A theoretical thinker and design lover. Maker of brand, strategy and marketing in a digital product strategy and design consultancy.  A mix of my random thoughts, interests and opinions.
  • "This is the fundamental nature of Medium: it’s meant to be inclusive and egalitarian"

    "What Medium Is" - Anil Dash 

    So egalitarian and inclusive, you needed an invite? And who are these editor’s deciding what makes it to the front page? 

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  • "There seems to be a general belief in UX circles that removing friction is a good thing. Friction is good. Friction is important. Friction helps us to understand the limits of the systems we work with. Removing friction removes honesty and a good interface should be honest."

    "NoUI, informed consent, and the internet of things" 

    I could not help but vigorously nod my head when I was reading this bit. Friction is there for a reason. Ignoring it or trying to create some wonky work-around leads uncomfortable levels of friction. There is a certain level of friction that seems to be needed to keep users on track. Maybe not the most enjoyable analogy, but it is like the rat in the maze. We need the walls of the maze to keep us on track. 

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  • Idea Qualification

    The ‘idea economy’ is an annoying buzzword that has placed an unnecessary emphasis on the importance of ideas as these life-changing, earth-shaking entities. Yes, they are infinitely important and we need to keep having them, but the obsession to come up with the next big thing is not inspiring, it is stifling.

    When you have an idea, there is an internal dialogue, “is it good enough?” “will people care?”“Am I going to change the world?” When I put my content creator and blog administrator hats on, I get a lot of this - a hesitancy to put the idea down on paper because somehow it is not good enough; it is not big enough.

    What qualifies as this big idea? A blue-sky notion that we will obsess over, place all our hopes and dreams on. I call it the unicorn idea - a magical, mythical thing that will change everything once found. There have been a few that have been found. Apple’s iPhone, Facebook (the old facebook, not this new craziness they are doing), Twitter.  

    With all the tools at our disposal to share ideas, we should be spewing them. And some are (like me right now), but some aren’t because they are worried that their ideas don’t meet cultural qualifications of relevancy. And that is a shame. 

  • "Having a shared UX vision and experience design principles is the most critical element of the process of transformation, because it’s about giving everyone in the organization—from the CEO to frontline staff—a clear picture of the target experience, business and customer outcomes, and win/win behaviors. Deeply embedded customer experience design principles are hugely important in aligning an organization around how you want customers to feel about your brand. Future customer stories, which show customer outcomes in customer’s own language, are powerful in creating a tangible, shared vision."

    "UX Strategy and the Age of Alignment" - UX Matters

    This article has one very good point: large organizations need to align themselves around a singular customer experience. According to the author, UX strategists are the ones at the forefront of this. 

    Now, this is where I think that the author is missing something. One group of people cannot be responsible for completely understanding an entire customer group and convincing a massive pool of stakeholders that they are right. The current methods and tools that many UX strategists have now are not complete and not always the most effective at providing the most insightful analysis of the current competitive and customer landscape. 

    My major issue with this article is the line: “deeply embedded customer experience design principles are hugely important in aligning an organization around how you want customers to feel about your brand.” 

    You can have alignment about how you WANT customers to feel about your brand, but you need to have better ways of understanding how they actually feel about your brand. 

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  • "

    Sure, Path 2.0 design is amazing. However, amazing design is not enough.

    It is like fashion. Everybody is excited about it at the beginning, but then people are getting used to it and eventually it wears out. After it does, the user is left with the essence of the user experience and what Path misses most is a compelling and unique user experience that will make using it worthwhile.

    “Amazing” design won’t get you anywhere
    What is considered web design today is not really design. It is styling, pixel coloring or whatever you’d like to call it. Real design is about solving problems. It is way more holistic and deep than the actual work we do in Photoshop. Real design is about creating a thoughtful, engaging user experience. Aesthetic styling can be then applied to enhance the experience as long as it doesn’t get in its way.

    There’s a reason why the most successful internet companies have fairly utilitarian design — take Facebook, Google or Amazon as an example. The focus is on creating a fantastic experience that delights users and adds value.

    Instagram’s design is utilitarian and is way less “sexier” that Path’s. However, Instagram made taking and sharing photos so easy and delightful and that was enough.


    A POV that’s ruffling feathers today…   “User Experience And The Poison On The Tip Of The Arrow”


    (via wanderingwanderingstar)

    While great an amazing design is not enough, UX is about more than just a great UI or visual expression of the product. It has to be married to a purpose, an experience that drives home that purpose makes it easy to complete the desired task. 

    I totally agree with the assessment that Path’s experience suffers a bit from focusing too much on a stunning UI (though some parts of it’s utility are pretty stellar), the core of the product is a bit lost among it. Instagram stuck to 1 purpose, 1 utility, reflected that in the interface and made it as easy as possible to simply post and picture and share it. 

    At the same time, you cannot forget about that interface; the design still matters. It needs to be thought about as much as a user flow because that design is face of the product. It is the face that users interact and engage with, masking everything that goes on in the background. 

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  • The digital advertising industry is watching you. Here’s how, according to 1 UPenn professor’s new book. 


