AirBnb Histogram Visualization

Histogram Controls

Was just looking for some weekend accomodation and saw this beautiful slider on AirBnB. Gave me a concise way to look at the distribution of prices for listings, exposing any outliers as well as the average in one elegant display. An enhancement might be to have some small separation between buckets, and make them clickable so that I might jump directly into that price category.

Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 2.17.27 PM

How AngelList is Changing Recruitment

Reviewer’s Note: This feedback is coming from the experience as an hiring employer as well as job-seeking candidate on AngelList – but not one of an investor nor a fundraiser. AngelList was pivotal in introducing the concept of crowd-based funding rounds, and now investor syndication, areas that I don’t delve into much (yet). Plenty has been written on both this concept as well as Naval’s efforts to change laws around crowdfunding. Initially labeled ‘Angel List Talent’, the now incorporated jobs / recruitment functionality of AngelList has been a happy side effect to the greater forces at play on this platform.

UX Research at Scale

User Experience Research at Scale

The good folks at Boxes and Arrows published an article I wrote on how to conduct User Research at a small company. This article is targeted at user experience practitioners at small- to mid-size companies who want to incorporate a component of user research into their workflow. Give it a read!


Pair Design Sketchnotes

Great sketch notes by Chris Noessel of TimMcoy’s talk. I wondered what it was that he was furiously scribbling last night.

Pandora Talk

Pair Design Twosday

I was proud to put together what turned out to be a great talk last night in Oakland, with Tim McCoy, Suzy Thompson, Chris Noessel and Karl Dotter each sharing their successes and techniques around Pair Design. A crowd of about 200 designers made their way across the Bay into Oakland to be hosted by some great food and drinks from Pandora.


Doodled by Dotter

Thanks to Karl Dotter for the illustration of my talk at Trulia the other day. All this will indeed change, but I hope that we continue to have such a great community of designers. And you even got the calic right!

OH: Twitter Bootstrap is the "Featuring Pitbull" of web development...

Good Good – But Different!

Great alternate take on an old favorite song. Love the syncopation that he does throughout the bridges, especially the end breakdown. Hardest working man in show business, even in the afterlife.

Nick Cawthon - IXDA talk

UX Career Advice – IxDA San Francisco Talk

I really enjoyed speaking at the Trulia penthouse last night for the IXDA event at SF Design Week. A sold out crowd of about 120 attendees and volunteers were very engaging and responsive to how to hire and how to be hired for UX positions. I was impressed with the level of attendees, there were SVPs from Salesforce, Design Directors from Yahoo! and Founding members of the Designer Fund all participating and sharing knowledge.

Sharon Cardinal was the first speaker of the evening, and she was extremely practical in how she screens and audits all of the leads that she sees. Her advice was a positive assessment of how not to get lost in the noise of applicants of the industry. Danielle Arvanitis followed her with a great deal of experience in both Enterprise and User Research and emphasized the energy of a team, personality types, and the inexact science with finding the right fit.

My talk tried to blow all of this up, by suggesting that this is all going to go away and UX is just a meme. Abandon the resume, abandon the business cards and focus instead on the relationships around you. We’re a very small community (but growing) here in San Francisco, and creating these connections pays off in dividends. Be patient, stay with it and your career and network will grow accordingly.


UX & the Big Blue

Saw over at Core 77 today the news that IBM is going to invest $100M in 10 different cities around the world, hiring 1000 employees. First off IBM, what’s with the powers of ten in the press releases? Could we state that each employee make $100,000 in salary? Nonetheless, it signals a great nod to the profession as a whole, given Big Blue isn’t really known for this generation’s usability. IBM was likely steeped in traditional HCI research long ago when it was more heavily invested in hardware, but other than their cloud service offerings, I can’t think of a single customer-facing product that I’ve come across from IBM in years. This is likely my limited scope of only using Snapchat and UberFacts for all my productivity needs.

Tablet First

Tablet First Talk : IxDAsf

I had the opportunity to host another great IXDAsf event this week, with Abi Jones, Christian Crumlish and Paul McAleer in town for their SXSW talk of TabletFirst Design. A group of about 50 of us were graciously hosted by Cooper, who were showing off their swanky new offices downtown, and we were in for a treat.

User Research

Design for Experience Awards

Received a nod for an Innovative User Research Method in the Design for Experience awards this week. This project was a price-point survey for oyster cultivation that was performed on connected tablets around the ferry building. Funded by the Canadian government, several hundred participants viewed multimedia pieces educating them about the process, and provided out a quantitative and qualitative response around their oyster consumption habits via web form. The clients were able to view results in real-time and adjust recruitment strategies accordingly.


REDUX of a Feather 2014 : IxDA

It was my great pleasure to host over 120 IxDs this weekend. We converged at Salesforce to take in a recap of IXDA’s international conference in Amsterdam, featuring local speakers giving their talks for their hometown fans. The venue could not have been better. Screens on every wall, microphones at every table made this a very casual, open experience for speaker and attendee alike.

