Reblog, writing

I just created a TinyLetter to dispense the occasional links I’m dying to share with other designers. For a while, it might exist as blog posts too. I might phase that out, though.

Hello You

This first email is a bit of a story, and then some links. I promised links.

When I first thought about making this newsletter – still wondering if I’ll just make blog posts instead, I do hate email clutter – I had a bunch of great articles floating around my head that I wanted to share. Now I have no idea what those were, so I’m now getting lost in the blogosphere that, for 2016, is

I hate ending sentences with URLs.


What these Link Drops are for:

“Beginner’s Mind” comes from Buddhism, but I think it works just great for the attitude required when sharing information about any field of practice, especially design:

It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. [wiki]


I consider job experience as a vague measurement or ranking of how many mistakes you’ve made so far. In this light, I can never imagine experience as a limiting factor on learning – yes, even learning the same thing twice.


Great stuff on the internet is usually doing one of two things for me:

  1. Showing me something really different, or something ordinary in a different way
  2. Reflecting my own way of thinking about things

It’s healthy to get a mix of both. I know, the second one seems very insulating, but I have found that reading what a like-minded person writes gives you the benefit of learning how to better articulate your own thoughts.



Yeah, that would be super helpful. Left to my own devices, I will go down tangents about philosophy, freedom on the internet, and such. I’m going to try and stick to articles and resources for learning about design, and specifically about UX Design. If you really want to see “more like this” or “less of that” then feel free to reply directly to this. It goes to my inbox.

Link Drop #1

In my quest for links today I started digging through Medium and found one, two, three, whoa tons of great articles from UX Launchpad. So it’s safe to say that clicking any of those will be interesting and informative.

Design Explosions #3

Start here! It looks like an article, but really it’s a video. This serious called “Design Explosions” takes a deep look at a finished product and breaks it down to see what’s going on. I appreciate the diagrams.

Design Explosions #1

Craaaazy long, plenty of good diagrams though. Okay so this is a really long one and I don’t blame you if you can’t get through the whole thing in one sitting. What’s most important here is: there are multiple ways to design anything.

Junior Designers vs. Senior Designers

Oldie, but excellent. Another person’s idea of experience conveyed in squiggly line sketches.

A Faster

Last week, Nico gave an excellent talk about how people perceive time/waiting. Here’s an article giving us a very tangible, and yes, monetary case for an efficient web”

We wanted to understand how much the speed of our website affected user engagement, specifically, the quantity of articles read, one of our key measures of success. Using that data we then wanted to quantify the impact on our revenue.

Designing complex products

I’ll finish off on a strong note. This hits both #1 (something new to me) and #2 (reflects a lot back at me).
For example: I’m a big fan of the progressive reveal strategy and that’s reflected in a lot of my designs. To each their own, but I enjoyed seeing another designer explain it.



Some of these were long articles talking about real world examples of a design process in action. I could also include some things in the genre of listicles, like Typography Tips for a Better User Experience, or just general repositories of info and tools. If that’s more your speed, let me know.

deep thoughts kitty

I hope you like cats




This is a quick note that I made for a class to have access to some reference links. I might expand on it later.

[edit: updated with moar links for another presentation]


Sketch Mirror (iOS)

Allows real-time device mirroring.

Prototyping with Invision

+ Craft Plugin

Hint: I don’t think it’s very clear, but you’re downloading an installer. That means after you install what you’ve downloaded, you actually have to go to Applications and open Craft (the installer) to install for Sketch or Photoshop.

+ Invision Viewer (iOS)

I use Sketch Mirror most of the time, but this does double duty of displaying prototypes as well as some “live” interactions that can’t be seen in your screens due to embedded web content. For a ton more about this app, read their blog post.

Sketch Toolbox

Use this to install and keep track of all your plugins. I usually browse around or discover plugins elsewhere, but prefer to use the Toolbox to install them.

Sketch App Resources*

Specific Articles

Discovering Sketch
Older article, mostly to convince people about how great Sketch is. It also works as a decent overview of some features, but not exhaustive.

