Material Design Panel by Google


Left to right: Amber Bravo, Mark Shuster, Eli Weiss, Kevin Grant

Google Design held a panel last night at General Assembly to talk about Material Design, their newest design framework for Android. The panelists included Mark Shuster, Senior Product Designer at Buzzfeed, Eli Weiss, Chief Mobile Strategist at B&H, Kevin Grant, Android Engineer at Tumblr, and Amber Bravo (the host) who is an Editor at Google.

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Top tips and quotes from the panel

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Interaction Design 101

Weather App

Weather App by Sergey Valiukh

What is Interaction Design?

Ever used a mobile app and felt like you figured out how to use it within the first couple of minutes? When you went on the Twitter app and pressed the box to type something, did a keyboard popup so seamlessly that you didn’t even notice there may have been some other interaction? Ever pressed a button expecting one action, but got another?

Interaction design (IxD) is the process for creating logical and thought out interfaces. It helps users easily learn and use the interface in an engaging and intuitive way to prevent unnecessary roadblocks when the user is trying to complete a task. IxD is one of many segments (i.e. Information Architecture, UX Research) that make the UX field. Having intuitive interaction design in your site, app, or whatever interface you may be designing, is a crucial element for delivering a positive user experience.

IxD Concepts: The Basics

UX Booth came out with an awesome article in 2009, “Complete Beginners Guide To Interaction Design”, about the top concepts that interaction designers use to drive their work forward:

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I Survived Protohack

Pitching to the JudgesMy team and I doing our 90-second pitch!

I’m not going to lie: I’ve always felt intimidated to participate in a Hackathon.

All those smart, savvy, competitive minds battling it out in a cut-throat environment to quickly code up and release a product in 12-hours? I stepped away from being a code-monkey years ago and I certainly don’t fit into a visual designer role – who had time to work with UX person in such a stressful environment? That being said, I felt a sense of admiration of my friends who had pulled of a hackathon, so when I got an heads up about Protohack from @LadiesThatUXNYC, I finally felt that this would be the perfect opportunity to bring out the inner entrepreneur and do a hackathon without the intimidation.

What is a Protohack? The only code-free hackathon for non-technical entrepreneurs. A jam​-​packe​d 12-hour​ ​hackathon … to pitch your idea in front of investors, developers, product people, and more. Walk away with a prototype, pitch, and awesome prizes to take your product to the next level all without writing a single line of code.

Getting the party started! Sort of…

I arrived at 9:30 AM, and was expecting to walk into some sort of ice-breaking event, or at least some sort of way for people to meet each other and share their ideas, but instead everyone was sitting at a table and appeared to have already made teams. Not entirely sure what to do, I grabbed an empty seat. I scanned the room and recognized one girl from a previous LadiesThatUX Meetup, and quickly made my move (I wanted to work with a team, after all!). I was able to join her team, and the day just got better from then on.

Keynote Speaker: 

Bradford on stage

As founder & CEO of  founder of  Brad definitely has an impressive portfolio along with plenty of experiences to talk about.

As a keynote speaker, apart making people who asked him a question yell out their “spirit animal”, he shed light on the deep struggles but also joyous moments of living the start-up life. A few of my favorite quotes include:

  1. I’m going to fucking fail today and I’m going to fail fabulously.
  2. If you do it and fail, it’s better than not doing it at all.
  3. You are not going to be successful unless you really believe that what you will do will change the world and it means something to you.

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Who are you designing for?


Tammy Sachs, founder & CEO of Sachs Insights, welcomes us

Last night I attended an event held by Sachs Insights, a marketing consultancy group that heavily utilizes user research techniques, which was part of the events for NYCxDesign week. The key focus of the presentation was a question that many of us UXers ask ourselves: Who are you designing for?

As I arrived, I was greeted by a handful of people who work at Sachs Insights, grabbed some yummy snacks, and went to get a good seat for the presentation.

Smart Design by Julie Riederer

One key aspect to smart design is to realize that perception does not equal reality. Julie Riederer, one of the Research Directors at Sachs Insights, lays the groundwork on how to make your design a success:

  1. Make sure your target audience is real
  2. Speak to the right audience, not just your “aspirational” audience
  3. One size approach does not fit all
  4. Speak your audience’s language: capture their words and their expectations
  5. Design to make key tasks prominent and easily accessible

Julie Riederer during her presentation (sorry for the crappy shot)

Smart design can further be narrowed down into two categories: those for B2C companies (Business-to-Consumer) and those for B2B companies (Business-to-Business). My interests lie more in the B2C space, so I’ll give you guys an overview of the B2C talk by Leslie Brown, another Research Director at Sachs Insights.

