UX Project Part 2

UX Project Start to Finish (Part 2): Cluster Your Findings.

(If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, it’s probably better to start here)

Ok, so we’ve finished talking to our potential users and we’ve taken notes, maybe some recordings and have our surveys and diaries. Now it’s time to get that data in order so we can start figuring out what kind of a product we’re going to make.

Write all motivations and behaviours on Post-it notes

The easiest way to do this is to take one participant’s notes at a time and start how they THINK, FEEL and BEHAVE on Post-It notes.

Here’s an example of how some of these Post-its might look for this particular project:


You get the point, just write everything down, you might end up with about 50 (in some projects 100s) Post-its lying around a table like this:


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UX Project User Research

UX Project Start to Finish: User Research (part 1)

My “How To” articles are the articles I would have loved to have read 4 years ago. This was a time when I was wading through articles, book and courses to really understand what UX was really about. The problem for me was that there was just too much impractical noise. Advice like “design for emotion” or “the best interface is no interface” were all well and good, but didn’t tell me anything about working in real-life UX projects.

I don’t want you to have to wade through the same bullshit, especially on my site.

This is part 1 of a 10-part series. It’s essentially a blueprint for what a general UX project looks like. Of course every project and client have their own twists on the formula, but the elements general stay the same. I should also mention that this is a simplified version of a full, in-depth UX project. Some processes have been left out for the sake of giving you the ‘big-picture’. 

For the sake of this post, i’m going to use made-up example of an app. I really hope this helps you!


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Mailbox for Mac Review

The future of email or
just another pretty distraction?

Email is a touchy subject. It can be distracting, overwhelming, even addictive for some people. Above everything else, it’s necessary – but as a testament to how imperfect email is, the design and tech communities are full of people trying everything to avoid having to use it, trying to find a better solution. Every so often another company comes along that claims to have created something that will finally let you say goodbye to email  – and sure, some of them are actually quite nice. Slack has been gaining traction, but time will tell if people are ready for a departure that radical. The problem is, when you try to replace something as ingrained as email, everybody has to be in on it. Everybody has to be willing to willing to learn a new system.

Email is universal, multi-platform and omnipresent. Finding a workaround for the problems and shortcomings of email is a nice design exercise. Actually fixing it is the real challenge.

The Mailbox team (now acquired by Dropbox), have taken on this challenge and succeeded.


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Sexy design won’t save your crappy product (sorry)

I recently worked on a project for a very large client. They had spent more than a year and millions of euro developing a mobile app before we were called in, but when me and my colleagues at AJ&Smart took a look at it, the app was a complete mess. It was a daunting mishmash of current trends and design patterns, and despite designing apps for a living, I genuinely didn’t know how to use it. Neither did the dozens of test users they had brought in.

There were animations everywhere. The different screens were suspended in a sort of 3D environment, and, naturally, everything was customisable. I have to admit: the app looked glorious. But, like a beautiful house built on a swamp, it didn’t have a solid foundation (and unusable due to the swamp creatures surrounding it).

His colleagues agreed. These apps were, in fact, cool.

4 weeks passed, during which we ripped apart, restructured, and redesigned the app. It was now apparent to us what had happened, and why the app was doomed to ultimately return to its original state. Nevertheless, I presented the new version to top man and explained as best I could all the tradeoffs that had to be made and the features that had to be killed for the app to make sense.

His reaction? The app was now boring. (more…)

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Hamburger Menu

Want the best User Experience? Make it harder to add features.

Adding features is easy when you design with scalability in mind. But is that really a good thing?

The hamburger menu pattern has gotten a lot of bad press in the design community over the past few months. Most of the negative attention it’s garnering relates to usability issues like lower discoverability, information not being glancable and that it clashes with other navigation patterns. Worst of all, it allows for complacence, leading to a sloppy information architecture.

For me though, it brings to light a different issue entirely; it makes scaling in apps and adding features too easy.

Hamburger menu on the Jawbone app

Need a to add a new navigation 6 months down the line? Easy, stick it in the hamburger menu. It acts as an easy way to scale an app without compromising the overall look and feel.


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Kindle Love

My Kindle sucks, but I love it

Why clear priorities are at the core of great product design

The Kindle Paperwhite, one of my most-used and most-loved possessions, is a creaky plastic rectangle with an ancient-looking black and white display. As a device, it’s far removed from the sexy, exciting world of tech product design, and for a company that’s trying to make delivery drones an actual thing, you’d be forgiven for expecting something a little more advanced. Every iteration of the Kindle has been basic, understated, and (some might say) boring. Even reading, its main function, is a bit crappy. Turning the page causes the entire screen to blink in and out of existence, just like when you’re reading a real book and you drop it down the stairs.

The software is simplistic; relatively easy to use, sure, but not the most consistent. As a product, it’s not exactly sexy or thrilling. The first time I saw a friend using a Kindle I thought: “Wow, that looks like a piece of shit.”

But as soon as I started reading my first book on a Kindle, all of these criticisms turned out to not matter at all.

The Kindle is an example of a product that thrives on technological and budgetary constrains.

Here’s the thing about the Kindle: it works. When you read a book on it, the hardware and software disappear. The content itself becomes the only thing. This is a product doing exactly what it’s supposed to do, and doing it without a fuss, without begging for my attention. Unlike those needy delivery drones, pestering people for signatures…


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