The 9th of November, 2016

(repost)

It’s half past 3 here in Denver and I’m still up. I’m gravely unhappy. When the results came in, I’d say about 99.99999999% of my urban tribes were just as unhappy as I was about the news.

Well, actually, we weren’t *just* unhappy. We were furious. Floored. Flabbergasted. Embarrassed. Terrified. Mad. We wondered what kind of world we would return to in these upcoming days and weeks. We wondered how much longer our parents and communities could hide behind the thin veil of the “model minority” myth before they too begin learning the truth about what lies ahead.

I don’t have any kids, so I naturally didn’t think of them. I do however teach a group of 15 college students. I also have a cohort of 16 more students starting a class next Monday. My responsibility as an educator weighs heavily on me tonight. It weighs heavily on me every day and night, but tonight even more so.

You see, it’s not just about the person who is now assuming a powerful position in office. It’s about legitimizing and normalizing certain behaviors and ideologies. It’s downplaying things that would be subjected to punishment or admonishment in any other context.

I happen to fall into many of the categories that Trump dehumanizes. I’ve been sexually assaulted, as a child (for nearly a decade) and as an adult. I’m a minority. I’m female. I work in a significantly male-dominated industry. I’m atheist. I’ve once been told by my male superiors that I’m way smarter than I look. At multiple companies I’ve had to “dress the part” to get said male superiors to “take me seriously.” Depending on what part of the country I’m traveling to, people often ask me where I learned to speak English so well. Here in Denver, they address my husband first before they speak to me. When traveling, some people even find it surprising that he and I are married. And let’s not forget the bulging eyeballs when they find out that I teach at the local university. (How dare I do such a thing!)

I’ve used my own innocuous platforms to bring a little bit of light and sparkle into the world. I’ve tried to make the world a little more tech-friendly and accessible. My work in the classroom entails opening up discussions about the real-life implications of interactive design and its impact on the lives of everyday folks like you and me. Rest assured that I will continue to incorporate moderated discussions, user interviews, need-finding exercises, primary research, secondary research, data analysis, iterative improvement exercises, and retrospectives in all of my classes to reinforce the dire need to critically think, uncover biases (generally about design), and to challenge authority. I do this 15-20 students at a time, 2-3 times a year. It’s a slow and steady process and I can only hope that I make enough of an impact that they carry these lessons with them in their journey and reapply these research skills elsewhere.

However, given the outcome of tonight, it seems like more needs to be done. As a digital designer and as an educator, I can do more. Reading through some of the articles over the last few days have got me thinking. There are lots of design and accessibility problems we’ve yet to solve:

  • How do we make it more accessible for people to get *to* their polling stations
  • How do we make it easier for people to register to vote in their state after they move?
  • How do we remove points of friction once people show up at their designated voting station?
  • How do we educate people on state-specific registration requirements?
  • How do we educate people on deadlines?
  • How do we quantify urgency for other elections to increase voting regularity?
  • How can we design ballots to be easier to comprehend?
  • How do we simplify the language so that people with varied levels of education can understand the issues?
  • How can we even go about educating people on the issues sans propaganda before they head to the polls?
  • Most importantly: How do we solve these problems in states, regions, and cities where there is a clear digital divide?

I should identify a few design problems, quantify them, and then narrow down which one I could begin trying to solve. And then relentlessly and doggedly pursue solving that one with the right folks. And then move on to the next. And the next. And the next.

Digital design and education is my forte, after all. What good does it do if I don’t share it with the townspeople?

Dark UX Pattern: Lucidchart Pro Paid Upgrade

I’ve had to switch over my UX workflow software at work from Omigraffle to Lucidchart.

It’s a pretty cool software package — the pro level gives you some really basic wireframe capabilities. Like, really basic. You can’t even scale or resize the UI stencils like Omnigraffle or Sketch. However, it’s nice because even non-designers can go in and give a rough idea of what a UI could look like, in addition to what they think a user flow could be.