Sketch Keyboard Shortcuts
If you love getting into the shortcuts like I do, this is a decent list of all you need for Sketch.

Getting Set Up With Sketch

Using Shared Styles & Symbols

Okay, just check out the author’s page. He has a lot of handy ones. Aaron Tenbuuren.

Collections of Articles

.Sketch App
Short articles about Sketch on Medium

Design + Sketch App*
Another collection of articles about Sketch, but these tend to lean more toward tutorials.

Sketch Tricks

Pretty self-explanatory ;)

*Warning: try not to get lost in the template swamp. Steal a few good things, make them your own, and build from there.

Links for Tools


Hi there, it’s Rob again to go on and on about how amazing Simple is.

I often think of how great it would be to design for this product, but then maybe it’d be a room-mate kind of scenario where you risk souring the relationship – who knows!

In any case, I had a bit of surprise-fraud today. Long story short, I saw an Amazon transaction even though I didn’t buy anything on there recently. They quickly disabled my card until everyone could investigate. As it turns out, I had pre-ordered something and it was one big false alarm.

When I let Brenna know (customer service), she was equally relieved. I really cannot say more about how much I appreciate a normal, human response to situations such as these.

Simple Bank customer service screenshot

Yes, you might have noticed. She even included a reaction GIF!

Simple is awesome

Musings, Reblog

About a month ago I wrote a quick outline of my process setting up my new podcast.

Here I am to do a bit of self-promotion – if it’s my blog, isn’t everything self-promotion? – to announce the first full episode of Letters.

Episode 01: Work


Editing the show in Adobe Audition

I don’t have much to say about it at this point, but wow that was quite a learning curve and a process to edit. In college I used to edit four different podcasts with my friends, but those were pretty linear, conversational types of podcasts. I’m trying to push myself with this personal project to go a step further and give it a more polished feel as well as a (hopefully) unique format.

Anywho — that’s all! I hope you check out the first episode and let me know you what you think. It’s a lot of musing about life and work, so I wouldn’t recommend multi-tasking during this one.


So many cuts!

Work, writing

Voice Interaction

As phones have transitioned to smart phones, our personal technology has graduated from conduits between people to a more sophisticated breed that allows for – even invites – direct control. In tandem, people are getting rid of voicemail, making fewer phone calls, and texting more. In one vein, this seems like a more truncated, efficient behavior, but it also implies greater intimacy with the device.

We’re also growing to expect the similar level of control we have over our phones to expand to the devices of our environment. The “smart home” and “connected” objects are commanded with our phones for the time being. Contrary to the shift in phone use, control of these devices that is buried in a growing library of apps is not efficient.

The technological response to surfacing quick control over these smart objects is the use of voice interfaces. The Xbox’s Kinect allows for voice control of your Xbox apps and access to media. The Xfinity remote control makes “change the channel to HBO” possible. Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa, and the Google Now services are all serious attempts at broadening voice control to access many services.

While speech-to-text recognition has largely improved, the voice controlled services themselves still lack in the sophistication that people presume exists when communicating through a nuanced medium as speech. Even if this level of sophistication is attained, and the services understand and respond exactly as we expect them to, the challenge of intimacy remains.

When common interaction with phones shifted from calls to text as the interfaces allowed more direct (read: intimate) control, we’ve created this controversial-yet-accepted balance of interacting with people directly and multitasking with our pocket computers. Voice interaction necessitates a more public display of that human computer interaction. One that is so uncomfortable, directly inhibits its use. Think of the times you have used your voice input on a phone: public settings, private settings with people around, or solitary settings?

Although we may not be able to out-design social mores, we can take the first challenge—that of accuracy, intuitive use, and predictable outcome—to the whiteboard and to the APIs.

Design Team:

Kristen Kersh • Niamh Parsely • Rob Brogan


An Instagram comment from someone at Tumblr inspired me to whip up a few potential sock patterns for Tumblr. All based on the brand colors and official logo. The sock shape is adapted from an icon file.



Swag Socks!