UXD Inspired Reads 2016.10.03


Hello All

The first link is an interesting deep dive into data analysis from a former classmate of mine. Google’s Machine Translation article is an example of a well put together blog post. Insightful and technical, yet in depth enough for most audience members to read. The UXD Team is working though complete examination of FlightBag, starting with a Competitive Analysis. Several UX links are listed that will help you better use, analyze, and build more successful products. Lastly, a nod to Alan Cooper’s seminal book on product and interaction design.

Have a great week.


1. #TrumpWon? trend vs. reality
“A deep dive into the underlying data: Why is everyone so obsessed with this hashtag and the fact that it was in Twitter’s trending topics list the morning after the first presidential debate? Perhaps the competitive nature of a presidential debate — the fact that there’s supposed to be a “winner” — means that we’re reading into any available data point. Maybe due to the nature of this specific election cycle, where facts seem to have become subjective, as people in online echo-chambers consume what they want to believe.”


2. Google Neural Machine Translation system (from Don)
“A Neural Network for Machine Translation, at Production Scale

3. UX Techniques
A comprehensive collection of UX techniques available for use on UX projects.

4. How to Conduct Competitive Research
“Conducting a competitive assessment should be an ongoing process, one in which you continue to deepen your understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. Every business should gather information about the competition and most already do — even if they don’t formalize it into a competitive research process. ‘Everyone really needs to do competitive research. The difference is scale,’ Levy says. ‘You really need to keep your eyes open regardless of how large you are or what you are selling.'”

5. Chapter 4. Conducting Competitive Research
“You were right. I was on the wrong track.
We’re deep in the valley, how deep in the gulley.
And now in the canyon. Out in the yonder.
—SONIC YOUTH (1984)”

“Now that you have a strong positive signal that you’re onto something, you need to ask, “Why hasn’t this solution been built yet?” I hesitate to say that everything has been done, but pretty much everything has been attempted. It’s because individuals and companies have been designing products for distribution and consumption on the Internet for more than 20 years! Knowing what has actually worked or failed is crucial to identifying a competitive advantage.”

6. Competitive Usability Evaluations: Learning from Your Competition
“Definition: Competitive usability evaluations are a method to determine how your site performs in relation to your competitors’ sites. The comparison can be holistic, ranking sites by some overall site-usability metrics, or it can be more focused, comparing features, content, or design elements across sites. Evaluations can take the form of expert reviews, where an experienced usability practitioner reviews the designs based on her expertise and knowledge of usability, or competitive usability testing, where users complete a set of tasks using 2 or more competing sites. Rather than simply looking at a competitor’s site to see what they’re doing and what you personally think is interesting or different, doing an evaluation allows the design team to understand what works and what doesn’t from a user’s perspective or an expert’s perspective.”

7. The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity
“Imagine, at a terrifyingly aggressive rate, everything you regularly use is being equipped with computer technology. Think about your phone, cameras, cars-everything-being automated and programmed by people who in their rush to accept the many benefits of the silicon chip, have abdicated their responsibility to make these products easy to use. The Inmates Are Running the Asylum argues that the business executives who make the decisions to develop these products are not the ones in control of the technology used to create them. Insightful and entertaining, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum uses the author’s experiences in corporate America to illustrate how talented people continuously design bad software-based products and why we need technology to work the way average people think. Somewhere out there is a happy medium that makes these types of products both user and bottom-line friendly; this book discusses why we need to quickly find that medium.”

UXD Inspired Reads 2016.09.28


Hello All –

Autumn always seems to bring a lot of great tech news and new product launches. This week’s UXD Inspired Reading list has some great entries. Don submitted some really great video links, all highly recommended. Tony’s link about Jony Ive makes a salient point – saying “no” can be a really good thing. Lastly Automattic’s founder Matt Mullenweg, (maker of WordPress), reinforces how great tools help distributed software teams achieve success. A good model for us to emulate as much as possible.

Have a great week!


1. Automattic Has Figured Out The Right Tools For Remote Working
“This pioneering tech company figured how to make work-from-home work.”

A very important passage:

“A decade-plus of experimentation has led Automattic to its current set of tools:

  • Slack, a business chat app used for day-to-day communication
  • P2, a WordPress theme modeled after Twitter’s stream with in-line replies for more in-depth discussions
  • Wikis, field guides with content that rarely changes
  • Zoom video conferencing
  • But there were many pain points before it arrived at this arrangement. Originally, Automattic used Internet Relay Chat (IRC), a text chat protocol that predates AOL Instant Messenger, for instant messaging. But with the proliferation of mobile devices, employees sought an easier way to chat from their phones. Skype was far from a perfect solution, but it had a mobile app, making it one of the better offerings in 2008. The main drawback was that conversations were siloed into individual groups, which “is terrible for distributed companies,” says Schneider.

