Design and Future-proof Perfection Through Errors

An UX Angle to the Design of the Business

This is an introduction to a series of posts that will define a design-workflow that plugs into the user-centered design process, within agile or waterfall delivery frameworks, so that it hopefully helps future-proofing as much as possible technical architecture, solution design and homogenizing look and feel. It additionally helps (in a world of competing priorities) closing the chasm between creative and technical team-members.

Whether you are in an organization that rigorously (or procedurally) cares about User Experience or not, you might leverage from using this “show and tell” design-centered approach. But before I start, I’ll give you some of the motivation behind the series:

The title of the post boasts three maxims of today’s buzz-word business environments, where quick business-lingo overthrows thoughtful and strategic execution that facilitates delivery; or as Pixar’s Ed Catmull would put it:

“Merely repeating ideas means nothing. [A] guiding principle, while simply stated and easily repeated, [doesn’t] protect [you] from things going wrong. In fact, it [gives you] false assurance that things would be okay.” [1]

So let’s take a closer look to what all of this means, to bring some sense to where otherwise dogmatic corporate-behaviour seems to have eroded all purpose and meaning. So let’s get started:

  1. Future-proof. Failing to realise that (in the grander scheme of things) you cannot future-proof anything, makes you great at meetings (by using this buzzword) but bad at delivery and decision making. People that future-proof things for real, are those that are able to adapt to constant changes in the environment in which a solution is delivered (like organisms do in nature), and those are whole teams – not individuals, that are flexible with their ideas and the direction they follow, without ever compromising the reason d’être.
Futureproof_Perfection_and_Errors_Forces That Influence Design

Technology, Culture, Needs and History shape our design decisions today, and in the future. As cultural aspects, needs and technology refine our view of technology, in inconspicuous ways it might be easy to futureproof things for tomorrow, than to do it for a year.

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Mobile Phone Gestures

As part of the quick-turnaround, cheap-to-perform UX trend that I try to convince everybody to perform, I was doodling in my notebook some interaction ideas and I ended up with a few hand drawn pictures. The exercise made me think that it would be a good thing to be able to reproduce them faster. So I did put myself to the task.

The whole idea is to use the hands to explain interactions with any kind of prototyping software available. i.e. I did this in Balsamiq 3 (Balsamiq 2 Version available too), but you could do the same in Illustrator, Photoshop, Omnigraffle (I have the vector version on request).

HandsI included the Balsamiq 3 mockup file if you want to play around with it. But you can use the hands in any other kind of software.

Let me know what you think, and if you find it useful I can keep on working on the set, adding smaller hands, other devices, etc.

Happy wireframing.



Stop-and-Think Design


Post inspired on Challenging Canonical Design, and originally published in Pulse.

Back in the 1800’s a huge creative burst happened as a result of the Industrial Revolution, men creating machinery, machinery creating labels, labels displaying brands, brands being consumed (as opposed to goods). Then we saw the same happening again, and again with the Personal Computers, then the Internet (especially with Web 2.0) and then with Smart Mobile Devices, etc. and the flexible nature of software solutio
ns that they were capable of running.

Graphical User Interfaces, Continuous Integration and The Cloud, allowed us to have the latest information displays in our pockets every day; they depict fancy dashboards that clutter our minds with data we don’t need or dashboards that, oblivious to actual user needs, that try too hard to look pretty. However, the convention of more (of the same) is better or prettier (but the same) is better is pervasive in the digital age, in which we tend to multiply offering suppliers rather than value. Continue reading

Challenging Canonical Design

Or how data and emotions lead into beautiful design.

A while ago, I started tracking my weight daily and having healthier habits, with the hope of losing some of it.

I. The Problem

After a few days of tracking my weight with my Fitbit Aria, all the excitement got eroded with the limitations of their data visualizations. Fitbit, and as far as I’m concerned, many weight trackers display time-series linearly. There’s nothing wrong with line charts, but sometimes, they hide information.

For example, Fitbit’s dashboard displays in a line-chart a week worth of weight/BMI data.


The problem with the image above, is that for someone that has been trying to lose weight, or even worse, someone that has problems trying to lose some weight, it might be a bit discouraging to see it, as data for a week might be missing the big picture; see the image below.

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User Experience Design of Everyday Things

Or the story of: How UX Can be Easily Misinterpreted.

I recently stumbled upon the image above. I initially agreed, since it’s a common conception that User Experience is about removing barriers (like shortening the path) between users (in this case pedestrians) and outcomes (get to their destination). But after a few seconds something made me feel uncomfortable with that conception, which is the notion that User Experience is about making the easiest way the right way of doing things. Clearly the “design” from the image above failed to do.

In the image below, we can identify the path that individuals have forged in order to avoid the boom gate, these trails are called desire lines, which follows user’s perceived path of least resistance between their given situation and their desired goal or outcome.

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How to Write New Year’s Resolutions (from the UX Perspective)

or how working in the Software Development Industry as a UX Designer changed the way I undertake New Year’s Resolutions

A wall with sticky notes with New Year's resolutions written in them.

If one or more of your New Year’s Resolutions look like this, and you really want to stick to them, read this post!

We are arriving fast to that time of the year where we reflect about what we’ve done for the last 365 days of our lives. While reflecting on what we have accomplished is a good practice, taking into consideration what we didn’t accomplish and why, is better and may appeal to your problem-solving personality.

We shape our buildings and then our buildings shape us. – W. Churchill.

I started my career as an User Experience (UX) Designer back in the mid-2000s, taking several design decisions every single working day of my life, and that’s why, as much as I try to embed my profession with my own style and personality, I think that UX Design has influenced me as much during the past decade, influencing my daily activities inside and outside work.

We have a nice tradition on Mexico in New Year’s Eve that involves eating 12 grapes while the New Year’s bells are ringing, and with each grape you state a Resolution (my math tells me that this allows for roughly 12 resolutions).

The years went by, and I noticed that my resolutions remained similar year after year: Go to the gym, lose weight, save more, be kinder to people, travel more, etc. But essentially I didn’t accomplish any in a meaningful way, or at least I couldn’t measure their impact in my life.

Working in the Software Development (SD) Industry, specifically in the UX Design has taught me a number of work resources to organize and prioritize software updates and the measure the impact that User Centered Design processes has in software. These same resources are quite handy outside the SD world, like learning how to define User Pain Points, Goals and Problem Statements and how to prioritize work into Potential Shippable Increments (PSI) to get a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). And hopefully after reading this, you’ll get a feeling on how you can use these tools to craft batter New Year’s Resolutions.

The Problem

If your resolutions look like the ones I mentioned above, the intent of the resolutions could be assumed, but relies however, on the context that the resolution is written, if the context changes the original purpose of the resolution gets easily obfuscated; not to mention that it doesn’t allow us to evaluate success.

Traditional Resolutions Set
1. Lose Weight
2. Save Money
The UX Designer’s Resolutions Set
I. Lose Weight Lose 0.25kg weekly so that I avoid the risk of developing diabetes or cardiovascular diseases.
II. Save Money Save $50 weekly so that I can buy the camera I need to become an acclaimed photographer.

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