Pertaining to a quantitative, measurable approach that speaks to agile processes in action.
- Design-led Product Management July 27, 2017 - Within the WooCommerce division at Automattic we’ve been taking a design-led approach to building products. What does this (design-led) mean? It means we start with empathy, focus on the experience, and emotions (how a person feels about product/service). We work on understanding the people using our products – their problems, needs, and goals – and … Continue reading Design-led Product Management
Pertaining to the act of making something, prioritizing quality + consistency.
- One more thing… August 13, 2017 - I have a guilty pleasure. On a Sunday afternoon when the weather is bad I like nothing more than to sit down to an episode of Columbo. My wife and I have the entire box set and have made our way though every episode, including the pilots of Mrs Columbo. Watching a random episode is … Continue reading One more thing…
- Typographic Tweaks for Longreads August 7, 2017 - During the 7 years I’ve been involved with Longreads, we’ve gone from sharing links on Twitter to publishing our own in-depth, investigative stories. While we’ve grown substantially in scope and focus, the brand has largely stayed consistent. The core of the Longreads brand has always been simple, traditional typography, paired with a healthy amount of whitespace. I’ve made small … Continue reading Typographic Tweaks for Longreads
- WordPress as a Solid Foundation for Applications August 2, 2017 - Usually, people associate WordPress with a blogging platform. It’s true, but WordPress has evolved to much more than that. As part of its evolution, WordPress has received several additions and built-in features that can be used when building Web applications, such as content sanitization, validation, caching, transients, and many more.
- Balancing Options vs. Overload July 31, 2017 - On WordPress.com, one thing we’ve been focusing on is making themes that just work. It’s a bit of a balancing act; it’s very tempting to allow customers to control every aspect of their theme, because it seems like the simplest way to give them what they want. That idea may sound great to customers, but … Continue reading Balancing Options vs. Overload
- Thoughts on Compiled CSS Files in Git July 31, 2017 - An ongoing discussion about build tools in the Underscores GitHub repository reminded me of something that seems to come up a few times of over the life span of a project. CSS preprocessors, the best known being Sass and Less, have become essential resources that make managing complex stylesheets much easier. A common issue when … Continue reading Thoughts on Compiled CSS Files in Git
- Reflections on theme retirements July 29, 2017 - For the past few weeks I’ve been gradually retiring themes from the WordPress.com showcase. Retirement may sound a bit dramatic, but it simply means a theme will be removed from our offerings, and new customers won’t be able to activate it on their sites. This way we can keep our theme collection fresh and make sure … Continue reading Reflections on theme retirements
- Sending the right message with form validation July 28, 2017 - Error messages. Those little things everyone hates to see. As designers, we like to design the best possible experience for getting users through the task at hand. But it’s our job to put as much consideration into error states as we do the success flow. Any error messages we show to users should provide helpful … Continue reading Sending the right message with form validation
- The Next Chapter for Themes July 28, 2017 - Every few months I read a post about how the WordPress theme business has shrunk. The authors always reach a similar conclusion. Sales have dwindled. Competition has increased. Putting food on the table, finding a niche and standing out is near impossible. It may not be so impossible though. With a new editing interface on … Continue reading The Next Chapter for Themes
- Hundreds of Tiny Arrows July 27, 2017 - I recently hand-drew hundreds of tiny arrows for a Longreads illustration. It took about four hours, with a few breaks to check Slack and refill my chai. I knew I could have drawn a few arrows and duplicated them in Photoshop. I would’ve added some brush strokes to differentiate them from each other, and it … Continue reading Hundreds of Tiny Arrows
- Fidelity matters July 27, 2017 - When trying to communicate a design idea in a work environment, it is essential that you do so in the most effective way possible for all parties involved. You want to be as clear and as purposeful as possible, and make sure the delivered message lends itself to meaningful feedback and action. How you communicate … Continue reading Fidelity matters
- Rapid Prototyping July 26, 2017 - A large group of designers at Automattic use Sketch for their work. It’s a great design tool, and with the addition of symbols it’s become super powerful. We’ve got a few internal symbol libraries, and each designer likely has a version of their own. Here’s a quick screenshot of the symbols from a recent Sketch … Continue reading Rapid Prototyping
- Improving the WordPress experience July 26, 2017 - The experience of creating a WordPress site can vary wildly. Occasionally, I hear how someone set it up without any major roadblocks. I more often witness nightmare-level setup experiences. Together, with help from the community and hosts, we’re working to improve the process of building a WordPress site. The fractured flow of the past and … Continue reading Improving the WordPress experience
- Can positive feedback be used in place of negative feedback? July 25, 2017 - Feedback is difficult, especially because we don’t take it as a skill to be learned but we expect everyone to be already good at that. Even more, when we say feedback we often refer to negative feedback only. This is misleading because it doesn’t just ignore positive feedback, but also assumes that it’s the right … Continue reading Can positive feedback be used in place of negative feedback?
- The importance of triage practice July 24, 2017 - At Automattic we have the concept of ‘trash pickup’. The idea being you see something that is an issue, you fix that issue. It’s a powerful idea, one that over time adds up to seeing a better experience for everyone. Living this idea for me also means focusing on every detail, even the smallest of … Continue reading The importance of triage practice
- Imagining product authoring with WooCommerce and Gutenberg July 24, 2017 - Alongside the Customizer and the REST API, the other key focus for WordPress in 2017 is improving the tool we use on a daily basis to craft our content – the editor. Content creators are craving a richer, more powerful and more intuitive authoring experience. In response to this, the “Gutenberg” project was formed. Gutenberg … Continue reading Imagining product authoring with WooCommerce and Gutenberg
- The Process of Processing with WordPress July 4, 2017 - I get excited about the little things people build on top of WordPress. All those things like websites, blogs, and ecommerce stores are really cool, but those pieces of software that extend WordPress into realms few of us think about… those are stinking amazing. I especially get excited about data visualization experiments that can reside … Continue reading The Process of Processing with WordPress
- Staying focused by shifting focus. July 1, 2017 - As designers, we have a single task. Finding a solution to a problem. No matter what discipline of design we work in, the premise is always the same. A problem exists and we need a remedy. But the thing is—problems are sometimes hard… really hard. Depending on the scope of the issue, finding the answer often … Continue reading Staying focused by shifting focus.
