 465 times. It didn’t really have any context, it didn’t mean anything. It was even more absurd when it did the same video with the same, you know, patterns and design balloons and things about me and my brother.

Per: Yeah.

James: Saying, hey, you’ve been friends on Facebook for 10 years.

Per: Oh wow, congratulations.

James: And there’s no friendship quite like yours and Patrick and well, he’s my brother. I mean, what? Can’t you even — it didn’t even name it was my brother, very strange.

Per: Also, they should know it’s your brother.

James: They do know it’s my brother. It was all very peculiar. I got a bit weirded out by how odd that memory or that review of years together, friendship on Facebook, my brother was.

Per: But in some sense, you have — I mean, as a designer, you have to try and predict some scenarios but you could also be better at apologizing and allowing people to report these here and bringing things like this that happened to Eric to the table of designers and having them realize, oh my God, look at what we did and have that discussion, it’s so important. So, it becomes both plan for the edge cases that we talked a bit about but also plan for — because you know it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen sooner or later, something’s going to go wrong, someone’s going to be hurt by your design, how are we going to respond to that, you need a communication plan for that and that’s something I don’t think a lot of designers think about or organizations think about.

James: Yeah, no, I mean, we’re going beyond error messages here and now we’re talking about yeah, properly how do we say sorry.

Per: Exactly, yeah.

James: …in a meaningful and useful way.

Per: How will we fix things?

James: Yeah.

Per: And how fast can we fix things.

James: Yeah, yeah if you do need to, I mean, we — the whole thing with edge cases is or stress cases, I think even Eric mentioned that, he worked out the things that cause the most stress and distress and try and fix some of those but it’s a never ending number of things which might happen because of the fact you don’t — you can’t predict all context and all future contexts. You’re just making an educated guess based on the research of what might be the case.

Per: Right but like you and I have talked about before, when we talked about accessibility, you could focus more on bringing in people who are in need of the accessible tools rather than, not actually bring in any of the people who are sort of normal functioning if I may say that but so, because if you solve it for the edge cases there, you will solve it for everybody and here, I’m thinking, if you bring in only minorities and solve for them then perhaps we could solve for everybody in a sense.

James: Yeah, I like it. It should be better. I mean, I think we talk a lot about the 80/20 that we, you know, focus on 80% of the users, or the scenarios and then 20% are edge cases that we can’t really focus on, you’ve got that time limitation, you’ve got to decide what to do with your time but that does cause us problems because the edge cases then aren’t dealt with. So, maybe we can do something like, you know, if we’re thinking about backlogs and how we’re planning things perhaps we could say, all right, for every mainstream stories that you’re working on, for every — for main features or primary features you’re planning and designing, you’ve got to include one edge case. So, you have an 80/20 balance. So, at least 20% of the time you are spending 100% of your attention dealing with an edge case. So that…

Per: And that would mean one day a week?

James: Yeah.

Per: And I like that because then you have one day a week, always set aside thinking about the risk, doing a risk analysis of what could happen if things go really wrong.

James: Yeah that could be the design. Yeah, right that could be the designing you do is designing the crisis management for that. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a feature or something but if we follow the 80%, 80/20 rule but apply it to what we’re focusing on not just kind of who we’re catering for then perhaps that’s a good way of bringing in accessibility and attention to edge cases and stressful situations that maybe get squeezed out in so many situations.

Per: Right and you’re also helping people on the team; devs, managers, designers to keep a top of mind think about edge cases top of mind which means that when they design other things, they will also bring into whatever they’re building these things that they’re thinking about every Friday, say, every Friday, we think about these risk scenarios.

James: Yeah.

Per: Oh my God, what could happen here? So, people become more attentive, more involved in designing for the bigger picture.

James: Yeah. I think that’s one of my take homes from this now. I’m going to — whenever I catch myself defending, I suppose, explaining or communicating a design and saying, well, yeah, what I’ve done it this way because that’s the main thing and this situation will happen but it’s kind of an edge case. I’m going to try and bite my tongue and think twice about that and see if I can push maybe a little bit harder with the edge cases but you have the time restraint so it’s difficult but I’m not going to let it go away I think as often.

Per: And that’s the thing, I mean, you have to think about time and money and the potential cost when something goes wrong, yeah, and how it could even hurt the brand whatever. Now we’re talking about businesses, public spaces where profit maximization is what they’re after. So, I mean, it’s a harder arena, it’s a tough arena to work on when you’re trying to be ethical and think about all these situations.

James: It is. Trying to be good, I mean, we are generally good. I mean, that’s one of the things that usually defines us at UXers is that kind of willingness to do good in our design.

Per: Exactly.

James: So, the…

Per: We’re trying to do good sometimes even when we try to do good and have done all the research it turns out bad and we just have to realize, okay, so we have to accept that and just act accordingly and try to be better people by learning all the time as well.

James: Yeah.

Per: So, where do people find us, James?

James: Well, you can find all the show notes and the full archive, of all our episodes at uxpodcast.com. If you aren’t already a subscriber though then you can always add us or subscribe to us from wherever you’re listening to us now. If you are already a subscriber, then perhaps you could spare us a few minutes and rate us or review us or even just click the thumbs up button if it has one in the podcast client you’re listening to us on.

Per: Remember to keep moving.

James: See you on the other side.


James: Knock knock.

Per: Who’s there?

James: Art.

Per: Art who?

James: R2D2.

Per: I just watched Star Wars yesterday, that’s awesome.

[End of transcript]

This is a transcript of a conversation between James Royal-Lawson, Per Axbom and Eric Meyer recorded for UX Podcast in April/July 2017. To hear more episodes visit uxpodcast.com or search for UX Podcast in your favourite podcast client.