    There was an awkward transition period where employees were expected to be on both IRC and Skype. Eventually, the company migrated to Slack en masse, but even that came with its false starts, as various teams had used and abandoned the chat app before it finally stuck for good in 2014. “Our lifeblood today is Slack and [a WordPress theme] we created called P2,” says Mullenweg.”

    2. Space X Interplanetary Transport System (from Don)
    “Highly recommend you watch the talk + interview… Mind Blown!” Don is right about this link. Elon Musk has a lot of fans and critics, but one undeniable and admirable trait is that he truly believes all problems have a solution.
    Promo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qo78R_yYFA
    Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9olSzNOh8s

    3. Jony Ive, J.J. Abrams, and Brian Grazer on Inventing Worlds in a Changing One – FULL CONVERSATION (from Tony)
    “Lots of excellent design talk about how we come to decisions and the importance of saying “no”. Jony Ives shares a quote about innovation:”
    “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt te world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

    4. Figma (from Don)
    New collaborative design tool.

    5. GOTO 2016 • What I Wish I Had Known Before Scaling Uber to 1000 Services • Matt Ranney (from Don)
    Uber Senior Staff Engineer Matt Ranney makes some great points about the challenges of rapidly scaling software.

    UXD Inspired Reads 2016.09.23


    Hello All-

    More great posts this week. The NYTimes piece is my favorite, albeit strong. Reading the article and watching the video are highly recommended.

    Have a great weekend.


    1. “Uncle” Bob Martin – “The Future of Programming” (from Kwan)
    “Uncle Bob’s (disclosure, I’m a fan) talk on why we lack discipline in software engineering. And why scrum falls apart without discipline. He’s been harping on this point for years. I agree mostly with him on some points, but I found this video interesting he asks “where do these computer programmers come from? Computer science degrees didn’t exists in years after Alan Turing”. 🙂 ”

    2. Software startup abandons try at boss-free workplace (from Don)
    “Pinged Sz many times on why this wouldn’t work, turns out he was right.”

    3. The Mastermind
    More than just an sport article, this entry details why a strong and concistent process helps build successful teams. “Theo Epstein walks to and from Wrigley, eats lunch in the empty bleachers and wants Chicago to see the ivy turn red in October. The Cubs president may be nearing middle age, but his love of the game is shining through more than ever.”

    4. The Many Sad Fates of Mr. Toledano
    “Afraid of dying? Don’t be. Over a period of three years, I stood by my friend’s side while he became homeless and obese, got disfiguring plastic surgery, had a stroke, became an alcoholic, and got busted for insider trading. Then I watched him die — seven different ways. And, truthfully, it may have been the best thing that’s ever happened to us.”

    5. Apple macOS Onboarding Guide
    Apple’s on-boarding guide to their latest OS formerly known as OS X release.

    UXD Inspired Reads 2016.09.16


    Hello All

    Several links for your weekend. There is much work to be done, good work. Keep the faith.


    1. Apple iOS Human Interface Guidelines
    iOS 10 has been released and is out in the wild. With the upcoming FlightBag work, all the more reason for a refresh.

    2. Google Material Design
    And to be sure we cover all bases, don’t forget Material Design.

    3. The Links Between Creativity and Depression
    “And how the design industry can tackle mental health.”

    4. Reducing Cognitive Overload For A Better User Experience
    The best user experience is the one the user doesn’t notice. It appears smooth and simple on the surface, but hundreds of crucial design decisions have been made to guide, entertain, and prevent trouble.

    5. UX Personas: Lighthouses and Little Lies
    “A major difference between knowing a skill and mastering it is knowing when not to use it and how you can change it.”

    UXD Inspired Reads 2016.09.12


    Hello All

    Six great links to start off your week in this installment. Some color theory, leadership advice, commentary, videos, and game theory. A good and varied mix .

    Have a great week.


    1. Why is Facebook Blue?
    “Why is Facebook blue? According to The New Yorker, the reason is simple. It’s because Mark Zuckerberg is red-green colorblind. This means that blue is the color Mark can see the best. In his own words Zuck says:
    “Blue is the richest color for me; I can see all of blue.”
    Not highly scientific right? Well, although in the case of Facebook, that isn’t the case, there are some amazing examples of how colors actually affect our purchasing decisions.”

