Modern Day Electrician

I wonder how many homes were built out of order once electricity was on the scene. Did electricians have to fight to be apart of the process like Ux professionals have to fight for a seat at the “development table”? It’s honestly not a fight I want to participate in. Instead, I’d work with those who know that Ux is needed.

I’m sure some had years of experience building homes without electricity, and once it came along had the bright idea to loop in an electrician from the very beginning. I bet that those companies had significantly more success than those who decided that electricity could be added well after the house was constructed.

Can you imagine? Thankfully something like that sounds absurd today. I am hoping that soon, the thought of discussing the idea of a site/app/product, building a team, and the timeline without Ux is also deemed equally absurd.

Ux speaks for itself when done well. A Ux professional will have great success when they understand the roles and goals of the other people sitting at the table and can articulate their purpose and goals to their teammates. So I won’t fight someone, a team, a company, or business owner for a spot because I know how powerful and useful Ux. Those who have taken the time to go out and understand Ux, how powerful it can be the way they would go and look into the power of design, marketing, programming, or a sales team. Those are the business owners I want to work with.

Personally, I don’t think it’s that hard to understand that Ux is more than just design. It certainly goes beyond research. It has a place in strategy, implementation, evaluation, and identifying potential. For those who are progressive enough in my wake, I’ve been able to demonstrate how Ux can be used to help other groups who are apart of the success/failure of a product.

While the goal of Ux is to make the life of the user more comfortable. Ux can benefit those who represent:

  • The business and their intention to make money
  • Marketing professionals and their goal to capture and educate potential users
  • The sales team and their goal convert people into users
  • Developers and their goal to build tools people will use
  • Quality Assurance and their goal for a consistent and problem-free experience for the users
  • Creatives (designers, photographers, videographers, writers, etc.) and their goal to deliver work that is consistent and always points back to the brand and message of the company/product
  • Legal and their goal to protect the company/product’s proprietary work, brand, and people
  • Cyber Security and their goal to protect the product, personnel, and user’s information

Like electricity, even though Ux has been around a while (by development world standards), few still use it exclusively to capture the needs of users. Many still feel like business personnel need to hand-hold and guard the path, at the risk that Ux might run-off and bring harm to the business or the product. Which don’t get me started on how ridiculous of a fear that is. The same way people still used gas-lighting, candles, etc. to heat their homes and provide light, when homes started to be outfitted with electricity.

There is a long road ahead of Ux, even still, but as I stated before. I’m not interested in fighting tooth+nail with companies that already exist and don’t welcome Ux with open arms. I’m here for the business owners that have already done their due diligence and are prepared to welcome Ux with open arms, ready to collaborate. Solely for the reason that Ux can’t do what it does best without such a welcome. It doesn’t benefit me to do subpar work because the business isn’t ready.

There’s a difference between working with difficult people and then working with those who don’t respect Ux. I have plenty of experience with both, and I choose to no longer work with business owners or work for companies who don’t respect and do what they should to learn about and understand Ux.

Every single group of people involved in the creation, improvement, and release of a digital product plays a vital role. It has been my personal experience that when the whole team not only understands but respects the purpose, goals, and needs of each group, it sets up an environment for excellence. They’re able to roll out a product that is worthy of winning awards, setting industry standards, and meeting the needs of their users in a way their competitors never could.

When Ux is understood and respected, I find that:

  • Business doesn’t have to worry about making money but focus on the next feature
  • Marketing simply tries to find more ways to spread the word about the product
  • The sales team finds themselves promoting the latest feature and not having to work too hard to sell the overall product
  • Developers are satisfied knowing that what they build is actually being used
  • QA can catch problems faster
  • Creatives know that the products they support are making a difference
  • Legal has fewer headaches,
  • Cybersecurity has even more to protect

All while Ux continues to achieve its goal of making users content and more accessible, the same way electricity makes our lives easier today.

