Category: Web Design

Speaking at Design4Drupal Boston [2 August 2014]

Here’s some great news! My talk, “Amazing Design Through Empathy” has been accepted by the organizers of Design4Drupal Boston.

Design4Drupal Boston Logo

I will be delivering my talk as a representative of my employer Phase2 Technology (more on that in the future) on Saturday, August 2nd from 3:30 – 4:30.

Here be the description:

The difference between a good product and an amazing one boils down to one thing: Empathy. Developing an understanding of your users that is so deep that you can feel what they feel enables you to design products and experiences that will truly resonate with your users.

Through illustrative and entertaining examples, I will take you on a tour of the the highs that are achievable through empathic design, and some of the depths that designers sink to when they design without empathy. You’ll learn how to activate the empathy that is already within you, and how you can use that power to improve all aspects of your product design, from requirements gathering to user research, and everything in between.

PS: Good news! I will not be featuring any cliched examples. You will not hear me mention Apple or Jony Ive once during my presentation, because I have empathy for you.

(Spira – Design4Drupal Boston)

Get your ticket, and let me know if you’ll be out there. We can imbibe a beverage together.

Google, Please Make This UI Improvement

Dear Google,

As a user of many (but not all) Google Apps, I have a very important request.

Please give us users some control over the apps that are listed in the Google bar (I’m not sure what you’ve named it).

I’m an avid user of Google Reader; I consumer virtually all web content with it. With that in mind, I was pretty peeved when Reader was removed from the top bar. I get that many people don’t use it, but I do. A lot.

Here are some solutions that would make me very happy, and I’m betting would further endear you to many of your users.

Two Options to Fix The Problem

User Control

Give users control of all or some of the links in that bar.

It’s a simple thing to do, and that level of personalization would absolutely improve the Google user-experience.

Dynamic Generation

Google, I know that you know what Google Apps I’m using. You know that I know that.

Why not adjust that bar based on usage?

Either solution would make me a very happy geek.


The Geek Whisperer

Google – Features As Easter Eggs

Am I the only person who feels like Google drops features into their application like they’re easter eggs?

I recently clicked this arrow in Gmail, and discovered an incredible feature that I don’t think they informed users of (could be wrong).

As it turns out, that’s where they hid the advanced search options. Spoiler Alert – They’re great!

When was this added? I have no idea. It could have been there since the New Gmail Beta, and I missed it.

They do seem to add and change functionality on the fly. I’m cool with it, but I’d like to know that these features exist.

Perhaps Google can put a “something new” call-out on the page, or just draw attention to some of the more obscure features.

Do you know any of Google’s hidden features?

Apple & Android Websites Not Mobile Optimized

This is just plain old weird. via a mobile browser:

Seriously? isn’t mobile optimized? The “design meets technology to form magical blah blah blah, and birthed the mobile web into existence,” company never bothered to optimize their own website?

Note to Apple fanboys & girls: That “apps downloaded” ticker doesn’t count as mobile optimized. It’s lazy, and ironically self-celebratory. via a mobile browser:

And Google isn’t off the hook on this either. “Mobile first,” Google never bothered to create a mobile-friendly version of their mobile operating system’s website? This is pathetic. via a mobile browser:

You already know where this is going…

I can’t even get annoyed by this because I would have been honestly surprised if RIM got something right in 2012.

Windows Phone 7’s website via a mobile browser:

Surprise! It is mobile optimized…

… But only if you’re viewing the website in landscape. Switch to portrait and it’s improperly formatted.

This is so very Microsoft.


It shouldn’t be too much to ask the companies leading the mobile revolution to properly optimize their websites’ for mobile. It’s not like they have a lack of capable design or development talent.