    2. 8 Secrets of Great Communicators
    “Great communication skills are a powerful tool to have in your arsenal. Here are eight proven strategies that will improve yours today.”

    3. No, Apple, killing your headphone jack is not ‘courage’ (from Joe)
    Bravo: “I’ve been at or watched every Apple keynote and product launch event since 1998. I was there when they killed the CD drive in the Macbook Air and the 30-pin connector in the iPhone 5. I’ve witnessed the demise of every Macbook charger. And I’ve never heard anything as ridiculous emanate from that stage as I did Wednesday, when marketing chief Phil Schiller explained why the iPhone 7 would not have a standard 3.5mm aux cable input, better known as the headphone jack.”

    4. Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap (from Don)
    Fairly short but concise article on how to reboot a game properly.

    Here is a trailer of the reboot:

    5. Digits of Pi – Up to 1 Million Digits
    “Whether you want to very accurately calculate the area of a circle, paint the digits of Pi on your room, face, a t-shirt, or your baby brother, or memorize digits of Pi to impress your friends…
    Note: Memorizing Pi is not guaranteed to impress your friends. But it can be fun as a challenge. :)”

    6. Go First Dice (from Tony)
    “”Go First Dice” are a set of dice which allow some number of players to each roll a different single die (picked arbitrarily from the set) and the following conditions hold:

  • There will never be ties.
  • Each possible ordering of the players (determined by highest result, next highest result, etc) has a mathematically equal chance of occurring.
  • The above conditions hold for every subset of the whole set.
  • This document details the history of such sets of dice, some of the mathematics behind them, what advances may still be made in the research, and where such sets may be purchased.”

    UXD Inspired Reads 2016.09.06


    Hello Folks

    Some great additions this week. Anyone up for seeing Lo & Behold this week in NYC?


    1. Transform your illustration into smart SVG
    “SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphics and SVG files are text files with XML inside. Visual information in an SVG file is defined by human-readable code, which is then calculated and rendered by your browser or graphics software. SVG files are infinitely flexible. They can be altered manually in a text editor. They can be altered by code, such as JavaScript and CSS. They can be compressed to small sizes.”

    2. ​Best App Prototyping Tool – Proto.io vs. InVision vs. Marvel
    “With the increasing number of services becoming available, deciding on the best prototyping tool to adopt in your team’s workflow is not an easy task. Some prototyping tools have a ‘limited’ number of features and capabilities, while others promote a very extensive list. These features are not limited to the interactions the prototype can create, but also include asset management, prototype delivery, and feedback.”

    3. Inside JetBlue’s Quest to Make Plane Food Great Again
    “WHEN JETBLUE HIRED Brad Farmerie to design the airline’s first business class menu in 2014, the chef didn’t bother to study airplane food. “I didn’t want to be daunted by what the onboard cooking possibilities looked like,” he says, “I was going to make sure our headline dishes got onboard.””

    4. Nero’s Rotating Dining Room
    “”The main dining table, which was round, rotated night and day, imitating the motions of the globe.” The surprising construction mentioned by Suetonius in his biography of Nero has been found. On Palatine Hill (Rome), a Franco-Italian team of archaeologists discovered remains of a mechanism that could have allowed the rotation of the floor of the main dining room of the Domus Aurea—Nero’s vast imperial palace.”

    5. Lo And Behold
    “Also going to recommend low and behold by Werner Herzog as a good documentary on the internets”
    “In LO AND BEHOLD: REVERIES OF THE CONNECTED WORLD, the Oscar-nominated Herzog chronicles the virtual world from its origins to its outermost reaches, exploring the digital landscape with the same curiosity and imagination he previously trained on earthly destinations as disparate as the Amazon, the Sahara, the South Pole and the Australian outback. Herzog leads viewers on a journey through a series of provocative conversations that reveal the ways in which the online world has transformed how virtually everything in the real world works – from business to education, space travel to healthcare, and the very heart of how we conduct our personal relationships.”

    UXD Inspired Reads 2016.08.26


    Hello Folks

    Another Week, Another Set. 🙂

    1. Thinking with Joins (From Joe L.)
    “I ran across a very good article I wanted to share by Mike Bostock that dispels confusion about a central technique for working with D3 (i.e. the data join) and a central principle for working with D3 (i.e. “instead of telling D3 how to do something, tell it what you want”).”

    2. Pttrns
    One of my favorite sites for UX inspiration, Pttrns collects mobile, tablet, and desktop screens. A great place to go for UI/UX inspiration and building Competitive Analysis documents.

    3. Pexels
    Another great site for royalty free stock art that is anything but stock. Images are uploaded by community members and can be an excellent source for royalty free images that can make your prototype or website look amazing.