I wonder how many homes were built out of order once electricity was on the scene. Did electricians have to fight to be apart of the process like Ux professionals have to fight for a seat at the “development table”? It’s honestly not a fight I want to participate in. I’d rather work with those who know that Ux is needed. I’m sure there were those who had years of experience building homes without electricity and once it came along had the bright idea to loop in an electrician from the very beginning. I bet that the company had significantly more success than those who decided that electricity could be added well after the house was constructed. Can you imagine? Thankfully something like that sounds absurd today and I am hoping that in the near future the thought of building something, discussing the idea of an application/product, building a team, etc is all done with a representative of Ux at the table.

Ux speaks for itself when done well. A Ux professional will have great success when they understand the roles and goals of the other people sitting at the table and can articulate their role and goals to their teammates. So I won’t fight someone, a team, a company, or business owner for a spot because I know how powerful and useful Ux

ADA Compliancy

Being a Ux Designer and Front-End Developer, I am happy to see this big push for the focus on accessibility. When Ux meets ADA compliance it means more than creating a descriptive <alt> from a coding perspective. It means more than highly contrasted layouts from a design perspective. When it comes to interaction, if a user with working vision can immediately take action based on what they’ve read or have seen, then, someone who is visually impaired should be able to act upon something they want to do as soon as they hear it.

Before I consider the design I look at the copy, I read through it and I ask myself if at any point would I as a reader want to take action on any part of this? If so consideration of where links, forms, buttons should be placed should come into play for those who are visually impaired.

We shouldn’t make them read through the entire paragraph or list item (unless it is necessary for them to read through everything before taking action) to access a link or button.

For someone with working sight, sure a large button with some padding and margin around it looks great and makes me want to click it but it is so far removed from that associated paragraph that anyone visually impaired would find that button to be a hassle.

So what would I do? Place a link to take action right there in the midst of the paragraph and written content AND add that lovely giant flat button after the fact.

Give the visually impaired the ability to be instantly gratified.

The Director

Let’s just get this out of the way and let me state that I adore my current team. Just this past weekend I attended one of my co-worker’s vow renewal with his wife of fifteen years and next to me sat my boss’ boss, The Director. Our team is like family, we joke with each other far more than we fight a 2400 x 3 ratio and that’s just within the last 6 months that I’ve been working with them.

The Director immediately stood out to me when he interviewed me. He used the word “family” and since then I’ve paid close attention to the way he directs the team, himself, and our role as a department within the company.

Our department’s name doesn’t explain what it is we do but we are a group of graphic designers, video producers, compositors, Ux designers, front-end developers, project managers, photographers, videographers, copywriters, animators, print designers, screenwriters, digital designers, and camera operators. We are a team of twelve, we each wear multiple hats, complimenting each other very well. At least two of us share a skill set: allowing us at least one other person to bounce ideas off of; at least one other person who knows, lives, and breathes our struggle; and at least one other person to be pinned up against you at some point in time to create a better design/project/etc. It is a collaborative and competitive environment and those we serve benefit from it.

Iron sharpens iron.

Let me reel it back in, I believe in the family approach when it comes to building a team and this is the first person that I’ve worked under that has built a team in this manner. I asked them how they do it, they say they go with their gut and then they hand them off to the rest of the family to get their take. This family can be intimidating. I know because I remember meeting them for the first time. So many people really comfortable with each other, like a family, that gets along with one another.

So how did the Director do it? I have no clue but I can speak to the way they have carried themselves and the way I believe anyone leading a team/department should carry themselves: Continue reading →

John Maeda – A message on Design and Inclusion

I absolutely agree with this, something that I’ve felt is a required characteristic of a Ux Designer. We have to care about people. How our interfaces effect users. We want to be as inclusive as possible.

Design and Exclusion

Keynote_01-John Maeda

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Whatever you do, do it for glory

I am about to get a bit biblical on you. If this were church I would say do it for the glory of God. So let’s get real, when you are creating an interface for anything less than to be the best, to win an award it is just something created to fix a problem.

Research, Design, Solve and Build solutions that are ground-breaking. If not then there is something else out there that would’ve solved it. You would’ve easily solved the problem without all this work you put into to just “solve a problem” to just “shut a user group up” to just…to just isn’t enough.

Sure you’ll be helping a few people, but that’s just a few when you could help a whole multitude of people who didn’t even know they needed to be helped!

