Product, UX & Technology

Computer latency: 1977-2017

If we look at overall results, the fastest machines are ancient. Newer machines are all over the place. Fancy gaming rigs with unusually high refresh-rate displays are almost competitive with machines from the late 70s and early 80s, but “normal” modern computers can’t compete with thirty to forty year old machines.

When and How to Create Customer Journey Maps

What Is a Customer Journey Map?

Journey mapping combines two powerful instruments: storytelling and visualization.

Why Do You Need a Journey Map and When Should You Have One?

  • Shift a company’s perspective from inside-out to outside-in.
  • Break down silos to create one shared, organization-wide vision.
  • Assign ownership of key touchpoints to internal departments.
  • Target specific customers.
  • Understand quantitative data.

Key Elements of Customer Journey Maps

  • Point of view
  • Scenario
  • Actions, mindsets, and emotions
  • Touchpoints and channels
  • Insights and ownership

Rules for Creating Successful Journey Maps

  • Establish the “why and the “what”.
  • Base it on truth.
  • Collaborate with others.
  • Don’t jump to visualization.
  • Engage others with the end product.

Placeholders that Replace Labels

  • Disappearing placeholder text strains users’ short-term memory.
  • Without labels, users cannot check their work before submitting a form.
  • When error messages occur, people don’t know how to fix the problem.
  • Placeholder text that disappears when the cursor is placed in a form field is irritating for users navigating with the keyboard.
  • Fields with stuff in them are less noticeable.
  • Users may mistake a placeholder for data that was automatically filled in.
  • Occasionally users have to delete placeholder text manually.

Placeholder Text in Addition to Labels

  • Occasionally users have to delete placeholder text manually.

Floating Labels

  • Fields with stuff in them are less noticeable.
  • Users may mistake a placeholder for data that was automatically filled in.

Placeholders and Accessibility

  • The default light-grey color of placeholder text has poor color contrast against most backgrounds.
  • Users with cognitive or motor impairments are more heavily burdened.
  • Not all screen readers read placeholder text aloud.

Information Software and the Graphical Interface

  • Software design consists of graphic design (drawing pictures) and industrial design (allowing for mechanical manipulation).
  • Information software is for learning an internal model. Manipulation software is for creating an external model. Communication software is for communicating a shared model.
  • Manipulation software design is hard, but most software is information software.
  • Information software design is the design of context-sensitive information graphics. Information software is not a machine, but a medium for visual communication.
  • Context can be inferred from the environment, which can include physical sensors, other information software, documents created with manipulation software, and data such as email which acts as a user profile.
  • Context can be inferred from a history of past environments and interactions. Last-value predictors provide a rudimentary approach. Learning predictors can infer patterns and make dynamic predictions.
  • Context can be inferred from user interaction, but only as a last resort. The best way to reduce or eliminate interaction is through information-rich graphic design that uses the environment and history. Remaining interaction can be reduced with graphical manipulation, relative navigation, and tight feedback loops.
  • The information software revolution will require public recognition that information software is a medium of visual communication, designers with talent, skill, and tools, simple and general platforms, and an environment that encourages creativity and sharing.
  • A design tool for dynamic graphics that infers behavior from mockups may allow for natural-feeling creative design with no engineering-related distractions.
  • Learning predictors exist and are effective. For them to become widespread, simple abstractions must be invented.
  • An information ecosystem of views and translators may be able to offer relevant information of all forms with minimal interaction. Key aspects include topic nomination and translation, confidence levels, learning through feedback, and a fine-grained modular structure wherein small software providers can thrive.
  • As technology related to graphics, the environment, and history undergoes revolutionary improvements, interaction will become even more of a critical bottleneck. The best approach is to work towards eliminating it.
  • Two centuries ago, Playfair invented statistical graphics and changed the world. The time is ripe for another designer to invent the fundamental context-sensitive graphical forms, and change the world again.

How to build a better product with UX writing

  • Don’t let users make a mistake
  • Don’t use professional jargon
  • Make it easy to translate
  • Be consistent
  • Labels must be nearly invisible
  • Be human-oriented
  • Encourage users
  • Prevent concerns
  • Explain everything that must be explained

The Power of Uppercase

Uppercase gives a strong sense of alignment

  • "The baseline and cap-height are neatly traced out by every single letter."
  • "If some text looks a tad unorganized or messy, try uppercase."

