Tips & Advice, UI Design

The difference between amateur and professional design

the difference between amateur and professional design

Today’s fast food for thought re: #design and #UX.

If the conversation is around how good the design is or how it looks, it’s the wrong conversation.

The shift depicted here marks the difference between amateur and professional design.


Tips & Advice

Words matter: why notification messages could kill Dropbox’s UX

Dropbox's new branding won't overcome their frightening notification message issues.

As many of you know by now, Dropbox recently completed a large-scale brand overhaul. Dropbox says of their new branding is about “shifting the conver­sation around work,” offering this explanation:

“Our users run the gamut from business professionals to scientists and creative types. Most of these folks tell us they feel overwhelmed and distracted during the workday, and that this is one of the biggest barriers to creating work they’re proud of. 

They deal with cluttered inboxes,


Tips & Advice

Want stakeholder buy-in? See UX their way.

Want stakeholder buy-in? See UX their way.

A few years back, I read a book (whose title I can’t recall) that delivered this absolutely GOLD nugget of wisdom regarding the struggle to get stakeholder buy-in for UX and Design:

Most people in management or executive positions can’t truly see what’s broken, because they’re usually only looking at the side that’s working.

Truer words were never spoken. I wrote that in my sketchbook on the spot and have never forgotten it.

The thing is, that’s really not their fault. It’s actually a product


UI Design

Design is Design is Design is…UX?

Design is design is design is ux

Look, we all know at this point that UI design is not the same thing as UX, and that doing one well does not guarantee the quality of the other. But at the same time, the two are more closely related — interdependent, in fact — than most “experts” seem to want to admit.

The truth is that, with a digital product, you cannot have meaningful UX without equally great UI design.

And by the same token, you cannot truly call a UI design great unless it


UX Career Guidance

3 things every recruiter looks for in a UX Portfolio

UX portfolio

In my new Build a Powerful UX Portfolio course, I talk a great deal about something that’s become clear to me over the past several months, and that’s this:

Although we are all — whether UXers, designers or developers — fiercely dedicated to delivering great UX in our daily work, we often fail to apply the same discipline, rigor or effort to our personal websites or portfolios.

In particular, there are 3 things that stand out to me, things I see in every UX portfolio I’ve seen:

1. This


Tips & Advice

The (Overlooked) UX Value of Stakeholder Arguments

stakeholder arguments

We’re all on the same side here…aren’t we?

In a previous post, I told you a story about me screwing up — and how I lived to tell the tale 😉

A big part of that failure was not doing the work upfront to learn all I could about all the players involved in the project and the product. I never looked past my initial contact, who was the head of Product Marketing. And as you saw, I got all sorts of unpleasant


UX Career Guidance

UX Career Advice: On Screwing Up, Surviving and Succeeding


Sooner or later, you’re going to screw up.

Doesn’t matter how smart or sharp or well-prepared you are, it’s going to happen. That’s just the way it is. But instead of fearing that moment in your UX career — or running away from it when it happens — I want you to expect and embrace it as a necessary component of your success.

I’ll explain by way of a personal story.

Very early on in my career, I somehow landed a huge opportunity


UX Career Guidance

How can my UX portfolio speak to ridiculous job post skill sets? (Tuesdays with Joe, Episode 11)

In this latest installment of Tuesdays with Joe, I tackle the ridiculous UX job postings we’ve all seen: strange mashups of titles, conflicting qualifications and unicorn-like combinations of UX, design and development skills. How can your UX portfolio possibly address all of this?

I’m sure you’ve seen those job listings, which tend to read like this:

“Jack-of-All-Possible-UX-UI-Design-and-Development-Trades-Wanted. Must know everything there is to know about anything and everything related to all of these disciplines. Two brains (left and right) preferable. Must also be able to do this work with one hand tied behind back


Tips & Advice

Adobe asked: what do I look for when hiring a designer?

While in Chicago speaking at HOW DESIGN LIVE recently, the good folks at Adobe cornered me and asked me to weigh in on what I looks for when hiring a designer, my number one rule for talking to clients about design, and considerations for designing for a diverse audience. I was completely honored, and I hope you find some value in what I had to say!


UI Design

Signal vs. Noise: Removing Visual Clutter in the UI


When I was a kid, terrestrial radio was pretty much our only option for listening to music on the go. Small, portable transistor radios (like the one you see in the picture) were essentially the blueprint for iPods and today’s smartphones.

And if you were a music fanatic like me, the hallmark of this traveling listening experience was the need to be ever vigilant — because at any moment the signal might grow weak and that favorite song you’d been waiting to hear


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