Design Systems: Rules vs. Norms

Atomic Design “…introduces a methodology for thinking of our UIs as thoughtful hierarchies…” writes Brad Frost. His system begins with atoms, the smallest documented units — think buttons, typographical styles, and the like. Combining atoms together creates a molecule. Multiple molecules and/or atoms in combination form an organism, and so on up the hierarchy. Any atom will […]

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 State of Bread in This Country

Here’s a typical bread display at any mass market grocer. And here’s a typical list of ingredients (this one from Dave’s Killer Bread’s 100% whole wheat loaf): Organic whole wheat (organic whole wheat flour, organic cracked whole wheat) Water Organic dried cane syrup (sugar) Organic expeller pressed canola oil Organic wheat gluten Organic molasses Organic cultured […]


One of Trump’s latest tweets… Kellyanne Conway went to @MeetThePress this morning for an interview with @chucktodd. Dishonest media cut out 9 of her 10 minutes. Terrible! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 8, 2017 His conclusion is hypocritical, of course. As a public figure who uses Twitter to communicate with the public, he is […]

New Food

As the primary cook in the family, food is always on my mind. Every weekend, the inevitable question ‘what do you want to eat this week?’ is spoken and, not uncommonly, followed by grunts, sighs, or just plain silence when the usual meals grow old and no new ideas exist. Lately, this has been the case for us […]

Building Team Rapport

Promote better interpersonal relationships and understanding while at work You’ve all been there and done that: the company “team bonding” extravaganza. The ones that might be held off site and include facilitated exercises, games and the like. You’ve had a front row seat to the awkwardness that can ensue — “forced fun” as I’ve heard it described […]

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 […]

Book Notes: Dark Matter and Trojan Horses

Notes (quotes, really) from Dan Hill’s Dark Matter and Trojan Horses. A Strategic Design Vocabulary. Some of these are a tad out of context. I’d read the book if I were you. It’s very good, short and has both high level strategy ideas and lower level tactical examples. What gives designers the right to approach such complex areas, usually […]

UX Agencies Sell (and Clients Buy) Informed Decision Making

What is User Experience (UX)? UX is a process, an approach, a way of thinking and an outcome. Outcome, in particular, is the key aspect to UX’s value. Are you solving a real problem? Are you tackling something meaningful to people? Are you bettering the organization, the system, the… whatever? I hope so. Otherwise, you’re […]