    A Guide to the Digital Advertising Industry That’s Watching Your Every Click

    We’re at the start of a revolution in the ways marketers and media intrude in — and shape — our lives. Every day, most if not all Americans who use the internet, along with hundreds of millions of other users from all over the planet, are being quietly peeked at, poked, analyzed and tagged as they move through the online world. Governments undoubtedly conduct a good deal of snooping, more in some parts of the world than in others.

    In North America, Europe, and many other places, companies that work for marketers have taken the lead in secretly slicing and dicing the actions and backgrounds of huge populations on a virtually minute-by-minute basis. Their goal is to find out how to activate individuals’ buying impulses so they can sell us stuff more efficiently than ever before. But their work has broader social and cultural consequences as well. It is destroying traditional publishing ethics by forcing media outlets to adapt their editorial content to advertisers’ public-relations needs and slice-and-dice demands. And it is performing a highly controversial form of social profiling and discrimination by customizing our media content on the basis of marketing reputations we don’t even know we have. Read more.

    [Image: Based on a Library of Congress photo in the public domain]

    An excerpt from University of Pennsylvania professor Joseph Turow’s new book, The Daily You, which investigates the industry that’s trafficking in the data you generate every day online.

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  • Healthcare is Broken.

    Monday morning I was on the phone with  my health insurance company when I came to realization, our healthcare system is pure insanity. 

    I have Crohn’s Disease, a chronic auto-immune disease that I like to call the beast within me. Recently, the beast has been a bit of a terror so, my doctor recommended I try a newer drug, Cimzia, to help control it. Well, this is where the insanity begins. Because Cimzia is a biologic, it requires special authorization from my insurance agency. But that is not all, and this is the kicker for me, they have 3 preferred medications that, if  Cimzia is not approved, I will have to try first. 

    There is something terribly wrong with our healthcare system if my insurance agency is dictating my care rather than my doctor. A few weeks ago I read an article in the Harvard Business Review, called "The Trouble with Treating Patients as Consumers" and I could not help but be shocked. Why is this something only being discussed now when this has been the fatal flaw in the US healthcare system for decades? While the article touches on how to make the patient experience better, the authors Augusta Meill and Gianna Ericson are missing 1 key point: the business behind it. Before a patient even gets to the doctor’s office there is a choice to make: is it worth it? Is it worth the potential cost? Do you go and see the doctor who’s an expert, but doesn’t take insurance or the doctor who’s good, but not an expert and does? 

    Recently, I had this dilemma. After seeing a doctor who, in all honesty was an idiot, I went to see a specialist at Mount Sinai recommended to me. He was amazing, a magical wizard of a man who knew everything about my disease. But, he did not take insurance and each visit would cost close to $500. So, this magical doctor was not an option. Luckily he pointed me to someone who took my insurance who is actually brillant (and wonderfully sarcastic so we get along). But, this is my point: patients decisions are often based on what’s covered not what would be most effective, seems wrong right? 

    Healthcare in this country is a business, not a service or right and patients will continue to be consumers of it until there is a fundamental shift in how our government, healthcare organizations, insurance companies approach caring for individuals. I do not want to be ‘sold’ a medication that might work, I want the medication that an expert tells me will work. 

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  • Great article from @alistapart, urging designers to follow developers and nudge users with products. via @domgoodrum


    Cameron Kockzon asks designers to follow in developers’ footsteps and nudge the world with products, not posters.

    (via A List Apart: Articles: An Important Time for Design)

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  • We All Have Multiple Personalities.

    Who am i today

    Earlier this week, I read an article from Neal Perkins, Identity is Prismatic, a truly fascincating interpretation of the relationship between not only online and offline identities, but whether or not we are being limited to a singular, almost pre-defined identity. Neil talks about Chris Poole’s opinion that online sites like Facebook with their timeline are aiming to lock our identities in place and are making less and less room for deviation. Like Neil, I could not disagree more.

    We are not limited to have one, singular, end-all-be-all identity online just like we are not limited to having a single offline identity. We have far more nuance than that type of thinking allows for. We adapt our identities based on the context, the role, the environment and the meanings we attach to them.

    To try and explain what I mean, here are some examples. I am a daughter and I am a sister. I see these as two separate, albeit similar identities within the holistic self, which have varied traits and behaviors as well identical traits and behaviors (afterall, they’re both me). In the online context, I am @aaretz on Twitter and Anne Aretz on Facebook; I see them as separate versions of my holistic self with managed traits, behaviors, using selective traits, behaviors that derive a different meaning in that context.  

    I think that we are dealing with contextual identities; our representations and interpretations of ourselves change depending on where they are or how they are labeled according to ourselves. I do not think that it is necessarily a conscious thing, at least most of the time. When it comes to some online identities, I purposefully am very selective of how much people know about me (i.e. Facebook) and other places, not so much (like Twitter). In the digital context, I think that we create identities; we’re selective about how we present ourselves and how we hope to be perceived. These are not fake, inaccurate identities, merely shining different lights on ourselves to create a different result or outcome. 

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  • Apparently, the tech blogging bubble has officially burst. 


    Jeremiah Owyang wants to declare the end of the golden age of tech blogging, or, even more portentously, he says

    The tech blogosphere, as we know it, is over.

    This could be interpreted in a number of ways, but at face value — and leaving aside for the moment the specifics of his argument —…

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