    4. The Golden Age – Airline Luggage Labels (From Tony)
    An interesting set of some wonderful print designed luggage labels. Even an appearance by Mohawk Airlines, Don Draper would be excited.

    5. What is UX Design? 15 User Experience Experts Weigh In
    “Well, I think it’s important to start by saying there’s no commonly accepted definition. User experience design is a concept that has many dimensions, and it includes a bunch of different disciplines—such as interaction design, information architecture, visual design, usability, and human-computer interaction. But let’s try to get a clearer picture of what that really means.”

    Have an excellent weekend.


    UXD Inspired Reads 2016.08.20


    Another set of links for the weekend, your commute, or your porch.

    1. Zero Days Film (from Don)
    “Wanted to add a good Documentary I saw on the weekend”

    2. National Aviation Day (from Tony)
    “Apparently today was national aviation day. Anyway, found this: (PDF warning) Not really UX/UI related, but Iove the design aspects of it.”

    3. Former Google Team Builder Explains How To Overcome Your Team’s Weaknesses
    Sabeen Ali, founder and CEO of AngelHack, a global network of 50,000 programmers shares her insights on how to build and manage a team all over the world.

    4. 5 Vital Steps to Improve Company Culture
    Regardless of what field or industry you are in, building a strong and engaging company culture within a team is at the core of any business’s success.

    5. Tim Cook, the interview: Running Apple ‘is sort of a lonely job’
    Apple’s CEO talks iPhones, AI, privacy, civil rights, missteps, China, taxes, Steve Jobs — and steers right past the car rumors.
    Have a great weekend.


    UXD Inspired Reads 2016.08.12


    Hello All

    It has been a busy couple of weeks for us all. Some great programming links in this week’s edition.

    1. 16 JavaScript Libraries for Creating Beautiful Charts
    I normally dislike drive by listings of the ten greatest X for your Y articles. However, this one seems to be a good primer on JavaScript charting libraries. “It is practically impossible to imagine any dashboard without graphs and charts. They present complex statistics quickly and effectively. Additionally, a good graph also enhances the overall design of your website.”

    2. Carolyn Gregoire and Scott Barry Kaufman: “Wired to Create” | Talks at Google
    “Carolyn Gregoire and Scott Barry Kaufman stopped by NYC to discuss their new book “Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind”.”

    3. The Power Of Introverts
    “In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.”

    4. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
    “At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society.”

    Have a great weekend!


    UXD Inspired Reads 2016.07.31


    Hello All –

    1. Experience Design Will Become Increasingly Important.
    “Retail shopping is not solely about the transactional experience any more. It’s about going into a store, feeling the vibe of that brand and getting that bigger lifestyle out of it. Right now that’s very much an urban, high-end experience, so how do we do that in a more populous way? We are looking a lot at the mall K11 in Hong Kong, and how they have incorporated so many different things in their experience, from having art everywhere to farms that are growing mushrooms that you can pick and have incorporated into your meal to programs for kids. And it’s all very-well curated, so there are always new exhibitions and programs.”

    2. Don Norman: The term “UX”
    “We asked Don what he feels about the way people are using terms like “UX” and “user experience” these days.” Don Norman, Ph.D., is co-founder and principal of Nielsen Norman Group: User Experience Research, Training, and Consulting.

    3. Heidi Grant Halvorson: “No One Understands You and What To Do About It” | Talks At Google
    In particular, she talks about what it’s like to communicate with people in business settings. How we write emails and our “Warmness” when speaking to strangers can change people’s perception of our knowledgeability.

    4. Mythical Perfect Hour Estimation
    “I like to share this blog post I wrote up a while back. I’ve seen companies map Fibonacci sequences to hour buckets and some straight up use hour estimations which actually complicates the SCRUM process. This question comes up very often during scrum adopting. Feedback much appreciated. – Kwan”

    5. The Secret Code To Unleashing The World’s Most Amazing Flavors
    “MY FIRST RESTAURANT, Momofuku Noodle Bar, had an open kitchen. This wasn’t by choice—I didn’t have enough money or space to put it farther away from the diners. But cooking in front of my customers changed the way I look at food. In the early years, around 2004, we were improvising new recipes every day, and I could instantly tell what was working and what wasn’t by watching people eat. A great dish hits you like a Whip-It: There’s momentary elation, a brief ripple of pure pleasure in the spacetime continuum. That’s what I was chasing, that split second when someone tastes something so delicious that their conversation suddenly derails and they blurt out something guttural like they stubbed their toe.”

    Woo hoo!