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. …

How to quickly deepen our understanding of a marketplace by evaluating other’s ideas

In user-centered design, designers focus on users’ needs to create highly useable and accessible products for them. But before we can generate ideas, we must first consider the context in which the product is used, as well as the market that it exists in. We use research methods to produce data and gather insights to make sure our design decisions are being developed to support our user's needs.

As you go about your research, you’ll need to learn everything you can about what works, how it works, what hasn’t worked, and why. Your ultimate goal is to produce a solution that presents a competitive advantage by look for gaps or inconsistencies in the market and figuring out how you can leverage them to make your product competitive. …

How understanding power dynamics can make you better at conducting User Interviews.

“ In front of the lens, I am at the same time: the one I think I am, the one I want others to think I am, the one the photographer thinks I am, and the one he makes use of to exhibit his art.”
Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography

Over the past 15 years, I’ve taken a thousand portraits of people from all walks of life. Some were celebrities and models, most were professionals — CEOs, professors, lawyers, traders, writers, & authors. …

What I learned from designing interfaces in the Aughts & how it compares to designing today.

Sometimes I just laugh when I think about how arduous it was to design interfaces for interaction design. Long before everyone was focused on product design and rapid prototyping, the time it took to create an idea was vast.

But, our tools have changed a lot over the years. We went from designing in a vacuum and piecing ideas together in programs that didn’t play nice together, to community-supported programs like the Daily XD Challenge and the Figma Community.

With all these amazing, accessible, powerful, collaborative tools at our disposal, designers never had it so easy. From learning best design practices to GUI developer tools, you can create ideate, test, and iterate in a matter of hours, to learn what works, and what doesn’t. …

Why The Met’s Open Access program is the greatest design resource available.

The Suspension Bridge on the Border of Hida and Etchū Provinces, Hokusai
The Suspension Bridge on the Border of Hida and Etchū Provinces, Hokusai
The Suspension Bridge on the Border of Hida and Etchū Provinces, from the series Remarkable Views of Bridges in Various Provinces — Hokusai (provided by The Metropolitan Museum of Art).

When I lived in Boston, I would go to the MFA a few times a month to sketch. I loved the larger than life narratives of John Singer Sargent and Thomas Cole. It seemed surreal that I could get a nose away from every print of Hokusai’s 36 Views of Mount Fiji, and seeing into the process of Goya through his rare sketches and etchings. I felt like I could sink into the mind of these great artists like I could view the world through their eyes for an afternoon.

Most of the time, I’d lose an entire day in one wing of the MFA, and I regularly sensed the eyes of the security sharply focused on me. When the museum was closing, more often than not, I’d quickly run around and snap photos of the artworks I hoped to get to next time. Understandably, the guards were usually on high alert, and rightfully so, since I’m sure I put out frantic energy. …

How the subtle use of dark patterns helps companies cash-in off of freemium acquisition.

“This was mainly user error,” I said. I thought I was an edge case. I blamed myself for being negligent. That may be, I moved through the onboarding too quickly, and I need to rethink my decision-making process.

Luckily, I could reflect and review on my drop-off points because I had a screen recording of myself getting manipulated into subscribing for the premium subscription of Evernote on ios. Yep…

I had just caught a unicorn.

In this article, I’m going to deconstruct the psychology, color theory, and compositional elements UX design uses to trick me (in under 3 minutes), and my 3-day journey to cancel and get a refund from Evernote. …

Reimagining how a photo studio manages its data by digitizing its current manual process — Develop and Delivery.

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Here’s the second and final part of developing and delivering a UX design strategy for RBS in Brooklyn. We’ll look at auditing the current workflow, then consolidating and setting up a solution.

RECAP: The current process used by RBS was a bit convoluted. The consolidation of data only existed on the local server, and it was spread out across file folders, emails, calendars and call logs on multiple spreadsheets and word documents. This meant accessing, or cross-referencing data was complex and the data entry was subjected to common human errors like typo’s. …


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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