CircleCI - Once activated, the input placeholders become input labels.
/via Hank Stoever


CircleCI - Once activated, the input placeholders become input labels.

/via Hank Stoever



Being an entrepreneur is sexy… for those who haven’t done it.  In reality it’s gritty, tough work where you will be filled with self doubt.  Entrepreneurs are survivors.

- Mark Suster





my drunken need to show affection finds a new outlet

I teared up a little.

deeply relate to this


7 ways I would sell UX to a CEO

I was recently asked how I would sell UX to a CEO.  It got me to thinking about all the advantages I’ve personally learned come from UX well executed.  And I realized it’s a lot more than just “your customers will love your product.”

1 - You will dramatically increase the output of your development team and get a lot more for your programming dollars

Back in the old days, when we walked through the snow to get to work, companies would ask dev teams to do everything.  As time went by we started to formalize the process of software creation and created new jobs that handled different parts of the process so that development could focus on what they do best, development.

Specifically dev was asked to handle all of the following:

  • Requirements gathering
  • Requirements consensus
  • Wireframing
  • Wireframing review and refinement
  • UI graphic creation
  • UI graphic review and refinement
  • Usability testing
  • Usability testing evaluation
  • Usability testing new requirements
  • Implementing requirements gathered from usability testing
  • UI programming

Developers are good at development, they are not good at these other tasks.  And these tasks are extremely time consuming.  So in a given month your dev team will most often spend half the month on these non-programming tasks.

Many small companies I run into in Utah still work this archaic way, asking development to do everything.

Instead, at a minimum, one well paid UX designer can handle all of this for you, so that your dev team no longer wastes money in non-programming tasks.

2 - You will spend significantly less time redoing what your programming team builds.

UX thinks through what is going to be built before it gets built.  This means what finally gets built is much more likely to be done right the first time.  It is exponentially less expensive to pay a designer for a week of work than to pay your entire dev team another month to fix what they already spent a month building.

3 - You will get the chance to see what will be built in days instead of months, so that you can change it while it’s still cheap to change.

4 - If you are building an internal tool, you will save money on how much time it takes employees to perform tasks

5 - If you are building a tool you intend to sell, you will have a competitive advantage because your tool will take customers less time to perform tasks

6 - You won’t be able to scale your tools with your business if you don’t design and build with an eye to the end goal along the way

7 - And lastly, there is a whole other level that most companies never dream of because it seems too impossible, your customers and employees will actually love using your tool.  And loving a tool means significantly greater user loyalty, evangelism and retention.


Funny but true: a quick illustration of how the brain works

Based on the neuroscience books I’ve read I’ve come up with a really easy way to explain to someone how the brain works.  Below the illustration I explain the nature of the three components of the brain: You, the Nag and your Body.


Your consciousness and personality.  The lump sum of your memory and experience that determines how you make decisions and who you are.

The Nag

The various parts of your biology that you can’t change but that push and pull you to make certain decisions.  The Nag tends to be very simple and straightforward in its needs.  The Nag’s needs tend to revolve around food, sex and survival.  The Nag cannot be reasoned with, only ignored and suppressed.

The Nag is hyper aware of what is outside your body and will scream and yell at you to get something it wants.  If you’ve ever driven by a McDonald’s with a three year old in the back seat you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Your Body

The machine that transports You and the Nag.  Your Body needs fuel and constant maintenance.  Eventually your Body will have too many miles and break down and die.

UX in the near and long-term future, 4 ideas to ponder

I’ve spent some time the last couple weeks trying to envision the near and long-term future of interfaces.  I came away with the following useful nuggets.

1. Currently interfaces are moving out into the world where the people are

In my mind the biggest breakthrough with smart phones is that all that functionality that used to be on that computer in the corner is now traveling with me out in the world.  I’m more compelled to use technology now because it’s with me as I live my life.  Mark Weiser called it ubiquitous computing.  My lifetime will most likely see ubiquitous computing reach an advanced level of maturation.

