How the strongest design strategy starts with clear communication.

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Being a freelance designer has its perks. You set your own schedule, advocate for yourself and your inherent value, and my personal favorite, being able to work on several very different projects at once. This alone justifies not ending up with a full-time role at a large company where you might fade into comfort and obscurity. I’m being dramatic, of course…

Those perks come with a trade-off because more often than not, you bear the full weight of responsibility when defining the UX research and design strategy for the smaller companies and startups that are your bread and butter clients. …

How data prioritizes what’s important and helps suppress the loudest voice in the room.

Donald trump getting punched in the mouth by a voter.
Donald trump getting punched in the mouth by a voter.
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Ah, 2020. What a year. I think we’ve learned, if nothing else, that creating a narrative by bullying and being the loudest voice in the room doesn’t allow you to control the conversation forever. Where strong personalities and politics operate to control the focus and agenda over the independent perspectives and experience of the experts in a certain field, the welfare of the group is at risk.

The smartest guy in the room.

Sometimes we’re in a situation when everyone has different opinions on what we should collectively be focusing on. …

How Mercedes MBUX reminds me that my Toyota RAV 4 makes me think too much.

vector graphic of a talk bubble stating, don’t make me think.
vector graphic of a talk bubble stating, don’t make me think.

I have always been interested in cars. Growing up in western Pennsylvania, driving was a rite of passage. We went to great lengths to make cars our own, tinted the windows, adding colored lights inside and out, subs and 1000’s of watts to bump in the trunk, replace the factory head units with aftermarket Alpine and Pioneer with the ultimate hopes of one day having a DVD player and screens all around.

Some of us customized the drive of the car as well. We’d add turbos, drop-in big blocks, some fools even would add NOS to their POS rust buckets. …

How the guise of personally curating our digital experience has created a monster.

I only watch a handful of types of videos on Youtube. Stuff with Synthesizers, How to make Ramen Noodles, UI Tutorials, Carl Sagan and Alan Watts interviews, Trevor Noah and other liberal political comedy clips, NYT’s The Daily and other investigative journalism podcasts. For the most part, Youtube’s algorithms stay right in my wheelhouse, minus the occasional Right-Wing Propaganda video that somehow creeps into my feed.

But lately, I started being spammed with recommended content for conservative conversion videos, and Pro-Trump videos in my news feed. Everything was very negative, alarmist, and dare I say, extreme?

At first, I considered it mildly annoying, but I didn’t think much else of it. I put it in the back of my mind as something to keep my eye on, blocked them, and moved on. …

Methods for rapid idea generation

Ideation is a design term to say brainstorm ideas, concepts, and solutions. It’s the third stage of the design thinking process. Ideation should happen at every stage, but as a linear concept, it comes after the business problem you’ve defined based on your research.

A quick bit about design thinking Per the Interaction Design Foundation:

Design Thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding.

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Only by starting with the right questions will you then find the right design solutions to the problem. So once you articulate your client's actual problems, you can turn them into questions to brainstorm on with your team. …

Just some thoughts on Habit-Forming Design

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Its a gateway drug.

Nir Eyal, author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products says, “habits are good for business”. Immediately, I think about anti-drug programs in the US like (D.A.R.E.) telling kids that drug dealers would give people drugs for free to get them hooked. They would come into our sixth-grade class with a suitcase full of drugs, and they’d pass samples around so we could see what they looked like.

Seriously, I still can’t believe they thought that would be a good idea, because it pretty much had the opposite effect than they intended. …

Optimizing my daily decision making with UX and design thinking techniques

After looking at my end of year to-do and look-into lists on Trello, I became overwhelmed with anxiety. I had so many uncompleted checklists, most of those thoughts and ideas should've never left my notepad. I tried to use my time this past year to absorb, learn, and create to my fullest capacity, but 2020 had a different plan for me. Being stuck in my Brooklyn apartment didn’t make it any easier…

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Photo by Anthony Fomin on Unsplash

I had too many things I wanted to do. I knew it wasn’t possible to complete everything on the list, but I didn't realize the cognitive drain I put on myself by not narrowing down my pie-in-the-sky wishes. In previous years, I would have a graveyard of notes, tasks, ideas that would be deprioritized, but not this year. …

Looking back at all my year's end assets and looking forward to a better way to organize them.

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Photo by Darwin Vegher on Unsplash

Over the years, I’ve compiled a large collection of material that for some reason or another, I found inspiring. Ad campaigns, textures, text, color swatches, Behind th1e scenes, commercials, paintings, songs, logos, the list goes on and on. It’s always great to have a go-to source of information to inspire me when I start on any new project. Most of the time, I’m browsing, screen capturing, and saving images on my phone.

The main problem I run into is finding a way to arrange the media for quick and easy collaboration across my devices. I try to keep up with some semblance of organization, but that in and of itself is a full-time job. I’ve learned not to obsess over not being able to label and file every piece of media I accumulate. What can make it even more difficult to keep up with is having multiple devices from different ecosystems that don’t play well together, or worse losing app support that is the core of your workflow. …

How to frame our insights as user-focused, actionable goals to determine our future design solutions.

When you create content as an artist, you rely on your instincts to generate ideas. Aesthetically, art is meant to provoke conflict, emotions, and thought, and this type of friction is a sign that they are a good artist.

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Photo by Max Kobus on Unsplash

But when you’re creating content as a designer, relying on instinct to design is a surefire way to cause friction that, at best, could delay feature implementation, and at worst could tank an entire company. see The Myth of the Genius Designer.

Being a good designer means making people think less. Designers need to manage risk for the business goals of a company and design for the needs of the customer. Form and function are a call and response, a symbiotic relationship that only exists because of each other. …

How forming a narrative can help your team understand an abstract problem.

Who doesn’t love a good story? You pop on your favorite Netflix show, you feel the embarrassment and shed a tear with your favorite protagonist, or wish you could be as verbose in uncomfortable social situations as your favorite antagonist.

Any way you slice it, we are consumed with and live by others’ narratives. Whether it wants, needs, motivations, or frustrations, it’s how we communicate abstract concepts to one another. Understanding someone else’s plight is a gift of being human.

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The Vision of Saint John ca. 1608–14 El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) Greek

It depicts a passage in the Bible, Revelation (6:9–11) describing the opening of the Fifth Seal at the end of time, and the distribution of white robes to “those who had been slain for the work of God and for the witness they had borne.” …


Josh Andrus

UX Designer w/ a background as a photographer and digital artist. I’m a visual storyteller dedicated to solving complex problems & producing creative solutions.

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