Boumalne Dades (بومالن دادس), Morocco
We stopped here for a break on our way to the Sahara Desert, and were welcomed with the traditional Moroccan mint tea by two very nice young men. They said their village had not had any rain all year and that they need it badly for their crops. Hopefully it will rain soon “إن شاء الله” God willing.
In a time where many cities in the United States and Europe take pride in their recycling programs (which are all initiatives that I support), i was particularly inspired by the culture of reuse and reduced waste that I noticed when traveling around Morocco a couple weeks ago.
They dont waste very much. Food portions are all very reasonable, the way they should be. They don’t give you a massive wad of napkins when you order a kebab. There are very few disposable containers. They have managed to take the idea of fast-food and ‘on-the go’ food by providing very fast service for an at-the-counter experience. Get your food served instantly on real dishes that will get washed and re-used. Makes sense right?
The picture above is of in the the main market of Marrakech. There are many orange juice stands where you can walk up, and get a glass of fresh orange juice in a real glass. You drink it (and in my case, get your shoes shined while I drank), get your dose of Vitamin C, return the glass, and be on your merry way. No need to carry around a plastic cup that is just going to be thrown away 5 minutes later. There is way too much of that going on in America.
Living in San Francisco, it is often hard to avoid the occasional to-go container, but as a new years resolution, i am going to make it a point to avoid restaurants that routinely overdo packaging and eat inside instead of taking my food to-go.
Entertainment, circa 2013.
Found this picture of us playing the Google Chrome racer game. It feels like a milestone of “this is what entertainment was like”. We’ll probably be laughing at this in 5 years.
I recently finished reading Designing for Emotion by Aarron Walter and we talked about it at the last UX book club event in San Francisco.
I’d recommend this book to anyone involved in the creation of new products, especially anyone who’s involved in the design and development of digital services. For designers, this book might not go into as much depth as some might like, but it’s a great reminder for things that you might not have thought about. The book contains many great topics that can spark interesting conversations about what you might be working on.
One of the parts of the book that I enjoyed the most talked about brand personality. I found it particularly relevant as our design team is still trying to figure out how to represent our growing company’s personality.
"If people don’t understand your personality, chances are they’re not the right customer for you, and you’re actually saving yourself future customer relations problems."
This book is a quick read and gives some good examples and inspiration that can help to build products that people will love.
Went on an adventure with my sister yesterday, it was beautiful. Check out the photos on Exposure.
Lost coast adventure. thewronski:
Toi and Jerome ready for the Lost Coast
Chris tells a story
Over the last few months, Mailchimp has been showing up on my radar more and more. One thing after the other, I’ve become very impressed with their work and the story of the company. They have been able to take something rather dull (email marketing) and made it approachable, friendly, and lovable.
It all started with Aarron Walter’s article on A List Apart. Hearing his experiences from growing a UX design team of 1 to 11 people was really inspiring. It particularly spoke to me because I am facing the exact same challenges being the only UX designer at Firespotter Labs.
Mailchimp also has a UX newsletter, which always contains awesome articles on their process and how they approach particular design challenges, and other creative resources. Here is their latest issue on rhythm & grid.
And then I found out about Voice and Tone. It’s a style guide for messaging that’s available as a resource to all employees of the company. Awesome stuff.
On Monday, I had a couple hours to spare in Atlanta, so I got the chance to meet up with Fernando and Caleb from their UX design group. They showed me around their workplace. Once again I was impressed. You could feel the creativity oozing through the walls. Photo studios, 3d printers, and robots are just there, ready to be played with. Check out Design Lab to see some of their awesome creative projects.
Mailchimp has great energy and creativity and I think many companies can learn from them. I’ll definitely to keep my eye out for new things from these guys. Continue to inspire.
Had an awesome time shooting photos at Ocean Beach with Jenny and Sheena. Check out their lookbook for the rest of the photos. (via Acrimony)
(This post is also on Medium)
Over the last year, I’ve been increasingly delighted by minor refinements in User Experience, especially for products that have been around for a while. Something that struck me was that I found many of these small, incremental improvements to be more meaningful to me than many entirely new products and services that present more holistic ways of solving a problem. There are two notable examples that prompted me to write about this. The first is how iCal updated the way you set the time for an event you create (you no longer need to type in the time manually, and instead choose the duration from a drop down). The second is how the messages app on iPhone remembers that I type to my father in French, so it opens the French keyboard when I go back to our thread. There are many more notable micro-interactions that continue to bring pleasure to my usage of various products. Alicia, who writes Spiked Punch Bowl has made a list of her favorite ones and goes into detail about some of the reasons why they are delightful (entertaining read).
“The details are not the details. They make the design.” —Charles Eames
At the beginning of the summer, I attended an event at Smart Design titled “The Power of Thinking Small: Micro-interactions & Why They Matter”. The event took place just in time to celebrate the release of Dan Saffer’s new book appropriately titled Microinteractions, where he explores the power of paying attention to little details while striving towards a bigger vision. I was excited, because it was something that I had noticed was happening, but I had no name for it. By creating this term, Dan was able to capture the essence of what it means for details to create pleasure in digital experiences. Moving forward I am excited by the idea of Microinteractions being a “thing” that you actively think about during the design process.
One of my personal highlights of the evening at Smart Design, happened towards the beginning of the panel discussion. Dan had asked everyone to go around and mention one or two of their favorite Micro-interactions. Karen Kaushansky, formerly design director at Jawbone was first. She goes on to talk about a pleasant experience she had while setting up her Automatic link in her car, specifically a step in the set up process that lets the user turn on the flashlight since it’s usually dark under the dashboard.
It turns out that that design decision was a direct result of a user testing session that I conducted one afternoon in a Safeway parking lot. We were testing out some wireframes for the process of installing the Automatic Link in your car, and looking for feedback about the experience. One research participant was having a hard time finding the port to plug the device into. “Are you sure there is a plug there? It’s really dark and I can’t see” she says, holding the iPhone in her hand. And then it clicked. The flashlight should be incorporated within the installation process.
One of the reasons this was so meaningful to me is hearing the delight created by this micro-interaction from a stranger (I had not met Karen prior to that evening). It’s encouraging and motivating to hear people appreciating the thought behind the design. Throughout the rest of the evening, we talked about appropriate microinteractions based on context, the concerns with getting caught up in details when building a product, and the value of spending time refining details once the original design is in place.
In the end, we all agreed that microinteractions in UX design is about creating small delightful surprises. They have the ability to take a product from one with pure functionality, to one that is engaging and has personality (it could even help for distinguishing a brand). By paying close attention to these details, we can start to make our interfaces more friendly, human and enjoyable. The future in User Experience design looks bright.