The other day I uploaded a video to YouTube. It was a wonderful experience as always—effortless, fast, intuitive. There was only one thing disappointing about it. This:

This screen appears while you’re waiting for your video to finish processing.

I’m not a fan of this screen. I don’t mind that the video needs to be processed—that’s totally understandable. I’m talking about the design and messaging.

If you’ve ever uploaded a video to YouTube, you’ve probably seen this screen too. What struck me this time—and may strike you now as well—is how unnecessarily depressing it is. The sad face, the apology, the terse “Check back later.” …


This morning, I read Dave Gerhardt’s fantastic post on writing killer product copy. As a product writer myself, it’s great to see tech startups focusing on writing. Great product and marketing copy really does deliver results. It drives more leads and more conversions. Equally important, great writing can mean the difference between people liking your product and loving it.

In Mr. Gerhardt’s post, he calls out Drift’s welcome email as a great example of email writing. Here it is:

via Dave Gerhardt

I really like this email. It’s short, conversational, personal and to the point. But it could be a little better. …


I could review records or critique movies.

I could cause a minor sensation as a playwright on Broadway and write one successful play for every three mediocre ones (but never wholly awful) and retiring, be honored by my carefully groomed set of peers.

I could start a band and write the lyrics or play the bass and live on the royalties for my two big hits until sometime in my fifties, when the royalties dry up and I’m left with eighteen grand and none of the wisdom associated with losing a spectacular amount of money.

I could write for a…


…and give kids a new incentive to read.

@mediafury / Flickr

When I was growing up in the 1980s, Choose Your Own Adventure-style books (the generic term is gamebook) were extraordinarily popular. There was fierce competition for them at the local library, and every time I went to the mall with my parents, I marched them to Waldenbooks to check out the dedicated gamebook section, which took up several shelves.

For those of you who have never read a gamebook, they are stories in which the reader periodically decides the direction of the narrative by choosing between scripted options.


The benefit that’s not really a benefit.

Photograph by Daniel Go / Flickr

A lot has been written lately about unlimited vacation policies — the popular Silicon Valley perk that offers employees endless time off. It’s particularly prevalent at tech startups, and has been embraced by firms like Netflix, Twitter, and Evernote.

The benefit sounds great, to be sure. It shows that companies trust their employees to take time off responsibly. It’s good for recruiting. And it doesn’t actually alter productivity— according to CNBC, employees take “about the same amount of time off as those employees who are offered traditional paid-time-off benefits.”

So, what’s not to like? There are some soft concerns. For…


My thoughts on the $140 Acer Chromebook 11.

A few days ago I purchased the Acer Chromebook 11. It had a couple things going for it. First, it was the #1 selling laptop on Amazon (at time of writing, July 24, 2015), so I felt in good company. Second was the price: $140, with free shipping.

$140 for a laptop!

Think about how cheap that is for a moment, historically. Even if you’ve owned only one computer in your life, you probably paid substantially more than $140. $140 is in the realm of impulse buys and budget smartphones.

The cheapest Apple laptop, the Macbook Air, is currently $899 — enough to buy…


Where should you work?

Judit Klein / Flickr

If you’re a creative professional — a designer, copywriter, filmmaker, creative coder, or producer — and are looking for a new job, what are your options? Broadly speaking, they are:

  1. Advertising and Design Agencies
  2. Public companies / corporations
  3. Startups
  4. Independent / freelance

There are other categories, of course. There are jobs at film studios, production companies, museums, video game companies, universities, and many others. But in terms of creative advertising and design, these are the basics.

I’m a copywriter by trade. Recently, I left a marketing position at a public company, and I’ve worked at ad agencies and I’ve freelanced…

Val Klump

is a UX writer in San Francisco.

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