We carved the eight speakers into two halves – a morning and afternoon session. It was unintentional, but the transcendence of the morning informed some of the practicality of the afternoon. Whereas one was very high-level and challenging conceptually, the other was boots on the ground in the execution:


Guerilla Usability Research

The good folks at Boxes and Arrows published an article I wrote. It covers some tools and techniques around guerrilla usability testing at conferences. Have a read!


Just Say No

planetary wireframes

Planetary Wireframes

Why do companies get it wrong? They either don’t do testing or just ignore the results. -- Jakob Nielsen

So Scary! Happy Halloween

Microsoft's Internet

Cannot Read from Drive A:

The internet on a disc; still holds up better than Windows 8. My favorite line is ‘Take the Internet with you, wherever you go – fit it in your pocket!’. We’re lucky enough to be able to do that today, but have thankfully dispensed with the 3.5 floppy.


Tweeting a Instagram+MySpace Burn!

You mess with the MySpace bull, you get the horns.


Body Language

I often resemble this in meetings. The more corporate jargon that is spewed forth, the more I sketch pencil and pen – a good thing perhaps, devolving to the binary form. Just someone point me to the monolith, please.

artificial artificial

Artificial Artificial Optimisim

First time through Mechanical Turk this afternoon. Love the Artificial Artificial Intelligence sub-header – encourages me to feel optimistic about using the site.


Improving Hiring for User Experience (Part Two)

Thanks again to UX Mag, for posting the second part of the article on hiring for UX. I hope it can help serve both applicant and interviewer alike. And no, I wasn’t joking about the scented resumes. Nothing says techno-professionalism like eau de chocolate. Read Part Two of the article here.

The self-deletion of a Twitter account due to public scorn. Our instinctual response to a modern-day stoning. #2DayFM
Koalas to the Max

The Useless Web – Koalas to the Max

Thanks, Adaptive Path, your reference to Koalas to the Max (via the Useless Web) just shaved years of my already sporadic productivity.

Alone Together

Book Review : Alone Together

Sherry Turkle’s book, Alone Together, draws upon heavily from her years at the MIT robotics lab. She chronicles her time working with some of the early consumer-focused virtual ‘friends’, often drawing upon experiences her own daughter had growing up with robots she brought home. Turkle discusses the different emotive connections that we, as humans, automatically create with what we perceive to be sentient beings.

Improving Hiring for User Experience

Improving Hiring for User Experience (Part One)

Thank you to the good folks over at UX Magazine, for publishing the first of a two-part article, Improving Hiring for User Experience. Sorry that Ricky Gervais couldn’t join the party, he was especially proud of the photoshopped “Elements of UX” diagram on the whiteboard behind him.

IXDAsf : User Research Panel

I had the pleasure of hosting Nate Bolt, Mark Trammell, Jackie Cerretani Frank and Sasha Lubomirski for an event recently with the Interaction Designer’s Association of San Francisco.

Hosted by our fine friends at Yelp, Bolt and his team of merry men and women presented in a wonderful format. A Quora thread was set-up a few weeks beforehand to allow those in presence, as well as remotely, to ask questions to the panel in real-time.


Book Review : Remote Research by Nate Bolt

Remote Research is excellent for an active practitioner that is preparing to, or currently conducting research in the field of usability research. Bolt successfully frames the type of work that he does, bucking the archaic state of the research industry, stagnant with two-sided mirrors, offline engagements, and limited quantitive tactics. The age of information has opened up our ability to test, survey and probe a wider number of participants than ever before.

Mind Storm, Mind blown.

One epic Lego Mindstorm project, cycling little nerf balls around what has to be the most amazing of automated toy project. FastCo does a great job of layering in some anti-design perspective into their writeup:

Any of us who talk about design on a daily basis inevitably focus on an idea of core elegance, when simplicity, efficiency, and functionality combine in a fundamentally beautiful product. It’s a fun wake-up call to remember just how much delight one can find in the total opposite end of the spectrum, that inefficiency, overwroughtness, and sheer organizational absurdity has its place in the joy of design, too.

As a father of a child who will be coming into Legos within the next few months, I can’t wait to start the education process on building mountains out of grains of plastic.

A billion dollars isn’t cool, you know what’s cool? Cell phone pictures of food.

iPhone 5 & the Yip Yips

The Jesus phone iterates yet again. The Sesame Street aliens, the Yip Yips, are still unimpressed as they have neither hands, nor fingers. Nope nope nope nope.

Raider Hater

Just Stream, Baby!

