Rainbow dots
Rainbow dots

This was originally posted on Substack. I’ll be moving more of my design musings there, so be sure to subscribe.

I was recently asked, “What is good design?” and stumbled over the answer. I said something along the lines of “good design does not harm.” This is a pretty hard thing to measure. And reflecting on my experience, I realize that almost everything I’ve designed has had negative impacts.

Design, or the act of planning to create new structures in our world, is inherently harmful — it alters our world’s natural state. Good design is an oxymoron (elusive at best)…


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I’ve grown weary of building digital products that capture people’s attention. The word “engagement” gets tossed around lightly. It’s assumed to be a positive goal; an engaging digital product is something teams should strive to build. Coworkers have shared the book Hooked by Nir Eyal with me and we’ve discussed Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein’s Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness in an effort to tap into behavioral economics and clinch the market, innovate, and develop addictive designs that increase traffic. While these books have been helpful for understanding the power of design to affect our…


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While issues abound with archiving digital information, I find the future of handling information to be even more frightening. As information (and misinformation) continues to grow, the weight of our “hyperreal” and technologically saturated world threatens to crumble factual integrity and exacerbate the existing issues around archiving, data preservation, and information maintenance.

In Roy Rosenzweig’s “Scarcity or Abundance? Preserving the Past in a Digital Era,” he writes about the future landscape of information:

“Still, the astonishingly rapid accumulation of digital data — obvious to anyone who uses the Google search engine and gets 300,000 hits — should make us consider…


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Happy 2019, designers! Here is some tech-inspired advice for you based on your astrological design sign.

Aries: Spinning Wheel of Death

There’s literally not enough RAM to keep you running at 100, Aries. You’re the rainbow spinning wheel of death. When you start to hear the motor purring, take a break. At the very least, try closing two of the thirty tabs open in your browser.

Taurus: One-Click Buy

You want to eat your cake and have it same day, too. Taurus, you’re the one-click buy button. You’re like the best thing to happen to the internet since the like button, but you require some set up before…


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There are times when a designer or researcher is tasked with evaluating an interface but not given access to actual people. If you find yourself backed into a user-less corner, an inspection method is a great way for you to assess the usability of a design. Similar to a cognitive walkthrough, heuristic evaluations allow usability professionals to evaluate an interface based on a set of standard principles or “heuristics” without recruiting another person.

The term “heuristic” is a bit jargony and may not roll off the tongue quite as easily as “user interviews” or “surveys,” so if you’re in a…


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A cognitive walkthrough is one effective method for user experience professionals to evaluate a design. This inspection method allows a single designer or researcher to make suggestions on how to improve an interface without contacting primary users. The focus of a cognitive walkthrough is on an interface’s learnability for novice users. The cognitive walkthrough may not be the most popular method for evaluating designs, but it’s an important process to understand and add to your UX tool belt.

The first thing to do with a cognitive walkthrough is to identify the primary task you’d like to evaluate. Next, parse all…


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Don Norman advises against developing software that is beyond the grasps of human nature and warns of “ever-increasing difficulty in learning the technology, and an ever-increasing error rate.” And yet for nearly 10 years, blockchain technology has been shrouded in mystery for the general population. Blockchain offers designers and developers an opportunity to apply a human-centered approach to a relatively abstract, complex, and emerging technology. Individuals working on blockchain applications can unlock the technology’s true promise of an open and “trust-less” marketplace by applying traditional human-computer interaction principles to the new challenges the technology poses.

A group of human-computer interaction…


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Leadership is easy to recognize but hard to define. The shape of leadership, as it develops in the design industry, is at once familiar and fresh. Given that “design is way less mature than other corporate functions, and its practice and impact suffer because of its lack of sophistication,” it is crucial for designers, managers, and future leaders to understand how design leadership forms (Merholz & Skinner vii). So I set out to research how to define, identify, and replicate design leadership.

At the onset, the goal of this research effort was to (1) define design leadership distinctly versus develop…


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I interviewed Osi Imeokparia, an entrepreneur at heart and expert collaborator, for an assignment at Pratt in the spring of 2017. I met her through my husband who worked on the Hillary Clinton campaign. From what I could see and from what I heard from her coworkers, she led the product team with complete grace and dignity. Osi has had a range of experience at companies small and large, so I wanted to get her perspective on design and product. Here’s my chat with her about all things future/tech/trends and more!

We’re recording. Okay I’m going to jump right in…


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In the final chapter of his book The Design of Everyday Things, Don Norman says, “Fundamental needs will also stay the same, even if they get satisfied in radically different ways.” A dictionary has been a staple reference tool for learning in the modern age and its use today is a fascinating case study in converting traditional analog objects into engaging digital experiences. Dictionary.com

Kurt Yalcin

UX Design/Research: http://www.kurtyalcin.com/

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