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.
The question I had never though about. (You can also read this post on Medium)
Ever since I was a child, I’ve been pretty active and athletic. I was almost always running around or climbing (and falling off of) things. I carried my interest in sports as a hobby throughout high school and college, signing up for cross country, track & field, basketball and tennis teams. Although I enjoy the competitive nature of sports, I never really wanted to become a professional athlete. It’s always been more of a hobby, something I enjoy doing that gets the blood flowing and makes me feel good. I’ve been out of college and working for three years now, and for the last two years, I’ve adopted a new activity: triathlon.
My interest in triathlon has slowly become more of a lifestyle than a hobby. I’ve competed in over 10 races in the last two years and even signed up for a full Ironman race, which I’ll be doing in a couple of weeks. Few of my friends have such interests, and speaking with one of them recently, these questions came up: why do I do it? Why do I “train” as opposed to “exercising” or “working out”? What keeps me signing up for more races?
At first, I had no answer to these questions. It’s not something I had ever thought about. Training and racing triathlons is something I enjoy, so I just do it. While I was driving home from a race a few weeks ago, I tried to think about what drives me to continue this lifestyle.
1. The sense of accomplishment
The first thing that came to mind was the sense of accomplishment it gives me. It was 10 o’clock on a Sunday morning and I was on my way home from swimming 1.5km, cycling 40km, and running 10km. Most of my friends would just be waking up at this time, getting ready to start their day. Ever since I got into triathlon, it’s made me feel like I’m living life to the fullest. Managing my time has become more important. I’ve learned to cherish the time I spend with my friends, and I’ve become more efficient at most of the things I do.
2. Energy and productivity
I’ve built training into my daily routine, and have accepted it as something that I do every day. Going to work after a good training session makes me feel energized and productive, with plenty of energy to power through the day. Ever since starting regular training, I’ve been able to wake up feeling fully rested after only 6-7 hours of sleep, as opposed to 8 or 9 and still waking up groggy. Having a training schedule provides me with a strong sense of routine, while leaving enough room for spontaneity. The days seem longer and it definitely feels like I’m getting more out of life.
Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree.”
― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
3. Time alone
Training on a regular basis provides me with plenty of time alone, where I can disconnect and let my mind wander, or reflect on other things that are happening in my life. Whether if I am spinning away kilometers on the trainer, or running the trails in Golden Gate Park, it feels good to be liberated from the bounds of digital devices. No emails, text messages or calls; just me and the earth beneath my feet.
4. Supportive community
No matter where you are in the world, the triathlete community is growing. I’ve found that one of the most unique attributes triathletes have,is how welcoming and supportive they all are. It doesn’t seem matter if you’ve just signed up for your first sprint triathlon or if you’re an accomplished Ironman. Through success and injury, it’s a unique feeling to have so many people eager to help you reach your goals and support you emotionally along the way. In the end, we’re all in this together.
5. Health awareness
Striving for improved performance has naturally made me more aware about my general health and wellness. The better you take care of your body, the stronger and more endurance you will have. By nature, training for endurance sports focuses on improving the performance of the human body. I’m becoming able to better understand the subtle nuances of my body, and what it requires to “fuel” it properly (in order to be at my optimal operating capability). I’m more in tune with my daily nutrition and hydration, and have subconsciously started to make more involved decisions about when and what I’m eating. As my cycling coach Meredith Kessler says: “we’re becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable”, and I’m seeing this philosophy making me stronger in many other aspects of life.
Many of the feelings described above might also apply to other sports or activities. Get out there, get involved with something you enjoy, and reap the benefits from the positive side-effects. You’ll be amazed by how much you will learn about yourself, and about your life. It’s rewarding to know that you’re using you body for what it was designed to do: being active. You’d be surprised by what your body is capable of, and I’ve discovered that through triathlon.
Sometimes, when It’s foggy and gloomy in the city, you just need to go looking for the sun. Yesterday’s ride to the top of Mt. Tamalpais was a great change of scenery, and it was beautiful up there.
Going through my first film roll with the QL17. Some of the pictures came out quite well.