California reopens today! Masks are now optional for vaccinated people in most places. As a big supporter of masking, I’m actually very excited to be taking mine off.

Via ABC7 News poll

Yet a recent poll from ABC7 News found that around 1/3 of respondents are anxious about taking masks off.

You may be asking “If wearing a mask is safe, why should vaccinated people in CA unmask?” In short:

  • There’s less virus here
  • It can’t move as quickly here
  • If you get it, you’ll survive and can keep others safe
  • Getting back to normal is important for mental health

A few days ago, I ran across a tweet by Jared Spool that had been making the rounds again. I weighed in with my own thoughts which led to a friendly and substantive debate on the subject of dashboards. But it was more than that — at a more essential level, it was a debate on what role the designer should play regarding the degree of abstraction in a tool.

In other words, ?

I’ll confess to my…

What are the primary sources of friction your users encounter in your app?

An app can have a lot of complexity, which can make it difficult to pin down the primary pain points. Like a hotel, an app can have many branching paths leading to different areas. In a hotel, we have corridors, entryways, and main halls that act as common pathways. In an app, a is any interaction that multiple tasks run through. The Home tab, app navigation, and toolbars are all examples of common conduits.

In a hotel, there’s a lot you can do to create a…

During last month’s WWDC, Apple announced what they call “a new way to discover apps”. And it’s true, this new feature will help people discover new apps, but there’s more to it than that. There are some improvements to the Learnability and Ergonomic Friction of getting an app onto a phone. Except in this case, it’s not exactly an app. It’s an “App Clip” — a single-purpose of an app that appears when a user scans a code or taps their phone to an NFC tag.

And as I hope to show you, it’s about to make a…

Title image reading: Part 3: Five steps toward better efficiency & comfort in your app — CUPID “Get Out of My Way!” @verbiate
Title image reading: Part 3: Five steps toward better efficiency & comfort in your app — CUPID “Get Out of My Way!” @verbiate

The Usability of a product is only part of the story — there’s an important difference between how easy it is to a new app (Learnability) vs. how easy it is to use (Ergonomics).

While Learnability is widely understood, Ergonomics doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. Here’s a quick look at a system for improving the efficiency and comfort (Ergonomics) of your app.

(This article is part of a series — if you’re new here, welcome! For an introduction to UI Ergonomics, check out the first article.)

A quick refresher:
Capability — What a…

Via @texmed

Yesterday, the Texas Medical Association released a Covid-19 risk chart, showing the relative risk involved with various common activities. This is a brilliant move — one that I’ve been eagerly awaiting and one I desperately look forward to seeing others expand upon.

Since the start of the pandemic, we the lay-public have been taking a somewhat all-or-nothing view of risk. We’ll proudly say “Stay safe — Stay home!” and decry any sort of risky behavior as being callous, reckless, or ignorant. And to some degree, this is true.

But if there’s one thing we’ve learned from sex ed in America…

Title image reading: “Get Out of My Way!” Part 2: Design, strategy, and the Learnability/Ergonomics Matrix. @verbiate
Title image reading: “Get Out of My Way!” Part 2: Design, strategy, and the Learnability/Ergonomics Matrix. @verbiate

Welcome back! In the first article, I proposed thinking about “well designed” products as a combination of Capability, Learnability, and Ergonomics (if you haven’t read it yet, I’d recommend starting there). In Part 2, we’ll take a first look at how these three elements interplay, and use a new tool for comparing products against competitors to drive adoption and user love.

A quick refresher:
Capability — What a tool can do
Learnability — How easy it is to learn a tool
Ergonomics — How easy it is to use a tool

Companion video for the…

Title image reading: “Get Out of My Way!” Part 1: What we tend to miss in user testing. @verbiate
Title image reading: “Get Out of My Way!” Part 1: What we tend to miss in user testing. @verbiate

What makes a tool well designed? As a designer, I’ve thought about this question for a long time, and over the past few years I’ve developed a system that I now use with every new project I approach, from small startups to large companies like LinkedIn and Netflix. I find it helps clarify which features to prioritize and gives novel insights about a product’s strengths and weaknesses. This has been surprisingly valuable to me, and I believe this has real value for other Designers, Product Managers, and Design Researchers, too.

I know you’re busy! This is Part 1 of a…

Last week, Tesla held an event focused on their advances in autopilot and what they call “full self driving”. There, nearly three hours into the event, they made the announcement: not only will they have fully autonomous vehicles ready years ahead of the industry’s best estimates, Tesla expects to have a fleet of one million robotaxis on the road in 2020.

This time, there wasn’t the usual whooping and hollering from the Tesla loyalists. Instead, this was an event for investors. …

The tagging feature of Finder is a powerful tool for adding metadata and creating a layer of organization over an arbitrary folder structure. I’ve added tags to much of the content my media center (an old Mac Mini), and it makes it easy to find movies or shows based on their genre, actor, decade, and so on.

Unfortunately, there are some limitations to this. While macOS makes it dead simple to run a search for tags on the local machine, searching a networked machine for tags is nigh impossible. You can create Smart Folders, which are effectively Spotlight searches…

Hans van de Bruggen

On sabbatical. Previously Netflix, LinkedIn. A really hoopy frood.

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