One sleepy Monday evening, when trudging back Eastbound and Down to the Island City of Alameda – I wanted to tune into a certain football team whose name is the Oakland Raiders play their inaugural shattering of expectations and hopes game. Imagine the frustration when, for a service that I have paid for, I am restricted by device from watching the game. If I’m restricted by bandwidth (3G / 4G vs. WiFi), I can understand that – the mobile providers don’t want to overload their networks with streaming data. If I’m restricted by account access, I can understand that as well – not paying for ESPN means I shouldn’t be able to watch the game on their network. What I don’t understand is the assumption that they’re making between viewing habits of a user on a phone versus a tablet (where the device restriction is lifted).

hotdog UI

There’s Money in that Hot Dog Stand

Came across this abhorration of a UI from my new favorite site, Coding Horrors. Where to start with this one? How many elements are obsolete by now? The 386 chip icon is pretty flash, as is the SCSI port cable. What was cardfile, a contacts application? I’m too young to remember Microsoft Bob, but if he’s anything like his cousin the paperclip – I’m glad he never entered into my consciousness. Funny that no applications had custom icons, what a train wreck.


Behance & Beyonce

A quiet moment of serendipity this morning, while reading my email during the slog of the morning commute. Lo, both Beyonce and Behance were back to back in the inbox. Ms. Knowles, you not only ‘don’t often email me’… you never email me. Nor text, nor call, nor write. A lonely wretch like me who spends his time on portfolio sites like Behance, instead of with the jigga man spreadin the cheese. For reals.


iCloud v. gCloud v. Dropbox Deathmatch

With the birth of my first child, the amount of digital imagery we’ve generated has grown exponentially. Multiple iPhones, iPads, DSLRs and other sources are all contributing to this stream of documentation that we’re generating our son’s every step, laugh or gurgle.

Franklin’s first photo was taken before he even left the womb, the anesthesiologist taking my Nikon and snapping my wife’s innards as they’re still on the operating room table. Shortly after, our brand new baby boy was carefully lifted from the incision, and quickly moved to the warming table within 15 seconds. That’s when his flourishing EXIF career began.


Book Review : Designing for Emotion

The third of three book reviews from the A Book Apart series around writing, design and development for the web. Designing for Emotion is another pamphlet-sized novella on how to generate emotion in simple things like layout, tone, palette and other elements of interaction design. There were more than a few insights of discovery that were worth the quick read – for example, Twitter’s new layout was based on a nautilus shell, where each component of the layout was exponentially smaller than the conjoining section. The author, Aaron Walter, also took a chapter of time to discuss the connection people have with cartoon-like figures, the MailChimp mascot being a prime example of how when we think something is cute, we gravitate to it. Maybe this is why LOL cats is a million dollar industry.

Email Barack

Havin’ Trouble Quittin’ You, Barack

Great discovery to help offset an initially negative reaction. After receiving my 10,000th email from the campaign in Obama’s first term – I was dun. D-U-N, dun. Nothing against you or your policies (although drone-based warfare does have real consequences), it was just that you were emailing me four times a day. Every peep that an idiot GOP’er uttered, I got an email. If a fundraising deadline was less than 100 days away – I got an email. You’ve got my vote, just don’t take my inbox. You’ll pry my gmail, when you take it from my cold, dead hands.

It was to much delight when I was re-inspired by a aspirational video auto-playing, as well as an option to deescalate the situation by just selecting ‘fewer’ emails. Self-recognition is an emotion not often found in the world of direct marketing. So, yes, Barack – we’re still friends. Maybe you won’t call as often as before, but you can still feel free to drop me a line.

Code Lola Code

Grooved on this one all morning. Great soundtrack for productivity, great movie for entertainment. Run, Lola, Run!

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Book Review : Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson

The echoing retort from this book lies in the question that Jobs often snapped in response to criticism, “so, what have you ever done in your life?”. It’s was Jobs’ strong response to ask when someone is trying to tear you down, especially over seemingly insignificant things. All of the shortcomings that Jobs, he measured up against this tenet. He would ask of himself and others, ‘what have they done to change the world?’. He was truly one of the most innovative businessmen of our generation, on par with Murdoch, Branson, or Ellison.

User Experience Dominating

Viva User Experience, RIP Information Architecture

There will be no Dawn for IA. According to, “User Experience Designer” has completely blown away all the other industry job titles over the past six years. No longer are we to architect information – no longer must castles be drafted of data. It is not about the structure, it’s now all about the experience, man. Good luck to all those applicants out there!

Gestureworks Library

Open Source Gestures Library

A great resource for anyone designing tablet or mobile applications, this GML (Gesture Markup Library) goes a long way to standardize the way Interaction Designers draft their specs. From two finger pinch to the patented five finger triple tap, this open source typeface will allow you to quickly your gesture references with a single keystroke.

Even visionaries can misread their customers when they are blinded by their past success. -- Greg Sandoval

UX is neither a profession, nor a career

A disruptive view from someone who moved tech director to become a UX director. @burtbrumme. S’OK Burt, if you want to spend engineering resources away from your keyboard, we’d love to have you join us. The accountability is both of ours.

He who flings mud only loses ground -- Fat Albert