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When Your MacBook Won’t Boot First Thing In The Morning

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I just had one of those extreme panic moments. I grabbed my morning cup of coffee, hit the power button on my Mac… and it spun and spun and spun and spun… and didn’t boot. Thank goodness for Dropbox or I probably would have had a coronary on the spot. I legit felt like someone had sawed off my right arm.

I wound up having to steal my daughter’s Windows 8 machine for about an hour… and I after using it for about 10 minutes I wanted to die. I didn’t really realize how deeply immersed in Apple land I am, until I tried to actually get work done in a Windows 8 environment.

I am happy to report that after some doctoring my beloved MacBook Pro has returned to its fully functioning happy self, but holy adrenaline rush first thing in the morning.

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UX Pros: Offending New Car Buyers Everywhere

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So this definitely happened last week. A good friend bought a brand new car.

I went for a ride in it for the first time: smooth ride, sexy interior, and the entire time I was analyzing ways they could have improved the layout of the digital controls, the cup holders and the seat adjustment apparatus.

Does anyone else ever occasionally wish that there was an off switch for the UX pro portion of your brain? But at the end of the day, that part makes us great at our jobs. Some days I just feel like it’s just a blessing/curse!

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User Research & Usability Testing Should Be At the Core Of Your Design Process, Not Something You Add At The End

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I didn’t realize how fortunate I am to work at a company whose core focus is on UX, until I went to an awesome conference (ConvergeSE) and ran into a few UX pros who expressed frustration about a problem they were running into that completely blew my mind. In their organizations they were having issues getting their teams to allow them to do usability testing and user research at the beginning of, and during the design and development stages.

I was kind of shocked. They said their organizations were basically forcing them to do their testing at the end of the process, when the entire release was “complete.” When they uncovered major usability issues, they were told those would be integrated into the next release.

What the heck is going on?! The whole point of usability testing and user research is to ensure that your product will be usable and improve your users’ experiences! Why release a garbage version, when you could release a great one to start with if you just integrated UX research into the core of your design process?

Rather than wasting weeks or months of work on a garbage release, just do the usability testing and user research up front, and do it right the first time! Spending all of your dev hours fixing a jacked up version, rather than spending that time working on innovative NEW ideas, seems completely counter intuitive.

If you’re in one of these organizations, and you’re given push back in the form of, “But we can’t afford to do usability  testing and user research,” there are some mega cheap remote testing tools available these days. (I’m looking at you SolidifyApp!) A $19 buck a month subscription and a couple hours per week of dedicated testing time could save your company massive cash in wasted dev hours. Dollar signs talk! Just saying, 😉

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Mobile App Navigation Options: A Hamburger Icon Alternative

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Last night I discovered that TIME Magazine had added an intro tour screen for the sole purpose of explaining how to use their hamburger icon.

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It took me back to a presentation I attended at ConvergeSE a few weeks ago, during which Mark Boulton said something like, “If your faucet design requires an instruction guide, you’ve done something wrong.”

Their faucet was a hamburger icon navigation menu and their users just weren’t getting it.

I doodled the sketch above and posted it on Twitter, and wound up having a great subsequent conversation around it with another designer.

He asked, “Do you have any suggestions for hamburger icon alternatives?”

I surely do! I’m a fan of the screen base icon bar. Toss in 3-4 icons and a “more” option, and you’ve got a clean easy to understand navigation structure.

You do need to make sure that your icons are either very clear to your users in meaning, or labeled for this method to work well.

The native iPhone Quora, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook apps are all rocking this style at the moment.

Facebook

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Pinterest

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Twitter

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Quora

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As you can see, Facebook even managed to cleanly pulled off a modified hamburger, by converting their hamburger icon to a “more” option.

The next time you’re tempted to pop a hamburger icon in your app and call it a day, consider making a healthier more user friendly choice!

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UX Pros: Always On The Job

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I used to think it was just me, but it turns out tons of UX pros suffer from the same affliction: we can’t help mentally redesigning everything around us. And you know what? It’s not really an affliction, it’s a gift. It’s what makes us awesome at our jobs. We see the world in a completely different way. We view the world with the mentality that everything around us can be improved, and we are able to visualize those phantom improvements. We want to fix all of the things. It’s actually pretty awesome when you think about it. We see what no one else can see: the potential for a better world.

I was on vacation with my daughter when I walked into the hotel bathroom and exclaimed, “This shower head design is horrible!” My daughter called from the other room without missing a beat, “Mom, we’re on vacation, stop analyzing the usability of the bathroom fixtures so we can go to the pool.”

Seriously though, worst shower head design ever. I took pictures to prove it. haha

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So the next time you’re sitting in a restaurant explaining to your significant other why the font choices for the menu are terrible, or staring in disgust at the kerning in your child’s holiday play flyer, or you’re explaining to a miscellaneous stranger at the bus stop why the bench should be turned at a 45 degree angle so that passersby won’t bang their kneecaps on it; know that you’re not alone. There are many others who, like you, can’t help wanting to make the world around them a better place, one experience at a time.

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