Agile/lean

Why Snowflakes Are Counterintuitively Integral to Design Systems

Why Snowflakes Are Counterintuitively Integral to Design Systems

The problem Design systems (e.g. style guides, pattern libraries, etc.) are all the rage. They speed product design through consistency of patterns, components and behaviors which, in turn, drives out random, one-off elements (let’s call them ‘snowflakes’). It’s a noble goal, except that design systems also slow down product teams. The drive for consistency and the efficiencies that stem from it can crowd out the flexibility needed to craft the right element for the right situation at the right time. How do we embrace this conundrum? By not making it a conundrum. We can embrace snowflakes as a positive aspect…

What NASA Knows About Great UX Management

What NASA Knows About Great UX Management

In the 1970s, NASA undertook an assessment of airline pilot performance. They needed to understand why pilot error had become the leading cause of airline accidents. What they learned helped make commercial air travel one of the safest modes of transport in the U.S. today. Their research shed light on the importance of workload, leadership and communication — integral aspects of running successful UX engagements. What can we learn from this seminal research? Balancing Workloads Research found the best performing airline captains kept tabs on their crew’s workload. Interestingly, pilot error wasn’t typically due to lack of skill or knowledge of proper…

Denver Startup Week Panel Session

I had the privilege to sit alongside visual designer Geoff Thomas, developer Sean Dougherty and fellow UXer Jim Orsi as the panelists for the Caffeine, Bits & Pixels: Design & Tech Breakfast Panel, one of the many great sessions during this year’s Denver Startup Week. The discussion covered a lot of ground, but was grounded in a common theme, that of the benefits of agile/lean work practices. It was readily evident that the industry is quickly moving past a waterfall process and all of its inherent side effects toward a much more inclusive, collaborative and responsive mentality. It’s powering the ability of web…