Oct 13

How to hire designers

Check out my latest post on Inside Intercom:

For years the importance of great design in software development was underestimated and misunderstood. Designers the world over lamented that their colleagues in Product Management and Engineering were asking them for a visual treatment of something already defined. They mockingly referred to themselves as “Photoshop monkeys”. Designers in the “Photoshop monkey” role were always looking out for a new team, a new job. They knew this wasn’t what design was about…

Sep 13

The Dribbblisation of Design

Check out my latest post on Inside Intercom:

In the last year I’ve reviewed a lot of product design work from job applicants, at Facebook and now at Intercom, and I’ve noticed a worrying pattern. Too many designers are designing to impress their peers rather than address real business problems. This has long been a problem in creative advertising (where creative work is often more aligned with winning awards than with primary client business objectives) and its becoming more prominent in product and interaction design…

Sep 13

Why cards are the future of the web

Check out my latest post on Inside Intercom:

Cards are fast becoming the best design pattern for mobile devices.

We are currently witnessing a re-architecture of the web, away from pages and destinations, towards completely personalised experiences built on an aggregation of many individual pieces of content. Content being broken down into individual components and re-aggregated is the result of the rise of mobile technologies, billions of screens of all shapes and sizes, and unprecedented access to data from all kinds of sources through APIs and SDKs. This is driving the web away from many pages of content linked together, towards individual pieces of content aggregated together into one experience…

Sep 09

Retaining context in live update streams

When designing live update streams, it’s easy to assume that people are following along all the time. But many people drop in and out, following along for short bursts at a time. Here’s a nice example of adding in context to the live stream from the BBC. It doesn’t assume that the viewer already knows the leaderboard and can figure out the latest score from the text. And it also works well for someone viewing the stream for the first time.

May 09

Hello software. Meet poka-yoke.

Here is a nice out-of-box experience from Netgear.

Some nice feedforward on what to do makes it hard to go wrong. This is common in product design, where designers apply the poka-yoke principle to ensure that things cannot be operated incorrectly.

…the term can refer to any behavior-shaping constraint designed into a product to prevent incorrect operation by the user…Examples of poka-yoke in consumer products include:

  • 3.5″ floppy disks: the top-right corner is shaped in a certain way so that the disk cannot be inserted upside-down.
  • Microwave ovens: a door switch automatically disconnects the activation button when the door of the oven is opened. As a result, it is impossible to cook anything in a microwave oven unless the door (which contains a Faraday cage to block microwaves) is fully closed.

What does poka-yoke look like in software? Certainly error messages and disabled buttons are two examples. But what could we do to provide more feedforward? When we open a web app for the first time and are faced with a potentially complex user interface, what should we be doing first? Next?