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I write about design, technology, and people. Sometimes I take photos of places I visit.

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What works, works

What works is better than what looks good. The looks good can change, but what works, works.

Ray Eames

I subscribe to this way of thinking too. People often get hung up on cosmetic issues instead of thinking about the core problem or need.

I recently notified users of my product that a component will go through a migration and might visually stand out from the rest of the interface. The reply:

We don’t care if it’s ugly as long as it works.

Make Merlin code again

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Things escalated quickly :)

My interest in Google’s technical infrastructure has grown over the years. The itch to look under the hood and play with code is always there, mostly due to my background in computer science before switching to design.

Casual conversations with one software engineer have led me to set up a development environment. He started to introduce me internal tools and processes. We’ve been cracking jokes during that time about how he’s going to convert me to a programmer again, and at some point someone said: “Make Merlin code again.” It stuck. I wanted to make it visible to serve as a reminder. Instead of just printing it out and putting it over my desk, Olga jumped in and stitched the slogan masterfully.

And don’t worry, I won’t crash any Google products; they won’t let me :)

Learning - what and how

There are too many skills to learn in one lifetime, so deciding where to focus and for how long is an important skill in itself. I’ve started the process of learning many times and I’ve built a thinking framework for determining what to learn next and how. I’ve written the framework down so you can use it to decide your next step. Read more

Edge vs. stress cases

I’m reading Design for real life by Eric Meyer & Sara Wachter-Boettcher, and I’m enjoying one small word twist. Instead of saying edge cases, they call them stress cases. That change makes all the difference in how we perceive the importance of situations that don’t occur as often.

The example the authors use in the book is:

Someone trying to shut down their account in a hurry is an edge case.

Someone trying to shut down their account in a hurry is a stress case.

The first sounds dismissable. The second sounds inevitable.

Inclusive design by Microsoft

Microsoft’s inclusive design principles struck a chord with me. I especially like their Persona Spectrum:

We use the Persona Spectrum to understand related mismatches and motivations across a spectrum of permanent, temporary, and situational scenarios. It’s a quick tool to help foster empathy and to show how a solution scales to a broader audience.

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I was in a similar situation last year:

I became a parent last month and the way I use technology has changed in a way I didn’t expect. I do way more things with one hand than before. A newborn baby requires a lot of attention and there are always some chores to do.

I encourage you to visit Microsoft Design website and check out their manual and activity cards—great resources to foster empathy.

If you want to read more, check out the archive.

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