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.
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 :)
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.
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
Someone trying to shut down their account in a hurry is a
The first sounds dismissable. The second sounds inevitable.
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.
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
If you want to read more, check out the