Uppercase draws attention to small pieces of text really well

Uppercase can be read vertically

6 Ways to Justify Font Choices in Your Designs

  • It’s a Better Version of the Current Design
  • It Matches Your Brand Adjectives
  • Its History or Inspiration Match Your Brand - "Futura is the unofficial font of the 60s, for instance"
  • It Has the Right Features
  • It Pairs Nicely
  • It’s a Workhorse

What is Amazon's approach to product development and product management?

Amazon internal press release:

Heading - Name the product in a way the reader (i.e. your target customers) will understand.

Sub-Heading - Describe who the market for the product is and what benefit they get. One sentence only underneath the title.

Summary - Give a summary of the product and the benefit. Assume the reader will not read anything else so make this paragraph good.

Problem - Describe the problem your product solves.

Solution - Describe how your product elegantly solves the problem.

Quote from You - A quote from a spokesperson in your company.

How to Get Started - Describe how easy it is to get started.

Customer Quote - Provide a quote from a hypothetical customer that describes how they experienced the benefit.

Closing and Call to Action - Wrap it up and give pointers where the reader should go next.

Onboarding is everything

The critical first month - “Did I just make a huge mistake in contracting for this service?”

How bad is a rocky start?

The upside of an amazing start

  • You’ve crushed that “Was this a mistake?” question.
  • Your customer not only believes they’ve made the right decision to hire your service. They also believe they are extremely smart for doing it! And that they feel both lucky and resourceful that they happened to discover your service in the first place. You know what those feelings lead to? - Evangelism. They will tell whoever they can about it. They want others to experience the same win that they’re experiencing. They want to be the one others come to for trusted advice. Now they know, with first-hand confidence, that recommending your service will be solid, worthwhile advice.
  • An amazing first impression leads to a far more forgiving relationship.

Easy onboarding wins

  • Process
  • Communication - clear and proactive
  • Upfront information-gathering

Onboarding employees is like onboarding customers

SRE vs. DevOps - The Dilemma

DevOps Engineer Skills

DevOps primarily focuses on empowering developers to build and manage service and give them measurable metrics to prioritize tasks.

  • Knowledge and proficiency with a variety of Ops and Automation tools
  • Great at writing scripts
  • Comfortable dealing with frequent testing and incremental releases
  • Understanding of Ops challenges and how they can be addressed during design and development
  • Soft skills for better collaboration across the team

Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) Skills

SRE deals with monitoring applications or services after deployment to practice where automation is crucial to improving a system’s health and availability.

  • Ability to postmortem the unexpected incidents to solve future hazards
  • Skilled in evaluating new possibilities and capacity planning aptitudes
  • Comfortable with handling the operations, monitoring and alerting
  • Knowledge and experience in building processes and automation to support other teams
  • Ability to persuade organizations to do what needs to be done

What nobody tells you about documentation


  • is learning-oriented
  • allows the newcomer to get started
  • is a lesson

Analogy: teaching a small child how to cook

How-to Guides

  • is goal-oriented
  • shows how to solve a specific problem
  • is a series of steps

Analogy: a recipe in a cookery book


  • is understanding-oriented
  • explains
  • provides background and context

Analogy: an article on culinary social history


  • is information-oriented
  • describes the machinery
  • is accurate and complete

Analogy: a reference encyclopaedia article

Footers are Underrated

Non-functional footers

  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Copyright

Functional footers

  • Deeper levels of the site
  • Secondary tasks
  • Social media
  • Customer service
  • Related content
  • Contextual information

I’ve Built Multiple Growth Teams. Here’s Why I Won’t Do It Again.

Due to many execution and human issues, the ROI just does not cut it.

Instead, focus on big wins, best practices, and spend your budget on other marketing efforts such as a blog.

"The perfect plan executed poorly isn’t as good as a good plan executed well."

Website Headlines: 3 Formulas that Work for Homepages

  • Say what it is
  • Say what you get
  • Say what you’re able to do (with it)

4 Rules of Intuitive UX

  1. Obey the Law of Locality
  2. ABD: Anything But Dropdowns
  3. Pass the Squint Test
  4. Teach by example