Your app is FULL of unhappy paths, you should tackle them first.

Yes, you read that right. Design your app, system, or service for failure. In fact, START by designing the unhappy paths before moving on to good experiences. I know what you’re thinking. “Those are edge cases. I’ve spent hours thinking about and finessing the task flow. Why spend extra design effort on things that barely matter?”

Crosswalk line painted across a car overhaning the paint way.
Crosswalk line painted across a car overhaning the paint way.

But here’s the thing. These paths DO matter. A lot. Most of what we label as “edge cases” aren’t really that uncommon. …

Some tips for merging your left & right brains without losing your sanity

So you’re a coder who’s being asked to do more “design” or maybe you’re looking to make a full switch to UX. That’s great, and in my opinion, a very good combination of skills. People frequently assume that development is basically logical and design is a creative pursuit. I disagree. Code is extremely creative but often there isn’t enough logic practiced in design disciplines.

Instead of being scared of that disparity, you should embrace it. Good (measurable) design is often more a science than an art.

So here are a few things to think about when taking the leap!

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Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

Common misconceptions about design

* Design is visual/aesthetic


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Barking Gecko Theatre Company, Photo: Jon Green

Using SSML to create better sounding voice interfaces with Alexa, Actions on Google & Azure Speech Services.

As humans, we wield changes in the way we say words to convey additional meaning, often without intentionally planning this activity. We use inflection and modulation to inform our audience when we’re asking a question or feeling conspiratorial.

Computers are essentially “reading a script” when verbally interacting with us. So, to properly create that script we need to include additional instruction regarding how the voice should sound. Take a theatrical script, as an example. It would be typical to see descriptions of the “voice” to be used in addition to the spoken words.

Friend 1: (Excitedly) Hello friends! …

Over the last century, Sci-fi has been the mechanism to share the story of human ingenuity and imagination. To be fair, it’s been a pretty entertaining ride and many everyday items have gone from fiction to reality. For example, the next time you use an automatic door, pause for a moment to remember that Star Trek invented those (or at least popularized the idea). Star Trek alone is also responsible for so many ideas from personal computers, biometric access, and even virtual reality.

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Unfortunately, Sci-fi is also responsible for a lot of broken promises as well. It's 2019, I should…

Connecting Azure pipeline generated build numbers via Webpack

I spent a lot of time searching but couldn’t find an easy solution to passing a generated variable to my app at build time. Hopefully, this helps someone else spend a bit less effort.

The problem

Build numbers are generated each time an Azure Continuous Integration Pipeline runs to Build my web app. I needed to pass these into Vue.js so they can be displayed in the interface. This helps the QA team understand what “version” they’re seeing since all bugs/tasks etc are easily tied to the pipeline build. Initially, I planned to simply use the GIT tag generated by Azure on…

Don’t fight for a Design System, fight for a better Design Organization

Ok, settle down. I get it, you just spent 6 months convincing your boss that Design Systems aren’t just a fad created by bored designers at Facebook, Spotify, and Google but useful tools for your organization. Further, you’ve been claiming that producing a design system is worth taking time away from the actual product work so that down the road your team can be faster and more consistent. Yes, this is all true, but consistency and reduced design debt are pretty difficult business cases to make in front of your company’s accountants.

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If you help the bean counters, everyone enjoys the resulting coffee

Oddly, your best argument for the ROI (value…

Custom Login/Sign Up styling for Amplify Vue & Cognito

I’m an interface designer who does a lot of CSS and some Javascript for the apps I design. I’ve been struggling (read, bashing my head against a wall) to customize the visual style/layout of AWS Amplify Vue’s Cognito authentication flow for several months across multiple projects.

Now, I completely understand why the development community loves Amplify as it makes interacting with AWS SDKs much easier. Amplify also produces something accessible with an interface that works pretty well out of the box.

Recently, I’ve had multiple individuals tell me that Design Sprints didn’t really work for their team. They didn’t “get results” or felt the time spent was wasted. A business or team believing innovation time was wasted is pretty horrible prospect for a lot of reasons. Not least, because I’ve seen first hand the great benefit that can be gained from running a Design Sprint. Its as if the solution is almost there, but not ready to fly.

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After some back-and-forth, I discovered that all these “failed” Sprints had one thing in common. The Sprint team didn’t include a dedicated facilitator…

Answer: Whatever you’re building will cost at least 100% of your budget, likely more. Guaranteed.

Ok, that’s a bit tongue-in-cheek. But it’s true, even if it’s not what you wanted to hear. Digital things are like goldfish, they’ll always grow to fit their environment. In this case, the environment is the budget. Throughout my career as a product designer and developer, I’m frequently asked what it costs to make X. I understand that I’m being asked to help set a budget or give context for a work engagement, but here’s the thing… there’s a good chance I’ve worked on something…

I recently ran across a project where I needed to easily change the fill of a vector shape. I assumed this would be relatively straight forward but alas it was not. I’m documenting my saga here in case it might help someone else.

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First of all, here’s what I was attempting to create, it’s a poster created by Mike Joyce of Swissted and part of a side project of mine. Specifically, I was trying to recreate the arrows with a few requirements.

  1. I wanted the arrows to be crisp and clean looking regardless of the size.
  2. The arrows should be…

Bryce Howitson

I’m a designer, I help teams create great customer experiences in the digital space. Google Expert (UI/UX/Prod)

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