If you think your design is that “ish”, judge not before the appointed time. Until your designs are reviewed by a panel of professionals. Until word comes back if what you’ve put together is as great as you think it tobe. Well do you even think it’s that great? Are you proud of your work?

Design something you’d be proud of.

Conduct your research in a way to create something ground-breaking. Find places where others have failed and you can reign. If God is in the details, be specific.

If someone else can get credit for something you put together, it isn’t your work, not really, you just brought a few things together to create something different, but not something new.

Glory is achieved when people can see past the well crafted design and pickup on something unique, something new, breathtaking and they can put their finger on it. Whether it be a feeling or an action that is felt immediately and they then go back to see what exactly it was. That, now that’s glory.

I do beg of you tho, do it for the service of your craft, your industry, not for the popularity. Exploit the process not the designer. Be concerned about quality of your work. Quality research begets quality analysis, begets quality design, begets clean code, begets quality service. When you have doubters, people who wish to question your approach, you’re on the right path.

Study the rules, the best practices, the elements of design before you break them.

I sat where they sat

Have you ever met a user that doesn’t want your help? Someone married to their ways. Not all users want all the help that you can offer. They just want you to fix “one problem” and not touch anything else.

They’re like hedgehogs, the closer you get to their operation, the more they stick you with their protective quills.

So what do you do?

Show the love, show that you care, show that you know what you’re talking about. Sit where they sit. Work with them, become a co-laborer.


Your users may not just have problems or needs, they can be the problem, because of the way they deal with things. Users are people, people are protective of the way that they do things. They honestly won’t admit that the way they go about things are wrong. The possibility of them claiming that something else is better, is greater. Unless you, as a Ux Designer truly care about your users, you can’t help them.

Work with them

I don’t mean compromise. Don’t be blind to their needs, don’t ignore them and don’t use it as an opportunity to promote your intelligence. People don’t want to know what you know, how you do things, until you care to know what they know and to first do things their way.

Purposefully sit down with them and do their job/complete a task the way they do it. Experience their struggle. Talk about it, discuss it, brainstorm on the ways to make it better for the both of you [make it a team thing].

Some people are blind to their needs.

They might not know they need the help of your application. They have been grinding for so long, making it work, that they have ignored it. Their way of life, their way of doing things has been built upon it.

Be as concerned about the user, as you are of the user’s needs.

These opportunities can help you mature your interface. Give you a better understanding of how an expert vs novice user interacts with your interface.

You will have outlier users, “problem users” who don’t fit within targeted user group. You can deny their needs. Yet it is important to acknowledge that you will come across them, so expect them, accept them and give them an opportunity to help open your eyes. Those who give you the most headaches, cause the most problems, don’t understand what to do with your interface or how to use the tools to their benefit, need you the most. Not the users with zero complaints.

One of the best ways to discover needed resources is to need that very resource yourself.


Being sensitive gets a bad rep.

But a sensitive mindset and tender heart are absolutely essential for a Ux Designer. Without it we can easily become calloused to our users. Without them our work can become routine and stale, even perfunctory. We won’t always be excited about that small tiny feature that doesn’t need a complete revamp. That care we have for our users will trump the sometimes boring aspects of product maintenance.

After a while we can have a blind eye to the problems our users face, and this is something we can’t afford to happen. We can avert our attention to something new and shiny that the users may not need, possibly want, or it could just be something, you and I as a designer want to build. A sensitive mindset, on the pulse of the user and having a heart that breaks for their troubles keeps our eyes on the prize. That prize being solving their problems no matter how tiny in concept or execution.

After a while we can have a blind eye to the problems our users face, and this is something we can’t afford to happen.

As much as I love to try new things, and trust me I do. It is important to always see the needs of your users and put it before your own personal agenda.

Correction and Affirming

I am quite fond of children. Crumb-snatchers and high schoolers alike. I have recently completed my second year as a volunteer teacher for ScriptEd. My sister is a teacher not to mention my baby brother has also ventured into teaching for a short while. I think my grandmother would be proud. How can you not like children? They are so bright!

All of them.