- Should designers API? July 1, 2017 - There’s plenty of discussions on the internet about whether or not designers should code, but what about API’s? Hear me out. I’m going to tell you about a project I’m working on and how I went from knowing almost nothing about API’s to knowing a little more than nothing and along the way, discovered how … Continue reading Should designers API?
- The Art of Shipping and Fulfillment July 1, 2017 - Over the last 3 months, we’ve been thinking a lot about shipping and fulfillment on the WooCommerce team. When the thought of shipping comes to mind for most people, it usually goes something like this – “It’s not that complicated. You just mail an item to someone by going to the post office.” Yes, it … Continue reading The Art of Shipping and Fulfillment
- Teaching robots to steal my job July 1, 2017 - Have you heard about the robot revolution? According to the internet, it’s coming, and it’s coming for your job. As “creative” types, we often feel that we’re sheltered from automation. Sure, a robot can beat a human at Go, but can they pick a colour scheme?
Pertaining to customer-thinking, qualitative information gathering, “them”-over-us-as-evidenced-by-interactions, mobile-thinking, email-thinking.
- Unifying the UX with Emails August 1, 2017 - Consider this: Dinner time is fast approaching. Your pantry is bare. You need to go to the store to buy the ingredients for dinner. How would you define your journey to purchasing those ingredients? Where does it start? Once you enter the grocery store? Maybe, but you had to get there somehow. Did you drive, walk, … Continue reading Unifying the UX with Emails
- Designing mobile native first August 1, 2017 - One design technique that I’ve heard casually mentioned here at Automattic is to design the product or feature you’re working on “native first”, or better yet, “mobile native first“. Mobile has been a priority at Automattic for several years now, and the mobile first approach has helped WordPress.com immensely. In addition to mobile first, we also … Continue reading Designing mobile native first
- Improving Accessibility with Dynamic Font Sizes July 31, 2017 - We've been working on a number of accessibility improvements to our apps for Android and iOS. Here's a look at how dynamic font sizes are making our apps easier to read.
- A Store Story: From features to flows July 31, 2017 - Fairly recently, I went through a rough time at work. I was working on a project that seemed to go on forever with no end in sight. The scope kept growing, we designed for all the edge cases, and we focused on features instead of who was going to use the product and how. I … Continue reading A Store Story: From features to flows
- お客様への誠意 July 31, 2017 - 最近、私はWordPress.comにて中小企業主のお客様に向けての新しい一つの機能に取り組む機会を頂いた。まだその詳細については言えないが、鍵はこの機能を利用するお客様へ必要事項を通知するのと同時に、その機能を生かすサイトオーナーの成功を彼らと共に分かち合うことであった。
- Your support team might just be your biggest user research asset in your company July 27, 2017 - We speak a lot about user research at Automattic within our various product divisions and it’s easy to get your head down in the trenches and feel like you don’t have the time to come out to even see your users, never mind speak to them! At times I feel like this, and in my … Continue reading Your support team might just be your biggest user research asset in your company
- How we build empathy for our customers July 27, 2017 - In my last post, I wrote how we use interviews to learn about our customers. They allow us to ask them questions and in their responses we find insights and get inspired. In this post, I’d like to share some other ways we build empathy for the people using our products. Support Rotation 💬 It starts … Continue reading How we build empathy for our customers
- Let’s Cut To The Chase July 26, 2017 - Estelle Weyl’s tweet today: Stop asking me for my location. Stop asking me about push notifications. Stop asking for my email. Especially on my 1st visit to your site! is especially compelling to me today because I was earlier managing a customer support issue around embedding MailChimp technology on one their WordPress.com sites. Our current … Continue reading Let’s Cut To The Chase
- Don’t forget the emails July 1, 2017 - Have you ever signed up for a new site or product, forgotten about it, only to remember later when you check your inbox and see the welcome email? What if that email looked nothing like the service you signed up for? It would lead to a lot of questions in your mind, rather than a … Continue reading Don’t forget the emails
Pertaining to things that are about remote-ness and about *us*.
- Recruiting participants for remote user tests August 23, 2017 - I recently attended my first remote design sprint at Automattic. It ran over a two week period and was attended by fellow designers, developers, data scientists, happiness engineers, and marketers. Together we created two prototypes and tested them out with real customers. I found the experience to be both rewarding and inspiring. We came up … Continue reading Recruiting participants for remote user tests
- Conquering isolation on a remote design team July 28, 2017 - Every designer has experienced overlooking something along a project lifecycle. We are so focused on the task at hand that we want to keep going and fail to request feedback. In a context of remote work there’s even more room for this to happen as there’s more isolation, and we need to have mechanisms in place … Continue reading Conquering isolation on a remote design team
- Remote Leadership July 1, 2017 - I believe remote work is the future. I’ve been working as a designer for Automattic for three years and I worked from home half time the two years prior. Before that I did freelance work on nights and weekends at my dining room table. Working remotely allowed my wife and I to move from Philadelphia … Continue reading Remote Leadership