I was looking at it for some personal projects and signed up for the free trial. Seemed simple enough. They automatically upgraded me to the pro trial (of course they did!) for 7 days.

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I went in to go ahead to sign up for the annual subscription since I saw plenty of value. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t mind paying for apps and subscriptions to get rid of ads. I also really dislike paying for software subscriptions until I try it out for a long time, and over the last week I must’ve developed Stockholm Syndrome.

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From there I created a few assets, and mulled it over for the day. I decided to go ahead and upgrade at the end of the day. I supposed the site stripe worked on me and I finally went back to the site to click the link.

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I saw this page and was like, whattttt? I saw the $4.95 a month plan and wanted to pay that one up front for the year. However, when I went to click back on ‘Subscription Level’ on the side navigation, it wouldn’t take me back to the different tiers. It just kept me on this page. It kind of made sense — I mean, this was the current subscription level, but I wanted to see all the subscription levels.

I snuck around and tried to reset my navigation. I clicked up on user settings and got my boring user settings page. Seemed pretty normal.

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I then clicked on subscription level again. Aaaaand look at what I found:

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Quite sneaky, Lucidchart!

I dug in a little deeper to find that for a whopping $60 a year, I’d get access to nearly nothing…mostly anything I already get access to in Google Docs. Lame. For $110 a year, annually renewing, I get a cloud-based version of what I currently get with Omnigraffle. If I add in a one-time fee of $30 or so I can also get access to those docs on my iPad. And seeing as though I’ll be eating the cost of it as an independent contractor or teacher for the next 20+ years, that’s a whole lotta dollars compared to my one-time license of….

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Ugh. Why can’t I just buy a one-time license anymore? Even Sketch gives you a $99 one time licensing fee and I can create high fidelity UI visuals there. And why do I need a browser extension to create docs in offline mode? >:| I’m such a grumpy grandma.

Mostly useless sorting and filtering

I was perusing fountain pens today because I felt like treating myself to something fancy. I then came across this gem:

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 3.50.23 PM

So, you mean to tell me that I can sort a line of pens by gender? My pens have a gender? My pen can be feminine or masculine? SAY WHAT? …

Reminds me of the BIC for Her Retractable Ball Pen debacle not too long ago —

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:: slowly backs away ::

Aside

An aside: 2016 monthly resolutions

So, you are probably wondering what a resolutions post is doing in a UX blog. I have a rather simple explanation. Annual resolutions are difficult to track and measure, so I’ve broken them up into incremental monthly goals.

What are your goals?

* * * * *

Personal:

  • Read one kindle or audio book monthly
  • Have one 90-minute massage monthly
  • Attend two therapy sessions monthly
  • Write at least one blog post a month
  • Going perma-dry

Business:

  • Maintain a minimum of $1000, but no more than $2500, in monthly billables

Work:

  • Spend the first 2-3 hours of my workday on the creative component of my work
  • Minimize my email/admin work to 3-20 minute bursts daily
  • Don’t force my process into a digital medium until it is ready for that level of fidelity

Family:

  • Take my significant other on a date night once a week

Community:

  • Spend 2 hours a month mentoring someone who wants my help

What makes a pro, a pro?

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot. I don’t have the answer, but I’ve come up with a few.

wpid-2011-07-pruning

  1. They don’t always have the answer, but they will continue seeking it until they find some. Not just one — some.
  2. They can see both sides of a situation and can competently argue them. But, they can take a stand and defend it, despite contrary evidence.
  3. They don’t always want to do the work, but they show up and do it anyways.
  4. They don’t shy away from difficult tasks or projects. They throw themselves into it wholeheartedly. They find the challenge enjoyable. They crave it.
  5. They never feel that they are good enough. This doesn’t mean that they lack confidence, but it means that they always strive to be a better version of themselves. They recognize that there is a lot more to learn, and that there will always be someone who is better than them at their craft.
  6. They understand that the best things take time to crystallize and come to fruition — that the long-term view is generally the best view to take.