As a Ux Designer I believe that if an interface makes you feel dumb or stuck, then the interface is the issue, not the user. I have witnessed toddlers navigate their way through tablets and phones. Not to suggest that those interfaces are intuitive. Children are sponges, they’ve seen their parents, older siblings, someone navigate their way around on those interfaces.

I said all this to say, the same way in which a child knows they are heading down the right path and doing things right is by affirmation. They can observe you taking certain steps but if they don’t see everything, if they skip over something like the fact that you have to enter a password and so correctly, will cause them to try the first time and fail. So they then know to pay closer attention to the keys you press. Thereby learning your password.

Interfaces should be both corrective and affirming but one more so than the other.

70% corrective and 30% affirmative. Corrective in terms of providing a clear path, being immediately clear about if the user has gone off the path they truly wish to be on. Affirmations can be used to do this. The same messages we use to comfort and encourage our users that they are on the right path are the very same messages we can use alert them that they’ve done something they did not mean to do. Providing them a way to back out and correct their path is great here. At the moments when we affirm we should also allow them correct.

Affirmations should not be without the option to review, to go back and adjust.

Empathy vs Sympathy

Empathy vs Sympathy

As I update my portfolio, I have thought on the projects that were ground-breaking, pin-pointing the needs of the user and those that have missed the mark. I know that it isn’t for a lack of empathy; I care about my users and clients.

So what sets these projects apart? My execution of design generally stays the same from project type to project type. It has is the foundation: the research.

Empathy is great but it holds no candle to sympathy. True sympathy comes from understanding another person’s difficulties by suffering the same affliction. The projects in which I not only shadowed a few key users to represent a user group, but also tried out their role for a while, helped me sympathize.

I can not truly design a helpful and graceful experience to my users without paying a price myself. Affliction, seeing difficulties myself, experiencing the tedious nature of an interface and where it falls short is the cost that I pay for the ability to sympathize with my users.

If I truly want to help my users and clients I must understand how they are suffering. It them becomes a rescue mission. To think of immediate steps I can take to alleviate the situation. This is how I can strip my dream concept down, to the MVP. Knowing the suffering my user’s experience first hand allows for a quick ideation to get the ball rolling.

I know I have reached my goal when my users stop suffering.

Companies don’t always need a big budget to do large amounts of testing, surveys, etc. They need one or more Ux Designers who are willing to get dirty and experience what their users are experiencing.

Scrabble letters spelling out success

Prove Your Work, Display Success

When do you think about analytics and stats for your business?

Before you even launch it, before you even consider having a website.

You need to consider data that will show you and others how you’ve grown and where you have failed to grow. To answer these questions a year from now you have to start gathering that data today.

  • How much money did your company make?
  • How much did you pay yourself?
  • How much went to expenses?

All of that is for accountants and I’m not talking stocks.

Your value and quality will be seen, but by whom, when, where and why?

You should have a target audience in mind but how will you even know you’re actually reaching them? How will you know in one month or three to six and up to a year how people are coming to your site and what they are clicking on?

You may not even know that out of the 300 people who visited your site that only 3 reached out to you, and lets be honest having 3 may have made made your day if you’re starting out. However, when you see that you had the potential to get 300 emails you’ll realize that something is wrong and if you ask the right questions now, you’ll know why then.

You may not even know that out of the 300 people who visited your site that only 3 reached out…

What questions?

The questions User Experience Designers ask when they’re considering the best way to design your website and software or application interface. The same questions you should be able to track data for with your analytics…for example:

Who is your target audience?

It’s what Ux research inquires about and analytics should find a way to track the various details of the people you’re reaching. You need to see if the target audience you initially tried to reach is being reached. If you find yourself reaching a different group and why and if you should focus on them instead. Or worse if it is all over the place and you don’t have a good sense of your user/client base.

These questions will give you answers to make informed business decisions later on. As well as for your Ux Designer and Web Developers to make sound and strategic decisions to reflect the changes you wish to make.

The analyzing of business statistics starts now. Make a list of questions you will need answered in a few months to a year and then write down what type of information you need to answer these questions.

Sit down with your web developer and talk about SEO and website analytics today.