2. But the real event will be when we finally learn to reprogram our biology and the biology around us

Ubiquitous computing in its current state is about making smaller computers that can be a part of a variety of current and future devices.  But I ask you, why waste time creating new devices when you can just reprogram the devices already out there, i.e. our bodies, minds and the nature all around us.  The sad or happy truth is that this will happen some day whether we like it or not.  The six million dollar question is who will do it first and how humanistic will they be? But it’s exciting to me to think about reprogramming the human brain to increase it’s memory speed and capacity, for example.  Or better yet, being able to transfer our memories and our identity over time, defeating death.

3. The mash-up of artificial intelligence and applications

Back to the short-term, artificial intelligence is really the future of apps.  I don’t know about you but I absolutely hate yet another app I have to learn and spend time using.  All those casual consumers who love their Wii’s won’t waste time with Gowalla, only the tech nerds care.  I personally don’t want more apps that require more of my time, I want less apps that do more.  Artificial intelligence, or the creation of an algorithm that can resolve complex problems for me with little input from me is where the real money is.

4. Eventually all those independent AIs will become the singularity

Eventually all the artificial intelligences we invent will merge into a single superintelligence that governs our lives.  This is what Vernor Vinge and Ray Kurzweil called the singularity.  The funny thing is after pondering this for some time I realized that as a species we’ve been designing and iterating on the design of the singularity since the beginning of known time, we’ve just called it God or Gods instead of a supercomputer.  At some point when the pack of engineers sit down to invent a governing intelligence I imagine them referring to all the religious texts and history to devise the initial version.

There’s one other thing to keep in mind here though, and that has to do with reprogramming our biology.  When we start reprogramming our biology and re-engineering our bodies and minds, we may not need a singularity as we conceive of it today simply because at that point we will have become a different kind of species with different needs.

How I tie my UX work to sales and revenue

At my company everything the marketing team does falls under our sales funnel.  This means that everything I do as the UX designer falls under one of the segments of this funnel.  With this relationship, it’s easy for me to demonstrate how my UX work affects my company’s bottom line.

You’ve probably heard of the sales funnel before.  Every company has their own version.  I’ve illustrated below the sales funnel my company uses.  Below that I briefly list the UX work related to each phase of the funnel.  My company’s product is a subscription based web application, so our funnel reflects the sales phases that come with a subscription based app.

My company decides what design we should pursue next by taking a look at the current metrics of our sales funnel.  The part of the funnel that is the lowest or suffering the most gets the highest priority.

1. Impressions and Clicks: The UX goal here is to get people to click in less than two seconds and introduce the brand.  UX deliverables: Banner ads that are either static, flash or dynamic. 

2. Trial Taker Rate: The UX goal here is to introduce people to the application and do whatever else it takes to get them to take the free trial.  UX deliverables: Landing pages, homepages and micro sites.

3. Conversion Rate: The UX goal here is to get people to their first success in the application during their free trial, ideally within the first few minutes of their using the app.  UX deliverables: The application itself, especially functionality related to the first success.  It might also include all the detailed functionality and experience.

4. Retention Rate: The UX goal here is to keep people subscribed to the application for as long as possible once they have converted.  UX deliverables: The application itself, with experiences designed to last over time and/or over a desired customer life cycle.

9 Direct Marketing ideas to create UX that sells

In 2005 I had the privilege of attending a three day workshop by the D.M.A. (Direct Marketing Association).  I recently dug up my notes for a project I’m working on and came across this great list I had put together based on that workshop.  The list is still applicable today as I design UX that sells:

  1. Multiple offers in one promotion equals lesser sales.
  2. Direct marketing leads the customer to take an action.  Advertising is solely for building brand awareness.
  3. Broad based media like TV, Radio and Print are best used to find new customers.
  4. 40/40/20 rule:  Direct marketing success depends on 40% on reaching the right audience, 40% on the offer or promotion and only 20% on the creative execution.
  5. Features are all about the product.  Benefits are all about the customer.  Benefits are more likely to sell the customer.
  6. The direct marketing industry is highly prone to mistakes.  Expect to make a lot of mistakes.
  7. Find out what products your customers want to buy and make those, rather then developing a product and then try to find a market for it.
  8. Average creative can sell a great offer.
  9. Testing equals what, research answers why.