“Only design a kitchen sink if you are building a kitchen!”

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Top 3 Talks at UX Conference “Make Stuff That Works”: Part 3

“How To Go Viral” by Ida Jackson

Who doesn’t want to know the secrets of what makes content go viral? Ida Jackson, a content specialist at Netlife Research, uses the power of research and analytics (along with colleague Ida Aalen, to uncover the real truth about what goes viral in social media. Ida helps answer this fascinating question as the final talk for the #makestuffthatworks popup conference in Brooklyn.

Credit card company vs Burrito Cat?

Who do you think would get more attention? Every company seems to be wanting to go viral, but Ida kindly reminds us that going viral tends to be all about emotions! Not subtle emotions that are kept quiet, but rather the very strong emotions, such as hilarity, inspiration, astonishment, and exhilaration. The catch is that viral content can be for both very positive strong emotions, and oppositely, very negative strong emotions.

A subset of positive and negative emotions share one factor: blood-pumping, heart-racing arousal. High-arousal emotions include awe and anger, while low-arousal emotions include sadness and disgust.

The one emotion that outpaced anger in Berger’s study was awe, the feelings of wonder and excitement that come from encountering great beauty or knowledge, such as a news report of an important discovery in the fight against cancer. “Awe gets our hearts racing and our blood pumping,” Berger says. “This increases our desire for emotional connection and drives us to share.”
Read more here.

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Top 3 Talks at UX Conference “Make Stuff That Works”: Part 2

“Using the Core Model to Make Stuff That Works” by Martha Lyngnes

The second talk in my list of top 3 talks was given by one of NetLife Research’s own interaction designer, Martha Lyngnes. She gave a great introduction on how to use the UX design method called the Core model.

FACT: Users are decreasingly entering a site’s page from its homepage!

It’s undeniable that nowadays, users will usually find a page by searching through Google, click on a link from Facebook, or whatever other way they can find to navigate to the page they deem relevant. As Martha kindly pointed out, 99% of pages on your site are irrelevant to the user!

Martha Lyngnes

Martha Lyngnes giving her talk

The Core model:

  • Identifies Core pages, where your users solve their tasks and the company reaches their objectives
  • Uses paths, not hierarchies
  • Has no dead ends
  • Allows stakeholders to get involved

Traditionally, organizations would start designing their site in a hierarchical manner (i.e. most important department/information on the homepage, etc), usually reflecting their organizational structure. This means that the business goals of the company is usually right up there, front and center (vision statements anyone?), but unfortunately for them, it is very likely that business goals does not equal user goals.

The Core model encourages organizations to have a more beneficial attitude toward users, asking the question: what are the goals of the user, and where can we send the user after they solve their problem?

It comes as no surprise that the Core model focuses on two key components:

  1. Business goals: What does the company want to achieve?
  2. User tasks: What task is the user trying to complete?What information is the user trying to obtain? (found through research and prioritization, of course!)

Once these two components have been defined, the company can identify the Core pages – where the business goals and user tasks overlap:

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Top 3 Talks at UX Conference “Make Stuff That Works” : Part 1

Still on a high from my first UX Meetup last Monday, I was delighted to see a popup conference coming up called Make Stuff That Works, organized by NetLife Research. There were 7 talks, 100+ UXers, and 1 great afterparty (more details to come).

“WTF Wearables?!” by Lisa Kindred

Liza Kindred, author & fashion tech strategist, is not a fan of hyped-up, novelty wearables. She makes her point by showing a variety of examples that are almost to the point of farfetched, such as:

The Papparazzi Dress:

Papparazzi Dress to prevent the wearer from being photographed

The Cyborg Cap:

Cyclops Hat that lets you display videos to other people

And this beauty, the Tweeting Bra:

It tweets a message every time the hook is unclasped (on the bright side, the point is to raise awareness for breast cancer)

But instead of talking for an hour about why all wearables “suck”, Liza shows us that she thinks there are actually a lot of cool wearables out there that can really make a difference in the world. What constitutes a wearable as being “cool”? Technology that, for example, prevents disease, helps correct color blindness, and can be used as a tool in every country to do things like improving water collection and becoming invisible to mosquitos! Continue reading