Don’t have a Ux expert on call? Contact me at

Work Culture | Ground Zero

As a contractor I have had the opportunity to work with some pretty cool teams. The work culture, was inclusive, family like and supportive. I wanted to know how to create this type of environment for my team. I hosted three ScriptEd high school interns this Summer and I wanted them to have similar experiences.

I decided to look at the very people in charge of putting these teams together

Who are these people? Who are they to the team? What are their similarities? I looked at three people who have created teams that I really enjoyed working with:

Continue reading →

Design out-loud

At Ovationtix it became a custom to receive a project with very loose project requirements that had to be hammered out with the help of my designs. A perfect example of this was the TKTS project. I was told that Ovationtix would be partnering with TKTS to help their clients sell more tickets. I understood what TKTS was from a consumer point of view and I understood the relationship Ovationtix had with their theater clients.

My first prototype reflected that knowledge.

Manipulated discount feature so that certain discounts would be open one specific point of purchase.

Manipulated discount feature so that certain discounts would be open one specific point of purchase.

Continue reading →

2015 ScriptEd interns for OGiDesigns

A Leader is a Servant

…But whoever would be great among you must be your servant – Matthew 30:26

Managing is hard

Yet my interns make it easier. The first couple of weeks I would check-in on the more often, help them with code. Made sure they stayed on top of things so that they could make the deadline.

They delivered two days before the deadline.

After the first project I could relax more. Focus on my own work and trust them to do what I had given them to do. I had fallen behind on three projects I was working on the first two weeks. I stayed later than normal to make up the time to not miss my own deadlines.

Managing is rewarding

At one point my interns were juggling two projects at a time and considering how to tackle on the third project. Not wanting to miss the deadline I had given them they stayed late without me asking. I actually have to tell them to go home most days. Yet to watch them stay 49min past the time they were supposed to leave made me so proud. They were passionate about what they were doing. They were proud of it and fought like siblings to get everything working as it should.

I stopped babying them and started to leave them to their own devices until they asked me for help

I had not set any expectations for them. I only wanted them to come out of this internship with a preview of what it is like to interface with clients, work as a team, learn about an agile environment, learn about all the steps that come into developing a site, etc. I wanted to add to their education, encourage them and hopefully one of them if not all three will move to pursue this profession.

Occasionally people would come into the office and inquire what it is that they were working on and I never felt the need to jump in and explain. To hear how they explained things, and talk about the project brought me so much joy. For other to see how bright and smart they are.

To Manage is to serve

I had to anticipate what they would need and when they would need it at first. Yet after the first project they were able to figure out and find what they need and received more responsibility as time passed. Leaders create other leaders.

A team of leaders is a team of servants. Ready and willing to step in and help each other out.

While I am tickled at how Zeus and Adham fight like brothers. I felt like I successfully created “the team is your family” work culture when I got a message from Adham that said “If you need help with any of your work, let us know”. This OG has a few more gang members.

Managing requires humility

I count my interns and their goals more important than my own. This is my first time managing and all I could aim for was to be the type of mentor/manager I would want to work with. If you’re skeptical about bringing on high school students as interns consider this latest blog post from Zeus, who a week ago knew not a thing about animation, let along animating with css and well…I’ll let you read below:

So far my internship has been going great. I enjoy the project i’m currently working on. As for my goals: I want to actually finish the project I’m working on before our internship ends, while also improving my css skills; which includes learning about animation delays, transform, translate, scale, keyframes and more. I am currently working on a microsite containing a ton of animation, something I’ve never worked with before. So far it seems fairly simple but that’s probably because I have just started but I am confident that my co-intern and I can accomplish the task given to us. This microsite we’re working on is pretty much our only focus as of now. Another task I have is to update my resume and include this internship with the proper information. -Zeus Ramirez

Managers should offer up praise

My gang is awesome. Wouldn’t trade them for another crew. I am blessed to have them with me these past few weeks and I will miss them and wish them the best!

Confidence | What makes you a developer.

I am hosting three ScriptEd high school student interns this month. After spending close to a full school year teaching a classroom of 20+ junior and seniors at The High School for Global Citizenship, in Brooklyn, NY how to code in HTML5, CSS3, Bootstrap, jQuery and Javascript. While a few of my students got placed with other companies this year (and I am very excited for them). There seems to be a universal trend about what makes one a developer:

Continue reading →

Top 5 People to Hire for your New Website

Contrary to popular belief it takes a village to create a beautifully crafted website. Most of my clients take me on thinking that I alone can give them everything they’ll need to brand their company properly. Towards the end of their projects however they each have taken on at least two of the professionals listed below: Continue reading →

OGiD Phase One Mobile Responsive Interface

Minimum Viable Content

I am not my user or rather target audience but I am my own client. That’s right. I am revamping my own portfolio website. Creating the written content is tedious enough but then there’s curating my content. All of my work to display nicely on any device a potential target audience member can get their hands on to access my website. You know the whole responsive bit which isn’t my immediate concern at the moment.
Unlike most of my projects, I personally don’t have to answer what do I want my target audience to know and what exactly do they want to know? Not just that but: what don’t I want to tell them? Who don’t I want to attract? Who do I want to attract? Continue reading →

Design for Chaos

I admit it, up until this project I equated goal-directed design/user-centered design to designing for the perfect outcome. From paper wireframes to clickable prototypes my focus was on the goal of the user and how to help them achieve those goals as quickly as possible. Designing for an “in a perfect world” scenario.

Rarely is the world “perfect”. I created a beautiful mobile interface for OvationTix clients. Using one of our more sensible clients to design the interface around. When I should have designed for the “less sensible”. Continue reading →


While working as a contractor at Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio I had the pleasure of joining my team with two other multidisciplinary teams to recreate the myFranklin portal. myFranklin is the online hub from which the staff of the university could communicate with the students. Here students can receive up-to-date campus news, learn about university events, stay connected with their professors, course mates and keep track of their progress in each course. It’s an online hub to manage your life as a Franklin University student.

The dashboards of professors and students were being revamped, and I had the task of bringing attention to information they user should be able to grasp from a quick glance: progress of class, when things are due, if something is incomplete, what needs attention immediately, what can wait.

The placement of information and how it related to other components of the interface were my guidelines. I didn’t want to move too far away from the previous myFranklin interface and force users to learn how to navigate the system all over again.

I grasped an understanding of what each component meant to each user and in what context that feature would need to take precedence over anything else they could find on the dashboard. University Announcements, for example, were one of them.

The interface also became icon-heavy and I had the pleasure of creating and testing the icons to be used throughout the system for university-specific terms.

Design elements and principles played a heavy part in the enhancement of the student and professor dashboards.



Often times we don’t realize we’re being exclusive unless you’re in school or a closed-door meeting. Between the cliques since grade-school to social rankings of the world, we often find ourselves being exclusive even when we don’t intend to be.

So you can safely assume that whatever we design is also excluding someone who may want to use it.

I want to be the best Ux Designer this world has ever known, but some of the greatest…a few of the greatest minds get together and speak at conferences that cost the kind of money I am now only able to afford after seven years. SEVEN!

That’s a lot of time out of the main loop. I get that they have to cover costs but I don’t have to go to learn. Are they aware of how they’ve excluded the mass majority of the Ux Design population? Its not just them really anybody who throws a conference risks excluding anyone not making enough money to attend.

But they maybe making enough money to purchase access to watch the videos after the fact or even better in real time so that they can shoot questions.

It’s all about accessibility. If we as Ux Designers are so concerned about being inclusive we need to look at accessibility. In every aspect. When we build personas what are we missing?

When you build a site do you automatically assume that the user is like you, able to afford, fast, reliable internet connection from the comfort of their home. What if all they have is their smartphone that only has one bar and maybe two if they go to that one spot in their apartment? What if they only have access to the internet at McDonalds using their wifi? Or at the library with so many restrictions they maynot be able to pull up YouTube? Foreign countries? Language barriers? Out of date equipment?


Thought so.

What about the visually impaired and those with hearing problems?

Those without TV, Netflix, Hulu, etc?

Those with bad credit and no bank account, only cash?

Those with no phone or computer?

Those without a car?

Youth without an involved legal guardian to take the time to help them signup for something.

Show me a design that doesn’t put someone at a disadvantage on purpose.